Why can politicians read – and understand – some texts and not others?


Between 2010 and 2020, the number of state-based armed conflicts roughly doubled (to 56), as did the number of deaths from conflict, a new report finds. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS
  • by Baher Kamal (Madrid)
  • Inter Press Service

Such studies are promptly presented to politicians, both directly and through hundreds of summits, conferences, forums and meetings.

Can they just not read and understand these texts?

If so, they should probably be added to the embarrassing finding that up to 70% of children — or nearly 250 million — are illiterate, sentenced to ignorance, as evidenced by numerous findings, including that of the Education Cannot Wait (ECW ), the UN Global Fund for Education in Emergencies and Protracted Crises.

Unpredictable risks

Meanwhile, the world is stumbling “into a new era of unpredictable risk” as the ongoing multiple and deepening crises have “pushed 9 out of 10 countries backwards in human development”.

Both facts reveal the failure of the world’s politicians to act for people rather than announce decisions that ultimately benefit large private companies.

Two major reports have exposed such a stark failure. One was released on September 8, 2022 by UNDP – the UN Development Program’s Human Development Report: “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World.”

The other “Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk” was published on May 23 this year by the prestigious Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).


“World leaders are failing to prepare for a new era of complex and often unpredictable risks to peace as profound environmental and security crises converge and escalate,” emphasizes SIPRI, the independent international institute dedicated to conflict, armaments research , arms control and disarmament.

The report paints a vivid picture of the escalating security crisis. For example, it notes that between 2010 and 2020, the number of state-armed conflicts roughly doubled (to 56), as did the number of deaths from conflict.

“The number of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons also doubled, to 82.4 million. In 2020, the number of operationally deployed nuclear warheads increased after years of reduction, and in 2021 military spending exceeded $2 trillion for the first time.”

Regarding the environmental crisis, SIPRI warns that about a quarter of all species are in danger of extinction, pollinating insects are rapidly declining and soil quality is declining, while exploitation of natural resources such as forests and fishes continues at unsustainable levels.

“Climate change is making extreme weather events such as storms and heat waves more frequent and more intense, reducing yields of key food crops and increasing the risk of large-scale crop failure.”

Uncertain times, troubled lives

The Human Development Report, for its part, warns that the world is swinging from crisis to crisis, stuck in a firefighting cycle and unable to tackle the roots of the problems facing the world.

The report states that “layers of uncertainty are piling up and interacting to disrupt life in unprecedented ways.”

Devastating Consequences

The past two years have had a devastating impact on billions of people around the world, as crises such as COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine struck back-to-back, interacting with profound social and economic shifts, dangerous planetary changes and massive increasing polarization, UNDP says.

“Without a sharp change of course, we may be headed for even more hardship and injustice.”

For the first time in 32 years UNDP has calculated it, the Human Development Index, which measures a country’s health, education and living standards, has fallen globally for two years in a row.

Universal reversal of human development

“The turnaround is almost universal as more than 90 percent of countries registered a decline in their Human Development Index score in 2020 or 2021 and more than 40 percent in both years, indicating that the crisis is still getting worse for many. “

As some countries begin to bounce back, it adds, “the recovery is uneven and partial, exacerbating human development inequalities.” Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have been particularly hard hit.


“The world is struggling to respond to back-to-back crises. We’ve seen with the cost of living and energy crises that while it’s tempting to focus on quick fixes like subsidizing fossil fuels, immediate relief tactics slow down the long-term system changes we need to make,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator.

“We are collectively paralyzed as we make these changes. In a world marked by uncertainty, we need a renewed sense of global solidarity to meet our interconnected, common challenges.”

The report examines why the needed change is not happening and suggests there are many reasons, including how uncertainty and polarization feed each other today to prevent solidarity and collective action to address crises at all levels.

Insecurity and political extremism

New calculations show, for example, that those who feel the most insecure are also more likely to hold extreme political views.

“Even before COVID-19 hit, we saw the double paradox of progress with uncertainty and polarization. Today, a third of people worldwide feel stressed and less than a third of people worldwide who trust others, we face major hurdles in adopting policies that work for people and the planet,” said Achim Steiner.

To chart a new course, the report recommends implementing policies that focus on investment – ​​from renewable energy to pandemic preparedness and insurance – including social protection – to prepare our societies for the ups and downs of an uncertain world.

Climate and armed conflict

The environmental crisis is increasing risks to security and peace worldwide, especially in countries that are already vulnerable, explains SIPRI’s Environment of Peace – Security in a New Era of Risk.

Indicators of insecurity such as the number of conflicts, the number of hungry people and military spending are rising; so are indicators of environmental degradation, climate change, biodiversity, pollution and other areas, SIPRI warns.

“Combined, the security and environmental crises create composite, cascading, emerging, systemic and existential risks. Without major changes in approaches by authoritative agencies, the risks will inevitably increase rapidly.”

There is evidence that politicians are able to read and understand the texts of economic, financial and market experts.

Meanwhile, and despite the above and other readable – and understandable texts, they seem to continue to ignore an essential fact, which is: ‘By deliberately ignoring risk, the world is financing its own destruction’.

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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