Inter Press ServiceCivil Society – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 19 Dec 2018 06:39:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 Local Communities in Mexico Question Benefits of Mayan Trainhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/local-communities-question-benefits-mayan-train-southern-mexico/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=local-communities-question-benefits-mayan-train-southern-mexico http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/local-communities-question-benefits-mayan-train-southern-mexico/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2018 22:43:47 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159298 “If thousands of people flock to this town, how will we be able to service them? I’m afraid of that growth,” Zendy Euán, spokeswoman for a community organisation,said in reference to the Mayan Train (TM) project, a railway network that will run through five states in southern Mexico. Euán, a Mayan indigenous woman living in […]

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The Mayan Train megaproject in southern Mexico will affect key ecosystems of the Yucatan Peninsula, which is home to 25 protected natural areas, such as this lake in the SíijilNohá community reserve, next to the Sian Ka'an protected area. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The Mayan Train megaproject in southern Mexico will affect key ecosystems of the Yucatan Peninsula, which is home to 25 protected natural areas, such as this lake in the SíijilNohá community reserve, next to the Sian Ka'an protected area. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

By Emilio Godoy
FELIPE CARRILLO PUERTO, Mexico, Dec 17 2018 (IPS)

“If thousands of people flock to this town, how will we be able to service them? I’m afraid of that growth,” Zendy Euán, spokeswoman for a community organisation,said in reference to the Mayan Train (TM) project, a railway network that will run through five states in southern Mexico.

Euán, a Mayan indigenous woman living in the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto (FCP), told IPS that they lack detailed information about the megaproject, one of the high-profile initiatives promised during his campaign by the new leftist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known by his acronym AMLO.

“It’s not clear to us. We don’t know about the project,” said Euán, who also questioned the benefits promised by the president, who was sworn in on Dec. 1, for the local population, as well as the mechanisms for participation in the project and the threats it poses to the environment."They are violating our indigenous rights. We don't agree with how the consultation was carried out, and we don't see the benefits for the local communities. This is aimed at tourist spots. Those who will benefit are the big businesses." -- Miguel Ku

“What will be the benefit for the local community members, for the craftswomen? As ecotourism communities, will we be able to promote our businesses and goods?” said the spokeswoman for the Community Tourism Network of the Maya Zone of Quintana Roo, one of the states in southeastern Mexico that share the Yucatan Peninsula, on the Atlantic coast, with 1.5 million inhabitants.

The network, launched in 2014, brings together 11 community organisations from three municipalities of Quintana Roo and offers ecotourism and cultural tours in the area, its main economic activity.

In the municipality of FCP, home to just over 81,000 people, there are 84 ejidos,areas of communal land used for agriculture, where community members own and farm their own plots, which can also be sold.

One of them, of the same name as the municipality, FCP, covering 47,000 hectares and belonging to 250 “ejidatarios” or members, manages the ejidal reserves Síijil Noh Há (“where the water flows,” in the Mayan language) and Much’KananK’aax (“let’s take care of the forest together”).

Euán’s doubts are shared by thousands of inhabitants of the peninsula, which receives almost seven million tourists every year.

IPS travelled a stretch of the preliminary TM route through Quintana Roo and the neighboring state of Campeche and noted the general lack of detailed information about the project and its possible ecological, social and cultural consequences in a region with high levels of poverty and social marginalisation.

The government’s National Tourism Fund (Fonatur) is promoting the project, at a cost of between 6.2 and 7.8 billion dollars. The plan is for it to start operating in 2022, with 15 stations along 1,525 kilometers in 41 municipalities in the states of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Yucatán.

The locomotives will run on biodiesel -possibly made from palm oil- and the trains are projected to move about three million passengers annually, in addition to cargo.

Zendy Euán, spokesperson for a community tourism network, explains in the Mayan Museum of the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, in the state of Quintana Roo, that the Mayan Train will run through key environmental areas of southern Mexico. Social and indigenous organisations question the benefits of the megaproject, one of the star projects of the new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Zendy Euán, spokesperson for a community tourism network, explains in the Mayan Museum of the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, in the state of Quintana Roo, that the Mayan Train will run through key environmental areas of southern Mexico. Social and indigenous organisations question the benefits of the megaproject, one of the star projects of the new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The new government argues that the project will boost the region’s socioeconomic development, foster social inclusion and job creation, safeguard indigenous cultures, protect the peninsula’s Protected Natural Areas (PNA), and strengthen the tourism industry.

Ancient ecosystems

The railway will cut through the heart of the Mayan jungle, an ecosystem that formed the base of the Mayan empire that dominated the entire Mesoamerican region – southern Mexico and Central America – from the 8th century until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.

This is the most important rainforest in Latin America after the Amazon region and a key area in the conservation of natural wealth in Mexico, which ranks 12th among the most megadiverse countries on the planet.

The region belongs to the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor consisting of habitats running from southern Mexico to Panama, the southernmost of the seven Central American countries, and is home to about 10 percent of the world’s known species.

In the Yucatan Peninsula, shared by the states of Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatan, there are 25 PNAs, with a total area of 8.5 million hectares.

In fact, two TM stations will be contiguous to the 725,000-hectare Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and the 650,000-hectare Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

“What’s going to happen? We don’t know the route, we don’t have information. We have to study this closely,” Luís Tamay, the indigenous president of the Commissariat of Common Assets of the Nuevo Becal ejido in the municipality of Calakmul, in Campeche, told IPS.

Like Euán, Tamay fears the arrival of crowds of tourists, for which Calakmul “is not prepared; this is a high-impact project” for a municipality of just over 28,000 people.

Nuevo Becal has 84 landowners, covers 52,800 hectares and carries out six projects of timber exploitation, agroforestry, seeds and environmental conservation.

Although the TM will not pass through the immediate vicinity of Nuevo Becal, the megaproject will have impacts on the area.

In Calakmul, the government will carry out technical and environmental impact studies in 2019, with the idea of starting construction the following year in the locality.

To build the railway network, the government must negotiate with the ejidatarios, who own most of the land in the five states along the planned railway, as there are 385 in Campeche, 279 in Quintana Roo and 737 in Yucatán.

The government has already asked for 30 hectares in the Felipe Carrillo Puerto ejido to build a station, as a contribution to the project, which was first proposed in 2007 by the then governor of Yucatan, Yvonne Ortega, who projected the Transpeninsular Rapid Train in 2007.
Shortly after taking office in December 2012, AMLO’s predecessor, conservative Enrique Peña Nieto, adopted it as a national plan to connect the region. But public spending cutbacks in 2015 put the project on hold.

To the original project which will be added more than 300 kilometers of rundown railroads that functioned between 1905 and 1957, first for military transport and then also for passenger traffic.

On Nov. 24-25, before AMLO took office, his team obtained support for the railway network, along with a new refinery in the state of Tabasco and the execution of other projects, during a National Consultation on 10 Priority Social Programmes.

But this support, in a consultation that was only carried out in certain localities through a process that was not very representative, did not appease the criticism of the TM in the region.

On Nov. 15, a group of academics asked López Obrador to stop the works because of their ecological, social, cultural and archaeological impacts.

Three days later, a collective of indigenous organisations rejected the project, demanded respect for their forests and jungles, and called for free, prior, informed and culturally appropriate consultation.

“They are violating our indigenous rights. We don’t agree with how the consultation was carried out, and we don’t see the benefits for the local communities. This is aimed at tourist spots. Those who will benefit are the big businesses” in the sector, Miguel Ku, representative of the Network of Environmental Service Producers, told IPS.

This organization brings together 3,756 ejidatarios from 33 agrarian communities in the municipality of José María Morelos, and three more in the municipality of FCP, all of which are in Quintana Roo. Together, they own 257,000 hectares that are used for forestry, agriculture, beekeeping and livestock.

Local organisations are seeking another socioeconomic model. “We have shown that conservation allows for good development. We have natural resources, let us take advantage of them, that’s how we can support ourselves,” said Tamay.

Ku protested what he called a repeat of what has happened with previous projects. “We are sick and tired of others taking the benefits even though we own the land. The government could do something else. We want the ejidos to develop their own projects,” he said.

But López Obrador appears to be in a hurry to move forward with the Mayan Train, and on Dec. 16 he laid the first stone in the city of Palenque, Chiapas, without waiting for Fonatur to present the environmental impact assessment to the environment ministry.

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Tunisia – the Exceptionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/tunisia-the-exception/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tunisia-the-exception http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/tunisia-the-exception/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2018 16:44:11 +0000 Erik Larsson http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159283 Eight years have passed since the Arab Spring. In many countries, the uprising was crushed, but in Tunisia democracy gained a foothold. Arbetet Global travelled to the small country town Side Bouzid to find out why. Through the car window, two boys around the age of 10 can be seen pushing a hen to the […]

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Global Migration Compact May Help Combat the Myth that Migrants are Liabilitieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-migration-compact-may-help-combat-myth-migrants-liabilities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-migration-compact-may-help-combat-myth-migrants-liabilities http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-migration-compact-may-help-combat-myth-migrants-liabilities/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2018 15:23:32 +0000 Kingsley Ighobor http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159280 Kingsley Ighobor, Africa Renewal*

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Rescue operations of African migrants carried out in the Channel of Sicily, Italy. Credit: IOM / Malavolta

By Kingsley Ighobor
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 17 2018 (IPS)

In August 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May visited countries in Africa, sparking hope of increased foreign direct investments (FDI) in the continent.

Mr. Macron was in Nigeria, Ms. Merkel visited Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, and Ms. May made stops in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Apart from the question of FDI, these influential leaders were looking at how to stem the flow of African migrants traveling to Europe in search of jobs and better lives.

“I believe in a win-win game. Let’s help Africa to succeed. Let’s provide new hope for African youth in Africa,” President Macron said in Nigeria, explaining that it was in Europe’s interest to tackle migration from Africa at its roots.

New York Times writers Eduardo Porter and Karl Russell echoed the French president’s sentiments: “If rich countries want fewer immigrants, their best shot might be to help poor countries become rich, so that fewer people feel the urge to leave.”

Africans on the road
Every day hundreds of Africans, including women and children, strike out in search of real or imagined riches in Europe or America. About a million migrants from sub-Saharan Africa moved to Europe between 2010 and 2017, according to the Pew Research Center, a Washington, D.C.–based nonpartisan fact tank.

While Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia and South Africa are the top way stations for sub-Saharan migrants moving to Europe and the US, Pew lists South Sudan, Central African Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Eritrea and Namibia as having some of the fastest-growing international migrant populations living outside their country of birth.

Africans are on the move because of “conflict, persecution, environmental degradation and change, and a profound lack of human security and opportunity,” states the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in its World Migration Report 2018.

Migration corridors mostly used by Africans are Algeria to France, Burkina Faso to Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt to the United Arab Emirates, Morocco to Spain, and Somalia to Kenya.

Of the 258 million international migrants globally, 36 million live in Africa, with 19 million living in another African country and 17 million in Europe, North America and other regions, Ashraf El Nour, Director of IOM, New York, informed Africa Renewal.

When unregulated and unmanaged, migration can create “false and negative perceptions of migrants that feed into a narrative of xenophobia, intolerance and racism,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted at an event in New York last September.

“The narrative of migrants as a threat, as a source of fear, which has colored international media coverage on migration, is false,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a UN body that deals with trade, investment and development issues, in an interview with Africa Renewal.

Orderly migration
The Global Compact for Migration, the first-ever inter-governmentally negotiated agreement on international migration, which was adopted in Marrakesh last week, could counter negative perceptions of migrants, experts say.

The IOM states the compact will help achieve “safe, orderly and regular migration,” referring to it as an opportunity to “improve the governance on migration, to address the challenges associated with today’s migration, and to strengthen the contribution of migrants and migration to sustainable development.”

The compact consists of 23 objectives, among them mitigating the adverse drivers and structural factors that hinder people from building and maintaining sustainable livelihoods in their countries of origin; reducing the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face at different stages of migration by respecting, protecting and fulfilling their human rights and providing them with care and assistance; and creating conditions that enable all migrants to enrich societies through their human, economic and social capacities, and thus facilitating their contributions to sustainable development at the local, national, regional and global levels.

The compact also refers to enabling faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances and fostering the financial inclusion of migrants; ensuring that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation; and providing migrants with access to basic services.

The Global Compact for Migration is not legally binding, but its provisions can be a powerful reference point for those formulating immigration policies as well as for human rights advocates in the face of mistreatment of migrants.

Negative attitudes or even violence against migrants typically stem from fears that they take jobs away from native-born citizens or that they engage in criminal activities, according to a study by the South Africa–based Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), a statutory research agency.

In the HSRC study, which focused on South Africans’ attitudes toward immigrants, 30% of the public blamed foreigners for “stealing jobs from hardworking South Africans,” while another 30% pointed to immigrants’ criminal activities.

But IOM South Africa countered that “immigration does not harm the long-term employment prospects or wages of native-born workers,” adding that “migrants are twice as likely to be entrepreneurs [as] South African nationals.” The South African government regularly condemns xenophobic attacks.

Economic perspective of migration
Mr. Kituyi said that most migration studies focus on “the plight of migrants, the crisis of international solidarity or humanitarian challenges.” He wished that more attention were paid to migration from the perspective of economic development.

Ms. Lúcia Kula, an Angolan migrant who is a researcher in the UK, concurred, adding that conversations about migration should shift to the migrants’ contributions to their new society.

“One of the main things they [immigrants] do in the economies they get into is create value. They enter niches where they are more competitive…and it can boost the local economy,” Mr. Kituyi elaborated.

Many migrants are talented professionals and offer expert services in their new countries. Iso Paelay, for example, left Liberia in the heat of the war in the 90s and resettled in Ghana, where he became a star presenter for TV3, a leading media house in the country. Apparently, Liberia’s loss was Ghana’s gain.

Mr. Kituyi points to a phenomenon of migrants going to other countries to engage in the ethnic food business. “They start creating routes to get food from their home country,” he said. Ethiopian restaurants in Nairobi, Kenya, including Abyssinia, Habesha and Yejoka Garden, serve Ethiopian dishes such as injera.

Abuja International Restaurant in Union, New Jersey, sells Nigerian food such as eba, amala and fufu and the popular beer Gulder. In New York, Africans and others throng “Little Senegal,” a single street in Harlem, to shop for anything African—foodstuffs, music CDs, hair products, religious items and finely tailored clothes.

While working hard, earning money and making contributions to their new countries, African migrants also “remit small monies back home to support their families,” explained Mr. Kituyi. “Eighty-five percent [of immigrants’ earnings] goes to the host country and 15% to the country of origin through remittances.”

“A good chunk of the money I make here [in the US] I spend here; I pay my bills and get things for myself. I remit some to upkeep my parents,” concurs Ms. Christy Emeagi, a lawyer who left Nigeria “because I wanted a better life for my unborn children.”

The inclusion in the Global Compact for Migration of ways to make remittances faster and safer will be sweet music to African migrants.

In 2017, remittance flows from migrants to sub-Saharan Africa were $38 billion, reports the World Bank. That is more than the $25 billion official development aid (ODA) to the region that year.

Currently, says Mr. Kituyi, “it is painful to see an overly high cost of transaction mostly going to international payment services like Western Union, PayPal and so on.”

Achieving the objectives of the Global Compact for Migration may take some time, experts believe. Nevertheless, the compact’s immediate impact is that safe, orderly and regular migration is currently at the forefront of global conversation. And that is a step in the right direction.

*Africa Renewal is published by the United Nations

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Excerpt:

Kingsley Ighobor, Africa Renewal*

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African Media Poorly Represented at the United Nations Climate Change Negotiationshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/african-media-poorly-represented-united-nations-climate-change-negotiations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=african-media-poorly-represented-united-nations-climate-change-negotiations http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/african-media-poorly-represented-united-nations-climate-change-negotiations/#respond Fri, 14 Dec 2018 15:14:55 +0000 Isaiah Esipisu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159256 As negotiations at the United Nations conference on climate change come to a close, the highest expectation is that finally, there will be a rulebook to guide countries on what should be done to slow down greenhouse gas emissions that make the earth warmer than necessary, and how countries can adapt to the impacts of […]

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Kenyan cameraman John Ngaruiya (right) and reporter Zeynab Wandati (centre) interview Mohammed Adow (left) of Christian Aid. There were less than 30 African reporters present at COP24. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 14 2018 (IPS)

As negotiations at the United Nations conference on climate change come to a close, the highest expectation is that finally, there will be a rulebook to guide countries on what should be done to slow down greenhouse gas emissions that make the earth warmer than necessary, and how countries can adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Africa is arguably the continent that is most impacted by climate change, experiencing storms, droughts, and floods; the emergence of new human and plant diseases as well as increased incidents of infectious diseases; unpredictable weather; and rising sea levels, among others. 

However, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) raises one big question: Who is going to tell the African narrative of climate change?

The UNFCCC secretariat has always allocated humble working space for the media, fixed with sufficient state-of-the-art computers, free high-speed internet and printing services, and an information desk to make lives of journalists easier in covering the conference.

But African media has never been truly present at the conference to tell the real African story of the climate change discourse right from the negotiating room.

“It is a shame for the media houses all over Africa to be relying on wire stories when addressing an issue that is of great importance to the African continent. It is totally unacceptable,” said Mohammed Adow, who heads climate policy and advocacy at Christian Aid.

According to Tim Davis, the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) manager for UNFCCC:

  • 1,749 journalists from across the globe were accredited to cover the conference;
  • but only 1,068 turned up.

However, out of these journalists some individual media houses brought in as many as 40 journalists. But looking at the represented media houses on the list, less than 30 journalists are present from African media houses.

IPS contacted some of the African journalists who had registered and not attended. They said they had been prepared and eager to cover the event, but could not make it because of a lack of funding.

“I was really prepared to cover the COP, but I couldn’t make it because I did not get a sponsor,” said Elias Ngalame, a Cameroonian journalist who won the very first Africa Climate Change and Environment Reporting (ACCER) Award in 2013, and has since been reporting about the COP processes.

The same was said by Friday Phiri, an Inter Press Service award-winning environment journalist from Zambia, Michael Simire, a veteran environment journalist from Nigeria, and Agatha Ngotho from Kenya, among many others.

From the entire East African region, including Ethiopia, only four journalists were available to tell the African narrative from COP24 for the African population.

However, sometimes freelance journalists—as opposed to reporters permanently employed at media houses—are more likely to obtain funding to cover global conferences such as this because their stories have wider reach both locally and internationally. But they are oftentimes only sponsored to cover the events of their donors and only present for a short time.

And on the other hand, African media organisations are still either unable to afford the costs of sending journalists to such events, or would prefer to cover local issues.

Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director for the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), believes that African delegations must take responsibility and support at least one environmental journalist to accompany them.

“Most of the people, especially in the villages who are affected by climate change, do not have time and sometimes capacity to read and understand content from scientific reports, specialised websites, the IPCC reports and so on. Instead, they listen to radio, they watch television and they read daily newspapers,” said Mwenda, whose organisation supported four African journalists to cover COP24.

“So when delegates are coming here, they should think about how the messages they are passing across will be digested, simplified and given a human angle for that 90 year old woman in a rural African village to understand why things are not happening the way they used to when she was a teenager,” Mwenda told IPS.

His sentiments were echoed by Ishaku Huzi Mshelia, an Energy Legal Expert from Nigeria who told IPS that the media is indeed indispensable when it comes to climate change negotiations.

“Decision makers need to learn from the media. When we talk about something like the Talanoa Dialogue, we must have someone who will explain to the masses including policy makers what the term means, and why it is important,” said Mshelia.

He observed that the Africa Union should take responsibility to support African journalists. “Journalists require training on the negotiation process, and resources must be made available if at all we are keen on passing the message from the discussion table to the people who desperately need to adapt to climate change,” he said.

According to Mwenda, Africa has a significant number of journalists who understand issues around climate change, and they have constantly reported about the same from their various countries.

“All we need is to fully involve them in such negotiation processes so that our narrative is not told by people who know less or nothing about the continent,” he said.

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Q&A: Many African Countries Already Live the Future of 2°C Warmerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-many-african-countries-already-live-future-2c-warmer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-many-african-countries-already-live-future-2c-warmer http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-many-african-countries-already-live-future-2c-warmer/#respond Fri, 14 Dec 2018 11:01:50 +0000 Isaiah Esipisu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159249 As the United Nations climate conference nears an end, all eyes are on the negotiators  who have been working day and night for the past two weeks to come up with a Rulebook for implementation of the Paris Agreement. However, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), climate change is also a humanitarian issue. According […]

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Gernot Laganda, Chief of the Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes at the World Food Programme says that because of climate change the number of natural disasters in the world have doubled since 1990. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 14 2018 (IPS)

As the United Nations climate conference nears an end, all eyes are on the negotiators  who have been working day and night for the past two weeks to come up with a Rulebook for implementation of the Paris Agreement.

However, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), climate change is also a humanitarian issue.

According to the humanitarian organisation, natural disasters such as droughts, storms and floods, have doubled since the 1990s.

“So nowadays there are so many people who require food assistance and other humanitarian aid after disasters than it was a few decades ago,” Gernot Laganda, Chief of the Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes at WFP, tells IPS at the sidelines of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Kotowice, Poland.

“We are also concerned because with humanitarian aid, we cannot run fast enough as the problem of hunger in the world is running away from us,” Laganda says.

According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018, the number of hungry people increased to over 820 million in 2017 from approximately 804 million in 2016. And Laganda says the ‘trend is on the rise”.

“When we look into a future of 2 degrees Celsius warmer world, it means we will have over a billion people who are at risk of hunger and food security,” he says. Excepts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): How is climate change impacting on food security?

Gernot Laganda (GL): Climate change affects food security in two principle ways. First, there is the whole question around agriculture from production of crops, to the storage to the transport to the market. Climate change can affect each of these stages.

The other one is about extreme events that keep throwing people back into poverty. Each year, 28 million people fall back into poverty because of extreme weather events. That means no matter how much development progress we are making to achieve zero hunger by 2030, every year we slide back, and that is a concern.

IPS: Will women’s ownership of land be of good value especially for climate adaptation?

GL: Having ownership of land certainly increases sustainability of agriculture production because people look after their land. In many cases, development projects fail also because land ownership and who has the right to use the land for how long has not been considered. So it is a big factor in development.

Of course when you mention the issue of ownership of land, then the whole issue of gender comes in, in various ways. On one side, there is a discussion about women being vulnerable in general. But we see it in slightly a different way.  We see it as women being agents of change in many countries and in many communities, so when you want to invest in a sustainable manner, it is a very good idea to have women saving groups. They have very good experiences in building risk reserves. And whenever there are little problems for example when the rains come late, it becomes very efficient to go through such crises. But when it comes to catastrophic shocks, we look more at insurance based models.

IPS: Do you see this COP solving some of the climate problems in relation to food security?

GL: This COP is primarily about implementing the Paris agreement and maintaining the global average of temperature increases well below two degrees Celsius. I think in all the discussions about temperature ranges we tend to forget that many countries, especially in Africa, are already experiencing two degrees Celsius of temperature increase. So the reality in these countries look like what we are still discussing here. Indeed, many African countries already live the future that we are collectively still trying to avoid.

IPS: How has climate change contributed in terms of displacing families?

GL: Statistics from the last 10 years tell us that on average 22 million people are driven from their homes every year because of climate extremes. Migration is actually a traditional adaptation mechanism because people move to other places in search of greener pastures, job opportunities and so on. But we are talking about forced displacement due to climate related disasters. Climate related events can also aggravate conflicts at local levels between farmers and herders for example, or it can still happen between countries especially where we have large international river basins.

IPS: What does the latest  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report mean to Africa in terms of food security?

GL: All countries are affected by climate change but agrarian countries feel it the most. In Africa, many countries have a huge percentage of their GDP coming from agriculture. That makes such economies very vulnerable because agriculture is about climate sensitive resources such as water, crops, fish-stock, livestock among others. All poor countries that heavily depend on natural resources are the most impacted.

IPS: What are your expectations for COP24?

GL: Everybody’s expectation is that we will have a Rulebook by the end of the COP. But there is also a recognition that this is not an easy task because for one it is difficult enough to agree on what we want to do. But [the Rulebook] is about how we are going to hold ourselves accountable.

In the Rulebook, I expect to see a regime by which countries can track and report on the degrees of their progress against their self set targets or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

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Decoding Article 6 of the COP24 Climate Negotiationshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/decoding-article-6-cop-24-climate-negotiations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=decoding-article-6-cop-24-climate-negotiations http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/decoding-article-6-cop-24-climate-negotiations/#respond Fri, 14 Dec 2018 07:11:02 +0000 Sohara Mehroze Shachi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159242 It is close to curtain call for the United Nations’ Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland, with ministers from around the world negotiating the text for a “rulebook” to implement the historic 2015 Paris Agreement for climate action. Amidst the various issues being debated, one of the most technical and complicated is Article 6 of the […]

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The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) side event at COP24 that discussed transparency and NDC implementation. Credit: Sohara Mehroze Shachi/IPS

By Sohara Mehroze Shachi
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 14 2018 (IPS)

It is close to curtain call for the United Nations’ Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland, with ministers from around the world negotiating the text for a “rulebook” to implement the historic 2015 Paris Agreement for climate action. Amidst the various issues being debated, one of the most technical and complicated is Article 6 of the agreement, which focuses on the country plans for climate action.

While the world has been having climate conferences since 1992, the tide turned with the Paris Agreement when all countries agreed to play their part to undertake climate action.

“Developing countries now have a strong political will to contribute to the greenhouse gas reduction,” said Hyoeun Jenny Kim, Deputy Director General at the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), an international organisation that promotes balancing economic growth without harming the environment. This political will was manifested in Paris with countries voluntarily submitting their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for reducing carbon emissions and building climate resilience, taking into account their respective circumstances.

“But at the same time, they need support to affectively implement their NDCs,” Kim said, at a side event at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), which was organised by GGGI and focused on transparency and NDC implementation.

In order to get support from outside, Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of a country’s carbon emissions reduction is almost a precondition as many donor agencies and even private sector organisations want to know how much greenhouse gases a developing country is emitting before they make a decision to support it.

“MRV is key for developing countries to get access to financial, technical and capacity building support, and that’s why we are supporting developing countries to set up more proper and internationally acceptable MRV scheme,” Kim said.

GGGI’s interventions in this area include preparing a low emissions development strategy for Fiji, Colombia’s national green growth strategy and Mongolia’s national energy efficiency plan. The organisation is also working on building capacity to implement MRVs in various countries around the globe, including, Mozambique, Senegal, Nepal and Laos.

“We will continue to support our members and partners in their efforts of effectively implementing NDCs with robust MRVs, so they can access more finance,” Kim said.

“We are committed to reminding countries that green growth can happen.”

One of the speakers at the panel was Ariyaratne Hewage, Special Envoy of the President on Climate Change, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, in Sri Lanka, which is on track to become a member of the GGGI. He said Sri Lanka anticipates extensive support from GGGI in the years to come for its preparation of various project proposals to fight climate change.

“The present situation in Sri Lanka is severe droughts in one part of the country and heavy floods in another,” Hewage said. During a 2016 survey conducted by the Bonn-based NGO Germanwatch, Sri Lanka was awarded the fourth place in terms of climate vulnerability.

“We are severely affected by climate change, so we are very keen in developing climate change programs to ensure these problems are properly addressed,” Hewage said.

The proposed emission reduction i.e. mitigation targets of Sri Lanka’s NDCs include 30 percent reduction in the energy sector and 10 percent reduction in transport, industry and waste by 2030.

“For energy and transport sector we already have developed MRV systems, but for the other sectors – industry, waste, agriculture, livestock, forestry – we need help,” he added.

The need for support was also stressed by Ziaul Haque who leads the Bangladesh delegation’s COP24 negotiations on Article 6.

“Our main issue is lack of capacity to address this enhanced transparency framework under the Paris Agreement at both the institutional level and the individual level,” said Haque, highlighting the need for accurate data.

“We need to bring data on green house gas emissions from different institutions and whether they are collecting and archiving the data in the right manner is an issue that needs to be looked at. In this regard our institutional arrangement is not very strong at the national level,” he said, stating that strengthening the capacity of institutions and individuals who will be dealing with the transparency issue is crucial.

Rajani Ranjan Rashmi, a Distinguished Fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and former Special Secretary of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, said at the side event that one of the fundamental issues to deciding a transparency framework is that of flexibility.

“Developing countries should be able to make gradual progression on the quality of data,” he said. “We have so far not been able to agree in the discussions on this level of flexibility.”

Moreover, whether the same guidelines regarding MRV of greenhouse gases should be applied to all countries is also an issue of contention at COP24, he added.

Jae Jung, Deputy Director of the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Research Center (GIR), another panelist at the side event, said having common metrics and structured summary is crucial.

“At this moment we don’t have the final text of the Paris rulebook, but we do have a very clean text of the common metric with no bracket, so there might be agreement on that,” Jung said.

“In terms of global stock take of emissions we don’t have to have a common metric in our inventory. But when we do the global stock take every five years there has to be someone doing the conversion applying the same common metric to all countries’ inventories,” he added.

He also stressed the importance of “structured summary” – a form of presentation of aggregated presentation of data that makes it possible to see the level of carbon emissions of one country – stating that helps to avoid double counting issue.

“There is opposition to structured summary because some parties want to use qualitative indicators and narrative descriptions of their NDCs,” he said, “But how does it make sense logically to have qualitative results when you have a quantitative target?”

One way to address the multifaceted challenges to NDC implementation would be through engagement of the private sector, according to experts.

“Many people think Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is about the market itself, but it is about increasing cooperation,” said Dr. Suh-Young Chung, Director of Center for Climate and Sustainable Development Law and Policy (CSDLAP).

“If you look at the Paris landscape to meet the 2-degree Celsius temperature target, you realise it is not enough and you need to bring in private sector investment. And countries need to work together on this,” he said, adding that Article 6 eventually needs to promote cooperation with the private sector, via incentive mechanism to engage businesses and addressing the risks they face.

“Article 6 is about bringing more opportunities for developing countries, but to do so, you need MRVs first,” he said.

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Not Just the Big Guys Are Against the Compacthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/not-just-big-guys-compact/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=not-just-big-guys-compact http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/not-just-big-guys-compact/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 22:40:19 +0000 Souleymane Brah Oumarou http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159239 A few hours after the adoption of the United Nation’s Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, a consortium of Moroccan human rights organisations—La Vie Campesina—held a sit in protest in front of Marrakech’s Grand Post Office. In the statement issued on December 11, the leaders of the 15 organisations denounced the […]

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A few hours after the adoption of the United Nation’s Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, a consortium of Moroccan human rights organisations—La Vie Campesina—held a sit in protest in front of Marrakech’s Grand Post Office, denouncing the compact. Credit: Souleymane Brah Oumarou/IPS

By Souleymane Brah Oumarou
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 13 2018 (IPS)

A few hours after the adoption of the United Nation’s Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, a consortium of Moroccan human rights organisations—La Vie Campesina—held a sit in protest in front of Marrakech’s Grand Post Office. In the statement issued on December 11, the leaders of the 15 organisations denounced the compact.

“It is a setback, not only for the free movement of people and their goods, but also a violation of human rights, protection of migrants and their families as provided for in international conventions already approved by the United Nations and other institutions,” says Federico Daniel, a member of the consortium, adding that La vie Campesina proposes an alternative compact “to restore the primacy of the rights of men, women, children and peoples.”

This can be achieved, he explains, by “building local economies that are sustainable, united and just, while a state’s responsibility is to prevent criminalisation, repression or detention of migrants on their migratory routes before they reach their country of destination and settlement.”

The consortium’s stance echoes that of a number of UN member countries that made last minute withdrawals from the compact. Hungary, Australia, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Italy, Switzerland and Chile have all either refused to sign it or expressed reservations. The United States, one of the first to bridle against the U.N.’s push for the Compact, has gone as far as labelling it a violation of state sovereignty.

“We believe the Compact and the process that led to its adoption, including the New York Declaration, represent an effort by the U.N. to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of States to manage their immigration systems in accordance with their national laws, policies, and interests,” read a statement released by the U.S. on the eve of the conference.

But the U.N. insists that the compact is voluntary and cooperative, not legally binding, and fully respects the sovereignty of states. 

“The Global Compact respects the sovereignty of countries,” says U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.  “And I believe that, reading carefully the Compact, countries will be able to understand that there are no reasons to be worried about the Compact. And I am hopeful that in the future they will join us in a common venture to the benefit of their own societies of the world as a whole and of the migrants.”

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The Evolution of Moroccan Immigration: a Lesson for All Countrieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/evolution-moroccan-immigration-lesson-countries/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=evolution-moroccan-immigration-lesson-countries http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/evolution-moroccan-immigration-lesson-countries/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 22:25:24 +0000 Lahcen Elyasmini http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159237 One of the reasons Morocco embraced hosting the Global Compact on Migration is because it is country in which the story of immigration is deeply embedded. The evolution of the Moroccan immigration phenomenon occurred during the second half of the 20th century. The first waves of migrants began at the end of the 1950s and […]

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By Lahcen Elyasmini
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 13 2018 (IPS)

One of the reasons Morocco embraced hosting the Global Compact on Migration is because it is country in which the story of immigration is deeply embedded.
The evolution of the Moroccan immigration phenomenon occurred during the second half of the 20th century. The first waves of migrants began at the end of the 1950s and at the beginning of the ‘60s, heading toward Europe—France, in particular.

During this period, France, like many European countries, was re-constructing itself in the wake of the Second World War, and it also needed a boost to its workforce because of huge human losses during the war—hence the appeal of foreign labourers.

Morocco was particularly well placed to provide, both literally, due to its proximity to the southern shore of Spain—which lies but 15 kilometres from Morocco’s coast at the narrowest point of the Strait of Gibraltar waterway between them—and culturally and historically. Between 1912 – 1956, Morocco was a French and Spanish protectorate, during which French policy meant a Moroccan could travel freely to France without a visa, a far cry from the situation now in Europe, hence there already was a Moroccan footprint established in the country. 

Come the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Moroccans kept immigrating to France, many to work in the agricultural as well as industrial sectors. This wave continued until the 1973 Oil Crisis around the world, after which the weakened French economy could not absorb more immigrants. Furthermore, unemployment had hit much of the French population, leading to increased racism and xenophobia.

As a result, the attention of Moroccan immigrants turned toward other European countries such as Holland, Belgium, Germany and Scandinavian countries. But many of these potential destination countries had by this stage restrictive entry measures, introducing visas since the ‘80s. As a result, more southern-placed European countries such as Spain and Italy became destination countries for migrants, after they arrived but could not continue northward.

During the last twenty years, Morocco has received its own big immigration wave of Africans, who have arrived, dreaming of reaching Europe. But the strong security measures now established by almost all European countries, including Spain, have turned Morocco into a destination country, with many of these migrants choosing to settle in Morocco, the coast of Spain visible but unreachable on the horizon.

This migratory evolution means that Morocco knows all about being a country of origin, of transit and of destination, leaving an indelible print on the nation’s psyche. Hence it increasingly seeks to cooperate with European countries on the matter, having learned through experience and realising—perhaps more than most others—how immigration is a structural phenomenon that can’t be resolved only by security measures. The Global Compact on Migration is what Morocco has been looking for. But how many other countries will follow through with this new vision on how to handle migration?

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Q&A: Making Green Growth a Success Across the Globehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-making-green-growth-success-across-globe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-making-green-growth-success-across-globe http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-making-green-growth-success-across-globe/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 09:08:01 +0000 Sohara Mehroze Shachi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159218 IPS Correspondent Sohara Mehroze Shachi interviews DR. FRANK RIJSBERMAN, Director General of the Global Green Growth Institute at COP24

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Global Green Growth Institute’s Director General Frank Rijsberman at COP24. GGGI is organising over 15 events at the conference focused on low carbon development, green finance, transparency, capacity development of countries to address climate change etc. Credit: Sohara Mehroze Shachi/IPS

By Sohara Mehroze Shachi
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 13 2018 (IPS)

When the Global Green Growth Institute’s (GGGI) Director General Frank Rijsberman’s son was looking for a job following graduation, he saw that oil companies were paying the highest salaries. But Rijsberman, who has been working in the sustainable development sector for decades, knew better. He told his son that those very same oil companies would soon go broke. And instead advised him to seek employment with renewable energy companies as they would soon be the ones making money.

As head of GGGI, it is undoubtable that Rijsberman has expert insight into the future of the renewable energy sector. GGGI supports governments around the world transition to environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economic growth by helping them mobilise finance for climate action and implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) i.e. country commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.

With a career spanning over 30 years, Rijsberman is one of the strongest advocates of green growth attending the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland. His organisation is organising over 15 events at the conference that are focused on, among other things, how low carbon development, green finance, transparency and capacity development of countries can address climate change.

Amidst his packed COP24 schedule, Rijsberman sat down with IPS for a brief interview on the state of global climate action, COP24 and the work of GGGI in attaining green growth.

Excerpts from the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): Climate finance has been one of the sticking points at COP24 so far. Developing countries are concerned that the developed world is shifting the role of financial contributions to the private sector. What are your thoughts on this?

Dr. Frank Rijsberman (FR): Firstly, there needs to be a clean definition of the 100 billion dollars climate finance pledged to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). This 100 billion shouldn’t be diluted. We need this 100 billion to be clean and green. But at the same time, this is only a small part of what we need to fight climate change. We need trillions, and for that public finance is not enough. This will only come about if we get the institutional investors off the sideline and get the pension funds, the private sector to engage.

IPS: What are some of the challenges that now exist with regards to engaging the private sector in funding green growth and how can they be engaged more effectively?

FR: It starts with many of the governments not even realising that renewable energy has become commercially viable. They still think green growth is nice but it is expensive and [they] can’t afford it. It is already commercially viable to use solar-based batteries for instance, so there is a business case there. So convincing people that these are commercially attractive investments is the first thing that needs to be done. If structured well enough, [as in the case of] Bangladesh offering 20-year power purchase agreement at a reasonable price, then we can attract private investors.

Governments also must create an enabling environment for the private sector to engage and have a level playing field for renewables to attract those investments. If there are barriers, such as fossil fuel subsidies, it becomes very hard for private businesses to make a living out of renewables. In Fiji, for instance, the government subsidises dirty electricity for poor households. Stopping that subsidy and turning it into a subsidy for solar power on the roofs of low income houses is one of our projects.

IPS: Two months ago, the IPCC released a report that confirmed that accepting increased global warming of 2 degrees Celsius will impact severely lives, livelihoods and natural ecosystems. This means drastic changes are needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Is it achievable here?

FR: It has to be finance first. Then we need to agree on transparency. We also need to ramp up ambition and rather than to waver from their NDCs countries need to step up their commitments, but that is for next year. We need to agree on the rulebook and get over the hurdle of finance at this COP then everybody’s attention will focus on more ambition, which is what we need. If we get stuck on the Paris rulebook or finance then we also don’t get to the 1.5 degrees, so it is like a house of cards.

IPS: Transparency is one of the key issues being debated at COP24. What are your thoughts on it?

FR: Transparency is the code word for Article 6. Part of it means developed countries reporting in a credible way. And for developing countries it also means to save their rainforests, to restore their mangrove areas – can they get money to pay for that? There are countries like Korea or Australia that can’t reduce their emissions fast enough, but they are willing to buy carbon credits. But then we need to agree on a rulebook for transparency – how are we going to report, what kind of Monitoring Reporting and Verification Systems (MRVS) are necessary, and those MRVS shouldn’t overly burden countries like Myanmar.

We can’t have the same kind of rulebook for Myanmar and Germany [and] shouldn’t make the barriers to access very high. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) felt they were excluded because [these processes] were too complicated. So, this time around transparency needs to allow the Least Developed Countries and SIDS to really access that. That is the critical sticking point.

IPS: Your organisation assists member states, which include developing nations, access funding from the GCF. It has also assisted member countries in developing green growth models to great success. Are you seeing an increased commitment from governments, in both developing and developed nations, to embrace green growth? What is your vision for GGGI going ahead from COP24?

FR: We are very proud that we supported Fiji in developing one of the first low emission development scenarios, which they are presenting here at COP. Last year we worked with Fiji to have their NDC roadmap. This is just an example of the kind of things we do. We also work with many developing countries in getting more concrete action plan for NDCs. We are growing very rapidly.

We only started six years ago with 12 countries and now 30 countries have ratified our treaty and another 30 are in the queue to become members. When our President Ban Ki-moon meets ministers he encourages them to take green growth more seriously, then those ministers contact us about how they can do so.

We also see a lot of good opportunities from the SIDS.

In South East Asia – Vietnam, Indonesia – there is a large portfolio of planned new coal fired power plants. So, these are the hotspots and we need to convince those governments that green growth is commercially attractive and feasible. We are very happy with Indonesia’s commitment for green growth and we are strongly supporting Vietnam’s government to convert their intent to climate action.

I have worked on sustainable development forever, and for the longest time Ministries of Finance had no time for us, saying ‘Sorry we are poor, we need to grow and we will worry about the environment later’. Even INDCs were owned by the Ministries of Environment and the Ministries of Finance didn’t know about them.

Now the Finance Ministers who want growth are interested in green growth, integrating these ideas into mainstream national development planning. For instance, we helped Uganda develop the green growth development strategy which the ministry of finance is leading. That is what I am most excited about. We have finally convinced ministries of finance to take green growth seriously.

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Excerpt:

IPS Correspondent Sohara Mehroze Shachi interviews DR. FRANK RIJSBERMAN, Director General of the Global Green Growth Institute at COP24

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Why Did You Come to Marrakech?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/why-did-you-come-to-marrakech/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-did-you-come-to-marrakech http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/why-did-you-come-to-marrakech/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 21:57:39 +0000 Zainab Aboulfaraj http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159338 The whole world met at Marrakech, Morocco, during the two days of the Global Compact for Migration. IPS met six people to ask what led them to come to this international event.

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By Zainab Aboulfaraj
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

The whole world met at Marrakech, Morocco, during the two days of the Global Compact for Migration. IPS met six people to ask what led them to come to this international event.

Kostas Stamoulis, assistant director-general at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO).
“This is a big event, this is a Compact that is signed by a big number of countries. It looks at migration as a potential force for development, so migration cannot be resolved by one country alone because it involves many countries. The only way that we have a clear way forward on migration will be through an intergovernmental agreement. This is it. It was produced mainly by governments and other stakeholders, such as civil society, the UN, etc. It’s an intergovernmental document. The governments plan to make migration a choice rather than a necessity, that’s the idea.”

Claudine Mahoro, Rwandese journalist:
“Rwanda also has migrants, because migrants are not only coming from Africa to Europe, but there’s also migrants that come to our country from places like Congo. People need to know what’s going on and what the pact is about. How is it going to give them rights?”

Lawrence Egulu, working at the Ugandese Ministry of Labor and Social Development
“In Uganda, we believe in multilateralism, we need to do this together. This Global Compact is part of a globalization project. Migration is a big component of globalization. If it’s about moving from one country to another, then we have to handle it as members of a United Nations country, as part of a global village—we want to be part of the Global Compact.”

Cilene Victore, Brazilian reporter at TV Cultura and professor of journalism at a college from Sao Paulo.
“I’m here as a journalist of course, but as a professor too. It’s important to put the humanity before the discussion about policy makers. You can give more voice to the people who suffered. It’s important to come because there’s a discussion, people are talking about the New York Declaration. We are living the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of the second war, and why?”

Wael Maaninou, Moroccan student in politics and journalist for Radio Migration.
“I’m here in Marrakech to cover the events on migration for almost 10 days. We had a lot of programs to do with migrants’ rights and we have done a lot of interviews, and took a lot of declarations. I’m here also because I need this as a future journalist, or whatever I’ll be in the future, to see how the wold works, the diplomacy, how the UN works. As a student, it may give me some opportunities to do further training, if I stay in touch with some people. I met with a lot of journalists from all around the world. “

Houda Hasswane, Moroccan freelance journalist based in Istanbul.
“I came to this pact because I’m a freelance journalist. I worked a lot on subjects about migration and migrants, here and in other countries. The journalist must be informed, be aware of everything going on. We have to study this pact. We have to know which countries adopted or didn’t adopt this Global Compact in order to follow up after the end of this international UN event, to see the impact.”

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Reactions on the Ground to the Global Compact for Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/reactions-ground-global-compact-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=reactions-ground-global-compact-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/reactions-ground-global-compact-migration/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 21:26:56 +0000 Salaheddine Lemaiz http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159327 This week the famous and beautiful Moroccan city of Marrakech is hosting the intergovernmental conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), accompanied by a multitude of civil society events among the city’s palm-tree-lined streets. IPS spoke with a number of participants from different backgrounds about the adoption of the GCM […]

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This week the famous and beautiful Moroccan city of Marrakech is hosting the intergovernmental conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), accompanied by a multitude of civil society events among the city’s palm-tree-lined streets. IPS spoke with a number of participants from different backgrounds about the adoption of the GCM and what it means for the future of migration and migrants.

By Salaheddine Lemaiz
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

This week the famous and beautiful Moroccan city of Marrakech is hosting the intergovernmental conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), accompanied by a multitude of civil society events among the city’s palm-tree-lined streets. IPS spoke with a number of participants from different backgrounds about the adoption of the GCM and what it means for the future of migration and migrants.

This week the famous and beautiful Moroccan city of Marrakech is hosting the intergovernmental conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), accompanied by a multitude of civil society events among the city’s palm-tree-lined streets. IPS spoke with a number of participants from different backgrounds about the adoption of the GCM and what it means for the future of migration and migrants.

 

The GCM brings together 164 countries—who have adopted the Compact—various ministers and heads of states, along with 700 organizations from civil society, the United Nations, the private sector and academia.

A multitude of side events preceded the commencement of the GCA. The purpose of the People Global Action (PGA) event held on December 8 and 9 was to agree on a program of actions to put pressure on governments to maintain mobilization on migration issues.

Members of the African Network of Women Journalists have been very vocal about migrant women during the conference. “We are for a just migration policy that is respectful of human rights,” says Afolasade, a presenter on Radio Nigeria.

Monami Maulik, from Global Coalition on Migration, has confidence in the future of the compact: “We participated in the negotiations for 18 months, we are happy that the Compact has been adopted.”

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel made a remarkable trip to Marrakech. The adoption of the Compact by his country created a political crisis in the Belgian government: “We are on the right side of history,” Michel says. “I appear before you with a parliamentary majority which no longer supports my government, standing upright and proud of the convictions of Belgium, and which I am expressing this morning at this rostrum.”

“The Compact forms a frame of reference for our advocacy,” says Younous Arbaoui from Morocco’s Platform Nationale Protection Migrants. “It is true that this pact is not binding, but Morocco and other countries have a moral obligation to respect its commitments. Already we are integrating aspects of the Compact to demand access to services for migrants in Morocco.”

These members of the Nigerian delegation display their measured satisfaction with the adoption of the Compact: “It is a good step forward for the future of the Nations.”

 

“The GCM is a huge mobilization of states to manage migration,” says Cheryl Perera, a prominent representative of migrant communities, and founder of OneChild, a non-governmental organization which seeks to eliminate the commercial sexual exploitation of children abroad. “We wait now for actions.”

“With other organizations from many countries, we are expressing our concerns about some of the goals of the GCM,” says Hassan Ammari from Alarm Phone, an organization running a hotline offering support for people crossing the Mediterranean Sea to the EU, who participated in a protest against the Compact in the center of Marrakech. “Security issues have become the main issue and the Compact’s text makes that a priority. This opens the doors for more migrant detention centres.”

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Final Thoughts as the Global Compact for Migration Starts its Own Long Journey Against the Oddshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/final-thoughts-global-compact-migration-starts-long-journey-odds/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=final-thoughts-global-compact-migration-starts-long-journey-odds http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/final-thoughts-global-compact-migration-starts-long-journey-odds/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 18:39:28 +0000 Steven Nsamaza http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159205 As the red carpets are rolled up in Marrakesh after two days of intense declarations and commitments by more than 160 countries, what are the smaller players in this global phenomenon taking back with them? During the final presentations concluding the two-day Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), assuring voices were heard […]

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Louise Arbour, the U.N. Special Representative for International Migration, urged those who were still sceptical of the Compact to reread it, very carefully, and form their own opinion. Courtesy: Global Compact for Migration

By Steven Nsamaza
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

As the red carpets are rolled up in Marrakesh after two days of intense declarations and commitments by more than 160 countries, what are the smaller players in this global phenomenon taking back with them?

During the final presentations concluding the two-day Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), assuring voices were heard on the future of migration, while also trying to counter misinformation about the content of the GCM document.

“We came here with a clear goal and we have achieved it,” says María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Minister and also President of the GCM Conference, declared that the GCM has “breathed new life” into the migration issue, while acknowledging it still remains for the Compact to be implemented by U.N. Member States.  

Louise Arbour, the U.N. Special Representative for International Migration, urged those who were still sceptical of the Compact to reread it, very carefully, and form their own opinion, taking heed of the U.N. Secretary-General’s points about dispelling the myths surrounding the overall issue of migration.

“For the first time in the history of the United Nations, we have been able to tackle an issue that was long seen as out of bounds for a truly concerted global effort,” says Arbour, noting that there is probably no principle more fundamental in international affairs than the geographic allocation of space on the planet, confirmed by the universal recognition of State sovereignty.

Inter-governmental consultations are expected to continue up to Dec. 19, when the Compact will formally be adopted. Then it will be reviewed every four years, starting in 2022.

“The Global Compact for Migration is a new promise and history will be the judge,” Bourita says.

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Q&A: The Global Compact that Respects Human Rights During all Stages of Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-global-compact-respects-human-rights-stages-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-global-compact-respects-human-rights-stages-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-global-compact-respects-human-rights-stages-migration/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 14:44:31 +0000 Youssef Lakhder http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159193 IPS Correspondent Youssef Lakhder spoke to YOUNOUS ARBAOUI, advocacy and coordination officer at the National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM)

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By Youssef Lakhder
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

Amid the hustle and bustle of the two-day Global Compact for Migration, IPS spoke to Younous Arbaoui, advocacy and coordination officer at the National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM), about the importance of the GCM in tackling the migration challenge that the world faces.  

Inter Press Service (IPS): What is National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM)?

Younous Arbaoui (YA): Formed in 2009, the National Migrant Protection the National Migrant Protection Platform (known by its French acronym PNPM) is a network of civil society associations working on and advocating for migration. Thanks to their fieldwork, the PNPM capitalises on information it receives to advocate for the human rights of migrants. We work on three main axes: the first is the legal protection of migrants, the second is the protection of children, and the third is access to health services. Recently we started working on access to socio-professional training and to employment.

IPS: What is the purpose of your network’s in Morocco?

YA: We focus on advocacy, so we do not provide direct services to migrants. We advocate for their rights, such as the right of justice that is still not effective in Morocco. We also engage in dialogue with ministers, particularly on health, to encourage the authorities to provide access to health services for migrants, especially secondary and tertiary services, which are not yet guaranteed. When it comes to child protection, we advocate for the rights of children, such as the right to identity. This was achieved recently, with the Minister of Health issuing a ministerial letter explaining the need to give birth notices to ensure children can confirm their identities.

IPS: What are the benefits of the adopted Global Compact for Migration?

YA: The pact, even if it is not legally binding, is a document of reference for us as an advocacy player, and as Morocco welcomed this conference, it will have a moral obligation to respect and implement it. Usually we refer to the convention of human rights, but now it is possible to also use the Compact, especially with regard to accessing services, as objective 15 recommends States provide basic services to migrants no matter their status. It’s true that things won’t change immediately, it takes time.

IPS: What will change at the global level?

YA: The Pact emphasises global collaboration between states on migration. Some people are criticising the pact as they say it will only help countries in the North and not those in the South, because it will facilitate the readmission and return of migrants who are, for example, in Europe. That’s true, but the readmission and return process must respect human rights, also, and so it is good the Compact deals with this. We are not advocating for migrants to be returned, but that when this happens that their rights are still respected. The good thing about the pact is that it says the human rights of migrants must be respected during all the stages of the migratory process, from the country of origin right up to and including any return process.

IPS: How do you react to accusations that some NGOs receive money to prevent migrants [from leaving Morocco]?

YA: Yes, it is true that this accusation exists—they say that civil society receives money from the European Union to hold migrants in Morocco. But it is an old story that should be dismissed. Morocco has been a country of reception for several years, and the fact that the Kingdom has introduced a policy for national asylum and a migration strategy to integrate them, and the fact our associations help migrants here in Morocco, is testament that the accusation is unfounded.

Let us not forget that the way to Europe is dangerous. There are a lot of migrants who die at sea, and this factor should not be forgotten. Contrary to the accusation, what should be noted are the humanist efforts by the associations and the State, who try by all means to save migrant lives. The control of Morocco’s maritime borders is the country’s responsibility, and so carrying that out does not make the country one of the constables of Europe. We must not see things like that, because doing this saves lives.

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Excerpt:

IPS Correspondent Youssef Lakhder spoke to YOUNOUS ARBAOUI, advocacy and coordination officer at the National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM)

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Bamboo — the Magic Bullet to Rapid Carbon Sequestration?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/bamboo-magic-bullet-rapid-carbon-sequestration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bamboo-magic-bullet-rapid-carbon-sequestration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/bamboo-magic-bullet-rapid-carbon-sequestration/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 06:58:20 +0000 Isaiah Esipisu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159177 As thousands of environmental technocrats, policy makers and academics work round the clock to come up with strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change at the United Nations’ conference in Katowice, Poland, one scientist is asking Parties to consider massive bamboo farming as a simple but rapid way of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. […]

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Dr. Hans Friederich, the Director General of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) is calling on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiators to acknowledge bamboo as an important crop that can rapidly sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

As thousands of environmental technocrats, policy makers and academics work round the clock to come up with strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change at the United Nations’ conference in Katowice, Poland, one scientist is asking Parties to consider massive bamboo farming as a simple but rapid way of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.

“According to the Guinness Book of Records, bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world,” said Dr. Hans Friederich, the Director General of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR).

Bamboo is actually a giant grass plant in the family of Poaceae. Some species grow tall and many people refer to them as bamboo trees.

And because it is a grass, if you cut it, it grows back so quickly, making it one of the most the ideal crop for rapid actions in terms of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, according to Friederich, who has a PhD in groundwater hydrochemistry.

Depending on the species, bamboo can reach full maturity in one to five years, making it perhaps the only tree-like plant that can keep up with the rate of human consumption in terms of fuel, timber and deforestation, according to experts. This is unlike hardwood trees, which can take up to 40 years to grow to maturity.

The latest International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report points out that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.

That calls for mitigation measures. And currently many countries prefer investment in forestry and reforestation mitigation.

Under normal circumstances, trees absorb carbon, and therefore it forms part of the weight of its biomass, but they take several years to do so. But when they are cut down and burned for fuel, the carbon escapes back into the atmosphere.

But now, Friederich believes that with bamboos in place people will not need to cut down trees for charcoal production because despite of it being a grass, it produces excellent charcoal that has been equated to charcoal from trees such as the acacia, eucalyptus and Chinese Fir.

“Apart from charcoal, there are many other long-lasting products that can be made from bamboo, and while they remain intact, they hold onto carbon the giant grass sequestered while still on the farm,” he told IPS in an interview at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24). Today on Dec. 12 INBAR hosted a side event at COP24 titled “Bamboo and Rattan for Greening the Belt and Road where the organisation shared its successful experiences and Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative on Climate Change, said that bamboo could become part of China’s new Emissions Trading Scheme.

At the event, Director of Policy and Programme at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Martin Frick, said that bamboo and the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change agenda went hand in hand. He also emphasised the importance of bamboo as a source of income: 10 million people in China alone are employed in the bamboo sector. 

In China, bamboo is used for making drainage pipes, shells for transport vehicles, wind turbine blades, and shipping containers, among other things. It can also be used for making long-lasting furniture, parquet tiles, door and window frames and can even be used in the textile industry, among many other things.

Already, bamboo is slowly gaining popularity in some parts of the world due to its fast growth, and ability to produce long-lasting products.

Victor Mwanga retired from Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi in 2007 where he was a transport manager for a private company. He decided to start a bamboo seed production business which he called Tiriki Tropical Farms and Gardens. He is currently based in Tiriki, Vihiga County in Kenya’s Western Province.

“I receive customers from different parts of the county,” he told IPS in a telephone interview. “This thing [bamboo] has really gained popularity to a point that we are not able to satisfy the market,” said the farmer who sells each bamboo seedling for two to three dollars, depending on the size.

Wilbur Ottichilo, the Governor of Vihiga County, told IPS that his government is already investing in bamboo production. “We have started by training communities in various parts of the county on the importance of growing bamboo, and how they can make easy money from the crop,” he said.

And now, because of its fast growth and ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, Friederich is calling on theUNFCCC negotiators to acknowledge bamboo as an important crop that can rapidly sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

“We are already discussing with the secretariat of the UNFCCC and the IPCC to include bamboo into the language,” he said. In some cases, he added, countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana have included bamboo in their environment, climate change and renewable energy strategies.

However, said the scientist, this calls for governments to develop policy frameworks that will allow things to happen, looking at incentives to support the private sector, build capacity – train people so they know better how to make bamboo products and roll out small and medium enterprises.

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Radio Migration – the Station with a Different Message about Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/radio-migration-station-different-message-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=radio-migration-station-different-message-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/radio-migration-station-different-message-migration/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 19:40:24 +0000 Moez Jemai http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159180 The topic of migration has been beaming across the airwaves of Marrakech, Morocco, to bring light to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration conference (GCM) and all its myriad components. Organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other international organisations, Radio Migration began broadcasting on Dec. 4, […]

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Radio Migration aims to raise awareness of the importance of the central topic and those in the middle of it: migration and migrants. Courtesy: Radio Migration

By Moez Jemai
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

The topic of migration has been beaming across the airwaves of Marrakech, Morocco, to bring light to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration conference (GCM) and all its myriad components.

Organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other international organisations, Radio Migration began broadcasting on Dec. 4, ahead of the conference, covering various side activities and events organised by local and international civil society components, and by migrant rights activists.

Now that the conference is underway—and the Compact has been adopted, as of the morning of Dec. 10—the station’s programmes are focusing on decisions and issues as they happen. It all aims to raise awareness of the importance of the central topic and those in the middle of it: migration and migrants.

“The radio station has a clearly defined focus on migration from a human rights perspective, in order to ensure recognition and dissemination of migrants’ rights,” says the radio station project’s coordinator Mohyi El Ghattass, who notes how the station was given a special dispensation by the government.

“We obtained a formal and temporary authorisation from the Moroccan government, because community radio stations of this country do not yet have licenses to broadcast on FM radio.”

The radio employs 20 people, comprising Maghrebi nationalities from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, who received special training on covering thematic migration issues. This team of technicians and journalists has been broadcasting for 8 hours a day while covering a panorama of migration-related events happening around the city both before and during the GCM.

The station’s editorial approach has been to disseminate information that addresses both civil society and government actors to create a positive debate and spur evaluation of the factors involved in order to benefit the overall issue at stake.

The station has also striven to create open dialogue between different parties involved on migration issues by hosting independent experts, official organisations and activists involved in the rights of migrants, as well as discussing causes of migration and how they relate to specific groups such as women and young people.

Such an approach makes for a contrast with much of the reporting about migrants in mainstream media around the world, much of which focuses on stereotypes and negative narratives, says Carolina Gottardo with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Australia, one of the 400 civil society groups that has come to Marrakech to be involved in the conference and its discussion on migration.

One element of this radio station’s operation, which sets it apart from the other 700 registered media at the conference, is the involvement of a number of migrants in the editorial team to ensure the migrants’ concerns both directly influence the station’s programs and are addressed by broadcast content. The station has also opened its shows to several different nationalities to talk about the particularities of migration across different countries.

But the station’s policy of inclusive employment for migrants doesn’t mean those individuals are reassured by the Compact they are reporting on.

“Will the migrant move freely where he wants and with dignity after this? No,” says Armel, a Cameroon migrant and volunteer facilitator at Radio Migration. “For me, nothing will change. The pact itself is written in English, while the majority of migrants are francophones, so we do not control what is in this long text.”

When it comes to ownership of its own message, the station has striven to maintain its independence.

“Independence is a fundamental principle for the success of the radio station achieving its objective of delivering good quality news about its subject matter,” Ghattass says.

This means, he says, the station has avoided political or religious angles influencing its migration coverage, an aspect that many are increasingly concerned about when it comes to how immigration stories are often shaped in the global press.

“Always include the voice of migrants and civil society for fair reporting,” Gottardo says. “Use the term undocumented or irregular migrant rather than illegal—the vast majority of the world’s migrants are regular.”

“I find that, in general, journalists tend to opt for the sensational news rather than to go to the bottom things, Abel says. “And then, the speech can be hateful and does not push for improving the situation of migrants.”

Those involved with the station hope it ultimately underlines the importance and role of community media in defending human rights.

The station became the voice of civil society that is concerned by immigration issues,” says Jalal al-Makhfy, a volunteer radio journalist from another Moroccan station who has been producing a daily talk show that features guests from numerous walks of life related to immigration.

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AI to map Chinese strikeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/ai-map-chinese-strikes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ai-map-chinese-strikes http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/ai-map-chinese-strikes/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:38:41 +0000 Erik Larsson http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159166 29 years ago, Han Dongfang survived the hail of bullets at Tiananmen Square. Now, he lives in Hong Kong and maps Chinese labour market strikes. Arbetet Global caught up with him at the ITUC World Congress in Copenhagen. Between meetings at Bella Center in Copenhagen, Arbetet Global gets a chat with the man who’s been […]

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Undermining Human Rights of Women Trapped In Sex Tradehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/undermining-human-rights-women-trapped-sex-trade/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=undermining-human-rights-women-trapped-sex-trade http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/undermining-human-rights-women-trapped-sex-trade/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:16:35 +0000 Jessica Neuwirth http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159163 Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

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Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

By Jessica Neuwirth
NEW YORK, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Seventy years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was signed in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. Following two devastating world wars the United Nations General Assembly set out a brand new vision of human rights that the world could agree on going forward. It is still the benchmark by which most modern-day human rights organisations live.

Mickey Meji, South African sex trade survivor. Credit: wowwoman.com

The first line of the Declaration states in a clear and compelling way that all human beings are born free and equal. In practice, freedom and equality are the foundation from which every other fundamental human right is derived.

The Universal Declaration also recognizes that nobody should be held in slavery or servitude. This includes the many million women and girls who are caught in the devastating sex trade.

Despite the clarity of this issue in the minds of women’s rights advocates and survivors of prostitution some United Nations agencies – including UNAIDS and UNDP, as well as some high profile human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – have ignored this basic tenet and have instead called for the decriminalization of pimping, brothel-owning and patronizing prostitution.

Over the last twenty years the evidence against decriminalizing all aspects of the sex trade has become much clearer. The Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand removed sanctions on the purchase of sex and either decriminalized or legalized pimping and brothel-keeping.

As a result, Germany has been compared to a “giant teutonic brothel” by The Economist while Amsterdam has been backtracking from its failed experiment to protect prostituted persons.

Meanwhile, the growing evidence on what does work points to the Nordic or Equality model, pioneered by Sweden in 1999 and followed by Iceland, Norway, Canada, Northern Ireland, France and the Republic of Ireland.

Israel and others are also looking at this policy approach. It is no coincidence that many of these countries rank highest in terms of gender equality.

While the groups listed above support the right of men to buy sex, they have inexplicably ignored evidence of the Equality model’s success.

We all support the decriminalization of prostituted persons, but it is hard to justify the decriminalization of those who willfully and systematically exploit them.

The fact that gender and other structural inequalities are at the root of prostitution appears to have also been conveniently ignored. When such respected groups officially condone the purchase of sex and the horrifying human rights violations experienced by women trapped in prostitution they create an inexcusable veil of legitimacy, behind which those forced into the sex trade by poverty become collateral damage for maintaining the “rights” of men to buy sex.

Unfortunately, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty, both male-led organizations, have in effect disowned the UDHR as it relates to the modern day subjugation of women.

As the South African sex trade survivor Mickey has said, prostitution is not only the embodiment of sexism and violence against women and girls, it is also a deep reflection of racism, poverty and other inequalities: “it is no coincidence that the majority of individuals in prostitution in South Africa are poor black women.”

Let’s be very clear about it: prostitution preys on the vulnerable – mostly women – and continues to exist because men who freely choose to buy sex want to enact their privilege in a dominant and abusive way. I have not heard any counter-argument from Amnesty or Human Rights Watch that negates this basic concept.

We can never achieve any form of equality in society as long as this extreme abuse of power by one human being over another is legitimized as a “commercial transaction”. These organizations should re-read Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

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Excerpt:

Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

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Women’s Resistance, Inequality Marks 2018http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/womens-resistance-inequality-marks-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=womens-resistance-inequality-marks-2018 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/womens-resistance-inequality-marks-2018/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 12:59:56 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159159 Despite the rise in women’s resistance, women’s rights continue to be sidelined and increasingly face blatant attacks, Amnesty International said. Marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Amnesty International launched its annual report reviewing the state of human rights around the world—and it doesn’t look good. “In 2018, we witnessed […]

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United Nations Women and partners in Colombia organised a public concert in November and lit public buildings in orange calling for women’s right to live a life free of violence. However, despite the rise in women’s resistance, women’s rights continue to be sidelined and increasingly face blatant attacks, according to Amnesty International. Courtesy: UN Women

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Despite the rise in women’s resistance, women’s rights continue to be sidelined and increasingly face blatant attacks, Amnesty International said.

Marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Amnesty International launched its annual report reviewing the state of human rights around the world—and it doesn’t look good.

“In 2018, we witnessed many of these self-proclaimed ‘tough guy’ leaders trying to undermine the very principle of equality – the bedrock of human rights law. They think their policies make them tough, but they amount to little more than bully tactics trying to demonise and persecute already marginalised and vulnerable communities,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo in the foreword of the report.

Amnesty’s Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Identity Yamini Mishra echoed similar sentiments to IPS, noting that these “tough guys leaders” have come into power using misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic platforms.

“It is very distressing,” she said.

But among the rays of hope is women-led movements, Mishra added.

While the #MeToo movement has captured international attention, women have mobilised mass movements on women’s rights around the world in the past year at a scale never seen before.

In Argentina, one million women took to the streets demanding the legalisation of abortion, while in Nigeria thousands of displaced women mobilised for justice for the abuses they suffered at the hands of Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces.

“Mobilisation really comes from people,” Mishra told IPS.

While some of these movements were galvanised in response to newer forms of oppression, others are against old forms of discrimination that have no place in today’s society.

Mishra pointed to India where earlier this year, a group of women activists advocated for their right to participate in a historic pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple, one of the holiest sites in Hinduism which has long barred entry to women of menstruating age.

While the Right to Pray movement successfully led to the Supreme Court overturning the ban, violent protests have erupted in the southern state of Kerala as devotees block women from entering the temple.

It is thus hard to celebrate the rise of women’s activism as the stark reality is that many governments and societies continue to support policies and laws that oppress women, this year’s ‘Rights Today’ report found.

This can especially be seen around sexual and reproductive health rights.

El Salvador has some of the stricter abortion policies in the world as women can be jailed if they are suspected of having an abortion.

Almost 30 women are reportedly incarcerated under the policy.

In February, Teodora del Carmen Vasquez was released after spending a decade in prison after having pregnancy-related complications which resulted in a stillbirth.

Despite protests against the draconian law,  the country failed to pass a reform to decriminalise abortion in April, leaving women and girls with no control over their reproductive and sexual health.

Mishra particularly expressed concern over the increasing attacks on women human rights defenders (WHRDs).

According to Front Line Defenders, approximately 44 WHRDs were killed in 2017, an increase from 40 in 2016 and 30 in 2015.

Among those killed in 2018 was Marielle Franco, a Brazilian politician and human rights activist who was shot in her car in March.

Women activists have also been jailed around the world including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef, Saudi activists who led the movement fighting for women’s right to drive.

Amnesty International recently found that several Saudi Arabian activists, including women, have also faced sexual harassment and torture while in detention.

Such attacks on human rights defenders is not happening in a vacuum, but rather in a world where civil society space is shrinking, Mishra noted.

“It is important for us to recognise that even the shrinking of civil society space is not gender-neutral…women human rights defenders as opposed to male human rights defenders face specific kinds of vulnerabilities and heightened vulnerabilities,” she said.

Mishra highlighted the need for action at all levels to achieve human rights for all, but civil society in particular must step up.

“All these years, human rights organisations have really not done enough on women’s rights. We’ve always treated it as a secondary kind of issue…now that it has been 70 years of UDHR, it is time for us to think how do we really bring women to the centre of our work,” she told IPS.

The report urges civil society and governments to raise their commitments to uphold women’s rights, and implement changes to harmful national laws.

Naidoo particularly pointed to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), whose 40th anniversary is soon approaching, will be an “important milestone that the world cannot afford to overlook.”

While CEDAW is the second most ratified human rights treaty, with 189 state parties, the non-legally binding document allows states to reject provisions.

For instance, Kuwait reserved its right to not implement Article 9 which grants women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children.

Niger expressed reservation to Article 2 which states the need to refrain from engaging in any act of discrimination against women and to modify and abolish existing laws and practices which constitute such discrimination.

“Governments must stop merely paying lip-service to women’s rights. If the undeniable surge of women’s activism this year proves anything, it is that people will not accept this. And neither will we,” Naidoo wrote.

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Study Shows How African Countries are Preparing for Green Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/study-shows-african-countries-preparing-green-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=study-shows-african-countries-preparing-green-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/study-shows-african-countries-preparing-green-development/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 12:19:45 +0000 Isaiah Esipisu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159156 In order for African countries to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), they will require further human capacity building, and there must be involvement of the private sector from the start of the planning process. This is according to preliminary findings of a study on green growth trends and readiness […]

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A wind energy generation plant located in Loiyangalani in northwestern Kenya. The plant is set to be the biggest in Africa, generating 300 MW. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

In order for African countries to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), they will require further human capacity building, and there must be involvement of the private sector from the start of the planning process.

This is according to preliminary findings of a study on green growth trends and readiness across the continent jointly conducted by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The NDCs spell out the actions countries intend to take to address climate change, both in terms of adaptation and mitigation, and the SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The early findings of the report titled Green Growth Readiness Assessment in Africa was released on the sidelines of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland yesterday Dec. 10. Seven countries; Morocco, Tunisia Senegal Gabon, Rwanda Kenya and Mozambique, were selected for the pilot phase.

The scientists presented the findings as climate talks in Katowice entered the second week of negotiations, a stage where political leaders decide whether or not to adapt recommendations brought forth following the first week of technical engagements.

The report stated that high-level political commitment, appropriate policies and implementation of government strategic plans are the key drivers of green growth among African countries.

“Governments need to look at this [NDCs and SDGs] as commercial business opportunities,” said Dr. Frank Rijsberman, the Director General for GGGI. Surprisingly, he said, “I have asked a number of private investors as to why they do not invest in this sector, and the answer is not lack of finances, instead they say it is because of government policies.”

The need for sound policies was reiterated by Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the AfDB, who said that there must be an enabling environment for countries to achieve the much-desired green growth.

“After this assessment report, findings will be shared across the board so that countries can learn from each other,” said Nyong.

According to Dr. Pranab Baruah, one of the lead researchers from GGGI, some of the seven countries in the study have demonstrated high level leadership commitment that confirms their willingness to implement a green growth model.

In Kenya, for example, the researchers said that there is a National Climate Change Council that is chaired by the country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta. The council oversees the implementation of the National Climate Change Action Plan and also advises national and sub-national bodies on mainstreaming, legislative and implementation measures for climate change.

Kenya is currently producing the highest amount of geothermal energy in Africa with an output of 534 megawatts (MW), and 84 percent of all electricity installations consist of green energy.

The country is also in the process of constructing the largest wind firm in Africa with a potential capacity of 300 MW.

This is despite the government’s unpopular plan to construct the largest coal plant in sub-Saharan Africa. However, yesterday Kenya’s Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko told IPS  that the government is likely going to reconsider whether to proceed with construction of the coal plant.

But above all, said Baruah, the study found that Kenya’s recent introduction of a green growth curriculum in schools was key to the development of human capacity.

Rwanda is another country whose green growth is spearheaded from the highest political level. While most countries around the world wait for finances for mitigation projects to come from the Green Climate Fund, Rwanda is already mobilising and disbursing funds nationally.

The researchers said that Rwanda has created a 100-million-dollar National Fund for Climate and the Environment (FONERWA) as an instrument for financing the country’s needs on environment, climate change, and green growth.

In the same vein, Senegal is in the process of removing financial barriers for private sector participation through pilot projects. The country has a 200-million-dollar Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund (REEF), which provides financial incentives to private sector led pilot projects, such as lengthening the refinancing period for the small businesses.

The study also found that countries require urgent financing readiness, especially with the emergence of Green Climate Fund and that there is an urgent need for the strengthening of policy and planning frameworks for green growth. Countries studied also needed to address weak monitoring and reporting systems and work to enhance wider stakeholder buy-in to the green growth agenda.

 

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Indonesia Commits to Low Carbon Development and a Green Economy at COP24http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/indonesia-commits-low-carbon-development-green-economy-cop24/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indonesia-commits-low-carbon-development-green-economy-cop24 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/indonesia-commits-low-carbon-development-green-economy-cop24/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 09:24:02 +0000 Sohara Mehroze Shachi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159150 Although Indonesia has attained decent economic growth of over five percent in the last decade, in order to ensure sustainable growth in the future the switch to renewable energy (RE) will be critical, says the country’s government. “If we don’t focus on low carbon development, we cannot continue this growth,” Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister of […]

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A traffic jam, in Indonesia's capital Jakarta. Air pollution in Jarkarta is triple the the maximum “safe” level recommended by the World Health Organisation. The country's government says it is committed to making the switch to renewables. Credit: Alexandra Di Stefano Pironti/IPS

By Sohara Mehroze Shachi
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Although Indonesia has attained decent economic growth of over five percent in the last decade, in order to ensure sustainable growth in the future the switch to renewable energy (RE) will be critical, says the country’s government.
“If we don’t focus on low carbon development, we cannot continue this growth,” Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister of National Development Planning, said yesterday Dec. 10.

He spoke about Indonesia’s shift to a low carbon, climate-friendly development pathway at a high-level panel discussion at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), which is currently being held in Katowice, Poland. The panel discussion was organised by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), in partnership with the Ministry of National Development Planning of the Republic of Indonesia (BAPPENAS).

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of catastrophic climatic impacts if global warming is not kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This will include severe impact on food production and increasing risks of climate-related disasters.

But according to Brodjonegoro, the Indonesian government is taking this issue seriously.
“We are fully committed to steer our economy for low carbon development. We will mainstream a low carbon framework in our medium-term development plan,” he said, adding that low carbon development in Indonesia would involve improving environmental quality, attaining energy efficiency, increasing agriculture productivity, improving reforestation and reducing deforestation simultaneously.

There is a large scope for RE development in Indonesia, as most of its potential is unrealised as of now. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report on Indonesia’s RE prospects, the country has “an estimated 716 GW of theoretical potential for renewable energy-based power generation”. But of its bioenergy potential of 32.7 GW, it has developed a mere 1.8 GW.

“In order to provide the electricity for remote areas, this is a good time to promote renewable energy as this will increase the percentage of renewable energy in our energy mix,” Brodjonegoro said.

According to the minister, a key issue for scaling up RE in Indonesia lies with developing the capacity of stakeholders to meet the needs of different types of investors to access finance.

Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister of National Development Planning, said the switch to renewable energy is critical for his country’s sustainable economic growth. He was speaking at a panel discussion held at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. Credit: Sohara Mehroze Shachi/IPS

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, Director General of GGGI, echoed these thoughts, stating that the critical factor for proliferating renewables in Indonesia is whether it can attract private sector investment.

“Both governments and the private sector have not fully incorporated the idea that green growth is not only nice but it is also affordable,” he said. “Businesses should be investing in renewable energy because there is a business opportunity.”
In this regard, he said that blended finance could be a critical path where every dollar investment from donors could catalyse other investments from private sources.

State Secretary for Climate and Environment in Norway Sveinung Rotevatn, was a panelist at the event. He stated that Norway is encouraged by the low carbon development in Indonesia, and is committing substantial funds to reduce deforestation there. According to Global Forest Watch, Indonesia experienced a drop in tree cover loss in 2017, including a 60 percent decline in primary forest loss. The organisaiton said that this could be in part to the 2016 government moratorium on the conversion of peatland.

“As a developed country we see [Norway] as having a responsibility to contribute,” he said. Norway has been working in partnership with Indonesia since 2010.

The future of oil is not bright, and Rotevatn believes the shift in production to gas from coal could be a useful bridge towards a shift to renewables in the long run. He added that resistance in this transition from fossil fuels to renewables is expected.

“In 1991 Norway introduced a carbon tax. Today we consider it a natural thing but implementing it is always hard,” he said. One estimate from the Norwegian environmental agency shows that since Norway reduced emissions in 1991 it continued healthy economic growth.

However, Indonesia has a long way to go in the transition process as over 90 percent of its energy still comes from fossil fuels. But the government is optimistic of its potential to scale up RE.

“We are focusing on incentivising renewable energy production and increasing infrastructure of renewable energy capacity. We have a lot of isolated islands and remote areas which can be utilised,” said Rida Mulyana, Director General of New, Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation (NREEC) at Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.

However, he noted that several challenges remain. One of these is public acceptance, as there is still a need for systematic and sustainable socialisation and education to minimise community resistance to RE projects.

Moreover, affordability of the available clean energy remains an issue, and the cost needs to be reduced for renewables to be a viable option. This is exacerbated by the fact that liquified petroleum gas is still subsidised, which fosters Indonesia’s dependency on fossil fuels.

While Mulayana pointed out financing as a key issue, he also said the government will not provide any subsidy for renewables and it has to compete with other sources of energy.

David Kerins, Senior Energy Economist at the European Investment Bank and another panelist at the event, said although RE projects are becoming more commercially viable, the private sector is yet to jump in on these investment opportunities. So there is a need to promote investment while providing safeguards to investors on the expected benefits.

“The RE energy sector has moved far beyond the situation it was before. Once people see how possible and straight forward it is, private sector can start targeting projects of its own,” he said.

Glenn Pearce-Oroz, Director for Policy and Programmes, Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), one of the attendees of the event, said one of the important next steps will be how to bring along commercial financing for low carbon development.

“Part of what we are seeing is private sector being more and more interested to do business in the green economy. What they are looking for though is clarity of roles and consistency in terms of the markets they are getting into,” he said.

“So the challenge for developing countries is how do you demonstrate that type of consistency and clarity and how do you establish clear rules of the game, good regulatory frameworks, that gives private sector the confidence to come into these markets?” He said Indonesia has the size, dynamism of economy and a lot of favourable elements for attracting private sector investment.

“Green growth as a concept is beginning to take off in different countries,” said Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and a 24-time COP attendee.

“The most important element of any green growth strategy is to make sure it’s nationally determined and nationally owned,” he said, adding that modality of green growth is peculiar to the politics, socio economic conditions and culture of a country.

“Green growth is more of a political process than a technical process. There are vested interests and issues that have to be worked out at the national level,” he said. “The good news is it [green growth] has started to happen.”

 

  • This story has been published with support from Inter Press Service, the Stanley Foundation, Earth Journalism Network and Climate Change Media Partnership.

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