[Dateline: Bangkok and New York | Author: iSeek]
The global economic crisis was at the forefront of activities in New York and Bangkok this week – at a special General Assembly event and at the launch of a major Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) report.
In related news from Santiago, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has issued two new documents stating that the financial crisis will have a strong and negative effect on Latin America.
A three-day interactive dialogue event took place at UN Headquarters this week, at the invitation of General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, to discuss the recommendations of the Commission of Experts on Reforms of International Finance and Economic Structures.
The results of the gathering will help lay the groundwork for the International Conference on the Global Economic and Financial Crisis and its Impact on Development slated to be held in New York in June.
The panels’ recommendations include:
- drastically overhauling international finance structures
- calling on wealthier nations to direct one percent of their economic stimulus packages to help developing countries address poverty
- calling for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to increase the availability of funds for hard-hit nations
- putting a new global reserve system in place to offset the risk of a drop in value of a major reserve currency
- creating an elected and representative Global Economic Coordination Council, as part of the UN, to meet annually at the head-of-State level to assess development and serve as a “democratically representative alternative to the G-20”
- a Global Financial Regulatory Authority and a Global Competition Authority, accountable to the Coordination Council, which could prevent, among other things, the expansion of multi-national firms that threaten competition or become problematic when they become too big to fail
The nearly two dozen-member Commission of Experts, chaired by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and empanelled last year by the GA President, stressed that many poorer countries lack the resources necessary to tackle the crisis, and developed nations should not attach inappropriate conditionalities to such funds.
Related papers and other documents are available on the web site of the GA President.
Related event: An overview of Joseph Stiglitz’s participation in United Nations University’s (UNU) Emerging Thinking Lecture Series last month is now available online.
The title of the event was “Explaining the Financial Crisis and What it Means for the Future of Global Development.”
Video footage and additional photographs are available on the UNU-Office at the United Nations, New York web site.
ESCAP’s recently released its flagship publication, the Economic and Social Survey Of Asia And The Pacific. The 2009 edition is entitled "Addressing Triple Threats to Development.”
While most governments are focused on dealing with the worst economic crisis in many decades, the report points out that two other longer-term crises should not be forgotten: food-fuel price volatility and climate change.
With almost two-thirds of the world’s poor and half of its natural disasters, the Asia and the Pacific region is at the epicentre of these triple crises.
The Survey provides a regional perspective as well as country-specific analyses, and outlines ways in which economies in the region can move forward in unison towards a more inclusive and sustainable development path.
The Survey calls for more intra-regional trade and investment by accelerating implementation of regional economic cooperation agreements.
“By strengthening our domestic markets, the region can provide a buffer to global market fluctuations and move from being crisis resilient to crisis resistant. A key component in this will be how governments use fiscal policy as a tool of development,” explained ESCAP Executive Secretary and USG Noeleen Heyzer.
The Survey points out that the number of poor in the region is likely to increase as a result of the economic crisis and rising unemployment. Record high oil prices in 2008, in combination with hording and price speculation drove the price of rice, the region’s staple food, up by 150 percent. Such price increases, along with natural disasters, hit the poor the hardest.
Two documents recently published by ECLAC analyze the background, causes and lessons to be learned from this crisis as well as past episodes.
The documents indicate that the current global financial crisis will have a strong and negative effect on Latin American economies and is the most severe since the Great Depression in the 1930s. It also reveals the urgent need to improve risk management and market regulation.