How Global Trade Can Promote Growth For All

On the second day of the IMF & World Bank Annual Meetings you could start to sense that things were beginning to ramp up, as all the key players arrived in town. The packed schedule provided plenty of discussions and side-events for us to attend, allowing us to take full control of our Global Voices Scholarship experience.

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World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings: Wednesday Wrap-up

By Arlen Dabinett, the University of South Australia Business School Scholar. 

Arlen poses for a photo on the Baker-McKenzie rooftop overlooking the White House and the Washington Monument. 

Arlen poses for a photo on the Baker-McKenzie rooftop overlooking the White House and the Washington Monument. 

Wednesday demonstrated the exclusiveness of the Global Voices experience with a schedule of events even the Prime Minister would have envied. Our first meeting at WBHQ was with Jason Allford, the Australian Executive Director to the World Bank Group. Mr Allford explained the objectives of the World Bank and its renewed commitment to investing Bank resources into climate conscious projects. The Bank is particularly concerned with ensuring projects address the diverse implications of climate change on member countries and the difference between ‘adaptation versus mitigation’ policies.  

We then met with Christine Barron, the Alternate Executive Director for Australia at the International Monetary Fund and her Senior Advisor, Gemma Preston. Our discussion centred around current IMF projects and the diversity of priorities and challenges faced by the sixteen countries Australia represents at the IMF. The conversation highlighted the significance Australia plays within the Pacific and our commitment to these nations, particularly smaller island nations. Our neighbouring countries are already being impacted by climate change and their infrastructure is already being challenged. Creating resilient nations is a large focus of the IMF and as forecasts have identified, preparedness in the face of potential natural disaster, would save one-tenth of the cost of post disaster expenditure.

Ms Barron and Ms Preston also stressed the relevance of our respective policy papers, including Artificial Intelligence, Crypto-Currencies, International Taxation and Refugees as being key areas of focus for the IMF. We discussed the impact of mobile banking and increased penetration of internet in the pacific islands which has allowed individuals to access banking services and pay-by-phone. The advent of mobile phone credit accounts has assisted in the free flow of funds between citizens and business however policy and government has struggled to keep up with this advancing technology.

Following our private meetings, we continued on the macro economy theme and attended a seminar on the role of the IMF in domestic and international taxation. The panel included Nicholas Mombrial, the IMF Senior Communications Officer in Fiscal Affairs, Victoria Perry, the IMF Assistant Director in Fiscal Affairs Department and Nicholas Lusiani, the Director of Human Rights in Economic Policy (Centre for Economic and Social Rights). The panel presented their findings which evaluated the distortion and inequities in the international taxation space and the underdeveloped tax administration systems of developing countries. They emphasised how systemic cooperation on these issues can expedite the development and standard of living of developing countries. Technical assistance required to build consistent, robust and attractive tax administrations, can ensure tax revenues from multinational are reinvested in the economy.

Our final seminar for the day was the ‘New Economy Forum Future of Work’ which was moderated by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, the CEO of Gallup, Jim Clifton, Deborah Greenfield, ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy, Sara Horowitz, the Founder of Freelancer’s Union, Jeremy Johnson, the CEO of Andela and James Manyika, the Chair of the McKinsey Global Institute. The discussion touched on automation, work life balance and embracing new ideas of work. A few interesting facts from the panel, we are currently experiencing a stagnation in new start-ups and only 15% of management are committed to developing their younger employee’s skills.

The day ended with our exclusive attendance at the launch of the New York Cyber Task Force report on Building a Defensible Cyberspace, an Atlantic Council joint venture with Columbia University. The session was driven by the expert panel who presented and explained their findings and recommendations. The presentation was beyond the scope of all of our qualifications but extremely relevant to our careers and an insightful educational session on the new emerging cyber security risks.

Fortune favours the prepared mind and day two provided further experience to build our future career tool-kit.  

UNCSW61 Wrap Up: Day 1

By Kyle Reeve, the University of South Australia

Monday March 13th saw the opening day of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. After obtaining our official UN passes, our delegation made the short walk through the cold, bustling streets of Manhattan to the United Nations building. Walking into the foyer of the main building, it was easy to get caught up in the rush of the crowds, filled with people from all over the world, arriving to contribute to this eminent forum. It wasn’t until we were stopped by our team leader Elizabeth, and told to take pause and appreciate exactly where we were: among some of the greatest minds in the world at the historic UN building where some of the most important global negotiations have and are yet to take place.

The day kicked off with a plenary session in the General Assembly, where ministers from all of the world’s nations met to open the event and give their statements. Chaired by H. E. Mr. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, the session included keynote speeches from the UN Secretary General António Guterres and the UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women, Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Delegates seated at the plenary session of the 61st session of the UNCSW at the UN Headquarters

Delegates seated at the plenary session of the 61st session of the UNCSW at the UN Headquarters

The plenary session of CSW

The plenary session of CSW

With this, the CSW began. We raced around attending the many side events hosted by various government representatives and NGOs. With so many events held simultaneously in and around the UN building, the hardest part of this conference seems to be trying to decide which ones to choose! The side events are vastly different to the official meetings. The official meetings are generally larger meetings that take place between many government ministers, in which each minister reads a written statement about that meetings topic. Conversely, the side events can be lectures, panel discussions or even Q&A sessions.

Today, as we had many other events and meetings to attend, I only had time to see one side event. That side event was “Addressing the Gender Dimension of Modern Day Slavery,” hosted by the United Kingdom, including a panel discussion of six experts in the area of modern day slavery, who took questions from the audience at the end of the talk. The most interesting of the speakers was by the chief executive director of Anti-Slavery International, Mr Aidan McQuade. Mr McQuade discussed the fact that one of the most difficult aspects of fighting modern day slavery, in which there are an estimated 121 millions slaves worldwide, is that a majority of slavery occurs legally, despite the myth that slavery is illegal. Mr McQuade gave the examples of child marriage, which is legal in many countries, but is not considered or thought of as slavery simply as it is not referred to as such, and also migrant domestic workers, who travel to another country to find work as a domestic worker or carer, and once there, are exploited. Mr McQuade referred to this as a socially permissible system of slavery.

Later I attended a Ministerial Roundtable, in which ministers from countries all over the world met to discuss how each country is progressing in closing the gender pay gap. As opposed to the side events, which were a more open, free-flowing discussion of issues, these ministerial events were much more rigid and structured, and consisted of a pre-written speech given by each country on their respective efforts to bridge the gap between men’s and women’s wages. Over 30 countries spoke, each providing an overview of their efforts. These included France’s efforts to address unpaid care work, Norway introducing new laws to protect women from pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, and Brazil’s difficulty in providing protection to domestic workers and carers.

At 430pm we left the UN to have a meeting with the three CSO members of the official Australian delegation to the CSW: Jahna Cedar, Executive Officer at Gumala Aboriginal Corporation; LeAnn Wilson, Executive Director of ACTE; and Elizabeth Shaw, President of UN Women. The day concluded with an official DFAT briefing with the entire Australian delegation, an opportunity to touch base and recap on the day and hear updates for the week.

And then main update… Throughout the entire day, the news channels of New York had been talking about the ‘historic blizzard’ that was on its way to the city. As the day progressed, the talks of the blizzard hitting, and its strength, intensified. Finally, at the end of the day, it was announced that the United Nations, together with much of the city, including its schools and transport, would be closed on Tuesday. While the ministerial meetings will be moved to another day, many of the side events will be simply cancelled, as there is no room to fit them into an already busy schedule. This is very disappointing to miss out on one of the few days at the United Nations that we are here for. Saying that, a day in a blizzard in New York adds to the list of mind-blowing experiences that we have had here, and it will only be our second day!

University of South Australia Students Kyle Reeve and Almira De Vera featured in the UniSA News

Kyle Reeve and Almira De Vera have been selected to attend our Semester Two Delegations for 2016, representing the University of South Australia, and the pair have been proudly featured in the UniSA news. Kyle Reeve, who is studying social work and international relations, will head to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, while law student Almira De Vera just recently attended the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC.

The article can be found here or you can paste the following URL into your browser:

Kyle Reeve and Almira De Vera in Canberra for pre departure sessions, as pictured in UniSA news.

Kyle Reeve and Almira De Vera in Canberra for pre departure sessions, as pictured in UniSA news.

OECD Delegate: Vivian Rivera

Vivian is currently completing a Bachelor of International Relations and a Bachelor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of South Australia.

Vivian joins Global Voices with a background in education and experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities in South Australia. Currently living in the country’s Festival State, she loves being surrounded by the beautiful parklands, gardens and stunning beaches on offer in Adelaide.

Fascinated by the proximity of the countries in Europe, it’s no wonder that Vivian loves travelling to Europe. She loves possibility to travel around different geographical sites, experience the richness of so much history, culture and the different language.

With a goal to pursue a career in social research, Vivian is excited to participate in ‘Ideas Factories’ while attending the OECD Forum in Paris. Vivian is look forward to the opportunity to engage with like-minded people to find solutions for issues facing society. 

As part of the Global Voices Research Fellowship Vivian will examine the role of Community Capacity Building (CCB) as an effective mechanism for building a more inclusive society. Vivian is interested in finding a way a to move forward to become a more inclusive and cohesive society.

After graduation Vivian would like to explore the field of foreign and domestic policy in relation to migration, citizenship and multiculturalism. She’s looking forward to starting her Honours degree in 2017. 

University of South Australia is a valued partner of Global Voices and supports us in our mission to provide opportunities for young Australians to engage with global issues and policy making. 

Y20 Summit Delegate: Jerome De Vera

Jerome De Vera is a 19-year-old Electrical and Electronics Engineering student, studying at the University of South Australia. He is a Student Engagement Officer in a professional student society called Bright Futures Society UniSA and a Campus Coordinator at Young Engineers Australia SA division.

Jerome’s interest in policy started when he had the opportunity to participate in a program called Youth Parliament. The program allowed him to recreate the process of passing a Bill through parliament and debating with other students. From here his interests developed. 

His research topic is inspired by his interest in knowing about clean and renewable energy options and his passion for electrical engineering. With this combination, Jerome was inspired to learn more about how to help save the environment and at the same time help create jobs.

He is planning on focusing his research paper on the current challenges facing the energy sector and electricity services in Australia and other G20 nations. Jerome is looking forward to attending the Y20 Summit with Global Voices and meeting new people with different perspectives to the issues at hand.

If Jerome could meet one person, he would most like to meet the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos for his great love of the Filipino people, his amazing photographic memory and his effective governance in making the Philippines a leading nation in the Asia-Pacific during his term. 

University of South Australia is a valued partner of Global Voices and supports us in our mission to provide opportunities for young Australians to engage with global issues and policy making.