Global institutions news – Post date: June 2nd, 2020.

UNCTAD: Trade facilitation to defeat Covid-19

A new UNCTAD report (28 May), “How countries can leverage trade facilitation to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic”, calls for trade facilitation to protect public health and ensure undisrupted movement of goods. It point out that crowded border posts and longer truck lines are leading to delays at a time when efficiency and speed are of the utmost importance to respond to the pandemic. UNCTAD urges agencies to coordinate and cooperate within and among countries to ensure that critical goods reach consumers and hospitals, in coastal and landlocked countries in particular.

To address such challenges, the report presents trade facilitation solutions in areas related to process optimisation; cost reduction; transparency and cooperation enhancement; and full use of technology to ensure cross-border trade continues while reducing face-to-face interaction. On the latter point, the report highlights that inequalities in digital readiness hinder large parts of the world from taking advantage of technologies that help cope with the pandemic, particularly the least developed countries, which are most vulnerable to the human and economic consequences of the pandemic. Thus the report urges increased attention and a coordinated multilateral response to to help overcome digital divides.

World Bank Group: 100 countries get support in response to Covid-19

The World Bank Group (21 May) announced that its emergency operations to fight Covid-19 have reached 100 developing countries – home to 70% of the world’s population. This assistance, the largest and fastest crisis response in the Bank Group’s history, marks a milestone in implementing the Bank Group’s pledge to make available $160 billion in grants and financial support over a 15-month period to help developing countries respond to the health, social and economic impacts of Covid-19 and the economic shutdown in advanced countries.

Of the 100 countries, 39 are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly one-third of the total projects are in fragile and conflict-affected situations, such as Afghanistan, Chad, Haiti and Niger.

Global Nutrition Report: Coronavirus highlights inequalities in food system

The annual Global Nutrition Report looks at the state of the global food system, and finds that there are significant inequalities between and within countries in terms of diet and weight. The report’s authors say that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the inequalities in the world’s food system, with those on poor diets most at risk. Last month the United Nations warned of a famine of “biblical proportions”, with 265 million people facing chronic food shortages due to a “perfect storm” of conflict, drought, climate change and coronavirus.

According to the report, one in nine people in the world is hungry and one in three is overweight or obese. Many countries – including in Africa, Asia and Latin America – suffer the double burden of over- and underweight.
According to one of the report’s authors, Renata Micha, “Food systems need to change. Covid-19 has revealed the gaps in our food systems – increased shortages in food could lead to increases in hunger. We now have the opportunity to act and to ensure that healthy and sustainably produced food is affordable, available and desirable.”

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