Hitachi Energy to support major renewable electricity transmission between Canada and New York City

Zurich, Switzerland, Sept. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Hitachi Energy, a global technology leader that is advancing a sustainable energy future for all, today announced it was selected by Transmission Developers Inc., a Blackstone portfolio company specialized in renewable power development, to supply a high–voltage direct current (HVDC) converter station that is a key part of the transmission solution for the Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) HVDC interconnection between Qubec, Canada and the New York City metro area, the United States.

The link will enable the delivery of clean, renewable hydropower between Canada and New York, contributing to New York's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which aims for the state to be powered by 70 percent renewable energy by 2030.*1 CHPE is expected to decrease CO2 emissions by an average of 3.9 million metric tons per year, equivalent to removing 44 percent of passenger vehicles from New York City.*2

Using Hitachi Energy's HVDC Light technology, CHPE will transfer up to 1,250 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1 million New York households. The link will efficiently transmit electricity for more than 600 kilometers (372 miles) underground from Hertel, Canada, through Lake Champlain and the Hudson River, to an HVDC converter station in Astoria, Queens.*1

"HVDC systems have tremendous potential for bringing large amounts of electricity directly into cities, which is essential for securing sustainable and affordable power today and in the future," said Niklas Persson, Managing Director of Hitachi Energy's Grid Integration business. "We are proud to play a crucial role in this very important investment in North America's transition to renewable energy and carbon neutrality."

"Hitachi Energy's market leading HVDC technology will ensure efficient and reliable transmission of renewable energy for over 1 million New York homes and help achieve the state's climate goals," said Transmission Developers CEO Donald Jessome. "We look forward to beginning construction activity later this year and to delivering an abundance of clean, renewable energy to New Yorkers."

Power requirements in cities are increasing, especially in densely populated areas where land is already scarce, and difficulties can arise when new right–of–ways must be secured for traditional transmission lines. HVDC technology enables large amounts of high–quality electricity to be delivered where it is most needed with complete control and with a very compact footprint using out–of–sight underground or underwater cables.

The complete CHPE system, of which the HVDC converter stations are the enabling technology, is expected to create more than 1,400 jobs during construction and, during the first 30 years of operation, deliver almost $50 billion in economic benefits to New York state.*1

For the New York site, Hitachi Energy will supply the HVDC Light converter station, that will convert the DC power from Canada to AC power and make it available for the AC grid in New York.

Kiewit, one of North America's largest and most respected engineering and construction companies, will be responsible for the civil works for the converter station in New York. The collaboration with Kiewit will combine the core competencies of the two companies to deliver a best–in–class solution.

Note to editors:

Hitachi Energy's HVDC solution combines world–leading expertise in HVDC converter valves; the MACH digital control platform*3, converter power transformers and high–voltage switchgear; as well as system studies, design and engineering, supply, installation supervision and commissioning.

HVDC Light is a voltage source converter technology developed by Hitachi Energy. It is the preferred technology for many grid applications, including interconnecting countries, integrating renewables and "power–from–shore" connections to offshore production facilities. HVDC Light's defining features include uniquely compact converter stations and exceptionally low electrical losses.

Hitachi Energy pioneered commercial HVDC technology almost 70 years ago and has delivered more than half of the world's HVDC projects.

*1 Champlain Hudson Power Express

*2 May 2021 PA Analysis Report

*3 Modular Advanced Control for HVDC (MACH)

HVDC website:–and–system/hvdc

– End ""

About Hitachi Energy

Hitachi Energy is a global technology leader that is advancing a sustainable energy future for all. We serve customers in the utility, industry and infrastructure sectors with innovative solutions and services across the value chain. Together with customers and partners, we pioneer technologies and enable the digital transformation required to accelerate the energy transition towards a carbon–neutral future. We are advancing the world's energy system to become more sustainable, flexible and secure whilst balancing social, environmental and economic value. Hitachi Energy has a proven track record and unparalleled installed base in more than 140 countries. Headquartered in Switzerland, we employ around 38,000 people in 90 countries and generate business volumes of approximately $10 billion USD.

About Hitachi, Ltd.

Hitachi drives Social Innovation Business, creating a sustainable society with data and technology. We will solve customers' and society's challenges with Lumada solutions leveraging IT, OT (Operational Technology) and products, under the business structure of Digital Systems & Services, Green Energy & Mobility, Connective Industries and Automotive Systems. Driven by green, digital, and innovation, we aim for growth through collaboration with our customers. The company's consolidated revenues for fiscal year 2021 (ended March 31, 2022) totaled 10,264.6 billion yen ($84,136 million USD), with 853 consolidated subsidiaries and approximately 370,000 employees worldwide. For more information on Hitachi, please visit the company's website at


Distinguished Board Director and Former Fortune 100 CIO, Annabelle Bexiga Joins Quantexa Board of Directors

LONDON, Sept. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today Quantexa, a global leader in Decision Intelligence (DI) solutions for the public and private sectors, announced that Annabelle Bexiga is joining their board of directors. Annabelle is currently serving as the non–executive director for DWS Group, Stonex Group (SNEX), and Triton International (TRTN). Prior to her current roles, she served as the CIO Advisor at Zoom with a focus on working with their product development and marketing teams. She also established and chaired Zoom's Financial Services Industry council.

Annabelle has 30 years of experience in the financial services industry and 11 years in Fortune–100 CIO roles. As a Board Director, Annabelle brings to Quantexa her operational knowledge, as well as public, private, and non–profit board leadership, and advisement experience.

"This incredible journey of continuous learning from brilliant technologists and courageous leaders continues through my board and advisory work," said Annabelle. "I am especially excited to join the board of Quantexa because they truly understand that today in the face of rapidly changing conditions, enterprises need to drive greater accuracy in decisions and innovation with data and analytics technology at the core. The Quantexa team are working to help organizations solve today's major challenges in utilizing data effectively to improve their operations and the services they provide to their customers."

"Annabelle's background includes a diverse set of businesses at firms such as JPMorgan Chase, Zoom, and AIG, as well as residential global experience in New York, Singapore, Tokyo, and Boston," said Vishal Marria, CEO at Quantexa. "Annabelle has made a fantastic contribution to Quantexa over the last 2 years working as an advisor to our business, so we are thrilled that she will be joining our board of directors. Her experience aligns well with our goals, our culture, and we look forward to incorporating her expertise to help our customers use their data at scale to unify their data, manage risk, ensure compliance, and identify opportunities for efficiency."

Quantexa is a global data and analytics software company pioneering Contextual Decision Intelligence that empowers organizations to make trusted operational decisions by making data meaningful. Using the latest advancements in big data and AI, Quantexa's platform uncovers hidden risk and new opportunities by providing a contextual, connected view of internal and external data in a single place. It solves major challenges across data management, KYC, customer intelligence, financial crime, risk, fraud, and security, throughout the customer lifecycle.

The Quantexa Contextual Decision Intelligence Platform enhances operational performance with over 90% more accuracy and 60 times faster analytical model resolution than traditional approaches. Founded in 2016, Quantexa now has more than 500 employees and thousands of users working with billions of transactions and data points across the world. The company has offices in London, New York, Boston, Washington DC, Brussels, Toronto, Singapore, Melbourne, and Sydney. For more information, contact Quantexa here or follow us on LinkedIn.

Why Are Politicians Able to Read – and Understand – Some Texts and Not Others?

Between 2010 and 2020 the number of state-based armed conflicts roughly doubled (to 56), as did the number of conflict deaths, finds new report. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By Baher Kamal
MADRID, Sep 20 2022 – Day after day, the world’s scientific community, based on solid investigations, elaborates dozens of studies identifying the causes of the existing emergencies facing humanity. They also prepare understandable summaries and conclusions and propose feasible solutions to the current crises and ways to prevent major future risks.

Such studies are promptly submitted to politicians, both directly and through hundreds of summits, conferences, forums and meetings.

Are they just unable to read and understand these texts?

In combination, the security and environmental crises are creating compound, cascading, emergent, systemic and existential risks. Without profound changes in approach by institutions of authority, risks will inevitably proliferate quickly

If so, they should probably be added to the shameful finding that up to 70% of children –or nearly 250 million– are illiterate, sentenced to ignorance as revealed by numerous findings, including those of the Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the UN global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.


Unpredictable risks

Meanwhile, the world is “stumbling into a new era of unpredictable risks,” while the ongoing multiple and deepening crises have “pushed 9 out of 10 countries backwards in human development.”

Both facts unveil the failure of the world’s politicians to act for people rather than announcing decisions that end up benefiting big private businesses.

Two major reports have revealed such a stark failure. One of them was released on 8 September 2022 by UNDP–the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Report: “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World.”

The other one “Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk” was published on 23 May this very year by the prestigious Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).



“World leaders are failing to prepare for a new era of complex and often unpredictable risks to peace as profound environmental and security crises converge and intensify,” highlights SIPRI, the independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

Its report paints a vivid picture of the escalating security crisis. For example, it notes that between 2010 and 2020 the number of state-based armed conflicts roughly doubled (to 56), as did the number of conflict deaths.

“The number of refugees and other forcibly displaced people also doubled, to 82.4 million. In 2020 the number of operationally deployed nuclear warheads increased after years of reductions, and in 2021 military spending surpassed $2 trillion for the first time ever.”

Regarding the environmental crisis, SIPRI warns that around a quarter of all species are at risk of extinction, pollinating insects are in rapid decline and soil quality is falling, while exploitation of natural resources such as forests and fish continues at unsustainable levels.

“Climate change is making extreme weather events such as storms and heatwaves more common and more intense, reducing the yield of major food crops and increasing the risk of large-scale harvest failures.”


Uncertain times, unsettled lives

For its part, the Human Development Report warns that the world is lurching from crisis to crisis, trapped in a cycle of firefighting and unable to tackle the roots of the troubles that confront the world.

The report argues that “layers of uncertainty are stacking up and interacting to unsettle life in unprecedented ways.”


Devastating impacts

The last two years have had a devastating impact for billions of people around the world, when crises like COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine hit back-to-back, and interacted with sweeping social and economic shifts, dangerous planetary changes, and massive increases in polarisation, says UNDP.

“Without a sharp change of course, we may be heading towards even more deprivations and injustices.”

For the first time in the 32 years that UNDP has been calculating it, the Human Development Index, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living, has declined globally for two years in a row.


Universal reversal of human development

“The reversal is nearly universal as over 90 percent of countries registered a decline in their Human Development Index score in either 2020 or 2021 and more than 40 percent declined in both years, signalling that the crisis is still deepening for many.”

While some countries are beginning to get back on their feet,it adds, “recovery is uneven and partial, further widening inequalities in human development.” Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have been hit particularly hard.



“The world is scrambling to respond to back-to-back crises. We have seen with the cost of living and energy crises that, while it is tempting to focus on quick fixes like subsidising fossil fuels, immediate relief tactics are delaying the long-term systemic changes we must make,” says Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.

“We are collectively paralyzed in making these changes. In a world defined by uncertainty, we need a renewed sense of global solidarity to tackle our interconnected, common challenges.”

The report explores why the change needed isn’t happening and suggests there are many reasons, including how insecurity and polarisation are feeding off each other today to prevent the solidarity and collective action to tackle crisis at all levels.


Insecurity and political extremism

New calculations show, for instance, that those feeling most insecure are also more likely to hold extreme political views, it also reveals.

“Even before COVID-19 hit, we were seeing the twin paradoxes of progress with insecurity and polarisation. Today, with one-third of people worldwide feeling stressed and fewer than a third of people worldwide trusting others, we face major roadblocks to adopting policies that work for people and the planet,” says Achim Steiner.

To chart a new course, the report recommends implementing policies that focus on investment — from renewable energy to preparedness for pandemics, and insurance—including social protection— to prepare our societies for the ups and downs of an uncertain world.


Climate and armed conflicts

The environmental crisis is increasing risks to security and peace worldwide, notably in countries that are already fragile, explains SIPRI’s Environment of Peace – Security in a new era of risk.

Indicators of insecurity such as the number of conflicts, the number of hungry people and military expenditure are rising; so are indicators of environmental decline, climate change, biodiversity, pollution and other areas, warns SIPRI.

“In combination, the security and environmental crises are creating compound, cascading, emergent, systemic and existential risks. Without profound changes in approach by institutions of authority, risks will inevitably proliferate quickly.”

Evidence shows that politicians are capable of reading and understanding those texts elaborated by economic, financial and markets experts.

Meanwhile, and despite the above and other readable – and understandable texts, they seemingly continue to neglect an essential fact, i.e., ‘By Deliberately Ignoring Risk, the World Is Bankrolling Its Own Destruction’.


Innovative Financing to Protect Public Health During a Pandemic

By Anisa Ismail and Tan Yen Lian
BANGKOK / PENANG, Sep 20 2022 – Economic recovery since the COVID-19 pandemic has been uneven amidst a cautious loosening of restrictions. But even at the height of the pandemic, it was business as usual for the tobacco industry.

Tobacco companies remain profitable, making US$ 912.3 billion in 2022 and capitalizing on the situation by promoting and selling their lethal products while convincing governments that their industry should not be penalised during the pandemic, claiming tobacco is a good investment.

This is an industry that perpetuates an annual loss of US$ 1.4 trillion in global health costs and lost productivity, amounting to 1.8% of the world’s GDP. 14% of all deaths globally (over 8 million deaths annually) are due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) directly caused by tobacco consumption and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Yet, total healthcare spending is not prioritized enough and remains scarce in many low- and middle-income countries, leaving precious little funds for health promotion programs to counter the devious marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. In low-income countries, health expenditures as a share of government spending fell to 6.8% in 2016 from 7.9% in 2000.

Low- and middle-income countries must increase their health expenditures to achieve the SDGs. Credit: SEATCA

In addition to its destructive impact on our bodies, tobacco is also horrible for the environment. With about 1.3 billion smokers consuming an estimated 6.25 trillion cigarettes worldwide each year, tobacco smoke releases significant amounts of cancer-causing substances, poisons, and pollutants into the air.

In fact, tobacco causes significant damage throughout its cycle – from cultivation, manufacture, and distribution, to consumption and post-consumption. Cigarettes are reportedly the most pervasive single-use plastic product on Earth, costing about US$ 20 billion per year in ecosystem losses from the plastic waste that enters our oceans.

COVID-19 has been an unshakable constant in our lives for more than two years now, and it is far from over. But we cannot forget that tobacco is a pandemic too.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), investing in tobacco control offers the best returns on investment for protecting public health. The Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has worked with governments, the UN Development Program, and WHO to develop country-tailored investment cases that quantify the economic benefits of implementing tobacco control policy measures.

And on the flipside are the costs of inaction. Aggregated across 25 countries, these investment cases show that urgent action will potentially save 1.4 million lives and US$ 74 billion.

Tobacco control is not only essential for achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 3.4, a one-third reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2030, it is also important for the achievement of all the SDGs.

182 countries are Parties to the international tobacco control treaty – the WHO FCTC – and are legally bound to allocate national funds and identify bilateral/multilateral funding sources to support the implementation of treaty measures.

However, governments are only allocating an average of US$ 15 million in annual domestic funding per country for tobacco control, only half of what is required, and mostly in high-income countries. A WHO FCTC Investment Fund was authorized in 2021 to raise additional funds to support treaty implementation as well, but finances remain tight.

Establishing a tax-based health promotion funding mechanism is an innovative way to generate sustainable and transparent financing for health and development. But it is not entirely new.

Health taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages are the most cost-effective measure for reducing NCDs. These taxes reduce consumption of these products and their related healthcare costs and are a reliable domestic funding stream for health spending.

In 2021, at least 39 countries reported earmarking a percentage of tobacco taxes to be used specifically for various health promotion programs, in effect making the polluter pay for its pollution instead of cutting into existing government budgets.

Pre-emptively, dedicating tax revenues for health promotion programs can garner public support for regular tax increases. Such taxes can steadily and consistently diminish the investment gap as well as inequitable access to health promotion and disease prevention services.

In Thailand, approximately US$ 150 million in annual revenue from a 2% surcharge on tobacco and alcohol excise taxes is dedicated for the implementation of multiple health promotion plans including tobacco control, alcohol and substance abuse control, road safety, and in recent years, COVID-19 prevention.

This funding is managed by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, an autonomous government agency formed by the passage of the 2001 Health Promotion Foundation Act.

The ThaiHealth model earmarks revenue collected from alcohol and tobacco tax surcharges for health promotion programs. Credit: SEATCA

Vietnam’s Tobacco Control Law in 2012 established the semi-autonomous Vietnam Tobacco Control Fund (VNTCF) within the Ministry of Health. VNTCF also derives its funding through a 2% compulsory contribution from excise tax levied on tobacco product manufacturers and importers.

These examples show that health promotion funding mechanisms can thrive despite a pandemic. Legislative measures are critical to establish the legitimacy of these funding mechanisms, provide transparency and accountability measures for the proper management of funds, and protect against interference from harmful businesses with vested interests.

Tobacco control makes sense from a health, economic, sustainable development, and environmental perspective. When governments are strapped for cash, dedicated health taxes are an innovative way of ensuring adequate financing for public health.

More info at:

Anisa Ismail is the Sustainability Manager & Tan Yen Lian the Knowledge and Information Manager of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).


SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.

IPS UN Bureau


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UN Bans NGOs During High-Level Meetings of World Leaders— Triggering Strong Protests

Young climate activists from civil society organizations take part in demonstrations at the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, December 2021. Credit: UN News/Laura Quiñones

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 20 2022 – When world leaders, numbering over 150, make their annual political pilgrimage to address the General Assembly in the third week of September, the security at the world body is exceptionally tight.

And this year is no exception.

After two years of on-again and off-again lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN Secretariat is back in full swing – but in a virtual high security war zone.

The weeklong high-level meeting is scheduled to take place September 20-26, but civil society organizations (CSOs) have been barred from the UN premises September 16 through 30.

Mandeep S. Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer at CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, told IPS the note ( issued by the NGO branch of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) states that “as per standing practice”, access to the UN premises is restricted.

From 16-30 September, says the circular, UN headquarters will be accessible only to UN staff and member delegations.

“Suspension of the annual and temporary grounds passes of NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) during the UNGA session is not just perplexingly discriminatory but also counter-intuitive as it deprives the international community of the benefits of civil society engagement in times of immense mayhem, disruption and contestation globally,” said Tiwana.

It’s a lost opportunity for the UN and state diplomatic delegations to interact freely with civil society representatives who bring with them a wealth of expertise, on the ground experience and deep commitment to resolving global challenges in line with UN Charter principles, he argued.

“This cavalier attitude of the UN establishment once again highlights the critical need for civil society to have a champion within the system in the form of a UN Civil Society Envoy,” he noted.

Appointment of such an envoy, he pointed out, can help unblock bottlenecks that inhibit civil society engagement at the UN, promote best practices on people’s and civil society participation across the UN and also drive the UN’s outreach to civil society at the regional level.

During an event marking the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter in 2020, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said civil society groups were a vital voice at the San Francisco Conference (where the UN was inaugurated).

“You have been with us across the decades, in refugee camps, in conference rooms, and in mobilizing communities in streets and town squares across the world.”

“You are with us today as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. You are our allies in upholding human rights and battling racism. You are indispensable partners in forging peace, pushing for climate action, advancing gender equality, delivering life-saving humanitarian aid and controlling the spread of deadly weapons”.

“And the world’s framework for shared progress, the Sustainable Development Goals, is unthinkable without you”, he declared.

Still, all CSOs have been barred from the UN building during one of the most politically crucial General Assembly sessions.

Louis Charbonneau, UN Director of Human Rights Watch said: “As you know, the UN Secretariat has an unhelpful policy of barring civil society organizations (CSOs) from UN headquarters during high-level week, so we won’t be in the building. But we will be around to answer questions or do interviews, when possible, outside of UNHQ.”

“We’re also asking member states and the UN secretariat to end the senseless exclusion of civil society during one of the most important weeks on the UN calendar,” said Charbonneau.

In a subsequent email interview, he told IPS: “We have complained publicly about the terms of the UN General Assembly period ban on NGOs in the past, because it is arbitrary and sometimes extends past high-level week, which makes no sense”.

“We are now calling on the UN to end the UNGA period ban altogether.”

He said: “Our experience with the outrageous ban on civil society on the pretext of Covid when everyone else – including tourists – was allowed back in the building made us realize there’s an urgent need for civil society to push back against attempts to marginalize NGOs at the UN.”

“The way Covid was used to keep civil society out of the UN when diplomats, UN officials and journalists were allowed back in confirmed our belief that it is high time for us to push to end the UNGA high-level ban and other senseless restrictions.”

He pointed out that the Secretary-General’s “Common Agenda” is full of language about the importance of civil society.

“Now it’s time the UN made their actions reflect the rhetoric, declared Charbonneau.

Jens Martens, Director, Global Policy Forum Europe, told IPS the behavior of the UN and Member States towards NGOs has often been hypocritical.

“On the one hand, they praise NGOs and declare that engaging civil society in the work of the UN is a top priority. On the other hand, they restrict or even prevent access for NGOs, as just now during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly,” he said.

If Member States and the UN Secretariat are serious about their appreciation for NGOs, they should not treat them as potential security risks, said Martens.

“Instead, they should facilitate access and create better working conditions for NGOs at UN headquarters”.

The UN clampdown triggers the question: Are NGOs deemed security risks?

While visiting heads of state, heads of governments, foreign ministers, ambassadors and other diplomats are permitted to move around freely and avoid security checks, most UN staffers resident UN correspondents and visiting journalists are deemed security risks and their movements curtailed and subject to restrictions— while UN retirees are barred.

Incidentally, the only “terrorist attack” on the UN came from the outside, not from the inside.

When the politically-charismatic Ernesto Che Guevara, once second-in-command to Cuban leader Fidel Castro, was at the United Nations to address the General Assembly sessions back in 1964, the U.N. headquarters came under attack – literally. The speech by the Argentine-born Marxist revolutionary was momentarily drowned by the sound of an explosion.

The anti-Castro forces in the United States, backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), had mounted an insidious campaign to stop Che Guevara from speaking.

A 3.5-inch bazooka was fired at the 39-storeyed Secretariat building by the East River while a vociferous CIA-inspired anti-Castro, anti-Che Guevara demonstration was taking place outside the U.N. building on New York’s First Avenue and 42nd street.

But the rocket launcher – which was apparently not as sophisticated as today’s shoulder-fired missiles and rocket-propelled grenades – missed its target, rattled windows, and fell into the river about 200 yards from the UN building.

One newspaper report described it as “one of the wildest episodes since the United Nations moved into its East River headquarters in 1952.”

As longtime U.N. staffers would recall, the failed 1964 bombing of the U.N. building took place when Che Guevara launched a blistering attack on U.S. foreign policy and denounced a proposed de-nuclearization pact for the Western hemisphere. It was one of the first known politically motivated terrorist attacks on the United Nations.

After his Assembly speech, Che Guevara was asked about the attack aimed at him. “The explosion has given the whole thing more flavor,” he joked, as he chomped on his Cuban cigar.

When he was told by a reporter that the New York City police had nabbed a woman, described as an anti-Castro Cuban exile, who had pulled out a hunting knife and jumped over the UN wall, intending to kill him, Che Guevara said: “It is better to be killed by a woman with a knife than by a man with a gun.”

As a longstanding former UN staffer, long retired, remarked jokingly last week: “This must be the first known instance of gender empowerment at the UN.”

IPS UN Bureau Report


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Inflation Targeting Farce: High Costs, Moot Benefits

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 20 2022 – Policymakers have become obsessed with achieving low inflation. Many central banks adopt inflation targeting (IT) monetary policy (MP) frameworks in various ways. Some have mandates to keep inflation at 2% over the medium term. Many believe this ensures sustained long-term prosperity.

Anis Chowdhury

The now universal 2% inflation target “was plucked out of the air”. This was acknowledged by Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) Governor Don Brash who first adopted IT. The target was due to NZ Finance Minister Roger Douglas’ “chance remark” of achieving “genuine price stability, around 0, or 0 to 1 percent”.

IT discord
Heads of major central banks – such as the US Federal Reserve Bank (Fed), Bank of England (BoE) and German Bundesbank – committed to keep inflation at 2% soon after NZ. Although typically ‘medium-term’, IT’s high costs are portrayed as necessary, but brief. Worse, promised growth benefits have not materialized.

The Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) never endorsed any fixed inflation target. Article IV states, “each member shall: (i) endeavor to direct its economic and financial policies toward the objective of fostering orderly economic growth with reasonable price stability, with due regard to its circumstances”.

This makes clear much depends on conditions and circumstances. The sensible priority then would be to sustain prosperity with “reasonable price stability”, and not to commit to an arbitrary universal IT at any cost. Yet, many IMF officials promote the 2% target.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

During the 2008-09 global financial crisis (GFC), the IMF Managing Director appealed for more imagination in designing monetary policy, appreciating “just how intricate the global economic and financial web had become”.

For him, “Monetary policy needs to look beyond its core focus on low and stable inflation” to promote balanced and equitable growth, while minimizing adverse spill-overs on developing economies.

An IMF chief economist even asserted low inflation and economic progress was a “divine coincidence”, and insisted a 2% inflation target was too low. After the GFC, an IMF working paper argued for a long-run inflation target of 4% for advanced countries.

A Bank of Canada working paper concluded, “the current state of economic research – both empirical and theoretical – provides little basis for believing in significant observable benefits of low inflation such as an increase in the growth rate of real GDP”.

IT benefits?
Any objective consideration of actual IT experiences would have led to its rejection long ago. IT is clearly inimical to growth and equity, let alone the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Four central bank (CB) experiences offer valuable lessons about IT’s likely consequences.

The US Fed is, by far, the most important CB globally, while the BoE has been historically important. The Bundesbank has been the most inflation averse in the post-war period, while the RBNZ was the world’s IT pioneer.

NZ’s inflation during 1961-90 averaged 9%, more than the US’s 5.1% and the UK’s 8%. Yet, the mighty Fed and the venerable BoE sought to emulate the miniscule RBNZ! Germany’s well-known inflation-phobia is attributed to its inter-war ‘hyperinflation’ and its bloody aftermath. Inflation there averaged 3.4% over 1960-90, i.e., even before IT.

None achieved sustained economic prosperity despite reaching inflation targets of 2% or less. Average per capita GDP growth declined sharply in the US, UK and Germany, while rising negligibly in NZ (Table 1).

Table 1. Pre- & post-IT average per capita growth & inflation (%)

Long-term declines in their growth rates followed declining investments (Table 2). IT advocates claim high inflation causes uncertainty, thus reducing investments, but lower inflation has clearly done worse.

Table 2. Pre- & post-IT investment/GDP (%)

As the investment rate declined with IT, so did productivity growth in the UK, Germany and NZ (Table 3). While productivity growth has risen negligibly with IT in the US, it has trended down in all four economies (Figures 1-4). US hourly output grew at only 1.4% after 2004, “half its pace in the three decades after World War II”.

Table 3. Pre- & post-IT productivity growth (%)

Figures 1-4. Declining productivity growth, 1990-2021

Most advanced economies have experienced productivity slowdowns since the 1970s. With the European Central Bank’s strict IT framework, the euro zone also saw marked slowdowns in productivity growth during 1999-2019.

Declining productivity growth often becomes the pretext for depressing real wages and working conditions, compelling workers to work more to compensate for lost earnings. Productivity and growth slowdowns are seen as “secular stagnation”.

All this has been blamed on inflation. But lowering inflation has not reversed this trend, which has actually accelerated since the GFC. Many explanations have been offered, but the reasons for this failure remain moot.

IT, low inflation, tax cuts and market reforms are supposed to improve economic performance. Weaker investment and economic growth, due to contractionary macroeconomic policies, slowed US productivity growth.

Similarly, The Economist observed, “Drooping demand crimped incentives to invest and innovate”. It ascribed declining UK productivity growth to cuts in innovation investments due to “austerity policies” and “severe reduction in credit”, inter alia.

Concluding “no doubt … the cost … was huge”, it estimated, “Britain’s GDP per person in 2019 would have been £6,700 ($8,380) higher than it turned out to be” had productivity growth not fallen further after the GFC.

There is growing acknowledgement that widespread “unconditional” CB commitment to 2% inflation targets – in the face of the current inflationary upsurge – is likely to worsen slowdowns. This is likely to compound debt crises in many developing countries.

The adverse socio-economic impacts of recessions are well documented. Policy-induced recessions – supposedly to curb inflation – will compound the effects of pandemic, war and sanctions.

Pragmatism, not dogma
Central bankers should not be dogmatic. Instead, pragmatic approaches are urgently needed to address the current inflationary surges. This is especially necessary when inflation worldwide is mainly due to supply shocks.

Western policymakers must consider the adverse spill-over impacts on developing countries, already on the brink of debt crises due to protracted slowdowns. Government debt – with more higher cost commercial borrowings – has been rising since the GFC, Western ‘quantitative easing’ and Covid-19.

Almost all central bankers know it is almost impossible to achieve 2% inflation in current circumstances. Yet, they insist not raising interest rates now will cause much economic damage later.

But such claims clearly have no theoretical or empirical bases. Hence, it is recklessly dogmatic to enforce a 2% target by falsely claiming inaction would be even more harmful.

IPS UN Bureau


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UN Agencies Call to Commit to Transforming Education in Crises

Mary Maker chairing a session on “Education in Crisis Situations – A Partnership for Transformative Actions for Learners” on the final day of the Transforming Education Summit. Credit: UN

Mary Maker chairing a session on “Education in Crisis Situations – A Partnership for Transformative Actions for Learners” on the final day of the Transforming Education Summit. Credit: UN

By Naureen Hossain
United Nations, Sep 20 2022 – Refugee youth advocate, Mary Maker, called on UN member states to honor their commitments to transform education from the foundation up to the top, starting with those living in the direst and fraught circumstances.

Maker, a South Sudanese refugee who fled her country and found hope while attending a school in Kukuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, chaired a session called “Education in Crisis Situations – A Partnership for Transformative Actions for Learners” on the final day of the Transforming Education Summit (TES).

The session focused on education and learning in crises and the forced displacement that often results from these situations.

“I am really excited about this session because this is my story. This is the story of so many other refugees,” Maker, who also supports the UNHCR, said. “And as we’ve conversed over the last few days, I hope that this Call to Action becomes actually something we can implement after this session.”

She spoke on the significance of the session, “given the increased displacement around the world, and the added need for collective effort to transform the provision and financing of quality education.”

Member states affirmed their commitment to transforming education on the third and final day of the Transforming Education Summit. The TES Leaders Day, September 19, was dedicated to the Heads of State and Government to present their National State of Commitment to the summit’s goals in Leader Roundtables. Concurrently, thematic sessions were hosted with the intent of cross-cutting priorities for transforming education and reaffirming commitments and plans for action from multiple stakeholders, including world governments, UN partners, and civil society organizations.

The session launched “Education in Crisis: A Call to Action,” a commitment to transform education systems so that they can prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from crises and so that all crisis-affected children have access to continuous, inclusive, and safe learning opportunities. The Call to Action asks countries, multilateral organizations, civil society groups, and education partners to work toward the agreement by improving education access and learning outcomes in equality and inclusivity; protecting and improving external financing; working together to build resilient education systems in the spirit of international cooperation; to scale and mainstream high-impact and evidence-based interventions into policy and programme efforts.

“This Commitment to Action is the result of extensive consultations with over 45 crisis-affected countries from five continents, more than 100 civil society organizations, as well as other stakeholders, including youth,” Estefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General UNESCO, said.

UN agencies, represented by its leaders, emphasized the urgency of education in crisis.

Filippo Grandi, High-Commissioner of UNHCR, spoke on the impact of compounding crises, such as climate change, famine, and armed conflict.

“Across all these underlying aspects of crises, forces of crises, you have forced displacement,” he said. “People flee or are obliged to flee their homes because there is fighting. They’re obliged to flee their homes because there is hunger, and they are now increasingly obliged to flee their homes because of climate change. More importantly, all these factors are interlinked.”

He added, “And all these faces of crisis are multipliers for vulnerability…These challenges, or crises as we should see them, challenge education.”

Due to ongoing crises, climate-induced disasters, and forced displacement, 222 million children and youth have experienced disruptions to their education, affecting their learning access or continuity.

Yasmine Sherif, Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait is concerned that the world has the highest number of displaced people since World War II. Credit: UN

Yasmine Sherif, Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait, is concerned that the world now has the highest number of displaced people since World War II. Credit: UN

“We have reached a historical – a sad historical – number of forcibly displaced peoples, the highest number of peoples since World War II,” said Yasmine Sherif, Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), during a panel discussion.

“Despite the enormity of this challenge, we have to reach every one of these, and we have to make sure they have foundational learning,” said Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF.

Appealing directly to Heads of State and Government, Russell asked them to prioritize education, especially its access during times of crisis. “We need your help to deliver domestic and humanitarian funds to education. We need you to help prevent or stop attacks on education. We need your commitment to build resilient education systems so that they can withstand the future shocks that we know for sure are coming. And we need your commitment to safeguard education for the most vulnerable children.”

Member states represented in the session, including Qatar, Ecuador, South Sudan, Pakistan, Norway, Switzerland, the European Commission, and the State of Palestine, affirmed their support of the Commitment to Action, and shared their states’ implementations toward improving access to education.

“We know that education systems must be resilient enough to prevent, prepare, repel, and recover from armed conflict. Our Call to Action will hopefully do that,” said Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, as she closed the spotlight session.

“The alignment between national priorities and international commitments is critical to making education systems more resilient and can ensure the protection of children and their rights, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

This spirit of international cooperation across multiple stakeholders will indeed be critical to transforming education on a fundamental level. In the global conversation, this will be revisited with the ECW High-Level Financing Conference, slated for 16 and 17 February 2023. The conference will take place in Geneva, with co-conveners South Sudan, Niger, Germany, and Norway.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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