Brazil Approves 15% Levy on Offshore Crypto Holdings

The Brazilian Senate has passed legislation
proposing an income tax on crypto gains from offshore exchanges, awaiting
final approval from the country’s president. This proposal is slated for
potential enactment on January 1.

The bill aims to introduce a levy of 15% on all earnings garnered from cryptocurrencies held on
offshore exchanges, Cointelegraph reported. If authorized, this tax legislation would impact Brazilians who
earn more than $1,200 from foreign exchanges and investment funds with a single

The anticipated revenue from this tax reform is
substantial, with the government targeting $4 billion for the forthcoming year.
Despite its potential financial implications, the legislation has met
criticism. Brazilian Senator Rogerio Marinho voiced dissent, attributing the
introduction of this tax to poor management by the government.

Brazil‘s crypto market has witnessed rapid growth,
ranking ninth globally in terms of crypto adoption. The country has seen a
surge in assets under management for spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds, with
approximately $100 million in holdings.

Brazil’s rising interest in digital assets has
attracted global attention, leading various international crypto exchanges to
establish a presence in the country. Apart from Mercado Bitcoin, other players
holding Brazilian payment licenses include and Bitso.

In August, Binance introduced Binance Pay service to the Brazilian market. The exchange said that the unveiling of this
contactless crypto payment platform aims to revolutionize payment methods,
offering Brazilian users an array of digital asset choices and seamless

Crypto Firms Race to Establish Presence in Brazil

The expansion of Binance Pay into Brazil signified a leap
forward in the crypto payment sector, catering to the growing demand for
digital currency transactions in the region. With a diverse selection of over
70 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, BNB, Ether, and USDT, the service aims
to provide Brazilian users with a suite of payment options.

Binance Pay boasts zero transaction fees and offers
merchants the flexibility to accept payments in Brazilian Real or directly in
various cryptocurrencies. The crypto exchange teamed up with Weo Games, a
gaming store featuring popular titles like Free Fire, Valorant, and League of
Legends, to roll out the service.

The Brazilian Senate has passed legislation
proposing an income tax on crypto gains from offshore exchanges, awaiting
final approval from the country’s president. This proposal is slated for
potential enactment on January 1.

The bill aims to introduce a levy of 15% on all earnings garnered from cryptocurrencies held on
offshore exchanges, Cointelegraph reported. If authorized, this tax legislation would impact Brazilians who
earn more than $1,200 from foreign exchanges and investment funds with a single

The anticipated revenue from this tax reform is
substantial, with the government targeting $4 billion for the forthcoming year.
Despite its potential financial implications, the legislation has met
criticism. Brazilian Senator Rogerio Marinho voiced dissent, attributing the
introduction of this tax to poor management by the government.

Brazil‘s crypto market has witnessed rapid growth,
ranking ninth globally in terms of crypto adoption. The country has seen a
surge in assets under management for spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds, with
approximately $100 million in holdings.

Brazil’s rising interest in digital assets has
attracted global attention, leading various international crypto exchanges to
establish a presence in the country. Apart from Mercado Bitcoin, other players
holding Brazilian payment licenses include and Bitso.

In August, Binance introduced Binance Pay service to the Brazilian market. The exchange said that the unveiling of this
contactless crypto payment platform aims to revolutionize payment methods,
offering Brazilian users an array of digital asset choices and seamless

Crypto Firms Race to Establish Presence in Brazil

The expansion of Binance Pay into Brazil signified a leap
forward in the crypto payment sector, catering to the growing demand for
digital currency transactions in the region. With a diverse selection of over
70 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, BNB, Ether, and USDT, the service aims
to provide Brazilian users with a suite of payment options.

Binance Pay boasts zero transaction fees and offers
merchants the flexibility to accept payments in Brazilian Real or directly in
various cryptocurrencies. The crypto exchange teamed up with Weo Games, a
gaming store featuring popular titles like Free Fire, Valorant, and League of
Legends, to roll out the service.

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#Brazil #Approves #Levy #Offshore #Crypto #Holdings

Have European banks cashed in on deforestation and slavery?

Environmental campaigners have dragged controversial investments into the spotlight, claiming that major European banks are linked to businesses that harm threatened species, engage in deforestation and other questionable environmental practices.


European banks, including Switzerland’s UBS, the UK’s HSBC and Spain’s Santander, have been thrown into the spotlight after two recent reports linked them to significant environmental damage.

The revelations come as these “green” investments, so called because they were made to fund environmentally friendly activities, are increasingly falling under scrutiny: The UK Financial Conduct Authority is investigating the sustainability-linked loans market, while a new European Green Bond Regulation is coming into effect next year – a gold standard that aims to eliminate any greenwashing from the bond market.

How Brazilian ‘green bonds’ link European banks to allegations of deforestation and slave labour

At the centre of the allegations is the green bond market in Brazil, which environmental campaigner Greenpeace says UBS and Santander, among other non-European banks, have acted as intermediaries in.

The banks helped investors to purchase green investment assets, according to a report by Greenpeace’s investigative journalism project Unearthed, which generated funds that were ultimately used to finance controversial companies including deforesters, land grabbers and ranchers accused of slave labour in Brazil.

The banks orchestrating these bond transactions define the price of the bonds and sell them to investors in exchange for a fee, which is usually 3% to 5% of the total offer.

The allegations focus on so-called Agribusiness Receivables Certificates (CRA) – an asset backed security which represents investment in agribusiness, financing those on the ground in the hope of a hefty return on investment.

These are referred to as green bonds and they were initially created to support small-scale, sustainable farmers’ practices in Brazil.

But in reality, the market has swollen by around €8 billion and the bonds often finance large companies and their suppliers.

It’s these bonds that have linked European banks to claims of deforestation and even slave-like working conditions.

According to Unearthed, UBS helped Brazilian grain trader Caramaru to raise funds worth of €66.5 million in CRAs in October 2021.

Part of the money ended up in the hands of Caramuru’s soy suppliers, Unearthed said, some of whom have a history of illegal deforestation and land grabbing. Another has even been sued for alleged slave-like labour.

Caramuru denies wrongdoing, claiming that it monitors the environmental compliance of all its suppliers and that the company hasn’t done business with all of the suppliers. As such, “it is possible to state that soy was not acquired from places with issues of illegal deforestation or land grabbing, nor from farms with work similar to slavery,” the company said.

For its part, UBS said it does not “knowingly provide financial or advisory services to clients” associated with damages to high conservation value forests, child labour and forced labour, among other practices.

UBS isn’t the only European bank caught in the crosshairs. Spain’s Santander was involved in raising funds to the tune of €280 million in CRAs for JBS, the largest meat processing enterprise in the world, in August 2023, according to Unearthed.

JBS admitted in 2022 to buying cattle from a farmer that prosecutors dubbed “one of the biggest deforesters in Brazil”, despite saying it has strict, self-imposed rules on who it does business with.

Santander also helped Uisa, one of the largest ethanol and sugar producers in the world, to issue a R$150 million green CRA, for a fee of roughly €710,000.

Uisa has received a dozen environmental fines for illegal deforestation, and was also responsible for leaking toxic material into a river that is vital to the Umatina Indigenous people in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.

Like UBS, Santander claims to have a strict rulebook to eliminate environmental and social risks in its business, the latter stating that CRAs are regulated by the Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission.


“Santander has strong governance processes in place to ensure that required market standards are adhered to,” the bank said in a statement.

How European banks may be further harming threatened species

Aside from the Unearthed report, a new study from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has linked 62 banks and financial institutions, including some in Europe, to harming threatened animal species.

The report states that the banks have invested in three companies that produce traditional Chinese medicine, using leopard and pangolin parts. Both animals are classified as highly threatened species – a stone’s throw from being considered endangered.

UBS is once again named as having invested in the companies, but so are UK lender HSBC and Germany’s Deutsche Bank. All three are members of The Royal Foundation’s United for Wildlife (UfW) Financial Taskforce, which was launched in 2018 to stop the trafficking of wildlife, according to the report.

While HSBC and Deutsche Bank are not direct investors in the Chinese companies according to the report, they are linked to them via asset management companies. They claim that these investments came about through passive funds – a type of automatic investment, that is channelling money in shares based on a linked index, the BBC reports.


UBS has not responded to a request for comment.

Both the EIA and Unearthed reports are just two of many which claim to shed light on the impact that major banks’ business practices have on the environment.

The worsening dangers of climate change have prompted investors and companies across the globe to increasingly turn towards green financial products, including green bonds, and present themselves as sustainable businesses that care about the environment.

Yet the concept of greenwashing – which refers to when a company makes misleading claims about the positive effect it has on the environment – is looming large too.

The number of instances of greenwashing by banks and financial service companies around the world has risen by 70% in the past 12 months, according to RepRisk, a Swiss environmental, social and corporate governance data provider.


EU to put a stop to greenwashing

The European Union is hoping to stem the flow of greenwashing with its new European Green Bond Regulation, which is due to come online in 2024.

It will introduce legal sanctions for any misleading business practices related to sustainability and the environment.

The newly-approved rules against greenwashing in the bond market include a registration system and supervisory framework.

Under the new regulations, companies issuing green bonds will have to disclose more information about their practices with special regards to show how these investments feed into the companies’ plans to transition to a net zero carbon emissions economy.

The new law also specifies that at least 85% of funds raised would have to be allocated to activities that are sustainable according to EU law.


At the same time, the European Banking Authority will require banks to publish their so-called green asset ratio, a percentage of environmentally sustainable assets, in their books. 

A common classification system – the EU’s taxonomy – will define what makes a ‘green’ asset.

Swiss banks campaign for self-regulation

The EU isn’t alone in wanting to regulate greenwashing: Reuters reports that the Swiss government will consider the matter as part of a plan to introduce overall state regulation on sustainable finance in the country.

Switzerland, a huge centre for asset and wealth management, accounted for sustainable investments totalling around 1.6 trillion Swiss francs (€1.69 trillion) in 2022, according to industry association Swiss Sustainable Finance.

The Swiss Bankers Association, which represents lenders like UBS and Julius Baer as well as Switzerland’s smaller banks, wants to continue with self-regulation rather than be subject to tighter government rules, according to Reuters.


UBS, the country’s biggest bank with $5.5 trillion in invested assets, also supports self-regulation, saying it sets a “minimum standard”.

“There is a wave of regulation coming to Swiss banks…it will really hit (them),” said Daniel Schmid Perez of banking consultancy ZEB.

He estimates the total cost for lenders to adjust their processes would be around 100 million to 200 million francs. Yet many consider the cost worth it to boost sustainability in the effort to avoid climate disaster.

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#European #banks #cashed #deforestation #slavery

It’s time to hang up on the old telecoms rulebook

Joakim Reiter | via Vodafone

Around 120 years ago, Guglielmo Marconi planted the seeds of a communications revolution, sending the first message via a wireless link over open water. “Are you ready? Can you hear me?”, he said. Now, the telecommunications industry in Europe needs policymakers to heed that call, to realize the vision set by its 19th-century pioneers.

Next-generation telecommunications are catalyzing a transformation on par with the industrial revolution. Mobile networks are becoming programmable platforms — supercomputers that will fundamentally underpin European industrial productivity, growth and competitiveness. Combined with cloud, AI and the internet of things, the era of industrial internet will transform our economy and way of life, bringing smarter cities, energy grids and health care, as well as autonomous transport systems, factories and more to the real world.

5G is already connecting smarter, autonomous factory technologies | via Vodafone

Europe should be at the center of this revolution, just as it was in the early days of modern communications.

Next-generation telecommunications are catalyzing a transformation on par with the industrial revolution.

Even without looking at future applications, the benefits of a healthy telecoms industry for society are clear to see. Mobile technologies and services generated 5 percent of global GDP, equivalent to €4.3 trillion, in 2021. More than five billion people around the world are connected to mobile services — more people today have access to mobile communications than they do to safely-managed sanitation services. And with the combination of satellite solutions, the prospect of ensuring every person on the planet is connected may soon be within reach.

Satellite solutions, combined with mobile communications, could eliminate coverage gaps | via Vodafone

In our recent past, when COVID-19 spread across the world and societies went into lockdown, connectivity became critical for people to work from home, and for enabling schools and hospitals to offer services online.  And with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, when millions were forced to flee the safety of their homes, European network operators provided heavily discounted roaming and calling to ensure refugees stayed connected with loved ones.

A perfect storm of rising investment costs, inflationary pressures, interest rate hikes and intensifying competition from adjacent industries is bearing down on telecoms businesses across Europe.

These are all outcomes and opportunities, depending on the continuous investment of telecoms’ private companies.

And yet, a perfect storm of rising investment costs, inflationary pressures, interest rate hikes and intensifying competition from adjacent industries is bearing down on telecoms businesses across Europe. The war on our continent triggered a 15-fold increase in wholesale energy prices and rapid inflation. EU telecoms operators have been under pressure ever since to keep consumer prices low during a cost-of-living crisis, while confronting rapidly growing operational costs as a result. At the same time, operators also face the threat of billions of euros of extra, unforeseen costs as governments change their operating requirements in light of growing geopolitical concerns.

Telecoms operators may be resilient. But they are not invincible.

The odds are dangerously stacked against the long-term sustainability of our industry and, as a result, Europe’s own digital ambitions. Telecoms operators may be resilient. But they are not invincible.

The signs of Europe’s decline are obvious for those willing to take a closer look. European countries are lagging behind in 5G mobile connectivity, while other parts of the world — including Thailand, India and the Philippines — race ahead. Independent research by OpenSignal shows that mobile users in South Korea have an active 5G connection three times more often than those in Germany, and more than 10 times their counterparts in Belgium.

Europe needs a joined-up regulatory, policy and investment approach that restores the failing investment climate and puts the telecoms sector back to stable footing.

Average 5G connectivity in Brazil is more than three times faster than in Czechia or Poland. A recent report from the European Commission — State of the Digital Decade ( shows just how far Europe needs to go to reach the EU’s connectivity targets for 2030.

To arrest this decline, and successfully meet EU’s digital ambitions, something has got to give. Europe needs a joined-up regulatory, policy and investment approach that restores the failing investment climate and puts the telecoms sector back to stable footing.

Competition, innovation and efficient investment are the driving forces for the telecoms sector today. It’s time to unleash these powers — not blindly perpetuate old rules. We agree with Commissioner Breton’s recent assessment: Europe needs to redefine the DNA of its telecoms regulation. It needs a new rulebook that encourages innovation and investment, and embraces the logic of a true single market. It must reduce barriers to growth and scale in the sector and ensure spectrum — the lifeblood of our industry — is managed more efficiently. And it must find faster, futureproofed ways to level the playing field for all business operating in the wider digital sector.  

But Europe is already behind, and we are running out of time. It is critical that the EU finds a balance between urgent, short-term measures and longer-term reforms. It cannot wait until 2025 to implement change.

Europeans deserve better communications technology | via Vodafone

When Marconi sent that message back in 1897, the answer to his question was, “loud and clear”. As Europe’s telecoms ministers convene this month in León, Spain, their message must be loud and clear too. European citizens and businesses deserve better communications. They deserve a telecoms rulebook that ensures networks can deliver the next revolution in digital connectivity and services.

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#time #hang #telecoms #rulebook

BRICS hypocrisy on offshore reform

Andrea Binder is a Freigeist fellow and research group leader at the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin and the author of “Offshore Finance and State Power.” Ricardo Soares de Oliveira is professor of the International Politics of Africa at Oxford University and is currently writing a monograph titled “Africa Offshore.”

Of all the challenges in global governance discussed at the latest BRICS summit in Johannesburg, the role of offshore financial centers should have loomed large. Instead, the issue barely got a noncommittal half paragraph on page eight of the summit’s 26-page declaration.

In an example of breathtaking hypocrisy, BRICS countries rail against the global financial architecture but offer no collective action on offshore banking, and they also continue to be among its major users themselves.

Data leaks such as the Pandora Papers and Panama Papers have shown just how vast amounts of cash end up in jurisdictions that cater to wealthy nonresidents by offering secrecy, asset protection and tax exemption. And according to economist Gabriel Zucman $7.8 trillion — or about 8 percent of global wealth (and 40 percent of corporate profits) — are currently hidden in such tax havens.

What’s interesting is that a considerable share of this originates from BRICS and other developing countries. The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, for instance, estimates that $88.6 billion leave Africa every year in the form of illicit capital flight, much of it ending up offshore.

The fact that this offshore world is underpinned by the interests of the rich world and also a majorly exacerbates global inequality should fire up BRICS countries.

And certainly, they are quite vocal in denouncing the role of offshore finance: In the 2020 Moscow Summit declaration, for instance, BRICS member countries reiterated their “commitment to combating illicit financial flows, money laundering and financing of terrorism and to closely cooperating within the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the FATF-style regional bodies […], as well as other multilateral, regional and bilateral fora.” They have also rightly called out the West for setting up these mechanisms decades ago.

In practice, however, whatever global multilateral action is currently being taken is at the level of the G7 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development — even if these ambivalent reforms are often protective of the West’s offshore interests. BRICS countries, meanwhile, do almost nothing, despite being the largest global source of capital flight, according to a 2014 report by Global Financial Integrity.

And this lack of multilateral action perfectly aligns with the way individual BRICS countries have engaged with the offshore world thus far.

Brazil currently stands as the world’s second largest borrower from offshore financial markets. India long accepted a double-taxation agreement with Mauritius, which enabled significant foreign direct investment and tax avoidance by the wealthy until 2016. The country also created of an offshore financial center in Gujarat. Meanwhile, Russia’s hydrocarbons are traded through opaque offshore jurisdictions, and its elites have notoriously thrived in such systems. Then, there’s perhaps the most significant — and counterintuitive — stakeholder in the offshore world, which is China. Its state-owned enterprises are major users of jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands, where they register secretive subsidiaries.

In short, BRICS countries are just as implicated in the offshore world as the Western economies they lambast. The reality is that their governments and political elites both benefit from and need the offshore financial world — and there are four reasons for this:

First, these countries engage in institutional arbitrage by accessing more efficient institutions — and, sometimes, institutions that don’t exist domestically, like credible contracts or a non-political judiciary — offshore.

They also seek access to cheaper and less constrained financing in offshore money markets, where they get access to the U.S. dollar and international investors that are unavailable onshore.

Heavily hit by sanctions — as in the case of Russia since 2022 — the offshore world is also a lifeline for BRICS countries, allowing for the circumvention of punitive measures.

And finally, BRICS elites frequently use such facilities for their own personal purposes, including hiding illicit money and assets.

Thus, closing these discretionary offshore avenues may well have implications for their personal survival — or the survival of their regimes.

This is why multilateral action from BRICS members remains rhetorical at best. And unilaterally, they either do nothing, or selectively implement anti-offshore measures as political tools of regime consolidation and to punish rivals. While continuing to criticize the West, they also voice few qualms regarding the thriving offshore roles of Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates or Singapore.

The latest summit declaration’s vague language of “international cooperation” and “mutual legal assistance” simply highlighted all this once more, and it even eschewed the previous declaration’s references to the FATF or anything smacking of coordination with the West.

And while de-dollarization was again bandied about, BRICS countries remain keen on access to offshore dollars. Moreover, several of the bloc’s newly admitted states have deeply problematic records when it comes to money laundering and illicit financial flows. This is especially true of the UAE — an aggressively growing offshore financial center with dense layers of secrecy, and which the FATF placed on its “grey list” due to “strategic deficiencies” in its efforts to counter money laundering.

Given all this, what are the chances of BRICS-initiated reform in this area? Realistically, the only reason they would take action is because they care about their own regime stability. Though offshore mechanisms may seem like useful short-term levers, their long-term impact is likely to have troubling consequences for their economies. In time, offshore finance supercharges inequality and begets financial instability, which can lead to the toppling of regimes. Brazil experienced this first-hand in the 1982 financial crisis, which had a significant offshore component.

Of course, Russia’s dependence on offshore financial facilities to circumvent sanctions means it can be written off as reformer. But one would hope that some of the others might belatedly come to see an enlightened self-interest in going beyond their rhetoric.

For now, however, even this seems highly unlikely as, in the immediate future, the availability of offshore services continues to come in handy, while their negative impact on domestic inequality remain largely hidden from public view.

Besides, fighting domestic inequality isn’t really a major concern for many of these governments anyway.

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How the BRICS nations failed to rebuild the global financial order

At its launch almost a decade ago, the BRICS nations’ New Development Bank (NDB) was celebrated as a chance for countries across the Global South to break free of the US-dominated IMF and World Bank and rewrite the rules of financing global development. But while the number of nations signed up to the NDB has almost doubled since its founding, critics say that the BRICS bank is making many of the same mistakes as the institutions it was supposed to replace.

In July 2014, the five BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – representing more than 3 billion people – announced the launch of a new bank that would finance desperately needed infrastructure projects across the developing world. Although it was immediately dubbed the “BRICS Bank” by supporters and detractors alike, its official name held a simple yet powerful promise: the New Development Bank (NDB).

The timing was significant – the announcement came almost 70 years to the day after the Allied nations met at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire to establish the global financial architecture that would help rebuild a world shattered by World War II. Two institutions emerged: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, now part of the World Bank Group, and the International Monetary Fund, which was charged with maintaining a system of fixed exchange rates centered on the US dollar and, at the time, gold. 

While the world has changed a lot since then, the institutions that arose from the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference seem slow to catch up. In a “gentlemen’s agreement” that has endured since the end of World War II, the position of World Bank president has always been held by an American and that of IMF managing director by a European. Voting power within the IMF remains pegged to the size of members’ economies, not their populations, giving the US an effective veto over all major policy decisions even as countries with far greater populations struggle to reform the institution from the inside. 

Even by its own formula for determining member countries’ internal influence, the allocation of voting shares lags behind a world turning more and more towards rising economies across the Global South. Although the five BRICS countries are responsible for 26 percent of the global GDP in nominal terms, they have just 15 percent of the voting power between them at the IMF. 

Speaking in September 2022 in the aftermath of the catastrophic floods that swept Pakistan, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the urgent reform of what he described as “a morally bankrupt global financial system”.

“This system was created by rich countries to benefit rich countries,” he said. “Practically no African country was sitting at the table of the Bretton Woods Agreement; and in many other parts of the world, decolonisation had not yet taken place. It perpetuates poverty and inequalities.”

Read moreSize, population, GDP: The BRICS nations in numbers

Critics of the current crop of multilateral development banks (MDBs) such as the World Bank have accused them of having privileged the financing of extractive, export-oriented projects across the developing world that ravage the environment while doing little to build up domestic industry. The IMF, in particular, has come under criticism for its structural adjustment programmes of the 1980s, which imposed trade liberalisation, privatisation and austerity measures on lower-income countries across Africa as borrowing conditions. While the programmes’ legacy remains controversial, many economists say such policies deepened poverty and inequality by cutting away social safety nets while failing to build a foundation for economic growth. 

Slashing red tape

South African Institute of International Affairs chief executive Elizabeth Sidiropoulos said the NDB and its accompanying Contingent Reserve Arrangement – an agreement among the countries’ central banks for mutual support during currency crises that was modelled on the IMF – had been born out of a palpable frustration with years of failure to reform the US-dominated institutions. 

“The idea behind the NDB was creating a bank that had greater equality among its shareholders, could hopefully make decisions more quickly and make more loans in local currencies,” she said. “These institutions are not replacing the IMF and World Bank, but providing additional space – if you compare the NDB to the World Bank, it’s a much smaller institution.”

Opening its doors in 2016 with $50 billion in start-up capital, the NDB has since carefully carved out a niche for itself, having approved $32 billion in financing for 96 projects across its five original member countries. In 2021 it expanded its membership for the first time, bringing Bangladesh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates – almost 280 million people – into the fold, with Uruguay still listed on its site as a “prospective member”. By contrast, the World Bank Group committed $98.8 billion to its almost 190 partner countries – “distributed in credits, loans, grants, and guarantees” – in 2021 alone. 

Despite its limited scale, the NDB’s explicit mission of financing infrastructure and sustainable development projects across the Global South – most notably, the much-needed green energy infrastructure that will help developing economies shift away from a reliance on fossil fuels – has proved attractive to the bank’s growing slate of member countries. In the four years stretching from 2022 through 2026, the bank has said that it will dedicate 40 percent of its total volume of approvals to “projects contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation”.

Also attractive is the BRICS Bank’s committment to lending more and more money in local currencies, following a long-expressed desire among the BRICS countries to break away from the domination of the US dollar. 

While the vast majority of international loans have to be repaid in US dollars, effectively increasing the debt burden of developing countries as the greenback’s value rises, local-currency lending would leave those same borrowers less affected by the policies of the US Federal Reserve. It would also leave them less vulnerable to the US government’s power to use the dollar’s status as the international reserve currency to unilaterally impose crippling financial sanctions.

Despite this committment, though, local-currency lending remains low. Less than a quarter of disbursements made by the BRICS Bank last year were in local currency – and the vast bulk of that was denominated in Chinese renminbi and, more recently, South African rand. 

The bank’s flexibility is also appealing. Aiming to cut through some of the red tape of other development banks, the NDB’s “Country Systems” approach relies on the regulatory systems in the countries in which the projects are being built, effectively passing on the responsibility for evaluating and monitoring the projects’ social and economic impacts to local agencies in line with local legislation. Although the World Bank now has strict safeguards around social and environmental impact developed through repeated consultations with civil society groups, the NDB has been criticised for keeping its own commitments deliberately vague, and passing the responsibility for community consultation and participation on new projects to the client.

Sidiropoulos said that despite its small size, the bank’s less stringent lending conditions continued to attract borrowers across the BRICS countries. 

“We’re living in a world where accessing large amounts of development finance is difficult,” she said. “The fact that this bank exists creates chances for its members to access development financing more quickly.”

Business as usual?

Daniel Bradlow, senior research fellow at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, said the NDB had remained modest in its ambitions despite the lofty rhetoric around its launch.

“As a new bank, I thought it was going to be more innovative and creative than what it is,” he said. “In practice it’s been a relatively useful, but small bank. During Covid, South Africa got $2 billion loans to deal with the pandemic, which was helpful.”

Still others see the bank’s business-as-usual approach as a wasted opportunity. Ana Garcia, general coordinator of the Rio de Janeiro-based BRICS Policy Centre, said that she had initially been hopeful that the bank had learned the hard-earned lessons of the past few decades of international lending. 

“It needs to be a lot more serious about asking what the consequences of the projects that it is financing are,” Garcia said.

Starting in the early 1980s, public outcry and political pressure over projects funded by the World Bank that caused widespread environmental degradation had pressured the institution to adopt stricter policies around ecological and social responsibility, and pathways for community and civil society participation, in new projects. No need, it seemed, to repeat the mistakes of the past.

“On the one hand, it’s very interesting to study the NDB strategic guidelines,” she said. “As a new financial institution, it already had guidelines around social and ecological impact … On the other hand, you do have a global consensus around the need to finance sustainable global infrastructure – and in this way, the NDB is not that different from the others.”

Garcia pointed to the Araripe III wind energy project, which received more than $67 million from the NDB through the Brazilian Development Bank. The project, which built 156 wind turbines on land leased from more than 70 families, now produces enough clean energy to supply 400,000 homes. But despite the project’s obvious benefits, members of the local quilombola community say they have struggled with the project’s impact on their homes and livelihoods, complaining that there had been little interest in holding consultations with locals before the project broke ground. 

Another controversial project, the paving of the Trans-Amazonian Highway that environmentalists say has facilitated the extracted deforestation that has decimated the world’s largest rainforest, seems to stretch the definition of sustainable development beyond recognition. 

Worse, despite the slew of renewable energy projects that marked the bank’s first forays into development finance, the NDB seems to be increasingly gravitating towards the kinds of traditional carbon-intensive projects that have proved so disastrous for the climate. 

In 2019, the BRICS Bank approved around $790 million in loans for three energy projects in South Africa. Of that sum, around $480 million went to local power company Eskom’s Medupi power plant, now one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world.

Despite initially inspiring language around equality and accountability, Sidiropoulos said, the NDB’s decision-making process around how it judged proposed infrastructure projects to be “sustainable” left much to be desired.

“If you look at the point they made about transparency, in fact they are probably much more opaque than other banks,” she said.

Read moreChina urges expansion at BRICS summit in South Africa

Garcia said that as a relatively new institution, the BRICS Bank still has time to fulfil its initial promise of a new way of financing infrastructure development.

“The first thing is transparency – they need to open their data to specific interest groups,” she said. “The second thing is participation beyond business – once you have a project, you need to open a space for consultations with local groups. Channels for participation, channels for transparency, this is something they can easily do, and something that the World Bank already does.”

But Bowman said that there was little sign that the BRICS member countries were open to building another approach than breaking ground first and asking questions later. 

“I suspect that like what happened in the other MDBs, it will take some problematic projects that make the management and member states decide that they need to pay more attention to these issues and that they should be more cautious in their reliance on country systems,” he said. “It could also change because of changing understanding in the member states on these issues, but this is less likely.”

Biswajit Dhar, professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told climate-focused publication India Climate Dialogue that the NDB’s growing reliance on private capital to fund its lending left the bank in thrall to the same economic forces that had shaped the paradigm it once sought to displace.

“By being forced to enter into private capital markets, the NDB will have to first think of remaining financially viable, which will happen at the expense of its mandate,” he said. “Since it has to function as a commercial entity and not a development finance body, it can ill afford to involve civil society organisations to do due diligence of the projects it is funding.”

Sidiropoulos said that new financial institutions, whatever their ambitions, still had to survive in a world shaped by the demands of private capital markets and the judgement of credit rating agencies.

“We are seeing the emergence of new development finance institutions, but the truth is that we do live in a globalised world,” she said. “It’s not about creating another institution, it’s about changing the paradigm, changing the framework through which [credit] risk is assessed.”

But this change, she said, was unlikely to come from a business-as-usual approach. She raised the prospect of failing to meet the 2030 deadline of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which call on governments to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and take urgent action on climate change.

“It requires a realisation that we’re in a crisis moment,” she said. “We’re halfway to the SDGs, and we’re not going to realise them, and we literally have a burning planet – and the countries of the global south are going to bear a lot of the brunt of that.”

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brics common currency push & expansion plans: where does india stand?

The story so far: In a bid to deepen ties in Asia and Africa, the heads of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are scheduled to meet in Cape Town, South Africa on August 22-24 this year. The bloc, which is seen as a counter to the G7, is also mulling expansion.

The BRICS nations’ foreign ministers met in Cape Town on June 2, 2023, to strengthen the bloc’s influence globally. Expansion was on agenda as ministers from Algeria, Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Kazakhstan were also present.

In a post-meeting statement, South Africa’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor said that Shanghai-based New Development Bank (NDB) had briefed the BRICS minsters about potentially using alternative currencies to ensure the bloc does not become victim to sanctions which affect countries not involved in the original issue.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with his counterparts from Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa after a meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministers, in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, June 1, 2023.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with his counterparts from Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa after a meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministers, in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, June 1, 2023.
| Photo Credit:

The bloc also issued a joint statement titled ‘The Cape of Good Hope’, underscoring the use of local currencies in international trade and financial transactions between BRICS and its trade partners. The BRICS represent 41% of the global population, 24% of the world’s GDP, and conducts 16% of the world’s trade.

Origins of BRICS common currency

Last year, soon after invading Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin, proposed the idea of ‘alternative transfer mechanisms’ with BRICS partners and an ‘international reserve currency.’ Addressing the BRICS business forum via video link, on June 22, 2022, Mr. Putin said that Russia was actively redirecting its trade flows and economic contracts to ‘reliable partners’ such as India, China and other BRICS nations to counter crippling sanctions levied by the European Union, the US, UK and other Western powers.

Pushing for independence from the US dollar and Euro, Mr. Putin said that Western sanctions were neglecting basic principles of market economy, free trade and the inviolability of private property as Russia was forced to seek new markets and strengthen ties with nations in Asia and Africa.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a BRICS+ meeting during the BRICS summit via a video link in the Moscow region, Russia June 24, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a BRICS+ meeting during the BRICS summit via a video link in the Moscow region, Russia June 24, 2022
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The idea for a common BRICS currency is based on the bloc’s aim to globally realign the geopolitical situation to suit its member nations’ economic, geographic and demographic advantages. The bloc, which was created in 2009, established the multilateral New Development Bank (NDB) in 2015 for mobilising resources for infrastructure and projects in emerging markets and developing countries. Via NDB (previously known as the BRICS Development Bank), BRICS aims to counter the West’s dominance in global financial institutions like the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

BRICS expansion & economic influence

Through the years, several nations have expressed interest in joining BRICS to counter Western alliances like G20, NATO, and the European Union. In the recently concluded BRICS Foreign ministers’ meet, over 40 countries expressed interest in joining the bloc. Among those interested are Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kazakhstan and Algeria.

Prior to joining the bloc, many prospective nations have invested in NDB, the latest being Algeria. Its president Mr. Abdelmadjid Tebboune said his country formally applied to join the NDB with a $1.5 billion contribution. Bangladesh and United Arab Emirates joined the NDB in 2021, while Uruguay’s request was also accepted. In March this year, Egypt became an investor in NDB.

Currently, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe are mulling investments in NDB and also seek membership in the bloc. In May, Saudi Arabia expressed interest in investing in the bank as it seeks to diversify its investments in Asia. Aiming to build closer ties with India and China, Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest oil exporter — sees this as an opportunity to expand its market.

BRICS’ expansion has been hit by the sanctions on founding member Russia, which has a 18.98% stake in NDB, due to its invasion of Ukraine. In March 2022, NDB was forced to halt all new transactions in Russia citing “unfolding uncertainties and restrictions.” Several global banks and nations halted Russia’s SWIFT transactions, froze the Russian central bank’s assets and assets of certain Russian individuals.

Shareholders of the New Development Bank

Shareholders of the New Development Bank

BRICS’ expansion is also being stalled by India and Brazil opposing China’s approach towards increasing the bloc’s influence. Brazil fears that the bloc’s expansion will attract countries which view BRICS as an opposing force to the European Union and the United States, while India wants rules to be framed about how nations will be considered for membership over time.

In the recent Cape Town meeting, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called the expansion a “work in progress.” He said that it was necessary to view how BRICS engages non-BRICS countries and what would be an appropriate format for the bloc’s possible expansion. Concurring with India, Brazil’s Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira said that BRICS is a brand which has to be taken care of as it represents a lot. In contrast, Chinese Vice Minister Ma Zhaoxu said that its proposed BRICS+ was developing ‘very fast’.

Push for local currency usage

To attract more countries to the bloc, BRICS has pushed for the usage of the member nations’ local currencies for bilateral trade, also reiterating this in the joint statement from the Cape Town meet.

While the statement made no direct reference to the sanctions on Russia, the bloc noted the complications created on the world economy by “unilateral economic coercive measures such as sanctions, boycotts, embargoes and blockades,” calling for a peaceful resolution of the situation in Ukraine via dialogue and diplomacy.

Initially, when Russia was hit with sanctions, India mulled reviving its Rupee-Rouble trade agreement – an alternative payment mechanism to settle dues in rupees instead of dollars or Euros. However, talks were dropped later as traders found the currency conversion expensive and Moscow refused to keep a rupee surplus amounting to $40 billion in its reserves. It used the Chinese Yuan to pay for part of its oil imports from Russia, skirting Western sanctions.

This handout image provided by the UAE Ministry Of Presidential Affairs shows UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R) welcoming Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi during an official reception in Abu Dhabi, on July 15, 2023.

This handout image provided by the UAE Ministry Of Presidential Affairs shows UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R) welcoming Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi during an official reception in Abu Dhabi, on July 15, 2023.
| Photo Credit:

Recently, India signed the Rupee-Dirham deal during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Abu Dhabi. While UAE Ambassador to India Abdulnasser Alshaali said that the deal was not a move to de-dollarise the global economy, the agreement aims to interlink the two nations’ payment and messaging systems as well as increase the circulation of the rupee in the Gulf region. As of date, the Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks from 18 countries to trade in rupees— Botswana, Fiji, Germany, Guyana, Israel, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand, Oman, Russia, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

India’s BRICS partner China already trades with over 120 countries using the yuan. The push for local currency deals among the bloc and globally is seen as the bloc’s move to assert its economic potential and get closer to a EU-like common currency.

BRICS Pay and common currency

Facilitating easier transactions between BRICS nations, the bloc launched the BRICS Pay project in 2018 under the BRICS Business Council, enabling digital payments between members without converting to their respective local currencies. The payments mechanism will combine central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and decentralised currencies (i.e. cryptocurrencies). It is still in the discussion stages.

The push for a common EU-like currency has found support from two member nations — Russia and Brazil. While Mr. Putin was the first to propose it, Brazil’s new President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been a vocal supporter for a common currency as well. He claimed that such a move would help developing countries reduce their dependency on the U.S. dollar.

Logo of proposed BRICS Pay system

Logo of proposed BRICS Pay system

However, NDB’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Leslie Maasdorp ruled out any immediate plans to introduce a BRICS common currency. Despite the bloc’s growing economic clout, Mr. Maasdorp opined that even the Chinese Renminbi was far from achieving the status of a reserve currency. Similarly, South Africa and India have both denied any talks of a BRICS currency. India has asserted that its focus is on strengthening its national currency and promoting its trade with all global powers.

In the upcoming BRICS summit scheduled for August 22-24 this year at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, the BRICS common currency’s biggest advocate — Mr. Putin — will not be in attendance as he faces an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. The summit will see both Russia and China push for expansion as India and South Africa remain wary.

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Amazon summit agrees roadmap – but without concrete pledges

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s meeting, Brazil’s President Lula da Silva said developed nations must make good on their pledges to provide monetary support for forest protection.

Brazil’s Amazon Summit closed Wednesday with a roadmap to protect tropical rainforests that was welcomed as an important step in countering climate change, but without the concrete commitments sought by some environmentalists to end deforestation.


Leaders and ministers from eight Amazon nations signed a declaration Tuesday in Belem, Brazil, that laid out plans to drive economic development in their countries while preventing the Amazon’s ongoing demise “from reaching a point of no return.”

Several environmental groups described the declaration as a compilation of good intentions with little in the way of measurable goals and timeframes. However, it was lauded by others, and the Amazon’s umbrella organization of Indigenous groups celebrated the inclusion of two of its main demands.

“It is significant that the leaders of the countries of the region have listened to the science and understood the call of society: the Amazon is in danger, and we do not have much time to act,” the international group WWF said in a statement. “However, WWF regrets that the eight Amazonian countries, as one front, have not reached a common point to end deforestation in the region.”

Joining the summit Wednesday were the presidents of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, an emissary from Indonesia’s president, and France’s ambassador to Brazil, representing the Amazonian territory of French Guiana. An emissary of Norway, the largest contributor to Brazil’s Amazon Fund for sustainable development, also attended.

The national representatives on Wednesday signed a similar, but much slimmer, agreement to that of their counterparts the prior day; it likewise contained no concrete goals and mostly reinforced criticism of developed nations for failure to provide promised vast climate financing.

The eight nations attending on Tuesday — Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela — are members of the newly revived Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, or ACTO, who hope that a united front will give them a major voice in global environment talks ahead of the COP 28 climate conference in November.

‘Nature needs them to pay’

The summit reinforces Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s strategy to leverage global concern for the Amazon’s preservation. Emboldened by a 42% drop in deforestation during his first seven months in office, he has sought international financial support for forest protection.

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s meeting, Lula railed against “protectionist measures poorly disguised as environmental concern” that restrict imports from developing nations, and said developed nations must make good on their pledges to provide monetary support for forest protection.

“Nature, which industrial development polluted for 200 years, needs them to pay their part so we can revive part of what was ruined. Nature is in need of money,” Lula said.

Not fully aligned

The Amazon stretches across an area twice the size of India. Two-thirds of it lies in Brazil, with seven other countries and the territory of French Guiana sharing the remaining third. Governments have historically viewed it as an area to be colonized and exploited, with little regard for sustainability or the rights of its Indigenous peoples.

All the Amazon countries have ratified the Paris climate accord, which requires signatories to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But cross-border cooperation has historically been scant, undermined by low trust, ideological differences and the lack of government presence.


The members of ACTO — convening for only the fourth time in the organization’s 45-year existence — demonstrated Tuesday they aren’t fully aligned on key issues.

Forest protection commitments have been uneven. And their joint declaration didn’t include a shared commitment to zero deforestation by 2030, as some had hoped. Brazil and Colombia have already made that commitment.

Some scientists say that when 20% to 25% of the forest is destroyed, rainfall will dramatically decline, transforming more than half of the rainforest to tropical savannah, with immense biodiversity loss.

The Climate Observatory, a network of dozens of environmental and social groups, as well as Greenpeace and The Nature Conservancy, lamented the lack of detailed pledges in the declaration.

“The 113 operating paragraphs of the declaration have the merit of reviving the forgotten ACTO and recognize that the biome is reaching a point of no return, but doesn’t offer practical solutions or a calendar of actions to avoid it,” the Climate Observatory said in a statement.


Rights to traditional territories

Colombian Indigenous leader Fany Kuiru, from the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin, praised the declaration for fulfilling two of their primary requests — an acknowledgement of their rights to traditional territories and the establishment of a mechanism for the formal participation of Indigenous peoples within ACTO.

Bruna Santos, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said the summit demonstrated “an effort to treat the Amazon as a regional agenda,” but that it also highlighted ambiguities in the priorities of Brazil’s government, including with respect to oil exploration.

Colombia’s president spoke forcefully about the hypocrisy of pushing for Amazon preservation while pursuing oil, equating it to betting “on death and destroying life.”

Lula has refrained from taking a definitive stance on oil, citing the decision as a technical matter. Meanwhile, Brazil’s state-run Petrobras company has been seeking to explore for oil near the mouth of the Amazon River.

Despite disagreements, there were signs of increased regional cooperation and growing global recognition of the Amazon’s importance in arresting climate change. A collective voice — along with funnelling more money into ACTO — could help it serve as the region’s representative on the global stage ahead of the COP climate conference, leaders said.


Anders Haug Larsen, the head of international advocacy at Rainforest Foundation Norway, said that the Amazonian nations are correct to demand more money from developed nations and that their political will to protect the rainforest represents a historic opportunity.

“With the plan from this summit and continuous reduced deforestation, this is where the international community should put its climate money,” he said.

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From Argentina to Zambia, the A-Z of how fans are celebrating the Women’s World Cup


It runs in my blood. That’s the common catchcry from fans all around Australia, who reflect on what it means to them to see their country perform at a FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Chicken, beer, and South Korean football

Employees at the Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney are excited to support the women’s team.()

A roar emerges from inside a replica of a traditional Korean hanok, or house. 

Employees from the Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney give a taste of the noise they’ll be generating during the Women’s World Cup as they support their country. 


Jenny Chung was born in South Korea, but grew up in Australia, and looks after events and concerts at the centre. 

“Even though I’ve lived in Australia for most of my life, I would call Korea my home,” she says. 

Jenny Chung, Jihee Kim, and Joanne Tae will be attending some of South Korea’s matches. ()

“I think a lot of people feel the same way that have been living in Australia for a long time. They feel like Korea is closer to them.

“So every time we have a match like this, we go to a pub and we have chicken and beer, and we watch the tournaments together.”

The Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney runs K-Pop dance classes.()
Joanne Tae is proud to support her team.()
Kate Minji Jung is the manager of education and literature at the Korean Cultural Centre, Sydney.()

Joanne Tae is the Korean language program manager. 

“Hopefully they’ll get to the finals and win the Women’s World Cup,” she says.

“But even if they don’t, we’ll be definitely proud of our players.” 

General Manager of the Korean Cultural Centre, Inji Jung, in a traditional Korean hanok. ()

J-League star gets behind Japan’s women


As a former J-League star, Kentaroh Ohi knows how much football means to the Japanese public.

A junior national representative, Ohi went on to make 483 appearances with three different clubs between 2003-2022, before crossing to Australia in 2023 to represent the Eastern Lions in Victoria. 

During a World Cup, Ohi says, it is common for families to “wake up at all hours”, glued to the TV as they cheer on the Japanese national team. 

Former J-League player Kentaro Ohi is excited to follow the Japanese women’s team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.()

“It’s an amazing atmosphere,” he says.

“Everyone’s up and about.” 

After the Japanese women’s team won the World Cup as underdogs in 2011, the country “went crazy”, he says.

“As soon as they won, the popularity [of women’s football] just skyrocketed in Japan,” Ohi says.

Some of those players also went on to become television celebrities.

Kentaroh Ohi played over 400 J-League games in Japan.()
Knick knacks inside Paprica Japanese restaurant in Melbourne.()
Paprica is run by Japanese football fans.()

Watching women’s sport grow in Aotearoa New Zealand 

Kiana Takairangi and Harata Butler hope the Women’s World Cup can elevate all women’s sport in Aotearoa New Zealand.()

Kiana Takairangi and Harata Butler play in the NRLW for the Cronulla Sharks, but when it comes to the World Cup, they’re ditching the code wars, to support their fellow female athletes.

“I’m a big fan of it myself, the more exposure, the more recognition that we get as female athletes, it’s really great for women’s sport in general,” Takairangi says.

“I feel like I’m in a privileged position to witness women’s sports, women athletes being recognised on an international stage,” Butler adds.

“Being hosted in our little part of the world for our girls to see women striving and achieving and reaching the goals and their dreams to be an athlete. It’s really massive.”


Harata Butler’s Tā moko represents her family’s ancestry.()


Takairangi was born in Australia, and has Cook Islands and Māori heritage, while Butler is from the North Island in Aotearoa. 

“To me, being Māori is my identity,” Butler says.

“It runs in my blood, it holds me grounded, wherever I go in the world, whether that is at home, on home soil, or afar, like here in Australia, it keeps me in tact with my spirituality, my beliefs and my cultural practices.”

Harata Butler plays for the Cronulla Sharks NRLW team. ()

Small, but loud and rowdy Panamanians 

The Altamiranda family are proud of their Panamanian heritage.()

There are only 300 people born in Panama who live in Australia, including the Altamiranda family. 

Andrewfer Altamiranda is the youngest of three boys — the only one of his siblings born in Australia — but his love for Panama, and especially football, runs deep.

“[My family has] been embedding the culture and the customs of the country in me since birth,” he says.

“And that’s how I’m close to Panama, and I’m passionate about my country’s heritage.

“[Panamanians are] very loud and rowdy. We’re very passionate about the culture, the music, the food.

“And once we find someone from Panama as well it’s an instant connection, like a brotherhood or sisterhood.”

Andrewfer Altamiranda plays a Panamanian drum.()

Andrewfer’s mother, Sofia, her husband and two oldest children came to Australia to escape the dictatorship of Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno. 

“We came to this wonderful and beautiful country to make them happy, better life for all of us,” she says.

“We still have [Panama] in our blood. The first time Panama [plays] in this event, it’s wonderful for us to give a lot of support to them.”

The Altamiranda family prepare dinner, while sharing their thoughts about the Women’s World Cup.()
Dayal Ortiz is excited to see Panama’s women on the world stage.()
The Panama women’s team have proven themselves equal to the men by making it to the big stage.()

Andrewfer’s wife, Dayal Ortiz, has only been living in Australia for a few years, and seeing Panama’s women here means a lot.

“We’re going to support [them] because they have done a magnificent job.

“They need to have fun, enjoy. I hope after this they receive all the support for the government that they need to.”

Andrewfer Altamiranda was born in Australia but is passionate about supporting Panama.()

Jamaica punches above its weight


Ranked 43rd in the world, Jamaica punches well above the weight of its just 2.8 million population, qualifying for the two most recent tournaments.

Roderick Grant, a former professional player who now runs a Jamaican food truck business, moved to Australia when he was 15.

He sees the tournament as a new opportunity to inspire young girls to take up the sport.


“It’s going to be excellent because Jamaica is so isolated as a small island,” he says.

“It’ll be a great motivator for the young girls to focus in on something and show that it can be achieved. It’s just hard work and dedication.”

Roderick knows first-hand how ingrained football is in Jamaican life, having gone on to represent his family worldwide.

Ranked 43rd in the world, Jamaica will be hoping to advance past the group stage for the first time at a FIFA Women’s World Cup.()


Roderick Grant knows first-hand how ingrained football is in Jamaican life.()
Roderick Grant found a balance between playing football and bringing Jamaican cuisine to Australian.()

“Football, man, it’s one of those things growing up in Jamaica, you finish school, go home and get changed, straight to the football field in the evening,” he says.

“It’s not even to play as a club, it’s just to play with your friends, your mates, and everyone just pulls teams together. It’s a big part of what we do in Jamaica.”

Football part of Norwegian identity

Sebastian Grøgaard (centre) says football is a central part of Norwegian life. ()

At a celebration for Norway’s ‘Constitution Day’, Norwegian ex-pats get together to celebrate. 

“It was the day that the constitution was signed back in 1814, and it’s also known as the Children’s Day,” says one of the attendees, Bente Ryan.

Norwegian Constitution Day is also known as Children’s Day.()
There are many proud Norwegians in Australia.()
Traditional Norwegian food.()
Norwegian Constitution Day is a time for socialising.()

“So in Norway people will gather in towns and have parades, national costumes, flags, brass bands, lots of ice cream, lots of hotdogs. And it’s a whole lot of fun.”

Amongst the group is Håvard T. Osland, the Norwegian Chaplain to Australia and New Zealand, mainly working as a university chaplain for Norwegian international students. 

“It’s always exciting when your national team is doing really well, and football definitely is a big sport in Scandinavia,” he says. 

“So it really is one of the things that connects us, and is part of our DNA and our identity.”

Chocolate cake brings a smile at the Norwegian Constitution Day.()
Traditional Norwegian outfits.()
The Norwegian colours.()
Traditions are celebrated by Norwegians.()

Generations of Italians share joy together

The Raspoli and Pafralis family say football runs in the blood, with everyone playing locally or watching the national team.()

For generations, family has meant everything to Carmela Rispoli, who moved to Australia in the 1960s and raised four children.

As Italian-Australians, her daughter Philomena Pafralis and granddaughter Natalie Pafralis know when they come together and watch or play, it’s always special.

Italian-Australian mother and daughter, Philomena Pafralis (left) and Natalie Pafralis (right) love to watch Italy play.()

“It’s just beautiful to get together with the family,” Philomena says.

She was born in Italy and moved to Australia at just one year of age.

Italian nonna Carmela Rispoli (centre) moved to Australia in the 1960s, raising four children including Philomena Pafralis (left), and third-generation Natalie Pafralis (right).()

As for Natalie, there was really no other option, being born into an Italian family and raised in Australia.

“If I didn’t want to do it I didn’t have a choice. I was playing all my life, all my childhood,” she says.

And after all – “Italy has to win because they’re the best in the world,” Carmela cries in Italian.

Portuguese community linked by football

As soon as you walk into the grounds of Fraser Park FC in Sydney’s inner-west, the melodic sounds of an accordion ring throughout the area.

Members of Sydney’s Portugal Community Club are enjoying a meal and listening to the traditional music, while on the football field next door, the senior men’s team is preparing to play.

A man plays an accordion at Sydney’s Portugal Community Club.()
Fraser Park FC in Sydney’s inner-west is connected to the Sydney Portugal Community Club.()
David Palma used to play for Fraser Park FC, and is now a supporter.()

Football and community are inseparable here. 

Andrew Alves was born in Australia, after his parents migrated from Portugal. He used to play for Fraser Park, but now supports the team from the sidelines.

“It’s always been a massive part, the Portuguese community here, and has been for many years,” he says.

His niece, 13-year-old Annabella Vasconcelos, plays football, and is amongst the generation of players watching the tournament and being inspired.

“[I’m] more excited than to have the men’s World Cup here,” she says.

The glue that binds Argentines in Australia

Argentines in Australia are still on a high after the men’s team won last year’s World Cup in Qatar.()

“The women’s World Cup means a lot to Argentinians,” says Alfredo Couceiro of Melbourne City Football Club, based in South Kingsville, Victoria.

This is especially the case, he adds, for those like him who have relocated to Australia. 

“Even if you migrate to another country, your heart is beating for Argentina,” adds fellow Argentinian Melissa Gugliara. 

“Football is born into you [as an Argentinian]. 

“It’s in your veins, it’s in your blood.

“You love it, you become passionate.”

Argentina fans at a fan day in Melbourne.()

Cristian Emanuel Mansilla adds that football is the glue that binds Argentinian migrants.

“We are always trying to connect with other Argentinian people within our community,” he says.

“[With football], we are together the whole time. It’s why we love it; hugging, supporting, singing together.”

Even pets are roped in to support the team.()

Brazilian football ‘like a religion’


No one does football like Brazil, with some of the most passionate supporters and best players in the world.

When Adilson Andrade de Melo Júnior moved to Australia, he knew there was a spread of sports compared to back home in Brazil.

“It’s hard to explain … in Brazil when you talk about football, soccer, it’s part of the culture. It’s a religion in a way,” he says.

Brazilian supporter Adilson Andrade de Melo Júnior performs on drums and other instruments at any match he can attend when they’re playing in Australia.()
Brazilian supporter Adilson Andrade de Melo Júnior performs on drums and other instruments at any match he can attend when they’re playing in Australia.()

“Everyone follows, every four years we stop for this magnificent event.

“Whenever Brazil comes here, myself and a couple of other friends, we get together trying to organise tickets for everyone and being close to each other.

“Last game that Brazil had here we probably had over 300 people sitting together cheering, which was an amazing atmosphere.”

Zambia’s Copper Queens inspiring a nation

Dr Elias Munshya is Zambia’s High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand.()

Zambia is one of eight countries making its tournament debut, and no one is more excited to sing their praises than the country’s High Commissioner for Australia and New Zealand, Dr Elias Munshya.

“It’s a huge, huge time for us,” he says.

“It’s amazing just to see the impact that this qualification of Zambia National Women’s [team] has had on young girls in Zambia.

“These players have inspired a whole generation of young girls that believe in themselves, that they believe they can achieve, that are fighting for equality, that are fighting for equity.”

Nigerians use sport as a form of survival

As Africa’s top-ranked nation, Nigeria’s women’s national team has plenty of support, including from Toyin Abbas.

“From day one, we embedded with soccer because we were colonised by Britain,” he says.

“It’s one of the reasons people play sports in Africa.”

As he knows well as a former professional player, Toyin played football, just as the Super Falcons players do so across the globe.

“People started to see soccer as a form of survival. Like you want to earn a living and it’s tough for some families, it’s very tough for some individuals.

There’s plenty of support from Melbourne’s Nigerian community with sport being a way to make a living for some players.()

“It unifies relations, the people, it binds people together.”

Nigerian supporter, Toyin Abbas says the Super Falcons can win it all at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.()
The Super Falcons are 11-time champions at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament, but have never made it past the quarter-finals at a World Cup in nine attempts.()

As Toyin says, the Super Falcons players will have success if they stay tactically disciplined together.

“We’re going to win the trophy, I will tell you,” he says.

“The Nigerian team, we have what it takes, we can be world beaters.”

Canada to ‘knock people’s socks off’

Stacey, Dylan, and their boys come from Edmonton, Canada.()

Stacey, Dylan and their three boys hail from Edmonton, Alberta.

They’re a long way from home but their Canadian national pride is never far away.

“We’re really, really proud. I think they have a really good chance of winning, [we’re] really hopeful, we will be cheering them on,” Stacey says

Rod Johns is the president of the Canada Club in Melbourne.()

Equally ecstatic is Rod Johns, president of the Canada Club in Melbourne.  

“I think it’s great that they’re coming because the girls don’t get enough exposure, it’s good for soccer in Australia, and it’s good for women’s sports in general, Mr Johns said. 

“Based on their pre-performance I think they’ll knock some people’s socks off, they should do very well.” 


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Brazil’s Nubank Is Leaving U.S. Digital Banks In The Dust

David Vélez has built an $8 billion fortune turning nearly half of Brazil’s adults into users of his credit card, digital banking and loan products. Why can’t American fintechs do the same?

By Jeff Kauflin, Forbes Staff

David Vélez has delivered a string of surprises since leaving his nascent venture capital career in 2013 to start a Brazilian digital bank. The most recent came on May 15, when his company Nubank blew away analysts’ expectations by posting $142 million in net profits for the first quarter and $1.6 billion in revenue, an 87% increase from the year before. The results were all the more striking given how many other fintechs are mired in slow growth and slim or no profits. Nubank’s stock, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, has surged 30% since that report, pushing its market value to $37 billion and Vélez’s 21% stake to nearly $8 billion.

“To be frank, it should not really come as a surprise,’’ the 41-year-old CEO told analysts, adding that it’s “consistent” with what he’s been saying for years: once his low-cost, digital-only, data-dependent model reached maturity in a market, it would produce a high return on equity. Nubank now claims an astonishing 46% of Brazil’s adults as customers. In just the past two years, it has more than doubled its customer base to 80 million people in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia–all served by just 8,000 employees. By contrast, Chime, the most successful digital bank in the U.S, likely has fewer than 20 million registered users (it doesn’t disclose the number), laid off 12% of its staff last year amid slowing growth and is probably worth a lot less now than the $25 billion it was valued at in a 2021 fundraise, during the pandemic-fueled fintech boom.

Vélez, in his analytical, measured way, frames it as entirely predictable that Nubank would outpace its Yankee counterparts. “We thought this would happen faster in emerging markets than in developed economies like the U.S. or Europe, because the consumer pain you’re addressing in emerging markets is much, much bigger,” the Colombian-born, Stanford-educated MBA tells Forbes.

A decade ago, when Nubank first launched, five Brazilian banks controlled 80% of that market, earning fat profits by lending at 200% to 400% annual interest rates, charging monthly fees for everything from fraud protection to text-message alerts and delivering lousy customer service. The U.S. market was much more competitive, with 5,800 traditional banks, more digital bank startups in the works and a generally higher standard of service—despite consumers’ gripes about overdraft and other fees.

Vélez not only chose his target market wisely, but also smartly tailored his strategy to meet both the opportunities and pain points in Brazil. Most U.S. digital banks have started out with a checking account and debit card. But Nubank launched with a no-fee credit card, because it didn’t need a banking license to issue a card and because almost all the Brazilian card issuers charged fees. Still, it was an arguably risky move, since credit card losses “can really kill your company,” says Nubank cofounder and chief growth officer Cristina Junqueira. She’s a 40-year-old Brazilian engineer with an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School who was recruited by Vélez specifically for her credit card expertise—at a young age, she ran the largest credit card division of Itaú, Brazil’s largest bank. Now, she’s got a 2.7% stake worth $1 billion in Nubank.

One advantage of launching with credit cards is that, unlike its U.S. counterparts, Nubank wasn’t burdened with high upfront marketing costs. Instead, it started with a classic “velvet rope” strategy, inviting early adopters (and then their friends) to apply for its distinctive purple credit cards. “Telling customers, ‘Come and give me your money. Deposit your money here,’” is a more difficult sale than offering them credit, Junqueira observes.

Such strategic and marketing insights have helped make Nubank the second most valuable financial services company in Latin America, behind only 78-year-old Itaú. True, with its stock trading around $8, Nubank is still down 12% from its initial offering price of $9 in December 2021. But that’s impressive compared with a 54% drop for the fintech category in the same time period.

The big question now is whether Nubank can repeat its Brazilian success in the Mexican and Colombian markets while continuing to grow and become even more profitable in Brazil.

Within three years of launching its credit card in 2014, Nubank had nearly two million customers. In addition to the absence of annual fees, its mobile app, which lets customers do everything from applying for a card and requesting credit-limit increases to reporting fraud, has helped Nubank build a broad, loyal customer base. The company says between 80% and 90% of its customers have come through word of mouth or unpaid referrals, and it has 35 million active credit cardholders today. Last year, about 45% of Nubank’s $4.8 billion in revenue came from interest income on consumer loans (both credit card and personal loans), according to Mario Pierry, a research analyst at Bank of America who covers Latin American financial services companies. The rest was a mix of the interest it earns on customers’ cash balances, the card-swipe interchange fees paid by merchants, fees it receives through its life insurance and investing services, late fees it charges to consumers and other fees.

By contrast, U.S. neobanks have largely avoided credit–most began with debit cards by partnering with traditional banks to offer checking and savings accounts. They chose that path for many reasons. Lending isn’t just risky–it’s also expensive, because neobanks need to rely on debt funding from Wall Street and other financial firms and pay hefty prices for it, especially when interest rates are high. Lending startups also don’t generally command big valuations relative to the revenue they bring in. They’re capital-intensive and cyclical. The list of highly successful fintech companies that have started with credit is small, Vélez notes. He cites Tinkoff in Russia, Kaspi in Kazakhstan and Capital One, which was founded in Virginia in 1994 by Richard Fairbank and Nigel Morris, an early Nubank investor and the managing partner of venture capital firm QED, which focuses on fintechs.

“Venture capital and credit are a marriage made in hell,” Morris quips. “Venture capital is by its very nature impatient. It wants to see results and wants to see accelerated growth … whereas lending requires you to be incredibly meticulous, logical, linear and exhaustive.” Learning to lend profitably requires giving money to people who won’t pay you back, then figuring out who they are so you don’t give them money again. “Training that mathematical model doesn’t take weeks. It doesn’t take months. It takes quarters or years,” Morris says from experience.

While many fintech experts say U.S. neobanks aren’t set up to become good lending businesses because their customers are low- and middle-income, Vélez counters that Nubank has many low-income customers. Lower income doesn’t mean bigger lending losses, just as higher income doesn’t lead to smaller losses, Vélez says, as long as you’re extending the right amount of credit. Nubank starts some customers at a limit as low as $10, and for higher-risk customers, it only offers them a secured card, meaning they must make a cash deposit before using it. Then it ramps up a card’s limits–sometimes after just 15 or 30 days–as it collects more data on both a particular user and users in general. This patient approach means you must be willing to lose money for a significant period of time among low-income customers, Vélez notes.

Another difference in Nubank’s approach also took a lot of patience (and four years of effort): it obtained its own banking payments license, rather than partnering with incumbents to offer bank-like services, as most fintechs in developed economies have. That license boosts Nubank’s profitability since it can fund its own loans, rather than relying on outside investors. It also gives the operation more control over the customer experience, Junqueira says. For example, Nubank lets customers dispute charges from within the app, which wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

In the U.S., fintech startup Varo tried to pursue this strategy, spending three years and nearly $100 million to get its own bank charter. But it hasn’t worked out, likely because steep competition and rising costs to acquire customers have hampered growth. As of the end of March 2023, Varo reported 5.2 million total accounts, down from 5.3 million in December 2022.

While Nubank’s growth so far has been stunning, keeping up that pace will be tough. It launched its credit card in Mexico and Colombia in 2020, yet in the first quarter of 2023, $1.5 billion of its $1.6 billion in revenue still came from Brazil. So far, Nubank counts just 3% of Mexican adults and 2% of Colombians as customers, compared with its 46% penetration in Brazil—though Vélez told analysts he expects reaching critical mass in those countries will be faster than it was in Brazil. “So far, the experience we are having in Mexico and in Colombia is more positive than what we saw in Brazil in the first few years,’’ he said. “Mexico and Colombia are beating Brazil at effectively all metrics, from customer growth to early monetization, and plans for these countries are ahead of expectations.”

One challenge for Vélez and his team as they expand: the incumbent players, having taken note of Nubank’s success, are reacting faster than Brazil’s banks did. In Mexico, Banorte, the second largest bank by assets, has a three-pronged strategy to digital banking: it has its own mobile app, a home-grown, independent digital bank called Bineo and a joint venture with ecommerce startup Rappi, says Bank of America’s Pierry. Startups are growing there, too–Stori, a credit card startup led by Bin Chen, a former manager at Capital One and executive at MasterCard, recently reached two million customers, it says. Nubank reached 3.2 million customers in Mexico at the end of March 2023.

Another tall order for Nubank: profitably expanding its variety of offerings. “You have to diversify away from being a one-product player,’’ says Pierry. He notes its newer financial products like life insurance and its investing platform have grown more slowly. Nubank “is still in the early days of its product development lifecycle, having begun the expansion beyond core products only in 2020,” a Nubank spokesperson says. “The pace at which we are developing and launching new products is accelerating over time.”

Nubank has been offering personal loans for the past several years, but it had to pull back on them when delinquencies and interest rates rose sharply in mid-2022, says Pierry, who notes that Nubank’s average monthly revenue per customer is about $8, while it’s roughly $30 for Brazil’s incumbent banks. Of course, its expenses per customer are a lot lower, too–just one twentieth those incurred by brick-and-mortar banks, according to Vélez.

Another pitfall is one that can come with such outsized success—regardless of industry. “Nubank needs to make sure that its culture continues to promote entrepreneurship and scrappiness,” says venture capitalist Morris. “They need to make sure they don’t start to believe their own publicity and get intoxicated by their own success.”


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Zika Virus Infection Fast Facts | CNN


Here’s a look at Zika virus, an illness spread through mosquito bites that can cause birth defects and other neurological defects.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and CNN

Zika virus is a flavivirus, part of the same family as yellow fever, West Nile, chikungunya and dengue fever.

Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito. It becomes infected from biting an infected human and then transmits the virus to another person. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is an aggressive species, active day and night and usually bites when it is light out. The virus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus, through sexual contact, blood transfusion or by needle.

The FDA approved the first human trial of a Zika vaccine in June 2016. As of May 2022, there is still no available vaccine or medication.

Cases including confirmed, probable or suspected cases of Zika in US states and territories updated by the CDC.

Most people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms. If there are symptoms, they will last for a few days to a week.

Fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes) are the most common symptoms. Some patients may also experience muscle pain or headaches.

Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly, a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. Microcephaly can cause severe developmental issues and sometimes death. A Zika infection may cause other birth defects, including eye problems, hearing loss and impaired growth. Miscarriage can also occur.

An August 2018 report published by the CDC estimates that nearly one in seven babies born to women infected with the Zika virus while pregnant had one or more health problems possibly caused by the virus, including microcephaly.

According to the CDC, there is no evidence that previous infection will affect future pregnancies.

(Sources: WHO, CDC and CNN)

1947 – The Zika virus is first discovered in a monkey by scientists studying yellow fever in Uganda’s Zika forest.

1948 – The virus is isolated from Aedes africanus mosquito samples in the Zika forest.

1964 – First active case of Zika virus found in humans. While researchers had found antibodies in the blood of people in both Uganda and in Tanzania as far back as 1952, this is the first known case of the active virus in humans. The infected man developed a pinkish rash over most of his body but reported the illness as “mild,” with none of the pain associated with dengue and chikungunya.

1960s-1980s – A small number of countries in West Africa and Asia find Zika in mosquitoes, and isolated, rare cases are reported in humans.

April-July 2007 – The first major outbreak in humans occurs on Yap Island, Federated States of Micronesia. Of the suspected 185 cases reported, 49 are confirmed, and 59 are considered probable. There are an additional 77 suspected cases. No deaths are reported.

2008 – Two American researchers studying in Senegal become ill with the Zika virus after returning to the United States. Subsequently, one of the researchers transmits the virus to his wife.

2013-2014 – A large outbreak of Zika occurs in French Polynesia, with about 32,000 suspected cases. There are also outbreaks in the Pacific Islands during this time. An uptick in cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome during the same period suggests a possible link between the Zika virus and the rare neurological syndrome. However, it was not proven because the islands were also experiencing an outbreak of dengue fever at the time.

March 2015 – Brazil alerts the WHO to an illness with skin rash that is present in the northeastern region of the country. From February 2015 to April 29, 2015, nearly 7,000 cases of illness with a skin rash are reported. Later in the month, Brazil provides additional information to WHO on the illnesses.

April 29, 2015 – A state laboratory in Brazil informs the WHO that preliminary samples have tested positive for the Zika virus.

May 7, 2015 – The outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil prompts the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to issue an epidemiological alert.

October 30, 2015 – Brazil reports an increase in the cases of microcephaly, babies born with abnormally small heads: 54 cases between August and October 30.

November 11, 2015 – Brazil declares a national public health emergency as the number of newborns with microcephaly continues to rise.

November 27, 2015 – Brazil reports it is examining 739 cases of microcephaly.

November 28, 2015 – Brazil reports three deaths from Zika infection: two adults and one newborn.

January 15 and 22, 2016 – The CDC advises all pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant to postpone travel or consult their physicians prior to traveling to any of the countries where Zika is active.

February 2016 – The CDC reports Zika virus in brain tissue samples from two Brazilian babies who died within a day of birth, as well as in fetal tissue from two miscarriages providing the first proof of a potential connection between Zika and the rising number of birth defects, stillbirths and miscarriages in mothers infected with the virus.

February 1, 2016 – The WHO declares Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to the increase of neurological disorders, such as microcephaly, in areas of French Polynesia and Brazil.

February 8, 2016 – The CDC elevates its Emergency Operations Center for Zika to Level 1, the highest level of response at the CDC.

February 26, 2016 – Amid indications that the mosquito-borne Zika virus is causing microcephaly in newborns, the CDC advises pregnant women to “consider not going” to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The CDC later strengthens the advisory, telling pregnant women, “Do not go to the Olympics.”

March 4, 2016 – The US Olympic Committee announces the formation of an infectious disease advisory group to help the USOC establish “best practices regarding the mitigation, assessment and management of infectious disease, paying particular attention to how issues may affect athletes and staff participating in the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

April 13, 2016 – During a press briefing, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said, “It is now clear the CDC has concluded that Zika does cause microcephaly. This confirmation is based on a thorough review of the best scientific evidence conducted by CDC and other experts in maternal and fetal health and mosquito-borne diseases.”

May 27, 2016 – More than 100 prominent doctors and scientists sign an open letter to WHO Director General Margaret Chan, calling for the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro to be postponed or moved “in the name of public health” due to the widening Zika outbreak in Brazil.

July 8, 2016 – Health officials in Utah report the first Zika-related death in the continental United States.

August 1, 2016 – Pregnant women and their partners are advised by the CDC not to visit the Miami neighborhood of Wynwood as four cases of the disease have been reported in the small community and local mosquitoes are believed to be spreading the infection.

September 19, 2016 – The CDC announces that it has successfully reduced the population of Zika-carrying mosquitoes in Wynwood and lifts its advisory against travel to the community.

November 18, 2016 – The WHO declares that the Zika virus outbreak is no longer a public health emergency, shifting the focus to long-term plans to research the disease and birth defects linked to the virus.

November 28, 2016 – Health officials announce Texas has become the second state in the continental United States to confirm a locally transmitted case of Zika virus.

September 29, 2017 – The CDC deactivates its emergency response for Zika virus, which was activated in January 2016.

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