YGA’s international extravaganza: no. 11

Saudi Arabia’s climate change plans struggle to lift off

by Toby Gill

image credit: GDJ (Pixabay)

In 2016, Saudi Arabia ratified the Paris Agreement and promised that 50 percent of the Kingdom’s power generation would be provided by renewables by 2030. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even promised that the Kingdom would “act to lead the next green era”. 

Despite the strong rhetoric, the Kingdom’s approach to the climate crisis has received mixed responses abroad. Climate Action Tracker recently described the Crown Prince’s climate commitment as “critically insufficient” and stated, “it’s not very clear how [the Kingdom] actually aims to achieve” their climate targets. 

The Kingdom’s subdued attitude to their climate commitments was brought to light in June this year when the Saudi energy minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman, reportedly said that Saudi Arabia would be the “last man standing” and that “every molecule of hydrocarbon will come out”, raising concerns in the international community.

Frustration rises as millions are displaced by annual flooding

by Max Bedford

image credit: DEZALB (Pixabay)

Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, has one again fallen victim to flooding which has disrupted upwards of 3.7 million lives. Flooding is common at this time of year, as the West African nation faces a rain season between July and October, however the severity of these floods have worsened over the past decade. The flooding so far has seen at least four dead, with the death toll expected to rise as the rainfall becomes more severe.

The flooding has birthed criticism of the government due to their lack of preparation for the annual rain season. Frustrated local, Rokhaya, stated “every time there is a flood, they fool us by giving us food rations. We don’t need it. We need sanitation,”. It is expected that little will be done to prepare for the next rain season, as it is unclear if either local or national government has the capacity or willpower to implement defences.

Serbia to renew efforts to derecognise Kosovo

by Frank Roberts

image credit: AstraIniHorizonti (Pixabay)

The moratorium preventing Serbia from pressuring countries to derecognise Kosovo and to campaign against its accession into international organisations has now expired. Initiated as part of a comprehensive agreement signed in September 2020, the moratorium also placed restrictions on Kosovo seeking to join any international organisation although it could remain a member of those it had previously joined. It is expected that both countries will continue to press on with their pre-existing stances, although broader parts of the agreement, such as the creation of a ‘mini-Schengen’ zone between Serbia & Kosovo (also incorporating Albania and North Macedonia) could help maintain stable relations.

Kosovo is, at the time of writing, recognised by 97 UN members including 22 within the EU. Nevertheless, Serbian pressure has caused 15 states to withdraw their recognition since October 2017.

A step forward for Seychellois female entrepreneurs

by Angel Hill

image credit: Alessandro Russo

The Seychelles’ Chapter of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Federation of Women in Business recently unveiled a new branch in the capital city Victoria, during a ceremony held by President Wavel Ramkalawan. The COMESA office provides a space for Seychellois women to seek business support and advice, find business partners or regional markets, and to receive training opportunities. 

The COMESA Federation of Women in Business was established in July 1983 in Zimbabwe with the aim of encouraging women’s development. This initiative now provides Seychellois women a chance to enter new markets and have access to valuable business information. The Secretary General of COMESA, H.E Chileshe Kapwepwe, commented that the objective of this new branch is to assist the Seychelles in joining larger markets and supporting the operation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

First Sierra Leonean to serve at the ICC 

by Gracie Daw

image credit: Greger Ravik

This week the first Sierra Leonean judge, Hon. Justice Miatta Maria Samba, has left to serve at the International Criminal Court. She was elected to the position in the third round of voting with 83 votes after being nominated by the Sierra Leonean government. She will serve a nine year term alongside five other new judges. The Chief Justice of Sierra Leone applauded her commitment and achievement at a leaving party. He said that her appointment showed the “calibre of people [of Sierra Leone] that could rise to be champions if the right opportunities are given.” She left the shores of Freetown to go to the Hague, celebrated as a success of Sierra Leone. 

National Rally Day message shines light on Singapore’s economic plan

by Kate Nuttall

image credit: Gobierno de Chile (Flickr)

The National Rally Day of Singapore took place on 29 August. It is a message delivered yearly by the Prime Minister and is considered the most important political speech of the year. While the speech this year commented on the impact of Covid, the focus was primarily on the future and how Singapore can overcome any economic issues facing the country. 

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the importance of business growth to the Singaporean economy, and the positive impact of having an inclusive society and workforce. Current guidelines on fair employment practices are going to be enshrined in law. Lee further noted that low-income jobs are less secure, and as a result companies that pay their workers a progressive wage will gain an accreditation which will allow them to work with and supply the public sector, which is a major buyer of goods and services.

Slovakia finally bouncing back

by Harry Padoan

image credit: Pxfuel

Slovakia has seen significant economic recovery in the second quarter of this year, with top economic analysts seeing improvements as just the start. With Slovakia’s massive easing of Covid restrictions, there has been a seismic increase in both foreign and domestic demand, rising by 23 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. Revenues in retail, particularly specialised outlets selling footwear and clothing have been given a giant lifeline. 

Analyst Jana Glasova believes that if restrictions remain minimal, domestic consumption will become the “workhorse of the economy”. On a year on year basis, Slovakia’s GDP rose by an impressive 9.6 percent in the second quarter of 2021 – a growth of two percent quarter to quarter. With the help of the EU’s recovery plan, Slovakia will surely believe that a return to relative economic stability is on the horizon. 

European disintegration: Slovenia supports strategic autonomy

by Luke Jones

image credit: Efraimstochter (Pixabay)

On 2 September, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell asserted that the EU must strengthen its strategic autonomy, citing Afghanistan as a cost of not doing so. It would likely involve common military training between member states and a rapid reaction force of around 5,000 soldiers. 

This position, shared by the current president country Slovenia, is widely discussed but highly unsettled inside the supranational union. This conflict reflects wider differences in foreign and defence policies between member states. Beyond the EU, it is unclear how this autonomy will be met by NATO and its two greatest contributors, the United States and United Kingdom, on which it is dependent on for European security.

Solomon Islands trial lockdown ends

by Joe Mawer

image credit: Jutvik (Pixabay)

Across the west, many of us have lived through multiple lockdowns, in ranging severity. In the Solomon Islands the government has had a trial lockdown that ended on 31 August.  This may bemuse many people who live in countries where 30,000 cases per day is the norm, as the Solomon Islands have only had 20 cases in the entire pandemic.

The opposition leader Matthew Wale and former Governor General Sir Frank Kabui have questioned the legality of the trial lockdown and have stated that the 32 arrests of people breaking the lockdown could be unconstitutional. This trial lockdown has exposed many holes in the lockdown plan with people struggling to get food as there was no government programme to give food to those who need it. This highlights the problems that developing countries like the Solomon Islands face fighting Covid.

The triple overlapping crisis in Somalia

by Owen Buchan

image credit: David_Peterson (Pixabay)

The East African country of Somalia is under tense strain from three major issues that overlap. The three issues are climate change, Covid and conflict. The climate crisis in Somalia, which has already seen 800,000 people flee to the capital of Mogadishu, is exacerbating existing conflicts and even leading to new ones. Furthermore, Covid is claiming lives and destroying livelihoods on a mass scale. This has accumulated in a tense situation where political instability is an ever-present threat and the people suffer the most.

Attention is being drawn to Somalia, with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warning that Somalia is “on the cusp of a humanitarian crisis”. The IRFC is hoping for £7 million for Somalia. Whether this will be enough to make a difference will have to be seen.

New Covid variant detected in South Africa

by Connor Crout

image credit: PIRO4D (Pixabay)

A new variant of Covid known as C.1.2 has been detected in South Africa. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa has issued an alert about the new variant, saying that it has been detected, albeit at a relatively low rate, in all nine of South Africa’s provinces. It also said that C.1.2 was first detected in May, and that the Delta variant remains the dominant Covid variant spreading around South Africa.

C.1.2 has not yet been listed as a variant of concern or interest by the World Health Organisation because it does not seem to be spreading; it has only been found in around 100 Covid cases since May. Time will tell whether this new Covid variant turns out to be more deadly or transmittable than other variants, which currently seems unlikely due to the low number of cases.

South Korea introduces legislation for app store payments

by Jessica Pender

image credit: LoboStudioHamburg (Pixabay)

The law requires companies such as Apple and Google to offer third-party payment options in app stores. Current payment methods allow the tech giants to collect commissions from app developers. The law will also prevent retaliation against developers who choose to prioritize alternative payment sources over the iOS or Google store methods. Companies that do not comply with legislation could be fined up to 3 percent of their revenue in South Korea. 

While the bill has been passed by the National Parliament, it needs to be signed by President Moon Jae-in to become law. If the bill is approved, South Korea will be one of the first countries to restrict Apple and Google’s monetisation policies.

South Sudan’s concerning future 

by Samiha Hamze

image credit: Paul Kagame

In response to President Salva Kiir’s inauguration of the country’s new parliament, anti-government groups began planning protests, but were automatically threatened and silenced. The new parliament includes a National Assembly with 588 Members of Parliament from the governing party and other factions, which was agreed upon in the 2018 ceasefire deal. 

So far, activists have been arrested due to claims of planning protests in support of removing President Salva Kiir. According to the Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance Lobby, two of its members have been arrested and other human rights groups have announced the arrest of a top religious figure. In addition, internet services have been disrupted and security forces are patrolling the streets. This leaves many concerns for the future of South Sudan, a country that has already suffered with years of war and now further instability.

Spain: A More Ethical Holiday?

by Leanna Devabalan

image credit: Julius_Silver (Pixabay)

When deciding on a hotel, we consider sea views and pool sizes. Las Kellys, a chambermaids’ organisation provides another option: the working conditions of the hotel’s staff. 

Till recently, chambermaids were employed by hotels as staff.  This put them under an agreement which granted them a monthly wage, sickness and maternity benefits. Unfortunately, outsourcing contracts do not offer similar paying conditions. Workers’ risk being sacked if they fail to meet unrealistic targets.  Therefore, they put in extra unpaid hours, earning below the minimum wage. 

Since Las Kellys was unsuccessful in their attempt to add staff’s working conditions alongside hotel ratings at Booking.com and TripAdvisor, they will now be creating their own booking platform.  Vania Arana, Las Kellys spokesperson stated, “We want to usher in a new era of tourism where people’s working conditions and their humanity are above economic interests.”

Every moment on lock adds a tally to the cost

by Rachael Ward

image credit: Dev Asangbam

As Sri Lanka enters another day of lockdown, the country sits tight for another economic blow. Imperial College has published their findings that each day in lockdown is costing the country $112 million. The Experts Group who offered this poor projection have nonetheless concluded that lockdown should continue until 18th September for the best chance of an economic bounce back. Loosening the reins too soon would cause a simultaneous soar in cases and slump in the economy.

Although the lockdown is likely to persist, Sri Lanka clings to the prospect of being bumped up to the coveted green list, which would provide a much welcome and sorely missed boost to the economy. As the country witnesses record rises in infections, it remains in the red zone watching other countries given the green light to resume sales and resuscitate their economy.

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