We are able to be sure that globalization 4.zero leaves nobody behind. That is like
This week, government, business and civil society leaders from all over the world will take their annual hike to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the small Alpine town of Davos in Switzerland. The meeting has become a symbol of globalization, so his commitment to a connected world was more important than ever for everyone, not just a few. It is no exaggeration to say that unless globalization is made more just and safer, it will neither survive nor deserve it.
In a globalized world, we are only as safe and prosperous as the least safe and least prosperous societies around us. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which, among other things, set universal goals to end poverty, protect the planet and achieve gender equality, are a recognition of this reality. But despite the positive rhetoric of “leaving no one behind,” people are actually left behind in the crisis, creating deep zones of poverty and conflict with dangerous consequences for the world if they fester.
In the three years since 193 countries adopted the SDGs, the world has made significant strides toward the 17 goals set for 2030, and more than a third of low- and middle-income countries are on track to meet their goals. However, a recent report by the International Rescue Committee and the Overseas Development Institute found that up to 82% of fragile and conflict-affected states like Yemen and South Sudan are not on track to meet their 2030 goals.
The growing gap between stable and fragile states on the SDGs is by no means the problem of some unlucky states, but a warning signal for the international community. This year, Nigeria, with various conflicts in three regions of the country, overtook India as the country with the most people living in extreme poverty. By 2030, 85% of the world’s extremely poor, an estimated 342 million people, will live in fragile and conflict-affected states like Nigeria. Similarly, 70% of global child deaths are expected in these countries, that’s a staggering 2.4 million children under five by 2030.
Image: International Rescue Committee
If you want a glimpse into the future of poverty, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the place for you. The Congo, a country with 81 million inhabitants – roughly the size of Germany or Iran – was already among the 15 lowest countries on the Human Development Index before it was hit by a political succession crisis and an increase in militia violence in the country’s eastern provinces has been destabilized. When the first cases of Ebola were discovered in the country last year, the conflict prevented doctors and rescuers from accessing patients to isolate the disease. Now the country is home to the second largest Ebola crisis in history, and neighboring countries like Uganda are concerned about the potential of refugees fleeing political violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to inadvertently bring Ebola across the border.
The SDGs are the best global tool we have for measuring the improvement in the well-being of the least wealthy – but they will only be a tool for real change if the world gives priority to people in crisis. If not, the instability, conflict and lack of opportunity that hold back fragile states like the Democratic Republic of the Congo will inevitably bleed across the border and destabilize entire regions, with repercussions from Beijing to Brussels.
We know that governments around the world are withdrawing from global commitments. “All politics is local” becomes an excuse for neglecting the global. This withdrawal means that the private sector and NGOs need to be strengthened.
The private sector can work with local non-governmental organizations to provide technical expertise and funding to develop solutions that can have a sustainable impact. Civil society groups and humanitarian organizations can ensure better service provision to provide people in conflict areas with the tools and resources they need to rebuild and regain their lives.
Together, the private sector and civil society can act as catalysts for progress in addressing three of the most underinvested areas in fragile states: education, vocational training and child nutrition. Less than 2% of the humanitarian aid budget goes to education – an incredibly short-sighted strategy given the importance of education in developing human capital and providing access to employment for people in crisis. But unique partnerships, like those between IRC, Sesame Street and LEGO in the Middle East and Bangladesh, bring back learning to children whose education has been stolen by conflict.
Second, these partnerships can also support the livelihoods and types of economic opportunities that transform societies, especially when we invest in women-owned companies. In Mosul, IRC small business loans and entrepreneurship courses are helping women rebuild the city’s economy after the defeat of IS. Such investments, even in the most difficult of environments, help people in crisis to take control of their lives again and get them on the road to independence from foreign aid.
Ultimately, these private sector-civil society partnerships can transform the supply of basic needs, such as health care and child nutrition, even when government services have collapsed due to conflict. Nowhere is this needed more urgently than in tackling acute child malnutrition, which is the leading cause of child mortality in conflict areas. By combining aid deliveries with private-sector, market-driven funding approaches, we can reduce the cost of providing life-saving, ready-to-use therapeutic food.
But while the private sector and civil society must and have to be strengthened in such an environment as governments around the world withdraw from their traditional responsibilities, they cannot replace the scale and legitimacy of robust government action.
Populists on both left and right have spread the misconception that since charity begins at home, it should end at home. But an open world economy cannot be sustained as long as we have such a closed policy. Both the mind and heart should recognize that managing humanitarian crises and supporting fragile states like Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iraq are both morally right and pragmatically sound.
We can and must do more for these countries. If we don’t act now, we will be forced many times over in the near future.