UN Report Shows Access to Broadband for 177 Countries


24 September, 2012 – New York – The United Nations (UN) has released a report that shows 177 countries ranked according to their national broadbandpolicies and the economic impact that Internet access and use are having on their populations.  The report, the first produced by the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, evaluates broadband around the world and the progress on the affordability of this service across countries.

According to Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), “Broadband networks and services are transforming our way of life. The Broadband Commission is committed to ensuring that the benefits of broadband are available to all.”

The State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All, was released on 23 September at the sixth meeting of the Commission in New York, and was welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called broadband a “transformative technology that has the potential to spark advances across all three pillars of sustainable development: economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.”

The report reveals that while household Internet access has grown over the past year, individual Internet use continues to lag behind. ITU analysts believe that mobile broadband could be the platform that would help boost accessibility as it is a widely used technology. At the end of 2011, there were already almost twice as many mobile broadband subscriptions as fixed broadband connections.

The report also outlines the ways in which broadband is improving the lives of people around the world in terms of health, education, and payment systems, as well as the ways in which it is promoting innovation and fostering the acquisition of new skills.  It also highlights the importance of partnerships between the public and private sectors.  In addition, the report presents a list of recommendations for governments on how to accelerate broadband deployment, improve their infrastructure and implement regulation policies to be able to make progress on the set of anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The report notes a strong linguistic shift taking place online and predicts that if current growth rates continue, the number of Internet users accessing the web, predominantly in Chinese, will overtake English language users by 2015.

A copy of the report can be viewed at http://www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/bb-annualreport2012.pdf

Source: United Nations

With Reserves gone, UN Refugee Agency faces too many simultaneous Crises


5 October 2012 – The United Nations (UN) has announced that with its financial reserves at zero, the UN’s refugee agency is facing an “unprecedented” combination of crises.  The agency’s top official issued the warning today as he appealed to the international community to provide the necessary financial support.   The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, noted that his agency, known by the acronym UNHCR, is currently dealing with four acute crises as it tries to protect and assist 700,000 people who had fled conflicts in Syria, Mali, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“As a matter of fact, UNHCR is presently overstretched,” the UN refugee chief told reporters in Geneva, stressing that all the current problems come on top of dealing with long-standing chronic problems, such as one million Somali refugees who have fled conflict and drought in their homeland to Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen.

Mr. Guterres was addressing a news briefing, following a meeting of UNHCR’s governing Executive Committee, which meets in Geneva annually to review and approve the agency’s programmes and budget, advise on international protection and discuss a wide range of other issues with UNHCR and its intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.

“At the present moment,” Mr. Guterres, “we deal with four simultaneous acute crises with the impact of last year’s very dramatic refugee situation and then with all the protracted problems that unfortunately are not yet able to find a solution from Afghans to Eritreans to the Colombia situation and Myanmar.”

To confront “these very dramatic circumstances,” the UN official called on all countries to keep borders open to provide adequate protection, and issued “a very strong appeal” for financial support for UNHCR’s operations worldwide.

“At this moment our reserves came to zero,” he said. “We have been able until to now to respond to all the emergencies, but this dramatic combination of new crises and chronic ones that do not end creates an enormous pressure over our resources, and we are badly needing international solidarity.”

Asked whether this was the worst crisis in UNHCR’s history, Mr. Guterres said what made it different this time is the number of simultaneous crises, noting that there were millions of refugees from Afghanistan and massive outflows from the DRC but these were taking place one crisis at a time.

“What I don’t remember in the recent history of the UNHCR is four simultaneous acute crises as measured out for the refugees and other dramatic humanitarian problems together with the strong impact of unresolved problems that occurred in the near past, and this combination is indeed unprecedented in our recent history,” he added.

On the issue of the agency’s reserves, the UN refugee chief noted that current programmes were all funded.

“Of course if new things are needed that’s where we are now in great difficulties to respond and so when a pot is empty the only way to solve the problem is to fill it,” he stressed. “We are talking about contingencies for the future, so it’s not of any fixed amount; it’s the need to have marginal manoeuvre to respond to the new emergencies or the aggravation of present situations.”

One such situation, he noted, is that of Syria, where the 19-month long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing to neighbouring countries while hundreds of thousands of others have been displaced internally, in addition to more than 18,000 people, mainly civilians, killed.

Photo: UNHCR is supporting Syrian refugees in several countries. Photo courtesy of UNHCR

“We are gearing up to be prepared for an escalation of conflict if that happens and an increase in the number of people going out,” Mr. Guterres said. “So this is indeed very much in the centre of our concerns, at the centre of the work we are doing with our partners to get ready for whatever happens.”

As possible contingency measures for financing, the UNHCR is considering cutbacks on non-core activities, such as training and travel, as well as potentially slowing down some processes like the return of refugees so that “in those acute situations when you have core needs and basic lifesaving requirements you do not fail,” he stressed.

Giving the latest breakdown of the current crises, Mr. Guterres noted that there 320,000 registered refugees from Syria as well as large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs), over 200,000 refugees from Mali as well as 300,000 IDPs, “an acute outflow” of some 200,000 Sudanese from South Kordofan and Blue Nile states into South Sudan and Ethiopia, and 60,000 people who have fled DRC into Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.  More information at http://www.unhcr.org.

Editor’s note: This is a humanitarian assistance area where modern program and project management can have dramatic impact on human lives; it also represents a field of growth for the PM profession in the future.  Consider project management opportunities and needs related to helping refugees and others affected by conflict, famine or natural disasters.

Source: United Nations

US Engagement in the Pacific – New position statement released by US State Department highlights Programs & Projects

31 August 2012 – Washington, DC, USA – For over a century, the United States has remained a positive force for development throughout the Pacific region — from the establishment of Naval Station Pearl Harbor in 1912 to its commitment of over 200 Peace Corps volunteers serving throughout the region today. A Pacific nation itself, the United States not only shares the same values as its neighbors; it understands their hopes and aspirations – and seeks to assist the peoples and nations of the Pacific as they strive to realize them. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s attendance at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Post Forum Dialogue, the first ever by a U.S. Secretary of State, demonstrates the Unites States’ commitment to partnering with the Pacific Island countries to address local and global challenges, such as climate change, economic development, gender equality, education, and peace and security.

Environmental Stewardship: The United States is committed to working with the Pacific Islands to protect the unique marine resources of the Pacific and has stated its intent to explore with Kiribati areas of cooperation to facilitate the protection, preservation, and conservation management of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which together account for 244,514 square miles of protected marine areas.

Climate Change: Recognizing that climate change is one of the most pressing concerns for the peoples of the Pacific, the United States is working to build capacity in the region to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change. The United States is launching a Coastal Community Adaption Program that will provide $25 million over five years to build climate and severe weather resilience for vulnerable coastal communities. The United States is also establishing Vocational Training and Education for Clean Energy (VOCTEC), a $1 million program aimed at sustaining renewable energy investments.

Pacific Women’s Empowerment Initiative: In collaboration with Australia, New Zealand and other public and private partners, the Department of State will launch the next phase of the Pacific Women’s Empowerment Initiative – the Rarotonga Partnership for the Advancement of Pacific Island Women, an innovative partnership that will sharply expand leadership training, academic scholarships, and other educational opportunities through programs that actively embrace and address gender issues. As the centerpiece of the Initiative, the East-West Center (EWC) will coordinate the Rarotonga Partnership to serve as a catalyst for change and a dynamic collaborative hub among regional educational institutions across the Pacific, creating new opportunities for enhanced participation of Pacific women in public and private leadership roles. The United States and New Zealand will also collaborate on women’s economic empowerment and sustainable agriculture programs at the Caribbean and Pacific Forum in Jamaica in 2013.

Safety and Security: Many Pacific Island countries continue to deal with the legacy of unexploded ordnance and other remnants of the battles of World War II. In cooperation with our Pacific Islands partners, the United States Departments of State and Defense will support a more integrated approach to cleaning up unexploded ordnance by investing over $3.5 million over the next three years for assessment, training and clean-up projects in Pacific Island states. To increase maritime awareness and enforce conservation measures, the United States is expanding the highly successful Ship Rider Agreements, which enable joint law enforcement operations with nine Pacific countries. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard, which maintains readiness to conduct search and rescue operations across 19,600,000 square kilometers in the Pacific, is working with U.S. Pacific Command to explore the possibility of developing enhanced maritime domain awareness training to the Freely Associated States.

Economic Growth and Prosperity: U.S. exports to Pacific Island countries have amounted to more than $17 billion so far in 2012. The U.S. enjoys a trade surplus with all but two PIF members. Economic growth and development in the region is good for U.S. business. Ex-Im Bank is active in the region, and seeks to provide short-, medium- and long-term financing for the procurement of US equipment and services in most PIF countries. Over the past three years Ex-Im has supported financing in the amount of approximately $7 billion dollars for projects in the Pacific, including new liquid natural gas project developments in Australia and Papua New Guinea and commercial aircraft purchases for New Zealand. Since 1980, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has invested over $341 million dollars in the Pacific Islands region, supporting investment and development in Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, and Fiji. OPIC currently has over $45 million in investments and insurance in the Pacific Islands region, and is actively looking to support viable projects in the region.

Developing Economic Linkages: In recognition of the cultural and economic ties between the United States and Pacific Islands, the Department of State is partnering with the PIF Secretariat’s Pacific Islands Trade & Invest to launch the Pacific Islands IdEA Marketplace (PIIM). PIIM is being implemented within the context of the International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA), an innovative program that has successfully linked diasporas to local populations in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. PIIM collaborators will develop a competition that seeks out innovative ideas to promote economic development and reduce the vulnerability of populations to natural disaster. Winners will be provided with technical assistance for developing their business plans and access to project financing and entrepreneurial networks.

Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice to Combat Environmental Crimes: The Department will continue to help link the Pacific Island nations with other countries in the region to increase capacity building for anti-corruption, law enforcement and rule of law communities. The Department, in partnership with DOJ’s Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training, supports a new prosecutor-led Natural Resource Crimes Task Force in Indonesia that could serve as a model for Pacific nations on improving prosecution of natural resource crimes.

Pacific Partnership: Next year, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Partnership will return to the Pacific. Pacific Partnership deployments collectively have provided medical, dental, and educational services to 250,000 people and completed more than 150 engineering projects in 15 countries.

Constitutional Development and Democracy: This year, USAID provided nearly $2 million to support democratic institutions in Fiji and free and fair elections in Papua New Guinea.

Regional Project Support: The Regional Environmental Office of U.S. Embassy Suva provides between $75,000 and $125,000 per year in numerous small grants for local projects throughout the region tackling both environmental and health issues.

Civil Society Small Grants: The Department of State and USAID provide small grants in the region to help develop civil society. These grants include:

  • (Koror) 20th Anniversary of the Mechesil Belau Conference: On the 20th anniversary, the achievements of Mechesil Belau will be highlighted and a publication documenting the historical and cultural development of the organization developed.
  • (Majuro) Adopt the Airport Project: This project plans to transform unused land beside the Majuro Airport into the atoll’s largest eco-friendly outdoor exercise facility.
  • (Koror) Strengthening Democracy to Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change on Public Health: This project aims to expand on a newly published book, “Public Health Impacts of Climate Change in Palau” by Southern Illinois University and funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through a television and print campaign to raise awareness and foster discussion about the impacts of climate change on public health.
  • (Kolonia) Economic Innovation Fund: Transition from Substance Living to Market Economy: This program will work in conjunction with the Federated States of Micronesia government’s current program designed to improve income for rural communities and increase household nutrition standards.

People-to-People Ties: In all areas, the United States engages with the people of the Pacific to address their concerns and build lasting relationships. These include:

  • PIF Youth Conference: This will be a conference, held in New Zealand, for youth leaders from each of the 16 member countries of the PIF to discuss key political, economic, environmental and social issues of the region and create a Pacific youth leaders network that will continue to communicate following the conference.
  • Pacific Islands Sports Visitor program: Sports Visitors Program focused on hearing-impaired track and field athletes. The program in spring 2013 will reinforce awareness, locally and regionally, about disability inclusion especially for youth.
  • American Youth Leadership Program with Samoa: Twenty American participants will travel to Samoa for a four-week exchange in December 2013 to study food security and nutrition alongside twenty Samoan teens.
  • Leadership Development: The East-West Center will partner with other regional donors on a $3 million program to provide leadership development skills training for 125 young Pacific Islanders.

Source: US Department of State

visit http://www.state.gov/

New Zealand & USA announce Cooperation Programs at Pacific Island Forum in Cook Islands

31 August 2012 – New Zealand High Commissioner’s Residence, Cook Islands

Editor’s note: The Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton addressed the press together following a meeting in the Cook Islands on Friday, 31 August.  The information below was contained in a press release issued by the US State Department on behalf of Mrs. Clinton.  It is shared with PMWJ readers because it contains information relations to planned cooperation between the two countries and commitments to programs and projects related to economic development, environmental protection, sustainable energy and security. It is also interesting to note the reference to the United States’ “rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific region”. 

Remarks of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton

PRIME MINISTER KEY: Okay, so good afternoon. Welcome to Ngatipa, the New Zealand residence here in the Cook Islands. It’s been a pleasure for me to host Secretary Clinton and her team for lunch today. It’s always wonderful to have Secretary Clinton in this part of the world. New Zealand very warmly remembers your visit to our country back in 2010 when you signed the Wellington Declaration, which describes in celebrating the strategic partnership of our two countries here. In the almost two years since Secretary Clinton’s visit to New Zealand, the bilateral relationship has gone from strength to strength. Earlier this year, the Wellington Declaration was complemented by the Washington Declaration (inaudible) relationship.

Secretary Clinton and I discussed a number of areas of cooperation, and I’ll mention just a few. The (inaudible) and the Cook Islands are the forums and executive office is fully committed to supporting inspirations and initiatives of Pacific Island countries. As the outgoing chair of Cook Islands Forum, New Zealand welcomes the full (inaudible) historically strong engagement with the island nations of the Pacific.

We’ve been pleased to announce this week a number of joint initiatives, including the areas of economic development, clean energy, and maritime surveillance. We discussed Afghanistan. New Zealand has stood alongside the United States as part of an international coalition there since 9/11 joined by other countries to tackle the threats posed by al-Qaida and its allies. We’ve endured the terrible loss of life suffered by our coalition partners in Afghanistan, particularly the recent New Zealand and Australian losses and those of the United States.

Secretary Clinton and I discussed the broad range of issues in the Asia Pacific region as we look towards the APEC summit in Russia in around 10 days time. New Zealand warmly supports the United States rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific, and we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. in the next conflicts. We discussed our ongoing (inaudible) along side a number of other countries (inaudible) partnership agreement. Secretary Clinton and I share the goal of securing a high quality, (inaudible) free trade agreement, would be a significant (inaudible) countries involved, indeed to the region as a whole.

Before passing over to Secretary Clinton, I’d like to convey publicly my personal gratitude for all that she’s done for the past relations between our two countries and our two peoples over the past four years. Secretary Clinton’s personal interest and involvement in our country is greatly appreciated by the New Zealand people. You’ve been great friends to New Zealand and you’re always welcome.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Prime Minister, thank you very much for the warm welcome that you have provided. As the first Secretary of State to make this journey, I am especially delighted and honored. I was pleased to meet with leaders of the Pacific Island Forum, member states, to attend the Pacific Island Forum, post-forum dialogue where I had a chance to reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to our engagement in the Asia Pacific with an equal emphasis on the Pacific part of that phrase. The United States is very proud to be a Pacific nation, a long history in this region, and we are committed to be here for the long run.

Today, I’m announcing new programs and new funding to support our friends in this region in three key areas: promoting sustainable economic development and protecting biodiversity; advancing regional security; and supporting women of the Pacific as they reach for greater political, economic, and social opportunities.

To give just a few examples, the United States will work with Kiribati to protect its marine ecosystem and help coastal communities throughout the region adapt to the effects of climate change and to develop renewable energy resources.

We will expand our security partnership so U.S. ships can be of even greater help in preventing illegal and unregulated fishing, and we will take additional steps to clean up unexploded ordnance in the region, much of it still there from World War Two. We will support the Rarotonga Partnership for the Advancement of Pacific Island Women, launched just today, and I’ll be looking forward to meeting with women from the region later this afternoon.

I’m also very committed to expanding investment and trade in the region, in pursuit of sustainable economic growth. Later today, I’ll meet with local pearl vendors from here in the Cook Islands who are running their businesses while also protecting marine resources.

Obviously, I could go on because there’s a lot to do in this very important region of the world, and there is no doubt that our relationship with New Zealand provides a strong foundation for our engagement across the Pacific. I especially want to thank Prime Minister Key for his leadership in revitalizing the partnership between New Zealand and the United States. As he said, we signed the Wellington Declaration two years ago, and then in June our countries signed the Washington Declaration, which emphasized our defense cooperation.

We are working together on a number of important issues, from establishing security in Afghanistan where Kiwi soldiers have made extraordinary sacrifices. Just recently, the losses are ones that we are equally grieved by and offer our condolences to the families as well as the people of New Zealand. We also are very appreciative of New Zealand’s leadership in addressing climate change and conserving natural resources and opening the doors of opportunity.

In particular, I want to thank the Prime Minister for his government’s support of women across the region. And we’re going to create an exchange program connecting women in the Pacific with women in the Caribbean who work in agriculture so they can learn from each other and understand better how to improve the incomes and opportunities for themselves and their families.

The United States welcomes the chance to work with a broad array of partners in the region –Japan, the European Union, China – we all have an interest in advancing security, prosperity, and opportunity. And as I said this morning, the Pacific is certainly big enough for all of us. So thank you Prime Minister, the United States values our relationship. We celebrated its 70th anniversary this year. We feel a special kinship and closeness to New Zealand and your people and we continue to look, as you said, for our relationship to go from strength to strength. So thank you again for your leadership and partnership.


Photo courtesy of One News

Source: US Department of State – visit http://www.state.gov/

Continental Free Trade Area for Africa by 2017

26 July 2012 – The 19th ordinary session of the Assembly of heads of state and government of the African Union which met from 9-15 July 2012 in Addis Ababa has maintained the theme of the previous summit, “Boosting Intra-African Trade”. At the 18th ordinary session held in January 2012, African heads of state had adopted an Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade and agreed to establish a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by the indicative date of 2017.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the last decade saw African exports to the rest of the world grow at only two-thirds of the rate of intra-African exports. Heads of state welcomed the gradual growth in regional infrastructure and trade – especially exports of manufactured products – which could form the foundation for fast-tracking the CFTA and promoting intra-African trade. African heads of state stressed the need to understand and address the enablers and the constraints to the growth of African exports.

This places special importance on the need for accelerated industrialization and other sectoral strategies within the individual member states. It also entails a strong focus on trade facilitation initiatives, removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers. At the same time, Africa has to sustain investments in infrastructure – with the required investment estimated at a monumental US$94 billion to cover roads, rail, ports, energy, ICT, transport infrastructure, enhancing productive capacity, value addition and diversification. Such measures will help to ensure that member countries benefit from the opportunities by the CFTA.

Addressing the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee which met during the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, ADB president Donald Kaberuka echoed the call of the African countries “for the development of trade-related infrastructure and productive capacity building programmes” as well as “an enabling policy and legal framework so as to contribute specifically to the boosting of intra-African trade.”

Mr Kaberuka said he was confident that intra-African trade and African exports to the rest of the world could grow very fast if existing efforts were scaled up to improve the continent’s physical infrastructure which continues to undermine competitiveness and trade growth.

For more information, go to http://www.afdb.org/en/news-and-events/article/afdb-stands-ready-to-support-african-countries-in-establishing-continental-free-trade-area-by-2017-9574/

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is a regional multilateral development finance institution established in 1964 to mobilize resources towards the economic and social progress of its Regional Member Countries (RMCs). It is headquartered in

Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire). Since beginning operation in 1966, the Bank has become a key player in promoting economic and social development in African states.  The African Development Fund established in 1972 and the Nigeria Trust Fund established in 1976, constitute with the AfDB as the flagship, the African Development Bank Group. For more information, visit www.adbg.org.

Source: African Development Bank