'No' on Colombia's peace deal, and 'Yes' on climate action: This week in development news

A view of the U.N. Security Council Chamber as council members applaud their decision in recommending to the General Assembly the appointment of António Guterres as the next U.N. secretary-general. Photo by: Eskinder Debebe / United Nations

Development partners regroup after Colombia votes against a peace deal with the FARC, and the U.N. security council unites around its secretary-general choice. This week in development news.

The Paris climate change agreement will enter into force on Nov. 4, now that enough countries representing a large enough share of global emissions have ratified the agreement. The Paris agreement will come into effect three days before the 22nd Conference of Parties begins in Marrakech, Morocco, where countries, companies and international organizations will continue assembling the financial and policy architecture needed to turn a non-binding commitment scheme into concrete investments and regulatory changes in developing and developed countries alike. Some of the major funding mechanisms — which countries set up to channel money and technology to help developing countries adapt to climate change, mitigate its impacts, and build climate-friendly economies — have been slow to get off the ground.

António Guterres will be the next United Nations secretary-general, taking over from Ban Ki-moon on Jan. 1. After a security council straw poll Wednesday revealed broad support and little objection to Guterres’ candidacy, the former Portuguese prime minister and U.N. high commissioner for refugees was nominated by acclamation Thursday morning. In addition to advocating for a stronger humanitarian protection regime, Guterres has promised to focus on upholding high ethical standards and boosting the U.N.’s reputation, “leading by example and imposing the highest ethical standards on everyone serving under the U.N. flag,” as he put it in a public dialogue earlier this year. This year’s process to select a new U.N. chief has been more transparent and public facing than past years. It also saw the rise of a global campaign to appoint the first woman to the position in the institution’s 70-year history, and many expressed disappointment at the security council’s decision not to do so.

Colombian citizens narrowly rejected the peace treaty that was negotiated over four years by the government and the FARC rebel group. The results of Sunday’s national referendum — which came as a shock to the many international observers who’d already started celebrating the end of Colombia’s 52-year war — leaves the future cloudy for a country with huge ambitions for post-conflict development. International assistance programs were already shifting from a focus on security to a focus on peacebuilding in rural areas cut off from government services by decades of conflict. While both sides have said they will maintain the ceasefire and return to negotiations, many are skeptical FARC rebels will agree to some of the demands Colombian citizens say a treaty should include.

Hurricane Matthew battered Haiti this week with torrential rains, flooding and wind, before moving north and colliding with Cuba and the Bahamas — with the death toll in the Caribbean at 113 people. While information about the storm’s impact in Haiti is still sketchy, early video reports show large scale damage to towns and cities in hardest-hit areas of the island nation. These areas were already grappling with a cholera epidemic that many fear could see a surge in the aftermath of the hurricane, which will threaten water and sanitation resources. Donors and humanitarian organizations have mobilized response operations and funding, including disaster assessment teams from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Bank.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is presiding over his first annual meetings in Washington, D.C., since the announcement of his unanimous reappointment for another five-year term. There was speculation that World Bank staff — disillusioned with Kim’s leadership and the process that led to his reappointment — might stage some kind of public protest. But bank headquarters remain relatively tranquil so far, with major discussions focused on Africa’s distressing economic slump, the impact of automation on labor markets, and the bank’s scaled up role in global issues such as climate change and forced displacement.

Donors at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan pledged $15 billion to the country through 2020. Some see the aid package as a quid pro quo deal to slow migration from Afghanistan to Europe, although the E.U. denied that funding is contingent on Afghanistan’s acceptance of tens of thousands of failed asylum seekers from Europe.

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About the author

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    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.