In Senegal: A sense of common purpose

Published January 13, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Restituto Cayubit

By Jose C. De Venecia Jr.

Jose C. De Venecia Jr.
Jose C. De Venecia Jr.

Jose C. De Venecia Jr.

The International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) launched IAPP Senegal and IAPP Africa in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, one of Africa’s model democracies, at the recent Africa Summit 2018.

On Behalf of IAPP, I greeted Macky Sall, president of Senegal, leaders and members of the Senegal National Assembly, and Dr. Hakja Han Moon, founder of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), who, with her late husband, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, of Korea, created a global organization for peace and development in more than 120 countries; and our fraternal and far-reaching friend, UPF President Thomas Walsh.

The IAPP was founded in Seoul on February 15, 2016, as an organization of parliamentarians in a united global effort to address critical issues such as poverty, corruption, climate change and environmental degradation, religious and racial conflicts,territorial disputes, and violent extremism and terrorism.

We in the IAPP and the UPF believe each of these issues poses serious threats to human development and to achieving a lasting peace in our world.

The IAPP was inaugurated in Seoul in February, 2016 with 150 parliamentarians from 41 countries. Nine regional chapters of IAPP have been launched in various regions around the world – IAPP Asia-Pacific in Kathmandu, Nepal; IAPP West and Central Africa in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; IAPP East Africa in Lusaka, Zambia; IAPP Europe, Middle East, and North Africa in London; IAPP Central America in San Jose, Costa Rica; IAPP South America in Asuncion, Paraguay; IAPP Japan in Tokyo; and IAPP North America in Washington, DC.

Our organization held its Second General Assembly in February, 2017, in Seoul, the place of its birth.

We began a new chapter in the new year 2018 with the launching of IAPP Senegal and IAPP Africa in Dakar.

In my address at the launching, I said:

The professional – and personal – ties we’re forging through this session should pay off – sooner rather than later – in economic and political cooperation here in Africa, our friends in Asia, Europe, North and Latin America, and Australia.

In an increasingly globalized world, we seek strength in unity — and a sense of shared purpose born out of our common history.

In our time, the threat of apocalyptic conflict may have abated. But there still is a great deal of work to occupy our present-day statesmen — particularly in the “developing world” that our peoples inhabit.

Much of global poverty has been wiped out.But much more still have to be done. For largescale poverty remains in Asia, Latin America, Africa and even in the thickly populated slums of the great Western cities.

And income inequality is rising — in its scale and its spread — as a by-product of the globalization of production.

OXFAM report

At the much earlier conferences of IAPP, UPF, and other organizations, I cited the 2016 report of the British international anti-poverty organization OXFAM, which provides a shocking revelation: that the richest 1% controls half of all global wealth.

The 62 richest individuals in the world together own $1.9 trillion, “nearly the same amount shared by the 3.5 billion people who occupy the bottom half of the world’s income scale.”

In 2017, the situation was worse: OXFAM released a new study showing that the gap between the superrich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men – yes, just 8 men – as rich as half the world, or owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people.

OXFAM said, “It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day. Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy.”

It warned that “public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow and lead to more seismic political changes.” There has been some improvement since then but the plusses have been marginal.

At the Senegal conference, I renew our call for the establishment of an enlarged “Global Anti-Poverty Fund” or “Global Micro-Finance Fund” to help fight poverty and inequality and help lift the poorest peoples in our regions and in the world.

By uplifting the world’s poorest people from poverty and helping them take part in humankind’s adventure of development, the African, Asian, Latin American, and the global community can remove poverty as a source of conflicts.

‘Trillion Trees’ program

I also called for reforestation and tree farming — on the scale and intensity the planet needs – as a significant jobs-creating economic stimulus for developing countries — if not all countries – that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank, the China-led AIIB, the other regional banks, parliaments, political parties, and civil societies should champion.

The Scandinavian countries, Finland, New Zealand, and Canada have been farming hundreds of millions of trees for decades, as a sector of their pulp and paper industry.

Massive tree planting can become a virtuous circle — of planting, cultivating, harvesting, processing timber and replanting, a forever cycle — that can generate multiple tens of millions of jobs worldwide for poor young men and young women in the emerging countries, apart from addressing food shortage and expanding upland agriculture, and especially, perhaps more importantly, contributing in a most significant and major way in the battle against climate change and environmental degradation.

For just as valuable, these new forests control mountain erosion, prevent the silting of streams and rivers, save human life from destructive floods that overflow the rivers, destroying crops, fish farms, livestock, cities, townships, villages, and hard-won economic gains.

I proposed these programs in regions or countries that can be organized through what we might call “Billion Trees Foundations” managed by civil-society groupings, and strongly supported by governments, parliaments, and the political parties, or perhaps, even better, undertaken by governments themselves, and actively supported even managed by the private sector.

(To be continued)