Think global, act local: unpacking progress towards ending child marriage and averting the setbacks of COVID-19

By Chiara Orlassino, Research Adviser and Gabrielle Szabo, Senior Gender Equality Adviser, Save the Children UK1

In 2021, over 28,000 girls got married on International Women’s Day. Ten years from now, the number might still be as high as 26,000 – a far cry from the net zero target of Agenda 2030 (Fig. 1). The grim estimate for 2030 doesn’t even take into account the impact of COVID-19 on child marriage rates, although evidence shows that the pandemic is having a detrimental effect on girls’ rights. With only 10 years to go to 2030, we reflect on progress made on one of the most important Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and call for urgent action on inequalities in particular, which COVID-19 is exacerbating. The Generation Equality forum convened by UN Women is a timely process to prioritise gender equality in recovery efforts, building momentum around economic and political investment in girls’ rights.

Last year, Save the Children’s Global Girlhood Report 2020 shed light on progress towards key targets since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 25 years prior. Among others, child marriage emerged as one area where strides forward had been particularly fragile and at risk of a dramatic reversal due to COVID-19. Our analysis estimates that the economic impacts of the pandemic alone will put up to half a million more girls at risk of child marriage worldwide by 2025, although the real effect will likely be much larger.

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Revenue mobilisation through tax transparency: Lessons from Uganda’s transformative journey

By John Rujoki Musinguzi, Commissioner General – Uganda Revenue Authority, Mary Baine,Director – Tax Programmes, African Tax Administration Forum, Zayda Manatta, Head of the Secretariat of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, and Marcello Estevão, Global Director, Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment, World Bank Group

Photo : © Uganda Revenue Authority

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Uganda has significantly strengthened its tax transparency and tax capacity in just a few years to mobilise more domestic resources to finance sustainable development. Moreover, the country has taken significant steps to tackle illicit financial flows by implementing global transparency and information exchange standards. The results have been impressive: USD 26 million in additional revenue has been identified since 2014 through audits and exchange of information, USD 22 million of which has already been paid to government coffers.

The case study on Uganda published today shows how tax transparency can help developing countries strengthen their tax and resource mobilisation capacities to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s 2063 Agenda. It also shows that Uganda’s successful journey is the result of strong political and administrative commitment, clear strategy, and coordinated and steady support from development partners.  

To fight against tax evasion, Uganda joined the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) in 2012. In doing so, Uganda included exchange of information as a key component of its domestic resource mobilisation strategy to improve compliance of both multinational enterprises (MNEs) and individuals, including ones with high-net-worth. In 2016, Uganda also became a party to the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, the most powerful multilateral instrument for tax co-operation, with over 140 participating jurisdictions.

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Mobilisation des recettes par la transparence fiscale : Enseignements tirés du parcours transformationnel de l’Ouganda

Par John Rujoki Musinguzi, Directeur général – Autorité fiscale de l’Ouganda, Mary Baine, Directrice – Programmes fiscaux, Forum sur l’administration fiscale africaine, Zayda Manatta, Cheffe du Secrétariat du Forum mondial sur la transparence et l’échange de renseignements à des fins fiscales, et Marcello Estevão, Directeur mondial, Macroéconomie, commerce et investissement, Groupe de la Banque mondiale

© Uganda Revenue Authority

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En quelques années seulement, l’Ouganda a considérablement renforcé sa transparence et sa capacité fiscales afin de mobiliser davantage de ressources intérieures pour financer le développement durable. Pour lutter contre les flux financiers illicites, l’Ouganda a pris des mesures considérables pour assurer la mise en œuvre des normes mondiales visant à accroître la transparence et faciliter l’échange de renseignements. Les résultats ont été impressionnants, avec 26 millions USD de recettes supplémentaires identifiées depuis 2014 grâce à des vérifications fiscales et l’échange de renseignements. Sur ces recettes identifiées, 22 millions USD ont déjà été versés dans les caisses de l’État.

L’étude de cas sur l’Ouganda publiée aujourd’hui, montre comment la transparence fiscale peut aider les pays en développement à renforcer leurs capacités fiscales et leurs efforts de mobilisation des ressources intérieures pour atteindre les Objectifs de développement durable et l’Agenda 2063 de l’Union africaine. Elle montre également que le parcours réussi de l’Ouganda est le résultat d’un engagement politique et administratif fort, d’une stratégie claire et d’un soutien coordonné et constant des partenaires au développement.

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Intensifier les possibilités d’emploi dans les systèmes alimentaires pour les jeunes et les femmes en Afrique de l’Ouest

Par Koffi Zougbédé, Secrétariat du Club du Sahel et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest

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En 2011, Fatoumata Cissoko, jeune femme vivant en Guinée et diplômée en comptabilité, a lancé sa société de transformation de fruits secs avec 260 USD. Elle produit environ 16 tonnes d’ananas séché par an vendu dans de nombreux magasins et supermarchés de la capitale, Conakry, et d’autres villes du pays. Récemment, sa société a considérablement accru sa capacité de production pour améliorer sa compétitivité sur les marchés régionaux et internationaux. Fatoumata a également ouvert un restaurant bio pour compléter la chaîne de production et elle emploie directement 15 femmes. L’histoire de Fatoumata est un exemple des nombreuses opportunités d’emploi émergentes dans les systèmes alimentaires d’Afrique de l’Ouest.

Activités non agricoles – une multitude de possibilités d’emploi diversifiées              

L’économie alimentaire régionale, premier employeur d’Afrique de l’Ouest, devrait atteindre 480 milliards USD en 2030, le secteur non agricole représentant 49 % de la valeur ajoutée. En conséquence, la demande de main-d’œuvre dans les activités non agricoles se développe principalement dans les zones urbaines – pour la transformation, la commercialisation et d’autres services tels que les repas pris à l’extérieur du domicile. Ces activités sont susceptibles de créer des emplois décents et permanents, en particulier pour les jeunes et les femmes. Environ 68 % des femmes occupant un emploi travaillent dans l’économie alimentaire et, comme Fatoumata, la plupart d’entre elles évoluent dans des segments non agricoles.

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Urban migration and COVID-19: Cities on the frontline of an inclusive response and recovery

By Samer Saliba, Head of Practice, Mayors Migration Council

Photo: Manoej Paateel / Shutterstock

The international community is not doing enough to financially support those who are doing the most for migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people during this global pandemic: city governments. While many cities have the mandate to serve people in vulnerable situations, including migrant and displaced residents, they often do not have enough financial resources to meet the increased demand and need of new arrivals. Lost revenue due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 will further curtail cities’ ability to deliver critical services to their residents this year. Some estimates suggest city governments could see revenue losses of up to 25 percent in 2021, precisely when their spending needs to increase to pay for recovery efforts and continuously growing populations. In a recent survey, 33 municipal finance officials in 22 countries across all continents reported already seeing a 10 percent decrease in their overall revenue and around a five percent increase in expenditure. This “scissors effect” of local government revenue and expenditure will be most felt in cities in developing countries. African cities, for example,  could potentially lose up to up to 65 percent of their revenue in 2021.

While the international community is paying more attention to municipal finance in relation to climate change, sustainable development, and urban development in general, the same cannot be said of urban migration and displacement. Few municipal finance mechanisms focus explicitly on financing for urban migration and displacement, despite the fact that the majority of migrants and displaced people reside in cities. Moreover, donors with low risk tolerance often disregard city governments in low to middle-income countries. In response to the unmet needs of cities, my organisation, the Mayors Migration Council (MMC), recently launched the Global Cities Fund on Inclusive Pandemic Response supporting five cities to implement inclusive response and recovery programmes of their own design.

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Significant but insufficient progress in financial support for developing countries

By José Antonio Ocampo, Professor at Columbia University and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Finance Minister of Colombia

Recent events and particularly last week’s meeting of the Bretton Woods institutions have generated significant advances in international financial co-operation, particularly in support of developing countries. The latter is crucial, as a large number of low and middle-income countries continue to be severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis while the economic recovery underway is very uneven, as underscored by the IMF in its World Economic Outlook.

The first good news was the agreement to issue $650 billion dollars in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), the IMF’s global reserve asset. Close to two-fifths of the new SDRs would engross the reserves of developing countries. It remains to be agreed how the unused SDRs, particularly from developed countries and China, would be lent or donated to special funds to support low-income countries, and there is no agreement on how they could also be used to support middle-income countries.

The second good news was the endorsement by the US of a global effective minimum tax in the context of the negotiations taking place in the OECD Inclusive Framework on BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting). There is still a need to agree on what the tax rate would be and the criteria for determining the tax base: whether sales, as the US has suggested, as well as other criteria, particularly resource use and employment that would benefit developing countries, as the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT) has suggested.

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For greater vaccine equity, first fix these misconceptions

By Philip Schellekens, Senior Economic Advisor – IFC (World Bank Group)

As we start to see the light at the end of the pandemic’s dark tunnel, inequities in the distribution of vaccines across countries are coming under intense scrutiny. Unequal vaccine distribution is not necessarily unfair—after all, some population groups are more vulnerable than others. Yet relative to sensible metrics of need, the current inequality is excessive. Efforts to boost and balance deployment have galvanized under the clarion call for #VaccinEquity, but progress has been slow and marred by bottlenecks.

In addition to the various practical constraints—including financing, logistics, manufacturing, and patent rights—three misconceptions stand in the way: the view that COVID-19 is mainly a “rich-country disease”; a focus on herd immunity that detracts from the pressing goal of protecting the global priority group; and a belief that fixing vaccine hoarding in rich countries will fix vaccine equity on its own.

A global snapshot of vaccine inequity

Competing interests in diplomacy, economics, and global health shape the international distribution of vaccines, but overshadowing them all are universally recognized ethical principles that center on “need” and “priority for the disadvantaged.” Needs encompass a fuzzy spectrum. They include the burden of morbidity (e.g., long COVID), broader health effects (e.g., undermanaged illnesses), and wider socioeconomic effects (e.g., food security and poverty). But as long as this pandemic rages on, needs will first and foremost be defined by the vulnerability to premature death—which not only is devastating but also irreversible and hence hard to compensate for.

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“Green” transition and innovation in public institutions: an urgent research and policy agenda

By João Carlos Ferraz, Associate Professor, Institute of Economics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

New economic activities may be required for the sustainable, competitive and inclusive development trajectory of a nation. But in their early stages, the economic attractiveness of many of these new activities is unknown. Uncertainty prevails as investment projects have no track record of costs and returns, demand is not guaranteed, and the institutional framework may not be consolidated. In short, infant industry challenges may apply, which is when new policy and public institution practices should come into play. And increasingly, emerging societal development challenges like climate change, are creating a pressing need for innovative policy solutions.

But what is innovation in public institutions? Policy innovations may come in diverse shapes and forms; they can be new solutions to address a pre-existing challenge or alternative approaches to tackling an emerging one. Some may result in short-lived experiences (pilot projects that are never scaled up); others can be both immediately relevant and long lasting. Drawing from Schumpeterian literature, policy innovation can be defined as changes in processes – including organisational procedures – and products that a public agency offers to society. For policy beneficiaries, these are product innovations, but, when taken up, they imply process changes in the recipient organisation. Moreover, policy innovations can be of radical or incremental nature depending on the extent of the changes they imply for policy benefactors and beneficiaries. Nonetheless, a necessary pre-condition for the emergence and application of any type of innovation is the mobilisation of dynamic policy capabilities.  

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Dewi’s story: discriminatory social institutions hold women back in Southeast Asia

By Pierre de Boisséson, Economist, OECD Development Centre and Alejandra Meneses, Policy Analyst, OECD Development Centre

Human development relies on three fundamental building blocks — health, education and income. A recent report from the OECD Development Centre shows that in Southeast Asia, women’s human development remains severely constrained by discriminatory social institutions, in other words, formal and informal laws, practices and social norms. These socially and culturally embedded norms, attitudes and behaviour limit women’s ability to control and make decisions on their own health, education and access to labour opportunities. Dewi’s story is especially telling.

Dewi’s teen pregnancy: putting her health at risk and her life on hold

Dewi is 16. She lives with her family and spends most of her time helping her mother with household chores, visiting her friends and doing her homework. Dewi does not know it yet but her life is about to change. She finds out she is pregnant. She never had proper access to sexual and reproductive health education and services, and now her parents and community want to marry her to the father of the child.

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Donner la priorité aux contextes fragiles dans le monde de l’après-pandémie

Par Jorge Moreira da Silva, Directeur, Direction de la coopération pour le développement de l’OCDE  

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Les chocs économiques et sociaux liés à la pandémie ou en rapport avec le climat n’ont épargné aucun pays du monde en 2020, mais ils font peser une grave menace et frappent de manière disproportionnée les contextes fragiles ou touchés par un conflit. Déjà parmi les moins à même de faire face aux chocs, et dotés de capacités d’adaptation insuffisantes, ceux-ci sont aujourd’hui particulièrement exposés à ces risques. Ils ont besoin d’urgence de plus de soutien de la part de la communauté internationale, tant pour se relever à court terme que pour renforcer leur résilience face à de futurs chocs systémiques.

Un an après le début de la Décennie d’action et de réalisations, les contextes fragiles ou touchés par un conflit se trouvent à la croisée des chemins. Avant même la pandémie de COVID-19, les 57 contextes fragiles – y compris les 13 contextes extrêmement fragiles – recensés dans la publication de l’OCDE États de fragilité 2020 abritaient près d’un quart de la population mondiale, mais aussi les trois quarts des personnes en situation d’extrême pauvreté dans le monde. Aucun d’entre eux n’est en passe d’atteindre les objectifs de développement durable (ODD) relatifs à l’élimination de la faim, à la bonne santé, au bien-être et à l’égalité entre les sexes. Là où la majorité des pays en développement non fragiles progressent, la plupart des contextes fragiles régressent : ceux qui accusaient déjà un retard voient aujourd’hui celui-ci s’aggraver.

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