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  • CHINA: EASING FOREIGN INVESTMENTS IN JOINT-VENTURE HOSPITALS

    The Chinese government has decided to facilitate foreign investments in joint-venture hospitals. In order to achieve this aim, the rules on setting up wholly-owned medical centers have been eased and restrictions on the percentage of foreign ownership in medical joint ventures and collaborations will be reduced.

    Investors from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau will be allowed to set up wholly-owned medical centers in more locations. On the other hand, foreign investors can set up wholly-owned hospitals in certain areas such as the Shanghai free trade zone.

    The government’s plan is keen to alleviate the pressure on China’s public healthcare sector which has been unable to cope with the rising demands of the market. China has spent 3 trillion yuan ($480 billion) on healthcare reform, but the system still faces difficulties such as scarcity of doctors, attacks by patients on medical staff and a fragmented drug distribution and retail market.

    Chinese healthcare public sector is based on drug sales and contributes to inflated prices, kickbacks and tensions between patients and doctors. According to Health Ministry data, about 40 percent of public hospital revenue in 2011 came from prescribing drugs.

    The government is restraining fake drugs’ trade, kickbacks to doctors and illegal sales tactics. Pharmaceutical companies in the country are feeling the heat of the government’s crackdown on corruption and pricing. The ease of doing business in the country has changed significantly as the government gets strict about implementing regulations. British pharmaceutical major GlaxoSmithKline has been in the line of fire since July last year over allegations of bribery and misconduct.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, May 30, 2014

    (Source: Reuters)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • FAIRTRADE UNDER THE SPOTLIGHTS ACCUSED OF NOT RESPECTING ITS COMMITMENT

    The Fairtrade Foundation is an UK independent fair-trade organization aimed at achieving better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for workers in the developing countries.

    Fairtrade Foundation plays an important role, representing one of the world's most trusted ethical schemes, with 1.24 million farmers and workers around the world. In line with its policy, Fairtrade has contributed to create schools, health clinics and other social projects in rural areas. Farmers must agree to reach social, environmental and labor standards to join this scheme.

    However, a recent study has revealed that in Uganda and Ethiopia poor farmworkers do not benefit from sales of fair trade certified products.

    A report from the UK government has shown, indeed, that the wages of people who work in the production of flowers, coffee and tea in Ethiopia and Uganda were very low, under minimum standards. Moreover, wages in similar areas and among comparable employers producing the same crops without the Fairtrade certification were usually higher and the working conditions usually better, the study says.

    According to the report, Fairtrade represents an inadequate instrument to enhance the lives of wage workers and the poorest rural people.

    Additionally, social projects, partially financed by the Fairtrade premium, are ill-suited mechanism to provide equal benefits: the majority of the poorest people do not have access to facilities.

    Furthermore, researchers have reported that significant numbers of young, school-age children are compelled to work for wages in the production of agricultural export crops, including Fairtrade-certified commodities.

    Following this analysis, the report has suggested that a mixture of idealism and lack of experience is the main cause to explain why Fairtrade did not provide benefits for the poorest people in Ethiopia and Uganda: Fairtrade organizations are established in poor and marginalized areas where a combination of constraints makes smallholder farmers are unable to pay even the minimum wages.

    In order to address these critiques, Fairtrade has shown that workers in areas with Fairtrade-certified farmer organizations had better conditions compared with those in non-certified, including free meals, overtime payments and loans and wage advances for workers, stressing its commitments in order to foster better working standards and sustainability.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 30 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

     

  • CHINA’S INVESTIGATIONS ON DRUGMAKERS HIT THE BIG PHARMA COMPANIES

    China has become stricter about corruption allegations against the pharmaceutical sector (especially against the big global pharmaceutical companies), which has enjoyed easy growth in the country so far.

    A recent report from Reuters announced that last year the 60 Chinese healthcare companies, included in their survey, saw average profit margins decline to around 10 percent, from 15 percent in 2012. The source reports that net profits also fell to 2.1 percent in 2013, to result in an overall 20 percent reduction, compared to previous years.

    Previously, China has been an attractive market for Big Pharma companies. Large drugmakers in particular have been experiencing a decreasing in both Europe and the United States and have relied on the emerging markets in China to drive their growth.

    China has been cracking down on corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, this has resulted in numerous investigations into artificially high drug prices as well as bribery allegations, the most recent of which includes a probe into GlaxoSmithKline’s China unit and Roche Holdings Ltd.

    Chinese officials have recently visited Novartis AG, AstraZeneca Group Plc, Sanofi SA, Eli Lilly & Co., and Bayer AG all as part of a series of investigations into the pharmaceutical industry in China. As a result of the GSK investigation, the company has since overhauled its management structure and changed the way in which it incentivizes sales for its drug representatives.

    Industry and legal sources said that investigations into the sector are likely to grow intensively, which means that pressures on profits are likely to remain.

    The intense climate created by the investigations also means physicians may be less inclined to meet with pharmaceutical representatives for fear of the meetings may place them under scrutiny from China’s government, putting yet another damper on sales growth.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

    (Source: Reuters)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • WATER CRISIS IN GAZA

    Think tanks, analysts and human rights organisations have highlighted the close link between water security and electricity supplies, and the near exhaustion of Gazas coastal aquifer.

    According to a fact sheet produced by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a power crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has reduced the supply of running water in most households, with more than 30 percent of homes in Gaza receiving running water for just 6-8 hours every four days.

    In March, a petition signed by nearly 13,000 people and organized by the Emergency Water and Sanitation-Hygiene Group (EWASH) - a coalition which includes national and international NGOs and UN agencies - was handed to the European Parliament to urge action to end the water crisis in Gaza.

    The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) released that “the scale and severity of the water crisis facing the Gaza Strip is enormous, and unless immediate action is taken, the damage to Gaza’s natural water resources will be irreversible.”

    Furthermore, the population of Gaza is expected to continue growing in the next years, creating increased water and power needs. “The insufficient supply of electricity and fuel to operate water pumps and wells has caused a further reduction in the availability of running water in most households. This has increased peoples reliance on private, uncontrolled water suppliersand lowered hygiene standards,”reads OCHA OPT’s March fact sheet.

    Israel is the major source of electricity in OPT. The Gaza Strip, specifically, is supplied with electricity from three sources: purchases from Israel (120 megawatts) and from Egypt (28 MW) and production by the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) (currently 60 MW). According to OCHA, this supply meets less than half of the estimated demand.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 19 May 2014

    (Source: Eurasia Review)

  • RUSSIA SIGNS 30-YEAR CONTRACT TO SUPPLY NATURAL GAS TO CHINA

    Energy pact a boost for Russian leader in face of US sanction threats over Ukraine crisis

    Russia and China have signed a 30-year, $400bn deal for Gazprom to deliver Russian gas to China, a move that will come as a blow to US efforts to isolate the Kremlin. The contract to provide 38bn cubic metres of gas each year was signed by the state-owned gas companies Gazprom and CNPC (China National Petroleum Corporation) in the presence of the countries' leaders, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, at the end of Putin's two-day visit to Beijing.

    After almost a decade of negotiations, it seems that the Chinese managed to achieve a lower price than the Russians had wanted. Yet, Vladimir Putin called the agreement the largest in the gas sector during the era of the USSR and Russia.

    ”A new pipeline linking Siberia's gas fields to China's main coastal cities will be built as part of the agreement and Russia plans to invest $55bn in exploration and pipeline construction. However, energy experts warn that the move could drive up prices for European gas consumers who are becoming increasingly dependent on Russia and now face competition for supplies."

    Aled Jones, director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “Russia's new pipeline to China will increase competition for natural gasfrom 2018 and will most likely increase the cost we pay for natural gas here in the EU. It will certainly increase the pressure on European countries to find alternative gas supplies.”

    According to Vladimir Milov, a former deputy energy minister who is director of the Moscow-based Institute of Energy Policy, as the US prepares to begin exporting gas to Europe- currently Russia's main market - the Russian government wants to open new markets in reaction to increasingly hostile relations with the west over the Ukraine crisis.

    China needs to find new sources of natural gas to meet its future energy needs and to reduce its dependence on coal as its main fuel for power generation and even before the Ukraine crisis, Russia was looking east to diversify its energy customers since Europe, which gets 24% of its gas from Russia, is expected to reduce its dependence.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 21 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • FEDERAL OFFICIAL CUT OIL ESTIMATE IN CALFORNIA SHALE FIELD BY 96 PERCENT

    Federal officials this week cut their estimate of reachable oil reserves in Californias Monterey Shale formation from a massive 15.4 billion barrels to just 600 million, throwing into question the area’s much-touted potential as an economic boon for the cash-strapped state.

    New data released on Tuesday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reduces the amount of shale oil believed available in all of the United States by 66 percent, the Los Angeles Times reported. But most of the ocean of oil in the Monterey formation is trapped beneath curving rock formations and hard to get at, and the EIA said drilling efforts using today’s technologies will not yield much.

    “From the information we've been able to gather, we've not seen evidence that oil extraction in this area is very productive using techniques like fracking,” John Staub, a petrochemical analyst with EIA, told the Los Angeles Times. He was referring to hydraulic fracturing, in which water and chemicals are pumped into the ground to loosen gas deposits.

    As representatives of the oil and gas industry maintained that California fossil fuels are still a good bet, environmental groups hailed the EIA finding as good news for the state. Many of these organizations believe oil drilling is not only an imminent risk to water and air, but a source of carbon emissions contributing to climate change.

    Despite the mounting evidence that the shale gas boom is heading for a bust, both economically and environmentally, both governments and industry are together pushing for it. A secret memo obtained by the Huffington Post states that the Obama administration and the EU are pushing ahead with efforts to expand US fracking, offshore oil drilling and natural gas exploration, as well as exports to the EU, under the prospective Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 22 May 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • THE FIRST CHINESE SPECIAL ENVIRONMENTAL COURT TO FIGHT POLLUTION

    Pollution represents the most severe problem that currently affects Chinese environmental safety, as a core element of the political agenda.

    China has inaugurated a special environmental court: the country’s first specialized judiciary organ in this field, in the realm of the Chinese war on pollution announced by the government.

    The creation of this specialized court represents an instrument to fight the major environmental issues which are air, soil and water pollution, stressing the Chinese commitment to tackle the strong impact of pollution with stricter measures.

    The court, established in the southern province of Fujian, has appointed 12 marine, agricultural, mineral specialist consultants who will assist litigators on technical issues, providing technical consultation and interpretation.

    According to the deputy chief justice of the high court, Fujian represents the China's first ecological civilization demonstration zone, at the forefront in the aim to explore and pilot judicial safeguard of the environment.

    Data highlight that since 2009, many county and city-level courts in the province have started to establish divisions specializing in mining, forestry, water and resources, atmosphere and water pollution cases.

    In line with that, the court has launched judiciary measures in order to protect and restore the environment, instructing violators of environmental laws about their responsibility for reparations after environmental damages.

    In a context characterized by high growth and rapid industrialization, several environmental scandals have worsened the Chinese environmental safety in recent years. In order to face the severe threats represented by climate change and pollution, the Chinese government has undertaken stricter strategies to address environmental issues.

    In relation to this commitment, the government has recently announced a new environmental law that imposes stronger sanctions on polluters.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 28 May 2014

    (Source: Chinadaily)

  • THAILAND’S MEDICAL TOURISM IS AT RISK DUE TO THE POLITICAL UNREST

    Thailand might “lose its crown” as the region’s top destination for medical tourismif foreigners, who are looking for low-cost and quality healthcare, are frightened by the political unrest. Following the army’s coup last week, several governments have warned their citizens to think twice before traveling to Thailand, where political unrest could scare off tourists and potential medical tourism patients.

    Among those who visited the country last year, about 2.5 million of people came for medical reasons, including spa and healthcare services, as data from the Department of Export Promotion have showed.

    In 2013, Thailand earned US$4.31 billion in revenue from medical tourism. Over the past decade, the average growth has been 15 per cent a year, but the country is already facing decreasing numbers from China, where a large portion of its tourism business comes from top-end Bangkok hospital Bumrungrad, which competes against Singapore for medical tourism seekers, said that it experienced a 12 per cent drop in foreign inpatients in the first quarter and an 18 per cent fall in outpatients. Kenneth Mays, senior director at Bumrungrad, argued that the political situation can bring some medical tourists to postpone their trips for treatment.

    Patients Beyond Borders, a U.S.-based website that offers consumers information about medical travel, said that, while hospitals in Phuket and other destinations are reporting downturns of 20-40 percent,  Bangkok is the epicenter of the unrest, which explains the decrease of medical visitors.

    According to the Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, the country’s largest hospital group, in 2014 Thailand has registered a drop of more than 30 percent in patients from the Middle East and of 7 percent from the United States. This situation might cause Thailand to lose its market share to countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines and India.

    The Philippines and South Korea are already seeing more medical tourists from China, Russia and the Middle East in particular. Singapore, with some of the best diagnostics and care in the world, represents also a threat to Thailand.

    Because of the political crisis, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has cut its forecast for foreign arrivals this year to 26.3 million, which would be a five-year low, from 28 million. Any prolonged crisis will certainly make international patients rethink a trip to Thailand and consider other destinations until the situation improves.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    (Source: HealthCareAsia)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN: INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS

    Currently, India is a fast growing democracy, that have been experienced a rapid economic growth. Despite this stunning development, human rights abuses still play a significant role in many parts of the country. In this framework, the well-being and the human rights of millions of people have been threatened by political and separatist violence and by the government's heavy-handed response.

    Moreover, economic development has had a strong impact, worsening the livelihoods and the condition of lands in many parts of India. Data show that hundreds of millions live in condition of extreme poverty, and the most vulnerable groups such as women and religious minorities often face severe discrimination and shocking violence.

    Reports highlight that in northeastern states and rural areas of central India, people have suffered violence and human rights abuses, caught between armed insurgents and Indian security forces.

    Additionally, the state has imprisoned human rights defenders on trumped-up charges, while state- militias supported by the state can operate with impunity. In this context, also terrorist attacks by Hindu and Muslim extremists represent a serious threat in northern and western India.

    Furthermore, people in many resource-rich parts of India have been compelled to leave their land due to massive industrial projects without adequate compensation.

    The country is experiencing other grave human rights concerns that are damaging Indians' economic, cultural and social rights. Data stress that hundreds of millions of people in India have to live in extreme poverty, suffering most from a poor healthcare system, inadequate education, economic exploitation, sexual abuse, an overwhelmed judicial system, and police brutality.

    Despite the benefit of economic development, these problems and others such as the extrajudicial killings by the police and the use of the death penalty still make the country retarded about human rights safeguard, far from international standards.

    Particularly in the north of the country, women are forced to face discrimination and abuses, often caused by family members through dowry deaths and honor killings. As heritage of the past, although the growing political and economic empowerment, members of lower castes still represent the main victims of violence and social humiliation.

    In addition to that, experts warn that climate change will worsen the current Indian situation, due to events such as rising oceans, melting glaciers, unpredictable monsoons, devastating droughts and polluted water sources, with strong consequences for the society.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 27 May 2014

    (Source: Amnesty International)

  • CHILDREN ARE EXPOSED TO SEVERE RISKS CAUSED BY TOXIC PESTICIDES AND NICOTINE IN USA TOBACCO FARMS

    A recent report of Human Rights Watch has revealed that children working on tobacco farms in the United States are exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides and other dangers.

    Although the world’s biggest tobacco companies buy tobacco from US farms, none have child labor policies to protect children from hazardous work.

    The report outlines the conditions of children who work on tobacco farms in four states which represent the 90 percent of US tobacco production: North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

    The report shows that children suffer from diseases such as nausea and headaches while working on tobacco farms: experts warn that these symptoms are the sign of a high degree of nicotine poisoning.

    Moreover, the report documents that children are forced to work long hours without overtime pay, in extreme heat without shade or sufficient breaks, and without adequate protective gear, exposed to dangerous nicotine.

    Human Rights Watch says that pesticides used in tobacco production, known as neurotoxins, represent one of the major threats for children health. Experts reveal that these pesticides can strongly alter the nervous system.

    In addition to that, recent data show that agriculture represents the most dangerous industry open to young workers. Children interviewed by Human Rights Watch described that they had no access to minimum services or a place to wash their hands at worksites. That means leaving them with tobacco or pesticides residue on their hands, even during mealtimes.

    In the light of this report, Human Rights Watch has called for global tobacco companies to adopt concrete policies to avoid hazardous child labor in their supply chains, urging companies to prohibit children from engaging in all activities that pose risks to their health and safety, including any work that involves direct contact with tobacco, due to the severe risk of nicotine exposure.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 22 May 2014

    (source: Human Rights Watch)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • CHINESE CORRUPTION IN HEALTHCARE SECTOR: THE CRACKDOWN ON PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES IS LIKELY TO BE INTENSIFIED

    A unit of China's anti-trust regulator has visited the Swiss Roche Holding AG,the second Swiss pharmaceutical firm in the country to attract the Chinese government scrutiny. Last week Chinese authorities charged executives at British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) over bribery and corruption, and legal and industry sources have said the crackdown on the pharmaceutical sector is likely to be intensified.

    In 2013 the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planning body that regulates prices, initiated investigations of 60 foreign and local pharmaceutical firms, such as Novartis, Britain's AstraZeneca, US drugmaker Eli Lilly, France's Sanofi, German drugmaker Bayer, Danish firms Novo Nordisk and H. Lundbeck, and Belgian firm UCB.

    Corruption charges against GSK's former China boss, Mark Reilly, represent an alarming sign to multi-nationals that are keen to set up shops in the country. Corruption is rife in China's healthcare sector, driven by high targets for sales staff and low salaries for doctors.

    Foreign and local pharmaceutical companies compete intensely with each other in an effort to enlarge their market share in China's booming pharmaceutical sector.
    China has become a magnet for global drugmakers and medical devices markets, it is a key growth market for Roche, which has sold its drugs in the country rising by 21 percent last year
    .

    Drugmakers have poured resources into China over the past decade as rising incomes have made health care more affordable for many. At the same time, the government has spent $180 billion since 2009 to advance its goal of providing basic care for more than 90 percent of its citizens. President Xi has made affordable health care a key part of the Communist Party’s agenda.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

    (Source: International Business Times)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • FORCED LABOUR REPRESENTS THE FASTEST-GROWING FORM OF INTERNATIONAL CRIME

    A report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has recently revealed that forced labour in the global private economy generates illegal profits of $150 billion a year, at the detriment of millions of people forced to face commercial abuses as sexual exploitation and forced economic labour as domestic work, construction and mining.

    Data show that currently 21 million people are suffering from forced labour, trafficking and modern-day slavery. According to the ILO, more than half of these people are women and girls compelled to commercial sexual exploitation and domestic work, while men are usually exploited in agriculture, construction, manufacturing and mining: these sectors account for $43 billion of the annual illegal profits, the report says.

    Moreover, the study stresses that annual profits per victim are among the highest in developed economies and the European Union, followed by countries in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific region and Africa.

    Povertyand sudden income shocks represent the principal factors that give rise to forced labour, while lack of education, gender and migration are contributory factors, the study says.

    According to this report, the ILO strongly highlights that forced labour is one of the most urgent issue that governments have to address with immediate actions. In this way leaders have to redouble their efforts to face this scourge, strengthening law and policies in order to undertake collaboration with employers to reinforce their commitment against forced labour.

    The UN global initiative to fight human trafficking has alarmingly shown that the trafficking of people represents the fastest-growing form of international crime and also the third-largest criminal industry after drugs and arms trafficking.

    In line with that, the ILO has also called for international community to establish stricter measures, focusing on the socioeconomic factors that make people more vulnerable to forced labour especially in the private sector. 

    To achieve concrete results, governments should take preventive measures, such as reinforce social security guarantees to protect poor households from abusive lending or indenture or investing in education and training in order to increase job opportunities for vulnerable workers.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 21 May 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • ALTERNATIVES TO RUSSIAN ENERGY RESOURCES FOR EUROPE

    The issue of energy security is at the heart of the European debate. At the end of a two-day summit held in Brussels on March 20-21, Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, said that the European Union (EU) plans to reduce the dependency on Russian energy supplies.

    Among the possible measures aimed to this change, Herman Van Rompuy mentioned improving energy efficiency, diversifying the EU’s supply routes and expanding the share of renewable energy sources, creating of a united energy network, and researching the possibility to import shale gas from the USA. Consequently, European politicians started discussing the feasibility of shale gas extraction in England, Germany, Hungary, Poland and other countries of the EU, which may potentially replace Russian gas.

    However, politicians and experts have expressed their concerns about the opportunity to efficiently replace Russian gas with supplies from other countries in the next few years. Ernest Moniz, the US Secretary of Energy, stated that America will be able to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe no earlier than in two years; and Tord Lien, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, said that liquefaction of natural gas and delivery of LNG by sea will be much more costly than pipe delivery.

    Furthermore, the future of shale gas extraction in Europe is obscure. Injection of chemicals into the ground, a part of the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) used to extract shale gas, may pollute underground waters and later lead to many diseases, including cancer. Franking is banned in France and Bulgaria, and a temporary ban on shale gas mining has been introduced in Czech Republic.

    In September 2012, Germany recommended banning hydraulic fracturing near drinking water sources and mineral wells. In addition to that, shale gas extraction in Europe may be too costly and make such projects unprofitable.

    Oras Tynkkynen, a Member of the Parliament of Finland, representing the Green League, said: “To my knowledge there is widespread consensus on the need to tackle energy dependency.”

    “There are considerable concerns and risks related to fracking shale gas. If environmental and health concerns can be addressed, shale gas can be one alternative – and domestic – source of gas in Europe,” he specified.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 19 May 2014

    (Source: Eurasia Review)

  • THE MAJOR BRANDS REPRESENT THE PRINCIPAL CAUSE OF GREENHOUSE EMISSIONS

    A recent report from the international charity and agency Oxfam has revealed that the ‘big 10’ global food and drink companies together emit more greenhouse gases than the Nordic countries. Moreover, these companies would represent the 25th most polluting country in the world if considered together.

    The companies considered in the analysis are the world’s most famous household brands: Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever.

    This report strongly criticizes the behavior of these companies in relation to their climate change policies. In this way, the report warns that companies will face financial ruin unless they use their influence and size to significantly address the strong impact of the current climate crisis.

    Data show that these companies represent the main cause of greenhouse emissions, emitting more than Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland’s annual total of 250 million tons of greenhouse gases, the report says.

    The international charity and agency Oxfam stresses that despite these companies have the concrete possibility to reduce their emissions by 80 million tons by 2020, they have not settled appropriate measures to face the problems that climate change provokes to the sustained supply of ingredients needed for their products, damaging their economic and the need to feed a growing population.

    The report has outlined that Kellogg and General Mills represent the worst companies due to their policies on climate change, stressing the urgency to establish adequate measure in order to drive the sector towards more responsible policies and practices, and setting targets to cut emissions from their supply chains at the same time.

    Experts consider that climate change is strictly connected to environmental events such as storms, floods, droughts and shifting weather patterns that can strongly damage food supplies and put pressure on prices, increasing the current degree of hunger and poverty. Following this, the report forecasts that climate change could lead to alarming consequences, such as the rise of prices up to 44% in 15 years.

    In response to the report, Kellogg and General Mills have highlighted their commitment about stronger environmental policies, in order to cut emissions by 15–20% at their manufacturing facilities by 2015, achieving a production that is environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable. In line with that, the companies recognize that climate change represent one the most important issue to face, and the urgency to undertake strategies to positively influencing climate policy in the long run.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 20 May 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • WESTERN ENERGY GIANTS HAVE A HAND IN DESTABILISING UKRAINE

    The foreign policy expert Nebojsa Malic stated that economic interests, such as untapped shale gas resources, steer the Kiev governments anti-terroristoperation against the pro-federalist regions.

    The eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions declared independence from Kiev last Sunday. Yet federalist activists have no doubt that this will involve an actions by the government.

    As RT’s Gayane Chichakyan reports, “reinstating control over the restive regions isn't the only agenda driving Kiev's ongoing offensive.”It seems rather that at the core of the conflict is only business. Indeed, in the region of Eastern Ukraine there are importantnatural energy resources, such as coal and more specifically, shale natural gas, untapped deposits of which lie underground in the Dnieper-Donets basin - where are located the cities which Kiev is now striving to force into submission.

    In the Donetsk Region, Shell signed, in January 2013, a 50-year profit deal with the government of Ukraine to explore and drill for natural gas in shale rock formations and Kiev wants to take advantage of these future profits.

    The expert Nebojsa Malic commented:“I would say that the economic interest in this case is whats driving the coup regime in Kiev to launch military actionsagainst its own citizens, because they stand to make a profit from these contracts signed by the previous government.”

    According to the UN, the death toll in the Ukraine conflict that started last autumn has already surpassed 250, but the end of the crisis seems nowhere near.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Sunday, 18 May 2014

    (Source: RT - Russia Today)

  • THE LANDSCAPE FOR MNCS PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES IS GRADUALLY CHANGING IN INDIA

    The multinational pharmaceutical companies (MNCs),which have so far lagged the domestic market growth, are now becoming increasingly aggressive in the Indian market as part of their focus on emerging markets. In the past, most of MNCs players had maintained a subdued profile in India owing to limitation on launch of patented products, limited marketing and distribution bandwidth and relatively small scale offered by the Indian market.

    However, with the implementation of the product patent regime and strong growth prospects, the landscape for MNCs pharmaceutical companies is gradually changing. Series of major acquisitions, steady growth in new product introductions (especially in the branded segment with steep pricing difference to global prices) and expansion in field force clearly indicates their renewed interest in the Indian market.

    A new study reports that the MNCs are implementing strategies to allow India's large patient population (not only rich people) the access to essential drugs. This aim is hard to reach due to the several poverty rate and the country's large population. In 2010, India counted 1.2 billion people (the total of the combined populations of North America, Europe and Japan) and it is expected to increase by 2030.

    Strategies such as differential pricing, providing lower-cost, high quality branded generics are oriented to fill the gaps in patient access. Partnering with local companies can distribute drugs at lower prices, tiered pricing based on disease prevalence and gross national income.

    India is one of the countries which fail to protect and enforce intellectual property. In fact, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America requested that the Office of the United States Trade Representative designate India as a Priority Foreign Country.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    (Source: The Pharma Letter)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • INDIAN PHARMACEUTICAL SECTOR SPLIT BETWEEN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS AND ACCESS TO MEDICINES FOR ALL

    Indian pharmaceutical sector is largely driven by exports, the country is the biggest foreign supplier of generic medicines to the US, the world's largest drug market. The latest report by the US Trade Representative (USTR) on intellectual property rights (IPR), termed Special 301, retained India on its Priority Watch List of alleged violators of the US patents law.

    India's intellectual property rights (IPR) have  profoundly affected the pharmaceutical industry. Effective patent protection is necessary to allow investments in innovative lifesaving drugs. If countries do not respect intellectual property (IP) protection, the future of new medicines is at risk, because incentives for the research-based pharmaceutical industry to invest large amount of money in the development of a single new medicine will be undermined.

    Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s (PhRMA) members want strong patent laws in India. Companies believe that detailed laws will encourage and sustain innovation in the research-based and technology-intensive pharmaceuticals industry.

    The strain between the two nations, related to the IPR issue in the pharmaceutical sector, increased after the apex court denied patent protection to Swiss multinational Novartis for its Glivec (an important drug in the treatment of myeloid leukaemia) in India.

    Novartis lost a seven-year legal battle after the court ruled that small changes and improvements to the drug Glivec did not amount to innovation deserving a patent. The ruling opens the way for generic companies in India to manufacture and to sell cheap copies of the drug in the developing world.

    Such a decision represents a big step forward in enabling poor people to access medicines in the developing world, even though it can discourage future innovation in India, as the Swiss company argued.

    On the other hand, Indian government must support the pharmaceutical domestic market, the third-largest exporting sector. In order to improve the access to medicines in India, it is needed to advance sustainable policy solutions to healthcare financing, infrastructure, and human resources challenges rather than focusing on compulsory licenses or other ways of undermining patent protection of innovative medicines.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, May 20, 2014

    (Source: Business Standard)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • WHO’s annual statistics report on life expectancy

    The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said the global life expectancy has increased. The report, titled “World health statistics 2014″ and released by WHO, based on global averages, stated that a girl who born in 2012 can live up to around 73 years, and a boy up to the age of 68.

    The officials said that this increase in life expectancy was due to medical advances for treating infectious diseases, such as measles, malaria, tuberculosis and polio.

    The annual statistics report showed that low-income countries have made the greatest progress, with an average increase in life expectancy by 9 years from 1990 to 2012, higher than the global average increase level of six. According to the study, the top six countries where life expectancy increased the most were Liberia, Ethiopia, Maldives, Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Rwanda.

    The longest life expectancy at birth is for women in Japan, at 87 years, and men in Iceland, at 81.2 years. Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Italy and Luxembourg rank in the top 10 for both sexes.

    In a statement, the WHO director general Margaret Chan said that global life expectancy has improved so much especially because fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday. However, people in high-income countries continue to have a much better chance of living longer than people in low-income countries.

    The WHO report found that the lowest life expectancy was in sub-Saharan Africa with less than 55 years for both male and female. Overall, the report shows that the human life expectancy increased over the years and does not appear to slow down.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, May 16, 2014

    (Source: WHO)

  • BEIJING IS WORSENING FEES TO FIGHT POLLUTION

    Beijing has recently announced a new fee on the discharge of volatile organic compounds for the city's industrial companies that release these pollutants.

    According to the officials, this announcement highlights the commitment to raise the enterprises' awareness of the cost of pollution and the urgency to establish measures to cleanse the air.

    The Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau has outlined that, in relation to the environmental cost of pollution, the levy will be stronger than the current discharge tax on sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide.

    Moreover, the Pollution Prevention Department of the bureau has explained that the money obtained from the tax will be invested to enhance the city's air quality.

    In line with the government’s policy, the economic leverage represents an instrument to reduce emissions.

    In addition to that, the government has established pollutant discharge standards for seven industries including automobile manufacturing, vehicle repair, organic chemicals and package printing. Also these discharge standards will be applied for boilers, oil refineries and other chemical operations.

    The city's environmental agency has raised the fees for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, chemical oxygen demand and ammonia nitrogen in order to reach the aim to cut emissions.

    The government’ strategy entails that companies which emit 50 percent less pollutants than the emission standards will be charged half the standard price, and the enterprises that exceed the target will have to pay double fees and face other punishments.

    In this way, Beijing will gradually reform its industrial sector, striking polluting industries and establishing financial incentives and other forms of encouragement to persuade companies to stop pollution.

    Data show thatindustrial emissions are the third-largest cause of pollution in Beijing.

    Despite the strong commitment that the capital is following, industrial pollution still represents one of the major problems that the government has to address.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 16 May 2014

    (source: Chinadaily)

  • A NEW REPORT SHOWS THE STRONG EFFECTS OF EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS IN THE ARTIC, RASING CONCERNS ABOUT SECURITY RISKS

    A recent report by former military officers has revealed that climate change represents a severe threat for the security of the Artic.

    The report shows that the situation is quickly getting worse and changes appear more radical than expected.

    This study outlines that the previous prospect of an ice-free Arctic by mid-century had given rise to a race for shipping lanes and for access to oil and other resources by countries such as Russia and China.

    Due to the progressive reduction of ice, this region has been an enticement for many states due to the opportunities provided. As such, oil companies moved into the Arctic.

    Data show that these events are accelerating in the Artic are, the report says, stressing the concerns about the security risks caused by climate change.

    In this framework, the IPCC has warned that growing competition for resources in such a climate change-characterized context could lead to conflicts.

    Following this, the report represents a step ahead, upgrading the climate risk from a threat to a real conflict catalyst, warning that the severe impact of climate change could be the cause of conflicts in developing countries as well.

    Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are already experiencing the strong effects of extreme weather conditions, including drought and floods that affect food shortages and cause at the same time alarming consequences such as desertification, population dislocation, mass migration and sea level rise. These phenomena represent an alarming issue that the governments have to address with concrete actions.

    The report highlights thus that populations will become disenfranchised and even more vulnerable due to climate change and other forms of conflicts for water, food and energy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 16 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • HEALTHCARE POLICIES: US AND SPAIN HAVE A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW ON THE MATTER

    Comparing the United States and Spain’s healthcare systems, it is clear that the respective policies are taking different positions. While the U.S. is trying to make healthcare coverage more affordable for citizens, Spain has adopted strict financial measures in order to cut the health expenditure. Both policies submit citizens to negative long-term consequences.

    The American health care reform law (Affordable Care Act- ACA), better known as Obamacare, was enacted in March 2010. This law allows consumers a easier access to health coverage and protects them from companies’ abusive insurance practices. Obamacare is far from the idea of a “National Health System” as that which exists in several European countries.

    Despite that, the ACA has represented a huge legislative change in the U.S.  because it aspires to increase the number of people covered by an insurance plan.

    It is important to underline that about 50 million people in the U.S. are uninsured, even though the government spends almost 20% of its GDP on health, which is more than twice the GDP on health expenditure in any European country. That is why conservatives believe that ACA system is economically unsustainable.

    Even if the Obamacare plan requires people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, Republicans argue that insured patients will be stuck in an extremely expensive system, due to the fact that healthy and young people won’t massively sign up.

    Considering the European situation, health systems used to be one of the main issues of national policies. However, because of the financial crisis and austerity measures set up in many countries, budgets for health services have been decreased. For instance, Spanish administration heavily reduced  the budget for health and social services and introduced a new law shifting health coverage from universal to employment-based in April 2012.

    These facts entail that numerous illegal immigrants will have access only to emergency, maternity and pediatric care.  This situation would not be new for American citizens, but these changes affect an important matter of Spain’s social stability and have been imposed abruptly, without knowing the long-term consequences.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, May 16, 2014

    (Source: The German Marshall Fund of the United States)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • YEMEN'S NEW LAW ON CHILD BRIDES AND FGM CAN MAKE CONSIDERABLE PROGRESS

    The new legislation aims to proscribe child marriage and female genital mutilation.

    Within the confines of the comprehensive Yemeni Child Rights Act, the minimum age for marriage would be 18, in line with the international human rights, moreover it would ban female genital mutilation (FGM). The new legislation also would impose fines on guardians, marriage officials and any other witnesses aware of any offense against the law.

    The emergence of the official legislation was facilitated by the push of Yemeni human rights minister, Hooria Mashhour and other actors in the government. The main opponents of the law are the traditional and religious leaders and the parliament's sharia committee.

    However, due to the power of the president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, he is able to overrule their decisions, and it is certain that the growing support for protecting girls from early marriage will shape his decision considerably.

    Early marriage and FGM are among the serious problems of Yemen. According to the UN, more than half of Yemeni girls are married by the age of 18, which can impose harmful impacts on their physical, psychological and educational development. In addition, early marriage is only a part of a problem, as abuse often continues in the form of sexual violence and FGM. The new legislation would ban FGM and violence against children, including child labour.

    Yemen also recognized the significance of an interlinked approach which is a necessary condition to ensuring those at risk are protected early on from the prospect of a lifetime of abuse. Furthermore, effective implementation and well-resourced health, education and justice systems are also crucial aspects to reach the desired goals.

    Stepping forward regarding the rights of girls is also perceptible in other countries in the Arab world. For instance, one of the Pakistani local assembly voted to create a law to introduce a minimum age of 18 for marriage.

    Hopefully, Yemeni authorities will seize the moment to achieve major advances which is not only beneficial for the female population but for the entire society. This can mean a huge step toward a future for Yemen where the rights of girls are better respected.

     

    The gLAWcal team

    The 6th of May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION WARNED QATAR TO REFORM LABOUR LAWS AS WORLD CUP NEARS

    Arrangements on World Cup has highlighted the fact that 4000 migrant workers could die if necessary steps are not taken.

    Several countries put pressure on Qatar in order to reform its labour laws to prevent abuse of migrant employees working prepare for the 2022 World Cup.

    After the scrutiny of Qatar's human rights, many of the 84 countries speaking at the UN Human Rights Council called on the Gulf state to make an end to its kafala sponsorship system that compels each of its 1.4 million migrant workers to be a single employer.

    International Labour Organization also joined this action to enforce Qatar to reform labour laws. The initiative was founded on the facts that there are several reports on the violations of the rights of migrant workers who work in the preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

    Consequently, some recommendations have emerged in order to improve the plight, including scrapping visas which can prevent migrant workers leaving, and receiving legal protection.

    Moreover, the UK delegation is fighting for the introduction of a clear timetable on scrapping the sponsorship system and for new rules to protect domestic workers who are not protected by the existing labour law.

    Unfortunately, countries which are the main suppliers of migrant workers to Qatar and hence depend on the jobs provided by the construction boom in the country were less ambitious.

    The Qatari authorities have received a report from a law firm DLA Oiper. This report was commissioned in the wake of the global indignation which was induced by the treatment of migrant workers. In addition, human rights organizations put additional pressure on Qatar.

    The above mentioned International Trade Union has warned the public that 4000 workers could die before the start of the World Cup in 2022 unless the authorities take steps in order to protect them. Moreover, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have detailed cases where the immigrants work for little pay and under unsafe and insanitary conditions. It is also revealed that some workers have been prevented from leaving the countries and others have been not paid.

    The alteration in the Labour Law, which are based on the recommendations by the DLA Piper's report are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.

    The abuse of rights of migrant workers also has come to the front of the women's rights and the importance of the freedom of expression.

    According to the assistant foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Quatar has recognised that there are some issues and challenges regarding migrant workers. As a consequence, the Qatar government will set out an overall work programme which will improve the shortcomings of the labour laws.

     

    The gLAWcal team

    The 7th of May 2014

    Source: The Guardian

  • RENEWABLE ENERGY WILL NOT SAVE US

    The Turkish disaster reminds us not just of the human cost of coal, but also the cost of hysteria-led policy

    Coal is the dirtiest and most polluting form of energy, and the most dangerous to extract. Yet coal continues to exert a mesmeric hold on the world's imagination, especially on the left.

    The Labour party prevented Tony Blair from building any nuclear power stations, instead tipping subsidies into wind, which merely encouraged Britain's dependency on coal. Global coal consumption is at its highest level since 2006, and shows disrespect for all attempts at emissions discipline.

    The recent recourse to renewables remains a conundrum of modern government. In most of Europe, indeed, wind power has driven up fuel poverty and made dozens of landowners multimillionaires. Although climate is changing, the precautionary principle suggests concerted action to combat it. The "renewables ascendancy", culminating in the hysteria of the first

    International Panel on Climate Change report, does not seem a  good solution. It consider, indeed, any carbon combustion or nuclear reaction as equally evil, and any sun, wind or wave power as equally good –however costly.

    Moreover, for its part, coal is treated as a tolerable plague. Soaring Chinese and Indian consumption is taken as an inevitable consequence of poverty. The Turkish disaster reminds us not just of the human cost of coal, but also the cost of hysteria-led policy.

    Gas is a carbon-based source of energy but can be twice or three times less polluting than coal–and does not require hundreds of people to die each year extracting it. The main problem with renewables, indeed, is that - even if they may appear to be a solution - they create, in fact, an ever-rising need for deadly coal as a supplement.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 15 May 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • A € 3 BILLION DEAL FOR WHAT IS EXPECTED TO BE ONE OF THE WORLD’S BIGGEST OFFSHORE WIND FARMS HAS BOOSTED EUROPE’S BATTERED RENEWABLE ENERGY MARKET

    The Gemini wind farm off the coast of the northern Netherlands is backed by a consortium led by an independent Canadian power producer, Northland Power Inc, that includes Germany’s Siemens engineering group.

    The Gemini consortium has signed all construction, operations and financing contracts, with a total construction budget of nearly 3 billion. With more than 20 parties involved 70 per cent of this budget will be provided on the basis of project financing –making Gemini the largest-ever project financed offshore wind farm.

    Angus McCrone of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which monitors global renewable energy transactions, said: “This is the largest renewable energy asset finance deal anywhere in the world in 2014 so far.”

    The project has a construction budget of nearly 3bnand it has not been financed directly by one of the big European utilities. Indeed, 70 per cent of the Dutch project’sbudget comes from bank project financing.

    By supplying 1.5 million of Dutch citizens with clean energy, Gemini will play an important role in helping the Government of the Netherlands achieve the targets mandated by the European Unions Renewable Energy Directive.

    It implies for the Netherlands to reach a 14 per cent share of energy from renewable sources by 2020. Today the Dutch market has an installed wind power capacity of 2.7 GW, of which 2.45 GW is onshore. The offshore target of 4.45 GW is expected to be operational in 2023.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 15 May 2014

    (Source: Financial Times)

     

  • IPCC REPORTS 'WEAKENED' UNDER 'POLITICAL PRESSURE' TO PROTECT FOSSIL FUEL INTERESTS

    The policy summaries on climate impacts and mitigation by the UN Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were significantly 'diluted' under political pressurefrom some of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, including Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil and the USA.

    Several experts have spoken out about their distortion due to political interests. David Wasdell, who leads the European Commission's Global System Dynamics and Policy (GSDP) network, said that “every word and line of the text previously submitted by the scientific community was examined and amended until it could be endorsed unanimously by the political representatives.

    ”Wasdell said that scientists had confirmed that governments fought to amend text that would damage their perceived interests:“…the objections were led by Saudi Arabia, strongly supported by China, and associated with an emerging group of 'like-minded nations.' The impasse was broken following suggested modifications of both text and diagram provided by the representatives of the USA.

    The resulting compromise safeguards the vested interests of global dependency on fossil sources of energy, while constraining the capacity of the international community to take any effective action to deal with the threat of dangerous climate change.”

    The draft submitted by scientists contained a metric projecting cumulative total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, on the basis of which a 'carbon budget' was estimated. However, according to Wasdell the final version approved by governments significantly amended the original metric to increase the amount of carbon that could still be emitted.

    Wasdell's claims about the politicisation of the IPCC's summary reports for policymakers are corroborated by other scientists. Prof Robert Stavins - a lead author for the IPCC's Working Group 3 focusing on climate mitigation - describe the procedure as “exceptionally frustrating”since the government approval process "built political credibility by sacrificing scientific integrity.”These criticisms suggest that the IPCC's summary reports are too conservative.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 15 May2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • GOVERNMENT TO SLASH SUBSIDIES FOR LARGE SCALE SOLAR FARMS

    The government has unveiled proposals to limit the subsidies paid to large solar farms from next April.

    Large scale solar farms would no longer receive subsidies through the Renewables Obligation (RO) regime from April 2015, under controversial plans proposed by the government. The Department of Energy and Climate Change announced today that it planned to shut the RO to new large solar farms from April next year.

    DECC said it was concerned that large solar farms would exceed their available budget under the RO, as the industry is deploying at a much faster rate than previously expected. According to Greg Barker, the energy minister, solar farms must not become the new onshore windand he calls for solar panels installed on factory rooftops instead.

    Solar farm projects will still be eligible for support through a new regime. However, it is expected to be far more difficult for solar farms to gain funding under the new subsidy scheme. The new Contract for Difference (CfD) regime will have a capped budget and onshore wind and solar farm projects will be forced to compete with each other in reverse auctions to win subsidy contracts.

    Leonie Greene, head of external affairs for the Solar Trade Association, said  that, on current costs, solar farms “can't compete with onshore wind”. The uncertainty in the auction process also made solar farm development too risky for the small businesses who typically build them.

    The Department of Energy and Climate Change has released that they want  “to move the emphasis for growth away from large solar farms.”They said: “Large-scale solar is deploying much faster than we expected. Industry projections indicate that, by 2017, there could be more solar deployed than is affordable – more than the 2.4-4GW set out in the electricity market reform (EMR) delivery plan”.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 13 May 2014

    (Source: the Telegraph)

  • GREENPEACE STRESSES THE ALARMING SITUATION OF CHINESE SOIL POLLUTION

    A recent report from Greenpeace has revealed the strong impact of heavy-metal pollution on crops in the Hunan province, the major producer of metal in China. Soil pollution represents one of the most alarming issues that affect Chinese environmental safety.

    This report, based on tests of soil, water and rice taken from villages near a cluster of industrial smelters, has shown that cadmium levels are above legal limits in 12 out of 13 rice samples and in some cases, quantities of the heavy metal exceeded the accepted levels by a factor of 21.

    According to Greenpeace, a more efficient and respectful metals industry should minimize future environmental risks, balancing the needs of industry with environmental demands. In line with this, government should undertake strategies and stricter measures in order to control emissions with a more careful supervision of the industry.

    Moreover, establishing advanced pollution-control techniques could be an adequate instrument to cut heavy-metal emissions, and smelting firms should be monitored and encouraged to report pollution data, in order to allow a better public oversight.

    Metals production need to be adequately planned in order to reduce environmental harm, Greenpeace say. To achieve this fundamental goal, the government needs to take a longer-term view, closing down the smaller plants and planning strategies for the development of the sector.

    Soil pollution is a great threat for the environment, affecting both the quantity and quality of crops. Data show that in some cases farmers are experiencing a drop of 50% of yields, stressing that the excessive levels of cadmium represent a great damage for human health.

    Following this, soil pollution of vast rural areas will inevitably entail a strong impact on food security.  Due to the fact that Hunan is China’s biggest rice-grower, soil pollution would constitute a heavy blow for the entire country that the government should urgently address.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 15 May 2014

    (source: Chinadialogue)

  • THE NATURE OF EUROPEAN UNION ALLOWS PARALLEL IMPORTS IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL MARKET

    Differences in economic, social, legal or regulatory regimes of countries create varying prices around the world for the same drug. This discrepancy often leads to parallel trade, which had a strong impact on European pharmaceutical market since 1970s. The global squeeze on national healthcare budgets as a result of the financial downturn and the aging population has provided another opportunity for parallel importers.

    Due to the nature of the European Union, parallel importing is not prohibited. The legal framework behind parallel trade dates back to the 1957 Treaty of Rome. While patents protect against parallel trade in other markets, it cannot be forbidden within the EU.

    One of the main goals of EU legislation has been the harmonization of laws and the creation of a single market to permit the EU to compete at a global level comparable to the United States.

    Once a firm has put the drug on the market in any EU country, it may not prevent the sale of that drug within the EU by any other firm by claiming a violation of patent rights or trademarks, under most circumstances. Parallel imports are allowed if the importing countries verify that the medicinal imports are authorized within their borders and comply with EU guidelines. This creates price equalization across the European Community, promoting a greater sense of a single market across Europe.

    Traditionally the source countries were those with the lowest prices, like Greece and Spain, but there was an increase in the share of parallel imports in Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, and Sweden between 2009 and 2011 and a decrease in Latvia and the United Kingdom. Finland, Norway, and Germany remained stable.

    At the SMi Group’s 8th Parallel Trade conference, held in London in February 2014, the debate on this issue was quite lively and the issue was considered from both the trader’s and the pharmaceutical company’s perspective.

    From the pharmaceutical firms’ point of view, parallel trade decreases their income and cuts their return on investment, which instead would be completely refunded under the patent’s rules. The conference has been an high quality practical event with plenty of opportunity for debate and step-by-step guidance on the complex issue of parallel trade.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

    (Source: Life Science Leader)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • CHINA ACCUSED THE GLAXO’S EXECUTIVE MARK REILLY OF BRIBING DOCTORS

    At a press conference, officials from China's Ministry of Public Security alleged that the executive, U.K. national Mark Reilly, ordered his sales team and other employees to bribe hospital doctors and health care organizations to boost drug sales in China, that helped Glaxo reap billions of yuan in additional revenue between 2009 and 2012, they said. 

    While other governments around the world have increased scrutiny on major pharmaceuticals’ marketing practices, China’s administration has gone further, singling out a foreign national, an action that could potentially prompt drug companies to rethink their strategy in the fast-growing market.

    China’s medical industry is a breeding ground for widespread corruption. Reports show that doctors and hospitals accept illicit funds from patients and medical goods suppliers to cover budget gaps and pay for staff salaries. Hospitals also reportedly push certain drug prescriptions rather than others and  assign sales quotas to employees.

    In Glaxo’s case, in some instances, bribes have been able to increase drug prices as much as seven times the price that the same drugs cost in the U.S. and other markets.

    The accusations are a major setback for the big drug maker in a market long seen as promising by the pharmaceutical industry. China has been an important source of sales growth for the company and other pharmaceutical makers in recent years.

    People warn about the high prices and low quality of care in many of China’s underfunded hospitals, because of the bad distribution of public funds, particularly in smaller cities.

    The country represents a fast-growing market with an aging population and a government that is scurrying to strengthen a nascent social-safety net. But experts say that the country's underfunded medical system encourages widespread bribery and corruption among hospitals, staff and local governments.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

    (Source: International Business Time)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • CLIMATE DISPLACEMENT: THE CONSEQUENCE OF THE SEVERE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON POOR COMMUNITIES

    In the Sahel, the arid belt of land that stretches across Africa just south of the Sahara, migration has always represented a way of life: many inhabitants of the region lived for millennia as nomadic pastoralists moving with their herds in search of water and pasture.

    Recently, significant changes in rainfall patterns and rising temperatures have caused a disturbing form of population movement: the so called climate displacement.

    In Burkina Faso and Niger, at the heart of the Sahel, poor communities have experienced severe rainfall anomalies in recent years that can be related to climate change.

    In small villages in Burkina Faso, changeable weather conditions have strongly damaged residents year after year. Data show that in 2010 there was not enough rain to grow millet or replenish pasture and in 2011 sudden cloudbursts caused heavy flooding destroying houses and schools. These phenomena have resulted in a region-wide crisis that left 18 million people without sufficient food and children at risk of starvation.

    In this framework, these unpredictable recurrent crisis have worsened the living conditions of poorer communities, that are the most vulnerable to environmental disasters such as droughts and floods that have lowered crop yields and wiped out people's limited savings, combined with other factors as land degradation.

    Due to this situation, poor people are forced to leave their villages, sell their goods to survive, becoming poorer and also more vulnerable. Humanitarian organizations have revealed that about 30% of people in Burkina have moved away in the past 20 years.

    These people are compelled to move due to changing climate, looking for more productive farmlands or moving to fast-growing urban slums in order to find job opportunities, facing in this way several risks, such as exploitation and extortion.

    However, these people who leave their home because of climate change do not receive protection: they are not considered refugees according to the UN refugee convention that can be applied only to those who cross an international border while fleeing persecution.

    Moreover, with temperatures in the Sahel forecasted to increase by 3-5C by mid-century, changing weather conditions will be the cause of more displacement and further strain of this chronically poor and unstable region.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 15 May 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

     

  • BRAZILIAN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM: FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE

    The Brazilian Constitution promises free public healthcare to every citizen, saying that “Health is a private right and a duty of the state”. Public healthcare is provided to all Brazilian permanent residents and foreigners in Brazilian territory through the National Health Care System, known as Unified Health System - SUS.

    Finland, for example, provides free healthcare to all its citizens, but the country is smaller and more homogeneous, while Brazil counts 200 million people. Universal healthcare is relatively cheap as well: the government spends just 9 percent of GDP on healthcare compared to the U.S.’s 18 percent.

    It is important to underline that the funding for the SUS system is split between the federal, state, and municipal governments.

    This financial system entails a lack of hospital beds and long waiting times to see a doctor. It can take months to get an X-ray in Sao Paulo. A quarter of Brazilians are able to afford private doctors, paying with American-style insurance they get through work. But a huge portion of population is still poor, living in jungles or farms and relies on the publicly funded SUS..

    By some measures, Brazil’s income inequality is even worse than USA’s. People from the south of the country tend to live better, healthier lives than people from the north. There are 11.4 million people who live in favelas where the implementation of social services is lacking.

    In Brazil, wealthy patients may complain about corruption, but at least they have specialists at their disposal. In Brazil, as in the United States, doctors usually come from wealthier areas and  tend not to move. More than half of the country’s neurologists, for example, live in the south, just one percent in the north.

    Brazilians called for more investment in healthcare in order to improve services and benefits for the lower and middle classes. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff responded to the complaints by swearing to bolster healthcare. Over the past year, her government imported 13,000 doctors from abroad (especially from Cuba).

    Some health experts have suggested that people from United States may soon see a two-tiered healthcare system not unlike Brazil’s, in which Medicaid patients wait weeks to see any physician available while richer patients use generous insurance plans to see the best doctors they can find. That proves how American health coverage is still far from universal, even under Obamacare.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

    (Source: The Atlantic)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • THE SYRIAN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM’S COLLAPSE

    A Save The Children’s report, titled  “A Devastating Toll: the Impact of Three Years of War on the Health of Syria's Children”, shows the devastation of the health system in Syria. It underlines the lack of skilled medical staff and access to child-focused care, equipment and medicines.

    The collapse of the Syrian health system is confirmed by the desperate measures to which medical personnel are resorting to keep children alive, such as amputating limbs because of the lack of the  necessary equipment for appropriate treatment and potentially deadly person-to-person blood transfusions.

    This is more than a crisis. It is the threatened collapse of the health system, which endangers the lives and well-being of millions of children. Until the conflict started, Syria was broadly on track to reach Millennium Development Goal 4 –to reduce the child mortality rate from preventable diseases by two-thirds.

    These gains had been achieved because the country had an health system that provided reasonably consistent standards of care (including high vaccination coverage rates for children). After three years of war, Syrian health system has resulted in brutal medical practices that have left millions of children suffering and dying.

    Across Syria, 60 percent of hospitals are damaged or destroyed. Nearly half of Syria's doctors have fled the country. The few remaining facilities struggle to cope with the large number of patients who need treatment and clinics no longer have the personnel, equipment or sanitary conditions in which to treat patients (especially children).

    The majority of illnesses affecting children right now inside Syria are treatable and mostly preventable within a functioning health system. More efforts and investments must be focused on children health services in order to allow them not to die from preventable and treatable injuries and illnesses.

    According to the report, United Nations Security Council resolution on humanitarian access must be implemented immediately, to provide vaccines, food, water, medicines and other life-saving assistance. Humanitarian organizations must have freedom of access in all areas and health facilities and health workers must not be targeted and they must be allowed to treat children in need.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

    (Source: Save The Children)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • CHINA SHOULD PLAY THE ROLE OF ENERGY INNOVATOR IN RENEWABLES

    The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has renovated the call for states to reach the goal of 80% of their energy supplies coming from low-carbon energy by 2050.

    Energy ministers have met in Seoul to discuss the development of clean energy, stressing the role that China can play in the global renewables market.

    The target to reach 80% of electricity with renewables represents a difficult aim to achieve for China. Currently, renewables account for 20% of China’s electricity generation.

    China has experienced a significant growth in renewables, mostly due to EU anti-dumping measures targeting solar-power products that have provided an incentive for the domestic market to grow. Also the high level of air pollution has strongly forced China to cut coal use improving alternative energy sources.

    In addition to that, a recent report from WWF has shown that China could achieve the aim of 80% of its power generated from renewable energy, setting an example for other countries.

    However, some experts are reluctant stressing that the social costs of abandoning existing coal-power plants as the new costs of using renewables must be taken into considerations.

    Although data show that since 2008 China has been the largest solar-panel producer in the world, experts has suggested that to reach the 80% renewables aim by 2050, China should play its role in the global renewable industry not just as a manufacturer or as a consumer, but as an energy innovator.

    In this way, the World Intellectual Property Organization has explained that China has logged more renewable energy patents per year than the European Patent Office improving the growth of renewable energy market.

    China can drive to a significant expansion of renewables by 2050, fostering the economic attractiveness of renewables. Moreover, China has been the leading force in renewable energy manufacturing and deployment. The country represents the largest installer of wind power.

    Nevertheless, China has to face some obstacles that still exist in the domestic market and that can damage China’s global contribution in the long run. For this reason it seems that effective reforms are necessary in order to strengthen the development of the renewable energy sector.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    (source: Chinadialogue)

  • THE ALARMING THREATH OF POLLUTION ON CHINESE URBAN TAP WATER SUPPLIES

    In recent years, China has been under the spotlights due to water pollution scandals in cities such as Lanzhou and Wuhan, raising thus concerns about the security of urban tap water supplies.

    However, experts have warned that the countryside is experiencing a more serious drinking water crisis than the cities.

    According to the Beijing Health Association Professional Committee for Drinking Water, drinking water crisis is strongly affecting China’s vast rural areas. Remote rural regions tend not to have tap water supplies and agricultural chemicals and other pollutants can easily enter the drinking water.

    Data show that, in spite of more than three decades of rapid economic growth, 110 million rural residents still have no access to safe drinking water. To overcome this alarming situation, the government has undertaken measures to clean up drinking water for 60 million rural residents stressing its commitment to guarantee that entire rural populations will be able to access to safe drinking water by 2015.

    In this framework, water pollution represents at the same one of the most dangerous problems that affects China’s ability to provide safe drinking water and one of the most urgent problems that the government has to face. Moreover, numerous environmental scandals have stirred high levels of public concern.

    If the government fails to stop polluting activities, water crises will become even more frequent, studies have shown.

    Official data outlines that from 2005 to 2012, about 180 billion yuan were spent on drinking water safety projects. In addition to this, China has established strategies to invest 46.5 billion yuan on water-plant upgrades according to the 12th Five Year Plan period, which ends next year.

    Water is a fundamental common good, and the aim to provide safe drinking water to the public is the most basic duty that the government has to pursue.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    (Source: Chinadialogue)

  • AGRICULTURE SUBSIDIES AS A GOOD CHANCE TO REVIVE THE DEBATE AT WTO

    There has been much debate in recent years over the inability of the WTO to achieve new trade liberalization. The recent Trade Facilitation Agreement was a small victory but could not be regarded as liberalization in the traditional sense. The failure of trade talks at the multilateral level has led many governments to pursue regional or plurilateral initiatives.

    However, now there seems to be a new opportunity to get WTO talks moving again. US Trade Representative Mike Froman addressed the issue of agriculture subsidies in a recent speech at a WTO “mini-Ministerial” meeting. He said he hopes to “avoid a tired debate focused more on scoring political points than by making meaningful progress.”

    He underlined that the largest emerging economies now subsidize their farmers at levels as high or higher than the United States and Europe. “Moreover, developed country subsidies have been decreasing, while emerging country subsidies have risen dramatically.”he said.

    “In the area of domestic subsidies, a discussion that ignores emerging economies is not politically or economically serious.”

    As the constituency of those using them has grown, these developments may make more difficult than ever to constrain farm subsidies. Paradoxically, however, the proliferation of farm subsidies might present a great opportunity for liberalization.

    A diverse group of countries offering subsidies means that imposing limits should be less controversial. Some trade-offs with other sectors may still be required, but it is no longer a "North-South" battle. An attempt to address farm subsidies at the WTO would constitute real ambition in trade talks, and could also help revive multilateralism.

     

     The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 9 May 2014

    (Source: the Huffington Post)

     

     

     

  • PROTECTION OF WATER SUPPLIES PASSES TO THE STATES

    The water trigger that protects underground reservoirs from coal-seam gas production and coalmining will be weakened under a transfer of federal government environmental decision-making powers to the states.

    The federal government wants to hand safeguards protecting water supplies from large coal mining projects to the states and territories, in a move welcomed by business but bitterly opposed by the Greens, environmental groups and the former independent MP Tony Windsor. Windsorstated that Greg Hunt, the environment minister, had broken his word after promising him the so-called “water trigger” would not be devolved to the states.

    Under the amendment, coal or gas developments likely to have a significant impact on water resources are assessed by the federal government. The amendments give state governments control of the water trigger" decisions along with all other matters under the EPBC Act. When the “water trigger” legislation was introduced, decision-making powers over water specifically could not be ­delegated.

    However, the Coalition has introduced a bill to devolve this responsibility. The legislation will allow bilateral agreements between federal and state governments to “operate effectively and efficiently and to provide certainty to proponents”. In addition, the bill would allow states to authorise third parties, such as local councils, to give approval on developments that affect nationally important environmental matters.

    Windsor said he would be talking to Clive Palmer and other important figures in the new Senate to stress the importance of federal oversight of water. Ruchira Talukdar, healthy ecosystems campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the amendment would weaken environmental protection.

    “The federal government needs to take a leadership role in matters of national environmental significance, especially when they impact on our scarce water resources,” Talukdar said.

     

     The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

     

  • NEW ZEALAND AND THE US TAKE ON INDONESIA TO PROTECT HORTICULTURAL TRADE

    The United States and New Zealand filed a joint complaint against Indonesia on Thursday with the World Trade Organization, alleging unjustified and trade-restrictive requirements on horticultural and animal product imports. The two nations have requested a consultation by the WTO on recent modifications to Indonesia’s import licensing requirements, which may create a non-competitive bias in favor of nationally produced goods.

    According to New Zealand and the United States, Indonesia imposes prohibitions or restrictions on imports of horticultural products, animal and animal products; accords less favourable treatment to imported products than to like products of national origin; has imposed unreasonable and discriminatory pre-shipment inspection requirements; and has failed to notify and publish sufficient information concerning its import licensing measures.

    The filing against Indonesia claims these policies violate the Asian nations obligations to GATT 1994, the Agreement on Agriculture, the Agreement on Import Licensing procedures and the Agreement on Pre-shipment Inspection.

    The challenging comes as a follow up to consultations made by the US and New Zealand last year on similar trade issues. Neither filing produced in a resolution. In New Zealand’s case, no dispute panel or mutual solution was ever established. In the US case, a panel was establish but no action was taken.

    After the August 2013 filing by the US, Indonesia amended its import licensing measures but did not leave its trade partners satisfied that it had resolved WTO inconsistencies.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday,  09 May 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

     

     

     

     

  • FOOD SECURITY CRISIS IN SOUTH SUDAN

    A third of South Sudanese now severely food insecure due to ongoing conflict.

    The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis carried out in South Sudan indicates that, as a result of conflict, displacement, destroyed markets and disrupted livelihoods, food security has deteriorated at an alarming rate since the outbreak of conflict in December 2013.

    The IPC analysis was conducted by food security and humanitarian assessment specialists from a number of aid and development agencies including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme (WFP) and Save the Children, along with technical experts from the South Sudanese government.

    According to the survey, 3.7m people - nearly a third of the population are now in critical need of humanitarian assistance. According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there is a high likelihood of further worsening through the second half of 2014, with a risk of famine.

    The World Food Programme (WFP)s interim country director, Mike Sackett, said: “A hunger catastrophe can still be avoided, but humanitarian agencies must be allowed to reach tens of thousands of people in need before it's too late.”

    “It is absolutely critical to stop fighting and other obstacles that prevent life-saving aid deliveries.”He said that although the WFP has managed to deliver food to more than 700,000 people using trucks, boats, airlifts and airdrops, it is still struggling to reach tens of thousands because of the ongoing violence.

    Calls for urgent action were echoed by the FAO, which said the analysis should serve as a wake-up call to the warring factions and the world.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday,  13 May 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • LABOUR LEADER ED MILIBAND HAS PROMISED GPs APPOINTMENTS WITHIN 48 HOURS.

    Labour leader Ed Miliband has vowed that patients will be able to see their general practitioners (GPs) within 48 hours. Every  National Health Service (NHS) patient has the right to have a same day consultation with their local GP surgery, get an appointment if its urgent and be guaranteed an appointment within 48 hours.

    He promised to plough an extra £100million into GP surgeries to end the “scandal” of NHS waiting times. Mr Miliband wants the NHS to be at the heart of Labour’s campaigning: the commitment of the Labour government will be to have clear standards for access to GPs because so many people are struggling to see their GPs. An extra £100million in GP surgeries could pay for an additional 3 million appointments a year, Mr Miliband said, speaking in Manchester on Monday.

    There is a growing crisis in waiting times to see a GP across the country, and it is clear that this will become a key issue at the next election. GPs want to provide better access to their patients, but are being prevented from cutting waiting times because of the funding black hole in general practice. Some studies have suggested a 5% increase in patients seeing their preferred GP could reduce emergency admissions by as many as 159,000 a year, saving £375m.

    The Labour leader accused David Cameron of taking on new powers to close down health services, presiding over an increase in patients waiting four hours or more in A&E (accident and emergency departments) and shutting a quarter of NHS walk-in centers. In his Manchester speech, Miliband said Cameron has broken the bond of trust with the electorate over the NHS.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • UKRAINE CRISIS SHOWS EUROPE MUST NOT GIVE UP ON RENEWABLE ENERGY

    The Ukraine crisis underlines how politics and energy are inextricably linked. The price and supply of gas is rapidly becoming a major Russian weapon against Ukraine, and by extension, its European supporters. Nearly a third of all Europe’s natural gas comes from Russia and over half of which flows through Ukrainian pipelines.

    During past winter disputes, when Gazprom stopped pumping gas to Ukraine, countries from Greece to Austria and Italy saw their supplies fall. The main concern is that, as tensions over Ukraine rise, such interruption in Europe may occur again.

    The debate has been long dominated by those who consider energy as a normal commodity. Yet, energy is at the heart of every economy and security of supply as well as affordability are critical issues, along with environmental impact and public acceptance.

    Even if the UK does not to rely on gas from Russia, energy imports are expected to increase strongly as North Sea production falls. The major solution to the shortfall seems resorting to liquefied natural gas from the Middle East - another region with worrying record of tensions and conflict.

    Thus, there appears to be ample need for diversifying Europe energy supplies, reducing in this way our reliance on volatile areas and prices. Increasing the share of renewables in European power provision would reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, often supplied from conflict-ridden parts of the world.

    This would also help improve the trade deficits in European countries which continue to face financial challenges.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 12 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • RENEWABLE ENERGY PROVIDES 6.5 MILLION JOBS WORLDWIDE

    The solar sector accounts for 35% of all renewable energy jobs worldwide, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. China in particular has seen a sharp increase in photovoltaic employment.

    The report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said there has been a steady growth in the renewable energy jobs worldwide which expanded from 5.7 million in 2012 to 6.5 million in 2013, underlining the important role that renewables continue to play in employment creation and growth in the global economy.

    “With 6.5 million people directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy, the sector is proving that it is no longer a niche, it has become a significant employer worldwide,”said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.

    The biggest renewable employers by sector worldwide is the solar panel industry, which employed 2.27 million people, according to Irena, a body comprising 168 member nations. The largest employers by country are China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany, Spain and Bangladesh.

    The biofuels value chain provides the second largest number of renewable energy jobs after solar PV. The United States remains the largest biofuels producer, while Brazil remains the largest employer. The price of solar photovoltaic panels has fallen rapidly in recent years and the report identifies increasing installations as the main driver behind the jobs rise.

    “Surging demand for solar PV in China and Japan has increased employment in the installation sector,”said Rabia Ferroukhi, lead author of the Irena report. “Consequently some Chinese manufacturers are now adding capacity.”PV installations in China increased five-fold from 2011 to 2013.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 12 May 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • THE ALARMING SITUATION OF INDIAN AIR QUALITY

    India has admitted that the level of pollution experienced in Delhi is comparable to that of Beijing, but it has criticized the World Health Organisation (WHO) statement that the Indian capital has the worst atmosphere in the world.

    A study of the WHO, that has analyzed 1,600 cities across 91 countries, has recently shown, indeed, that Delhi has the world's highest annual average concentration of small airborne particles of 153.

    This level of pollution represents one of the main causes of the increase of diseases such as chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease. The fine particles of less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter can penetrate deep into the lungs passing into the bloodstream.

    Unlike the past, Indian authorities have now acknowledged the alarming environmental situation. According to the India's state-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research , comparing yearly averages for each year from 2011-2014 Delhi and Beijing are almost comparable, but contesting  the figure cited by the WHO for PM2.5 in Delhi, stressing that it should have been in the range of 110-120 micrograms per cubic metre instead of 153.

    However, even with this annual average, Delhi still represents one of the world's most polluted cities, followed by other Indian cities such as Gwalior, Patna and Raipur.

    According to the Centre for Science and Environment, analysis of the WHO has highlighted that the majority of Indian cities are becoming a real death traps due to the excessive levels of air pollution. Moreover, 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are located in India, the Centre has warned.

    Air pollution represents of the most alarming environmental issue worldwide.The small particles caused by dust from construction sites, pollution from diesel engines or industrial emissions are damaging not only Delhi’s air quality but also many other developing cities around the world.

    Additionally, dust blown in from the deserts of the western state of Rajasthan is another factor that are worsening air quality, with other causes of severe pollution as fires lit by the urban poor to keep warm in winter or to cook food.

    Data also have shown that Peshawar and Rawalpindi in Pakistan had recorded the worst situation of all other cities with readings of 540 and 448 respectively. Following this, WHO has warned that concentrations of PM10 particles should remain below 20 micrograms per cubic metre, averaged out over the year.

    A World Bank research, based on 132 countries, has classified last year India 126th for environmental performance and even worst for air pollution.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 12 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • HIGH PRICES PREVENT PATIENTS FROM ACCESS TO PRESCRIPTION DRUGS IN THE USA

    The pharmaceutical industry is concerned that cost-sharing within most health insurance exchange plans could limit consumers' access to necessary medications, says a new report from the Breakaway Health prepared for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

    The worry comes from the fact that most employer-sponsored plans require consumers to pay 22 percent of prescription costs, but similar exchange plans require consumers pay more than twice that amount, said John Castellani, who heads Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the drug industry’s trade group.

    For example, specialty drug copays average $80 for employer-sponsored plans, yet consumers will pay $159 for silver plans and $157 for bronze plans for the same medications.

    High prices in some areas can discourage people from enrolling in coverage or, once enrolled, high cost sharing requirements for deductibles and co-pays could discourage people from accessing care when they need it. In this situation, less and less people will be able to afford their medicines.

    Insurers say that the problem is that drugs are too expensive. Data show that drug prices are rising and are one of the causes of healthcare cost increases, as Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans, said. Any discussion of prescription drug coverage must also include a focus on the direct link between rising prescription drug prices and consumer cost-sharing.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, May 12, 2014

    (Source: Kaiser Health News)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • CHINA STRENGTHENS MEASURES TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE AND TO NO LONGER SHIFT THE COST OF DEVELOPMENT ON ENVIRONMENT

    China will be under the spotlights at the climate negotiations in Paris next year, especially for its commitment about the measures to address climate change post-2020.

    China represents the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. In this way, it is fundamental to tackle climate change with stricter strategies in order to achieve objectives such as sustainable development.

    Climate change has had strong consequences on Chinese environment. Over the last hundred years, temperatures have increased more than the global average. Moreover, changes of the climate patterns have caused uneven distribution of rainfall and water resources, worsening the effects from extreme weather events.

    Currently, climate change has a great impact on living conditions and on the ability to achieve sustainable development  in many areas. Moreover, as a direct consequence of extreme weather events, China has experienced an annual average economic drop of over 200 billion yuan, with 2,000 deaths every years.  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), effects of climate change will be even worse with the increase of the temperatures.

    To fight climate change, China has launched measures to achieve an innovation-based development, adjusting its economic structure and reinforcing its aim to cut the total energy consumption.

    In addition to this, China has strengthened its commitment to address environmental problems caused by smog, tackling strategies such as closing heavily polluting and energy-intensive industries, restricting coal consumption, developing clean energy and limiting vehicle use.

    Addressing climate change and establishing an ecological civilization represent the most important objectives of the Chinese government encouraging people to respect and protect nature, to focus on green and low-carbon development in order to tackle environmental degradation and pollution, creating in this way a favorable environment for production and economic development.

    Signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are negotiating a new climate deal.

    In this framework, China has accelerated the completion of its own aims, with more ambitious climate change measures to meet.

    China's economic and social development has reached a turning point. In relation to this, the new deal can represent a fundamental opportunity to improve energy conservation and emissions reductions, promoting at the same time institutional innovations to fight climate change and motivate society to take part, driving China to adopt stricter measures and actions to address the impact of climate change.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 12 May 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • THE NEW LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS REPORT: COSTS AND BENEFITS OF DRUG-RELATED HEALTH SERVICES

    The London School of Economics (LSE) has just released a report, which aims at determining the consequences of the drug trade. The study tries to design a successor strategy to the failed global “war on drugs”. In so doing it will provide the academic underpinnings for a new international paradigm that promotes human security, public health and sustainable development.

    The United Nations has calculated that $350 billion of total global crime income are related to the sale of illicit drugs. However, the economic costs are only one consequence of the ineffectiveness of drug policies. It must be said that the human costs of violence, human rights abuses, infectious diseases and mass incarceration entail  a huge damage to countries and communities.

    The LSE report, approved by five Nobel Prize-winning economists, underlines that prisons are worldwide full of minor drug offenders. The introduction of harsh drug laws has contributed to the surging American prison population. The study has estimated that in 1980 only 6 percent of people in state prisons in the United States were incarcerated for drugs, by 2009 that percentage increased at 18 percent. In 1980, federal prisoners incarcerated for drugs were 25 percent against 51 percent of the 2010 prison population.

    The failure of the UN to achieve its goal of ‘a drug free world’ and the continuation of enormous collateral damage from excessively militarized and enforcement-led drug policies, has led to growing calls for an end to the ‘war on drugs’. For decades the UN drug control system has sought to enforce a uniform set of prohibitionist oriented policies often at the expense of other, arguably more effective policies that incorporate broad frameworks of public health and illicit market management.

    The expansive reach of ‘mass incarceration’ has caused increases in the time and financial impositions on individuals awaiting trial, a decline in the quality of correctional health care and a reduction in available services for formerly incarcerated individuals.

    These patterns show the ways in which imprisonment, human rights and public health are extremely related. With their growing concentration of vulnerable populations and their relationship to drug markets, immigration, human trafficking, border security and global pandemics associated with sex and drugs (HIV), the international public health significance of criminal justice systems and prisons grows apace.

    Health services for people who use drugs have significant social and economic benefits, including reduction of drug-related harms such as HIV and drug-related crime and increasing the ability of people who have lived with addiction to be economically productive. Governments should ensure that health services for people who use drugs (at adequate scale) are a priority for public resource allocation.

    The LSE report says that these services currently have a very low availability relative to need. For instance, supervised consumption facilities, where people are provided with spaces to use drugs under the supervision of the medical professional with onsite social services are an exception, rather than a rule.

    In 2016 the U.N. General Assembly will hold a special session to review the functioning of the drug control system. There is a powerful coalition in defense of harsh drug laws, including Russia, Japan, Pakistan, China and Egypt.

    There are others in Europe that fully support a greater emphasis on health-based approaches. The role of the United States is still undetermined, even though new marijuana policies in Washington and Colorado, as well as recent federal efforts to address mass incarceration, are evidence of the fact that there may be some evolution in American attitudes.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, May 12, 2014

    (Source: CNN)

  • THE 24TH WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ON AFRICA: CHALLENGES UNDER THE THEME OF SUSTAINABLE HEALTH

    The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improve the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

    The 24th World Economic Forum on Africa, which is taking place in Abuja (Nigeria) until the 9th May, brings together about 1,000 regional and global leaders from more than 70 countries and provides an unrivalled gathering for senior decision-makers from industry, government, academia, civil society and the media to understand and shape Africa’s future.

    The participants  are discussing innovative structural reforms and investments that can sustain the continent’s growth while creating jobs and prosperity for all its citizens. It will focus on the continent’s efforts to strengthen competitiveness, invest in human capital, boost strategic infrastructure and build resilience in a volatile global environment.

    As the foremost gathering on the continent, the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa is focusing on issues which include skills creation and the upgrade of public services.

    The participants will discuss how to ensure funding for health for all, covering the topic  of “Universal Health Coverage and Health Financing”, how to create an enabling environment of multiple stakeholders to deliver high quality healthcare, how to improve the health training to address health needs and ensure quality care, how to revitalize integrated service delivery towards equitable access to health.

    The last but not least issue involves community participation, it is important to empower communities to be effectively involved in the provision of their health care. Another challenge is to not only educate but also to have qualified staff present in rural and lesson impact as a result of urbanization.

    While Nigeria’s economic growth rates are impressive, human development indices in health, sanitation, mortality and education are less so. Moreover, although Nigeria is set to overtake South Africa as the continent’s economic powerhouse, 63 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty line.

    Nigeria now has the opportunity to set the pace in expanding healthcare in Africa, improving human development indices is essential to enhancing Nigeria’s competitiveness and the promotion of inclusive growth.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, May 8, 2014

    (Source: Ventures)

  • US COMMITMENT TO SOLAR POWER

    The US government has recently revealed a new program including initiatives to foster the use of solar power. Confirming this task, officials have claimed that a set of solar panels on the roof of the White House is now operational.

    In this way, the US president has announced a plan to invest $ 2billion for energy-saving measures in federal government buildings and new financial programs to increase the use of solar installations.

    This announcement falls within the realm of an alarming climate context, characterized by environmental disasters such as heat waves, severe downpours and sea-level rise.

    According to the officials, this set of initiatives represents a concrete stimulus for solar industry, which has experienced a rapid expansion over the last two years.

    To give a strong example as a sign of his commitment to renewable energy, the White House began installing a small set of solar panels on the roof last summer: the solar panels were part of a broader energy retrofit at the White House. Officials has stressed that this plan demonstrates that it is possible to introduce renewable energy even in historic buildings.

    Currently, solar power represents the fastest-growing resource of renewable energy in America. However, data show that this source accounts for just 1% of overall electricity generation. To overcome this situation, the White House is trying to incentivize companies such as Walmart and Ikea to boost their use of solar power.

    These measures create easier conditions for companies and homeowners to install solar panels, the government says. Moreover, tax credits have allowed the compensation of installation’s costs, and the price of solar panels has dropped by half since 2010.

    In addition to this, the government is strengthening its commitment toward a cleaner future announcing measures designed to make solar panels affordable even for multi-family houses and  establishing new programs to train solar installers at community colleges.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday,9 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CHINA-AFRICA COOPERATION SHOULD DRIVE A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND CONCRETE CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

    The next visit of the Chinese premier Li Keqiang in Africa is seen by officials as a significant turning point for China, not only in relation to oil deals,  considered one of the most important issue, with the pursuit of valuable natural resources  that has characterized the Chinese involvement in the continent in recent decades.

    China was one of the main actors that has fostered African development with its cooperation and investments. Data show that foreign direct investments have increased from US$392 million in 2005 to US$2.5 billion in 2012.

    African and Chinese economies are both based on fossil fuels. However, the cooperation between these continents does not represent a panacea, on one side for the full development potential of African continent, and on the other side for establishing long-term health and achieving resilience for China’s economy.

    Moreover, Africa is not experiencing the benefits expected from fossil fuel resources. Data indicates that 600 million Africans have no direct access to electricity, and 80% of the population uses traditional biomass energy for cooking and heating.

    In addition to this, climate change is playing a crucial role largely due to greenhouse-gas emissions from the global energy sector, with alarming effects for millions of Africans already affected by hungry and thirsty.

    Africa is responsible for about 2.3% of these fossil fuel emissions, while China is responsible for 10%, contributing to the current global climate crisis

    Both China and Africa must pursue alternative solutions in order to achieve a sustainable and resilient development. In this way, it is fundamental to focus on the cooperation between these continents, taking into account climate change that represents the current major challenge to address.

    Reinforcing this cooperation, China has to focus on African renewable energy potential, establishing investments to drive Africa towards a low-carbon development and a green future, while expanding energy access without increasing emissions.

    In this context, creating a new model of sustainable development that leads to concrete climate actions, represents an urgent and fundamental goal not only for China and Africa, but for all countries in the world.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 9 May 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • THE STRONG IMPACT OF RISING LEVELS OF CO2 ON NUTRIENTS IN FOOD CROPS

    A new scientific research has revealed that rising carbon dioxide emissions will make the world's main food crops less nutritious, worsening malnutrition,  a condition already suffered by billions of people.

    The study, based on  wheat, rice, maize and soybeans, has shown that higher CO2 levels have alarmingly reduced the levels of essential nutrients like iron and zinc, cutting also protein levels which are extremely important from the health’s point of view . In this way, experts have described how rising levels of CO2 are affecting human nutrition.

    Data reveals that 2 billion people already suffer iron and zinc deficiencies worldwide, with severe consequences especially for babies and pregnant women in developing countries. Additionally, this phenomenon is currently causing the loss of 63m years of life annually.

    The findings of this research entail significant consequences, in particular for poorer societies where meat is rarely eaten and food such as wheat, rice, maize and soybeans represent the major source of nutrients. Studies outline that 2.4 billion of people currently receive at least 60% of their zinc and iron intakes from these staples and data show that this percentage over 75% in countries such as Bangladesh, Iraq and Algeria.

    According to experts, this situation describes the strong impact of climate change that affects people's ability to grow and access the nutritious food they need. Twenty-five millions of children under five will be risking malnutrition by 2050 due to the effects of climate change. In this context, the action efforts to cut emissions, supporting communities’ ability to adapt represents a pivotal aim on the international agenda.

    This research represents a step forward to understand the impact of rising CO2 levels on food nutrition. The study has compared nutrient levels in field crops grown in ambient CO2 levels with those grown in the elevated CO2 levels expected by 2050, analyzing 41 different strains grown in seven locations on three different continents.

    Although data regarding the precise biological mechanism that damages nutrient levels,  provoking a drop in the levels of protein, are still complex to understand, experts highlight that the consequent increase in carbohydrate in the crops could add to the rate of metabolic syndromes, diabetes and heart diseases that currently affect developed countries because of a high level of obesity.

    The research has also revealed that some varieties of food have responded better than other, stressing that some breeding strains are less vulnerable to rising CO2. However, these breeding programs will not represent a solution for several reasons, among which the affordability of improved seeds and the numerous criteria used by farmers in making planting decisions, including taste, tradition, marketability, growing requirements and yield, play a central role.

    According to the environmental condition of the planet, climate change will raise even more serious challenges to human health, experts have warned.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 8 May 2014

    (Source : The Guardian)

  • UN STRESSES THE URGENCY TO OVERHAUL QATARI LABOUR LAWS

    The UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants has recently urged Qatar to halt the mistreatment and the trafficking of domestic workers in the Gulf state and to fundamentally reform and properly enforce labour laws, in order to protect workers from abuses.

    The report has strongly stressed the urgency for Qatar to overhaul the labour laws, in order to include domestic workers and to abolish the kafala system that binds migrant workers to their employers, with the final aim of creating a regulated open labour market, allowing workers to change employer and establishing fines for employers that fail to pay wages on time or refuse to comply with adequate accommodation standards.

    In its report, the UN has strongly recommended Qatar to establish a legislation on domestic workers that protect labour rights, creating adequate standards of working hours, overtime, working conditions and effective compliance mechanisms, indicating a minimum wage for domestic workers without differences about nationality, and composing blacklists for employers who exploit domestic workers. Moreover, in line with change, the UN stresses that this new legislation should deny employers the possibility to confiscate domestic workers' passports, that is one of the most widespread issues that affects the area.

    The UN report has documented many cases of physical, mental and sexual abuses endured by workers due to their employers. Additionally, the report has highlighted that many times women escape to return to their countries of origin because of the abuses they have to suffer at work. In relation to this, the UN has called for Qatar to end the detention of workers that have absconded from their employer and the systematic detention of children and pregnant women.

    One of the most worrying problems is that migrants are often seen as property by employers rather than human beings with human rights equal to Qatari nationals, the report has outlined.

    Data show that there are an estimated 1.2 million migrant workers in Qatar.

    The report falls within the realm of criticism about the conditions endured by those working in the establishment  of the 2022 World Cup. In relation to this, the International Trade Union Confederation has warned that 4,000 workers could die due to working conditions before 2022 if Qatar does not adequately reform its laws.

    The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has also published a critical report calling on Qatar to make changes in line with international targets.

    In this way, the UN report said that the hosting of the World Cup could represent a great incentive for change, with Qatari commitment to achieve better conditions protecting human rights.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 8 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • MCKINSEY GLOBAL INSTITUTE’S REPORT: HOW THE GLOBALIZATION HAS INFLUENCED THE GLOBAL FLOWS OF GOODS, SERVICES AND FINANCE

    The McKinsey Global Institute-the business and economics research arm of McKinsey & Company, established in 1990 to develop a deeper understanding of the evolving global economy- has just published a report on economic flows in a digital age (April 2014).

    The database covers 195 countries between 1980 and 2012 and allows to study the dynamics and network structure of the global flows of goods, services and finance and their cumulative impact on countries and growth.

    This analysis estimates that in the past two decades, the level of cross-border economic flows has risen five-fold: it was about $5-trillion a year in 1990, but by 2012 had risen to $26-trillion, or 36% of global gross domestic product.

    In the decade before 2007, the fastest-growing component of cross-border flows was money; the credit boom sparked a surge in capital flows and market integration. Flows of tradable goods also rose sharply, as western manufacturers shifted production to low-cost countries. McKinsey estimates that cross-border financial flows are 70% lower than in 2007.

    A dramatic expansion in digital communication has boosted trade in other services, from e-commerce to consultancy. In the process, China, for example, went from having 2% of the world’s trade in tangible goods in 1990 to 12% in 2012.

    The emerging economies now account for a much bigger share of all global flows than they did in 1990, but developed economies (Germany, Hong Kong, US)remain more connected to global flows than emerging markets (the BRIC quartet: Brazil, Russia, India and China).

    Digitization reduces the marginal costs of production and distribution and is transforming flows through the creation of purely digital goods and services and through digital platforms that facilitate cross-border production and exchange. For 2004 to 2009, McKinsey attributes 1.5% of GDP growth for the BRIC quartet (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to the Internet, compared with much larger percentages for developed economies.

    According to the study, the developed countries are the greatest beneficiaries of globalization so far, but the emerging economies are not its passive resource base anymore. In fact, more trade relations are occurring among them, trying to close the gap and take more advantages from globalization.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, May 9, 2014

    (Source: McKinsey Global Institute; Live Mint and Wall Street Journal)

  • IS THE TRADE IN SERVICES AGREEMENT (TISA) AN ADVANTAGE FOR INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICES OR NOT?

    The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) is the most promising opportunity in two decades to improve and expand trade in services. Twenty-three countries are parties of the agreement: Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union (which represents its 28 member states), Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.

    The last major services agreement, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) was established by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. Since then, the world has evolved dramatically from the result of technological advances, changing business practices, and deeper global integration. The pact binds many pro-trade liberalization countries outside the WTO with the idea that the final text can be compatible with the GATS. The TISA can establish new market access commitments and universal rules that reflect 21st century trade.

    The services sector is the world's largest employer, and produces 70 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). The TISA has the opportunity to address major and fundamental barriers to trade in services affecting the whole globe.

    In Geneva, on Monday, the Public Services International (PSI), the global body for public sector unions, has published a report that criticizes the basis of the agreement. It argues that the proposed agreement could prevent future governments from restore public services to public control, even in cases where private service delivery has failed.

    According to the report, the TISA will restrict domestic regulations on worker safety, will limit environmental regulations and will affect consumer protections and regulatory authority in areas such as licensing of healthcare facilities, power plants, waste disposal and university and school accreditation.

    Owing to the fact that the proposed agreement will have determinant effects on the provision of public services, the PSI asked the negotiating actors to release the provisional text and exclude the public services’ issue from the pact, underlining  that all countries have the right to regulate in the public interest.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, May 9, 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • BETTER CARE FUND WAS DELAYED AFTER A CONFIDENTIAL WHITEHALL REVIEW. THE UK CABINET OFFICE SUGGESTED MORE EFFORTS ON THE POLICY

    The £3.8bn-a-year Better Care Fund, which aims to help people receive care in the own homes by bringing together health and social care services, was supposed to be launched last week but it was delayed after a confidential Whitehall review. During this review, it was concluded that the Better Care Fund would not work to reduce pressure on hospitals as anticipated, neither helping to balance the NHS budget, nor revolutionizing patient care. The Whitehall source reported that the Cabinet Office has called for more efforts on the policy.

    According to the Cabinet Office review, plans to save money from local hospital budgets by moving care elsewhere lacked financial credibility. The Fund assumes that hospitals can quickly achieve a 15% reduction in emergency admissions and that these reductions will result in savings in the same year, at full cost. But reducing admissions takes time, and lowering the types of admissions targeted by the Better Care Fund costs money.

    Better Care Fund, due to be introduced in April next year, was supposed to combine health and social care services in order to reduce the pressure on hospitals and help to keep people healthier in their own residences. Both these services have been funded by local authorities so far.

    The Better Care Fund is partly funded by the Department of Health, which was expected to contribute with £1.9bn from the £40bn hospital budget from next April in the belief that it would release savings to compensate for the money transferred from the NHS. In fact, the delay in its launch is a disappointment for the supporters of the policy, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, and Eric Pickles, the local government secretary.

    A team of officials from the Department of Health and NHS has been asked to give evidence of the expected result and credibility of the policy and to overcome the deep Cabinet Office skepticism.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, May 8, 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • SINGAPORE AT AN INFLECTION POINT: DEPUTY PM TALKS ABOUT WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH INFRINGEMENTS

    In Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Building and Construction Authority will lead a new workgroup to work out the details of a mandatory framework that will incorporate the safety and protection of construction workers into the building plans.

    At the launch of this year's Workplace Safety and Health Campaign, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that more efforts have to be done in order to improve workplace safety and manage health risks for workers.

    Performing risk management means that developers and designers have to make a conscious effort to collaborate with relevant experts to identify workplace safety and health risks in their designs and incorporate the necessary risk control solutions into the designs upfront.

    An inter-agency workgroup led by MOM and the Building and Construction Authority will be formed to work out implementation details of the mandatory framework for Design for Safety, in consultation with the industry.

    This Design for Safety approach has been promoted as a voluntary choice in Singapore since 2008, but it will soon be legislated. The regulatory requirements and timeframe for their implementation will be announced by the end of this year, Tharman added.

    Even though the overall workplace fatality rate has slowed down from 4.0 per 100,000 employees in 2005 to 2.1 last year, the rate has increased in Singapore. For 2014, data have reported 19 workplace fatalities in the first quarter, 12 of them in the construction sector and five more compared to the same period last year.

    Tharman said that workplace health deserves several attention as well. Therefore, it is important to take a holistic and balanced approach to both workplace safety and health and give the utmost priority to the well-being of employees.

    A new Tripartite Oversight Committee (TOC) chaired by Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, Dr Amy Khor (with senior representatives from MOH, MOM, HPB, WSH Council, tripartite partners and relevant stakeholders) has also been formed to drive this initiative.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    (Source: ChannelNewAsia)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • YEMEN: SIGNIFICANT STEPS FORWARD IN THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

    Yemen is expected to vote on a comprehensive Child Rights Act over the coming months,  a turning point that would ban child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

    The new law represents a breakthrough in the struggle to protect human rights, establishing the minimum age for marriage at eighteen and making Yemen in line with international standards. Additionally, guardians, signatories, marriage officials and any other witnesses aware of any contravention will face stronger sanctions.

    In case of endorsement by the prime minister and cabinet,  the next step for legislation would be the parliamentary vote. However, the path to achieve concrete and significant results is still controversial.

    In 2009, traditional and religious leaders and the parliament's sharia committee strongly opposed the proposal to make 17 the minimum age of marriage for girls. However, the growing support for protecting girls from early marriage is playing a pivotal role, influencing political decisions.

    Half of Yemeni girls are married by the age of 18, and this fact can have serious physical, psychological and educational repercussions, the UN has revealed.

    A report by Equality Now has portrayed child marriage as a complex phenomenon, that entails a cycle of abuse and discrimination that often includes sexual violence and FGM, a scourge that affects 23% of Yemen's female population.

    In this way, the new law represents a fundamental instrument in order to avoid these forms of violence against women and children, including also child labour. However, this challenging approach requires adequate health, education and justice systems and sufficient financial resources. In addition to this, it is important that each actor involved knows their responsibility, ensuring the effective implementation of the law and the proper education of girls about their rights.

    Child marriagerepresents a widespread issue. Some neighbor countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have recently undertaken some measures in order to guarantee human rights, as a step towards not only for the female population, but for the entire country.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 7 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • PUBLIC OPPOSITION TO UK SHALE GAS REVOLUTION

    A recent poll has shown that the government’s decision to change trespass laws, allowing shale gas companies to drill under homes without the owner's permission,  is facing a strong opposition. This decision is part of the government's program to drive the country towards a shale gas revolution, supporting fracking activities.

    The survey, based on 1,898 people, has revealed that 74% opposed this plan. Strong protests resulted as a reaction around the country and more than 45,000 people have taken part in legal moves in order to block energy companies from fracking under their properties. However, the proposed change to the trespass laws could allow companies to drill for shale gas without the need of  the owner’s  permission.

    Greenpeacehas strongly criticized this move as an unfair strategy to deprive people of their legal right to oppose fracking under their homes, trampling on their property rights.

    The movement of opposition and criticism is carried out by Greenpeace and other conservation groups that have indicated to the government the importance to preserve the rights of local people to refuse access to companies that want to explore for fossil fuels underneath their homes and land, warning that this strategy could further reduce public confidence about the government's approach to fracking.

    According to these groups, it is fundamental to guarantee people’s right to approve or not the oil and gas companies’ activities under their property, especially due to the associated risks that fracking could entail and the lack of a precautionary approach by the government.

    Moreover, the opposition’s movement  has also stressed the negative consequences of the recent changes to the law that have removed the duty of drilling companies to inform homeowners and  tenants of plans to drill under their property, allowing in this way companies to drill without notification or permission.

    The UK government is strongly supporting the development of a shale gas industry in the country, highlighting the consequent benefits jobs’ creation and growth, reducing energy prices and the reliance on gas imports.

    On the other hand, opponents have also focused on the possible negative impacts of fracking, among which earthquakes, water supply pollution, inappropriate development in the countryside and damages house prices. In addition to this, shale gas could damage investments in renewables, undermining efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 7 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • HEALTHCARE DISPARITIES BETWEEN NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN AMERICAN STATES

    As the debate over the effects of President Barack Obama's healthcare law continues, a new study by the Commonwealth Fund finds that there are significant disparities between states that have access to quality health care and states that do not.

    The Commonwealth Fund assesses states on 42 indicators of health care access, quality, costs, and outcomes over the 2007–2012 period.

    The mixed performance of states’ health systems over the five years preceding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s major reforms shows that states and the nation are still a long way from becoming places where everyone has access to high-quality, affordable care and an equal opportunity for a long and healthy life.

    According to a Commonwealth Fund’s study, Minnesota has the nation's best-performing healthcare system, while Mississippi ranks last, following Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas that are at the bottom of the list.

    Other top-performing states are Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Hawaii. Their consistently high performance may be the result of their willingness and wherewithal to address health system change with focused initiatives spanning the public and private sectors.

    Disparities registered trough the country may partly reflect differences in state policies and funding of health care programs such as Medicaid. Medicaid expansion could be a way to fill the gap between the North and the South of the country.

    Better access to care is associated with better primary and preventive care services and improved health outcomes. Thus geographic disparities in performance will widen and health care inequities within states worsen, if such health systems’ reforms and innovations are not evenly spread across states.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    (Source: The Atlantic)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • HUMAN RIGHTS SHOULD BE AT CORE OF DEVELOPMENT POLICY

    Respecting human rights can make a real difference and not only mitigate harmful practices.

    According to the Nobel prize-winner economist Amartya Sen, development can be defined as freedom and enlargement of people's substantive choices. It can only be accomplished if people in the Third World can fully realize their civil, political, cultural and economic rights as well. Material improvements of their lives have to develop hand in hand with human rights ensuring an ending to abuse and discrimination.

    A broader definition of development can be applied in the case of Tunisia, which experienced a persistent economic growth of approximately 4 %  each year before 2010, resulting in 90% of children attending primary school and a life expectancy close to that of the European average.

    However, higher incomes and a better provision of services could not compensate for the cost of corruption, repression and inequality in  society. The aftermaths resulted in the aspiration for greater justice, freedom and dignity and demonstrations led to the President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali stepping down after 23 years in power.

    Greater respect of human rights have several advantages for societies and can contribute to the success of development policy. First of all, it can facilitate to make development more just and inclusive which is one of the main pillars of sustainable development. Despite the considerable economic progress achieved by developing countries, millions of people have been left behind with marginal or no improvement in their lives.

    These people often come from unprivileged groups, such as minorities, women, children, disabled people, indigenous people. The existing social structures preserve the present plight which cannot make it possible for vulnerable social groups to challenge their status or to improve their circumstances. Greater respect for human rights can lift up people from their disadvantaged status and facilitate better access to services, while acquiring land and property.

    Secondly, economic modernization should not outperform the significance of human rights. For example, in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley, Human Right Watch has perceived that the government displaced indigenous people in order to make way for sugar plantations. This abusive development can happen due to the lack of fair treatment, consultation, legal representation and trade unions and because of the fact that unprivileged groups are not able to demonstrate their interests effectively.

    Economic progress should not result in abusive practices. The responsibility of Western governments and corporations is apparent, as their activities and investment can also be harmful for local communities. Consequently, multinational companies and financial institutions have to adhere to international human rights and enhance the transparency and accountability of their operation in poor countries. It should be mandatory to report publicly on human rights and the social and environmental impacts of their work.

    Aid conditionalityis the final factor which is discussed here. The withdrawal or aid in response to human rights abuses is not an effective solution to the problems, as this action punishes the poorest twice for others' failings (most of the time their governments'). Rather, the channels which are used to deliver the aids should be reconsidered.

    One of the solutions can be to re-channel this assistance through NGOs and international organizations. However, delivering  aid gearing to correct application of international human rights can be an effective weapon in the hands of wealthy countries.

    Millions of people across the world, are struggling for better standards of living, democratic rights and for the opportunity to live a decent life where they can determine their own future. They deserve our support.

     

    The gLAWcal team

    The Wednesday, the 7th of May

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • STRONG ACTIVISM TO FIGHT ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IN CONTEMPORARY SOUTH AFRICA

    Environmental justice conflicts in contemporary South Africa have their origin in struggles against the legacy of apartheid politics and spatial planning discourse and practice. Apartheid left deep scars on the environment and its legacy continue to raise numerous hazards to public health and people’s daily lives.

    South Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. Data show that the city is alarmingly characterized by high levels of air pollution. Nearly 70% of all South Africa's industry is concentrated in this region, with oil and gas plants, refineries, landfills, agro-chemical works, shipyards, paper mills and a massively expanding port.

    The high level of pollution and the consequent smells affect not only South Durban, but 300,000 people as well, including some of South Africa's most disenfranchised, who are forced to live in proximity of more than 300 industrial plants. Many people were forced to move in one of the Africa's most polluted places during apartheid days.

    In this context, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance plays a pivotal role for its environmental commitment. Additionally, racial and environmental injustices are connected issues that affected this region.

    By the 1980s, south Durban had become known as cancer alley, the toxic capital of Africa, due to the highest rates of cancer and asthma on the continent.  Children in local schools had three times the rate of respiratory diseases of those living outside this area, and many people had skin ailments and diseases.

    South Durban is still strongly polluted with regular chemical fires and several leaks in the oil and gas pipelines that cross the communities, the environmental group stresses.  Studies show that a disease like leukemia is 24 times higher than the normal.

    In this framework, South Durban became an incredible hotbed for political resistance to environmental and social injustice.  Decades of strong activism led the government to establish air pollution standards, driving much of the industry in the area to switch from oil to gas.

    The planned expansion of Durban port represents the main threat that this area is going to face. In this way, the port will become a construction site for decades, causing the devastation of several suburbs and a consequent increase in crime, smuggling and air pollution.

    The environmental group recognizes the benefits of development but at the same time gives emphasis on the consequences that this will have on the environment, following its commitments to fight environmental injustice that fits into all of this, with the aim to achieve jobs and better health.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 6 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • BUSINESS-RELATED HUMAN RIGHTS’ ABUSES ARE STRONGLY AFFECTING EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA

    Forced labour represents one of the most urgent issues that affect Europe and central Asia. Recently, significant cases have been recorded in UK: Lithuanian migrants forced to work in a chicken farm under threats of violence and intimidation, elderly Polish men employed  in a meat-packaging factory subjected to beatings, long working hours and withholding of wages.

    Moreover, just to make an example, Uzbekistan is experiencing a situation characterized by a state-sponsored forced labour system in cotton harvests that continues despite strong protests.

    In this context, migrants and minorities are vulnerable groups, routinely discriminated. Roma people are often met with working discrimination in Eastern Europe. Religious and ethnic minorities face crippling abuses in many countries, including France and UK.

    Human Rights Watch has recently documented alleged mistreatments against migrants who have worked for the Sochi Olympics in Russia this February, that is lacks of wages’ payments, withholding of identity documents, and excessive working hours. Some companies nominated by the report declared that they were not aware of abuses.

    The International Trade Union Confederation has strongly highlighted the lack of adequate worker law protections, in order to avoid further abuses of Russian and migrant workers in preparation for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    In addition to this, business is a central factor in order to guarantee citizen's privacy and freedom of expression. Internet and communication technologies are employed for mass surveillance by governments, raising debates about the consequent abuses of privacy rights.

    European governments play a significant role in this context of continued human rights abuse. But only UK, Netherlands and Denmark have kept their promise to adopt a National Action Plan for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, almost three years after the endorsement  by the UN Human Rights Council.

    Moreover, Russia, that is one of the sponsors in the UN Human Rights Council resolution endorsing the Guiding Principles, have undertaken inadequate measures to establish such Principles.

    On the other side, the inertia of the governments is balanced by the policies of some European companies such as Nestlé and Unilever that have launched concrete measures to implement the respect of human rights.

    The European Parliament has recently established non-financial requirements for companies, as a step forward to overcome this complex issue, with the objective to improve protection against business-related human rights exploitation including on data protection.

    Europe is experiencing severe business-related human rights abuses, under civil society’s eyes. European governments’ and enterprises’ efforts strongly affected many sectors around the world, being the leading actors in the struggle to eliminate human rights abuses.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 6 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • THAILAND’S 30 BAHT HEALTH REFORM ALLOWED A DROP IN INFANT MORTALITY RATE, A NEW MIT STUDY SHOWS

    Robert Townsend, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Jon Gruber, a MIT professor of economics and health care expert, and Nathaniel Hendren, an economist at Harvard University, published a new study on infant mortality in Thailand.

    The researchers used data from Thailand’s Health and Welfare Survey, a national cross section of all 76 Thai provinces, covering years from 2001 to 2005.

    The findings show that infant mortality rates among less-wealthy citizens led to a 13 percent drop in a year, thanks to Thailand’s “30 Baht” program, which increased access to hospitals.

    Thailand’s health care reform occurred in 2001.  Called the “30 Baht Program,” it was one of the largest and most ambitious health reforms ever undertaken in a developing country.  The aim of the program was to reduce long-standing geographical disparities in public health care.

    The program both provided for funds of about $35 per capita to be granted to provincial hospitals (based on the numbers of local residents) and reduced the copays for non-welfare residents to 30 baht—essentially 75 cents. In effect, the reforms made access to health care in public facilities independent of a person’s financial situation and equalized health care access for rich and poor people.

    The new health reform led to a moderate increase in the use of health care among those who previously were uninsured. But the greatest impact affected those who were previously covered by Thailand’s Medical Welfare program, particularly mothers and infants. Before the 30 Baht Program, poor provinces had higher infant mortality rates, but after the program was implemented, infant mortality rates in rich and poor provinces were nearly identical. The study provides evidence that the new health reform reduced infant mortality in poor provinces.

    According to the study co-authored by MIT, healthcare financing reforms can increase access to healthcare and combat infant mortality among the poor. Hendren said that most common causes of infant mortality in the world are from treatable diseases. In fact, results suggest that improved access to medical services could go improve the large disparities in infant mortality rates both across and within countries.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

    (Source: HealthcareAsia)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • MEDICAL MALPRACTICES PROVIDED BY BOGUS DOCTORS IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: MINISTRY OF HEALTH WARNS THE POPULATION ON THE MATTER

    The UAE (United Arab Emirates) Ministry of Health has warned the public about bogus doctors who are providing medical services in hotels and at home.

    These fake doctors are not licensed by the UAE health authorities and claim that they have the ability to provide treatment for difficult cases or perform plastic surgery. Dr Amin Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for public health and licensing, said that claims by the so-called doctors have more to do with ‘magic’ and ‘witchcraft” than with medicine.

    Medical malpractices have a negative impact on public health and could lead to health complications for patients.  This malpractice also causes health damage to the patient and may lead to dangerous complications that can appear after the disappearance of the anonymous practitioner.

    These “doctors”, who are unauthorized by the health authorities, take hotel rooms as premises for their malpractice. Some of them promote their medical services by passing by the houses of families to offer plastic surgery operations, preying on the needs of some patients such as elderly people and other patients who seek recovery from their diseases.

    Economic progress, the high cost of living and multi cultures are the cause of such incidents. As the medical and health sector in the UAE has grown rapidly, it has attracted many criminals who look for quick profits in a short period of time, especially in Dubai that is becoming the medical tourism platform of the region. But these people clearly violate the ethics of the medical profession.

    The Ministry of Health, as part of its responsibility, seeks to enhance and protect the health of society and has implemented about 14 Federal Laws to regulate the profession of medical practices in the UAE. Federal Law No. 2 of 1996 requires medical professionals to provide checkups and examinations in an official health clinic or medical centre.

    Dr Amiri said that the Ministry has caught an Asian man roaming the gulf region claiming to be able to offer medical services and treatment for difficult diseases, and transferred him to the public prosecution department last week. Dr Al Amiri also called on people to refer to authorities anyone they suspect of posing as medical professionals.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

    (Source: The National)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • ‘GRAVITY’ DIRECTOR ALFONSO CUARÓN CHALLENGES MEXICAN PRESIDENT OVER ENERGY REFORMS

    Oscar-awarded director Alfonso Cuaron published a full-page on Monday in Mexican newspapers questioning President Enrique Pena Nieto's energy reform.

    The director of Gravity Cuaron stated he doesn't agree with the way the constitutional reform was passed last year. The reform allows private companies to drill for oil and hold concessions for the first time since the oil industry was nationalized in 1938. Enabling legislation must still be passed.

    Cuaron posed 10 questions to the president, including how Mexico would protect its environment, fight endemic corruption and reign in the power of private oil companies. The constitutional reform, approved by the national legislature last year with little substantial debate foresees a dramatic opening up of Mexico' s state-owned energy sector to private-sector participation.

    The government's legislative proposals to define what this will mean in practice are already overdue. The energy reform has already drawn concern because it seeks to encourage the development in Mexico of fracking, which involves pumping chemicals and water underground to break open shale rock formations.

    Other people fear a return to the days when foreign oil companies made fortunes in Mexico, while leaving the country with little benefit. But state ownership over the last seven and a half decades have neither ensured prosperity for Mexico, nor provided low gas and oil prices. A bloated union, corruption within the state-owned oil company and the government's dependence on oil revenues to fund public spending have reduced any benefits that might have trickled down to the average citizen.

    Pena Nieto promised the reforms would provide cheaper electrical rates, in part because Mexico now imports significant quantities of natural gas. But Cuaron's first question was one that many Mexicans have been asking. "When will prices for gas, gasoline, fuel oil and electricity come down?"

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 28 April 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • OBAMA TO UNVEIL MAJOR CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT

    One month after the United Nations released its latest assessment of climate changes global impact, the White House is unveiling a report that will drill deeper into the effect of global warming on the United States in particular. On Tuesday, the federal government’s National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC) will release the final version of its 2014 climate assessment, examining the nationwide impact of global warming and the progress made in countering it.

    White House adviser John Podesta told reporters the report was unequivocal: there would be no region and no economic sector that would remain untouched by climate change. “If you want to try to side with the polluters and argue to the American public that climate change is not happening – today, tomorrow, and certainly in the future – that's going to be a losing argument,” he said.

    The Obama administration is taking advantage of the report’s release to launch a new PR offensive in favour of policies intended to reduce fossil fuel emissions. President Obama will spend the day discussing climate change with the press and pressing his administration’s environmental strategy. Obama will use the report to build public support for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, the core pillar of his climate plan.

    Podesta confirmed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be proposing new rules for power plants in early June. The success of the EPA plan – and another energy efficiency measure to be announced later in the week – hinges in part on Obama's ability to persuade the American public of the urgency of acting on climate change.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 6 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • EU MINISTERS OF HEALTH GATHERED AT THE INFORMAL MEETING IN ATHENS IN ORDER TO DISCUSS HEALTHCARE FOR IMMIGRANTS

    In 2008, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on migrant health, recognizing the need for migrant-sensitive health policies and systems, and equitable access to services. European Ministers of Health recognized the multiple challenges that governments and health systems face in addressing this issue, including the differences often found between migrants’ health profile and that of the rest of the population, the need to ensure access to health services for this vulnerable group and the need for cross-sectoral and cross-border collaboration.

    Greek Health Minister, Spyridon-Adonis Georgiadis, on April 28/29 hosted the Informal Meeting of the European Ministers of Health, at Zappeion Megaron in Athens. The Ministers had the opportunity to discuss a number of very important health issues for European Union citizens and the sustainability of health systems.

    During the first session about migration and public health, Ministers concentrated on migration and its implications on public health and health services, focusing particularly on how to better address the health needs of the migrants and highlight the positive aspects of an enhanced cooperation of the EU Member States on a common public health challenge.

    On the second day of the meeting, discussions focused on the impact of the economic crisis on health and healthcare systems. Ministers attending the meeting acknowledged that the new economic situation in Europe requires health systems to adapt and become more resilient.

    European Ministers of Health have spoken of the need to carry out health screening on immigrants and refugees entering the EU. It remains to be decided whether screening would be the same for all immigrants or if the systems would be different depending on where they come from.

    Ministers agreed to set up a working group under the EU Health Security Committee to explore developing voluntary guidelines for screening and vaccination. WHO will participate in the group, and its International Health Regulations (IHR) are an important tool.

    EU Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg, added that a new EU fund worth 3.0 billion Euros ($4.2 billion) had been created to help member states manage immigration and asylum duties, including healthcare.

    In the EU overall, there is no common law but undocumented migrants are entitled to emergency health treatment, and recognized refugees have to be treated like EU nationals, Borg said. Ensuring that people have equitable access to health care and that economic crises do not disproportionally affect vulnerable groups is a key element of Health 2020.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, May 5, 2014

    (Source: ShangaiDaily.com)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • USA: THE STRONG IMPACT OF AIR POLLUTION ON HEALTH

    A report from the American Lung Association (ALA) has alarmingly shown that nearly half of all Americans currently live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. According to the ALA's annual study on US air quality, 148 million people live in areas with high levels of air pollution caused by smog and soot particles.

    This study, based on data collected between 2010 and 2012, has outlined how the level of smog had worsened in 22 of the 25 biggest US metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago, stressing the further risk of more high-ozone days due toclimate change.

    As the report said, weather represents an important factor that strongly influence the level of pollution. The warmer summers had contributed to the growth of the ozone, causing more frequent ozone days. Sunlight and heat had intensified the risk of high ozone levels.

    Experts said that smog is the most widespread air pollutant: it is more quickly formed  in hotter temperatures, and this situation is expected to worsen under climate change. According to ALA researchers, the strong increase of smog's intensity will make harder to fight air pollution preserving the minimum healthy standards.

    The risks of air pollution on human health represents one of the main issue on the international agenda, including in the US. The supreme court had endorsed the Environmental Protection Agency's commitment to address smog pollution. The ALA had strongly supported the efforts of the  EPA in order to achieve stricter air pollution standards, and its attempts to force power plants tocut carbon dioxide emissions.

    Scientists have revealed that smog and soot can cause stronger damages at lower levels than expected. Studies have shown thelink betweenair pollution and the increased number of deaths from heart diseases and respiratory illnesses over the last decade. Additionally, the World Health Organisation has recently announced that particulate pollution represents one of the important cause of lung cancer.

    The rapid growth of air pollution is a global issues. Data show that air pollution has reached record levels in India bringing the capital to the situation in Beijing. A similar situation is been experienced in Great Britain, with alarmingly high levels of air pollution. Moreover, experts have stressed that extreme heat and wildfires could worsen air quality, increasing smog formation and emitting dangerous smoke into the air.

    Thanks to cuts in emissions for coal-fired power plants and other environmental measures, eighteen of the twenty-five US cities with the worst particulate pollution recorded  a significant drop in year-round particle pollutants. However, these cities have not yet reached national standards for year-round particle pollution, the report said.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 5 May 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • THE INADEQUATE UK LAW ON THE PROTECTION OF MIGRANT DOMESTIC WORKERS FROM SEVERE ABUSES

    A report of Human Rights Watch has recently shown the condition of migrant domestic workers that accompany their employers to the United Kingdom, exposed to serious abuses including forced labor.

    The report has also stressed the inappropiateness of the UK law in protecting vulnerable workers: the current system makes harder for workers to  escape from abuses.

    The report has documented that the abuses include the confiscation of passports, home confinement, physical and psychological abuse, lack of rest days, and very low wages or non-payment of wages.

    As such, Human Rights Watch has highlighted that the government habe not complied with the international target  to protect migrant domestic workers and allow them to access justice if they find themselves in a case of mistreatment.

     Despite the recommendations of parliament, nongovernmental organizations, and UN experts, in April 2012  the UK government has abolished the right of migrant domestic workers to change employer once they are in the country: in this way  domestic workers cannot legally leave their employer to find new job, staying trapped. As consequence, the only choice to overcame the abuses is to escape, becoming undocumented migrants and subjected to further abuse and exploitation.

    The majority of the infringment occurs in private households, the report has shown. Human Rights Watch has revealed that workers work up to 18 hours per day for weeks without breaks, not adequately fed, without the possibility to have a mobile phone or contacting their own families,  unable to leave their employers’ homes unaccompanied. As for salaries, the already scarn wages were even withheld, in some cases.

    The British Home Secretary has launched a policy to face and overcome the severe labor  abuses in the UK, increasing penalties for slavery, servitude, forced labor, and human trafficking. However, the proposed draft bill makes no reference to the alarming issue of domestic workers. In this framework, Human Rights Watch has stressed the pivotal role of the government toguarantee adequate protection for migrant domestic workers, including the right to change employer, in order to avoid abuses against this vulnerable group of workers.

    Data show that every year 15,000 migrant domestic workers arrive in the UK, especially  women from Asia and Africa  who have already worked for their employers in the Gulf, where the lack of appropiate labor laws and the restrictive system strongly contribute to exploitation.

    Moreover, the UK was one of only nine countries that did not vote in favor of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention. In relation to this, Human Rights Watch urges the importance for the government to ensure instruments to protect migrant domestic workers from abuses, in line with European and international human rights law, allowing domestic workers to be aware of their fundamental rights.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 5 May 2014

    (Source: Human Rights Watch)

  • NEW NHS STUDY SHOWS THAT FEW LATINOS SIGNED-UP FOR OBAMACARE

    According to 2012 Census Bureau data, 29 percent of all Hispanics in USA were without coverage, compared to about 17 percent of African-Americans, 15 percent of Asian-Americans and 10 percent of whites.

    Due to the fact that Hispanics represent the largest proportion of the nation's uninsured population, they have been viewed as crucial to the success of President Barack Obama's health insurance coverage expansion.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the final enrollment numbers for the ObamaCare sign-up period. Data show that Hispanics have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group in the country. According to the report, people who identified themselves as Latino accounted for 7.4 percent of total sign-ups in the 36 states with federal-run exchanges.

    The administration, however, did not have ethnicity data for about 31 percent of people selecting coverage on the federal marketplaces, because consumers had the option of ignoring questions about their ethnicity. The report also does not include data from the 15 state-run exchanges and does not count people who may have obtained coverage through Medicaid.

    The Obama administration made important steps in order to ensure sign ups from Latinos, hiring Spanish-speaking call-center workers and forming partnerships with community organizations. It also worked with Spanish-language media and launched CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish version of HealthCare.gov. However, this version of the federal health care website was delayed and there was a shortage of in-person guides reaching out to Latinos.

    HHS data also show that young adults aged 18 to 34, whose premiums are needed to balance the cost of older and sicker enrollees, made up about 28 percent of the total 8 million. HHS also reported that Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program grew by 4.8 million people between the 1st of October opening of the health insurance marketplaces and the 31st of March.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, May 5, 2014

    (Source: Washington Post)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • PRIORITY INVESTMENTS FOR SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES

    Last week, the Global Ocean Action Summit for Blue Growth and Food Security in Hague committed a set of concrete actions responding to the urgency for restoring productive, resilient oceans that drive broad-based blue growth and deliver food security.

    The conference (a joint initiative of the Government of the Netherlands, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Bank)  brought together more than 600 ocean stakeholders, including 80 ministers from across the world, ocean science experts, business leaders, philanthropy and heads of international organisations.

    They found unprecedented convergence around the urgent steps needed to tackle the key threats to the worlds oceans: climate change, overfishing, habitat loss and pollution.

    Broad focal areas included improving traceability, transparency, information sharing, and collaboration to address challenges such as investing in small-scale fisheries and preventing illegal fishing.

    The Chair of the Summit, H.E. Sharon Dijksma, Minister for Agriculture of the Netherlands said: “This week, the world community has shown courage and boldness in Hague to move ahead and take action onocean health and food security. What’s needed now is decisive action from the international community to put solutions into practice.”

    In particular, the Summit called for:

    -    A stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal on oceans as part of the post-2015 Development Framework;

    -    Eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity and instead incentivizing approaches that improve conservation, build sustainable fisheries and end illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;

    -    Investing insmall and medium scale fisheries and local communities as vital stewards for blue growth and support to sustainable supply chains;

    -    Sharing of knowledge, experiences and solutions through information and communications technology that can enforce and monitor in real time and connect communities globally.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 25 April 2014

    (Source: The World Bank)

  • OWEN PATERSON CONFIRMS PLANS TO ‘PRIVATISE’ GOVERNMENT ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AGENCY

    The UK environment secretary Owen Paterson has defended controversial government plans to allow private sector organisations to invest in the government’s Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera).

    Earlier this week, reports broke that Fera, which is responsible for scientific research across a wide range of issues, covering agriculture and the food supply chain, would be opened up for investment. The agency is currently involved in many crucial areas of research, including investigations on pesticides, bee health, GM safety, alien pests and food-testing.

    On Thursday, Owen Paterson, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, confirmed that the agency was now looking for a joint venture partner. In a statement, he said: “A joint venture will free it [Fera] from public sector constraints” and it will eventually “protect and enhance its [Fera's] scientific capabilities in the long term”.

    “Procuring the right external partner, with the necessary commercial expertise and experience will help Fera to maximise its market potential and grow its non-government revenue,” he added.

    However, the announcement has provoked concern that commercial pressures will lead to scientific standards being lowered and jobs being cut. The Labour party has denounced the move to open  as “secretive sell-off” and “anti-science”.

    Maria Eagle, the shadow environment secretary, said: “The public deserve to know the full detail of how the new private sector partnership would work to make sure the highest scientific standards are maintained.”

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 1 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • HUMAN INFLUENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE: THE FORECAST INCREASE OF EXTREME RAINFALL IN SOUTH ENGLAND

    Recent studies have shown that climate change caused by human activities had significantly increased the likelihood of extreme rainfall.

    According to the Oxford University's analysis, strong rainfall events previously occurred only once in a century in South England: now such phenomena could be recorded once every eighty years. The consequence of this impact will be more frequent stronger floods, especially for residents of the region.

    Additionally, it seems that the region do not have adequate infrastructures to face the increase of such strong events. Data outline that the frequency of these events will rise of about 20 to 25%, alarmingly increasing the number of homes subjected to the risks of flooding.

    Environmental experts admit the impossibility to link any specific flood to human activities. However, they stress the evidence that humans have strong affected climate change, as high levels of greenhouse emissions and other forms of pollution, boosting the probability for the south of England to experience extremely wet winters.

    These findings come from studies of the frequency of extreme rainfall, based on current levels of observed rainfall in the recent past, and compared with historical levels and those predicted for the future analyzing a wide variety of possible scenarios under climate change.

    Experts forecast that in the future global warming will probably cause an increase of extreme rainfall, provoking serious consequences in already wet areas, as UK.  

    This important research is part of a project that has allowed scientists to use the power of more than 60,000 personal computers offered by volunteers to analyze the vast amounts of data, gathered from observations of weather patterns.

    Using a specialised software, scientists has compared tens of thousands of simulations of possible weather in our current climate with tens of thousands of simulations of a hypothetical scheme without the influence of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, using the same climate model, and showing in this way findings such as the increased likelihood of extreme weather events in the south of England.

    Moreover, experts are following a program in order to achieve better outcomes, including in the studies elements of the UK’s peculiar geography and hydrology, such as river locations, rock formations, low-lying flood plains, and the flow of water from upland areas to lowlands.

    In this way, scientist will be able to achieve a more detailed framework in order to describe with precision the likelihood of flooding events in particular localities.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 2 May 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • UN: ROBUST YET FLEXIBLE ACCOUNTABILITY FRAMEWORK IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE MDGS (MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS)

    The UN System is committing more efforts  to design a new development agenda in order to achieve the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Those targets, agreed by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, aim to slash extreme hunger and poverty, cut maternal and infant mortality, combat diseases and provide access to universal education and health care, all by the end of 2015.

    United Nation officials called for a "robust yet flexible" accountability framework to ensure that all actors honor their commitments to a new post-2015 global agenda that is being developed under the aegis of the United Nations.

    General Assembly President John Ashe said that governments, the UN system, civil society and the private sector should be accountable for honoring their commitments. For the post-2015 agenda to succeed, the accountability system must be universal, which means that all stakeholders should align international commitments to national development objectives.

    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the UN cannot be the only actor of this system of accountability, but regional and national action by governments and their constituencies must integrate this framework as well.

    Ashe warned that it is not possible to wait until all the global goals and targets are agreed upon. A global monitoring and accountability framework will be important to integrate and improve the discussions about the design of a post-2015 development agenda and its implementation.

    He also added that free media, traditional and new, are indispensable for development.  They can promote transparency about the new goals that Member States will adopt.  In fact, social media and mobile technologies offer new tools for accelerating citizen participation and economic and social progress.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, May 2, 2014

    (Source: UN News Centre)

  • COMMITMENTS TO FIGHT THE INCREASING PROBLEM OF FORCED LABOUR

    Although forced labour, human trafficking and other forms of modern-day exploitation are often seen as problems related to countries characterized by poverty, crime and corruption, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has recently estimated that 880,000 women, men and children are victims of forced labour in the European Union.

    Data alarmingly show that the majority of forced labour victims are European citizens who have migrated between member states. Additionally, the ILO's analysis has outlined cases of domestic servitude in almost all Western European countries.

    In addition to this, the studies highlight that almost 21 million people are trapped in forced labour all over the world, and the effects of globalization make difficult to understand if goods are made by workers trapped in exploitative and violent conditions abroad.

    In this way, forced labour represents a pivotal human rights issue on international agenda. However, this matter also entails huge financial costs. According to the ILO, workers in forced labour lose about $21 billion in salaries each year, creating nearly $44 billion in illegal profits. As a consequence, states lose great amounts in tax income and social security contributions.

    The European Union is playing a fundamental role in order to establish regional mechanisms to protect human rights. However, the differences among states represent an obstacle because some European countries are reluctant  to undertake a strong stand to improve global standards preventing forced labour and protecting victims.

    In this framework, the ILO Convention 29 on Forced Labour of 1930represents one of the most important treaties in international labour law, due to is great influence to shape national and international standards.

    Governments, trade unions and employers' groups will meet in June to modernise and strengthen the Convention, in order to overcome the blanks about prevention, victim protection, and compensation, establishing also measures to address contemporary patterns including forced labour that takes place in the private economy.

    ILO members will also vote on the possibility to include the new supplementary standards in a legally binding protocol that countries could ratify. However, some European countries such as Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have said they prefer a non-binding recommendation.

    This choice would mean a step backwards: the spread and the gravity of forced labour requires effective obligations, concrete national action programs and international cooperation. In this way, governments will be able to guarantee a global basis of minimum standards, as a significant breakthrough in the increasingly interconnected world.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 2 May 2014

    (Source: Human Right Watch)

  • THE UK NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE SHOULD MAKE A BETTER USE OF THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR.

    The National Health Service (NHS) is facing a deep financial crisis, as the former NHS chief executive David Nicholson warned during his last media interview. The future of the health service is at risk unless politicians come up with radical solutions to the crisis in the upcoming months.

    The reality of the UK’s ageing population coupled with the rising cost of medicines and new health technologies have increased financial demands on the service. The health service’s budget, which is well in excess of £100bn, will go up by only 0.1 per cent in 2014-15.

    The NHS could tap into the voluntary sector’s strengths to improve patient care. In fact, voluntary and community organizations could provide some useful intelligence about how to integrate care, being able to carry out an enormous diversity of activities.

    From the homecare schemes provided by the British Red Cross which prevent hospital admissions and ambulance call-outs in 75% of cases to community trained health volunteers which provide peer support for patients in complex conditions, charities can develop healthcare services while the NHS may save money by cutting the need for costly treatments in hospital settings.

    For example, the NHS is spending 10% of its budget on the treatment of diabetes alone, which means that the need to introduce new models of care could not be more urgent. The NHS will not achieve sustainability on its own, but by working in collaboration with charities and local communities it would be possible to reach out patients into homes and communities, helping them to recover and stay healthy.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, May 2, 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • CLIMATE CHANGE REPRESENTS ONE OF THE MAIN CAUSE OF SOCIAL INSTABILITY, THREATENING THE LIVELIHOOD OF POOR PEOPLE

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently announced that the great threat of climate change is alarmingly growing. Poor people, who contributed the least to it, are the most vulnerable subjects and they are paying the highest price.

    The increasing impact of climate change and the consequent food insecurity related to high degree of poverty represent one of the main cause of social instability in many areas of the world, as the experience in regions such as Darfur, North Africa, the Middle East and parts of South Asia have shown.

    In this context, poor people face the strongest effects of climate change, in a balance between the urgency to survive and the necessity to flee. This situation has a consequent reflection on direct access to productive land, water, soil and its biodiversity for a significant part of the global population, because land is the only tangible resource.

    Data show that nearly more than 1.5 billion people survive on degrading land and at least one billion are poor. In this way, experts warn that the frequency and the intense of the changing climate patterns strongly threaten their safe livelihoods, especially events such as floods and droughts have great impact on the sustenance of poor people, damaging their ability to feed their families.

    In addition to this, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has stressed that 900 million people in the world faced chronic hunger by 2010. According to this, the IPCC has revealed that food demand is forecast to rise by 14 percent but yields could decrease by up to 2 percent per decade.

    In this context, land degradation are provoking vulnerable communities driving people to instability, migration and conflict, enhancing the existing social weaknesses. In this frame, food security could be the principal aim of the international agenda.

    On a global scale, issues as food security and international security are strictly related. Moreover, this connection will be more relevant with the increasing number of global population making completion over the natural resources to provide food, energy and water even stronger.

    In this way, governments should evaluate a rights-based approach to support rural employment and economic development, turning vulnerable populations into resilient communities.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 30 April 2014

    (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)

  • DIESEL ENGINE AS THE MAIN CAUSE OF AIR POLLUTION IN BRITAIN

    Air pollution health experts have announced that diesel engines in vehicles could be one of the main causes of thousands of premature deaths a year, representing a high cost for NHS.

    Data show that 29,000 premature deaths are caused by air pollution each year. According to environmental experts, diesel fuel burned in vehicles such as cars and trains could be responsible for around one in four of all deaths provoked by air pollution.

    Moreover, the estimate highlights that currently there is a high percentage of diesel in the transport sector. In 2000 one in 10 private cars was diesel, but the share is nearly half today.

    In addition to this, the majority of the fine particulate emitted from exhausts is caused by diesels in cities. Experts also warns that 50% of the particulate problem in London is determined by vehicles, and diesels marks half of all the transport.

    This announcement complies with the previous estimate of air pollution levels recently experienced in southern Britain due to fine dust blown up from the Sahara mixed with polluted air from British, producing a dangerous smog.

    The government has strongly supported the use of diesel vehicles in the past due to its  good mileage and the possibility to cut CO2 emissions. But now researchers have shown the great impact of air pollution on health, stressing the alarming link between pollution andseveral health problems such as cancers, heart and lung diseases.

    Health experts also say that air pollution could be linked to cigarette smoking, representing in this way the main factor of  cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, long-term exposure to high levels of pollution is one the predominate health risks especially for children, studies warn.

    Data explain that Britain has some of the highest levels of pollutants in Europe, and there is already strong evidence that  diesel pollutants could have a strong impact on cognitive function in kids. In this frame, experts admit thatair pollution represents the  major global threat to children. According to this, the quality of air has a significant impact on life expectancy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 30 April 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CHALLENGES FOR PRIVATE AND FOREIGN INVESTMENTS INTO CHINESE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY

    Despite the recent global financial crisis, China’s economic growth is still surpassing expectations as the world’s fastest growing economy.As a function of China’s overall economic growth, the country’s pharmaceutical industry has also experienced a surge over the past decade.Also thanks to the continuous advancement in new medical reforms, China's pharmaceutical distribution industry has maintained a fairly rapid growth in recent years.

    According to an American government agency, US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, China’s healthcare reform allowed better healthcare, more chances and challenges for private and foreign investments. Huang Yanzhong, senior fellow on global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (a US think tank), said that China is the world's third-largest market for pharmaceuticals.

    From the last years, the Chinese pharmaceutical industry grew at a compounded annual growth rate between 15% and 20%, which means that the country may become thesecond-largest market by next year, following the US.

    On the other hand, it is important to improve the healthcare reforms and strengthen public healthcare services. The Chinese government has spent around three trillion yuan (about 488 billion U.S. dollars) into its medical care reform in the past five years. The investment was made both by the central government and local authorities. After years of effort, China's public hospital reform has reached more than 1,000 counties across the country, covering a population of 500 million.

    More efforts have to be done in order to extend healthcare services to remote rural areas and also to provide universal health insurance.  According to a statement by the National Development and Reform Commission, China is witnessing series of transformation driven by government oriented to improve private sector participation.

    A key factor to further China's healthcare reform is to increase salaries for medical staff and cut the link between doctors' income and medicine sales. Salaries are generally low for staff in public hospitals, which dominate the nation's health service market. Thus, many doctors have colluded with pharmaceutical companies and earned "gray income" by over-prescribing drugs or prescribing unnecessary drugs.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, May 1, 2014

    (Source: South China Morning Post)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • COLOMBIAN FARMERS PROTEST AGAINST GOVERNMENT'S 'BROKEN PROMISES’

    Thousands of Colombian farmers have been taking part in protests across the country to demand that the government complies with reforms agreed last year. Farmers across Colombia began protests on Monday demanding that the government enact reforms it promised last year.

    As a response, the Colombian government is deploying tanks, troops and riot police to counter the farmers’strike that aims to choke food supplies before the upcoming presidential election on 25 May. Colombian producers of coffee, potatoes, rice, tomatoes and other crops say president Juan Manuel Santos has failed to implementmeasures to reduce debt and control the prices of fertilisers.

    In general, the government has not deliver on promises of rural reform released after fierce clashes occurred during last August's protests. In that occasion, about 20 people have died during the 17 days of confrontations, and the protest ended only after the government announced measures - including better prices for agricultural products and more access to loans - to ease the pressure on farmers.

    At a campesinossummitearlier this month, farmers’leaders agreed that a new round of protests was necessary. Agricultural groups blamed free trade agreements with the European Union and the United States, which had recently come into force, for flooding the market with less eco-friendly foreign imports and agricultural products at prices they were unable to match.

    Among their demands aredebt forgiveness, cheaper fertiliser, a halt of mining projects, more fuel subsidiesto prevent farmers from slipping into bankruptcy and the abolition of controls aimed at forcing campesinos to use only certified seeds, which are largely produced by multinationals like Monsanto and Syngenta.

    “The countryside has been abandoned by the state in favour of big companies. That's why we block the roads and protest,”said Jimmy Torres of Conciencia Campesina in Cajamarca. He said more than 7,000 people from the town had participated in last year's strike, blocking the country's main east-west highway.

    Anxious to avoid a repeat of this disruption, the government sent in armored vehicles and military reinforcements on Monday to try to ensure key transit routes remained open, but local reports suggested farmers had blocked roads in potato-growing areas of Medellín and the coffee-producing region of Huila.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • ARAB COUNTRIES CAN HAVE A LEADING ROLE IN THE FOOD SECURITY DEBATE

    GCC countries may plan ways to phase in more efficient food security plans.

    Seven years ago, steep price increases have given rise to concerns about global food security. In the second half of 2008, after the onset of the global financial crisis, the price of agricultural commodities began to recede from their record levels. In March 2014, the global food index rose sharply, fuelling fears of a return to previous peaks.

    Long and short-term structural and cyclical factors have induced these price increases. These factors include declining growth in global agricultural productivity, increasing world demand for food commodities, a small number of countries supplying a large percentage of the agricultural commodity output and highly inelastic supply and demand.

    Arab countries are leading importers of food. Food-import dependency is projected to increase in the next decade as populations grow and freshwater resources decline. This dependency makes these countries vulnerable to conditions in global agricultural and food markets. Governments of the GCC countries have managed to cope with food price risk using oil-based revenues.

    Nonetheless, food security concerns cannot entirely and permanently be addressed using these forms of measures. What is more, GCC countries are exposed to food security quantity risk because their arable land and water resources are scarce, and therefore their domestic food supply is small.

    The GCC could play an important role in the future of food security. It is essential, indeed, to recognise that international commodity markets are interdependent and interconnected, and so are the world’s individual economies. For this reason, it would be wise to assess and weigh the weaknesses and strengths of their existing food security measures and policies, determine the real extents of their sustainability and effectiveness over the longer term, and develop more robust technology-based sustainable approaches.

    Putting great efforts towards scientific research and collaboration in this area will also be important. GCC countries have a vested interest and opportunity, like no other countries do, to actively lead this international discussion and pursuit.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: The National)

  • SOLUTIONS TO ADDRESS THE HEALTH IMPACT OF CHINESE ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION

    The health impact of environmental pollution represents the main issue under the spotlight in China, marking a turning point for environmental protection.

    Environmental health is a challenging complex policy that the Chinese government has to face. Currently, one of the main problem is the lack of adequate data and public information and the scarce monitoring and enforcement capacity. Moreover, the situation is getting worse by unequal development and by the uneven distribution of responsibilities and fiscal resources across central and local government.

    Achieving concrete policies in order to reduce the health impacts of environmental degradation is the main objective on the political agenda. In this way, it is important to reach a strong targeted policy and a careful allocation of resources, to address the fact that different pollutants could have different effects on health over different time frames and geographies. In relation to this, Chinese environmental safeguard and health systems will require a significant change to priorities and resource allocations.

    Moreover, China’s health sector has inadequate instruments to tackle the health effects of pollution. In addition to this, local health authorities currently have no mandate and no funding to control exposure to pollution.

    The huge dimension of the country, the uneven economic development, the regional difference and the specific environmental conditions represent an obstacle to quickly achieve uniform long term solutions.

    Due to the increasing process of industrialisation proceeding rapidly in China, a strong enforcement and effective green development policies will be the best solutions to achieve in order to keep pollution and negative health effects under control.

    Additionally,humanitarian and financial concerns represent the most important incentives that drive China to address problems related to the increasing industrialization, also supported by matters about social stability and legitimacy.

    In this frame, the government has the fundamental task to undertake targeted policies based on careful evaluation of the problems facing different regions and populations.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • CORRELATION BETWEEN NATURAL HAZARDS, FOOD SECURITY AND POLITICAL STABILITY

    As recent events have shown, a regional climate events can have a great global impact on agricultural and socioeconomic issues. Problems such as droughts in China, global wheat prices, and revolution in Egypt could appear at the first sight as distinct issues, but they are strongly connected, according to events occurred in the winter 2010/2011.

    The focus may be on the indirect causes of the so called Arab Spring. Significantly, the winter drought in China had shrinked global wheat supply contributing to global wheat shortages and rapidly rising bread prices in Egypt, that is the world’s largest wheat importer. Poverty, lack of bread in the market, and political dissatisfaction were the main cause of protests.

    Climate disaster, market forces, and authoritarian regimes show the complex situation of the public revolt in the Middle East. The link between natural hazards, food security, and political stability in developing countries such as China and Egypt, and the relation between climate events and social processes play a pivotal role in the global framework.

    Changing weather models affected the world wheat harvest, leading to supply scarcity. Climate factors cut wheat production in many countries decreasing global wheat supply and increasing prices.

    China, the largest wheat producer and consumer in the world, was facing severe droughts in the past: to address this situation, the government bought wheat on the international market, with a consequent rise in wheat prices and a significant economic impact in other countries as Egypt, the main wheat importer.

    International wheat prices were strongly affected by climate conditions, with significant agricultural and socioeconomic impact. This situation reveals as a regional climate event can have a great global impact, that means that hazards can affect globalized systems. A wheat crop failure and consequent government actions  influenced economic and political conditions in other regions of the world. In this framework, natural risks can significantly influence economic, political and social systems on an international range.

    The territorial geography of countries as Egypt and China characterized by arid areas increases the  dependence on climate factors. For this reason, governments had tried tobalance agriculture, finances, and food supply with public needs. The effect of climate risks on wheat production outlines how hazards, agriculture, economics, and politics can be intricately linked.

    In this context, drought represents the natural hazard with the main spatial and temporal extent due to great potential number of people affected and its link to agricultural production and water resources all over the world. Environmental disasters could negatively affect food supply and social stability. The indirect influence of climate events and disasters on water, food, and populations give such events an international extent. As recent facts has shown, a natural hazard such as a drought in China can strongly influenced bread prices and food security, causing social unrest and political stability in the Middle East and showing in this way the global impact of natural phenomena as drought.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: ISN)

  • THE DIFFICULT PATH OF LABOUR RIGHTS IN SOUTH ASIA

    The Punjab Labour Department has organized the first South Asia Labour Conference (SALC) with the aim to foster labour-friendly polices among South Asian countries. The SAARC countries, the International Labour Organization, the European Union and the World Trade Organization have joined the Conference.

    The contribute of this important event is the acknowledgement of the various challenges faced by South Asian countries in order to provide jobs in line with international labour targets and better working conditions, enhancing living standards of labourers and better job opportunities.

    South Asia is one of the biggest players in the global development, representing the 70 percent of the world’s market. This area has also the world’s largest working-age population, a quarter of the world’s middle class consumers and a growing labour force. Young people represent the key resource for development.

    However, the government has to focus on adequate policies to increase better job opportunities. In this framework, the objective to strengthen the level of productivity - that means improving education and skill development - represents the most important challenge that has to be addressed.

    In this way, the pivotal aim of the South Asia Labour Conference has been to undertake measures in order to increase the skill level of workers stopping the alarming vicious poverty circle, and giving labourers decent life conditions.

    In addition to this, World Bank's data have shown that South Asia houses 42 percent of the world’s poor, more than any other area. According to that, poverty and lack of adequate education strongly affects this region. This situation has been exploited by employers who ignored labour laws and standards.

    Salaries do not reflect the minimum target established by the governments. Moreover, the situation is even worse in the private sector: peasants do not receive protection in terms of decent income due to the high degree of exploitation and manipulation that characterized the entire sector.

    In this context, a concrete land reform and a urgent agricultural policy represent the only way to overcome the disadvantages that significantly affect this area.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 1 May 2014

    (Source: Daily Times)

  • UK NEW INCENTIVES TO INSTALL ENERGY-SAVING MEASURES

    The government has recently announced the payments of thousands of pounds to householders in England and Wales to install energy-saving measures such as insulation and new boilers. This strategy represents the instrument to improve the government's energy efficiency scheme.

    Although, the so called Green Deal proposed in January 2013 was described by ministers as the most efficient home improvement programme since the second world war, it has faced many administrative problems during its path.

    According to this program, the government will offer a £500 payment to householders who install energy efficiency measures, and a £1,000 payment for fitting measures that include installing double glazing, cavity wall isolation, a new boiler, replacement doors and flat roof isolation. Moreover, householders with old properties will be able to undertake works in order to isolate walls, claiming 75% of the cost.

    In this way, the government has stressed its commitment to guarantee households across the country to benefit from more energy efficient homes, reducing bills and at the same time making cheaper for people to stay warm and improve their homes' standard.

    Moreover, the government has overtaken criticisms of the previous scheme that required people to pay £100-150 for an upfront assessment of their home to choice the best measures. According to the new plan, up to £100 of the assessment cost will be refunded after works will be launched.

    This package of measures has been welcomed by the UK Green Building Council as a strong attempt to preserve and improve the green deal, stressing the government's purpose to achieve a concrete home energy efficiency. Following this way, the increased cash-back for good-quality wall insulation represents a challenging measure.

    On the other hand, despite this breakthrough, the UK Green Building Council has stressed the importance to follow this way, in order to avoid the negative example of the past. Government still needs to go further to make energy efficiency more attractive to consumers.

    In this framework, energy efficiency is a crucial objective for cutting fuel bills, reducing demand and tackling climate change, at the core of Government energy policy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 1 May 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • SOLAR POWER COULD BOOST AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT

    According to an environmental think-tank, Sub-Saharan Africas electricity deficit can be covered if countries turn to ambitious,large-scale renewable energy projects.

    A report by the Green Alliance warns that Sub-Saharan Africa faces an acute energy crisis, with 70% of the population lacking access to electricity. Population growth is continuing to outstrip electrification and “the number of people without energy access is only projected to grow,”say the authors of the report. “This has significant implications for development, with impacts on health, education and household economy. Disproportionate amounts of time and income are spent securing energy by other means.”

    “Low carbon, decentralised energy can reach communities much faster than expanding existing, inefficient central grid systems. And it offers immediate improvements to people's lives. Projections for achieving universal energy access in sub-Saharan Africa acknowledge this potential and assume that just over half the provision will need to be mini and off-grid solutions. Such options will also be more resilient in the face ofclimate changes.”

    The Labour party launched the study to give support to clean power for Africa. Chuka Umunna MP, the business secretary, called on African and British cities to share technology and ideas: “The green economy presents huge opportunities for dynamic and innovative British businesses to export overseas and increase energy access in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa through renewable technology. We are clear that Britain must be a world leader in the low-carbon economy. This is key to growing the high-skilled, better-paid jobs we need as well as powering development across the globe that benefits all.”

    According to the Green Alliance, “renewable technologyhas less than half the operating costs of traditional diesel generators and can make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation, at the same time as providing affordable and equitable energy access for millions of people.”

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 30 April 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • AHS STUDY: INCREASE IN USE OF E-CIGARETTES IN UK

    An ASH study estimated that the number of people who use electronic cigarettes in the UK has tripled over the past two years to 2.1 million. ASH's findings are released on the end of consultation on e-cigarette advertising.

    Despite the long term effects of e-cigarettes remaining unclear, just over half of current or ex-smokers have now tried electronic cigarettes, compared with 8% in 2010. From those 700,000 ex-smokers, 71% admitted to use the tobacco alternatives as a tool to quit smoking altogether.

    Nearly two-thirds of users said they also smoked regular cigarettes, with the other third being ex-smokers, an increase in the proportion of former smokers compared to previous years. Just 1% of those asked who never smoked said they had tried electronic cigarettes.

    Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) told that the increase in use of electronic cigarettes over the past four years declares that smokers are turning to these devices to help them stop smoking. Significantly, usage among non-smokers remains negligible.

    A separate ongoing survey, the Smoking Toolkit Study, which covers England, has found that electronic cigarettes are overtaking the use of nicotine products such as patches and gum as an aid to quitting smoking.

    According to this study, the proportion of smokers who have quit in the last year has increased and smoking rates in England are continuing to fall. The study leader Prof. Robert West said that electronic cigarettes may be helping to reduce smoking and there is no evidence that they are acting as a gateway into smoking. However, it is important to control the advertising of electronic cigarettes to make sure children and non-smokers are not being targeted.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, April 30, 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST DRAX SHEDS LIGHT ON THE PERVERSE EFFECTS OF BIOFUELS

    Why replacing fossil fuels with biofuels is not such a good idea?

    The quest to turn plants into fuel seem to replicate - or exceed - the worst effects of other extractive technologies. In Brazil's Cerrado region, a massive land grab is underway to convert diverse ecosystems and locally sustaining agricultural land into monoculture eucalyptus tree farms. In order to do that, non-deeded public land that has been farmed by families for generations is being appropriated and privatised by agribusinesses.

    Huge logging operations are devastating the Carolina swamp forests in order to make wood pellets, some of which are shipped to the UK to feed the Drax electrical generation facility. In Indonesia, native forests and peatlands are being destroyed to make room for palm oil plantations to produce biodiesel, through land grabs and at the detriment of local farmers. Palm oil plantations are also spreading in Africa.

    Biofuel production appears, indeed, ecologically catastrophic. What is more, it is neither carbon neutral, as many believe. Fist, for clearcut forests to fully regenerate takes decades or even centuries, resulting in a CO2 increase over the next 50 years. Second, deforestation often results in soil erosion and the release of carbon from formerly stable soil structures. Third, when biofuel is produced from corn or sugar cane plantations, these have less embedded carbon than a mature forest would.

    It seems therefore that, while there may be a legitimate role for small-scale production of biofuels, industrial-scale operations are revealing themselves to be just as ecologically disruptive as fossil fuels. Companies such as Drax, Enviva or Suzano benefit from government subsidies and other policies designed to promote biofuels. According to many activists from anti-biofuels movement, they are operating a cynical public relations campaign, putting a green facade over practices they know to be destructive.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 24 April 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • KENYA STRUGGLES AGAINST HIV: IMPROVING MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH

    Even though, Kenya is one of the most developed economies in East and Central Africa, the country needs to improve  the issue of maternal and child health, in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

    In 2012, more than 100 000 children died before their fifth birthday, largely due to preventable causes. In the same year, 13 000 new HIV infections occurred among children and 62% of children living with HIV did not access life-saving antiretroviral drugs.

    In order to improve maternal and child health outcomes in the country, the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta launched the ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’ on the 24th of January in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. The new initiative also aims to accelerate the implementation of the national plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children.

    The ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’ is part of the initiatives outlined in the Strategic Framework for the engagement of the First Lady in HIV control and promotion of maternal, newborn and child health in Kenya that was unveiled on World AIDS Day 2013. The framework aims to galvanize high-level leadership in ending new HIV infections among children and reducing HIV related deaths among women and children in Kenya.

    The strategic framework focuses on five key areas: accelerating HIV programmes; influencing investment in high impact activities to promote maternal and child health and HIV control; mobilizing men as clients, partners and agents of change; involving communities to address barriers to accessing HIV, maternal and child health services and providing leadership, accountability and recognition to accelerate the attainment of HIV, maternal and child health targets.

    Kenya continues to struggle with treatment access and lack of resources. In order to address the gaps in access, Kenya’s Ministry of Health will invest approximately $400 million this year in programs focused on reducing HIV transmission and maternal and child mortality, recruiting and training skilled health care workers, and providing health facilities with necessary supplies.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, April 30, 2014

    (Source: Huffington Post)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • TONY ABBOTT’S CONTROVERSIAL REVIEW OF AUSTRALIA’S RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET

    The government's review of the renewable energy target assumes no risk to investments in coal-fired power stations for the next couple of decades.

    The renewable energy industry has labelled a controversial Abbott government review an unprecedented scam after learning that it was conducting electricity industry modelling on the assumption there would be no risks or costs to investments in coal-fired power stations in the next few decades.

    Clean energy representatives were shocked by the panel’s appointment as chief advisor and modeller of ACIL Allen, a consultancy seen really close to the fossil fuel industry. Around 50 people who attended the RET Review panel’s modelling forum on Wednesday were also told that the modelling will assume that investors in fossil fuel generation would not need to factor in any risk due to climate policies for decades–neither a carbon price, nor a requirement to invest in emission-reducing technologies, nor any cost from any other government policy or regulation.

    John Grimes, the CEO of the Australian Solar Council, echoed the thoughts of many who attended the meeting when he said it appeared clear that the RET review will serve only to protect the vested interests in the current electricity market. “This is an absolute stitch-up. They are predetermining the outcome of this modelling by the assumptions they are making …it is an unprecedented scam in policy-making and it needs to be called for what it is,”Grimes told Guardian Australia.

    Grimes also added that any model that fails to consider a carbon price (in any form) up to 2030, in the face of international action on climate change, is negligent and lacks any credibility.”

    The RET review was already controversial because of the Abbott government’s decision to by-pass the Climate Change Authority and appoint a panel led by climate change denier and pro-nuclear advocate Dick Warburton. Maurice Newman, the government’s top business adviser, has said that persisting with government subsidies for renewable energy represents a “crime against the people”because higher energy costs hit poorer households the hardest and there is no longer any logical reason to have them. However, the government needs the approval of the Climate Change Authority - which is required by legislation - to undertake regular reviews of the RET.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: The  Guardian)

  • JACKFRUIT REGARDED AS 'MIRACLE' FOOD CROP

    Researchers promote the jackfruit's potential as a food substitute for Asia. Researchers say jackfruit–a large fruit grown across south and south-east Asia–could be a replacement for wheat, corn and other staple crops under threat from climate change.

    A report from the International Panel on Climate Change revealed  last month  that heat waves, drought, and unpredictable rainfall patterns were already cutting into yields of wheat and maize. The World Bank's Dr Jim Yong Kim warned food shortages could lead to wars within the next five to 10 years.

    According to some researchers, jackfruit - the largest known treeborne fruit - could now provide asolution. Shyamala Reddy, a biotechnology researcher at the University of Agriculture Sciences in Bangalore said: “It’s a miracle. It can provide so many nutrients and calories that if you just eat 10 or 12 bulbs of this fruit, you don't need food for another half a day.”

    Despite its huge potential, jackfruit remains underexploited as a food crop in India. For this reason, the Indian government had launched a number of new initiatives to promote the crop by expanding its use. That seems necessary considering the urgent challenge to expand food production, especially in developing countries. Sri Lankaand Vietnamhave established jackfruit industries, where the fruit is processed into different products, canned and also sold as a vegetable for export.

    Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, said “Jackfruit is easy to grow. It survives pests and diseases and high temperatures. It is drought-resistant.”“It achieves what farmers need in food production when facing a lot of challenges under climate change,”she added. Jackfruit, breadfruit, and other non-traditional crops are being reexamined because of fears about future food supply.

    “There is more interest in crops that aren't the major staples,”she said. “We just don't have a choice. We are going to have to explore some of these alternative to make sure we are going to be able to nourish people,”Nierenberg said.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 23 April2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • TONY ABBOTT’S CONTROVERSIAL REVIEW OF AUSTRALIA’S RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET (RET)

    The government's review of the renewable energy target assumes no risk to investments in coal-fired power stations for the next couple of decades.

    The renewable energy industry has labelled a controversial Abbott government review an unprecedented scamafter learning that it was conducting electricity industry modelling on the assumption there would be no risk or cost to investments in coal-fired power stations in the next few decades.

    Clean energy representatives were shocked by the panel’s appointment as chief advisor and modeller of ACIL Allen, a consultancy seen really close to the fossil fuel industry. Around 50 people who attended the RET Review panel’s modelling forum on Wednesday were also told that the modelling will assume that investors in fossil fuel generation would not need to factor in any risk due to climate policies for decades–neither a carbon price, nor a requirement to invest in emission-reducing technologies, nor any cost from any other government policy or regulation.

    John Grimes, the CEO of the Australian Solar Council, echoed the thoughts of many who attended the meeting when he said it appeared clear that the RET review will serve only to protect the vested interests in the current electricity market. “This is an absolute stitch-up. They are predetermining the outcome of this modelling by the assumptions they are making …it is an unprecedented scam in policy-making and it needs to be called for what it is,”Grimes told Guardian Australia.

    Grimes also added that any model thatfails to consider a carbon price(in any form) up to 2030, in the face of international action on climate change, is negligent and lacks any credibility.”

    The RET review was already controversial because of the Abbott government’s decision to by-pass the Climate Change Authority and appoint a panel led by climate change denier and pro-nuclear advocate Dick Warburton. Maurice Newman, the government’s top business adviser, has said that persisting with government subsidies for renewable energy represents a “crime against the people”because higher energy costs hit poorer households the hardest and there is no longer any logical reason to have them. However, the government needs the approval of the Climate Change Authority - which is required by legislation - to undertake regular reviews of the RET.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: The  Guardian)

  • WORLD MALARIA DAY - THE NEW GUIDE IS TITLED “FROM MALARIA CONTROL TO MALARIA ELIMINATION: A MANUAL FOR ELIMINATION SCENARIO PLANNING”

    The World Health Organization launched a new guide on the 25th April during World Malaria Day that will provide countries with a framework and guidelines to eliminate malaria.

    The manual was produced in collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Imperial College United Kingdom, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Southampton and the Global Health Group at the University of California.

    Despite malaria mortality rates have diminished by 42% since 2000, the disease caused an estimated 627,000 deaths in 2012 only, according to the World Health Organization. Children and pregnant women are the worst affected, and over 80% of deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa among children under five. Three out of four people are at risk of malaria in South-East Asia region.

    World Health Organization called for greater investment in the battle against malaria on the occasion of World Malaria Day. Even though the number of confirmed malaria cases in the region, which is home to a quarter of the world’s population, decreased from 2.9 million in 2000 to 2 million in 2012, the disease remains a significant threat to the lives of people.

    The elimination scenario planning manual provides malaria-endemic countries with a comprehensive framework to assess different scenarios for moving towards this goal, depending on programme coverage and funding availability. It also helps countries set realistic timelines and provides essential knowledge for strategic planning in the long term.

    WHO Global Malaria Program Director John Reedersaid  that a long-term view on malaria is essential, in order to plan the period after its elimination. In fact, if the interventions are reduced or abandoned, malaria transmission can re-establish quickly in areas that are inclined to the disease, causing infections and deaths.

    Seven countries have reduced malaria transmission rates to zero and are in the “prevention of reintroduction phase.” WHO classified 19 countries as ready to undertaking the “pre-elimination or elimination phase.” United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Turkmenistan and Armenia have been classified as malaria-free.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: WHO)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • FDA: ABOUT 40% OF DRUGS USED IN US ARE PRODUCED OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY

    About 40% of all over-the-counter and generic drugs used in the United States are produced in India. Companies have been using India for production largely because they have been able to do it cheaply. But it is becoming apparent that one of the reasons for those low costs may be because the results are under the standard level.

    In response to this and other factors, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act was passed in July of 2012. Part of the law involved some changes to generic drug user fees. Companies looking for approval now need to pay some extra money to allow better inspection of production facilities.

    Last year, inspectors from the FDA looked at 160 drug plants there. Drugs were sometimes adulterated or contaminated. Facilities were often filthy or infested with bugs. Ensuring quality has never been easy in the gigantic Indian pharmaceutical industry. The sector, with over 20,000 registered pharmaceutical companies, remains inadequately regulated. And this has been highlighted repeatedly in the past few years.

    In the beginning of April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned imports from Canadian drug maker Apotex Inc’s manufacturing plant in India for not complying with quality standards, the latest in a series of sanctions against medicines produced in India.

    The ban on Apotex’s factory comes after manufacturing plants of top Indian drug makers like Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, Wockhardt Ltd. and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. were banned from exporting to the United States due to quality concerns.

    If pharmaceutical companies move out of India, they will likely decide to go to other countries that can also offer cheap services. One of those is likely China. As in India, the FDA is working with the Chinese government and plans to increase staff—from the current eight U.S. officers to 27—to conduct timely inspections of more Chinese plants and other tasks.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014

    (Source: Consumer Reports)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • THE URGENCY OF CONCRETE SOLUTIONS TO ADDRESS THE HEALTH IMPACT OF CHINESE ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION

    The health impact of environmental pollution represents the main issue under the spotlight in China, marking a turning point for environmental protection.

    Environmental health is a challenging complex policy that the Chinese government has to face. Currently, one of the main problem is the lack of adequate data and public information and the scarce monitoring and enforcement capacity. Moreover, the situation is getting worse by unequal development and by the uneven distribution of responsibilities and fiscal resources across central and local government.

    Achieving concrete policies in order to reduce the health impacts of environmental degradation is the main objective on the political agenda. In this way, it is important to reach a strong targeted policy and a careful allocation of resources, to address the fact that different pollutants could have different effects on health over different time frames and geographies. In relation to this, Chinese environmental safeguard and health systems will require a significant change to priorities and resource allocations.

    Moreover, China’s health sector has inadequate instruments to tackle the health effects of pollution. In addition to this, local health authorities currently have no mandate and no funding to control exposure to pollution.

    The huge dimension of the country, the uneven economic development, the regional difference and the specific environmental conditions represent an obstacle to quickly achieve uniform long term solutions.

    Due to the increasing process of industrialisation proceeding rapidly in China, a strong enforcement and effective green development policies will be the best solutions to achieve in order to keep pollution and negative health effects under control.

    Additionally,humanitarian and financial concerns represent the most important incentives that drive China to address problems related to the increasing industrialization, also supported by matters about social stability and legitimacy.

    In this frame, the government has the fundamental task to undertake targeted policies based on careful evaluation of the problems facing different regions and populations.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: Chinadialogue)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • THE INTERNATIONAL SCALE OF THE LINK BETWEEN NATURAL HAZARDS, FOOD SECURITY AND POLITICAL STABILITY

    As recent events have shown, a regional climate events can have a great global impact on agricultural and socioeconomic issues. Problems such as droughts in China, global wheat prices, and revolution in Egypt could appear at the first sight as distinct issues, but they are strongly connected, according to events occurred in the winter 2010/2011.

    The focus may be on the indirect causes of the so called Arab Spring. Significantly, the winter drought in China had shrinked global wheat supply contributing to global wheat shortages and rapidly rising bread prices in Egypt, that is the world’s largest wheat importer. Poverty, lack of bread in the market, and political dissatisfaction were the main cause of protests.

    Climate disaster, market forces, and authoritarian regimes show the complex situation of the public revolt in the Middle East. The link between natural hazards, food security, and political stability in developing countries such as China and Egypt, and the relation between climate events and social processes play a pivotal role in the global framework.

    Changing weather models affected the world wheat harvest, leading to supply scarcity. Climate factors cut wheat production in many countries decreasing global wheat supply and increasing prices.

    China, the largest wheat producer and consumer in the world, was facing severe droughts in the past: to address this situation, the government bought wheat on the international market, with a consequent rise in wheat prices and a significant economic impact in other countries as Egypt, the main wheat importer.

    International wheat prices were strongly affected by climate conditions, with significant agricultural and socioeconomic impact. This situation reveals as a regional climate event can have a great global impact, that means that hazards can affect globalized systems. A wheat crop failure and consequent government actions  influenced economic and political conditions in other regions of the world. In this framework, natural risks can significantly influence economic, political and social systems on an international range.

    The territorial geography of countries as Egypt and China characterized by arid areas increases the  dependence on climate factors. For this reason, governments had tried tobalance agriculture, finances, and food supply with public needs. The effect of climate risks on wheat production outlines how hazards, agriculture, economics, and politics can be intricately linked.

    In this context, drought represents the natural hazard with the main spatial and temporal extent due to great potential number of people affected and its link to agricultural production and water resources all over the world. Environmental disasters could negatively affect food supply and social stability.

    The indirect influence of climate events and disasters on water, food, and populations give such events an international extent. As recent facts has shown, a natural hazard such as a drought in China can strongly influenced bread prices and food security, causing social unrest and political stability in the Middle East and showing in this way the global impact of natural phenomena as drought.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: ISN)

  • BEING EXCUSED FROM THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT’S REQUIREMENT

    According to internal government documents, around 77,000 families and individuals have requested the exemptions from the individual mandate so far. But when compared to the 8 million who have signed up, the number of exemptions appears to suggest that Americans are complying with the mandate.

    People who belong to certain religious groups, Native Americans, illegal immigrants and people falling under "hardship" categories may all request exemptions, including people who have experienced other hardships in obtaining health insurance. Not only Native Americans, undocumented immigrants, prisoners and those with religious objections are exempted from the individual mandate penalty, but there are also exemptions based on earning power and affordability. In fact, those who do not earn enough to file income tax returns are exempted.

    Serco (the company which processes exemptions for all states but Connecticut) reports that there have been few people seeking hardship exemptions. As of April 20, just 2,700 of those applications were processed and have been set aside until the federal government said how to go ahead with them.

    On Friday, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials said  that the agency is working with those people to see if they can fit into a different exemption category. In addition, 20,000 applications have not yet been processed from people who say they can't afford insurance, Serco reported. CMS is testing a tool that will allow those people to calculate whether they are eligible for an income-based exemption.

    While the exemptions are low now, the Obama administration estimates that some 12 million people will seek exemptions by 2016. Of the exemption requests, more than 32,000 came from Native Americans, who are exempted because their healthcare is funded through the federal Indian Health Service.

    In addition, more than 11,000 religious exemptions were approved as of April 20, and organized efforts have been made in Amish and Mennonite communities that are already exempted from Social Security and Medicare.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, April 28, 2014

    (Source: Washington Post)

  • NHS: PATIENTS WAIT TOO LONG FOR SPECIALIST CARE

    Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) found out that people in the NHS borders area had to wait between 78 weeks and 104 weeks to access specialist pain psychology services. Patients had to wait an average of 10 weeks to get specialist treatment from a chronic pain management service, according to the HIS report.

    Across Scotland, people had to wait an average of 30.2 weeks, which is a long time considering the fact that chronic pain affects about 18% of the population (about 800,000 people) of the country. At the moment, some 20 to 30 Scots per year have to go to a specialist centre in Bath for treatment due to the absence of such a centre in Scotland.

    According to the report, the Health Secretary Alex Neil said that more efforts have to be done to help those suffering from chronic pain, which is classed as pain that has been present for more than 12 weeks despite medication or treatment.

    The site for a new national centre to treat sufferers should be set up as soon as possible, Mr Neil said. It will offer residential courses on how to cope with the effects of chronic pain and manage the condition. It is estimated that about 100 patients per a year will be referred to the new centre.

    The Scottish Government has already invested £1.3 million improving services and set up both a national steering group for chronic pain and a support group to help share best practice. It means that the Scottish government is improving the situation. Eight health boards across the country have established outpatient pain management programs, with three health boards developing similar services.

    As the report says, the change will start to be seen quickly and more patients will experience the highest quality of care.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, April 28 2014

    (Source: BBC)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • NEW STUDY REVEALS: CORN BIOFUELS ARE WORSE THAN GASOLINE ON GLOBAL WARMING

    A government-funded study found that fuel developed from corn will contribute to climate change in the short-term.

    Using the leftovers of harvested corn as fuel turned out to be worse for the environment than plain old gasoline, according to a new government-funded study. It’s a major blow to the promise of cellulosic biofuels, into which the federal government has invested more than a billion dollars.

    A $500,000 study, which was published on Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, disclosed that corn biofuels will have more of an impact on climate change than conventional gasoline, at least in the early years, releasing 7% more greenhouse gases.

    Representatives from the biofuel industry and the Obama administration immediately criticized the research, calling it “simplistic.” In contrast, a study funded by DuPont, which is currently building a $200 million facility dedicated to corn biofuel, found that its ethanal could be over 100% better than gasoline in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

    The research published in Nature Climate Change is among the first to attempt to quantify, over 12 corn belt states, how much carbon is lost to the atmosphere when the stalks, leaves and cobs that make up residue are removed and used to make biofuel, instead of being left to naturally replenish the soil with carbon. The study found that regardless of how much corn residue is taken off the field, the process contributes to global warming.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Sunday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • APPLE'S COMMITMENT TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    Climate change represents the biggest global issue to face with urgency, Apple said outlining its breakthrough on environment targets. Apple has announced that 94% of its structures and 100% of its data centres are now powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar power. The technology company has strongly expressed its commitment about environmental issues in order to reduce theimpact of its work on the environment, using sustainable materials and constantly inventing new strategies to preserve precious resources.

    Although Greenpeace had criticized Apple in the past for its use of fossil fuels as energy source, it has recently recognised the progress of the company. In this way, Apple is at the forefront of the environmental protection, above other technology giants such as Amazon. For example, we can just consider that Apple's Maiden data centre in North Carolina is powered by a large 20MW solar farm and biogas fuel cells.

    Apple has also admitted that its carbon footprint in 2013 was 33.8m metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, around 5% of the UK's annual CO2 emissions for the same year. The company has also explained that three-quarters of the emissions came from production.

    Highlighting its challenging task, Apple has announced that its new headquarters in California will use 30% less energy than a similar building, giving the space of around 7,000 trees. Moreover, in relation to its program of environmental safeguard, the company has also stressed the increasing reduction of the material required to realise its products.

    Additionally the company has achieved good results in recycling, strengthening its commitment for renewable energy and sustainability: now all retail stores will take back products for free.

    Furthermore, according to the strong environmental groups' protests about the use of tin in the products sourced from areas where mining has caused severe environmental damages, Apple has expressed its purpose to foster aclean and sustainable development.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 29 April 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)