Chile pulls out of COP25, Venezuela’s crisis response looks to draw on past experience, and health organizations broker a big tuberculosis deal. This week in development:
Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera announced on Wednesday that the country will not host the United Nations climate change conference in December, due to civil unrest and protests that have pitted Chileans against their government. The conference — COP25 — was scheduled to take place during two weeks in December, and was seen as a critical opportunity to increase climate ambition before 2020, the year when mitigation and adaptation plans created under the Paris Agreement officially take effect. Chile was chosen to host the summit after the previously scheduled host, Brazil, withdrew after the election of populist and climate skeptic Jair Bolsonaro as president. The “conference of parties” gatherings are meant to rotate between world regions, with Latin America the intended location of COP25. Options for relocating and rescheduling the conference remain unclear. “Earlier today, I was informed of the decision by the Government of Chile not to host COP25 in view of the difficult situation that the country is undergoing. We are currently exploring alternative hosting options,” United Nations Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said in a statement on Wednesday. Chile’s protests grew out of opposition to increased metro fares, and have expanded into a broad movement against inequality and economic policy. At least 20 people have been killed in clashes between protestors and security forces. Climate advocacy groups have voiced solidarity with Chilean protesters, noting that social justice and environmental sustainability represent shared concerns.
Donors in Brussels are seeking better coordination in response to Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis — which they see as a first step to actually providing sufficient funding to the region. This week, representatives from the U.N., government, and multilateral organizations gathered for a two-day International Solidarity Conference, where they offered some additional funding for the crisis — much of it repackaged — but largely focused on preparing for deeper engagement. Prior to the start of the conference on Monday, the U.N.’s humanitarian appeal for $738 million was only 52% funded, according to Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. The coordination effort under discussion this week is meant to help international donors and response organizations engage more effectively with the Quito Process — an intergovernmental mechanism to oversee the regional response to the crisis. Grandi told Devex that should help pave the way for a real pledging conference sometime in 2020. Advocates for a stronger response have pointed out that a continent that has focused so much attention on irregular migration from Africa and the Middle East should be well-aware of the importance of early and meaningful support.
Health organizations have struck a deal to significantly lower the price of a preventive tuberculosis medicine that could benefit people in 100 countries by easing the burden of treatment for latent TB infection, which affects an estimated 1.7 billion people. Unitaid, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the global pharmaceutical company Sanofi announced the pricing agreement at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Hyderabad, India on Thursday. Unitaid and the Global Fund agreed to procure at least 300,000 patient treatments of the drug rifapentine in 2020, while Sanofi agreed to slash the price from roughly $45 to $15 per treatment. Rifapentine, in combination with the drug currently used to treat latent TB, isoniazid, can reduce the treatment course from a six-month daily regimen to a three-month weekly regimen. The deal represents concrete progress in the wake of the high-level meeting on TB at last year’s U.N. General Assembly in New York, where member states issued a political declaration for greater commitment to ending TB by 2030.