Top Stories

May 28, 2013

International Development

Cost of malnourishment to global economy put at $125bn by 2030

A new report has warned of the financial – as well as the obvious social – cost of malnourishment. Research by Save the Children shows that being malnourished in the womb causes deficiencies in cognitive development that will reduce a child’s future earning potential by 20 percent. The study projected that the cost of this to the global economy could be $125bn by 2030 if no action is taken. Save the Children’s report looked at infants in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam and found that those who do not receive the necessary nutrients in the first 1,000 days of life – from conception until their second birthday – suffer from developmental brain deficiencies that hold back their learning ability regardless of the quality of their schooling. (Financial Times*)

Corporate Reputation

Payday lenders are ‘out of control’

The payday loan industry is "out of control", a charity has said, following claims of irresponsible lending and harassment. The UK’s Citizens Advice Bureau claimed that loans were given to people aged under 18, to those with mental health issues, and to individuals who were drunk at the time. It called on the regulator to ban irresponsible lenders. Payday loans have increased in popularity over recent years, partly as banks draw back on lending. A recent report by the regulator – the Office of Fair Trading – revealed "widespread irresponsible lending" in the industry. It gave the biggest 50 firms 12 weeks to change their practices or risk losing their licences. (Financial Times*, BBC, Huffington Post)

Top executives targeted on compliance

The UK’s new banking watchdogs are forcing senior financial services executives to personally guarantee that their firms have dealt properly with regulatory concerns. Both the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are using signed “attestations” as a way to make sure the leaders of big institutions take their concerns seriously and can be held accountable if something later goes wrong. “If we find a particular problem has not been addressed, the attestation would make it easier to take enforcement action. That is part of the point,” said Clive Adamson, FCA director of supervision. (Financial Times*)


World faces 'self-inflicted' water shortages within a generation

The world will face "severe pressure on fresh water" within one or two generations that is entirely "self-inflicted and … entirely avoidable", a coalition of 500 leading scientists has warned. In a declaration made in Bonn on Friday, the scientists blame "mismanagement, overuse, and climate change" for driving fresh water systems across the planet into "a precarious state". Two-thirds of major river deltas are sinking due to groundwater and hydrocarbon pumping in low lying coastal areas, they warn, adding that damming and draining have damaged river basins irreparably in some cases. The declaration came in the same week that UN Secretary-General ban Ki-moon warned the world may run out of freshwater, as demand for water-intensive energy and agricultural production increases and weather patterns shift due to climate change. (Business Green)

China eyes cap on carbon emissions

China is looking at introducing tough controls on its carbon pollution as soon as 2016, in a shift that could boost talks on a global agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions. China, which accounts for nearly a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions, has previously resisted international pressure to commit to absolute cuts in its emissions. However, according to a ministry source, the Government is considering an outright cap on emissions for its next five-year plan (2016-20). This could help to break a deadlock at the heart of UN climate talks, which are aiming to agree a legally binding global deal on cutting emissions — at a 2015 meeting in Paris — that would take effect from 2020. (CNN, Financial Times*)

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