G20 Initiatives to Support the Global EconomyThe G20 is a group of 20 leading nations (19 countries and the European Union) that gather for high-level discussions on macro-financial, socio-economic and development issues on a global scale. Together, they comprise almost 90% of global GDP and 80% of global trade. This year, the G20 summit will be held from November 21-22, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Supporting the Global Economy Amid COVID-19

This October, the G20 highlighted the importance of prioritizing the global fight against COVID-19 and doing “whatever it takes” to support the global economy. As part of their plan to bring COVID-19 under control, the G20 has pledged to invest upwards of $5 trillion to support the global economy. This is in response to the widespread economic consequences of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

The U.N. has previously spoken out about the importance of the G20 coming together to develop a plan for tackling the novel coronavirus. In March 2020, the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the G20 directly in New York, saying that “solidarity is essential, among the G20 and with the developing world, including countries in conflict.” He added that the pandemic requires a “war-time plan to fight it.”

“While the liquidity of the financial system must be assured, our emphasis must be on the human dimension. We need to concentrate on people, keeping households afloat and businesses solvent, able to protect jobs,” Guterres continued.

Guterres also called for debt relief, economic and social support to developed countries and a stimulus package.

Solutions to Support the Global Economy

To support the global economy as a whole, the G20 will likely be required to heed the aforementioned requests from the U.N. Additionally, economic forecasts show that developing countries are at much greater risk of economic anxiety due to the socio-economic effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic, in contrast to developed countries which are already showing signs toward economic recovery.

The G20 has now also agreed for the first time on a “Common Framework” to handle low-income countries facing debt, which is a monumental step forward for global debt relief. This framework is expected to be finalized at the November meeting.

Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the IMF has commented on this achievement. “I am encouraged by G20 discussions on a Common Framework for Sovereign Debt Resolution as well as on our call for improving the architecture for sovereign debt resolution, including private sector participation,” said Georgieva on October 15, 2020.

The G20 has also agreed to extend the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) by six months. This means it will now freeze official bilateral debt payments until the end of 2020. The G20 has also stated that another six-month extension will be considered in April. This is significant progress from the G20’s past stance regarding the global debt agenda.

Katherine Musgrave
Photo: Flickr

The Benefits of Giving, How Generosity Can Improve Your HealthNow more than ever, the world needs more compassion and generosity. Many are suffering mentally and emotionally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—and one possible way to alleviate this is to show kindness to others. According to experts, generosity can have a positive impact on individuals’ well-being. There are many benefits of giving, improving the health and financial well-being of not only the receiver but the giver too.

How Generosity Improves Emotional Health

The concept of “helper’s high” refers to the positive emotional response one experiences after performing an act of generosity. According to experts, this emotion is associated with “greater health and increased longevity.” A recent study has proven that acts of altruism trigger activity in the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), a part of the brain that is linked to the brain’s reward system.

During a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the giving and receiving parties can benefit from generosity. Another study found that different types of generosity can have different effects on individuals. The researchers found that performing generous acts for those close to us can reduce activity in the amygdala, a part of the human brain associated with stress and anxiety.

However, they also found that less targeted actions, such as giving to charity, also trigger activity in the ventral striatum, a region associated with compassion and care in mammals. Time and time again, studies have shown that acts of kindness toward both your loved ones and strangers can improve your mental and emotional health. Thus, it is especially important during this unprecedented time of crisis to find ways to show kindness.

How Giving Can Improve Your Financial Well-Being

On top of reducing one’s own stress and emotional turmoil, there are financial benefits of giving. During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans have struggled as a result of business closures, limited job opportunities and a struggling economy. Although it may seem counterintuitive to donate money to others when finances seem scarce, there are both practical and mental benefits to giving.

Under the current federal COVID-19 relief provisions, donating money can provide more tax breaks than ever before. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act for short, allows individuals up to $300 in charitable contribution deductions. It also raised the limit on charitable contributions from 60 to “up to 100% of 2020 adjusted gross income,” if the deductions are itemized.

The financial benefits of giving do not just end at tax deductions, though. Financial planner Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz believes that charitable contributions are important to reformulate the ways in which we perceive money. Money should be spent wisely, and that includes putting it toward causes and issues that one cares about.

Ways to Give

During the COVID-19 pandemic, generosity, compassion and giving are especially important. There are also more ways than ever to help, both big and small. One easy way is to complete small tasks such as grocery shopping or making care packages for your loved ones who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. There are also ways to support your community such as by making and distributing cloth face masks or by collecting and donating food for those in need. An even simpler way to help is through donations. There are many around the world who are suffering as a result of the ongoing pandemic, so now is a great time to give to causes you care about.

Individuals suffering from extreme poverty can be more susceptible to COVID-19 and can suffer more from the pandemic’s socio-economic consequences. The Borgen Project is accepting donations so that it can do as much as possible to make this issue central to American foreign policy in the future. Donating will not only help those who need it the most but the donator too.

– Leina Gabra
Photo: Flickr 

Estee Lauder Aiding COVID-19 Relief EffortsWhen Estée Lauder founded her makeup company in 1953, she sought to revolutionize the cosmetic world. From essential bath oils to perfumes, Lauder transformed her dreams into a multimillion-dollar company. Recently, this retail empire stepped beyond the makeup counter and did its part to aid global COVID-19 relief programs. Lauder grounded her company in “the spirit of giving,” and the Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation (ELCCF) sought to honor their founder’s values. ELCCF recognized “the strain” COVID-19 placed on impoverished communities, so its members developed a response plan. Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response kept these communities in mind by assisting developing countries, frontline workers and global healthcare employees.

Starting in March 2020, Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response includes supporting Doctors Without Borders, non-governmental organizations, BeautyUnited and manufacturing hand sanitizer to contribute to COVID-19 relief efforts.

Supporting Doctors Without Borders

To launch their global COVID-19 relief campaign, Estée Lauder donated $2 million to Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders—also referred to as Medecins Sans Frontieres—developed a specialized response to the virus by supporting “under-resourced and highly impacted countries.”

Estée Lauder’s donation will go a long way as Doctors Without Borders currently works in 70 countries worldwide. Doctors Without Borders provides quality care to vulnerable and at-risk community members: “elderly people in nursing homes, homeless people and migrants living in precarious circumstances.”

Doctors Without Borders also seeks to improve infection and prevention procedures in healthcare centers by funneling personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline workers in developing countries. By funding Doctors Without Borders’ programs, Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response assisted workers and patients in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Niger and Syria.

Funding NGOs Worldwide

Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response focused on assisting non-governmental organizations in China, specifically the Red Cross Society of China, Give2Asia and the Shanghai Charity Foundation. Estée Lauder sought to help the former epicenter of the virus recover and even provided additional donations to the China Women’s Development Foundation, supporting female front-line workers.

In the Middle East and Africa, Estée Lauder assisted Oxfam International’s work in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. ELCCF even extended its relief efforts to Latin America by awarding grants to Mision Huascaran in Peru, Panama Solidario, Unibes in Brazil, Cruz Rojo in Mexico and the Waldorf Foundation in Colombia. Estée Lauder donated $3.2 million to these NGOs, providing “flexible funding in this time of need.”

Endorsing BeautyUnited

As part of its COVID-19 response campaign, Estée Lauder partnered with 40 other beauty brands and celebrities, like Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Drew Barrymore as part of BeautyUnited.

BeautyUnited’s “industry-wide effort” also supports frontline health workers. This “special coalition” of beauty moguls and cosmetics corporations specializes in providing PPE to doctors, nurses and essential workers in the developing world. As part of BeautyUnited, Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 response moved beyond monetary donations to provide “life-saving” medical equipment.

Manufacturing Hand Sanitizer

After donating $15 million to relief efforts and joining BeautyUnited, Estée Lauder wanted to do more. Given the scarcity of hand sanitizer at home and abroad, Estée Lauder worked with Jo Malone London, another cosmetics brand, to manufacture hand sanitizer in their U.K. factories. As the pandemic escalated, hand sanitizer became a hot commodity; one Estée Lauder wanted to share with the rest of the world.

Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response went above and beyond the expectations of a traditional cosmetics company. The future remains uncertain, but ELCCF will continue to assist impoverished countries throughout this health crisis. Echoing their founder’s giving spirit, Estée Lauder is prepared to meet new and “emerging needs” and will continue to “prioritize medical and emergency” response efforts.

– Kyler Juarez
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 Facts About COVID-19 in Impoverished NationsThe COVID-19 pandemic is affecting countries worldwide, but it has created an additional burden for impoverished nations. The novel coronavirus is creating new concerns for vulnerable communities and is making current issues much worse. Here are 10 facts about COVID-19 in impoverished nations.

10 Facts About COVID-19 in Impoverished Nations

  1. The global poverty rate is projected to increase due to COVID-19. Globally, 71 million people are going to be forced into extreme poverty because of the effects of the novel coronavirus. This is a 0.59% increase in extreme global poverty and the first increase since 1998.
  2. Only 0.01% of people in low-income nations have been tested for COVID-19. In contrast, high-income countries have a test rate of 5.2% and upper-middle-income countries at 2.2%. Due to the lack of healthcare funding and infrastructure, low-income nations cannot meet the high demand for testing. With little access to testing, people in lower-income nations are at a much higher risk of complications with COVID-19 going undetected.
  3. More people in low-income nations are experiencing an income decrease than high-income nations. According to a poll by BBC World Service, 69% of people in poor countries received a pay decrease while 45% of people in high-income countries reported a pay decrease. More specifically, 91% of people in Kenya, 81% in Thailand, 80% in Nigeria, 77% in South Africa, 76% in Indonesia and 74% in Vietnam reported negative financial effects due to COVID-19.
  4. Developing countries may not get the number of vaccines needed to vaccinate the population. The United States, Japan and the European Union pre-purchased a minimum of 3.7 billion COVID-19 vaccines. Developing nations do not have the funds to purchase these vaccines. However, with $5.4 billion, impoverished nations will have sufficient vaccines for their people. The international community has only given $1 billion to this cause, meaning only 10% of people in low-income nations will get a COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. The number of food-insecure people will double this year because of COVID-19. This means 265 million more people are going to have food insecurity by the end of this year because of the novel coronavirus.
  6. Millions of children do not have access to education due to COVID-19. Half of the students in sub-Saharan Africa have not had access to education since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, about 1% of students in the most impoverished countries have access to the internet for remote learning. As a result, the poverty cycle will continue in developing nations because children do not have access to education.
  7. COVID-19 is causing more conflicts in developing countries. Many conflicts have arisen in developing countries. Riots over food shortages, extremists using COVID-19 to gain control and violent protests against governments are just some conflicts happening because of COVID-19.
  8. Low-income nations do not have enough supplies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Impoverished communities lack masks, hospital beds, ventilators and other necessary supplies to treat and prevent COVID-19. Lack of healthcare funding causes low-income nations to not have enough hospital beds. Also, the high demand in high-income nations causes masks, testing kits and other supplies to be sent there first, thus leaving developing nations behind.
  9. Death tolls for COVID-19 in developing nations may be much higher than reported. The vast amount of people who live in remote areas in developing countries causes a lack of reported deaths. Hospitals are few in low-income nations, so many people die at home and are buried in remote areas without being recorded.
  10. Of $4.4 billion dedicated to a COVID-19 response by U.S. Congress, only 0.1% is being used for an international response. More monetary funding for developing nations could help these countries get COVID-19 prevention and treatment supplies. Also, funding could help low-income nations feed vulnerable groups.

COVID-19 is yet another barrier to ending global poverty and will be a struggle for impoverished nations to recover from. With the help of the international community, low-income nations may recover from COVID-19 and its secondary effects sooner.

—Hannah Drzewiecki
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 and Global Poverty
Since early 2020, the entire globe has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic and attempting to address the outbreak properly. Most of the world’s population is currently under some form of social distancing as a part of a response to the outbreak. From scientific research to increased travel restrictions, almost every country is working on ways to boost the economy while managing the spread of the virus. However, COVID-19 has affected much more than the economy. Here are four ways COVID-19 and global poverty connect:

4 Ways COVID-19 and Global Poverty Connect

  1. The Consumption of Goods and Services: For most developing countries struggling with poverty, much of their economies depend on commodities, such as exports. Food consumption represents the largest portion of household spending, and the increase in food prices and shortages of products affect low-income households. Countries that depend on imported food experience shortages. The increase in food prices could also affect the households’ inability to access other services such as healthcare, a major necessity during this time. These are two significant connections between COVID-19 and global poverty.
  2. Employment and Income: The self-employed or those working for small businesses represent a large portion of the employed in developing countries. Some of these workers depend on imported materials, farming lands or agriculture. This requires harvest workers and access to local farmers’ markets to sell produce. Others work in the fields of tourism and retail. These fields require travelers, tourists and consumers — all of which lessen as COVID-19 restrictions increase. Without this labor income, many of these families (now unemployed) must rely on savings or government payments.
  3. Weak Healthcare Systems: This pandemic poses a major threat to lower-middle-income developing countries. There is a strong correlation between healthcare and economic growth. The better and bigger the economy, the better the healthcare. Healthcare systems in developing countries tend to be weaker due to minimal resources including beds, ventilators, medicine and a below-average economy. Insurance is not always available for low-income families. All of this affects the quality of healthcare that those living within the poverty line receive. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Public Services: Low-income families and poor populations in developing countries depend on public services, such as school and public transportation. Some privatized urban schools, comprised of mainly higher-income families, are switching to online learning. However, many of the public rural schools receiving government funding do not have adequate resources to follow suit. This could increase the rate of drop out. Moreover, it will disproportionately affect poorer families since many consider education an essential incentive for escaping poverty. Aside from school, COVID-19 restrictions could prevent poorer families from accessing public transportation. For developing countries, public transportation could affect the ability of poorer families to access healthcare.

Moving Forward

There are many challenges that families across the globe face as a result of COVID-19. Notably, some organizations have stepped forward to help alleviate circumstances. The World Bank, Care International and the U.N. are among the organizations implementing programs and policies to directly target the four effects of COVID-19 mentioned above.

For example, the World Bank is continuously launching emergency support around the world to address the needs of various countries in response to COVID-19. By offering these financial packages, countries like Ethiopia, which should receive more than $82 million, can obtain essential medical equipment and support for establishing proper healthcare and treatment facilities. These financial packages constitute a total of $160 million over the next 15 months as a part of projects implemented in various countries, such as Mongolia, Kyrgyz Republic, Haiti, Yemen, Afghanistan and India.

Nada Abuasi
Photo: Flickr