Pioneering policy leadership in a transformative era

With the European Parliament and U.S. elections looming, Europe is facing policy uncertainties on both sides of the Atlantic. Persistent geopolitical turmoil in Ukraine and the Middle East, and threats to democracy — coupled with concerns over slow economic recovery, demographic shifts, climate hazards and the rapid evolution of powerful AI — all add to the complex global political and economic landscape. Europe’s present and future demands leaders who are capable of effectively navigating multifaceted challenges.

At the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, we are committed to developing a groundbreaking executive program that prepares professionals for multilevel policymaking of the 21st century. Our new EUI Global Executive Master (GEM) aims to transform policy professionals into agents of change and enhance their skills as effective managers and leaders who inspire and drive sustainable change.

Listening and responding to the needs of policy professionals is at the core of our new program.

New leaders wanted

George Papaconstantinou is dean of executive education of the European University Institute, and a former Minister of Finance and Minister of Environment and Energy of Greece. | via European University Institute

Just as public policy has changed in the past 20 years, so has executive education for public policy professionals. Listening and responding to the needs of policy professionals is at the core of our new program. The new GEM takes our commitment to training professionals to respond to today’s cross-border issues to the next level; it stands out from other executive master programs through its dedication to providing a personalized career development journey.

Launching in September 2024, the GEM has a two-year, part-time format, with three week-long study periods in Florence, and two additional visits to global policy hubs. This format, combined with online modules, allows policy professionals to integrate full-time work commitments with professional growth and peer exchange, building their knowledge, skills, and networks in a structured way.

This allows policy professionals to integrate full-time work commitments with professional growth and peer exchange.

During the first year, EUI GEM participants take four core modules that will set the basis for a comprehensive understanding of the complex task of policymaking, and its interaction with government, the economy and global trends. In the second year, they have the possibility to select courses in one or more of four specializations: energy and climate; economy and finance; tech and governance; and geopolitics and security.

These core and elective courses are complemented by intensive professional development modules and workshops aimed at enhancing skills in the critical areas of change management, project management, strategic foresight, leadership, negotiations, policy communications, and media relations.

Through the final capstone project, EUI GEM participants will address real policy challenges faced by organizations, including their own, proposing solutions based on original research under the guidance of both the organizations concerned and EUI faculty.

In addition, the program includes thematic executive study visits for in-depth insights and first-hand practical experience.

In addition, the program includes thematic executive study visits for in-depth insights and first-hand practical experience. Participants attend the EUI State of the Union Conference in Florence, a flagship event that brings together global leaders to reflect on the most pressing issues of the European agenda. They explore the role of strategic foresight in EU institutions’ policy planning through an executive study visit to Brussels, complemented by dedicated training sessions and networking opportunities. A final Global Challenge study visit aims to encourage participants to engage with local policy stakeholders.

Bridging academia and practice

Since its inaugural executive training course in 2004, the EUI has successfully trained over 23,000 professionals of approximately 160 nationalities, in almost 600 courses. The EUI GEM leverages this expertise by merging the academic and practical policy expertise from our Florence School of Transnational Governance and the Robert Schuman Centre, as well as the academic excellence in the EUI departments.

The EUI GEM’s aspiration to bridge the gap between academia and practice is also reflected in the faculty line-up, featuring leading academics, private-sector experts, and policymakers who bring invaluable expertise into a peer-learning environment that fosters both learning and exchange with policy professionals.

Effective, agile and inclusive governance involves interaction and mutual learning between the public sector, the private sector and civil society actors, all acting as change agents. That is why our program is designed to bring innovative perspectives on public policy from all three: the public and the private sector, as well as civil society, and we welcome applications from all three sectors. 

An inspiring environment

EUI GEM participants spend 25 days in residence at the magnificent Palazzo Buontalenti, headquarters of our Florence School of Transnational Governance. The former Medici palace harbors art-historical treasures in the heart of Florence. In September 2024, a dedicated executive education center will be inaugurated at Palazzo Buontalenti, coinciding with the arrival of the participants of the first GEM cohort.

The GEM is poised to redefine the standards for executive education and empower a new generation of policy practitioners. We are ambitious and bold, and trust that our first cohort will be, too. After all, they are the first to embark on this adventure of a new program. We can’t wait to welcome them here in Florence, where the journey to shape the future begins. Will you join us?

Learn more about the EUI Global Executive Master.

The EUI Global Executive Master | via European University Institute

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The Hindu Morning Digest: December 31, 2023

With announcement of new notification, Census to be delayed till at least October 2024

The deadline to freeze the administrative boundaries of districts, tehsils, towns, and municipal bodies, among others, has been extended till June 30, 2024, a senior government official told The Hindu. This means that the decennial Census exercise, initially scheduled to be begin in 2020, will now be postponed till at least October 2024 as it usually takes about three months after the boundaries are set to identify and train the enumerators.

Ayodhya airport takes off ahead of January 22 Ram Temple consecration ceremony

The world awaits the Ram Temple consecration ceremony on January 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Saturday in Ayodhya, adding that no stone will be left unturned to develop the holy place. Given the security arrangements that would be in place, the Prime Minister requested people to visit the temple city only after the consecration ceremony. 

Punjab Police form SIT to investigate Nicaragua ‘human trafficking’ case

The Punjab Police set up a Special Investigation Team on Saturday to probe a suspected human trafficking case related to Indian passengers on an aircraft run by Romania’s Legend Airlines, originally destined for Nicaragua, but detained in France. Though the passengers have now returned to India, no victim has yet come forward to register any case.

PM Modi visits 10th crore beneficiary of Ujjwala scheme in Ayodhya

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit on Saturday to the Ayodhya home of Meera Manjhi, the tenth-crore beneficiary of the PM Ujjwala Yojana, and had tea at her residence during his one-day tour of the temple city.

Launched in May 2016 to provide subsidised LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households, the Ujjwala scheme aims to empower women, protecting their health and reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.

BJP president releases commemorative stamp on 200 years of Indian origin Tamils in Sri Lanka

BJP President J.P. Nadda on Saturday released a commemorative stamp on 200 years of arrival of Indian-origin Tamils in Sri Lanka. BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit chief K. Annamalai said that PM Narendra Modi has always considered Sri Lanka, “our civilisational twin” and has been instrumental in supporting the country with humanitarian and financial aid during its times of distress.

The release of the commemorative stamp has strengthened this commitment of unwavering support to the Indian-origin Tamils living in Sri Lanka, a statement released by the Sri Lankan govt. said.

In biggest election year ever, politics may have impact on India’s foreign policy the most

Domestic policy, rather than geopolitical events, could be a major factor in foreign policy in 2024, given that more than a fourth of the world, in terms of population and number of countries, will go to vote during the year. For India, which will hold the world’s largest election, the diplomatic calendar and focus will be decided by countries in the neighbourhood, global powers and major countries in the Global South, all of which will hold parliamentary or presidential elections next year.

Centre releases draft guidelines to make Railways more user-friendly for persons with disabilities

The government has released draft guidelines on accessibility of railway stations, facilities in trains for persons with disabilities, highlighting the need for integrating technology-enabled features such as text-to-speech and user-friendly pictograms. The Department of the Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) has asked stakeholders and the public to give their comments, objections and suggestions by January 29 on the proposed guidelines to create a more user-friendly environment.

India seeks extradition of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed from Pakistan

India has asked Pakistan to extradite Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, the 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind and a United Nations-proscribed terrorist, who is wanted by Indian probe agencies in a number of terror cases. India also took note of reports of Saeed’s son Talha Saeed standing for elections in Pakistan and said the “mainstreaming” of radical terrorist outfits in that country is nothing new and that it has been part of its state policy for a long time.

Singapore envoy praises tripartite pact with ULFA faction

The peace pact signed with the pro-talks faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) will pave the way for investment into the northeastern region, the High Commissioner of Singapore Simon Wong has said. The envoy had earlier in November observed that products of Assam have a ready market in Singapore.

This is the first response from a foreign representative on the pact that was signed on Friday under which a time-bound programme would be made by the Home Ministry to fulfil the demands of the ULFA and a committee would be constituted to monitor its progress.

6.5 magnitude earthquake shakes part of Indonesia’s Papua region, no immediate reports of casualties

A powerful earthquake shook Indonesia’s easternmost region of Papua early Sunday, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.5 quake was centered 162 kilometers (101 miles) northeast of Abepura, a subdistrict in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province. It happened at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles).

Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency said there was no danger of a tsunami but warned of possible aftershocks as the earthquake was centered in land.

British actor Tom Wilkinson, known for ‘The Full Monty’ and ‘Michael Clayton’, dies at 75

Tom Wilkinson, the Oscar-nominated British actor known for his roles in “The Full Monty,” “Michael Clayton” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” has died, his family said. He was 75. A statement shared by his agent on behalf of the family said Wilkinson died suddenly at home on Saturday. It didn’t provide further details.

China eases visa application for U.S. tourists

China will simplify visa applications for tourists from the United States from Jan. 1, cutting the documents required, according to a notice on Friday on the website of the Chinese embassy in Washington. The move is the latest by China to revive tourism and boost the world’s second-largest economy following a slump during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major blow to Imran Khan as Pakistan’s top poll body rejects his nomination papers from two seats

In a major blow to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ahead of the February 8 general elections, Pakistan’s top poll body on December 30 rejected nomination papers of party founder and former Prime Minister Imran Khan and several of his stalwart colleagues on what they described as “flimsy grounds”.

Finance Minister meets heads of PSBs, reviews financial performance

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman on Saturday held a meeting with heads of public sector banks and reviewed their financial performance. During the meeting, concerns related to cyber security and the risks on the financial sector were discussed, sources said. Issues related to fraud and wilful defaulters and progress on the National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL) also came up for discussion.

India in South Africa | Rohit Sharma focuses on Mukesh during net session, Jadeja goes full tilt

It was an optional session at the Supersport Park but for India skipper Rohit Sharma, skipping the nets wasn’t an option. Outfoxed by South African pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada in both innings of the opening Test, Rohit was present as skipper and batter in equal measure during a two-hour session.

The Indian captain was focussed on facing Mukesh Kumar, who bowled only to Rohit for at least 45 minutes.

Dominic Thiem survives qualifying and a brush with venomous snake at Brisbane International

Former U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem had a brush with one of Australia’s most venomous snakes during a qualifying match at the Brisbane International on Saturday The former world No.3 was a set down to 20-year-old Australian James McCabe in a first round qualifying match when fans courtside spotted the snake.

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How lending-based climate finance is pushing poor countries deeper into debt

After more than a decade of disappointment, the world’s wealthiest countries may have finally fulfilled their 2009 promise to mobilise $100 billion a year to help developing countries face the climate crisis. But the harsh truth is that developing nations are going to have to pay most of that money back – with interest.

When the world’s wealthiest economies pledged in 2009 to mobilise $100 billion a year towards climate action for developing countries by 2020, few present at the COP15 questioned the urgency of the task before them. Certainly not then-UK prime minister Gordon Brown, the first person to propose the figure in a speech delivered in the months leading up to that year’s climate summit in Copenhagen.

In his “manifesto”, the sombre Scot listed an almost Biblical litany of disaster sweeping across the developing world: 325 million people “seriously affected” by drought, dearth, deluge or disease; a further half a billion souls at extreme risk; and 300,000 lives lost, every year, to the effects of climate change.

“In the developing world, climate change is already devastating lives,” he said.

According to the best estimates of the OECD, 2022 may have finally marked the first year the wealthiest economies finally kept their promise in delivering the funds desperately needed by developing nations to adapt to a warming world and to mitigate the impacts on populations most vulnerable to the climate crisis. But behind the rhetoric of first-world reparations for the global harm caused by a century and a half of fossil-fuel-led industrial development squats an uglier reality: most of the money that makes its way to developing nations in public climate finance is going to have to be paid back – with interest.

Market-level interest rates

OECD data from 2016-2020, the most recent we have, shows that loans made up 72 percent of international climate finance. Of that number, three-quarters of the loans from multilateral development banks (MDBs) such as the World Bank were non-concessional, or loans issued with interest rates set at market levels. Just one quarter of international climate finance over the same period took the form of grants.

More worryingly, Oxfam estimates that the proportion of non-concessional finance is growing. In their Climate Finance Shadow Report released in June 2023, the organisation estimated that the annual average of non-concessional instruments in climate finance had reached $28 billion – 42 percent – in 2019-20, while concessional lending remained largely on the same level as the previous two years.

Although MDBs accounted for much of this market-rate lending, a small number of wealthy countries continue to use loans as their main form of climate finance. Of all the bilateral providers, France leads the pack in lending, with a massive 92 percent of its bilateral public climate finance taking the form of loans.

And while a large share of that lending is made up of concessional or “soft” loans, which are offered at more favourable interest rates or longer repayment schedules, an alarming 17 percent of its bilateral climate finance is non-concessional. For Spain, that number is a staggering 85 percent. More than half of Austria’s climate financing is non-concessional, according to Oxfam’s analysis, as is almost a third of the United States’ climate financing.

Paying back billions – with interest

Put together, this adds up to tens of billions of dollars every year that countries of the Global South will one day be forced to pay back to the world’s wealthiest nations and development banks – with interest. And with global interest rates rising steeply, the cost of servicing those debts year after year will eat into the already-stretched budgets of countries buckling under the weight of debts that are getting harder to pay back.

Danielle Koh, policy analyst at the NGO Reclaim Finance, said that the problem partly arises from the sheer magnitude of the challenge of raising funds to tackle the climate crisis.

“The scale of climate funding required is enormous,” she said. “To rely only on public financing would not be sufficient to meet 1.5°C pathway-aligned targets, and loans at market rates could attract and mobilise private capital.”

By including loans at their full face value, Koh said, wealthy countries are also able to claim credit for meeting their climate pledges far beyond what they are actually giving away. Of the more than $83 billion that was claimed to have been raised in 2020, Oxfam estimates the actual value for developing countries to be between just $21 and $24 billion. And while non-concessional finance is not counted towards countries’ official development assistance spending more broadly, this distinction has yet to be made when it comes to funding climate action.

“In providing financing to developing countries, loans at market rates could be favoured because developed countries can count such loans towards being able to fulfil climate financing commitments while at the same time avoiding giving direct grants or other concessional types of financing, which would be more costly,” said Koh.

Counting non-concessional loans as climate finance may not just be disingenuous, but dangerous. Sixty percent of low-income countries are already either in or on the verge of debt distress, forced to spend five times more every year on servicing their debts than they do on climate adaptation.

Counterproductive debt burden

Safa’ Al Jayoussi, climate justice adviser at Oxfam Middle East and North Africa, said that adding to low-income countries’ debt burden would make them more vulnerable, rather than more resilient, to the ravages of the climate crisis. 

“It’s a big risk, because countries are already distressed,” she said. “Developing countries are dealing with a lot of loans from the World Bank and other institutions that are causing more austerity. Adding more pressure to the countries … will impact those most vulnerable to climate change. This kind of funding is making adaptation and mitigation to climate change more difficult.”

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), public debt has been growing faster in developing nations than in their developed counterparts over the past decade. Faced with compounding crises of Covid-19, climate change and the cost-of-living crisis, the number of countries facing high levels of debt has increased dramatically, from just 22 countries in 2011 to 59 countries in 2022.

And debt is costing developing nations dearly. On average, African countries pay interest rates four times higher than those of the US, and eight times higher than Germany. To service those debts year after year, countries have little choice other than to redirect funds that may otherwise have gone to badly underfunded sectors such as health or education. In the ten years between 2010 and 2020, the number of countries where interest spending accounted for 10 percent or more of their public revenues rose from 29 to 55.

More debt, then, seems to be the last thing the developing world needs.

“There is a real danger that this could lead to high debt burdens in developing countries,” Koh said. “With global rising interest rates, the cost of servicing debt for developing nations will rise substantially. Loans in foreign currencies could expose developing countries to soaring costs over servicing their debt in the case of exchange rate fluctuations or depreciations over time. In the long term, repaying climate debt not only diverts financial resources away from developing other sectors, but could lead to economic and fiscal instability.”

Hans Peter Dejgaard, senior consultant at INKA Consult and a specialist in climate finance, said that while it made sense to finance some renewable energy infrastructure in middle-income developing countries through loans as commercially viable projects, too much reliance on loan-based financing would put poor countries in an impossible position if interest rates continued to rise.

He cited a World Bank loan of $400 million to the Philippines in early 2022 aimed at accelerating climate-related objectives. After the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates to just under 6 percent in April 2023 to fight rising inflation, he said, the total repayments that the Philippine government would have to make over a period of 20 years had potentially risen from $482 million to $686 million – a 42 percent increase.

“This will affect their social and education budget,” he said.

Reclaim Finance’s Koh said that the cost for financing climate action should not be borne by the countries least able to afford it.

“There is no ‘one model fits all’ when it comes to funding climate finance, but there are certain principles that we can rely on to guide our approach,” she said. “For example, that concessional financing and grants should be favoured over market-rate loans, whether through initiatives like the Loss and Damage Fund or others, to help developing countries build resources for climate adaptation and mitigation while avoiding increasing their debt burden.”

For Al Jayoussi, that very burden should instead be borne by the countries most responsible for fuelling the worsening climate crisis. 

“Developing countries didn’t even cause climate change,” she said. “We need to revamp and change the finance structure that caused climate change in the first place. We need grants and grant mechanisms for the most vulnerable countries, developing countries, to overcome climate change.”

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Rashmikant Patel: How I recovered after Imperial Bank collapse

Market News

Rashmikant Patel: How I recovered after Imperial Bank collapse

Founder of Educational Scientific and Technical Equipment Company (ESTEC) Limited Rashmikant Patel pictured on November 20, 2023 at his office in Parklands, Nairobi.

Having come back from his studies in the UK in 1978, Rashmikant Patel joined a pharmaceutical firm as one of the partners. But as it turned out, one of his partners was also a partner at Educational Scientific and Technical Equipment Company (ESTEC).

In 1985, one of the owners of ESTEC Limited was relocating to the UK and offered Mr Patel the opportunity to manage the firm on a 25 percent profit-sharing basis, which he accepted.

“Unfortunately, our finances were quite low, and there was never enough money to import the equipment that I would have liked to import at that time,” says Mr Patel, the managing director at ESTEC, a supplier of analytical solutions to testing laboratories in East Africa.

In 1995, he purchased and took over the company, fully using the money he had borrowed from his father and selling his house.

“Slowly, I started running the business and retaining the profits generated in the business, unlike in the past when the other partner was still onboard,” recalls Mr Patel.

However, at the time, there was a flood of Chinese and Indian school equipment imports while ESTEC Limited was an agent of a British company, which was costly for schools, depressing his sales.

“I decided to look at the laboratory equipment market for manufacturing companies. One of our suppliers supplying us with medical equipment happened to be importing laboratory equipment too. So I decided to diversify to laboratory equipment for pharmaceutical manufacturers,” he says.

Mr Patel says it was a good time because the pharmaceutical sector was growing.

He says his family was never in business and being a pharmacist, he too had never run any business. This was like being thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool.

He says the major hurdle he had at the beginning was financing equipment imports and having bagged his first big sale with one of the leading pharmaceutical companies locally.

“Financing was the biggest challenge because nobody will offer you credit terms unless you are well established or have been doing business with them for a long time, especially when the goods are expensive like the equipment we sell,” says Mr Patel.

“A lot of people have got into trouble in businesses and fallen by the wayside due to a lack of finances.”

Mr Patel says he has learned never to have partners in a core business unless it is a separate company because it allows you to make the decisions you want and divert resources to what is more important to the business.

He adds that when he had partners, the state of the cash flow was poor.

“There are two things I learned from my partners: one is to never draw money out of the business if you want to grow it, especially the profits. For the growth of a company, you need finances that I unfortunately didn’t have,” he says.

Mr Patel adds that 2015 was a dark year for him when the Imperial Bank collapsed with all the company’s finances, including his savings, and he had to start afresh as a new business.

“We also had to borrow money from private people and get back on track. That was one of the biggest faults that we had,” he says, adding that some of their customers also agreed to pay for the supplies earlier than the allowed credit period and sold some of the stock at a reduced profit margin to boost sales.

And with that, Patel advises against having all your finances in one bank.

He says he wished he kept his house instead of using it as collateral to get financing and had the finances to go into sectors like medical laboratory equipment, but that it takes a lot of finances and workforce to go into different lines.

“You can only get financing through bank loans or overdrafts but using bank money to do business is also not very good because you can get into deep trouble,” he cautions.

Growth and milestones

He adds that ESTEC’s business strategy is more about providing technical support and meeting clients’ and industry needs, picking from regulations and that the market has been growing from a regulatory point of view.

“Kenya was one of the fastest-growing economies at that time, and there was a desire for exports to the neighbouring countries, and we used that to position ourselves in building our strengths to meet international and regional standards and requirements to be competitive.”

With that, ESTCE Limited has grown in the pharma, food testing, environmental research, academics, and petroleum sectors, as well as with more partners and suppliers.

The company, he says, aims to ensure that every product on the market is safe for human use.

“There are a lot of gaps in standardisation within the East African Community. Our strategy involves building capacity competence in the area of analytical testing space,” he says.

The company has a presence in Uganda and Tanzania and aims to expand in the region.

“We are looking to grow, but growth is always a slow process in the current economic climate. We are looking into Ethiopia and Rwanda in the next 10 years and take the expansion further.”

The company is also considering venturing into areas such as clinical testing as technology advances, adding that they may be open to partnerships, private equity, or firms in a similar field for synergy rather than a merger to finance that growth and expansion.

Human resources

Mr Patel says it is difficult to find very good human resources, and the company is willing to pay for the right talent.

“Initially, we were just hiring good salespeople, but we realised that in the specialised field, skills and knowledge are important, so we hire technical people with a scientific background,” he says.

The entrepreneur adds that attracting talent is a big concern given that the sector has a high turnover rate, with some of the employees quitting to start their businesses.

“You can imagine growing from 5 people to 40 without human resource personnel. It was a big challenge, and we needed a human resource person to guide us on recruitment, people management, and other aspects of human resource management,” adds Mr Patel.

The entrepreneur says managing expenses is one of the biggest issues in running a business, and one needs to cut costs when the business is not doing well, maintain a reasonable profit, and set a limit on pricing.

“This year has been the toughest in the last ten years, with sales going down for the last two years, but we are still afloat, but profitability is not what it used to be,” he says.

Mr Patel concludes by saying he attributes the company’s growth to the pharma industry and the support of the government, especially the regulators setting the standards for testing, which they cannot ignore.

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It is high time we helped the Global South deal with loss and damage

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

If we as a global society are committed to climate justice, it is vital that we address the chief injustice of Global South communities experiencing the devastating impacts of a crisis they did not cause, Heather McGray writes.


Loss and damage, a phrase which once upon a time was relegated to fringe events of major climate gatherings around the world, was last week sitting at the top of the agenda for the UN’s Climate Ambition Summit in New York — a major event within the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Rightly so. Loss and damage refers to the negative impacts of climate breakdown on humans, societies and the natural environment. 

It is countries in the Global South for whom loss and damage is most significant. 

Alongside untold levels of destruction to land, property and infrastructure — all of which have significant economic implications — these countries are put at a distinct disadvantage in terms of adaptation and mitigation efforts thanks to a complex series of financial challenges, including unsustainable debt, spiralling inflation and currency fluctuations. 

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Global South countries have contributed the least to the historic emissions that have fuelled our current predicament.

Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute estimates that depending on global efforts to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis, loss and damage costs, which go beyond adaptation, “could cost developing countries a total of $290-580 billion (€275.5-551bn) in 2030 and reach $US1-1.8 trillion (€950bn-1.7tn) in 2050.”

At COP28 this December, discussions of the Transitional Committee to operationalise a new fund for loss and damage will conclude, with every hope that finance for a raft of new initiatives can help empower communities across the Global South who are currently stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

As discussions progress, addressing non-economic loss and damage will be key.

Not all losses are financially quantifiable

Non-economic loss and damage (NELD), sometimes called invaluable loss, refers to the harm caused by climate breakdown on human and natural systems that is difficult to put a price tag on. 

NELD includes biodiversity loss, the loss of traditional knowledge and ways of living, and the trauma people experience when they’re forced to leave their homes or ancestral lands.

Take, for example, the devastating floods in Pakistan that took place last year. In economic terms, the floods cost the country around $40bn (€38bn) in damages. 

However, the floods affected 33 million people and cost 1,600 lives. It destroyed over 2 million houses and damaged 13,000km of roads and 18,000km2 of cropland. 

The impact of the displacement, the lives lost, the livelihoods destroyed, the education disrupted and the emotional toll that these events will have had on communities across Pakistan is unquantifiable in monetary terms.

The most vulnerable face the greatest challenges

Those facing the most severe non-economic loss and damage are often communities that face — or have long faced — injustices like discrimination, colonisation, or displacement from traditional lands. 

Further, the most vulnerable people within these communities — often women, children, elders, or people with disabilities — face the greatest challenges.

Indeed, the most recent IPCC report mentioned for the first time the impact that loss and damage caused by the climate crisis has on mental health, outlining that those most negatively affected by climate breakdown are often the most vulnerable populations, such as Indigenous Peoples and people with disabilities.

The Climate Justice Resilience Fund (CJRF) works specifically with these marginalised groups, including women, youth and Indigenous Peoples, helping them create, share, and scale their own solutions for climate resilience.

Global South leaders must follow Scotland’s example

Just before the UN Climate Ambition Summit launched last week, the Scottish government announced it would renew its partnership with us at CJRF to program £5 million (€5.8m) in grants, technical assistance and advocacy, to address non-economic loss and damage for marginalised groups within communities across countries in the Global South who, like Pakistan, have been subjected to the devastating impacts of the climate crisis.


Funding from the Scottish Government will enable CJRF to continue its participatory approach to supporting activities to address loss and damage.

We’ll partner with organisations that have close connections to the communities across the Global South that they support. 

Interventions will be community-led to ensure that the communities and individuals themselves are assessing their loss and damage and are empowered to identify how they want to address it. 

The work that Scotland’s funding enables CJRF to do will help build a body of practical learnings. 

These will be essential to the new L&D Fund, and to the global community as a whole, as we work together to address all forms of loss and damage affecting communities in the Global South.


We have to recognise all the impacts of climate breakdown

In a keynote speech at New York Climate Week, Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf stated that no community on Earth will be left untouched by the effects of the climate crisis, but that suffering will not be equally divided. 

We urge leaders of developed nations to recognise all the impacts that climate breakdown is having on communities around the world — both economic and invaluable.

As COP28 approaches, leaders in the Global North must do all they can to stand up the Loss and Damage Fund, and to establish funding arrangements that enable communities to effectively address L&D, including NELD. 

If we as a global society are committed to climate justice, it is vital that we address the chief injustice of Global South communities experiencing the devastating impacts of a crisis they did not cause.

Heather McGray serves as Director of the Climate Justice Resilience Fund, a grantmaking initiative supporting women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples in places severely impacted by climate change.


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‘Own what the Mother of All Bubbles crowd doesn’t.’ This market strategist expects stagflation and is investing for it now.

There’s always a bull market somewhere — if you can find it.

Keith McCullough encourages investors to join him in the hunt. You’ll need to be agnostic and open-minded, the CEO of investment service Hedgeye Risk Management says. If you’re wedded just to U.S. stocks, or the market’s latest darlings, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment — particularly in the hostile environment McCullough sees coming.

This coming challenge for U.S. stock investors, in a word, is stagflation, McCullough says. Stagflation — higher inflation plus slow- or no economic growth — is hardly a bullish outlook for stocks, but McCullough’s investment process looks for opportunties wherever they may be. Right now that’s led him to put money into health care, gold, Japan, India, Brazil and energy stocks, among others.

In this recent interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, McCullough takes the Federal Reserve and Chair Jerome Powell to the woodshed, offers a warning about the potential fallout from Powell’s upcoming speech at Jackson Hole, Wyo., and implores investors to discount happy talk and always watch what they do, not what they say.

MarketWatch: When we spoke in late May, you criticized the Federal Reserve for being obtuse and myopic in its response to inflation and, later, to the threat of recession. Has the Fed done anything since to give you more confidence?

McCullough: The Fed forecast of the probability of recession should be trusted as much as their “transitory” inflation forecast or a parlor game. People should not have confidence in the Fed’s forecast. The “no-landing” or “soft-landing” thesis is looking backwards. The Fed is grossly underestimating the future, doing what they always do, in looking at the recent past.

Their policy is wed to what they say. They claim they’re not going to cut interest rates until they get to their target. But any hint of the Fed arresting the tightening gives you more inflation. So there’s this perverse relationship where the Fed is the catalyst to bring back the inflation they’ve spent so much time fighting. 

Read: ‘The Fed is way late and they’ve already screwed it up.’ This stock strategist is banking on gold, silver and Treasurys to weather a recession.

MarketWatch: U.S. Inflation has come down quite signficantly over the past year. Doesn’t that show the Fed is well on the way to achieving its 2% target?

McCullough: A lot of people are peacocking and declaring victory over inflation when we’re about to have reflation that sticks. We have inflation heading back towards 3.5% and staying there.

Our inflation forecast is that it’s set to reaccelerate in the next two inflation reports, which will lead to another rate hike in September. The Fed’s view is that until they get to the 2% target they’re not done. A lot of people are really confident because inflation went from 9% to 3% that it’s getting closer to 2%, therefore the Fed is done. Given what Fed Chair Jerome Powell said, the next two inflation reports are critical in determining whether we hike rates in September. I think maybe even one in November. This is a major catalyst for the next leg down in the equity market.

The Fed is going to see inflation go higher, and they’ve already articulated to Wall Street that no matter what happens, that should constitute a rate hike. That’s a policy mistake. They’re going to continue to tighten into a slowdown. When the Fed tightens into a slowdown, things blow up.

MarketWatch: By “things blow up,” you mean the stock market.

McCullough: I don’t think the Fed cuts interest rates until the stock market crashes. The Fed is going to be tightening when the U.S. economy and corporate profits are at a low point, going into the fourth quarter. It’s not dissimilar from 1987 where all of a sudden a market that looked fine got annihilated in very short order. There are a lot of similarities to 1987 now; the market’s quick start in January, people in love with stocks. That’s a catalyst for the stock market to crash.

When the Fed has an inconvenient rule, particularly for the U.S. stock market, they just move the goal posts or change the rule. If they actually started to cut interest rates, inflation would go up faster. This is exactly what happened in the 1970s and what Powell explains is the risk of going dovish too soon – that he becomes [much-criticized former Fed chair] Arthur Burns. That’s why you had rolling recessions in the 1970s; the Fed would go dovish, devalue the U.S. dollar
and the cost of living for Americans would reflate to levels that are prohibitive.

People can’t afford reflation at the gas pump, or in their health care. It’ll be fascinating to see how Powell pivots from fighting for the people to bailing out Wall Street from another stock market crash, which will therein create the next reflation.

‘The Federal Reserve has set the table for a major event in the U.S. stock market and the credit market.’

MarketWatch: Speaking of a Powell pivot, the Fed chair speaks at Jackson Hole this week. Last year he put markets on notice for rate hikes. What do you think he’ll say this time?

Powell’s going to see inflation accelerating. I think Jackson Hole is going to be a hawkish meeting. That might be the trigger for the stock market.

Take the bond market’s word for it.  The bond market is saying the Fed is going to remain tight and seriously consider another rate hike in September. The reasons why markets crash in October during recession is that the fourth quarter is when companies realize that there’s no soft landing and they need to guide down.

The Federal Reserve has set the table for a major event in the U.S. stock market and the credit market. We’re short high-yield and junk bonds through two ETFs: iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond
and SPDR Bloomberg High Yield Bond
 On the equity side the best thing is to short the cyclicals; I would short the Russell 2000

MarketWatch: What’s your advice to stock investors right now about how to reposition their portfolios?

McCullough: Own what the “Mother of All Bubbles” crowd doesn’t. The things we’re most bullish on include gold
 The Fed is going to keep short term rates high and both the 10 year and 30 year go lower. Gold trades with real interest rates. I think gold can go a lot higher, towards 2,150. Our ETF for gold is SPDR Gold Shares

Also, you can be long equities and not take on the heart-attack risk that is the U.S. stock market. I’m long Japanese equities — ETFs for this include iShares MSCI Japan
and iShares MSCI Japan Small-Cap

We’re long India with iShares MSCI India
and iShares MSCI India Small-Cap
Both Japan and India are accelerating economically. Were also long Brazil iShares MSCI Brazil
which is weighted to energy. We are bullish on energy. 

MarketWatch: Clearly accelerating inflation and slowing economic growth is an unhealthy combination for both investors and consumers.

McCullough: What I’m looking for, with inflation reaccelerating, is stagflation.

Stagflation pays the rich and punishes the poor. You want to be the landlord. The prices of things people own are going to go up, and the prices of things you need to live are also going to go up. So for example, we are long energy, uranium and timber as stagflation plays. ETFs we’re using for that include Energy Select Sector SPDR
Global X Uranium
and iShares Global Timber & Forestry

One positive thing that happens from stagflation is that because it’s so hard to find real consumption growth, there’s a premium on the growth you can find.

If there is something that actually accelerates, then those stocks will work, which puts a nice premium on stock picking. You can be long anything that is accelerating because so many things are decelerating. So avoid U.S. consumer, retailers, industrials and financials, which are all decelerating. Health care is our favorite sector, which we own through the ETFs Simplify Health Care
and SPDR S&P Health Care Equipment

Instead, people are betting we’re going to go back to some crazy AI-led growth environment. Now everyone thinks everything is AI and rainbows and puppy dogs. I’m old enough to remember we were in a banking crisis in March. From an intermediate- to longer-term perspective, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to protect yourself until this inflation cycle plays out.

Also read: Jackson Hole: Fed’s Powell could join rather than fight bond vigilantes as yields surge

More: Will August’s stock-market stumble turn into a rout? Here’s what to watch, says Fundstrat’s Tom Lee.

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Paris summit aims to overhaul global financial system for ‘climate solidarity’ with South

Around 50 heads of state, along with representatives from international institutions and civil society, will attend a summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday and Friday in Paris. Their objective is to develop a new global financial system so the most vulnerable countries will be better equipped to combat both poverty and climate change. 

The world’s wealthiest nations are demonstrating a “surge of solidarity” with those most vulnerable to climate change, said Cécile Duflot, president of the NGO Oxfam. Some 50 heads of state and government, representatives from international financial institutions, members of the private sector, climate experts and members of civil society will be attending the summit in Paris hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron on June 22 and 23. The objective of this ambitious conference is to “build a new contract between [the global] North and South”, according to the Élysée Palace.  

Macron announced his intention to host this summit at the end of COP27 back in November, 2022. Environmentalists were not satisfied with how the climate negotiations had concluded. But in the final hours, a historic agreement was reached providing for the establishment of a fund to compensate for the effects of climate change suffered by developing countries. The initial aim of this week’s Summit for a New Global Financial Pact was to establish concrete measures to finance this fund. “From now on, the battle against poverty, the decarbonisation of our economy and the fight for biodiversity will be very closely linked,” Macron said at the time.  

In the months since, the stakes have only heightened for countries in the Global South due to the combined fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis and galloping inflation. In the Palais Brongniart at Place de la Bourse, once the seat of the Paris stock exchange in the 2nd arrondissement (district), the hundreds of attendees will attempt to lay the foundations for an overhaul of the entire global financial system by adapting the post-war Bretton Woods institutions – the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank – to today’s challenges. 

On Wednesday, 13 political leaders – including Macron, US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – wrote that they are “urgently working to fight poverty and inequalities” in a contribution to French daily newspaper Le Monde.

“Climate change will generate larger and more frequent disasters, and disproportionately affect the poorest, most vulnerable populations around the world,” they wrote. “These challenges cross borders and pose existential risks to societies and economies.”

“We want our system to deliver more for the planet.”

Colossal financial needs

The financial needs of the Global South are colossal. A group of independent experts, specialising in climate finance and working under the auspices of the United Nations, estimated last year that the world needs to allocate $1 trillion a year between now and 2030 for developing countries besides China to respond to the climate and biodiversity crisis. 

Oxfam estimates that $27 trillion will have to be mobilised to “fight poverty, inequality and climate change in developing countries” between now and 2030, i.e., around $3.9 trillion a year. The World Bank put this estimate even higher, outlining in its 2021 climate action plan that $4 trillion a year will be needed between now and 2030 to build infrastructure that meets the needs of developing countries.    

Governments present at the summit for a new global financial pact this week will not be making financial pledges but are instead expected to discuss the most effective means of financing. The first items on the agenda are those based on already established commitments.

“Developed countries have already pledged to allocate 0.7% of their wealth to developing countries and to contribute $100 billion to the climate. But for the moment, these funds have only been partially distributed, if at all,” said Désiré Assogbavi, the director for French-speaking Africa at ONE, a global anti-poverty NGO, at a press conference on Tuesday.  

G7 countries in 2021 considered reallocating $100 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), an IMF reserve currency that is proportional to a country’s capital, to developing countries.

“This measure has been blocked in the eurozone, but this could easily be resolved by a political decision,” said Assogbavi, calling for the blockage to be lifted “by the end of the year”.

“On the last day of the summit, we hope that very clear mechanisms will be announced so that each of these commitments can be implemented.”

Taxes on major polluters and financial transactions

At the same time, new sources of funding will need to be explored. Within civil society, several associations and NGOs are already putting forward a number of ideas. First, they are calling for taxes to be introduced on the biggest polluters, in particular fossil fuel companies, due to “their historic responsibility for climate chaos”. In early June, 12 associations signed a petition asking Macron to tax the fossil fuel industry. They had gathered more than 31,000 signatures as of June 21. “This tax would enable us to raise up to $300 trillion,” said Fanny Petitbon, head of advocacy for the NGO CARE France. 

“Why not also introduce a tax on financial transactions, which would raise $440 billion?” asked Petitbon. The principle of this tax is simple: given the scale of the transactions carried out on the financial markets, applying even a very low tax rate would help raise significant tax revenue without having any impact on how the markets work. 

Ahead of the Paris summit, only a consensus on taxing maritime transport seems to be emerging, which could generate between $60 and $80 billion a year, according to the World Bank. “The subject could come to fruition in July when the International Maritime Organisation meets,” said Petitbon. “But the question of how the money will be used has yet to be decided. While some advocate that it should go to developing countries, others are calling for it to be used to decarbonise the maritime sector.”

Debt relief

In addition to the major issue of financing, the other dossier on the table is the debt owed by developing countries. “Debt servicing for developing countries is at its highest level since the end of the 1990s, and 93% of the countries most vulnerable to climate-related disasters are over-indebted, or not far from it,” said Lison Rehbinder, development finance advocacy officer at the CCFD-Terre Solidaire NGO.

“Today, countries in crisis are forced to repay their debts to creditor states, financial institutions and private banks, and this prevents them from investing in public services or fighting against climate change,” she said. 

For the moment, the plan under discussion is to introduce clauses in loan contracts that would allow repayments to be suspended in the event of a climate disaster, according to Rehbinder. Adopted by G20 countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, this measure would become automatic. “But we need to go further and think about large-scale debt cancellation,” she said. “That’s the only way for countries to get their heads above water.”

Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at Climate Action Network International, agreed. “The richest countries continue to mostly provide the countries of the South with loans – in 2020, grants accounted for just 26% of committed climate funding,” he said. “The fight against climate change must quickly move away from this profit-driven logic.”

The associations argue that it will only be possible to implement all these measures if the major multilateral development banks, primarily the World Bank, adopt bolder lending policies. 

Political will

France acknowledges, however, that Paris will not be able to make any concrete decisions at this summit. According to the Élysée Palace, the meeting’s main purpose is to draw up a guide that will be used at the next G20 summit in India in September, the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in October, and COP28 in Dubai in early December. 

“This event will put many important issues at the centre of international discussions,” said Duflot. “Unfortunately, it is still too unambitious, though we can no longer wait to implement far-reaching solutions.” 

“It’s not the money that’s lacking, but the political will. The heads of government must now shoulder their responsibilities,” said Petitbon. “Because beyond funding, it’s all about rebuilding trust between the countries of the North and South.”

This article has been translated from the original in French

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‘Macron resign!’: French president struggles to move on from pension controversy

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French President Emmanuel Macron only just dodged another day of heckles and boos from opponents of the controversial pension reform. But a war of attrition aimed at the president and his government looks to have no sign of letting up, with pots and pans the weapons of choice.

President Macron’s first trip to a French region since signing his unpopular pension reform didn’t go down well. The photos and videos taken on Wednesday 19 April bear witness of the flop. Crowds of protestors booed as he stepped foot in the small town of Sélestat in eastern France’s Alsace region, banging pots and chanting “Macron resign!”

It was time to take new photos, tell a new story. That of a population who appreciates their president and who are in favour of the pension reform. Or at the very least, who understand the need to raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 64. So Macron did what he deemed necessary.

#PotsAndPans for Macron

The following day, Macron made his way to Ganges in southern France. But before his arrival, the president ordered police to keep protestors away from the school he would be visiting. A decree banning the use of “portable sound devices” was also issued by local authorities, to avoid any unwanted background noise. In other words, no pots or pans allowed.


The measures allowed Macron to carry out a rather peaceful exchange with students, who were all delighted to meet him. Later that afternoon, the president made an unscheduled stop in Pérols, a small town near Montpellier airport. With his blazer flung over one shoulder, he strolled nonchalantly through cobbled streets before sitting down to have a beer and some tapas, taking selfies with teens and chatting to locals who encouraged him to hold steady.

In the three months after announcing the deeply unpopular pension reform, Macron made very few public appearances to speak to voters. These trips outside of Paris are a way for him to signal his willingness to turn the page and show is he not hiding from voters, many of whom are outraged by the way the legislation was passed. And each stop has been carefully planned.

Inhabitants of the Hérault region where Macron made his second visit put him in third place during the first round of France’s 2022 presidential elections, with 22.28% of votes. In Pérols, that number reached 28.52%, granting Macron first place.

But will the shots of Macron drinking beer on a sunny terrace or chummily shaking hands with locals be enough for France to move on and accept the reforms? Can they erase three months of tensions, furious disputes and riots brought on by his deeply unpopular decision to reform France’s pension system? Nothing is less certain as his opponents seem determined to grind Macron’s administration and reforms down into the mire.

Unions disrupt Macron’s visit to Notre Dam

After his Monday night speech on primetime TV where he called for “100 days of calm discusion, a real action plan and unity for France”, Macron’s speech in fact annoyed the French public.

After organising months of record-breaking strikes and protests, French unions have turned to a form of permanent harassment with “unwelcome committees” aimed at disrupting each visit the president or his members of government have planned. French organisation Attac (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens) even created an interactive map for all upcoming rallies.

In addition to the “unwelcome committees” organised by unions, other methods aimed at disrupting the nationwide visits have popped up. President Macron experienced power cuts while visiting a company in Muttersholtz, but also at Montpellier airport and at the school in Ganges, where he was forced to carry out his meeting in an outdoor playground.

During his visit to Notre-Dame on April 14, the CGT union managed to get their voices heard despite authorities evacuating the cathedral’s surroundings. Vehicles and even a typically Parisian “bateau-mouche” boat on the Seine drove around the premises with banners reading “Macron, quit!”



Left-wing political opponents urged supporters to bash pots and pans during his Monday TV address, and the age-old tactic has become an audible sign of anger at Macron’s policies. Hashtags like #MacronChallenge and PotandPanChallenge” have taken Twitter by storm to glavinise the public. 

Disrupted or cancelled visits

And so far, the new strategy adopted by French unions has worked. The list of disrupted visits keeps getting longer. 

On Wednesday evening, Digital Transition Minister Jean-Noël Barrot was greeted by dozens of protestors with pots and pans in Agen, where he was to hold a conference in a brewery. Union members then disrupted the event with a power cut, leaving participants in the dark.

A similar cacophonic concert of pot and pan bashing was granted to Ecology Minister Christophe Béchu on Wednesday in the Sarthe region, where a score of protestors held up a banner reading “the government perseveres, so do we”.




And on Friday afternoon, Health Minister François Braun was “welcomed” by 250 demonstrators in Montreuil who, bashing pots and pans, spoke to him about their opposition to the reform, an AFP journalist reported. 

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti decided to postpone a visit to a prison in southeast France “for a few weeks”, but his entourage insist that this is due to “judicial vacations”, not planned protests.

Secretary of State for Youth Sarah El Haïri cancelled her trip to Nantes, dedicated to the Universal National Service (SNU), a voluntary civil conscription service implemented by Macron in 2021. The event had to stop after one hour due to protests. And the Minister of Higher Education Sylvie Retailleau also cancelled a planned visit to the Saclay University in Paris, meant to take place on Tuesday

How long will these protest and disruptions last? No one knows. But the French Football Cup final on April 29, where the president typically greets players of both teams, and the new day of mass protest on May 1, Labour Day, is very much on everyone’s minds.

This article was translated from the original in French.

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