G20 summit — High on promise, low on delivery; UK grocery sales dip, first time in 20 years; Abuse, hunger await South Africa children

1 G20 summit – High on promise low on delivery (Linda Yueh on BBC) The G20 summit of world leaders has concluded with a communique, a fancy way of describing a joint statement, that has both delivered more, but also somewhat less, than expected.

Where they’ve delivered more is by putting issues such as climate change in the message from world leaders. Those weren’t on the formal agenda as the host, Australian PM Tony Abbott, had nixed climate change, for one. But, after US President Obama mentioned the urgency of dealing with climate change before the summit, it’s unsurprising that it was discussed after all. Ebola is also in the final statement.

But, where they have delivered less is with respect to concrete commitments on those issues. For instance, the gist of the G20 statement on climate and Ebola is that they are concerned, and support effective action – without committing money or quantitative targets. Maybe that’s too much to expect given that these originally weren’t on the agenda.

Fighting tax evasion was on the agenda, and the G20 agreed to automatically share tax information, but I’ve already heard criticism from Transparency International and others that it doesn’t go far enough because the information won’t be in the public domain.

World leaders reaffirmed their goal of lifting the GDP of G20 economies – which represent 85% of the world’s economy – by an additional 2% within four years, by 2018. It’s equivalent to adding $2 trillion to global output, and they say that will create millions of jobs. How they can achieve that, of course, is the big question. The statement says that they’ll deliver jobs through increasing “investment, trade and competition”.


2 UK grocery sales dip, first time in 20 years (Sarah Butler in The Guardian) UK grocery sales have gone into decline for the first time in at least 20 years as a raging price war and the falling cost of food commodities hit Britain’s supermarkets. In good news for shoppers, the average price of a basket of everyday essentials such as milk, bread and vegetables now costs 0.4% less than it did a year ago, according to the latest figures from market research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

But the figures highlight lean times for the UK’s biggest retailers with all of the “big four” supermarkets seeing sales fall back in the 12 weeks to 9 November as the overall grocery market contracted by 0.2% compared with a year ago. This is the first time there has been a decline in UK grocery sales by value since it data collection began in 1994. Back then Sainsbury’s was still the market leader but was to be overtaken by Tesco the following year.

The “big four” are spending billions of pounds cutting prices in an effort to stem the rate of shopper defections to German discounters Aldi and Lidl. The declining grocery market is likely to be of concern to retailers as they gear up for the key Christmas trading season. In keeping with a trend that has continued throughout this year, the German discounters Aldi and Lidl continued to grow strongly, as did the up-market grocer Waitrose.


3 Abuse, hunger await South Africa children (Tanya Farber in Johannesburg Times) Abuse and hunger await millions of South African children, according to a new report. It paints a grim picture of the treatment of children at the hands of the adults who would be expected to care for them. In some communities, the report says, more than half of the children have been abused on a long-term basis by caregivers, teachers or relatives.

The responsive approach to dealing with violence against children, the report contends, does not decrease its incidence and is expensive. A preventative approach is advocated. About 40% of children have witnessed violence against their mother, causing them severe trauma and, in some cases, mental illness.

The ground-breaking Child Gauge 2014 report, which brings together in-depth research by specialists, also says that: 15% of children are neglected by their parents; 74% of all child homicides involve children under the age of five, and half of these are due to babies being dumped before they are a week old; and at least 10% of child murders involve sexual assault.

The Human Sciences Research Council’s senior research specialist, Mokhantso Makoae, says in the report that a responsive approach does not decrease the incidence of violence against children and is expensive. A preventative approach is advocated. “The costs of prevention programmes are a fraction of the treatment costs and are estimated to give a saving of 96% to 98%.”

Other figures from the report: 2million children live in shacks; more than half live in poverty; 6million live in a household in which no one is employed; one-third of children have no access to water on site; one third of children have no basic sanitation; about 800000 are orphans; and about 2.5million go hungry.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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