Return to protectionism, in this day and age, is it feasible ?

by | Jan 19, 2017 |

Return to protectionism, in this day and age, is it feasible ?

Let’s ponder October 1929 and October 2008

For the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who during the World Economic Forum in Davos, paradoxically seeming to be defending Free Trade, threw at the new American president, Donald Trump on January 17th, 2017 that no one would emerge as the winner of a trade war, or as he put it, a Return to protectionism, in this day and age, is it feasible ?

“It doesn’t help to blame globalization. Any attempt to stop trade in capital, technology, and products between countries is impossible and contrary to history. We must remain committed to the development of free trade and investment (transnational), and say no to protectionism. We got to ‘rebalance’ globalization, and make it stronger, more inclusive and more sustainable”. In this context it is useful to recall the fundamentals of the crisis of 1929 and 2008.

The 1929 Crisis.

The 1929 crash is caused by a speculative bubble, whose genesis dates back to 1927. It was a new system of credit purchase of shares based on investors buying securities with 10% coverage that started it all. It was ‘Black Thursday’ October 24th, 1929 that the famous crisis broke out in the United States.

le krach boursier de Wall street plongeant l’économie américaine et l’économie mondiale, dans la tourmente et ce malgré l’apparente santé de l’économie américaine dont les bases de sa croissance étaient pourtant faibles.

The stock crash of Wall Street plunged the American and the global economy in turmoil, and this despite the apparent health of the U.S. economy of which bases of its growth, were however weak.

October 2008

There are many similarities between the crisis of October 1929 and October 2008. Economic boom prior to the crisis, rising debt and divorce between the real and financial impact on the real economy with the fall of technology stocks.

But in contrast with 1929, it is the interconnection of economies with stronger global regulation where the developed countries economies being in deflation (low inflation, unemployment, negative growth) and not stagflation (inflation and unemployment decline) that characterised 2008.

As evidenced by the socialization of losses of some banks, the rapid response of the central banks of the US Fed., the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, Japanese, Russian, and even Chinese and Indian banks in coordination so as to break the vicious circle in the lack of confidence and the blocked interbank lending that is the lifeblood of the functioning of the global economy.

All economic and reliable financial system is based on trust. With repeated bankruptcies, interbank credit source of the expansion of the global economy has tended to dry out especially at the investment banks that have experienced an unparalleled expansion in the contemporary period.

However, unlike a universal bank, a Merchant Bank has not the possibility, in case of difficult market conditions, to rely on deposits of individuals to raise money for the short term, although they continue to issue short-term debt to finance their business.

However, more financial institutions from which investment banking sourced finance do refuse in times of crisis to lend for lack of confidence in the ability of repayment of these banks. Generally the essence of the crisis of both 1929 as of 2008 are a distortion of the Foundation of capitalism as describing by the founders of political economy based on the enterprising creators of wealth, Karl Marx did not write about Socialism but the Capital.

This crisis is therefore related to the increasing financialisation in disconnection with the real economy and not in symbiosis of any economic and social dynamics forgetting that labour is certainly a price but also creator of value and growth through consumption. Indeed, with this increasing financialisation, we have two types of shares ownership.

The direct holding (those who own directly) and the indirect holding (those who own through an intermediary such as management, life insurance companies, pension funds, etc.). The new fact is changing fast and important type of shares held by households. The direct holding of shares becomes a minority whereas the indirect holding grew strong.

It is the pension funds that control Wall Street whilst managing more than one third of the market capitalization of the USA today. These malfunctions have been materialised with the mortgage crisis of the Subprime in August 2007; a crisis that has spread across the global stock markets with great losses which I summarize in five steps:

  1. The banks made mortgages available to insolvent households or with few guarantees, at high interest rates;
  2. Dissemination of bad debt in the market: to evacuate the risks, banks “securitised” their debts, meaning that they cut their debt in financial products to resell them on the market. Globalisation did the rest, by disseminating these risky securities in the portfolios of investors from all over the world. Hedge funds have been big buyers of Subprimes, often on credit to boost their yields (up to 30% per year), and played the leverage effect, hedge funds borrow up to 90% of the sums required;
  3. Reversal of the U.S. real estate market: towards the end of 2005, U.S. interest rates began to rise while the financial market has faltered. Thousands of households have been unable to honour their payments causing losses for banks and investors who bought bonds saw their value collapse:
  4. Confidence crisis: the banks found themselves in a situation where as in a poker game, they know what they have on their balance sheet, but not what is in that of others because these bad mortgages were bought everywhere in the world and we don’t know what is the distribution of risk where a serious crisis of confidence and since July 2007, this situation causes the exchanges to fall and paralyzes the interbank market; banks are paying more or very little fearing that their counterparts are in a red line;
  5. Intervention of central banks: facing the paralysis in the market, the Central Banks intervened massively in early August 2007 by injecting hundreds of billions of Dollars and Euros in cash.

November 15th, 2008 : G20 crisis meeting in Washington, USA.

Elle s’est articulée autour de  cinq objectifs dont  le renforcement du système de régulation qui ne saurait signifier protectionnisme. Premièrement de dégager une réponse commune à la crise financière-deuxièmement ouvrir les pistes d’une réforme en profondeur du système financier international -troisièmement prendre de nouvelles initiatives pour parer à d’éventuelles faillites bancaires et imposer aux banques de nouvelles normes comptables -quatrièmement des règles plus strictes sur les agences de notation, la titrisation et les parachutes dorés

This meeting focused on five objectives, including the strengthening of the system of regulation which does not mean protectionism.

  • First to identify a common response to the financial crisis;
  • Second to open tracks for a reform of the international financial system;
  • Third to take new initiatives to counter possible bank failures and impose on the banks of new accounting standards;
  • Fourth to adopt stricter rules on credit rating agencies, securitisation and the Golden parachutes;
  • Finally, in fifth to increase public spending through coordinated budget deficits, but for the benefit of energy savings for the building and infrastructure development and clean auto technology, questioning the European stability pact (3% of GDP and spending on / GDP less than 60%.)

But it is clear that in this month of January 2017, the global economy is still characterized by turbulence with protectionist options but in a framework of unbridled internal liberalization wanting back in vogue Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market, which is likely to repeat the scenario of the 1929.  However, the strategic goal is to rethink the current global economic system that promotes bipolarisation North / South, poverty detrimental to the future of humanity, which is also accelerated by the most questionable governance on behalf of most of the leaders of the South.

In short, the return to global protectionism is a chimera and realism will prevail in the end.

In the meantime, let us meditate the crisis of October 1929 and that of October 2008. The large deficit of the American balance of payments, which will be accentuated with the new spending program announced by the new president (with the risk of a loss in value of the Dollar), is currently offset by the large flows of capital from outside the US. . Let us for the sake for humanity, put aside all nationalism, chauvinism that are source of tensions, hatred and war and meditate this quote that is sometimes attributed to French president Charles de Gaulle, under the title “Patriotism is loving his country, Nationalism, is hate of others’” and sometimes to Romain Garyn in his book “European Education” published in 1945 under the title “Patriotism is the love of one’s kin Nationalism is hatred of others”.    ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Human Capital as the most valuable Resource

 

It has been said that Human Capital as the most valuable Resource that any organisation be it in the  political, economical and / or social domains would require for purposes of progress, growth and development  generally. These organisations to succeed and eventually prosper, or perhaps simply stand their grounds, do need leadership of one type or another.  There is plenty of literature on this very topic but the following essay of McKinsey would not pass unnoticed.   In our series on leadership, refer to Leadership Priorities in Year 2017, we did not cover this aspect of the business of tracking, selecting and ultimately contracting in quality personnel.  This is possibly the most perilous but also the most rewarding operation of selection of an employee, an expert and / or a president of a country.  Excerpts of the McKinsey’s Finding Hidden Leaders are reproduced here.

Finding hidden leaders

By Kevin Lane, Alexia Larmaraud, and Emily Yueh

 

Persistent challenges

The first explanation is size: in large organizations, it’s easy for hidden talent to stay hidden or be drowned out by the noise of complex organizational processes. They could be in a business unit far from the corporate center or in a backroom job away from the action. They might be quiet and reluctant to push themselves forward, eclipsed by more forceful personalities. Yet they may perform exceptionally well in their jobs, collaborate effectively with colleagues, have extensive networks across the organization, or carry informal influence among their peers. In short, they are showing signs of leadership potential, but it remains untapped because they are shielded from senior managers.

Another reason why promising future leaders go unnoticed is bias in the selection process. As Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Carolyn Buck Luce, and Cornel West have shown, bias can be consciously or unconsciously based on race, ethnicity, or gender, or on age, when older employees are seen as past their prime. A language “deficit,” or even a strong accent, has been known to cause people in global organizations to be penalized, as has a failure to fit conventional cultural norms. Sometimes it might be merely a one-off bad experience on a project that taints a high-potential employee’s reputation. Or it could happen to someone who steps off the conventional path for personal reasons—for example, to have a child or care for an ill family member. Managers in most organizations, notwithstanding efforts to encourage diversity and inclusion, still tend to recognize, reward, and promote people who look and behave like them and who have followed similar paths, while neglecting others whose leadership potential may be equally impressive.

Finally, there is the problem of the narrow top-down lens that senior leaders often use when looking for leadership talent. Underlying this is the mistaken assumption that only those at the top of the organization know what great leadership looks like, or a narrow focus on leadership contexts specific to the organization and the particular role. This can crowd out other perspectives, such as what individuals have achieved outside the company or what people lower down in the organization see as examples of effective leadership. A narrow lens can also interact in subtle ways with bias, as was the case for the executive at a large technology company who found it difficult to understand why a female manager wasn’t seizing more opportunities to “demo” the company’s products at major events as he and other senior leaders had done during their rise up the ranks.

Disappointing harvests

Overcoming the obstacles of size, bias, and narrow lens is a management challenge of the first order. In our experience, the most common means of finding leaders in large organizations—what we call harvesting—is not up to the task. Harvesting assumes that the best, often with some help, will organically rise to prominence and can then be plucked and placed into leadership roles. There are many varieties of harvesting, but it essentially involves planting talented “seeds”—new hires—in the organization, giving them increasingly demanding tasks, providing training and support as they develop, allowing them opportunities to demonstrate their abilities, and choosing the best performers for the senior roles. Managers who do this best invest a large amount of time and energy in cultivation activities. There is a lot of value in this, and harvesting should remain a vital part of developing and selecting. But it does little to unearth hidden talent, because hidden talent, by its nature, includes individuals who for some reason are not on the standard advancement path and thus remain invisible to those relying on conventional processes.

How to spot your hidden leaders

Finding employees with the qualities to be tomorrow’s leaders requires more than harvesting talent and should include what we call “hunting,” “fishing,” and “trawling” (exhibit). These approaches are more proactive and involve, for example, turning over more stones than usual, encouraging leaders to identify themselves, and finding new ways to tap into the environments where people live and work.

Exhibit

human-capital-hunting-tracking-and

 

 

 

 

5 years to change how we Learn, Earn and Care

Saadia Zahidi in perhaps one of her most commendable contributions to the WEF, states here that times are a-changing and that it is up to us to adapt our systems of education, care, etc. so as to maximise our chances of a better future.  For that we have only 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care or even perhaps less than that. 

We may have less than 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care

January 4, 2016

Over the course of the last year, at World Economic Forum and elsewhere, I have asked participants two questions. First I ask for a show of hands on whether they feel confident about their current skills taking them through to the end of their careers – about one in five raise their hands. Then I ask if they feel confident about advising their children on their education to prepare for their own futures: none raises their hand. These are some of the most knowledgeable, leading figures in the world and yet they, like many of us, are uncertain about what the future of labour markets looks like.

This is not surprising.

Globalization and technology are accelerating both job creation and destruction. Some estimates have put the risk of automation as high as half of current jobs, while others forecast a considerably lower value of 9%. Still, all occupations will go through change: we found that on average one-third of the skillsets required to perform today’s jobs will be wholly new by 2020.

job-families-rise-and-decline

At the same time, education and training systems are not keeping pace with these shifts. Some studies suggest that 65% of children currently entering primary school will have jobs that do not yet exist and for which their education will fail to prepare them, exacerbating skills gaps and unemployment in the future. Even more urgent, underdeveloped adult training and skilling systems are unable to support learning for the currently active workforce of nearly 3 billion people.

In addition, outdated cultural norms and institutional inertia already create roadblocks for half of the world’s talent – and are getting worse in the new context. Despite women’s leap forward in education, their participation in the paid workforce remains low; and progress is stalling, with current forecasts for economic parity at 170 years.

The near-term outcomes of these dynamics, compounded through other demographic, geopolitical and economic factors, are profoundly challenging. They include skills gaps in the workforce that are difficult for employers and workers alike, unemployment and job displacement, particularly in blue-collar and services work, rising fear of further technological unemployment, insufficient supply of talent for many high-skill occupations, and loss of female talent and potential. Together these factors are exacerbating income inequality and creating a crisis of identity.

Yet, most of these dire predictions need not be foregone conclusions. If leaders act now, using this moment of transformation as an impetus for tackling long-overdue reform, they have the ability not only to stem the flow of negative trends but to accelerate positive ones and create an environment in which over 7 billion people on the planet can live up to their full potential.

Instead, in several advanced economies, we are seeing the political and social consequences of short-term, emotive – and sometimes disingenuous – thinking. For those who are losing out from the changes underway, fear is an understandable response. But turning away immigrants, trade or technology itself, and disengaging from the world, is a distraction, at best. At worst, will create even more negative consequences for those already losing out – and many more. It is up to courageous, responsible and responsive leaders and citizens to take the long view and set out on the path to more fundamental, relevant reforms, and an inspiring future.

How? By investing in human capital and preparing people for the new opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution. The World Economic Forum has worked with leaders, experts and practitioners to create a common vision and a shared change agenda focused on how we learn, earn and care.

  1. Transform education ecosystems. Most education systems are so far behind the mark on keeping up with the pace of change today and so disconnected from labour markets that nothing short of a fundamental overhaul will suffice in many economies. The eight key areas of action here are early childhood education, future-ready curricula, a professionalized teaching workforce, early exposure to the workplace, digital fluency, robust and respected technical and vocational education, openness to education innovation, and critically, a new deal on lifelong learning.
  2. Facilitate the transition to a new world of work. While there are deeply polarized views about how technology will impact employment, there is agreement that we are in a period of transition. Policy needs to catch up and facilitate this transition. We propose four areas of action: recognition of all work models and agile implementation of new regulations, updated social protection, adult learning and continuous re-skilling, and proactive employment services.
  3. Advance the care economy. Often undervalued and unregulated, care is one of the most fundamental needs among both young and old populations. It has a strong impact on education, and holds potential for job growth. We propose six areas of action: recognize and value care as a vital sector of the economy, professionalize the care workforce, rebalance paid and unpaid work responsibilities, expand high-quality care infrastructure, create new financial provisions to facilitate care, and use technology as a tool for balancing care and work.

how-is-care-valued

Image: World Economic Forum

To do any of this – and to make it pay off – it is critical that policy design includes agile multistakeholder governance, empowerment of the individual, objective measurement, universal access and long-term planning as fundamental tenets.

The rapid pace of change means we need to act urgently. By some estimates the current window of opportunity for action is three-to-five years. This may sound daunting but there are a large variety of robust success stories to learn from and emulate. There are also substantial new commercial opportunities – such as adult education, care services, employment services – that make this space ripe for public-private collaboration.

It’s the harder path to follow, there’s no doubt about it. Transforming education ecosystems, creating a care economy and managing the transition to a new world of work require political will, innovative policy, new financing models and, most importantly, a new mind-set.

But this is also the only viable path if we want to get ahead of the transition underway and turn this moment of flux into an opportunity for revitalizing growth and realizing human potential in the age of the fourth industrial revolution.

The whitepaper on Realizing Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: An Agenda for Leaders to Shape the Future of Education, Gender and Work can be found here.  Saadia Zahidi is Head of Education, Gender and Work and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.

 

The Future is Not in Fossil Fuels

 

An article published on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by Common Dreams and written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer is reproduced here for its interest to all concerned in the MENA region countries about the Peak-Oil theory being concretised under our eyes and that renewable energy would eventually replace all fossil oil based energy production.  The author asserts rightly that the Future is Not in Fossil Fuels  and that “Solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.” (The above Photo is by David Goehring/flickr/cc)

 

Global Economic Realities Confirm, the ‘Future is Not in Fossil Fuels’

While oil and gas companies falter, ‘renewable energy has reached a tipping point,’ says World Economic Forum expert.

 

Underscoring the need for a global shift to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds a record number of U.K. fossil fuel companies went bust in 2016 due to falling oil and gas prices.

The Independent reported the analysis from accounting firm Moore Stephens which found “16 oil and gas companies went insolvent last year, compared to none at all in 2012.” And the trend was not unique to the U.K.—a year-end bankruptcy report from Texas-based Haynes and Boone LLP showed there have been 232 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and Canadian energy sector since the beginning of 2015.

“As the warnings from climate science get stronger, now is the time to realize…that the future is not in fossil fuels,” Dr. Doug Parr of Greenpeace U.K. told The Independent. “It’s also time for government to recognize that we should not leave the workers stranded, but provide opportunities in the new industries of the 21st century.”

Those opportunities are likely to come in the renewable energy sector, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced (PDF) in December that solar and wind power are now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries.

“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, said in a statement at the time. “It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

Quartz reported last month:

In 2016, utilities added 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic capacity to the U.S. grid, making solar the top fuel source for the first time in a calendar year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s estimates. The U.S. added about 125 solar panels every minute in 2016, about double the pace last year, reports the Solar Energy Industry Association.

The solar story is even more impressive after accounting for new distributed solar on homes and business (rather than just those built for utilities), which pushed the total installed capacity to 11.2 GW.

And as Paul Buchheit noted in an op-ed published Tuesday at Common Dreams, “solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

But it remains unclear how these trends will develop under an incoming Donald Trump administration.

As Moody’s Investor Services reported Tuesday, under Trump’s fossil-friendly cabinet, “U.S. energy policy likely will prioritize domestic oil and coal production, in addition to reducing federal regulatory burdens.”

In turn, according to Moody’s:

Increasing confidence in the oil and gas industry’s prospects will spur acquisition activity among North American exploration and production (E&P) firms, Moody’s says. Debt and equity markets are again offering financing for producers seeking to re-position and enhance their asset portfolios after a lull. [Merger and acquisition activity] will also pick up in the midstream sector. At the same time, integrated oil and gas firms will continue to improve their cash flow metrics and leverage profiles by cutting operating costs, further reducing capital spending and divesting assets.

Even so, the oilfield services and drilling (OFS) sector is in for another tough year, with continued weak customer demand, overcapacity, and a high debt burden.

Bottom line, wrote Buchheit, is that with the rapid expansion of solar power, Trump has “the opportunity to make something happen that will happen anyway, but he can take all the credit, with the added bonus of beating out his adversary China.”
“Unfortunately, Trump may not have the intelligence to recognize that he should act,” Buchheit wrote. “And the forces behind fossil fuel make progress unlikely. But there is plenty of American ego and arrogance and exceptionalism out there. We need some of that ego now, just like 60 years ago, when the Soviet accomplishments in space drove us toward a singular world-changing goal. Then it was the moon. Now it’s the sun.”

What next for Middle East’s media?

 

AMEinfo produced this article written by Mujeeb Rahman, Journalist on 28 December 2016; it is republished here below.  It is question of the Mass Media notably of the printed type.  But the media generally are lately undergoing some sort of mutations with the online one coming up to maturity possibly at the expense  of its printed counterpart.  Mujeeb’s question What next for Middle East’s media? should be answered but only if taking every aspect of life in the countries of the MENA are taken into account. 

In that region, the other problem would be that of the Freedom of Speech as illustrated by 2 recent events that were covered here in MENA-Forum.   A journalist dies whilst held in prison for alleged defamation in Algeria Friend and Fellow Countryman M. Tamalt Passing Away or simply imprisoned for one reason or another as in More journalists jailed than in nearly 3 decades  and their media literally obstructed by the authorities as in In solidarity with Doha News .

 What next for Middle East’s media?

  •  2016 has been the year that wasn’t for the Middle East media
  •  7DAYS closed down, Emirates 24/7 and Khaleej Times slashed jobs
  •  GN Media closed down four popular radio stations
  •  Newspapers and magazines adverting spend to drop by by 6.1 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively, in 2017

The year 2016 ends with yet another blow to the Middle East’s media industry as UAE’s free tabloid newspaper 7DAYS shut down on December 22 because of the “challenging” market conditions.

The newspaper, owned by the UK-based Daily Mail & General Trust Plc (DMGT), had earlier announced that it was ceasing the publication after 13 years, citing bleak prospects of print media.

The industry had also witnessed a few other closures and job cuts due to rising cost and major decline in ad revenues during the difficult year.

The year that wasn’t

2016 has been the year that wasn’t for the media in the region.

As it tried everything it could to survive, 7DAYS cut its frequency from five days a week to weekly in November. But the newspaper, neck-deep in financial trouble, met with the ultimate fate as it also shut down online news website on the same day the last copy rolled-off the press.

“The current trading environment and future global outlook for print advertising remains severely challenged,” Mark Rix, CEO of 7DAYS Media, said when announcing the closure.

News website Emirates 24/7, run by government-owned Dubai Media Incorporated, shed staff as part of a restructuring. Media reports suggest that Khaleej Times daily had also laid-off nearly 30 staff during this year.

Dubai-based GN Media closed down popular Radio 1 and Radio 2 stations in June. Later in September, the media group closed two other remaining radio stations, Josh and Hayat.

“Following a strategic review of our operations, GN Media have made the decision to exit the broadcasting sector,” the company said then referring to the closure of its broadcasting arm, Gulf News Broadcasting.

Not only the small fries but also major publication and broadcast organizations had tough time during the past 12 months.

The Doha-based Al Jazeera media network announced in March that it was cutting 500 jobs. The broadcaster had earlier this year shut down its English-language channel in the US, Al Jazeera America, saying the business model was “simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges”.

Declining ad spend

Print ad spend has drastically declined in the past few years in the UAE and across the worlds.

Globally, adverting spend in newspapers and magazines dropped this year from 2015 by 8 per cent and 5.9 per cent respectively, according to a recent report by London-based consultancy Warc. They are projected to fall further in 2017 by 6.1 per cent and 4.5 per cent.

In the region, newspapers accounted for 45 per cent of the advertising market in 2010. But they now represent only 32 per cent the market, according to the findings in a study by Northwest University Qatar.

Zenith Optimedia had earlier this year forecast an 11 percent drop in overall advertising spending in the region for 2016 as the region’s governments, the largest buyers of advertising, were trimming down spending on the back of lower oil prices.

Changing trends

Television still accounts for the vast majority of advertising in the region. Leading professional services firm PwC has revealed that the TV advertising market in Middle East and Africa (MEA) has seen double digit growth despite the economic and political turbulence. It predicts that the region will be the fastest-growing region globally with 12.1 per cent CAGR for TV advertising.

Digital advertising is picking up pace with the fast growing Internet and Smartphone population in the region. Both TV and digital advertising platforms are growing at the expense of print. From 2010 to 2015, digital advertising grew from $105 million to $550 million, or 10 per cent of industry mediums, NUQ finds.

PwC projects that by 2018, Internet advertising will overtake TV as the largest advertising segment

By Mujeeb Rahman, Journalist

Mujeeb Rahman is a business journalist at AMEinfo. His areas of focus include economy, markets, politics and international relations in MENA and Asia-Pacific regions. An ex-BBC digital journalist, he delves deeper into the subjects that matter most

White Christmas in the Saharan Algeria

 

Climate change: For the first time in 37 years, snow in the Sahara as expressed in Indian Express of December 23, 2016.  It could be interpreted as White Christmas in the Saharan Algeria.

Climate change: For the first time in 37 years, snow in the Sahara

On December 19, a freak snow shower coated the dusty red dunes of Aïn Séfra, Algeria’s ‘Gateway to the Desert’.

In 1984, charitable supergroup Band Aid sang, ‘And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time’.

Had it been this year, they’d have got it wrong — on December 19, a freak snow shower coated the dusty red dunes of Aïn Séfra, Algeria’s ‘Gateway to the Desert’.

Also Read | Parts of Saudi Arabia covered in snow, temperatures plunge

The snow — the result of a combination of atmospheric factors — stayed for about a day before melting.

 

The Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) on the USGS/NASA Landsat 7 satellite acquired a natural-colour image of snow in an area near the Morocco-Algeria border, south of Bouarfa and southwest of Aïn Séfra. The rare snowfall generated excitement after local photographer Karim Bouchetata posted several stunning pictures of rolling dunes covered in white on his Facebook page. “Everyone was stunned to see snow falling in the desert, it is such a rare occurrence,” Bouchetata told The Independent. “It looked amazing as the snow settled on the sand.”

WHY

The Washington Post reported that a weather map analysis from the day of the snowfall shows that temperatures in the area, at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, were about 10 to 15 degrees colder than normal when the event occurred. Also, a very strong patch of low pressure had been created at a high altitude, which rapidly sucked up air and cooled it, creating conditions for the extremely rare snowfall.

Ain Sefra –  Algeria

EARLIER

Aïn Séfra, which is situated between the Atlas Mountains and the northern fringes of the Sahara, saw a half-hour snowstorm earlier in February 1979. This region receives only a few centimetres of precipitation every year. In July 2011, the world’s driest desert, the Atacama in Chile, received 80 cm of snow. This week’s event could be another sign of climate change.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the US Geological Survey. Caption by Mike Carlowicz. Other information: NASA & ENS

 

Merry Xmas and Best Wishes to Each and Everyone.

 

Global Development’s Winners 2016

 

Devex posted this article written by Michael Igoe @AlterIgoe on its online site on December 22nd, 2016.  We are happy to republish excerpts of the global development’s winners 2016 part only and would definitely encourage all to visit and read the whole article by clicking the title below.

Global development’s winners and losers of 2016

2016 has been a tumultuous year. Man-made crises, natural disasters, rising temperatures, and political hostility tested the global development community’s commitment and creativity to forge new solutions for a world in transition. On social media, 2016 has acquired a plethora of memes declaring it the worst year ever, and indeed, at times it has been trying.

But while it is true that real people have suffered and important causes have seen setbacks, the challenges have also reaffirmed the aid community’s commitment to keep moving forward. The tumult imparted costs and uncertainty — but it also provoked leadership and resolve to ensure that decades of progress in combating poverty and disease aren’t lost to the winds of change.

The Syrian conflict continues to produce images and accounts of humanity at its worst. Yet it has also drawn the sharp edge of heroism — health workers who continue to administer care despite the knowledge that the hospitals where they work have been painted with targets; teachers who fight to keep classrooms open amid the bombing.

The global development community will grapple with a new and evolving geopolitical landscape in 2017, but the new year is also a time to take stock. Here are a few of the actors, ideas, and priorities that emerged from 2016 as winners — or losers.

Global development’s 2016 winners:

  1. Cities.

While national and international institutions around the world struggled to keep pace with change, the world’s cities and their leaders took more steps to solidify their status as centers of action for sustainable development. The first Habitat summit in 20 years — Habitat III — brought urban leaders to Quito, Ecuador in October to launch a New Urban Agenda, which endorses an “urban paradigm shift” that “readdresses the way governments plan, finance, develop, govern and manage cities.”

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Is the final draft #NewUrbanAgenda enough to meet the #SDGs? http://buff.ly/2cFxLnq  #H3Journalism @UNHabitat @Habitat_org @Citiscope12:26 AM – 22 Sep 2016

What’s new about the New Urban Agenda?

The “New Urban Agenda” will be the centerpiece of next month’s Habitat III summit and the guiding strategy for sustainable urbanization over the next few decades. A final draft was released this…

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Mayors and local leaders proved critical to sustaining climate momentum at COP22 in Marrakech, after Donald Trump’s surprise presidential victory cast doubts over U.S. national climate policy. “Cities, businesses and citizens will continue reducing emissions, because they have concluded … that doing so is in their own self-interest,” said U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In 2017 Devex will convene a global conversation about the future of smart cities for global development. Stay tuned.

  1. Solar power.

The cost of solar panels has fallen 80 percent since 2010, according to the International Energy Agency. Solar energy has gotten increasingly cheaper and is now the lowest-priced option for new electricity production in many developing countries.

The last few years witnessed a turning point, with more new energy production happening in renewables than in fossil fuels. New payment and distribution models — such as pay as you go solar panels — have emerged to help enable access to renewable power at the bottom of the pyramid. These trends have led to some bold and hopeful predictions.

The Indian government, for example, said it will exceed its — already very ambitious — Paris climate agreement target for renewable energy by half, generating 57 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2027.

At COP22, the Climate Vulnerable Forum — a group of 48 countries expected to experience the harshest impacts of climate change — adopted a vision to meet 100 percent domestic renewable energy production by 2050.

  1. National development finance institutions.

Development finance institutions received top billing in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which called on donors to leverage aid resources into private sector investment in order to reach the precipitous $2.5 trillion target. Donors across Europe are responding enthusiastically. Finland, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and France are recapitalizing their DFIs, many increasing budgets by more than 100 percent. The United Kingdom’s investment arm, the CDC, is on track to quadruple its ceiling for investment early next year to $8 billion.

Questions remain about whether DFI capacity for impact evaluation and accountability is keeping pace, but the critiques don’t appear to be slowing growth in the sector. Also in question are DFIs’ frequent use of more obscure financial environments, including tax havens, as revealed in the so-called Panama Papers leaks. Still, private investment is on the rise, and donors are keen to make it work. The Overseas Development Institute and Center for Strategic and International Studies reported in 2016 that private investment funds are on track to outstrip official development assistance in as little as 10 years.

  1. Disaster response and preparedness.

Cyclone Winston, Hurricane Matthew and the Aceh earthquake were just some of the natural disasters that devastated some of the poorest economies in 2016. According to the World Disasters Report, released by the Red Cross in October, climate change will increase the numbers of natural disasters worldwide, with the Asia-Pacific region suffering the greatest impacts in terms of cost and lives lost. But this year also saw strong funding and increased programmatic focus on building communities that will be better equipped to prepare and respond to future natural disasters.

The Asian Development Bank, for example, told Devex about its increased funding to tackle climate-related impacts in the Asia-Pacific: funding for more resilient infrastructure, climate-smart agriculture, innovative technologies, preparedness for weather-related disasters and mitigation programs will be key investments in the coming years.

In Australia, emergency and humanitarian response was among the few winners to garner more financing in the 2016 aid budget. And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave almost $13 million in grants to emergency response programs in 2016. As Peter Walton, international director for Red Cross Australia, explained to Devex, NGOs are making “pretty significant” shifts toward disaster-related programs particularly in the Asia-Pacific.