Inter Press ServiceInter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Thu, 20 Sep 2018 13:45:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Freezing Inside UAE’s High Rise Buildings While Temperatures Soar Outsidehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/freezing-inside-uaes-high-rise-buildings-temperatures-soar-outside/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=freezing-inside-uaes-high-rise-buildings-temperatures-soar-outside http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/freezing-inside-uaes-high-rise-buildings-temperatures-soar-outside/#respond Thu, 20 Sep 2018 13:43:52 +0000 Amna Khaishgi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157691 “Look at these tall, beautiful buildings. I have worked as a mason during the construction and was one of those who laid [the brickwork] brick by brick,” says Mohammed Akhtar* who has been working as mason for over a decade in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Akhtar has seen the evolution of Dubai’s skyline over […]

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The United Arab Emirates is also paying the price of rapid economic development in terms of climate change. Air-conditioning has proved to be a major challenge to climate change mitigation and because of the rise in temperatures in Dubai, most new buildings have air-conditioning. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Amna Khaishgi
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Sep 20 2018 (IPS)

“Look at these tall, beautiful buildings. I have worked as a mason during the construction and was one of those who laid [the brickwork] brick by brick,” says Mohammed Akhtar* who has been working as mason for over a decade in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Akhtar has seen the evolution of Dubai’s skyline over time. “It has been an overwhelming journey.”  When asked what has changed in the last 10 years, Akhtar smiles and says the weather.

“Temperatures outside have been increasing so fast that it drains our energy quickly. We cannot fight with nature. But at least we could play our role in protecting the environment,” the 45-year old Pakistani tells IPS. For him, sitting under the shade of a tree during his work break is the best form of relaxation.

While the rise in temperatures is certainly a concern, this Gulf state has a high level of awareness and government response when it comes to climate change mitigation.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) has referred to the UAE as the most responsible country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) when it comes to green growth, and as one of the best-performing countries across the globe.

“The kind of initiatives the UAE is taking is very encouraging and we expect things will improve with the passage of time,” GGGI Director General Dr. Frank Rijsberman tells IPS. The institute has a mandate to support emerging and developing countries develop rigorous green growth economic development strategies and works with both the public and private sector.

Rijsberman gives credit to the country’s leadership, who embraced green growth and sustainability much earlier and faster than many countries in the world.

Rijsberman adds also that the UAE was quick to realise the challenges of water scarcity and installed desalination plants at a time when other countries were only planning, theirs. A GCC report shows that Kuwait was the first country in the region to construct a desalination plant in 1957, with the UAE constructing its first plant two decades later.

Rijsberman, however, says that a lot remains to be done.

“Right now, the challenge is how to run a plant with energy efficiency. Now is the time to move green energy options to run these huge plants, which are a major source of water supplying to the country,” says Rijsberman.

Like many countries, the UAE is also paying the price of rapid economic development in terms of climate change.

“Rapid economic development and population growth in the UAE has led to the challenges like greenhouse gas emissions, extreme weather conditions, water scarcity and habitat destruction. All these issues are interlinked,” Rijsberman tells IPS.

According to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment; direct impacts of extreme weather events, as well as slow-onset phenomena such as sea level rise, could disrupt the daily functioning of transport and infrastructure, impact the value of real estate, affect environmental assets, and damage the tourism industry.

“The effects of climate change are likely to be felt most severely in coastal zones, where marine habitats will suffer from rising water temperatures and salinity, whereas infrastructure will be tested by storm surges and sea level rise. Other risks include weakened food security and health damages from extreme weather events,” the report further says.

The UAE’s National Climate Change Plan 2017-2050, which was released early this year, notes that climate change impacts increase national vulnerability and, if left unmanaged, will affect the growth potential of the country.

“Potential impacts of climate change on the UAE include extreme heat, storm surge, sea level rise, water stress, dust and sand storms, and desertification. Even small variations in weather patterns could significantly affect the country’s economic, environmental, and social well-being,” the report states.

According to the report, the most vulnerable areas to climate change in the UAE include water, coastal, marine, and dry land ecosystems; buildings and infrastructures; agriculture and food security; and public health.

“Based on the analysis of past and present anthropogenic drivers, future projections using climate models suggest an increase in the UAE’s annual average temperature of around 1°C by 2020, and 1.5-2°C by 2040.

“The effects of climate change are likely to be felt most severely in coastal zones, where marine habitats will suffer from rising water temperatures and salinity, whereas infrastructure will be tested by storm surges and sea level rise. Other risks include weakened food security and health damages from extreme weather events.”

In addition, climate change could have implications on the UAE’s development objectives. “Direct impacts of extreme weather events, as well as slow-onset phenomena such as sea level rise, could disrupt the daily functioning of transport and infrastructure, impact the value of real estate, affect environmental assets, and damage the tourism industry,” the report further says.

But plans are already in place. “They have seen the storm coming and they are preparing themselves to fight it,” says Rijsberman.

However, there are many challenges that remain to be tackled.

According to the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the country  has a relatively low share, less than 0.5 percent, of global emissions. For this reason, the voluntary adoption of measures to control and limit domestic GHG emissions would have a negligible impact in solving the global problem of climate change.

However, the country’s capital, Abu Dhabi, has very high per capita CO2 emissions, 39.1 tonnes in 2012 an increase of 4.4 percent compared to 37.44 tonnes in 2010more than triple the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) average of 10.08 tonnes.

The main contributors to CO2 emissions in 2012 were the production of public electricity and water desalination (33 percent), oil and gas extraction and processing activities (25 percent), transport (20 percent) and industry (12 percent).

Rijsberman was in Dubai to launch a joint initiative with the World Green Economy Organisation (WGEO). Both organisations have signed a partnership agreement to fast track green investment opportunities to develop bankable smart green city projects across the world.

“The UAE has been a leader in green growth. It is not only investing within the country but also helping other states to promote green cities,” Rijsberman says.

Lack of awareness and insufficient resources are also hindering the UAE’s green growth momentum.

Khawaja Hasan has been working as an environmentalist with both public and private sectors in the UAE for about a decade and tells IPS that while government is serious about promoting green growth initiatives across the board there are several challenges that slow down implementation.

“The private sector suffers with lack of awareness, lack of technology and above all cost are major issues that [hinders] the green growth.

“They [private sector] believe in short term goals. They don’t want to invest extra to benefit long term. Moreover there is no major direct monetary incentives from the government side to acquire and implement green approach.”

He also says that a lack of affordable green technology is also a major factor for mid level and small companies.

Green growth is not a luxury. It is a necessity, says Rijsberman.  He urged governments, including the UAE, to develop policy and introduce incentives that reach the grassroots. “If the green policy and initiatives are not reaching the people then it is not going anywhere.”

For instance, Rijsberman says air-conditioning, is a major challenge to climate change mitigation.

“It is directly related to how the buildings are constructed. If we contract close boxes without any air ventilation, air-conditioning or artificial cooling is inevitable. However, if we work on building style and work on structural changes, dependency on air-conditioning would decrease.

“Today, the situation in Dubai is, inside the building, we are shivering with the lowest temperature and outside, our local environment temperature is becoming unbearable due to the hot air that millions of air-conditioning are throwing out in the environment. The whole cycle becomes artificial and imbalance,” he said.

Though Akhtar is doing his little bit to address the balance.

“If we are building beautiful air-conditioned buildings, we should also plant trees too,” says Akhtar who, each year on his daughter’s birthday, plants a tree in his residential compound in Dubai. “This is my gift to this city who has given me an opportunity to earn decent money for my family back in Pakistan.”

*Not his real name.

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First Steps Towards a Global Agreement on the High Seashttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/first-steps-towards-global-agreement-high-seas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=first-steps-towards-global-agreement-high-seas http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/first-steps-towards-global-agreement-high-seas/#respond Thu, 20 Sep 2018 12:08:34 +0000 Andrew Norton http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157701 Andrew Norton is director, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

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Coral reef in Mexico. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS

By Andrew Norton
LONDON, Sep 20 2018 (IPS)

The world’s first efforts to develop a way to govern the high seas – international waters beyond the 200 nautical mile national boundary – is truly underway. The initial round of negotiations at the United Nations has just ended after two weeks of talks.

On the face of it, given the importance and scale of the task, some may feel there has not been much progress. But it is significant that despite the range of views and interests in the room, all the member states of the UN engaging in this intergovernmental conference to ‘formulate a legally binding treaty to govern the conservation and use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction’ (BBNJ) remain committed to the process and the goal.

Although member states and civil society had expected a draft treaty to be presented for consideration, it wasn’t, and therefore the discussions were similar to previous preparatory committee meeting phases.

But the key points around what needs to be addressed are clear: ensuring fair access and ability to share the benefits of marine genetic resources; agreeing measures for marine protected areas so they benefit all; processes for establishing environmental impact assessments, and agreeing a mechanism for enabling developing countries to have access to the necessary technological means, including data (digital sequencing of marine organisms’ DNA, for example), to share the oceans’ benefits and become active stewards of the ocean.

None of the governance measures that currently tackle these issues extends beyond 200 nautical miles from the coast. There are fragmented regional initiatives such as the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic — the OSPAR Convention —but nothing that governs the high seas in its entirety.

Some governments including Russia, Iceland and Japan, feel that this is enough. But while regional treaties provide important governance mechanisms, no single treaty covers all the items currently on the BBNJ table or deals with the part of the ocean covering 50 per cent of the planet — the high seas.

There is a clear risk that lack of effective governance will play to the interests of richer countries that have the resources to exploit the biodiversity of the high seas and can proceed without benefit to the bulk of the world’s population. That is why IIED is working to support the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) negotiating group and negotiators from the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other developing countries in the BBNJ process.

Limiting high seas governance to regional initiatives would mean nothing more than maintaining the status quo. We need to end this fragmentation of high seas governance and work towards establishing a fair and inclusive global instrument. It’s about sharing half of the planet with all of the world’s people.

All member states are keen to see a draft treaty text in the next BBNJ intergovernmental meeting that can be a focus for negotiations. There must also be more time to discuss cross-cutting issues, including financing, institutional arrangements and clarifying decision-making processes.

For the next round to be more effective we would also want to see the views of people affected by any agreed high seas management regime being central to negotiations. So that means a sustained and greater presence by the Least Developed Countries, other developing countries and Small Island Developing States at the negotiating table from Spring 2019 onwards.

This is early days, so despite slight frustration with the pace of progress, it’s important to remain optimistic. IIED will continue to provide on demand, real time support to the Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States and other developing countries’ negotiators. This first round is more than a step in the right direction, and we look forward to meeting again.

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Excerpt:

Andrew Norton is director, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

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Unfinished Business – Nurture entrepreneurs, connect the dots between youth, innovation, and jobs toward green growthhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/unfinished-business-nurture-entrepreneurs-connect-the-dots-between-youth-innovation-and-jobs-toward-green-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=unfinished-business-nurture-entrepreneurs-connect-the-dots-between-youth-innovation-and-jobs-toward-green-growth http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/unfinished-business-nurture-entrepreneurs-connect-the-dots-between-youth-innovation-and-jobs-toward-green-growth/#respond Thu, 20 Sep 2018 11:35:35 +0000 Juhern Kim http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157695 Juhern Kim is Manager, Greenpreneurs Program

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Juhern Kim is Manager, Greenpreneurs Program

By Juhern Kim
Sep 20 2018 (GGGI)

It was the summer time in 2011, when I visited the rural town called Takéo for the first time, located in the southwest of Cambodia, about 90 km away from Phnom Penh, the capital city. Once an empire in the Southeast Asian region – which covered territories of what is now Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos from roughly A.D. 802 to 1431 – Cambodia is one of the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). I spent much time there to initiate and manage the capacity building program testing out a solar home system (SHS) technology. That time I was curious about witnessing how the concept of green economy – learned from the office when contributing to the publication of UN’s first Green Economy Report – is applied in the field in  developing countries.

I simply learned firsthand about the limitation of an aid-based development approach, and recognized the need of partnering with business as a solution provider of traditional development issues that we want to tackle through a green growth intervention

The program was originally proposed by a group of field experts, who believed that SHS can be a catalyst that provides off-grid energy solution to rural population, with an expectation of furnishing some basic energy needs and creating jobs for local people. Quite timely, there was also a dilemma facing the local government – whether they remain spectators seeing a young population leaving the town for job opportunities elsewhere. Also, there was a high-level demand from the central government to showcase and prepare for the launch of National Council on Green Growth. But, the market was not ready for SHS, and local governments were not properly informed about the new technology. I was convinced by the experts at least recognizing the need of trying out. Then, I tried hard to convince the investors, i.e. Ministry of SMEs and Start-ups of Republic of Korea, to conduct a pilot project, which was thankfully successful.

Despite somewhat excessive logistical hassles on the ground (e.g. shifting solar panels to households being scattered, as opposed to a colony type of town where appropriate to Grameen Shakti model), the program left one meaningful result. It stimulated local entrepreneurship. A rural social venture called Eco Solar, composed of vigorous youth in the town, was established and partnership was established with the Korean clean energy start-up Energy Farm Co., Ltd who participated in the program as technical experts, as a somewhat unexpected result of the program. I received a Minister citation from both donor and partner governments for that result, but I understood that installing SHS in 30 households with aid money does not explain much, if we consider a long-term and scalable impact.

 

Changing investment landscape, rising need of local entrepreneurs

Albeit it was a memory from 7 years ago, I still cannot forget the uncomfortable feeling that I had when I exited the small town of Takéo after two years of trials and errors. What the nascent local venture required to purchase was a couple more trucks to deal with the local demand to deploy solar panels to the rural town of scattered settlements. It was seed capital to test out their business. But it was simply not possible for us to make a direct investment from the ‘budget line’ of public resources. I had arranged a couple of meetings locally with an aim to mobilize grant, CSR fund, or even equity financing for these locally-grown entrepreneurs to spin off from the program, but the market was not matured enough to take risk with rural entrepreneurs in Cambodia, and more importantly, these entrepreneurs were not matured enough to convince a few foreign-operated incubators and investors (e.g. angle investors) due to their lack of financial planning, customer analysis, and marketing capacity. In the meantime, my job as a program manager from the public sector – administratively speaking – was finished. However, I knew it was an unfinished business leaving so many questions.

I simply learned firsthand about the limitation of an aid-based development approach, and recognized the need of partnering with business as a solution provider of traditional development issues that we want to tackle through a green growth intervention. And, it questioned about my role from the public sector as a facilitator or platform creator to advance this transition, between entrepreneurs and all relevant stakeholders including investors. Now, the entire landscape is completely different from then. It is not surprising to hear that a market-based approach, crafted by various forms of finance, is being applied in the bottom of the pyramid market to solve traditional development issues. It has been fueled by a growing trend to invest in mission-driven enterprises, known as ‘impact investing’ – which are simply targeted to provide capital for businesses bringing social and environmental returns – and its global assets under management is arguably reported $114bn according to the survey conducted by the Global Impact Investing Network in 2017. (note: there is a blurred line between impact investing and ESG).

 

Greenpreneurs is a global program designed to supercharge green growth startups particularly in/for developing countries, by providing web-based training modules for applicants to reexamine their strategy, connecting them with mentors/subject matter experts, and giving them the resources and support needed to make them to take a next step – which is to demonstrate unique value proposition and be ready to pitch to raise capital

 

Greenpreneurs, a platform for young entrepreneurs in developing countries

Even with this rising trend, young entrepreneurs in developing countries just like I encountered in Takéo, still have a lack of access to right technical training, network, mentorship, (strategy to access to) investment capital. They require coaching to convert their ideas into solid business plans. That is a raison d’être of business incubators, start-up accelerators, and any type of coaching programs, which are recognized as useful vehicle to help entrepreneurs thrive. But incubating young entrepreneurs are not a simple task, since the demand is varied depending on diverse stages of business development, e.g. idea stage–prototyping–testing–commercialization. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to help entrepreneurs, particularly for those who are committed to green growth. And we are not talking about Silicon Valley here, with abundant capital, intellectual and physical infrastructure, and advanced ecosystem. These types of platforms are not always installed in every country in the developing world. Yes, nature of entrepreneurship is not always aligned with something to be taught in an organized classroom setting, but more with nudging their own way through the idea crowd, making connections, and creating their own ways to innovate. However, young entrepreneurs at least need to be exposed and connected enough to validate their ideas. For young entrepreneurs in the developing world, it is required to level the playing field.

This is why I am now actively involved in the global program, called Greenpreneurs, designed to supercharge green growth startups particularly in/for developing countries, by providing web-based training modules (e.g. from customer segmentation to financial modelling) for applicants to reexamine their strategy, connecting them with mentors/subject matter experts, and giving them the resources and support needed to make them to take a next step – which is to demonstrate unique value proposition and be ready to pitch to raise capital.

 

Greenpreneurs, be lean and agile to become the engine of green growth

Creating and scaling up green growth impact is differentiated at a country and provincial level, but at the core of it is to simultaneously achieve poverty reduction, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and economic growth. And to implement this task through business, innovation is key, which requires multiple approaches from diverse levels, not only from top-down policies and regulations, but also bottom-up innovation. Here is where entrepreneurship meets green growth, and the reason why we are committed to support entrepreneurs.

It is relatively easy to come up with innovative ideas, but the real issue is to select the best ideas, test quickly, and implement (or modify/drop) them. For those start-ups committed to green growth, we recommend them to take a “lean start-up” methodology which favors experimentation (testing out hypotheses simply, e.g. through business model canvas) over detailed planning, customer feedback (through direct interviews) over intuition and theory, and iterative design (practicing agile development through creating the minimum viable products) over traditional up-front development. The emphasis is how much start-ups are nimble, speedy, and flexible enough to deal with frequent feedback loop of testing and learning to evolve around. To apply a lean approach in green entrepreneurship, what is required is a well-connected platform designed for entrepreneurs to interact with project developers, practitioners, subject matter experts, intermediaries, investors, and other relevant players to discuss their ideas, validate the market, and test out their products or services for commercialization.

In this context, the Greenpreneurs program would like to play a role as an arranger, facilitator, connector, and intermediary to make that happened, working with entrepreneurs who can create green growth impact in the area of sustainable energy, sustainable landscapes, water and sanitation, and green cities.

In 2018, the program is providing youth (aged between 18-35) with mentoring and networking opportunities as well as an opportunity to compete for small-scale seed capital by sharing business plan. All this is conducted through a 10-week virtual module program.

This year, despite its pilot nature, we see a rising potential of operating this platform.

Student Energy and the Youth Climate Lab, rising networking start-ups  in the field of climate change joined the platform as co-organizers. 16 mentors and subject matter experts have voluntarily confirmed their participation to interact with selected entrepreneurs. 349 entrepreneurs in developing countries applied for this platform. On the other hand, the topic of  green entrepreneurship is being picked up by many countries that are committed to achieving a national-level green growth strategy, so Greepreneurs is now associated with nationally driven demands, such as Pacific Greenpreneurs and YouthConnekt Africa initiative. Partnering with over 30 countries, the Global Green Growth Institute can offer a wide range of network and locally cultivated knowledge on green growth through its country offices embedded in governments. Already, colleagues at GGGI’s country offices are interacting with green entrepreneurs.

There are many international and national organizations working on green growth, and they can also be an important asset to support this journey with green entrepreneurs, as a mentor, partner, seed capital provider, and investor. Ultimately, once this platform mobilizes a critical mass of stakeholders, there is much hope to contribute to creating green jobs. Also, through this platform, entrepreneurs will be able to address grass-root challenges and generate new ideas of originating small-scale bankable projects that are in much need to be financed.

 

Unfinished business, calling for partnership to finish

As a long-time practitioner implementing green growth, I am excited with the fact that my role with young entrepreneurs –  started from Takéo in 2011 – has not yet ended.. If you want to know more about our 10 finalists of Greenpreneurs this year, click here and send an email to me for further information. If you are an investor, CSR manager, or foundation committed to increasing green growth impact, please feel free to talk to us to join forces. As a platform recommending a lean approach to our fellow entrepreneurs, the program itself is ready to be flexible to evolve around with your expertise and resources, in order to become the most effective global platform helping developing countries’ entrepreneurs achieve their own version of green growth.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Greenpreneurs is a global program designed to supercharge green growth startups particularly in/for developing countries, by providing web-based training modules for applicants to reexamine their strategy, connecting them with mentors/subject matter experts, and giving them the resources and support needed to make them to take a next step – which is to demonstrate unique value proposition and be ready to pitch to raise capital

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Excerpt:

Juhern Kim is Manager, Greenpreneurs Program

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Indigenous Peoples Link Their Development to Clean Energieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/indigenous-peoples-link-development-clean-energies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indigenous-peoples-link-development-clean-energies http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/indigenous-peoples-link-development-clean-energies/#respond Thu, 20 Sep 2018 00:27:51 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157687 Achuar indigenous communities in Ecuador are turning to the sun to generate electricity for their homes and transport themselves in canoes with solar panels along the rivers of their territory in the Amazon rainforest, just one illustration of how indigenous people are seeking clean energies as a partner for sustainable development. “We want to generate […]

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United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Philippines (3rd left), calls for the full participation of indigenous communities in clean energy projects during the forum Our Village in San Francisco, California. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Philippines (3rd left), calls for the full participation of indigenous communities in clean energy projects during the forum Our Village in San Francisco, California. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

By Emilio Godoy
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA , Sep 20 2018 (IPS)

Achuar indigenous communities in Ecuador are turning to the sun to generate electricity for their homes and transport themselves in canoes with solar panels along the rivers of their territory in the Amazon rainforest, just one illustration of how indigenous people are seeking clean energies as a partner for sustainable development.

“We want to generate a community economy based on sustainability,” Domingo Peas, an Achuar leader, told IPS. Peas is also an advisor to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, which groups 28 indigenous organisations and 11 native groups from that South American country.

The first project dates back to the last decade, when the Achuar people began to install solar panels in Sharamentsa, a village of 120 people located on the banks of the Pastaza River. Currently they are operating 40 photovoltaic panels, at a cost of 300 dollars per unit, contributed by private donations and foundations."Communities have to be at the centre to decide on and design projects that help combat poverty, because they allow electricity without depending on the power grid, and they strengthen the defense of the territory and benefit the people. It's about guaranteeing rights and defining development processes." -- Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

The villagers use electricity to light up their homes and pump water to a 6,000-litre tank.

“There is a better quality of services for families. Our goal is to create another energy model that is respectful of our people and our territories,” Peas said.

The Achuar took the next step in 2012, when they started the Kara Solar electric canoe motor project. Kara means “dream” in the Achuar language.

The first boat with solar panels on its roof, with a capacity to carry 20 people and built at a cost of 50,000 dollars, began operating in 2017 and is based in the Achuar community of Kapawi.

The second canoe, with a cost of 35,000 dollars, based in Sharamentsa – which means “the place of scarlet macaws” in Achuar – began ferrying people in July.

The investment came partly from private donations and the rest from the IDEAS prize for Energy Innovation, established by the Inter-American Development Bank, which the community received in 2015, endowed with 127,000 dollars.

The Achuar people’s solar-powered transport network connects nine of their communities along 67 km of the Pastaza river – which forms part of the border between Ecuador and Peru – and the Capahuari river. The approximately 21,000 members of the Achuar community live along the banks of these two rivers.

“It was an indigenous idea adapted to the manufacture of canoes. They use them to transport people and products, like peanuts, cinnamon, yucca and plantains (cooking bananas),” in an area where rivers are the highways connecting their settlements, said Peas.

The demand for clean energy in indigenous and local communities and success stories such as the Achuar’s were presented during the Global Climate Action Summit, convened by the government of the U.S. state of California.

A solar panel exhibit in San Francisco, California, during the Global Climate Action Summit, which showed the expansion of solar and wind energy and micro hydroelectric dams to provide electricity to small communities. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

A solar panel exhibit in San Francisco, California, during the Global Climate Action Summit, which showed the expansion of solar and wind energy and micro hydroelectric dams to provide electricity to small communities. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The event, held on Sept. 13-14 in San Francisco, was an early celebration of the third anniversary of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, reached in the French capital in December 2015.

Native delegates also participated in the alternative forum “Our Village: Climate Action by the People,” on Sept. 11-14, presented by the U.S. non-governmental organisations If Not US Then Who and Hip Hop Caucus.

Right Energy Partnership

The Indigenous Peoples' Major Group for Sustainable Development (IPMG), made up of 50 organisations from 33 countries, launched the Right Energy Partnership in July. In Latin America, organisations from Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and five regional and global networks are taking part.

The consortium seeks to ensure that alternative projects are aligned with respect for and protection of human rights and provide access by at least 50 million indigenous people to renewable energy by 2030 that is developed and managed in a manner consistent with their self-determination needs and development aspirations.

This would be achieved by ensuring the protection of rights to prevent adverse impacts of renewable energy initiatives on ancestral territories, strengthen communities with sustainable development, and fortify the exchange of knowledge and collaboration between indigenous peoples and other actors.

The Alliance decided to conduct a pilot phase between 2018 and 2020 in 10 countries. The first countries included were Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua, and Australia, the United States and New Zealand could also join, as they have indigenous groups that already operate renewable ventures and have success stories.

In addition to Ecuador, innovative experiences have also emerged from indigenous communities in countries such as Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Guatemala, Malaysia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and the United States, according to the forum.

For example, in Bolivia there is an alliance between the local government of Yocalla, in the southern department of Potosí, and the non-governmental organisation Luces Nuevas aimed at providing electricity from renewable sources to poor families.

In Yocalla, a municipality of 10,000 people, mainly members of the Pukina indigenous community, “755 families live in rural areas with limited electricity; the national power grid has not yet reached those places,” project consultant Yara Montenegro told IPS.

Thanks to the programme, which began in March, 30 poor families have received solar panels connected to lithium batteries, produced at the La Palca pilot plant in Potosí, which store the fluid.

Each system costs 400 dollars, of which the families contribute half and the organisation and the government the other half. The families can connect two lamps, charge a cell phone and listen to the radio, replacing the use of firewood, candles and conventional batteries.

The development of clean sources plays a decisive role in achieving one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Goal seven aims to establish “affordable and non-polluting energy” – a goal that also has an impact on the achievement of at least another 11 SDGs, which the international community set for itself in 2015 for the next 15 years, within the framework of the United Nations.

In addition, the success of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4All), the programme to be implemented during the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024, which aims to guarantee universal access to modern energy services, and to double the global rate of energy efficiency upgrades and the share of renewables in the global energy mix, depends on that progress.

But most of the groups promoting an energy transition do not include native people, points out the May report “Renewable Energy and Indigenous Peoples. Background Paper to the Right Energy Partnership,” prepared by the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group for Sustainable Development (IPMG).

That group launched a Right Energy Partnership in July, which seeks to fill that gap.

For Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Kankanaey Igorot people, who is the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, energy represents “a problem and a solution” for indigenous people, she told IPS at the alternative forum in San Francisco.

“The leaders have fought against hydroelectric dams and I have also seen projects in the hands of indigenous peoples,” she said.

Because of this, “the communities have to be at the centre to decide on and design projects that help combat poverty, because they allow electricity without depending on the power grid, and they strengthen the defense of the territory and benefit the people,” she said.

“It’s about guaranteeing rights and defining development processes,” she summed up.

Examples of projects that can be replicated and expanded, as called for by the U.N special rapporteur, are provided by communities such as Sharamentsa in Ecuador and Yocalla in Bolivia.

Sharamentsa operates a 12 kW battery bank that can create a microgrid. “A power supply centre is planned that allows the generation of value-added products, such as plant processing,” Peas said.

In Yocalla, the plan is to equip some 169 families with systems in December and then try to extend it to all of Potosí. But Montenegro pointed out that alliances are needed so that the beneficiaries can pay less. “In 2019 we will analyse the impact, if the families are satisfied with it, if they are comfortable,” she said.

This article was produced with support from the Climate and Land Use Alliance.

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Levelling the Playing Field for Persons with Disabilities in the United Stateshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/levelling-playing-field-persons-disabilities-individuals-united-states/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=levelling-playing-field-persons-disabilities-individuals-united-states http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/levelling-playing-field-persons-disabilities-individuals-united-states/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 12:10:55 +0000 Emily Thampoe http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157676 This article is part of a series of stories on disability inclusion.

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According to the United Nations “sport can help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with disability because it can transform community attitudes about persons with disabilities by highlighting their skills and reducing the tendency to see the disability instead of the person.” Courtesy: United Nations

By Emily Thampoe
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 19 2018 (IPS)

When it was time for Joe Lupinacci to graduate from his high school in Stamford, Connecticut, he knew he wanted to go to college. While other students were deciding which college to apply to, the choice required more thought and research on Lupinacci and his parents’ part. Lupinacci, who has Down Syndrome, needed a college that would meet his needs.

“I wanted to go to college and be like my older brother and have the college experience. I wanted to meet other people like me and learn how to be more independent,” the now 22-year-old tells IPS via email.

While it is common in the United States for public school districts to have special education programmes that offer educational support to disabled individuals, many universities only meet the minimum requirements of the country’s Disabilities Act. But there are currently at least 50 universities that go further and offer programmes and/or resources for students with disabilities.“I turned from a unfocused player who would skate around the rink touching every pane of glass to a player who got into the game and played like a man. Daredevils has helped me gain friendship." -- former New Jersey Daredevils player, Ryan Griffin.

The College Experience Programme (CEP) at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York is one of those programmes.

The CEP is a two-year residential, non-credit certificate programme hosted in partnership with Living Resources, a local organisation that helps people living with disabilities. While the programme is not a traditional one—it does not end in students earning a bachelor’s or associate’s degree—it allows students to focus on a career area that interests them. It also teaches students valuable skills that they can apply to their life, in parallel to the educational classes they take.

Lupinacci and his family learned of it through their own research and when CEP staff visited his high school’s college fair. After visiting the College of Saint Rose on several occasions, he and his family found it a great fit.

Colleen Dergosits, the coordinator of student life and admissions for the programme, tells IPS via email that its objective is to, “give students with developmental disabilities opportunities similar to their siblings and high-school peers.”

“Life skills are not taught in traditional college experience, these are often the skills people without disabilities take for granted in knowing. For those with a disability, when life skills are not naturally developed, it can hold back a person from being able to transition into a natural college atmosphere away from their family members or furthermore an independent life,” Dergosits says.

The CEP provides finance classes that help students understand how to make purchases in an effective way, how to split a bill between friends, and the importance of paying bills on time.

For Lupinacci, who entered the programme in 2015 and graduated in 2017, the CEP has given him skills and so much more.

“After going through the programme I made good friends. I learned to cook, clean and make decisions on my own,” he says. He also gained a new-found sense of independence.

With the programme’s “community involvement” component, students learn how to navigate their neighbourhood and attend off campus activities, and how to save money for those activities. These are all skills that many students on the programme may not have been exposed to before.

Learning through experience is imperative. Dergosits says that the CEP’s vocational courses are “invaluable.” “When the foundation of employment is broken down and taught, then supervised in a real world setting, our students are better prepared to hold employment on their own post-graduation,” she says. Students can learn what the workforce is like through interning and/or working at local businesses with assistance from an on-site job coach.

Dergosits and the rest of the staff have seen progress from the growing number of students they have worked with since the programme’s beginnings in 2005.

Students who previously kept to themselves and were reliant on familial support, have developed. They now have friends, can do household chores, travel independently and even have part-time jobs.

Lupinacci says he ended up going out quite often with his friends without adult supervision. “It was fun planning and going out with my friends with no adults. I went to many campus and off site sporting events that were really fun,” he shares.

Recreation is Key

While equal educational opportunities are important in the lives of disabled people, balance is also imperative.

Steve Ritter, a coach for the New Jersey Daredevils, a special needs ice hockey team for players of all ages, believes in the power of sports for disabled people.

“Sports helps them with social skills, which is lacking in this community. We make sure when we travel to places to play games that there is a place where they can get together and hang out,” he tells IPS.

According to a United Nations publication entitled Disability and Sports, “Sport can help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with disability because it can transform community attitudes about persons with disabilities by highlighting their skills and reducing the tendency to see the disability instead of the person.”

The team practices pretty much every Saturday during the year and also plays matches with other teams from all over the east coast. They also make an effort to have outside opportunities for the players to bond and create long-lasting friendships.

Ryan Griffin first joined the Daredevils in 2001 after trying several options to stimulate his mind. He was diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum when he was three and a half years old, and feels he has benefited from his involvement with the team.

“I turned from a unfocused player who would skate around the rink touching every pane of glass to a player who got into the game and played like a man. Daredevils has helped me gain friendship.

“I’ve learned about sportsmanship too, it’s not just about winning. Once I got to know all my teammates, we quickly bonded together as friends and we always will be there for each other like family,” Griffin, who is now 23, shares with IPS via email.

Griffin feels as though the experience he has had with the team has given him valuable life skills.

“Most importantly, Daredevils has taught me leadership. As team captain, I learned that leaders, like captains, should always lead by example. That means, trying to stay as positive as possible, even when things are not going the way they should be,” Griffin says.

In a world that has excluded disabled people from partaking in basic human needs such as education, the workforce, and being a part of a community, it is clear that programmes that encourage mental and social growth can be important in the life of a disabled person.

So while the CEP in Albany and the New Jersey Daredevils in New Jersey are both different localised experiences, they are examples of what communities should be doing in order to promote the inclusion and development of people with disabilities.

The post Levelling the Playing Field for Persons with Disabilities in the United States appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories on disability inclusion.

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UN Expects More Upheavals as Trump’s Foreign Policy Runs Wildhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-expects-upheavals-trumps-foreign-policy-runs-wild/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-expects-upheavals-trumps-foreign-policy-runs-wild http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-expects-upheavals-trumps-foreign-policy-runs-wild/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 10:22:26 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157674 The unpredictable Donald Trump, described by some as a human wrecking ball, will be walking down his own path of self-inflicted destruction when he visits the United Nations next week. The volatile American president’s unorthodox and reckless foreign policy has already reverberated throughout the United Nations: a $300 million reduction in funding to the UN […]

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Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, addresses the Assembly’s annual general debate. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 19 2018 (IPS)

The unpredictable Donald Trump, described by some as a human wrecking ball, will be walking down his own path of self-inflicted destruction when he visits the United Nations next week.

The volatile American president’s unorthodox and reckless foreign policy has already reverberated throughout the United Nations: a $300 million reduction in funding to the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) aiding Palestinians and a $69 million cut in funding, since last year, for the UN Population Agency (UNFPA), advancing reproductive health.

And there is widespread speculation that the United States will also initiate a General Assembly resolution later this year to reduce its assessed contributions to the world body – currently at 22 percent of the annual budget.

But that resolution may be adopted by the 193-member General Assembly if the US resorts to strong-arm tactics — as US Ambassador Nikki Haley once threatened to “take down names” and cut American aid to countries that voted for a resolution condemning US recognition of Jerusalem as the new Israeli capital.

Making his second visit to the United Nations on September 25 to address the 73rd session of the General Assembly and later to preside over a Security Council meeting, Trump is known to hold the UN in contempt ever since he called for the renegotiation of the 2015 Climate Change agreement which has been signed by 195 countries and ratified by 180.

In May, Trump also withdrew from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)– while all other signatories, including France, UK, Russia and China, (four of the five permanent members of the Security Council), plus Germany and the European Union (EU), refused to follow his destructive path.

And he once denounced the UN as just another “social club” – a remark made through sheer ignorance than a well-thought-out diplomatic pronouncement.

The world body is expecting more upheavals from an erratic political leader who has kept the international community guessing – not excluding the United Nations.

Norman Solomon, Executive Director of the Washington-based Institute for Public Accuracy, told IPS: “The world is too large, too diverse and too wondrous to have the foremost world body held hostage by the United States government. Trump’s jingoistic arrogance has dragged powerful discourse to new lows at the United Nations”.

The madness of Donald Trump, he pointed out, is shocking on a daily basis, but his administration is an extreme manifestation of what the UN has all too often tolerated in previous times, in more “moderate” forms from Washington.

“The time has come — the time is overdue — for the United Nations to clearly distinguish its operational missions from destructive agendas of the U.S. government,” said Solomon, Co-Founder and Coordinator of the online activist group RootsAction.org, which has 1.4 million active online members.

Meanwhile, as part of his contempt for the international trading system, Trump has threatened to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva as he continues to break trade agreements and impose unilateral tariffs.

Still, he has his adherents out there in Washington DC.

Stephen Moore, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, has proposed that Trump should receive the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics, since the much-coveted Nobel Peace Prize is far beyond his reach.

Writing in Investor’s Business Daily last week, Moore said Trump’s economic achievements have been overshadowed by reports regarding his erratic and “dangerous” behavior.

As his foreign policy runs wild, Trump also broke political ranks with the rest of the world when he decided to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in open violation of a Security Council resolution calling for the warring parties to decide on the future of the disputed city.

Trump triggered a global backlash last year when he singled out Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” eliciting protests from the 55-member African Union (AU).

Trump has also come under fire for his insulting statements that “all Haitians have AIDS” and Nigerians who visit the US “would never go back to their huts.”

But running notoriously true to form, he has reversed himself again and again — and denied making any of these statements, despite credible evidence.

Mouin Rabbani, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington DC told IPS that speculating on what issues President Trump will address at the United Nations, and how he will conduct himself, is a difficult task.

“Virtually the only thing that can be said with certainty is that he will once again put on a display of breathtaking vulgarity, will spew falsehoods with abandon (in many cases, it must be said, without having a clue that he is doing so), and will for these reasons be celebrated for unprecedented acts of heroism by his American and Israeli supporters,” he added

If Trump sticks to the script drafted by his handlers, which he may or may not do, the United States is expected to focus on its attempts to isolate Iran, he noted.

“It’s an interesting choice, given that the JCPOA is an international treaty that has been ratified by the UN Security Council, that Iran has repeatedly been judged to be in compliance with its JCPOA obligations, and that the United States in unilaterally renouncing its obligations under this treaty stands in open, willful violation of both international law and its obligations to the world body,” he pointed out.

Last week National Security Adviser John Bolton told the Federalist Society in Washington DC the Trump administration will push hard against any investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of US citizens (read: American soldiers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan) or allies (read: Israel accused of war crimes by the Palestinians) from “unjust prosecution by an illegitimate court.”

Meanwhile, Haley has already held out a threat on US funding for the UN when she said “We will remember it (the voting against the US) when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution (22 percent of the regular budget) to the United Nations”.

Solomon told IPS the U.S. government’s contempt for international law, humanitarian priorities and the United Nations as an institution has reached new overt heights during the Trump presidency.

“The destructive arrogance of Washington’s current policies, represented at the UN by Ambassador Nikki Haley, must be condemned and opposed.”

But governments should do more than directly push back against the dangerous militarism and implicit racism of the current U.S. administration. Members of the UN should also assess — and fundamentally change — the trajectory of the world body’s subservience to the U.S. government and its long-term consequences he noted.

During the last few decades, while several different individuals have been in the White House, the U.S. government has engaged in de facto bribery, blackmail and other devious methods to manipulate member states — sometimes using very heavy-handed tactics to induce members of the Security Council to endorse or at least not oppose the USA’s aggressive military actions and ongoing wars, said Solomon.

Most permanent and rotating members of the Security Council have too often served as silent partners, rubber stamps or outright complicit assistants to the U.S. government’s flagrant, destabilizing and deadly violations of international law.

Yet the undue efforts to go along with Washington’s policies during the last several decades have disfigured the noble ideals of the United Nations — all too often twisting them into rationalizations for enabling the United States to claim the UN’s acquiescence, he declared.

Rabbani told IPS “Perhaps more interesting than Trump’s ramblings at the General Assembly will be his presiding over a session of the UNSC, over which the US holds the presidency this month.”

Watching Trump preside over a UN Security Council session, which includes an obligation to respect its procedures etc. will be a sight to behold. It’s entirely possible that he will open the session with an offer to remodel the building on the basis of one of his special discounts, and request that his fellow UNSC members adopt a resolution to dismiss Special Counsel Robert Mueller, said Rabbani.

If he does stick to script, and insists on pursuing the Iran agenda, one can think of a number of UNSC members that will provide pointed responses to the US position, and these may include US allies as well.

There appears to be a growing realisation that the US agenda is not limited to individual objectives such as the destruction of the JCPOA or ensuring permanent Israeli supremacy over the Palestinian people, but rather has a core objective the dismantling of international institutions, particularly those concerned with international law, and replacing these with naked power, primarily US and Israeli, as the arbiter of international affairs.

This agenda, he said, also helps further explain recent funding decisions taken by Washington vis-a-vis UN institutions such as UNRWA, though there are clear ideological factors at play as well.

“If Trump does come in for serious criticism at the UN, and particularly the UNSC, we should expect Washington to take further measures to seek to marginalise, de-fund, and render impotent the world body and its various agencies.”

“What we recently witnessed with respect to UNRWA and the ICC may prove to be just a precursor to what is coming,” warned Rabbani.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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The Cambodian Port City on China’s 21st Century Silk Road That’s Becoming the New Macauhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/cambodian-port-city-chinas-21st-century-silk-road-thats-becoming-new-macau/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cambodian-port-city-chinas-21st-century-silk-road-thats-becoming-new-macau http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/cambodian-port-city-chinas-21st-century-silk-road-thats-becoming-new-macau/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 10:17:25 +0000 Kris Janssens http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157639 Kris Janssens is a Belgian reporter based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His goal is to tell extraordinary stories about ordinary people throughout Southeast Asia.

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The little shop owned by Leean Saan, close the monument with the lions. "Business is going down, Chinese people don't buy from me," she says. Credit: Kris Janssens/IPS

By Kris Janssens
SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia, Sep 19 2018 (IPS)

The new Macau. That’s what the Cambodian coastal city Sihanoukville is called nowadays. Chinese investors are building casinos there on a massive scale.

The southern port city lies on the new Silk Road (the so called ‘One Belt, One Road’) and is therefore interesting for China.

The Cambodian government is happy to accept the money. And Beijing never asks difficult questions.

“Things are happening so fast in Sihanoukville; the city has changed completely in only a few months time,” a friend tells me.

My last visit there was in December.

And so I wanted to see these ‘spectacular changes’ with my own eyes.

My friend was right. When you enter the city, you see casinos everywhere. There could be about a hundred by now, and new ones are constantly being built. Some of them are big showy palaces, but there are also obscure gambling houses.

Alongside those casinos you still find the typical Cambodian shops, where people drink tea and where food is skewered and cooked on the barbecue.

Tourists at the beach enjoy their cocktails or take a dip in the gulf of Thailand.

But all those elements are in disharmony with one another.

There is clearly no urban planning here.

It seems the builders got carte blanche to satisfy the hunger for gambling.

Gaudy lions

The statue of two golden lions, at a roundabout close to the sea, is a beacon in the city. Leean Saan (76) has a tiny little shop close to the lions. She sells soda water, cigarettes and fuel for motorbikes.

Ten years ago, when the tourists came, she started selling drinks. “But the business is going down,” she says. “There are more and more Chinese people and they don’t buy in my shop.”

“They are gangsters!” says a tuk-tuk driver who comes to buy fuel. “They promise for example to pay three dollars, but when we get to the destination they only give two. And when I complain, they threaten me with violence. They always travel in groups, so they feel superior.”

Making good money

I walk down the street and see some Cambodian youngsters who are queuing to buy coffee. They are more positive about the recent developments.

Rath (22) has been working for five years as a receptionist in a hotel casino. “My first salary was 80 dollars a month. Two years ago it was raised to 200 dollars and since last year I make 500 dollars a month. They need experienced staff.”

But there is a flip side to the coin: prices have gone up in a short period of time. “I used to pay 30 dollars a month to rent a room, nowadays they ask up to 250. But at the end of the day I still earn more than before.”

O Fortuna

It is time to get an inside look into one of those casinos, ‘Golden Sand’. I am the only white person and the security staff watches me closely.

At the entrance of the hall the song ‘O Fortuna’ taken from ‘Carmina Burana’ is being played repeatedly. A screen shows an animated movie with Chinese dragons and philosophers.

The game room is big but feels cold, in spite of the wall-to-wall carpet and the leather and fabric seats. There are Chinese wall ornaments.

Croupiers in red costumes are sitting at big card tables. You see a lot of security agents here as well. Young girls in blue outfits wander down the hall carrying fly swatters to kill annoying insects.

Remarkable: Cambodians are not allowed to gamble, by law. So all customers are Chinese.

Also remarkable: they don’t come dressed in suits and ties, but are dressed in shorts and t-shirts.

“Most customers here are builders,” says Wu, who works himself at one of the numerous construction sites in Sihanoukville. “They come here to spend the money they just earned.”

Wu is here for six months. He earns 700 dollars a month. He could make as much money in China, but here he has more job security.

Recruiting

Srun (28) works as a recruiter. He’s Cambodian but has Chinese roots and works as a tour guide for Chinese tourists. “They often asked me where they could go to gamble.” So Srun went to talk to several casino managers and he has an agreement to work on commission.

“You have to talk face to face to Chinese people,” he says. “I understand some Cambodians think they are gangsters, because they always talk so loudly. But that is simply their way of negotiating.”

Srun gets one percent of the money customers spend on gambling. “That doesn’t seem much, but in some cases we are talking about 10,000 dollars for a group of four people. The casino opens a special VIP-room and I get a 100 dollars.”

Rental prices

It is lunchtime. I decide to go for a noodle soup in a…Chinese restaurant.

“We only have Chinese people,” says manager Zong, “I don’t even speak Khmer.” She followed her husband about one year ago, coming from Hangzhou, in the eastern part of China. “Customers pay about seven times more here for the same dish. So the decision was easily made.”

She pays 3,000 dollars in rent for her restaurant. “That’s a lot of money, but it still is an interesting deal. That also goes for the owner. He could never get this amount of money from locals. So everyone is satisfied.”

This house owner is actively helping the Chinese settlement in Sihanoukville. His fellow citizens, who might have been born here, have no other option than to leave the city and try to find affordable business premises elsewhere.

As long as money talks here, the Chinese population will continue to grow.

Maybe I should make the same trip in another six months from now, to document the new changes to this area.

*The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of IPS. 

The post The Cambodian Port City on China’s 21st Century Silk Road That’s Becoming the New Macau appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Kris Janssens is a Belgian reporter based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His goal is to tell extraordinary stories about ordinary people throughout Southeast Asia.

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FNC Parliamentary Division affirms UAE’s leading role in attaining 2030 SDGshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/fnc-parliamentary-division-affirms-uaes-leading-role-attaining-2030-sdgs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fnc-parliamentary-division-affirms-uaes-leading-role-attaining-2030-sdgs http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/fnc-parliamentary-division-affirms-uaes-leading-role-attaining-2030-sdgs/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 09:59:52 +0000 WAM http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157693 The Federal National Council, FNC, Parliamentary Division has affirmed that the UAE’s clear development and many regional and international reports and indexes highlight the country’s leading role in implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, 2030. It also noted that the country has created a plan to implement these goals, as part of its strategies […]

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The Federal National Council, FNC, Parliamentary Division has affirmed that the UAE’s clear development and many regional and international reports and indexes highlight the country's leading role in implementing the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, 2030.

By WAM
ALEXANDRIA, Sep 19 2018 (WAM)

The Federal National Council, FNC, Parliamentary Division has affirmed that the UAE’s clear development and many regional and international reports and indexes highlight the country’s leading role in implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, 2030.

It also noted that the country has created a plan to implement these goals, as part of its strategies and initiatives, which are being supported and encouraged by the wise leadership and have enabled it to achieve significant successes, such as the launch of the UAE Vision 2021, the UAE Centennial 2071, and other related projects and programmes.

During its participation in the “Regional Seminar on the Sustainable Development Goals and Gender Equality for Middle East and North Africa Parliaments,” which is being held in Alexandria, Egypt, from 18th to 20th September, 2018, the division, which includes FNC members Khalfan Abdullah bin Youkha and Ahmed Yousef Al Nuaimi, stressed that the UAE has supported the efforts to achieve sustainable development in the areas of sustainable energy, green economy, food security, safe drinking water, gender equality and women’s empowerment.

In a working session, titled, “SDGs and the Role of Parliaments in their Achievement,” the delegation highlighted the fact that the UAE has implemented many humanitarian and development initiatives that aim to fulfil the needs of communities, eliminate poverty and famine, and launch development projects around the world, as well as establish strategic partnerships to achieve the 2030 goals while noting that the country has drafted a leading strategy with regards to international humanitarian and development aid.

The delegation also pointed out that the UAE occupied the first position globally as the largest donor of foreign aid in 2017, with the total value of its official development aid reaching AED19.32 billion (US$5.26 billion), a growth of 18.1 percent compared to 2016. Over half of this aid, or 54 percent, is non-refundable, to support the development plans of beneficiary countries.

The division also showcased the FNC’s role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, through its monitoring and legislative role, its launch of the first parliamentary strategy in the region for citizens, and its efforts to create an efficient parliamentary institution that can help achieve the UAE’s overall development, in line with the country’s keenness to promote international peace, stability and security, and achieve “Goal 16” to achieve peace and justice and create strong institutions.

WAM/Nour Salman

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Bill Gates thanks UAE for role in the fight to end world povertyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/bill-gates-thanks-uae-role-fight-end-world-poverty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bill-gates-thanks-uae-role-fight-end-world-poverty http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/bill-gates-thanks-uae-role-fight-end-world-poverty/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 08:25:06 +0000 WAM http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157672 The philanthropist Bill Gates has thanked the UAE for its support in working to eliminate deadly diseases and reduce world poverty. Mr Gates was speaking on the eve of the launch of the 2018 Goalkeepers Report, produced by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and which measures progress towards goals for sustainable development by 2030 […]

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By WAM
ABU DHABI, Sep 19 2018 (WAM)

The philanthropist Bill Gates has thanked the UAE for its support in working to eliminate deadly diseases and reduce world poverty.

Mr Gates was speaking on the eve of the launch of the 2018 Goalkeepers Report, produced by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and which measures progress towards goals for sustainable development by 2030 set by the United Nations three years ago.

In an interview with The National, Mr Gates said the foundation was “extremely thankful for the generosity of the UAE, including the ruling family, the government and a lot of organisations there.”

The UAE’s support was crucial not just because of the large sums of money it had committed to disease elimination and vaccination programmes, but because its strong regional role meant it was able to engage the support of other governments.

He said the UAE’s support was crucial not just because of the large sums of money it had committed to disease elimination and vaccination programmes, but because its strong regional role meant it was able to engage the support of other governments.

He cited Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the UAE has been active in vaccination campaigns working to eliminate the last clusters of polio in some of the most remote tribal regions.

“There’s an effort there to draw on the entire region and the voice of that region where on issues like the polio campaign, the strong relationships both up into Pakistan and Afghanistan, and relationships going down into some of the countries in Africa have been very helpful in getting to religious leaders and getting the focus from the political leaders on these health issues,” he said.

With the Foundation reaching out to Middle East governments to take leadership roles in fighting world poverty, “the UAE has been particularly strong in this,” Mr Gates said.

This is the second Goalkeepers report, with the name referring to leaders in the public and private sector who are committed eliminating poverty and hunger, achieving better health and education, providing clean and affordable energy and improving the environment.

The UN has set out 17 goals in these areas, and others, including gender equality and water quality, that it wants to achieve by 2030.

The 2018 report, released to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York today (September 18), measures progress so far and assesses the probability that these goals will be met.

There is a particular focus on Africa where the Gates Foundation has invested more than US$15 billion (AED55bn) and plans to spend even more in the future.

With the highest percentage of young people in the world, what happens to them “will be the single biggest determinant of whether the world makes progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals – that is, whether life on this planet keeps getting better”, the report says.

Large scale investment in the right areas has already led to historic reductions in global poverty over the last 30 years, the foundation says, from China and India to, most recently, Ethiopia.

It provides evidence that the number of people living in extreme poverty – meaning they survive on less than US$2 a day – has fallen from one in three of the world population in 1990 to less than one in ten by last year.

Over the last 20 years, that represents one billion people, Mr Gates said, while population growth, another measure of improved living standards, is largely flat.

But the overall trend conceals significant regional variations, especially in Africa and other developing countries.

“If you just take Africa, even though it’s only 14 per cent of the population of the world, it’s 24 percent of the births already,” Mr Gates said.

“Over the century, it lights up and becomes half of the births. So, you actually have a lot of population growth in Africa, even though the globe as a whole, the growth isn’t that dramatic.”

Of the 10 countries projected to be the poorest in the world by the middle of this century, all are in Africa. More than six in 10 of those living in the worst poverty will be Africans.

Nigeria alone will see its population explode from 190 million today to 429 million by 2050. Over 150 million of these will be living in abject poverty.

Yet investing in human capital projects in these countries could boost their economies by 90 per cent by that date, creating political and economic stability and stemming the flow of mass migration, the report concludes.

WAM/Tariq alfaham

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UN Agencies Launch Environmental Protection and Resilience Project for Host Communities and Refugees in Bangladeshhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-agencies-launch-environmental-protection-resilience-project-host-communities-refugees-bangladesh/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-agencies-launch-environmental-protection-resilience-project-host-communities-refugees-bangladesh http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-agencies-launch-environmental-protection-resilience-project-host-communities-refugees-bangladesh/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:14:09 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157669 Families living in the world’s largest refugee camp in the past week received the first 2,500 stoves and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders that are part of a United Nations project to protect the environment and build resilience for people living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The “SAFE Plus” (Safe Approaches to Fuel and Energy Plus […]

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Johura Kathun, 45, a widow with three children, receives an LPG stove in Balukhali camp. Photo: Tazbir Tanim / WFP 2018

By International Organization for Migration
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Sep 18 2018 (IOM)

Families living in the world’s largest refugee camp in the past week received the first 2,500 stoves and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders that are part of a United Nations project to protect the environment and build resilience for people living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

The “SAFE Plus” (Safe Approaches to Fuel and Energy Plus Landscape Restoration and Livelihoods) project, which aims to ultimately provide 125,000 host community and refugee families with LPG stoves to prevent further deforestation caused by cutting firewood for cooking, is a partnership between the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Migration Agency (IOM) and World Food Programme (WFP.)

When some 700,000 Rohingya refugees fled to Cox’s Bazar in August last year to escape violence in Myanmar, much of the area’s protected forest was cut down for fuel and shelter, dramatically increasing the risk of flooding and landslides due to soil erosion.

The new LPG stoves will allow families to safely cook without needing to gather firewood from depleted forests. They will also improve the safety of women and children, who risk gender-based violence and attacks from animals, when they collect firewood. Additionally, they will reduce health risks caused by smoke inhalation from open fires.

Host community and refugee families with LPG stoves will receive the fuel that they need through WFP’s ‘multi-wallet’ transfer solution. The agency’s SCOPE beneficiary and transfer management platform identifies recipients through biometric authentication and ensures that the assistance they receive is accurately recorded and managed. ‘Fuel wallets’ on their SCOPE assistance cards will record the LPG they receive, together with food and other items.

“Creating sustainable access to LPG for cooking is the critical piece in the jigsaw of addressing deforestation and reforestation,” said Peter Agnew, FAO Programme Manager in Bangladesh. “It eliminates the demand for firewood, which in turn allows us to replant deforested areas with confidence, knowing that new trees will not be dug up and sold as kindling.”

“Enabling access to alternative fuel sources encourages more environmentally sustainable practices. Deforestation is a major concern. Furthermore, families predominantly cook indoors, so we are quite concerned about the impact of smoke from cooking fires on people’s respiratory health,” said IOM Emergency Coordinator Manuel Pereira.

“We know limited access to firewood results in coping strategies such as undercooking food,” said WFP Emergency Coordinator Peter Guest. “We are therefore strengthening food security by giving people better and safer access to fuel. The SCOPE platform is helping both WFP and our UN partners to deliver humanitarian assistance more efficiently.”

Today, there are over 919,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. These refugees, as well as Bangladeshi host communities, number at least 1.3 million people and rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs.

The SAFE Plus initiative is supported by Ireland, Japan and the United States of America and assists the work of the Government of Bangladesh, notably the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission under the Ministry of Disaster Relief and Management.

For further information and interviews please contact:
Fiona MacGregor at IOM Cox’s Bazar, Tel. +8801733335221, Email: FMacGregor@iom.int
Peter Agnew at FAO Cox’s Bazar, Tel. +8801734931946, Email: Peter.Agnew@fao.org
Manmeet Kaur at WFP Cox’s Bazar, Tel. +8801713750599, Email: Manmeet.Kaur@wfp.org

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An Urgent Need to Turn Down Rhetoric Against Migrants & Refugeeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/urgent-need-turn-rhetoric-migrants-refugees/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=urgent-need-turn-rhetoric-migrants-refugees http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/urgent-need-turn-rhetoric-migrants-refugees/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:02:29 +0000 Carl Soderbergh http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157666 Carl Soderbergh is Director of Policy & Communications, Minority Rights Group International

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Sub Saharan Africans - Israel
Female African asylum-seekers during a protest march where they called on the government to recognise African migrants as refugees, and for the release of Africans who are held in detention facilities.

By Carl Söderbergh
LONDON, Sep 18 2018 (IPS)

Migration has become a focus of debate in recent years. From United States President Donald Trump’s vehemently anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric to Denmark’s new ‘ghetto laws’, the language has become increasingly heated.

The Danish government adopted these measures in 2018, specifically targeting low-income immigrant districts and including compulsory education on ‘Danish values’ for children starting at the age of one. In the United Kingdom, while still Home Secretary, Prime Minister Theresa May instituted a ‘hostile environment’ policy in 2012 that was intended to catch undocumented migrants whenever they came into contact with public services.

The policy particularly affected members of the so-called ‘Windrush generation’, the tens of thousands of Afro-Caribbean men, women and children who came over to the UK after World War Two and settled there legally. It is thought that the number of those deported runs into the hundreds, while many thousands more have had to live for several years in considerable uncertainty.

While a public outcry led to an official apology by the UK government, other leaders and governments have been resolutely unapologetic. Indeed, Trump’s travel ban for citizens of several Muslim-majority countries was approved as constitutional by the US Supreme Court in June 2018.

Such policies – and the often vitriolic language accompanying them – have had a direct and negative impact on migrant and refugee communities. According to data released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the annual number of hate crimes against US Muslims recorded by the organization rose 15 per cent in 2017, following on from a 44 per cent increase the previous year – an increase it attributed in part to Trump’s divisive language and the discriminatory measures put forward by his administration.

Muslim woman – Thailand
A Thai policeman checks the papers of a Muslim woman at a checkpoint in Pattani.

On 11 September 2018, Minority Rights Group International launched its annual Minority and Indigenous Trends report by hosting a seminar for journalists in Krakow, Poland. This year, we focused the report on migration and displacement. We chose the theme for two reasons.

One is what I have outlined above – the casual disregard that we have repeatedly witnessed by people in power for the immediate impact of their actions and their words on minority and indigenous communities. Whenever politicians chase voters or news outlets seek to increase their readerships and advertising revenues by targeting migrants, they ignore the very real consequences in terms of increased hatred towards those same communities.

The other reason is that we sought to reflect the lived realities of migrants and refugees themselves – in particular, how discrimination and exclusion drive many people to make the very hard choice to leave their homes. It remains very difficult to arrive at a total percentage of minorities and indigenous peoples among the world’s migrants and refugees.

This is partly due to lack of interest – after all, much of the reporting on migration remains fixated on overall numbers rather than on the individual stories. More particularly, migrants and refugees who belong to minorities or indigenous peoples may well feel a need to remain silent about their ethnicity or religious faith, for fear of further persecution in transit or upon arrival in their new homes.

However, there are many clear indicators from around the world of an immediate causal link between marginalization and movement. The horrifying targeting of Yezidis by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as more recently of Rohingya by the military and its allies in Myanmar, are by now well-documented. In both cases, the overwhelming majority of the communities have been displaced.

Migrant workers – Russia

But there are many other examples of membership in minority and indigenous populations and displacement. In Ethiopia, the government’s crackdown on political dissent, aimed particularly at the Oromo population, contributed directly to an upsurge in migration from that community. Data collected by the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) showed that by the beginning of 2017 as many as 89 per cent of arriving Ethiopian migrants in the key nearby transit country Yemen stated that they belong to the Oromo community. In Colombia, displacement by armed groups has continued despite the 2016 peace accord.

This disproportionately affects Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities who made up more than a quarter (26 per cent) of the more than 139,000 forcibly displaced in the country between January and October 2017, double their share of the national population as a whole.

In fact, the Colombian example is important as it highlights how, while global attention shifts away from a particular situation, the plight of minorities and indigenous peoples continues. Here, the distinction governments and UN agencies seek to make between refugees on the one hand and migrants on the other becomes blurred and even unhelpful.

The US government denies asylum to victims of Central American gang violence. However, much of the brutal gang-related violence in Guatemala, for instance, has affected indigenous communities disproportionately: decades of conflict and discrimination have left them impoverished and marginalized, with little recourse to protection from police or the judiciary. Indeed, in many cases their situation has been aggravated by official persecution.

The discrimination that caused many migrants and refugees to leave their homes often follows them while in transit. While the abusive treatment of asylum seekers and their families crossing into the US has been widely reported, the crackdown within Mexico on Central American migrants, particularly indigenous community members, has received less coverage.

Significantly, it has resulted not only in the targeting of foreign nationals, including many women and children, but also the arrest and intimidation of indigenous Mexicans by police. Over the past year, reports have emerged from Libya of sub-Saharan Africans trapped by the containment policies of the European Union, who now find themselves targeted by security forces, militias and armed groups. There have been widespread reports of torture, sexual assault and enslavement of migrants, many of whom are vulnerable not only on account of their ethnicity but also as non-Muslims.

The situation is further complicated for groups within minority or indigenous communities, such as women, children, persons with disabilities and LGBTQI people, who contend with multiple forms of discrimination and as a result face heightened threats of sexual assault, physical attacks and other rights abuses – in their places of origin, whilst in transit and upon arrival at their destinations.

What then is needed?

Firstly, all those participating in national and international debates on migration need to tone down their rhetoric. The Danish government could, for instance, have devised policies supporting marginalized urban districts without resorting to the historically loaded term, ‘ghetto’, which immediately stigmatizes residents while giving a green light to racists.

Secondly, governments need to abide by fundamental human rights principles, including the basic right to live with dignity. And finally, all those who are contributing to the debate – including media – must get past the numbers and reveal the individual stories. In order to discuss migration, one needs to understand it fully.

While the way forward may appear challenging, I was inspired by the many Polish journalists who attended our launch event in Krakow and who are already rising to the challenge by seeking out the stories that migrants and refugees have to tell us.

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Excerpt:

Carl Soderbergh is Director of Policy & Communications, Minority Rights Group International

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Finding Comfort at Home: Soran’s Journeyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/finding-comfort-home-sorans-journey/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=finding-comfort-home-sorans-journey http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/finding-comfort-home-sorans-journey/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 14:08:45 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157683 Soran left Kurdistan in 2015, in search of better opportunities for himself and his young family in Germany. Here is his account of the journey to Europe, and the decision to come back home. “In August 2015, lack of employment and the general gloomy atmosphere caused by the economic crisis here encouraged me to think […]

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Credit: IOM 2018/Sarah Ali

By International Organization for Migration
ERBIL, Sep 18 2018 (IOM)

Soran left Kurdistan in 2015, in search of better opportunities for himself and his young family in Germany. Here is his account of the journey to Europe, and the decision to come back home.

“In August 2015, lack of employment and the general gloomy atmosphere caused by the economic crisis here encouraged me to think of going to Europe in search of a better life. I sold my house and my car and put all of my savings aside to prepare for the trip to Germany. My brother and my cousins live there and they told me it was a nice country and that the German people treated migrants well.

My wife and I went with our little son to Turkey and from there we paid a smuggler to get us across to Greece by sea. There is a fine line between life and death at sea; it is full of dangers and the possibility of dying — or worse, seeing your family die before you. The journey by land was no better than the sea. We had to walk through six countries before reaching Germany: Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria. As we walked through the forest I had a heavy backpack on, and my little one on my back as well. There were dozens of other migrants walking along as well; we wrapped ourselves in blankets because of the cold as we walked through the forests.

We stayed in a camp in Germany. We were treated well and I really appreciated that. There was a German woman named Lisa who I will never forget. She would frequently visit us and help us with whatever we needed, from house chores to paperwork. When we had our second baby in Germany it was 2:30 am, I called her and she came over immediately; she took us to hospital and stayed with us the whole night.

But despite the good treatment and the beauty of the country, I couldn’t stay in the camp anymore. After waiting for almost two years for my case to be settled, I couldn’t take it anymore. I missed my parents and my friends so much that I could not bear it. I saw updates from my friends on Facebook and the separation from them broke my heart. We were struggling to adjust to German food, and only went to Turkish restaurants to eat. So we decided to return.

By the time we decided to return to Erbil in 2017, we had spent all of the money I had put together from selling my house and my car, a total of more than US$30,000. My father helped us in the beginning, and then I received assistance from IOM to start this paint business in which I partnered with an old friend. Here we sell paint supplies and we also do house painting. We paint seven to eight houses per month. What I make from this business is enough to provide for my family although I will need time to establish myself like before.

Credit: IOM 2018/Sarah Ali

During the years in Germany I learned many skills and values that I now use in my daily life here in Kurdistan. For example, the Germans are very punctual, and that’s something really important that people do not care about much here. If the Germans say they meet you at 4:30, then they will meet you at 4:30 exactly, not a minute later. I am applying the same concept here in my job.”

IOM’s assistance to Soran was funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through the German Corporation for International Development (GIZ) and the German Center for Job, Migration and Reintegration in Iraq (GMAC).

This story was written by Raber Aziz, Media and Communications Officer at IOM Iraq.

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In the Race to Achieve Zero Hunger and Mitigate Climate Change, We Must Look Down — to the Soilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/race-achieve-zero-hunger-mitigate-climate-change-must-look-soil/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=race-achieve-zero-hunger-mitigate-climate-change-must-look-soil http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/race-achieve-zero-hunger-mitigate-climate-change-must-look-soil/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 09:41:57 +0000 Esther Ngumbi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157654 Esther Ngumbi is Distinguished Post Doctoral Researcher, Entomology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Illinois. She was the 2015 Clinton Global University (CGI U) Mentor for Agriculture and 2015 New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

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John Daffi on his piece of land that is part of a cooperative that began in 1963 in Upper Kitete, Tanzania. Experts says the importance of soil cannot be overstated as healthy soils underpin agriculture and sustainable food systems. Credit: Adam Bemma/IPS

By Esther Ngumbi
ILLINOIS, United States, Sep 18 2018 (IPS)

Recently, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva urged countries, scientists, policymakers and stakeholders invested in building an equitable, sustainable, and thriving planet to pay attention to the soil. He further noted that the future of the planet depends on how healthy the soils of today are.

I agree. In the race to beat food insecurity, achieve zero hunger, and address climate change, we must pay attention to the soil. The importance of soil cannot be overstated. Healthy soils underpin agriculture and sustainable food systems.

But there is more to healthy soils. They can deliver many other benefits.

First, healthy soils can help address and mitigate climate change through storing soil carbon. Research studies have shown that healthy soils hold more carbon and these reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-80 percent.

At the same time, research studies and reports have shown that soils that are rich in organic carbon can deliver many benefits, including increasing crop yields,  soil water holding capacity and storage. Plants can use stored water in periods when water is scarce.

Secondly, healthy soils make it possible for the inhabitants of the soils —soil microorganisms — to continue playing their roles. Unseen to the naked eye, tiny soil microorganisms that include bacteria and fungi are hard at work, helping plants to grow better while keeping our soils healthy, which ultimately allows farmers to grow food amidst a changing climate.

Further, these microorganisms deliver other benefits including helping plants to tolerate climate change induced extremities including drought. These microbes can also help plants to fend off and suppress insect pests, including invasive pests and other that have become a force to reckon with in the developing countries. Thriving and functioning soil microbes can be key to revolutionising agriculture.

Thirdly, taking care of the soil and keeping them healthy, ensures that farmers around the word build resilient ecosystems that can bounce back from extremities that come along with a changing climate.

Esther Ngumbi is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Auburn University in Alabama. Courtesy: Esther Ngumbi

However, even with all these benefits that come along when soils healthy, around the world, a third of our soils are degraded.

In 2015, the U.N. launched the International Year of Soils and highlighted the extent with which soils were degraded worldwide. Since then, countries, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and many other stakeholders have stepped up to the challenge. They are paying attention to soils.

Ethiopia launched a countrywide initiative to map the health and status of Ethiopian soils which has allowed farmers to reap the many benefits that can come when soils are healthy including increased crop yields. Because of paying attention to soil health, Ethiopia is slowly transforming agriculture, and paving way for its citizens to become food secure.

In addition, in early June, the FAO together with the Global Soil Partnership launched the Afrisoils programme, with a goal to reduce soil degradation by 25 percent in the coming decade in 47 African countries.

Moreover, because soil health is not only an African problem, developed countries are stepping up.

In the United States, the Soil Health Institute continues to coordinate and support soil stewardship and the advancement of soil health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers tips, guidelines and many resources that can be useful to stakeholders and governments and farmers that want to help restore the health of their soils. Advocacy groups like Soil4Climate continue to advocate for soil restoration as a climate solution.

This must continue.

But, as Africa and the many stakeholders look to the future and pay attention to soils, what are some of the areas and innovations surrounding soils that are likely going to pay off?

Innovations surrounding beneficial soil microbes. When beneficial soil microbes are happy, healthy, and plentiful in the soils, the nutrients are available to roots, plants grow big, insects are repelled and farmers ultimately reap the benefits—a plentiful harvest.

We must ensure that products and solutions that spin off from beneficial soils microbes are affordable, especially so to the over 500 million smallholder farmers, who live on less than a dollar a day.

Innovations surrounding soil heath diagnostic kits that help farmers to rapidly and precisely determine the health of the soils will be a win-win for all.

As shown in Ethiopia, where knowing the status of the heath of the soils has resulted into the doubling of farmer’s productivity and improving soil health these innovations can be a game changer in the race to beat food insecurity across Africa.

Translating innovations into products and solutions requires funding. Luckily, innovators, researchers, NGO’s and for profit companies thinking of making this happen can apply for funding through FoodShot Global’s Innovating Soil 3.0 challenge.

This unique investment platform catalysing groundbreaking innovation to cultivate a healthy, sustainable and equitable food system will be offering a combination of equity and debt funding to innovative businesses and a groundbreaker prize of more than USD500,000 to researchers, social entrepreneurs and advocates taking bold “moonshots for better food”.

These cash prizes will allow winners to translate bold ideas that utilise the latest in technology, science and engineering into solutions that address the soil health crisis.

To reap the many benefits that come along with healthy soils, the right interventions and innovations to improve soil health must be funded, rolled out and scaled up. Healthy soils are the foundational base that will enable countries to achieve the U.N. sustainable development goals. In the race to achieve these goals, we must pay attention to the soil. Time is ripe.

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Excerpt:

Esther Ngumbi is Distinguished Post Doctoral Researcher, Entomology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Illinois. She was the 2015 Clinton Global University (CGI U) Mentor for Agriculture and 2015 New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

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Another global financial crisis for developing countries?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/another-global-financial-crisis-developing-countries/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=another-global-financial-crisis-developing-countries http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/another-global-financial-crisis-developing-countries/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 09:05:35 +0000 Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157656 George Soros, Bill Gates and other pundits have been predicting another financial crisis. In their recent book, Revolution Required: The Ticking Bombs of the G7 Model, Peter Dittus and Herve Hamoun, former senior officials of the Bank of International Settlements, warned of ‘ticking time bombs’ in the global financial system waiting to explode, mainly due […]

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By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY & KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 18 2018 (IPS)

George Soros, Bill Gates and other pundits have been predicting another financial crisis. In their recent book, Revolution Required: The Ticking Bombs of the G7 Model, Peter Dittus and Herve Hamoun, former senior officials of the Bank of International Settlements, warned of ‘ticking time bombs’ in the global financial system waiting to explode, mainly due to the policies of major developed countries.

Anis Chowdhury

Recent events vindicate such fears. Many emerging market currencies have come under considerable pressure, with the Indonesian rupiah, Indian rupee and South African rand all struggling since early this year. Brazil’s real fell sharply in June, and Argentina has failed to stabilize its peso despite seeking IMF aid. As Turkey struggles to stabilize its lira, many European banks’ exposure has heightened fears of another global financial crisis.

Why the vulnerability?
Some fundamental weaknesses are at the core of this vulnerability. These include the international financial ‘non-system’ since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1971, and continuing to use the US dollar as the main international reserve currency.

This burdens deficit countries vis-à-vis surplus countries and ensures near-universal vulnerability to US monetary policy. Thus, most countries accumulate dollars as a precaution, i.e., for ‘protection’, eschewing other options, such as investing in socially desirable projects.

Policy makers not only failed to address these weaknesses following the 2008-2009 global financial crisis (GFC), but also compounded other problems. Having eschewed stronger, more sustained fiscal policy interventions, monetary policy virtually became the sole policy instrument. Major central banks, led by the US Federal Reserve, embarked on ‘unconventional monetary policies’, pushing real interest rates down, even into negative territory.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Emerging and developing economies (EDEs) offering higher returns temporarily experienced large short-term capital inflows. The external debt of emerging market economies has grown to over $40 trillion since the GFC. The combined debt of 26 large emerging markets rose from 148% of gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of 2008 to 211% in September 2017, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

Easy money raised household and corporate debt, fuelling property and financial asset price bubbles. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) April 2018 Fiscal Monitor, global debt peaked at $164 trillion in 2016, or 225% of global GDP, compared to 125% before the GFC. The IIF reported that global debt rose to over $247 trillion in early 2018, i.e., equivalent to 318% of GDP.

Rising debt levels pose serious downside risks for the global economy. With easy money coming to an end, as the Fed continues to ‘normalize’ monetary policy by raising the policy interest rate, capital flight to the US is undermining emerging market currencies. When debt defaults increase with interest rates while income growth remains subdued, the world becomes more vulnerable to financial crisis.

Diminished capacities
Both developed and developing countries have less policy space than during the GFC. Most governments are saddled with more debt following massive financial bail outs followed by abandonment of efforts to sustain robust recovery.

According to the IMF’s April 2018 Fiscal Monitor, average public debt of advanced economies was 105% of GDP in 2017, constraining fiscal capacity to respond to crisis. Meanwhile, monetary policy options are exhausted after a decade of ‘unconventional’ monetary policies.

General government debt-to-GDP ratios in emerging market and middle-income economies almost reached 50% in 2017 — a level only seen during the 1980s’ debt crisis. The 2017 ratio exceeded 40% in low-income developing countries, climbing by more than ten percentage points since 2012.

Playing With Fire
by Yilmaz Akyuz, former South Centre chief economist, has highlighted the self-inflicted vulnerabilities of developing countries. Public debt-GDP ratios in EDEs are likely to rise due to falling commodity prices and stagnant global trade, while they have almost no monetary policy independence due to deeper global financial integration.

Weaker global growth
While corporate sectors have been busy with mergers, acquisitions and share buybacks with cheap credit, instead of investing in the real economy, the financial sector has successfully portrayed sovereign debt as ‘public enemy number one’.

Held hostage to finance capital, governments around the world have wasted the opportunity to improve productive capacities by investing in infrastructure and social goods when real interest rates were at historic lows. At around 24% of global GDP, the global investment rate remains below the pre-crisis level of around 27%, with investment rates in EDEs either declining or stagnant since 2010.

Failure to address the falling wages’ share of GDP, rising executive pay and asset price bubbles, due to ‘easy’ monetary policy, have continued to worsen growing income inequality and wealth concentration. Meanwhile, deep cuts in government spending and public services, while reducing top tax rates, cause anger and resentment, often blamed on ‘the other’, contributing to the spread of ‘ethno-populism’.

In turn, growing inequality limits aggregate demand, which has been maintained by unsustainably raising household debt, i.e., perverse ‘financial inclusion’.

Perfect storm?
Turbulence in currency markets is due to developing countries’ limited economic policy space. A decade after the GFC, developing countries still experience lower growth and investment rates.

Financial sectors of emerging market economies now have more and deeper links with international financial markets, also reflected in high foreign ownership of stocks and government bonds, with large sudden capital outflows causing financial crises.

Meanwhile, recent commodity price drops have accelerated the rising indebtedness of low-income countries. According to the IMF, 24 out of 60 (40%) are now either already facing debt crises or are highly vulnerable—twice as many as five years ago, with a few already seeking Fund bail-outs.

The problem is compounded by declining concessional aid from OECD countries. Also, more creditors are not part of the Paris Club, obliged to deal with sovereign debt on less onerous terms. Meanwhile, growing trade and currency conflicts are worsening the woes of those already worse-off.

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Crisis Drives Nicaragua to an Economic and Social Precipicehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/crisis-drives-nicaragua-economic-social-precipice/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=crisis-drives-nicaragua-economic-social-precipice http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/crisis-drives-nicaragua-economic-social-precipice/#respond Mon, 17 Sep 2018 18:07:02 +0000 Jose Adan Silva http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157649 Five months after the outbreak of mass protests in Nicaragua, in addition to the more than 300 deaths, the crisis has had visible consequences in terms of increased poverty and migration, as well as the international isolation of the government and a wave of repression that continues unabated. Álvaro Leiva, director of the non-governmental Nicaraguan […]

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Africa Needs Strong Political Will to Transform Agriculture and Spur Economic Growthhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/africa-needs-strong-political-will-transform-agriculture-spur-economic-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=africa-needs-strong-political-will-transform-agriculture-spur-economic-growth http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/africa-needs-strong-political-will-transform-agriculture-spur-economic-growth/#respond Mon, 17 Sep 2018 15:11:05 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157640 Africa needs strong political commitment to accelerate the transformation of its agricultural sector. According to the 2018 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR), Catalyzing State Capacity to Drive Agriculture Transformation, released this September by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), African states need political will to boost production and income on the millions […]

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Ndomi Magareth, sows bean seeds on her small piece of land in Njombe, Cameroon. Africa currently spends over USD 35 billion annually on food imports, money that could make a big difference if invested in agriculture development. Credit: Monde Kingsley Nfor/IPS

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Sep 17 2018 (IPS)

Africa needs strong political commitment to accelerate the transformation of its agricultural sector.

According to the 2018 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR), Catalyzing State Capacity to Drive Agriculture Transformation, released this September by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), African states need political will to boost production and income on the millions of small, family farms that grow most of Africa’s food.

The continent currently spends over USD 35 billion annually on food imports, money that could make a big difference if invested in agricultural development. AGRA has said Africa could require up to USD 400 billion over the next 10 years in public and private sector investments in food production, processing, marketing and transport.

Government is ultimately responsible for transforming agriculture by creating a conducive environment and addressing inherent governance challenges, Daudi Sumba, one of the report’s authors and head of Monitoring and Evaluation at AGRA, told IPS in an interview. “This requires vision and leadership to create political will among high-level political leaders to implement effective policies for agricultural transformation.”

Citing the example of the late prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, Sumba said the former Ethiopian leader understood rural farmers as well as how important scientific knowledge was to progress and that contributed to his political will to implement effective policies.

As a result, Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has achieved the highest agricultural growth rates over an extended period of time.

Most African countries struggle to realise economic growth for agriculture because of lack of political leadership, the report found.

However, the report notes some exceptions of countries whose agricultural development provides an example for others. In addition to Ethiopia, the report says Rwanda has marshalled political support for agriculture and integrated detailed action plans within its broader economic development strategies. Progress in the agricultural sector is credited with lifting over one million Rwandans out of extreme poverty in a relatively short period.


Furthermore, the report finds that  economic output in Ghana’s agricultural sector—driven in part by the government’s new “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme—grew 8.4 percent in 2017 after posting only three percent growth in 2016. Similarly, AGRA experts point to countries such as Kenya, Burkina Faso, Mali and Zambia as places where political momentum and government capabilities are growing.

Jundi Hajji, a wheat farmer from Ethiopia, shows his crop. In Ethiopia, 25 years of steady growth in the farm sector has cut rural poverty rates in half. Credit:Omer Redi/IPS

The increasing willingness of African governments to openly discuss where they are advancing in agriculture and where they are struggling is a reason for optimism, the report says. For example, 47 countries have signed on to the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), a master plan to achieve economic growth through growing agriculture by at least six percent annually.

Ethiopia, for the past 25 years, has consistently exceeded the CAADP target of six percent growth in the agricultural sector. The government consistently made CAADP the core of its agricultural plan.

Available evidence suggests that political will to support agricultural transformation has remained limited in most African countries. This implies that political will must be raised for agriculture to drive economic development, Sumba said.

“Existing data suggest that the political will to support agriculture transformation is likely lower in Africa than in other regions of the developing world,” the report states, adding that it “has not substantially increased during the past decade.”

The report, which was released at the annual African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali, Rwanda, notes that countries like China, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Morocco have seen the economic benefits of intensifying commercial production on small farms.

For example, China’s agricultural transformation is credited with kick starting a rapid decline in rural poverty, from 53 percent in 1981 to eight percent in 2001. In Ethiopia, 25 years of steady growth in the farm sector has cut rural poverty rates in half and in rural Rwanda, over the same period, poverty has reduced by 25 percent, the report notes.

AGRA president Dr. Agnes Kalibata says governments are central to driving an inclusive agriculture transformation agenda. The report highlights the value of strengthening country planning, coordination and implementation capacity while supporting the development of an effective private sector and an enabling regulatory environment to boost agricultural productivity.

“Our experience and lessons have shown that impact can be achieved faster by supporting countries to deliver on their own transformation; driving scale through a well-planned and coordinated approach to resources in the public domain to build systems and institutions,” said Kalibata.

“Governments are definitely central to driving an inclusive agriculture transformation agenda. This body of work recognises their role and aims to highlight the value of strengthening country planning, coordination and implementation capacity while supporting the development of an effective private sector and enabling regulatory environment,” she added.

While Africa needs urgent agricultural transformation, it should attend to the challenges of rapid urbanisation, climate, significant unemployment (one third of Africans aged 15 to 35 are jobless), and chronic malnutrition, which has left 58 million children stunted.

With over 800 million people worldwide suffering from hunger and more than two billion affected by malnutrition, food insecurity remains a real threat to global development and more so in Africa.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that an additional 38 million Africans will be hungry by 2050. This is despite the fact that the continent has sufficient land, water and manpower to produce more food than it imports. The AfDB projects that food imports will grow to USD 110 billion annually by 2025 if the current trend continues without the urgency to invest in agriculture production and value addition.

“Lack of democratisation looms large when it comes to explaining (and hence diagnosing implementation needs) lack of political will to pursue agricultural transformation, the report says. “Political competition increases the attention to agricultural growth and hence to the extent of discrimination against agriculture on such items as taxation,” the Africa Agriculture Status Report states.

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MOCCAE, Global Green Growth Institute to review Green Economy Indicatorshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/moccae-global-green-growth-institute-review-green-economy-indicators/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=moccae-global-green-growth-institute-review-green-economy-indicators http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/moccae-global-green-growth-institute-review-green-economy-indicators/#respond Mon, 17 Sep 2018 09:07:05 +0000 WAM http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157659 The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MOCCAE, today concluded a two-day workshop on performance measurement for greening the economy, organised in collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute, GGGI. Held at the ministry’s premises in Dubai, the workshop convened 30 policymakers representing federal and local authorities from the UAE, Jordan, and Egypt to discuss […]

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The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MOCCAE, today concluded a two-day workshop on performance measurement for greening the economy, organised in collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute, GGGI.

By WAM
DUBAI, Sep 17 2018 (WAM)

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MOCCAE, today concluded a two-day workshop on performance measurement for greening the economy, organised in collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute, GGGI.

Held at the ministry’s premises in Dubai, the workshop convened 30 policymakers representing federal and local authorities from the UAE, Jordan, and Egypt to discuss ways of measuring the progress of nations towards achieving a green economy. In line with the UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030, the country has set 41 Green Key Performance Indicators, Green KPIs, that cover the economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainable development, and assess its performance annually in the UAE State of Green Economy Report.

The Global Green Institute is currently developing the Green Growth Performance Measurement, GGPM, that consists of the Green Growth Index, GGI, for measuring green growth of countries around the world and a simulation tool that allows users to explore the impact of specific policies in this field. The workshop is part of regional sessions aimed at introducing GGPM, soliciting expert feedback, and testing its universal applicability that are also taking place in Asia-Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

In her opening remarks, Aisha Al Abdooli, Director of Green Development and Environmental Affairs at MOCCAE, said, “Approved by the Cabinet in 2017, the UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030 has made the transition to a green economy the country’s key priority. Measuring environmental performance is a critical component in achieving the ambitions outlined in the UAE Vision 2021. We are confident this workshop will contribute to our journey of sustainability through enabling us to share experiences and lessons learnt with our regional partners.”

The Green Growth Index includes performance metrics in five dimensions – resource efficiency, natural capital protection, resilience to risks, economic opportunities, and social inclusion – across six areas: energy, industry, transport, cities, agriculture, and forests.

In turn, Orestes Anastasia, Head of Knowledge Sharing and Deputy Head of the Office of Thought Leadership at GGGI, said, “An appropriate set of indicators can help stimulate the policy action and investment required for a country’s green transformation. Ultimately, GGPM allows countries to compare their performance with their peers and track their progress over time.”

 

WAM/مبارك خميس/Rola Alghoul/Nour Salman

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Between Drought and Floods, Cuba Seeks to Improve Water Managementhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/drought-floods-cuba-seeks-improve-water-management/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=drought-floods-cuba-seeks-improve-water-management http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/drought-floods-cuba-seeks-improve-water-management/#respond Sat, 15 Sep 2018 15:48:23 +0000 Patricia Grogg http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157631 If you enjoy a good daily shower and water comes out every time you turn on the taps in your home, you should feel privileged. There are places in the world where this vital resource for life is becoming scarcer by the day and the forecasts for the future are grim. A study by the […]

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A medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) pipe is set to be installed on a centrally located avenue in the municipality of Centro Habana, which will be part of the new water supply grid for residents of the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) pipe is set to be installed on a centrally located avenue in the municipality of Centro Habana, which will be part of the new water supply grid for residents of the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Patricia Grogg
HAVANA, Sep 15 2018 (IPS)

If you enjoy a good daily shower and water comes out every time you turn on the taps in your home, you should feel privileged. There are places in the world where this vital resource for life is becoming scarcer by the day and the forecasts for the future are grim.

A study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which covers the period 2003-2013, shows that the world’s largest underground aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate as a result of more water being withdrawn than can be replenished.

“The situation is quite critical,” NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti has said, when discussing the subject in specialised publications in the U.S. In the opinion of this expert the problems with groundwater are aggravated by global warming due to the phenomenon of climate change.

Far from diminishing, the impact of climate variations is also felt in greater changes in rainfall patterns, with serious consequences for Caribbean nations that are dependent on rainfall. In Cuba and other Caribbean island countries, in particular, periods of drought have become more intense.

“There is a gradual decrease in water availability due to reduced rainfall, deteriorating water quality and greater evaporation due to rising temperatures,” Antonio Rodríguez, vice-president of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH), told IPS in an interview.

Hurricane Irma, which in September 2017 tore almost through the entire Cuban archipelago, contributed to the relief of a drought that kept the country’s people and fields thirsty for nearly four years. The current rainy season, which will last until November, began in May with Subtropical Storm Alberto with high levels of rainfall that will continue.

“We have been able to show that climate change is real. We lived through 38 months of intense drought and then we had rains well above average,” said Rodrìguez.

A team of workers from the Aguas de La Habana water company work on the replacement of the sewage system in the Vedado neighbourhood in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A team of workers from the Aguas de La Habana water company work on the replacement of the sewage system in the Vedado neighbourhood in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

The intense rains associated with Alberto, which hit Cuba in the last week of May, caused eight deaths due to drowning and serious economic damage in several provinces, but at the same time considerably increased the reserves in the 242 reservoirs controlled by the INRH, the government agency in charge of Cuba’s water resources.

Tarea Vida, the official plan to deal with climate change in force since last year, warns that the average sea level has risen 6.77 cm to date, and could rise 27 cm by 2050 and 85 by 2100, which would cause the gradual loss of land in low-lying coastal areas.

In addition, there could be “a salinisation of underground aquifers opened up to the sea due to saline wedge intrusion.” For now, “of the 101 aquifers controlled by the INRH, 100 are in a very favourable state,” Rodríguez said.

These sources also suffered the impact of the drought, but recovered with the rains after Hurricane Irma.

In this context, the inefficient use of water, due to the technical condition and inadequate functioning of the water system, causes the annual loss of some 1.6 billion cubic metres of water in Cuba.

In 2011, a strategic plan outlining priorities to address this situation began to be implemented in 12 cities from Havana to Santiago de Cuba in the east.

Two workers from the Aguas de La Habana company replace water pipes and install water meters in homes to measure drinking water consumption in the Vedado neighbourhood in Havana. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Two workers from the Aguas de La Habana company replace water pipes and install water meters in homes to measure drinking water consumption in the Vedado neighbourhood in Havana. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

When the programme began, losses amounted to 58 percent, both in the water grid and inside homes and other establishments. So far, the loss has only been reduced to 48 percent.

Since 2013, however, work has been underway on a comprehensive supply and sanitation plan that covers more than a solution to losses in distribution.

From 2015 to 2017, sewerage coverage has improved by 0.6 per cent and an additional 1.6 million people have benefited from the water supply.

Currently, only 11 percent of the country’s population of 11.2 million receive piped water at home 24 hours a day, and 39 percent at certain times of the day. In the remaining 50 percent of households, water is available only sporadically, and sometimes they go more than a week without water.

“I live in downtown Santiago de Cuba and we have two large elevated tanks and a cistern. We get piped water from the grid more or less every seven days and it is enough for us, even for our daily shower,” a worker from the telephone company Etecsa told IPS from that city, asking to remain anonymous.

Part of the historical water deficit in Santiago and other cities in the eastern-most part of the country has been alleviated through the transfer of water from regions with a greater supply. But during times of drought the supply cycles slow down. “That’s why in my house we are careful with our water,” she said.

One study found that of the 58 percent of water lost, 20 percent is lost in homes.

Another priority is to increase wastewater treatment. “Although in the country sewage coverage is more than 96 percent, only 36 percent of the population receives the service through networks, the rest is through septic tanks and other types of treatment,” said INRH vice-president Rodrìguez.

Among these challenges, he also mentioned poor hydrometric coverage.

Alexander Concepción Molina, a worker at Aguas de La Habana, supervises the thermofusion process of a high-density polyethylene pipe, which is part of the installation of new water gridsin the Peñas Altas neighbourhood of Habana del Este, in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Alexander Concepción Molina, a worker at Aguas de La Habana, supervises the thermofusion process of a high-density polyethylene pipe, which is part of the installation of new water gridsin the Peñas Altas neighbourhood of Habana del Este, in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

“We were able to get 100 percent of the public sector and all major consumers to be controlled by water metres, although in the residential sector this coverage reaches just over 23 percent of the population. From 2015 to 2017, more than 227,000 water meters have been installed, but the plan is to reach total coverage,” Rodríguez said.

“Without a doubt, water meters reduce consumption and allow us to measure the efficiency of our system,” he added.

Like other services, residential water supply is subsidised by the state and has a very low cost. “There are four of us and we pay 5.20 pesos a month (less than 0.25 cents of a dollar),” said María Curbelo, a resident of the Havana neighbourhood of Vedado.

The national hydraulic programme extended until 2030 includes works for water supply, sanitation, storage, diversion and hydrometry, as well as the necessary equipment for investment and maintenance.

“We are also working on the construction of seawater desalination plants,” Rodriguez said.

These plans include not only works to supply the population, but also everything necessary for agriculture, hotel infrastructure and the housing programme.

Rodriguez explained that to carry out the programme there is both state and foreign funding, which has made possible a subsidised home supply.

“We have benefited by foreign loans from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Spain’s development aid agency and Chinese donations,” among others, he said.

These are soft loans with a five-year grace period, two or three percent interest and to be paid in 20 years, with the Cuban State as guarantor.

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Al Zeyoudi highlights UAE’s proactive climate action on global stagehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/al-zeyoudi-highlights-uaes-proactive-climate-action-global-stage/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=al-zeyoudi-highlights-uaes-proactive-climate-action-global-stage http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/al-zeyoudi-highlights-uaes-proactive-climate-action-global-stage/#respond Sat, 15 Sep 2018 09:02:53 +0000 WAM http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157637 A high-level UAE delegation, headed by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, has concluded a successful visit to the state of California, United States. The prime goal of the visit was to participate in the Global Summit on Climate Action in San Francisco, California, where decision makers from around […]

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A high-level UAE delegation, headed by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, has concluded a successful visit to the state of California, United States. The prime goal of the visit was to participate in the Global Summit on Climate Action in San Francisco, California, where decision makers from around the world sat down together to present and scrutinize plans and proposals for broader and more effective future action on climate change.

By WAM
CALIFORNIA, Sep 15 2018 (WAM)

A high-level UAE delegation, headed by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, has concluded a successful visit to the state of California, United States. The prime goal of the visit was to participate in the Global Summit on Climate Action in San Francisco, California, where decision makers from around the world sat down together to present and scrutinize plans and proposals for broader and more effective future action on climate change.

The summit, held from September 12 to 14, promoted climate action focused on five key areas: Healthy Energy Systems, Inclusive Economic Growth, Sustainable Communities, Land and Ocean Stewardship, and Transformative Climate Investments.

In his keynote at a session held during the summit under the theme ‘To Act on Climate, Empower Women’, Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi said: “Not only do women constitute half of our population, but they are disproportionally affected by impacts of climate change in many parts of the world. Yet, they are often the holders of knowledge and experience, or have the potential to help us address climate change, and in our view, it is a missed opportunity if we do not engage them. In the UAE, our leadership has long believed in the role of women and has strongly supported raising profile of women’s participation in our society.”

The delegation visited the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi presented a lecture on global issues and highlighted the UAE’s experience in tackling climate change and deploying clean energy solutions locally and across the globe.

Addressing the University’s student body, Dr. Al Zeyoudi said: “I was saddened to hear about the extreme fires you have witnessed – some of the worst in history. Unfortunately, California is not alone. Extreme weather events and harsher climates are becoming more common all over the world.”

Furthermore, the delegation’s agenda included a visit to the Planet’s manufacturing facility and a tour of NASA’s Sustainability Base, a building that was designed to exhibit and test the latest energy-saving technologies as part of the federal government’s drive to eliminate fossil-fuel consumption in all government buildings by 2030. They also toured Arable Labs, a pioneer of data-driven land management that provides affordable agricultural technologies for the collection of site-specific agricultural data.

Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi also visited the headquarters of Saildrone, a manufacturer of wind- and solar-powered autonomous surface vehicles designed for cost-effective ocean data collection, where he explored areas of collaboration and learned more about the innovative solutions for ocean data collection.

And in the presence of Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, Dr. Al Zeyoudi, alongside a distinguished host of dignitaries, participated in the Talanoa Dialogue. The dialogue is a process designed to help countries implement and enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions by 2020.

Dr. Al Zeyoudi spoke on how the UAE is making headway in its climate action. He said: “Climate action and renewable energy make economic sense. Climate action will create more jobs, more economic growth, and more energy security. Indeed – the UAE is proof of this. We have some of the most ambitious clean energy targets of 27% by 2021, and 50% by 2050 in the energy mix, as well as a national target to increase energy efficiency by 40% by 2050. We will invest just over $160 billion, but we will save well over $190 billion.”

Furthermore, Dr. Al Zeyoudi participated in a panel discussion titled ‘Ocean Leadership’, with Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji, and Hilda Heine, President of Marshall Islands.

The UAE delegation held several bilateral meetings to boost cooperation in sustainable environmental, economic, investment and technological fields. These included a meeting with Richard Sorkin, CEO and co-founder of Jupiter Intelligence, and Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple.

 

WAM/Hassan Bashir

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The Causes Behind Africa’s Digital Gender Dividehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/causes-behind-africas-digital-gender-divide-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=causes-behind-africas-digital-gender-divide-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/causes-behind-africas-digital-gender-divide-2/#respond Fri, 14 Sep 2018 16:00:10 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157628 Systemic inequalities based on gender, race, income and geography are mirrored in the digital realm and leave many women, especially the poor and the rural, trailing behind Africa’s tech transformation.  

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Systemic inequalities based on gender, race, income and geography are mirrored in the digital realm and leave many women, especially the poor and the rural, trailing behind Africa’s tech transformation.

By IPS World Desk
MAPUTO, Sep 14 2018 (IPS)

Systemic inequalities based on gender, race, income and geography are mirrored in the digital realm and leave many women, especially the poor and the rural, trailing behind Africa’s tech transformation.

 

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