Open Society Announces $1.7 Million to Support Middle East and North Africa Debt Swap for Sustainable Development

Amman, March 15, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Open Society Foundations today announced that they are giving $1.7 million to a United Nations initiative in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) that seeks to catalyze increased public spending on achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by negotiating reduced national debt service payments. Importantly, the initiative provides a channel for MENA civil society organizations to have a voice about where such kinds of innovative financing is needed most.

The two-and-a-half-year project partnership, which will last from April 2023 through September 2025, will support work by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) with interested member states and civil society to identify investment projects that prioritize the most urgent needs of MENA societies. ESCWA will support member states in reaching agreements with their creditors to redirect scheduled debt service payments into sustainable local investments.

An emphasis on robust project monitoring and evaluation provides an incentive to creditors who are ready to deliver on their own commitments to climate and sustainable development goals financing in MENA. The initiative is further strengthened by the role of ESCWA’s Advisory Committee, made up of experts with experience implementing debt swaps and providing economic policy advice on inclusive growth in other parts of the world.

Heavily indebted MENA countries have pressing financing needs to address climate adaptation and sustainable development goals, while struggling to recover from fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic and repercussions of the war in Ukraine, including growing food insecurity. As middle-income countries, they are both excluded from debt relief frameworks and find it difficult to access the financing they need.

The combined public debt burden of Arab countries was $1.5 trillion, equivalent to about 54 percent of the region’s GDP in 2021. In addition, the Arab region continues to suffer disproportionately from climate change and 90 percent of the population resides in water-scarce countries. Conflicts in the region have devastated institutions and infrastructure and some 66 million persons in Arab countries affected by conflict are dependent on humanitarian aid.

“The ESCWA initiative is a win-win strategy for all stakeholders involved,” said Issandr Amrani, executive director for Open Society–Middle East and North Africa. “As a multilateral institution with a commitment to human rights and civil society engagements, ESCWA provides a new opportunity for civil society to engage with governments on borrowing, spending, and development priorities. Open Society is committed to backing innovative projects that can help deliver economic justice.”

Yamide Dagnet, Open Society’s director for Climate Justice, added: “Climate disruption poses exponential risks to MENA’s economic and political challenges. Open Society’s pro-climate and fiscal-forward support can pave the way for catalytic investment in a just and inclusive climate transformation. From spurring dynamic and higher quality, green new employment opportunities that spark optimism among youth, women, and other marginalized communities, to addressing adaptation issues such as water scarcity that risks amplifying conflict. The fiscal space and just opportunities this pledge creates expands how we must put climate justice into action.”

Open Society’s president announced the launch of the grant during a high-level plenary session of the Arab Forum on Sustainable Development in Beirut, Lebanon, on March 15, 2023.

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Open Society Foundations 
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ACAMS Launches Scholarship Program for Korean Professionals Seeking Anti-Money Laundering Training

CAMS Scholarship recipients will train on strategies to identify, trace, and report criminal activity threatening financial institutions across the globe

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As part of its efforts to support the fight against financial crime throughout the Asia Pacific region, ACAMS is launching a new scholarship program for South Korean compliance professionals seeking to become Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (CAMS). Under the initiative, ACAMS will award the CAMS Scholarship to 10 Korean compliance practitioners in the anti-financial crime (AFC) space, granting them a one-year membership to the association and a full waiver of all fees for the CAMS exam package.

As part of the program, scholarship winners will train on a broad array of skills and strategies to detect, track, and report illicit financial activity, including global best practices on the effective implementation of anti-money laundering (AML) and counterterrorism financing (CTF) policies and procedures, risk-mitigation controls, and suspicious transaction reporting. Widely recognized as the global standard for AML/CTF credentials, the CAMS program helps to shield financial institutions around the world from criminal exploitation, regulatory fines, and reputational harm.

“This scholarship is a reflection not only of our mission to fight illicit finance around the globe, but also of our commitment to the talented professionals in Korea’s dynamic anti-financial crime sector,” said ACAMS CEO Scott Liles. “As South Korea’s financial markets continues to grow, it’s critical that compliance professionals are prepared to meet evolving regulatory expectations and face emerging criminal threats.”

“For compliance practitioners, CAMS is pathway to becoming part a global community of dedicated men and women around the world who are applying their knowledge and skills to protect the private sector and save lives,” said ACAMS Advisory Board Member Jean Chung who is also Managing Director, Asia Head over Conduct, Financial Crime and Compliance Advisory for Corporate, Commercial and Institutional Banking at Standard Chartered Bank. “This is a credential that will open doors for professional development throughout a recipient’s career.”

The initiative is the third of its kind for ACAMS following the launch in 2021 of the CAFCA Scholarship and CCAS Scholarship in 2022. The CCAS Scholarship attracted entries from AFC professionals from over 100 countries around the world.

Applicants can apply for the CAMS Scholarship through 11:59 pm GMT April 28, 2023. Winners will be announced in June.

Find out more about the scholarship’s criteria and application process here:
https://www.acams.org/cams-scholarship

About ACAMS®

ACAMS is a leading international membership organization dedicated to providing opportunities for anti-financial crime (AFC) education, best practices, and peer-to-peer networking to AFC professionals globally. With over 100,000 members across 180 jurisdictions, ACAMS is committed to the mission of ending financial crime through the provision of anti-money laundering/counterterrorism-financing and sanctions knowledge-sharing, thought leadership, risk-mitigation services, ESG initiatives, and platforms for public-private dialogue. The association’s CAMS certification is the gold-standard qualification for AFC professionals, while its CGSS and CCAS certifications are for sanctions professionals and AFC practitioners working in the crypto space, respectively. ACAMS’ 60+ Chapters globally further amplify the association’s mission through training and networking initiatives. Visit acams.org for more information.

Media Contact:
Lashvinder Kaur
lkaur@acams.org
+44 7388 264478

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Bahrain: IPU Secretary-General calls for dialogue

Manama – The Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Martin Chungong, appealed in Manama for open and fraternal dialogue as a way to solve internal conflicts and between nations.

Speaking to the Angolan press, Martin Chungong said that dialogue allows belligerents to talk and express their points of view, so that they can be taken into account and a solution that satisfies everyone can be found.

When asked about the conflicts in the east region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and between Russia and Ukraine, Martin Chungong stressed the need for cohabitation and peaceful coexistence, respect for religious difference and human dignity for everyone´s well-being.

He said that IPU is for peaceful coexistence, for the promotion of peace and tolerance.

Specifically, regarding the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Martin Chungong announced that IPU will create a task force to keep the channels of dialogue open, reporting on the steps taken to resolve the conflict.

Martin Chungong said that the task force is the only interlocutor of the organisation mandated to maintain permanent dialogue with both countries and help find the best way forward.

The Angolan delegation, headed by the Parliament Speaker, Carolina Cerqueira, spent four days of intense parliamentary diplomacy, maintaining contacts with foreign counterparts with whom she discussed issues related to cooperation between Angola and the respective countries, as well as between parliaments.

During the meetings with the most different personalities, Carolina Cerqueira took the opportunity to promote Angola´s image by publicising the achievements of the government aimed at the social well-being of Angolans and the political transformations that have resulted in a younger parliament, balanced in terms of gender and where peaceful and partisan coexistence is a reality.

In addition to the approach on bilateral cooperation, Carolina Cerqueira also emphasised the need to create parliamentary friendship groups with some countries in order to promote exchanges and exchange of experience in a more active way.

The Angolan delegation also took the opportunity to gather detailed information about the organisation of the event by learning from Bahrain´s experience for the success of the Luanda meeting.

During the 146th General Assembly of the IPU, the parliamentarians addressed, among others, issues related to peaceful coexistence, tolerance, inclusion, crimes and security against cybercrime, climate change, advancement of women in politics, youth in change, natural disasters and global health, as well as the strengthening of climate legislation to reduce carbon emissions and support for a clean energy transition.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is made up of 178 national parliaments and 12 regional assemblies. It is currently the main parliamentary interlocutor with the United Nations.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)

Bahrain: King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa reiterates commitment to democracy

Manama – The King of Bahrain Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa on Tuesday reiterated his commitment to democracy, tolerance and diversity.

In a short welcoming message for the representatives of parliaments attending the 146th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), being held from March 11 to 15, the king said he considers the above mentioned aspects as elements that allow the Kingdom of Bahrain to present itself to the world as a modern country with solidarity with the noble causes of humanity.

Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa congratulated Angola for being chosen to host the next IPU Assembly and wished the best for the success of the event, which will be the largest parliamentary forum in the world.

At the ceremony held at the royal palace, Angola was represented by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Carolina Cerqueira and the Second Vice Speaker, Arleth Chimbinda.

During the ceremony, the King received and greeted all the heads of the invited delegations.

During four days of work, the Angolan delegation carried out an intense day of parliamentary diplomacy, meeting with foreign counterparts with whom it discussed issues related to cooperation between Angola and the respective countries, as well as among parliaments.

Carolina Cerqueira took advantage of the meetings with several parliamentarians and others to promote the country’s image, highlight the government’s achievements towards the social well-being of Angolans and the political transformations that have resulted in a younger parliament, balanced in terms of gender and where peaceful and partisan coexistence is a reality.

Carolina Cerqueira also emphasized the need to create parliamentary friendship groups with some countries to promote exchanges of experience in a more active way.

Angola received members of all the delegations present, with a daily flow of more than 300 delegates eager to learn about the country, the next spot for the IUP meeting, in October this year.

During the 146th General Assembly of the IPU, Angola gathered experiences of the coordination of the meeting in Bahrain, during a meeting between the National Assembly Speaker, Carolina Cerqueira, and the President of the Organizing Committee, Jamal Fakhro.

The Angolan delegation took the opportunity to gather detailed information about the organisation of the event, learning from Bahrain’s experience for the success of the event Luanda intends to hold.

During the IPU general assembly, parliamentarians discussed the organisation’s strategies on climate change, accountability at all levels, as well as the transformation of speeches into actions to fight climate change.

The agenda encompassed the strengthening of climate legislation to reduce carbon emissions and support for a clean energy transition.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union is made up of 178 national parliaments and 12 regional assemblies. It is currently the main parliamentary interlocutor for the United Nations.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)

Bahrain: IPU General Assembly ends with Angola display

Manama – The 146th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) held at the Bahrain’s World Exhibition, in Manama, capital of the Kingdom of Bahrain, ended this Wednesday afternoon with the display of a promotional video with detailed information and images about Angola.

Angola will host, in October this year, the IPU’s 147th General Assembly, which is why the organization took the opportunity to promote the host country of the next world inter-parliamentary meeting.

During the four days of activity, which brought together representatives of 178 national parliaments and 12 regional assemblies, the Angolan delegation headed by its National Assembly leader, Carolina Cerqueira, developed an intense day of parliamentary diplomacy, maintaining contacts with foreign counterparts with whom it addressed issues associated to cooperation between Angola and the respective countries, as well as between parliaments.

Carolina Cerqueira took advantage of the meetings with the most diverse sensitivities to promote the country’s image and features, making known the achievements made by the Executive aimed at the social well-being of Angolans and the political reforms, which resulted in a younger parliament, balanced in terms of gender and where peaceful and partisan coexistence is a reality.

In addition to the approach on bilateral cooperation, Carolina Cerqueira also emphasized the need to create parliamentary friendship groups with some countries in order to promote trade and experience exchange in a more active way.

Also highlighted was the Angola spot, which, throughout the event, received members of all the delegations present, with a daily flow of more than 300 delegates eager to know information about the country, the IPU’s next stop, in October of the current year.

The Angolan delegation also took advantage and learned detailed information on the organization of the event, “drinking” on Bahrain’s experience for the success of the conclave in Luanda.

During the IPU’s 146th General Assembly, parliamentarians addressed, among others, issues linked to peaceful coexistence, tolerance, inclusion, crime and security against cybercrime, climate change, advances of women in politics, youth in change, natural disasters and global health.

The approach also included reinforcement of climate legislation to reduce carbon gas emissions and support for a clean energy transition.

The parliamentarians approved, among other documents, a resolution in which they call for dialogue as a way to end armed conflicts in the world, highlighting Russia and Ukraine’s war issues.

They also approved the creation of a task force, as the only interlocutor, to monitor the situation in Ukraine, as well as to help in the dialogue between the two member countries of the organization.

The IPU is made up of 178 national parliaments and 12 regional assemblies. It is currently the United Nations main parliamentary interlocutor of the United Nations.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)

João Lourenço wants to increase cooperation with Japan

Kyoto – The Angolan Head of State, João Lourenço, Wednesday advocated the increase of cooperation with Japan in the economic, cultural and tourism fields, within the framework of reciprocal advantages.

In a statement after a meeting with the governor of Kyoto, Takatoshi Nishiwaki, the Angolan president noted the modernism and economic development of Japan, a country considered to be the world’s third biggest economy.

In the brief speech in Kyoto, a millenary city and of strong cultural traces, the Head of State stressed that the strength of a people resides in its history and culture, having added that “the Japanese are a strong people because, throughout the centuries, they have been able to keep their traditions alive”.

In Kyoto, where the Angolan President ended his four-day official visit to the Land of the Rising Sun, besides visiting the Imperial Palace, he participated in a Japanese people ritual, which consists in drinking a local tea, accompanied by the First Lady, Ana Dias Lourenço.

Governor defends partnership

After a meeting with the Angolan Head of State, the Governor of Kyoto, Takatoshi Nishiwaki, defended the need for a strategic partnership with Angola and noted the country’s potential in the mining, agricultural, fishing and tourism sectors, adding that cooperation links with the African country had become increasingly close since the creation of an Angolan honorary consulate in Kyoto in 2021.

Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, is a city on the island of Honshu, famous for its many classical Buddhist temples, gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It is also known for its formal traditions, such as the kaiseki dinner, with several specific dishes and it is located about 470 kilometres off Tokyo City.

According to President João Lourenço’s schedule, he is expected to leave the city of Kyoto this Wednesday, returning to Luanda with a stopover in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)