Thursday, May 13, 2010

Triple Crisis Panel 1

I'm at the UNU-WIDER 25th Anniversary Conference, The Triple Crisis: Finance, Food, and Climate Change. This introductory panel sets the stage with an expert on each element of the triple crisis. Most of this was sent out on my Twitter account (derrillwat), which I normally use only sporadically.

Amar Bhattacharya (Forum on Debt and Development):
Before the crises: 96 countries were growing more than 5%, over 30 more than 3%
Developing countries have escaped recession faster on average than developed countries.
For the first time, Africa did not see decreasing GDP with global recession
Africa’s long-term growth prospects look better than Latin America
Estimates of cost to reduce climate change: 1) $9b 2) 20-80 billion 3) over 100 billion. Estimates grow as time goes by within this decade. (Translation 1: we have no clue; Translation 2: We're all going to die!)
New donors in Africa twice as important for infrastructure finance than traditional donors
World Bank cheered for extra $3 billion. Compared to private credit flows ($200-$500 billion), it's still 0

Shenggen Fan (IFPRI):
MDG on cutting hunger is not on track, but is still achievable
but only if we drop 69 million hungry people per year
Ethiopia, Chad, and Dem Rep of Congo the most alarming countries for hunger
Finance affects food security largely through capital flows
Climate change affects food security largely through changes in production
IFPRI has a new map of effects of #climatechange on #maize yield worldwide. Mostly bad in Africa, good in some of Asia & Latin America
1 - Improve smallholder productivity and access to markets (esp. inputs, extension services)
In 6/7 African and Asian countries, investments in Agriculture had highest returns. [See also Cases 9-1 and 9-2 for our upcoming food policy book]
2 - Scale up safety nets: conditional cash transfers, maternal and child nutrition, public works, insurance for the poor
3 - Keep trade open and reduce market volatility (national and regional food stocks)
4 - climate change adaptation and mitigation investment (ag research, irrigation)
5 - new partners (BRIC), more use of private sector and private charities

Jomo KS: UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development
Markets alone won't solve climate change. Not that it has no role - the role is complementary rather than fundamental. This is a difference between UN and World Bank views.
Public investment to crowd in private investment on sustainable technology
Need a lot more emphasis on adaptation, particularly in developing countries.
References Clinton's mea culpa on Haiti trade as evidence that trade led to food crisis. Look for my upcoming case study debunking this.
cheap credit led to over-investment. With the current recession, this causes underutilized capacity, making the private sector reluctant to invest. Hence, we need cross-subsidized public investments to crowd the private sector in.

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