Climate deal gets a US-China boost, while the UN warns of aid worker danger: This week in development

President Barack Obama, President Xi Jinping of China and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon exchange greetings at the conclusion of a climate event at West Lake State House in Hangzhou, China. Photo by: Pete Souza / White House / CC BY-NC

The U.S. Congress returns from summer vacation just in time to block another Zika funding plan, while France sends mixed messages to migrants and asylum seekers. This week in development news:

The United States and China formally — and jointly — ratified the Paris climate agreement at an event in China during President Obama’s visit last week. Together the two countries represent 38 percent of global carbon emissions, and their entry into the agreement is a big step toward bringing it into effect. The Paris agreement requires 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions to ratify it before it becomes an official — albeit mostly non-binding — international agreement. Most climate and development wonks welcomed the joint announcement, which had been anticipated for several days. "Never before have these two countries worked so closely together to address a global challenge. There's no question that this historic partnership on climate change will be one of the defining legacies of Obama's presidency," said David Waskow, international climate director at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C.

Jim Yong Kim remains the only candidate vying to run the World Bank after June 2017. Even as more bank shareholder countries voice their support for Kim’s second term — he’s now supported by the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Kenya, Indonesia, and others — outside and inside observers continue to call into question the process that is likely to see him reappointed. In an editorial this week — titled “A non-contest at the World Bank” — the New York Times editorial board set aside the debate over Kim’s leadership credentials, and instead criticized the lack of competition for the job and the lack of debate over where the bank should go next. “The fact that the institution is not using this election as an opportunity to debate competing visions does not bode well for its future,” the board wrote. The three-week window for nominations to challenge Kim closes on Sept. 14.

France is struggling to bridge the gap between asylum seekers’ needs and public concern over safety issues in migrant camps. On Monday French demonstrators blockaded roads near the port town of Calais and demanded the government close the refugee camp known as the Jungle. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the city will open its first refugee camp in October to house 400 men, while another camp for women and children will follow by the end of the year. The site of another planned camp near Paris was set on fire this week. Meanwhile, British authorities have confirmed construction will begin on a concrete wall that will run for 1 kilometer along both sides of the road that approaches the port of Calais. The wall — dubbed the Great Wall of Calais by local residents and criticized by pro-immigrant groups — is part of a $29 million Franco-British security package agreed to in early March.

Many hoped the U.S. Congress’s return from summer recess would mean swift action to fund Zika response efforts. Not so. For the third time, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a Zika funding bill, which sought to direct $1.1 billion to prevention and response efforts in the U.S. and abroad. Senate Democrats objected to anti-abortion Republicans’ demands to prevent Zika money from funding Planned Parenthood. In July Devex spoke to Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, who shared her frustrations with the funding impasse and the effect it has had on the international Zika response effort.

An attack on Care International’s Kabul compound Monday left one person dead and six others wounded. "A group of three suicide bombers equipped with light and heavy rounds of ammunition, suicide vests and an explosives-laden vehicle attacked the humanitarian organization (Care) in Shar Naw area, Kabul City," Afghan Ministry of the Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqi said in a statement to CNN. Afghan special forces killed the attackers and rescued 42 people from the compound. The United Nations this week warned of a growing threat to aid workers in Afghanistan, where 93 aid workers have been abducted so far this year. Stephen O'Brien, the U.N.'s emergency relief coordinator, raised the issue of civilian protection in a visit to the country — and called on the international community to increase its support for Afghanistan’s internally displaced people.

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.