News Digest | November 2023

Step up investment to end violence against women and girls: UN deputy chief

Ms. Mohammed said violence against women is one of the most pervasive human rights violations, and a global public health problem with negative multiplier effects across economies, politics, and societies. Rates are alarmingly high, and further aggravated by conflicts, crises, and emergencies. The global backlash against gender equality is threatening to undo decades of hard-won gains, while women’s rights are facing more risks than ever before, including online. In order to combat discriminatory attitudes and practices, address the underlying causes as well as the drivers of violence, and advance comprehensive preventative policies and programs, she advocated for funding. Funding for data collection and analysis that will guide programs and policy is necessary to address the underlying causes and drivers. One encouraging example, mentioned by Ms. Mohammed, is the Spotlight Initiative, an EU-UN partnership aimed at eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030. Domestic and family violence, femicide, sexual and gender-based violence (GBV), and human trafficking are among the focus topics. She claimed thousands of lives have been saved, about 2.5 million women and girls have accessed GBV services, and nearly 500 laws and policies have been signed or strengthened as a result of the cooperation. 

$20 million appeal to support Palestine labour market 

In order to meet the urgent needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian employers and workers impacted by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is requesting $20 million. The financing appeal, which was made public in Geneva on Thursday, will be used to carry out a three-phase program that would help both social protection and longer-term job and business recovery in addition to immediate relief. Over 1.5 million people work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), which is home to over 3.4 million people, and the ILO has released a bulletin that looks at how the conflict, which broke out on October 7, has affected the labour market and people’s lives there thus far. A minimum of 61% of Gaza’s labour market, or 182,000 jobs, has been destroyed, according to UN agency estimates. There have been 208,000 fewer jobs lost in the West Bank due to the conflict, which accounts for approximately 24% of all employment there. Combining these results amounts to lost labour income of $16 million per day. There are three stages to the ILO response program that attempt to alleviate the crisis’ effects. First, which is already in progress, is a relief that is provided immediately. It means giving Gazan workers—who are currently stranded in the West Bank after losing their employment within Israel—urgent support for their livelihoods, such as emergency livelihood support packages.  Approximately two million internal resources of the ILO have already been directed into emergency assistance operations and preliminary data collecting. In order to carry out the reaction strategy, it is also working on assigning more resources. In order to help plan, prioritize, and fine-tune actions, the second step includes data gathering and impact analysis. Recovery is the focus of the last stage. Apart from social protection measures and the recovery of enterprises and jobs, the focus will be on creating jobs through “employment-intensive infrastructure recovery” and other methods. 

Underinvestment in climate adaptation in Asia could exacerbate inequality, social unrest: UNDP

The UNDP has warned that a lack of funding for climate adaptation in the Asia Pacific might fuel societal polarisation, populism, social instability, and warfare. As per the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA), the number of people without access to adequate water will rise from 3.6 billion to over 5 billion by 2050, and climate change is expected to impede the growth of agricultural yields worldwide by as much as 30%. As per the UNDP report, 27 nations in the Asia Pacific area have revised their plans for climate adaptation; yet, only 8% of the available regional climate financing has been allocated for adaptation. There are financial rewards to investing in climate adaptation. According to GCA, global investments of US$1.8 trillion in early warning systems, resilient water resources, enhanced dryland agriculture, mangrove preservation, and climate-resilient infrastructure by 2030 could yield net benefits of US$7.1 trillion. In particular, threats to infrastructure and agriculture can be mitigated and managed by increasing risk transfer. Governments and partners could harness technological solutions for adaptation by connecting programs to emerging ecosystems. Governments continue to play a crucial role in creating favorable conditions that allow private financing to expedite the reallocation of funds.

‘Not economically feasible’: Exxon Asia exec says carbon capture ventures in Southeast Asia not meant for oil recovery

Ahead of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, oil majors are facing mounting scrutiny over how their business models still remain wedded to a future of ever more demand for fossil fuels. Among many of the sector’s controversial practices, a process that uses trapped carbon dioxide from industrial processes to extract more oil, known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR), has been criticized most, especially as oil and gas companies are talking up their green credentials with their efforts to develop carbon capture technologies. While EOR is becoming more popular in Southeast Asia, Exxon has stated publicly that it is not concentrating on EOR in its most recent agreements in the area, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia where it has expressed confidence in carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. Malaysia and Indonesia are possible centers for the secure and long-term storage of carbon due to the abundance of exhausted oil and gas resources in these regions. Exxon last November negotiated a deal to jointly create a carbon storage hub with the Indonesian state oil and gas company Pertamina; in January of this year, it also signed a deal with the Malaysian oil and gas giant Petronas to develop CCS projects. Exxon stated that it will invest billions of dollars in this new “low carbon” business line this year. Opponents counter that this is merely a 10% increase in overall spending over a five-year period in lower-emissions technology and that the real reason for the change is to capitalize on the Inflation Reduction Act, the signature climate law of the Joe Biden administration that offers substantial subsidies for a variety of environmentally friendly technologies. In addition, Exxon intends to increase its production of petrol and oil by 3% year through 2027, which will differentiate it from its competitors in Europe who claim to be maintaining current levels of output or perhaps allowing it to fall. 


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