Inter Press ServicePopulation – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 11 Dec 2018 19:44:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 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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A Migrant Turned Saviour of Othershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migrant-turned-saviour-others/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrant-turned-saviour-others http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migrant-turned-saviour-others/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 14:23:04 +0000 El Mahdi Hannane http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159171 Seven years ago, when Cameroon began experiencing inter-regional conflict, Armand Loughy, a 55-year old Cameroonian psychiatrist, strapped her youngest child on her back and with her five other children embarked on the dangerous Journey from Cameroon towards Rabat, Morocco’s capital. They fled the deteriorating security situation in Cameroon, looking for a better life. Loughy, who […]

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Armand Loughy is a migrant from Cameroon. Her own experiences pushed her to campaign on migration issues, shifting from being a refugee herself to becoming an activist. Credit: El Mahdi Hannane/IPS

By El Mahdi Hannane
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Seven years ago, when Cameroon began experiencing inter-regional conflict, Armand Loughy, a 55-year old Cameroonian psychiatrist, strapped her youngest child on her back and with her five other children embarked on the dangerous Journey from Cameroon towards Rabat, Morocco’s capital.
They fled the deteriorating security situation in Cameroon, looking for a better life.
Loughy, who is now also a migrant activist based in Morocco, listened attentively to the on-going discussions during the opening ceremony of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in Marrakech.

Her own experiences pushed her to campaign on migration issues, shifting from being a refugee herself to becoming an activist—one of the most vocal personalities in the Moroccan civil society space.

“We went through the desert and where the fear consumed us. Many of my fellow migrants got hurt by bandits and died—in the most horrible way with their bodies dumped in the desert,” Loughy recalls.

After arriving in Morocco, she faced many difficulties in finding a job before finally securing work at a psychiatric clinic in Rabat.
With a well-paying job, Loughy could easily have forgotten her traumatic journey and suffering and moved on. But she chose not to—her decision to start helping migrants came at the right time as Morocco was also establishing favourable policies on how to handle migrants.

This policy shift, according to Loughy, enabled her to become “a candle that would light up the darkness of migrants.”

In 2014, she founded the Association of Women Migrants in Morocco, working to attract other migrants. Gradually, her association gained respect in the civil society space.

“In the beginning, the children of the poor neighbourhood where I was active threw stones at me,” Loughy says. “But after many months of continuous work, I became familiar and respected by locals and migrants.”

Her organisation is active in the Sidi Musa district of Salé—about 330 km north of Marrakech—where hundreds of migrants occupy small rooms, either working or begging on the streets, and then returning to the ghetto in the evening.

The children of these migrants, some of whom were born in Morocco, until recently had nothing to do. Some accompanied mothers to beg, others played in the neighbourhood all day without any clear future—a painful reality that Loughy and her organisation acted upon.

She presented a proposal to Salé’s Regional Directorate of Education and Training, and her ideas were welcomed. Classrooms were allocated within the public educational institutions for migrants’ children.

These have now become independent departments with their own teaching staff, and now even teach local Moroccan students.

“We are trying to use education as a tool for integration,” Loughy says, adding the association is making a big drive to inform migrants about the importance of education to ensure as many children as possible are enrolled into school.

Many migrants, especially those who do not have residence documents, remain sceptical of these types of initiatives, Loughy says. But the hope is that better educated children of migrants can inspire change at home and between communities.

Loughy dreams of a united African continent and believes that the best way to achieve coexistence among the continent’s peoples is through education and knowledge. After listening to discussions at the GCM about the tools and partnerships needed to give that dream a chance, she will leave Marrakech to return to spreading education among the children of Morocco’s migrants

“We have learnt that when students start living together, then parents can also learn how to coexist,” Loughy says.

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Migration and the Economy—an Inseparable Pairinghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migration-economy-inseparable-pairing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migration-economy-inseparable-pairing http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migration-economy-inseparable-pairing/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:35:07 +0000 Alie Dior Ndour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159165 On the streets of Casablanca there is only one thought on the mind of Ibrahima, a young Senegalese migrant. “I want to go to Europe to give meaning to my life and to help my family back in my home country live a better life,” Ibrahima says. This is the most familiar answer that most […]

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Migrants on a street in Casablanca, Morocco. Courtesy: Alié Dior Ndour

By Alie Dior Ndour
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

On the streets of Casablanca there is only one thought on the mind of Ibrahima, a young Senegalese migrant.

“I want to go to Europe to give meaning to my life and to help my family back in my home country live a better life,” Ibrahima says.

This is the most familiar answer that most young and energetic migrants give when asked about the reasons for leaving their countries, as they often are part of a constant flow northward from the Global South (although migration between countries of the South actually far outweighs this South to North flow).

While many migrants flee wars and political persecutions, economic causes are often a major influence too. In poor countries where unemployment is sky high, all too often people, especially the poorest, have no choice but to go elsewhere in search of economic opportunities.

To achieve this they are ready to risk lives by getting on shaky and unreliable boats run by unscrupulous operators making a living out of ferrying people across dangerous waters to the fabled other side where, it is believed, a better life awaits.

It is this relentless trend that propelled global leaders to come up with the first ever intergovernmental Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). During the Dec. 10 to 11 gathering of leaders and representatives from more than 160 countries in Marrakesh—about 250 kilometres south of Casablanca—to adopt the Compact, the economic factors triggering migration dominated the discourse.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations discussed how migrant remittances reached 650 billion dollars in 2017, representing three times the official development aid that developing countries receive from the developed community.

Guterres pointed out that this amount, as important as it is, represents only 15 percent of migrants’ revenues. Hence 75 percent of their money stays in the countries in which they work through taxes and consumption—a sizeable contribution to the prosperity of their host country.

“The countries of the North need migrants,” Guterres said.  “They occupy jobs abandoned by nationals and help offset the demographic decline observed in most Western countries.”

This point was echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stressed that “migration for work creates prosperity for all,” adding how Europe “needs a lot of manpower.”

Erol Kiresepi, CEO of Santa Farma Pharmaceuticals and a representative of the private sector at the GCM, said companies around the world are facing a lack of talent, hence they are paying particular attention to migrants with the skills to meet the surfeit in skilled labour.

Against the narrative of Africans racing to escape the continent, people point out how, as with everywhere in the world, people prefer to live and work in their home environment if conditions permit.

“We want partnership, exchange and investment and not aid,” said Julius Maada Bio, president of Sierra Leone, while emphasising the importance of partnerships and investments in the Global South.

But when preoccupied with economic survival, the likes of Ibrahima, the young Senegalese, often do not know or care that the leaders of the world appear to be on their side in Marrakech.

Those global representatives have, in theory, adopted what could provide an economic lifeline to Ibrahima and millions of other young Africans trekking the dangerous journey across deserts and oceans in search of economic success.

For now, though, until the economic factors pushing people away from their countries are tangibly addressed—read changed—migration and economics will remain an inseparable pair.

“We do not have the choice,” Ibrahima says. “Either we stay in the country to do nothing because politicians think only of themselves, or we take the risk of leaving.”

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Morocco’s Migrant Workers Struggle to Send Money Homehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/moroccos-migrant-workers-struggle-send-money-home/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=moroccos-migrant-workers-struggle-send-money-home http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/moroccos-migrant-workers-struggle-send-money-home/#respond Mon, 10 Dec 2018 22:07:44 +0000 Danielle Engolo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159142 Morocco may be hosting the United Nation’s historic Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) conference. But when it comes to remittances—migrant employees, entrepreneurs and business owners all face the same challenge in Morocco: sending money legally to their home countries. Remittances is an all-important issue for migrants and their families left in […]

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Last year, global diaspora remittances totalled 650 billion dollars, three times the amount of foreign aid given to developing countries. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

By Danielle Engolo
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

Morocco may be hosting the United Nation’s historic Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) conference. But when it comes to remittances—migrant employees, entrepreneurs and business owners all face the same challenge in Morocco: sending money legally to their home countries.

Remittances is an all-important issue for migrants and their families left in the land of their origin, and one of the compact’s 23 objectives. However, Moroccan legislation limits money transfers abroad, in effect preventing migrant workers supporting their families or investing in their home countries.

“I have been working for more than 4 years now in Morocco, but I have never been able to invest in my home country,” says Esther, a Congolese migrant working as a journalist in Morocco. “I cannot help my family, because Moroccan money cannot be sent abroad.”

Last year, global diaspora remittances totalled 650 billion dollars, three times the amount of foreign aid given to developing countries. This continual familial fiscal flow significantly helps reduce poverty, by providing funds for health, education, and the launching of businesses.

Morocco’s own diaspora plays a significant part in its own economy. Money transfers from the Moroccan diaspora reached more than 60 billion dollars in 2015, representing 6 percent of the country’s GDP, according to a 2017 World Bank report.

Nevertheless, if Morocco is aware of the importance of its diaspora’s role in its economy, that isn’t reflected in its financial policy that does not allow the country’s migrant workers to also contribute to the development of their home countries.

Like most migrant workers in Morocco—the majority of whom come from sub-Saharan countries—Esther fell back on informal money transfer networks to sustain her family, giving money to an agent in Morocco.

“Several times I sent some money to my family through these informal networks, but I was never at ease because it is risky,” Esther says. “Most of the time you don’t know the person you are negotiating with. He or she might steal your money.”

She recalls that two years ago, her cousin, also living in Morocco, fell victim to a dishonest money transfer network that he had used before. “My cousin used to make money transfers with a friend of his. But one day, he gave his friend 17,000 dirhams ($1,900) to transfer to his family. The guy vanished.”

Due to such risks, some migrants adopt other strategies, such as annual fiscal pilgrimages, taking the money limit permitted by Moroccan customs. Emilie, a Congolese hairdresser in Casablanca, travels back to her home country every six months to buy merchandise and deposit earnings in a Congo account.

“I have no choice, I have to travel regularly in order to save my earnings at home, knowing that I cannot leave Morocco with a big amount of money,” Emilie says.

But while this option allows migrants to subvert money transfer barriers and the risks of dishonest brokers, it costs much more because of the flight, which for many migrant workers is unaffordable and hence makes the strategy unfeasible.

Unbeknownst to most migrants, a Moroccan law actually does allow people to send a set amount per year—10 000 dirhams (1,050 dollars)—to each member of a person’s immediate family.

But this method requires lots of paperwork and proofs of identity. Also, members of the same family must have the same name and if not the case—a common occurrence among families in sub-Saharan families—the bank will reject a transfer demand or demand additional papers legalized at the embassy.

Often banks simply decline to assist. Observers note how it’s not just migrant workers who are negatively impacted by tight money transfer rules in countries like Morocco that drive people to use illegal money transfer networks: government exchequers lose out on the likes of fees and taxes generated by legal transfer systems.

“Despite these constraints, I think it is a step [in the right direction] to be able to send money, even if it is only for family support,” says Esther, while noting how investment remains a challenge. “I thought about buying an apartment in my country, but it is not possible to send a big amount of money.”

Objective 22 of the GCM’s cooperative framework aims to “Establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements and earned benefits.” Whether that proves good enough for migrant workers in Morocco remains to be seen, now that the compact has officially been adopted as of the morning of Dec. 10.

“If I leave Morocco today and return back to my home country, there will be nothing there for me,” Esther says. “It is really a pity after so many years of work.”

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Global Compact for Migration Backed by Most of the Worldhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-compact-migration-backed-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-compact-migration-backed-world http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-compact-migration-backed-world/#respond Mon, 10 Dec 2018 21:25:29 +0000 Steven Nsamaza http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159138 Safe, orderly and regular migration received support today, Dec. 10, with the adoption by 164 countries of the first-ever inter-governmentally negotiated agreement to cover all dimensions of international migration. After a few last-minute hitches, including more international tension and argument than was welcome, the intergovernmental conference taking place in the Moroccan city of Marrakech agreed […]

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Today 164 countries agreed to adopt the first-ever inter-governmentally negotiated agreement to cover all dimensions of international migration. Courtesy: Steven Nsamaza

By Steven Nsamaza
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

Safe, orderly and regular migration received support today, Dec. 10, with the adoption by 164 countries of the first-ever inter-governmentally negotiated agreement to cover all dimensions of international migration.

After a few last-minute hitches, including more international tension and argument than was welcome, the intergovernmental conference taking place in the Moroccan city of Marrakech agreed to a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), a proactive document that will guide States on all matters related to migration.

Well timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the historic adoption of the GCM was presided over by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres who urged countries to treat the Compact as an obligation to human rights that will benefit all.

“We are not establishing a new right to migrate. No. There is not a right for anyone to go anywhere at any time according to his or her whim,” Guterres said during the official ceremony to adopt the Compact. “What we are establishing is the obligation to respect the human rights of migrants—which of course is absolutely obvious when we at the same time celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would be unconceivable to exclude migrants from the scope of the Universal Declaration.”

The conference was preceded by increasing concerns about certain U.N. member States not supporting the Compact. Some declined outright to participate and adopt the Compact, while others said their final decision must await further internal deliberation. The United States was the most notable and voluble naysayer, condemning the compact and labelling it a violation of national sovereignty.

“We believe the Compact and the process that led to its adoption, including the New York Declaration, represent an effort by the United Nations 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,” the U.S. government said in a national statement released on the eve of the conference.

Other countries who bridled against the compact or refused to sign it include Hungary, Australia, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Italy, Switzerland and Chile.

“It will make an enormous positive impact in the lives of millions of people—migrants themselves, the people they leave behind and the communities that will then host them,” said Louise Arbour, the U.N. Special Representative for International Migration.

“This of course will depend on capturing the spirit of today’s event to move to the implementation of the multiplicity of initiatives that this Global Compact will permit member states to put in place. I am delighted to echo the words of the Secretary-General: it is a wonderful occasion, really a historic moment and a really great achievement for multilateralism.”

The adopted Compact lays out 23 objectives covering all aspects of migration, with each having a general goal and catalogue of possible actions that can be implemented by member states. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn enormous criticism for her decision to welcome hundreds of thousands of refugees from places like Syria and Afghanistan to her country. It is a decision that may well have cost her another term in power as she recently announced she will not seek re-election. However,  Merkel remarked that the adopted Compact is “about nothing less than the foundation of our international cooperation.”

Such potential significance has attracted to the conference, in addition to high-powered diplomats and officials, approximately 400 non-governmental organizations from civil society, the private sector and academia, and over 700 registered press.

The ceremony adopting the Compact also included speaker 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. She called for an end to the drivers of irregular migration on the large scale, and for better protection of migrants on the smaller scale.

“We must do better together,” Perera said. “It is important that we involve the private sector, specifically the national airlines, hotels and others to protect children from trafficking.”

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Migrant’s Compact Mischaracterized for Political Reasonshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migrants-compact-mischaracterized-political-reasons/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrants-compact-mischaracterized-political-reasons http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migrants-compact-mischaracterized-political-reasons/#respond Mon, 10 Dec 2018 14:51:27 +0000 Alice Thomas http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159130 Alice Thomas is Refugees International’s Climate Displacement Program Manager.

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By Alice Thomas
MARRAKESH, Morocco, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

The fact that a handful of countries have indicated their intention not to come to Marrakesh to endorse the compact signifies how the issue of migration has been politicized and become a political flashpoint.

Unfortunately, certain right-wing, political parties in some of these countries have been successful in misleading the public regarding what the compact is, and what it seeks to achieve which is to promote cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination to ensure that migration is safe, regular and orderly.

Moreover, with respect to countries like Switzerland – which was a co-chair of the process to develop the compact — there is nothing in the compact that is contrary to its current policies and practices. This demonstrates how the compact has been mischaracterized for political purposes.

Ultimately, however, that a handful of countries may not come to Marrakesh should not detract from the fact that over 180 nations will, meaning the compact has received overwhelming global support.

What is unique about this is that countries that are withdrawing are doing so despite the fact that (a) the compact is non-legally binding, and (b) all of these countries (other than the U.S.) participated – presumably in good faith – in the 18-month process to negotiate its terms, yet are now not supporting it.

How effective is the compact if its implementation is only voluntary?

The compact will only be effective if countries move forward with its implementation. However, what is important is that the compact’s 23 objectives embody a comprehensive set of best practices for managing migration in a safe, orderly manner which requires the cooperation of countries of origin, transit and destination.

In other words, implicit in the compact is the understanding that not implementing these practices results in unsafe, irregular, and disorderly human movement, in loss of life, in human trafficking, in exploitation and abuse of migrants in situations of vulnerability including children, etc..

It results in a failure to address the factors in countries of origin that are driving more and more people to migrate out of necessity and desperation, not choice.

It also seeks to protect persons in situations of vulnerability who are not squarely included in the Refugee Convention, including those compelled leave their countries due to disasters and the adverse effects of climate change.

All countries need to address these drivers, to promote practices that ensure that people are moving safely and regularly. At the same time, the compact recognizes the sovereign right of every nation to manage its borders. As such, that a country does not want to implement these best practices is contrary to its own self-interests.

Political parties will come and go, but ultimately, over the longer-term, the compact should prove effective in improving migration governance and in addressing the current challenges of migration in a smarter, more effective way that is everyone nation’s interests.

Has the concept of refugees undergone a dramatic change?

The concept of refugees has evolved. There are over 258 million migrants today (that is 1 in 30 people) most of whom migrate for economic reasons, to gain skills, to fill labor needs in countries of destination, and to support their families and communities back home through remittances.

In fact, unlocking the full economic potential of migration to contribute to GDP and sustainable development in origin and host countries is much of what the compact is about.

What has changed is the fact that increasingly, more and more people are migrating not out of choice – not as “economic migrants” – but because of other drivers like generalized violence, corruption, and the impacts of climate change in their home countries.

These persons are not included in the definition of refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention, despite the fact that they are in “refugee-like” situations meaning they are in need of some level of international protection.

One of the goals of the compact is to ensure that those migrating out of desperation- and who are not protected under refugee law – are not exploited or abused, and that their human rights are upheld.

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Excerpt:

Alice Thomas is Refugees International’s Climate Displacement Program Manager.

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US Blasts Migrant’s Compact – Even as 180+ Countries Embrace ithttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/us-blasts-migrants-compact-even-180-countries-embrace/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=us-blasts-migrants-compact-even-180-countries-embrace http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/us-blasts-migrants-compact-even-180-countries-embrace/#respond Mon, 10 Dec 2018 12:11:34 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159123 As UN delegates met in Morocco to adopt a global compact to protect the rights and safety of refugees and migrants (GCM), the Trump administration launched a blistering attack condemning it as a violation of national sovereignty. “The United States proclaims and reaffirms its belief that decisions about how to secure its borders, and whom […]

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Credit: IOM

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

As UN delegates met in Morocco to adopt a global compact to protect the rights and safety of refugees and migrants (GCM), the Trump administration launched a blistering attack condemning it as a violation of national sovereignty.

“The United States proclaims and reaffirms its belief that decisions about how to secure its borders, and whom to admit for legal residency or to grant citizenship, are among the most important sovereign decisions a State can make, and are not subject to negotiation, or review, in international instruments, or fora”.

The Trump administration, which pulled out of the negotiations last December, “maintains the sovereign right to facilitate or restrict access to our territory, in accordance with our national laws and policies, subject to our existing international obligations.”

“We believe the Compact and the process that led to its adoption, including the New York Declaration, represent an effort by the United Nations 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,” the US said in a “national statement” released on the eve of the conference¸which began in Marrakesh December 10 and concludes December 14.

But despite strong US opposition, more than 180 of the UN’s 193 member states, along with human rights organizations, international relief agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) , either expressed support for it or are participating in the conference.

In an interview with IPS, Sarnata Reynolds, Oxfam International’s Policy Advisor for Global Displacement & Migration, said the contents of the GCM represent the culmination of two years of hard work, debate, and good faith negotiations among 192 UN member states, civil society and UN agencies, to bring together a blueprint for cooperation on migration that both respects the rights of the women, men and children leaving home, and the ability of states to respond to their economic and political challenges, among others.

Excerpts from the interview:

REYNOLDS: As we move into these last few days before adoption of the GCM, some world leaders and political actors are avoiding domestic grievances by shifting attention to the GCM, and asserting it will undermine sovereignty or worker’s rights, which is just not true.

Regardless of justifications provided so far, governments withdrawing from the GCM have not done so based on the contents of the GCM, which create no new rights and are not legally binding, they have done so based on current domestic politics.

Given this moment of heightened and heated rhetoric, positions of governments now may not remain the same as new administrations take office, and indeed they may temporarily get worse. But they could also get better.

Currently it looks as if 183 out of 193 UN members will adopt the GCM on Monday and Tuesday. A few countries have dropped out, and while that is of course unfortunate, the GCM does not require all UN member states to be functional and effective.

Ultimately, the GCM’s success will be measured by how well states work together to ensure that labor, demographic, family, education and other needs are addressed in a mutually beneficial way that bolsters human rights. It’s not particularly unusual in terms of international agreements, that 10 states will not adopt the GCM at the outset.

For example, the Rome Statute, which brought the International Criminal Court into effect, was adopted without the support of the US, has 139 signatories now, and has had a profound impact on international jurisprudence since it entered into force in 2002, whether states are parties to it or not.

There are 145 parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. No one would question that it has been highly influential and a lifeline to millions of people.

IPS: How effective is the compact if its implementation is only voluntary — particularly in the context of the Refugee Convention (signed and ratified by all UN member states) which is being violated by countries such as the US, Hungary and Poland?

REYNOLDS: It was never the intent for the GCM does to create any new rights or obligations. Indeed, the GCM arose out of commitments made in the New York Declaration (July 2016), https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/declaration. Neither the NY Declaration nor the GCM are legally binding, and this is specifically stated in both documents.

The entire impetus for this process arose because states around the world were struggling with the mobility of so many migrants and refugees, and there was a shared recognition that global coordination and a common governance was necessary.

The GCM is a carefully crafted understanding of what is needed and what can be claimed by right. If applied as written, it would mean that nations are finally tackling the newer migration occurring because of climate change, environmental degradation and increasing disasters.

It would mean that more visas are made available for students, workers and those in need of respite abroad in a way that is mutually beneficial. Going forward, we will be monitoring and participating in national plans of action consistent with the GCM monitoring alongside hundreds of other civil society organizations that have engaged in this process.

No doubt countries are violating the Refugee Convention, but governments do take their obligations to refugees into account when developing migration and protection policies. They are sensitive to the criticism they receive from civil society, and many make efforts to address them, even if partially.

And over and over again, through conflicts and across decades, ordinary people, mayors, families and organizations have taken on the responsibility to welcome and protect refugees.

Almost 70 years after the passage of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, governments generally accept that people fleeing conflict and persecution have the right to seek protection in another country, and countries neighboring those in conflict have protected tens of millions of refugees for protracted periods of time.

Over the past 40 years, millions of women, men, and children from dozens of countries have been resettled elsewhere, and States have contributed billions of dollars in support to refugees and their host countries. So there is hope in the GCM (and GCR) and there is also the reality that states will likely always need to be pushed to live up to their obligations.

IPS: Has the concept of refugees undergone a dramatic change — from political refugees of the cold war era to economic refugees of today?

REYNOLDS: The general concept of refugees has not undergone a dramatic change. The Refugee Convention was drafted in the aftermath of World War II and reflects both the circumstances, social norms, and populations displaced during that period. It had limitations as a result, including that rape and sexual slavery (common weapons of war) were not even considered forms of persecution until the 1990s. It has always been a living document.

Just as in the 1950s, in this decade there are people fleeing home and moving home for a variety of reasons – some for work, others for education, and still others to marry or reunite with family members. This is a constant throughout human history. Another constant is the migration taking place. In the 1970s, about 3% of the world’s populations were migrants.

Since then, in every decade, the number of migrants has remained at 3%, even until today. There is much myth-making around migration, which is positive and negative, ebbs and flows with economies and politics. Currently we’re in negative space.

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A UN Conference Undermined by 11th Hour Withdrawalshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/un-conference-undermined-11th-hour-withdrawals/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-conference-undermined-11th-hour-withdrawals http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/un-conference-undermined-11th-hour-withdrawals/#respond Fri, 07 Dec 2018 17:10:34 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159088 When the long-awaited UN conference focusing on the rights and safety of migrants and refugees takes off in Morocco, it will be a rare, if not an unprecedented meeting, for one reason: the withdrawal of at least seven member states almost at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour. As the international community struggles to […]

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Refugees from South Sudan. Credit: UNHCR/Will Swanson

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 7 2018 (IPS)

When the long-awaited UN conference focusing on the rights and safety of migrants and refugees takes off in Morocco, it will be a rare, if not an unprecedented meeting, for one reason: the withdrawal of at least seven member states almost at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour.

As the international community struggles to resolve a spreading global humanitarian crisis, and restrict the intake of refugees and migrants, the approval of a “Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” is turning out to be a politically sensitive issue.

The United States, which withdrew from the long-drawn-out negotiations back in December last year, will be a notable absentee, along with Austria, Hungary, Poland, Israel, Switzerland and Australia—all of whom have problems relating either to refugees or migrants.

Other non-starters may include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, according to published reports.

Not surprisingly, these countries don’t want to be a party to a compact, which is expected to be adopted at the meeting in Marrakesh December 10-14.

This despite the fact that 192 member states, minus the US, finalized the Global Compact last July, after years of negotiations.

The reluctance is all the more surprising because the implementation of the compact is voluntary – unlike the mandatory 1951 Refugee Convention which has been signed and ratified by virtually all of the 193 UN member states, but not necessarily implemented.

Asked about the non-participants, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters November 30: “ I think what is regrettable, as we’ve seen, is a number of countries walking away from what was agreed already here in New York when the pact was adopted. I think it bears reminding again and again, that this is not a binding legal instrument. This is non-binding. This is guidance for countries on how to manage migration.”

As the Marrakesh conference is about to get off the ground, Denmark has announced plans to move “unwanted” immigrants to Lindholm Island, two miles out to sea, and once used for studying sick animals, according to Cable News Network (CNN).

“Rising far-right and anti-immigration sentiments that have swept Europe have now reached the highest levels of government in Denmark. Some of the country’s legislators have made it clear they have no qualms about testing the boundaries of human rights conventions to preserve what they call the Danish way of life. The controversial deal still must be passed by the parliament”, CNN said.

So, it seems very likely that Denmark may also join the rest of the team of absentees at the conference.

Joseph Chamie, a former director of the United Nations Population Division and an independent consulting demographer, told IPS the migration conference, despite its shortcomings, “is certainly an achievement.”

However, about a dozen countries are not participating and some additional countries are having strong objections raised by opposition parties to signing the Global Migration Compact (GMC), he added.

This will certainly have serious negative consequences on the Compact, especially as the United States — the largest immigrant receiving country — is having no part of the Global Compact.

“It will also be problematic for the European Union (EU) as these countries are divided on the Compact and some are not participating in the conference,” he noted.

Asked if this was unprecedented, Chamie said: “Yes, it is unusual for so many countries to bow out of a UN conference and this will weaken the effectiveness of the Global Compact.“

In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Louise Arbour, the UN Special Envoy on International Migration, said she was “very disappointed” that some countries are reneging on their support — and in some instances for “bizarre” reasons.

She rightly pointed out that the global compact was “not legally binding” and “there is not a single country that is obligated to do anything that it doesn’t want to.”

Arbour was quoted as saying: “Some have said, for instance, we will not sign which is rather strange because there’s nothing to sign. It’s not a treaty. Others have said we will not come. Others have said we don’t endorse the compact.”

Meanwhile, one in every 70 people around the world is caught up in a crisis, including the refugee crisis, with more than 130 million people expected to need humanitarian aid next year.

The United Nations and its partners will aim to help more than 93 million of the most vulnerable people, according to the 2019 Global Humanitarian Overview presented by Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock in Geneva last week.

In a statement released December 5, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said migration has always been a polarizing topic.

But in recent years it has become even more divisive, to the point of dominating elections in many countries.

Concerns about the impacts of migration on receiving states have led some governments to adopt strategies specifically designed to reduce and deter migration, extending even so far as restricting access to essential and lifesaving services including basic health care, shelter, food and legal assistance.

The IFRC said governments have the right to set migration policies. However, contrary to conventional wisdom, all migrants, even those with no claim to asylum, have rights under international law. These rights include access to health, safety and protection.

Chamie told IPS that while the implementation of the Compact is voluntary, it is establishing global norms concerning international migration, which is a goal in itself.

“Of course, countries may not follow conventions and international compacts and there are certainly many instances of violations in the recent past.”

Countries are sovereign — something that has universal agreement– and they will promote their national interests even when it violates agreements they’ve signed, he added.

Asked about Denmark’s plans, he said confining “unwanted” immigrants to a remote island as Denmark proposes is likely to be problematic in many respects.

Aside from the important issue of human rights, it will be difficult logistically and will become increasingly problematic, especially with respect to children and those needing medical care. Moreover, over time as the numbers increase, the difficulties will be compounded, he added.

Chamie also pointed out the simple fact : the supply of potential immigrants is FAR, FAR greater than the demand.

In addition, the receiving countries are selecting immigrants and many of those who wish to migrate will not be selected.

“As a result, many of those migrating without legal status are claiming asylum and seeking refugee status when in fact they are actually seeking employment opportunities and improved living conditions for themselves and families,” he added.

And as a consequence, Chamie pointed out, people are migrating illegally and upon arrival at their desired destination will attempt to remain in the country by all means possible, including seeking refugee status.

Again, one has to face the demographic facts, something most politicians typically avoid. Many of the populations of migrant sending countries are growing rapidly and most developed receiving countries are growing slowly.

The considerable pressures and strong forces for illegal immigration will certainly continue and the receiving countries are still lacking effective policies to address this demographic phenomenon, declared Chamie.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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The Revolution of Renewable Energy Needs Political Leadershiphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/revolution-renewable-energy-needs-political-leadership/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=revolution-renewable-energy-needs-political-leadership http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/revolution-renewable-energy-needs-political-leadership/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 11:29:51 +0000 Rachel Kyte http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159073 *Interview with Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. She was also the World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for the Paris Agreement.

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*Interview with Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. She was also the World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for the Paris Agreement.

By Rachel Kyte
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 6 2018 (IPS)

The cost of renewable energy is low, and at times, less than fossil fuels. What are the barriers to switching to renewables?

Where current energy systems exist, they will need to be upgraded to be able to draw power from modern renewables and to exploit storage solutions that they require.

Rachel Kyte

The institutions and mindsets of current systems are still comfortable with the systems of the past, those that prioritized fossil fuels in centralized grid systems.

The revolution of renewable energy is not just that it’s clean, but that it can be delivered both through the grid as well as decentralized solutions, allowing it to reach those who have never enjoyed access to reliable and affordable energy before.

Yet this change requires political leadership and policy certainty for the levels of investment needed, and we need that renewable investment now.

Q: The recent Cooling for All report highlighted an issue many people didn’t speak of until recently. How does it relate to climate?

A: As the world warms and populations rapidly grow, particularly in the cities of the developing world, we risk creating ‘heat islands’ that could substantially increase energy demands as people seek cooling access for their own health and safety, as well as the safety of medical supplies, fresh food and safe work environments.

At the same time, if we rely on today’s cooling technologies that use high hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioning, we will exasperate climate impacts from a growing use of short-lived climate pollutants.

In policy terms, providing everyone with access to the sustainable cooling they need, is the opportunity at the intersections of the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement and the Kigali Amendment.

In human terms, finding a way to provide hyper efficient pollutant free cooling for people, their vaccines and food is about making sure we leave no one behind. While the Paris Agreement reached almost universal ratification in record time, we now need member states to move with the same swiftness and determination to ratify the Montreal Protocol’s Kigali Amendment.

Q: Can governments, businesses and communities that embrace clean energy solutions survive economically, and where do you see the greatest impact of green energy solutions?

A: The scientific evidence presented in the IPCC report means that all governments, through meeting their fundamental responsibilities in providing a duty of care to their citizens, need to ensure that aggressive and comprehensive policies are in place to speed energy transitions towards clean, affordable and reliable energy for all.

For business, being able to be on the leading edge of this transition means being positioned for profitability, success in attracting and retaining talent, and ensuring that inevitable regulation – and in some cases litigation – is a risk that is understood and well managed.

All businesses must regard carbon as a toxin which needs to be avoided, mitigated and managed to not only support climate action, but help ensure their business is resilient to the ever-growing impacts of climate change.

Q: Can we realistically meet the needs of the just under 1 billion people who don’t have regular access to electricity through renewable energy?

A: Yes. As an immediate step, we all have to be much more efficient in our use of energy. We can provide for many more needs with much less energy through technological innovation and business models. Renewable energy gives us a cost-effective way to meet the needs of those who have never had energy before to help them become economically productive.

By putting the needs of the last mile first, we can build decentralized, digitalized and decarbonized energy systems that meet everyone’s needs. This is not beyond human ingenuity – the cost is estimated at just over US$50 billion a year.

Yet it requires political will and determination. When we consider that US$50 billion leaves the African continent through illegal financial flows, money laundering and tax evasion each year, we must work harder to ensure that the energy needs of these vulnerable populations – women, children, remote rural populations – can be met.

Q: How can we support low-income countries when it comes to innovation and strengthening infrastructure that allow for modern technology approaches?

A: First, we need to support countries put in place robust policy frameworks and investment climates that will spur both domestic investment as well as attract international investment. Secondly, development finance, in partnership with these countries, has to be directed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

Our recent Energizing Finance report clearly shows that finance is still not reaching the top 20 countries with the largest electricity and clean cooking access gaps – dramatically slowing down progress to meet global energy goals and our promise to these populations.

Thirdly, we need specific initiatives that provide energy to the growing number of displaced people around the world.

Finally, the 3 billion that don’t have access to clean cooking deserve an urgent response from the international community at scale that connects industries around different fuel sources with new financial innovation that means the billions of women living on low incomes have a range of clean fuel choices, as opposed to the dangerous choice to cook a family meal while putting their health and the health of their children at risk.

*The interview is part of an editorial package from the SDG Media Compact and released by the UN’s Department of Public Information.

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Excerpt:

*Interview with Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. She was also the World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for the Paris Agreement.

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Thermal Houses Keep People Warm in Peru’s Highlandshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/thermal-houses-keep-people-warm-perus-highlands/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=thermal-houses-keep-people-warm-perus-highlands http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/thermal-houses-keep-people-warm-perus-highlands/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 03:14:36 +0000 Mariela Jara http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159061 Thirty families from a rural community more than 4,300 meters above sea level will have warm houses that will protect them from the freezing temperatures that each year cause deaths and diseases among children and older adults in this region of the southeastern Peruvian Andes. José Tito, 46, and Celia Chumarca, one year younger, peasant […]

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Watering the Paris Agreement at COP24http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/watering-paris-agreement-cop24/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=watering-paris-agreement-cop24 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/watering-paris-agreement-cop24/#respond Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:24:34 +0000 Maggie White http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159048 Maggie White is Senior Manager - International. Policies, Swedish Water House

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On the doorstep of finalizing the roadmap to implementing the Paris Agreement, the water community is coming together to leverage opportunities and awareness about water’s role in tackling climate change.

By Maggie White
STOCKHOLM, Dec 5 2018 (IPS)

Most people will experience climate change in the form of water – higher frequency and intensity of floods and droughts, an increase in waterborne diseases, and overloaded sewage systems that are unable to cope with new demands.

At the same time, water offers some of the best solutions for reducing our climate impact and tackling effects of climate change. Yet, the role of water is poorly understood and often forgotten in the international climate debate.

Maggie White

The Conference of the Parties (COP) 24 is taking place in Katowice in Poland 2-14 December and there is a lot at stake. The UNFCCC’s 2015 Paris Agreement set goals for reducing carbon emissions and assisting countries in adapting to the adverse effects of global climate change.

At the meeting in Poland, the parties need to agree on the “rulebook” for the agreement, i.e. how it should be implemented. But water is largely absent from the agreement. However, many of the parties who ratified the Paris Agreement made water a central component of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

At the doorstep of finalizing the road map for implementing the Paris Agreement, the water community fears a missed opportunity to leverage water’s full potential to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. With recent estimates saying that emissions must come down dramatically in the next few years, this is a risk the world cannot afford.

Similarly, the most powerful manifestations of climate change are water-related and if that is not acknowledged, it will be difficult for countries to respond adequately. Climate change will also exacerbate water quality and variability, through changed precipitation patterns and changes to evapotranspiration and ultimately the water balance.

Trees, landscapes and agriculture are, for example, key for reducing emissions and mitigating climate change. Forests and wetlands act as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and play a central role in the hydrologic cycle, filtering, storing and regulating surface and groundwater flows.

Forest and wetlands can also act as buffers and provide nature-based solutions to many infrastructure problems that increasingly need to be addressed by decision-makers, not least to make human settlements more resilient to floods and droughts.

To ensure sustainable development, food security and economic stability in face of climate change, it is essential that water is acknowledged and integrated into efforts to mitigate climate change and adapt to its adverse effects.

To take action is also a question of climate justice; the people most affected by effects of climate change are seldom themselves causing major emissions. Yet, at the same time they can be strong agents of change. Inclusion of marginalized groups and stakeholders is consequently key in resilient decision and policy making.

The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and AGWA, a network hosted and co-chaired by SIWI, are honoured to be official co-coordinators of the MPGCA (Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Agenda) at COP24.

Along with other partners, we have organised several climate resilient water related events. See our activities on our SIWI at COP webpage, and follow our activities on social media using #SIWIatCOP.

Learn more about AGWA here.

View the UNFCCC’s MPGCA webpage.

Visit the COP24 event page.

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Excerpt:

Maggie White is Senior Manager - International. Policies, Swedish Water House

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African Countries Deserve an Enhanced Climate Ambitionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/african-countries-deserve-enhanced-climate-ambition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=african-countries-deserve-enhanced-climate-ambition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/african-countries-deserve-enhanced-climate-ambition/#respond Tue, 04 Dec 2018 14:07:23 +0000 Robert Muthami http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159021 Robert Muthami is a Programme Coordinator at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Kenya Office. He coordinates work around socio-ecological transformation

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Credit: Benny Jackson on Unsplash

By Robert Muthami
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 2018 (IPS)

African countries have been at the climate-change negotiating table for more than 20 years. The continent faces some of the most severe impacts of climate change, but questions remain over its adaptive capacity despite this engagement.

African civil society organizations, trade unions and governments have advocated for three main means of implementation: climate finance for adaptation and mitigation; technology transfer; and capacity building.

The latter is aimed at facilitating and enhancing the ability of individuals, organizations and institutions in African countries to identify, plan and implement ways to adapt and mitigate to climate change. African countries are participating in the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change (UNFCCC) currently taking place in Katowice, Poland from 2 to 14 December.

Through the Paris Work Programme (PAWP) expected to be adopted in Poland, African countries expect that COP 24 will deliver on the continent’s expectations with regards to facilitating climate resilience.

Climate finance for adaptation and mitigation
Climate change is impacting all economies in Africa, a continent highly dependent on agriculture. The impact is increasing the already high inequality, as resources meant for investment in social amenities are being channelled into climate-change adaptation.

In this case, due to climate change related disasters like droughts and flooding, there is an adverse impact on agricultural production—namely food insecurity. Therefore, resources meant to provide other services like universal and affordable health care, expansion of infrastructure and other social services for the poor are channelled to climate change response initiatives.

Panel Discussion for Kenyan Delegation Reflecting on the Progress of Agenda Items after UNFCCC-SB48. Credit: FES Kenya

During the COP 16, the world’s developed countries agreed to mobilize 100 billion US dollars per year by the year 2020 for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. This is still a pipe dream as only 10 billion US dollars have been mobilized so far since the establishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in 2006 to date.

Additionally, African countries continue to face difficulties in accessing the funds as they are on a perpetual treadmill of paperwork to even qualify to receive any of the funds earmarked for them. Is imperative of global social justice that this funding be fast-tracked.

As countries head to Poland, African nations approach the negotiations with the hope that issues dealing with transparency and accountability on climate financing will be made clearer and smoother.

Otherwise, African countries will be obliged to divert more domestic resources to meeting their commitments under their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), which could affect other development priorities.

If promised international funding is not forthcoming and the shortfall needs to be made up from scarce domestic resources, this can mean these resources are no longer available at national level for example for social protection measures or food security. The decision in Poland should therefore be clear on provision, transparency and accountability of climate financing.

Technology transfer and capacity building
Many adaptation and mitigation solutions will require technology as well as financing, for the purposes of innovation and upscaling across various sectors. Technology transfer, therefore, is critical for African countries.

One of the concerns for African countries is the sheer lack of capacity to implement new technologies for climate-change responses. But Africa has the potential to also transfer technology to the north if the existing low carbon technologies that incorporate the already existing indigenous knowledge of African countries are expanded.

Therefore, a provision for reverse transfer from South to North with regard to technology should also be provided. At the moment the discussion is being handled as North–South transfer only.

Robert Muthami engaging Kenyan Participants during the Post UNFCCC-SB48 Reflection Workshop. Credit: FES Kenya

Africa is also cautious of becoming a testing ground for new technologies. Therefore, technologies from the north should be tried and tested before being transferred to Africa—for example short-lived solar panel technologies that end up being very expensive in the long run—a key issue that needs to be part of the discussions at COP 24.

Finally, the means of implementation, especially climate finance and capacity building on uptake and implementation, are critical for technology transfer to work in Africa.

Climate change needs to be tackled on a global level and in a just manner
The climate-change crisis is now being felt in developed countries. As Europe and America battle wildfires amid massive heat waves over the past year, the impact in Africa is felt even stronger.

The increasing frequency of droughts and flooding, and consequently increased risk of violent conflict in already volatile regions, present a major threat to livelihoods on the African continent. Looking ahead to Poland, it is the hope of African countries that these impacts will be reflected in the outcome document.

Lastly, as parties move towards operationalization of the Paris Agreement, it is important to ensure that the commitments towards promoting decent work and a just transition are properly articulated in the Paris Work Programme.

This is key because climate change is already having significant impacts on the world of work in Africa. Over 60 per cent of Africa’s economically active population works in and lives off the agricultural sector, which is adversely affected by climate change.

The transition to low-carbon economies offers great potential for green jobs creation, in areas such as the renewable-energy sector. This transition process however means that current existing jobs that do not offer sustainable production methods will be at a risk. It is important to ensure that this transition happens in a socially just and inclusive manner.

Therefore, a socially and ecologically just outcome from COP 24 must take into consideration the African demands on the means of implementation (climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building) for adaptation and mitigation as well as the necessity of a just transition.

This outcome should also facilitate the realization of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially goals 8, 10 and 13, which focus on promoting decent work, addressing inequality and climate action.

*For more information on the work by FES in Kenya visit the country office website and follow the official Facebook fan page.

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Excerpt:

Robert Muthami is a Programme Coordinator at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Kenya Office. He coordinates work around socio-ecological transformation

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Migrants Send Record Amounts to Home Countries, but Overall Poverty Pertainshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/migrants-send-record-amounts-home-countries-overall-poverty-pertains/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrants-send-record-amounts-home-countries-overall-poverty-pertains http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/migrants-send-record-amounts-home-countries-overall-poverty-pertains/#respond Fri, 30 Nov 2018 14:24:32 +0000 Daan Bauwens http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158957 At the end of this year, migrants will have sent 466 billion dollars to family and friends in their countries of origin. Despite this record amount these remittances have little to no effect on the dire economic state of affairs in those home countries. Earlier this week in Brussels, a group of experts convened to […]

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In the popular municipality of Estación Central, in Santiago de Chile, a Haitian hairdresser has established a barber shop where Creole is spoken and the nationals are served. At the end of this year, migrants will have sent 466 billion dollars to family and friends in their countries of origin. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

By Daan Bauwens
BRUSSELS, Nov 30 2018 (IPS)

At the end of this year, migrants will have sent 466 billion dollars to family and friends in their countries of origin. Despite this record amount these remittances have little to no effect on the dire economic state of affairs in those home countries. Earlier this week in Brussels, a group of experts convened to think of ways to make the sent money work in a way that benefits more than just a few lucky families. 

Though relatively stable as a percentage of the world population, there have never been more migrants than today. Out of the one billion people that moved away from their places of birth, some 258 million have found a place abroad while 760 million remained within their own states. Despite it being a heated political debate in the global North, only one third of all international migration is directed from South to North. The overall majority, some 100 million people, move between states in the global South.

These numbers were presented by Laura Palatini, Belgium and Luxemburg’s mission chief for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Palatini was the first of five speakers on an international conference, organised by IOM, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), several Brussels municipalities and local and international NGOs at the Brussels Parliament this Tuesday.

These one billion migrants each year send home approximately 466 billion dollars. “It is said that if remittances would be country, it would have the right to claim its seat in the G20,” says Valéry Paternotte of Réseau Financité, a Belgian network of organisations for ethical finance, “It is three times the annual budget of development aid world-wide.”

But according to Paternotte, the numbers need a closer look. “In Belgium for instance, 38 percent of all remittances are destined to neighbour France and 4 percent for Luxembourg while Senegal, Congo, Rwanda and Bangladesh together account for less than one percent.” Then again, the estimate of 466 billion is most probably an underestimation, as not all countries are being taken into account, second and third generations are not included, nor are informal remittances – migrants travelling with envelopes, small transfer agencies and possible other unknown practices of sending money home.

Nevertheless the 6.4 billion flowing annually into Morocco is just as important for the economy as the entire phosphate sector or tourism. The nine billion dollars sent to Congo by members of the diaspora accounts for twice the country’s annual budget. Remittances are an indispensable source of income for 750 million people worldwide. Research in 71 developing countries indicates that a 10 percent rise in remittances leads to a 3.5 percent drop in the number of people living with less than one dollar a day.

Researchers on the topic agree that remittances are a stable source of income for developing countries that are not affected by economic shocks or cycles of regression and growth. Moreover, they are the first form of help that reaches regions affected by natural disasters or epidemics. This became most evident with the last ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and the recent earthquake in Nepal.

But as of yet, the money flow doesn’t lead to structural changes in the countries of origins whose economies remain in a dire state. “The first obstacle is that the money received is spent, not invested in the local economy,” says Paternotte, “and this is understandable. In the world’s least developed countries less than a quarter of adults have access to a bank account. The received money is kept under the mattress. That is a very practical but very important barrier to saving and investing in the local economy.”

Traditional banks seem not to be interested in putting up branches in developing areas, let alone rural zones in those developing areas, the expert explains. “Moreover, social projects – schools, hospitals, cooperative farms – aren’t invested in due to poor returns. That is a characteristic of the system and not very different in our own country,” the Belgian national says.

Besides that, lots of migrant communities lack financial literacy, which together with cultural factors leads to inefficiency. Pedro de Vasconcelos, manager of the Financing Facility for Remittances at IFAD in Rome, gives the example of a Filipino community in Italy.

“We found out that they couldn’t say no when someone called for money,” he says, “it’s in their culture. It was a revelation for many of them when we told them that you can refuse when there’s not a good reason. Then we began to save. Two hundred out of every thousand euros, which is a lot. With all these savings we started investing in rural areas around their home town which used to be an agricultural area but now had become an importer of food. From three farms for laying hens we quickly went to five. On Facebook, the diaspora followed everything that happened in the homeland.”

Several of the investors in Italy moved back after the project turned out a success. “Because they see that there are possibilities there. That work can be created. The Philippine government is now looking at how this project can be scaled, to achieve real economic growth through the Diaspora.”

De Vasconcelos’ example shows that remittances can play a role in reversing or even stemming migration. But according to agronomist Jean-Jacques Schul of the Belgian NGO, IDAY International, an important factor should not be overlooked: the involvement of the local government.

“Remittances carry a risk,” Schul says, “because thanks to the money from abroad, the government does not have to listen to its citizens. They can survive without the government’s support. And without a government that listens to its citizens, nobody sees a future in their own country. Which makes them leave. It is a vicious circle. ”

The solution? When it comes to any kind of transfers of funds to the South, civil society and the government must be encouraged to start a constructive dialogue.

“Provide a policy in which remittances, or at least a part of those, serve to start up projects together with the government. If development aid is made available, make sure that citizens’ movements can check where that money is going. That is hardly the case now. Only with collaboration between citizens’ movements and the government will sustainable change occur. Nobel Prize winners Amartya Sen and Angus Deaton have been proclaiming this for years, why don’t we listen?”

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Re-Defining Poverty in its Many Dimensionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/re-defining-poverty-many-dimensions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=re-defining-poverty-many-dimensions http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/re-defining-poverty-many-dimensions/#respond Thu, 29 Nov 2018 08:46:24 +0000 Carolina Rivera and Monica Jahangir http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158936 Carolina Rivera is a Research Analyst at the Human Development Report Office at UNDP and Monica Jahangir is a Policy and Advocacy Officer at the International Movement ATD Fourth World.

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Credit: UNDP/Andrea Egan

By Carolina Rivera and Monica Jahangir
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 29 2018 (IPS)

Poverty has many dimensions beyond a lack of money. The need for a better understanding of the multiple ways people experience poverty is gaining momentum, as is the importance of measuring the often – overlapping deprivations people face. Understanding both is vital for better decision making.

This has obvious parallels with human development, a full understanding of which requires considering many dimensions of life, ranging from health, education and income through voice and empowerment.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been a pioneer in developing broader measures of poverty such as the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that seeks to widen the poverty debate.

But while work on measuring poverty is now going beyond simple income-based measures, it typically focuses on, what is referred to, as the “objective aspects of poverty”. That is, it focuses on a set of tangible goods and services, without which people might be defined as poor.

Yet, poverty also has a subjective side: people can also be thought of as poor because of how they feel about important aspects of their lives – dimensions that they value.

Many now recognize the importance of considering measures of subjective well-being – most famously happiness or life satisfaction – when assessing a society’s development. This is also the case with poverty, which has many subjective elements as well.

Poverty can affect human beings in different ways, either internally (shame, humiliation for example) or externally (lack of political power and voice). Within this framework and against the backdrop of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which calls for “ending poverty in all its forms everywhere”, the International Movement ATD Fourth World and the University of Oxford are leading a conversation to redefine poverty by re-examining its key dimensions and how they interact with each other through their “Poverty in All its Forms: Determining the dimensions of poverty and how to measure them” project.

Based on the Merging of Knowledge methodology, this project is a programme of international research bringing academics and practitioners together with people, who have a direct experience of poverty, as co-researchers, putting them on an equal footing. The research starts with a peer group discussion, where people with similar backgrounds meet to discuss their experiences, knowledge and perceptions of poverty.

The different peer groups then meet to share their findings with one another and work to expand their definitions of poverty. National teams, which include academics, practitioners and people with direct experience of living in poverty, are undertaking research in Bangladesh, Bolivia, France, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Their findings will be consolidated at a national level and then brought together internationally to identify dimensions of poverty common to the South and the North.

Ranking exercise: Using the image of a stone’s ripple effect in a pond, the group prioritized their dimensions of poverty from the most (center) to the least (outskirt) impactful in people’s lives.

Recognizing the importance of this work, the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) participated in one of the peer groups, sharing its experience in defining and measuring multidimensional poverty through the human development approach with its focus on people as well as their opportunities and choices.

Human development is about giving people more freedom to lead lives they value. And that was precisely one of the starting questions: participants were asked – what were the aspects of their lives they valued the most.

Participatory research like this can challenge traditional concepts by giving a voice to people living in poverty who are arguably the greatest experts on what it is really like to be poor. The findings can redefine the way as to how public policy worldwide targets poverty eradication.

Many participants in the programme followed a traditional approach and placed basic needs at the center of their poverty hierarchy. They felt that only by meeting basic needs would human beings be able to participate in society and political life, develop professionally, connect with others, and find purpose in life.

Others had a different view. They felt the most important dimension of poverty was how individuals are perceived and whether their dignity and identity are denied. If one looks at poverty in this way, one can view the other dimensions as consequences of the (lack of) respect to their human rights.

Defining non-traditional poverty can support monitoring of both poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), allowing countries to design innovative solutions for tackling poverty in areas that are not traditional. Such areas are often neglected, at least in part because of the difficulty of measuring concepts such as identity and self-awareness, social connections, and a sense of belonging. We hope this work will raise the importance of such measures and stake a claim for them to be included in statistical data collections everywhere.

Note: The full report, presenting the nine dimensions of poverty in the United States resulting of the merging of the work of 23 peer groups including the one used as example in this blog post and those of practitioners and people living in poverty peer groups, will be available on January 29, 2019 on ATD Fourth World USA’s website. The international report will be available in September 2019.

The HDialogue blog is a platform for debate and discussion. Posts reflect the views of respective authors in their individual capacities and not the views of UNDP/HDRO.

HDRO encourages reflections on the HDialogue contributions. The office posts comments that supports a constructive dialogue on policy options for advancing human development and are formulated respectful of other, potentially differing views. The office reserves the right to contain contributions that appear divisive.

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Excerpt:

Carolina Rivera is a Research Analyst at the Human Development Report Office at UNDP and Monica Jahangir is a Policy and Advocacy Officer at the International Movement ATD Fourth World.

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It is Imperative for the Caribbean to Have a Seat at the COP24 Negotiating Tablehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/imperative-caribbean-seat-cop24-negotiating-table/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=imperative-caribbean-seat-cop24-negotiating-table http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/imperative-caribbean-seat-cop24-negotiating-table/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 13:45:41 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158904 The Caribbean will not be left out of the negotiations at COP24 – the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – that will take place from Dec. 3 to 14 in Katowice, Poland. The event will be attended by nearly 30,000 delegates from all […]

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Rising sea levels have resulted in the relocation of houses and erection of this sea defence in Layou, a town in southwestern St. Vincent. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

By Desmond Brown
ST. GEORGE’S, Nov 28 2018 (IPS)

The Caribbean will not be left out of the negotiations at COP24 – the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – that will take place from Dec. 3 to 14 in Katowice, Poland.

The event will be attended by nearly 30,000 delegates from all over the world, including heads of governments and ministers responsible for the environment and climate issues.

Two of the region’s lead negotiators say the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must be present, given that the plan for the COP24 summit to adopt a full package implementing the Paris Agreement.

“I agree with the saying that if you’re not at the table then you’re on the menu, and our priorities will suffer. We’ve got to be there to ensure that the special circumstances and unique vulnerabilities of small island states are protected. We need to be there for that,” Spencer Thomas, Grenada’s Special Envoy for Multilateral Environmental Agreements, told IPS.

“I think we need to be there to ensure that the resources are available to address the scourge of climate change, to build resilience in the Caribbean region. We need to be there to ensure that significant mitigation actions are taken in line with the 1.5 report. We need to be there to ensure that adaptation efforts are of the level to ensure that we have real activities on that line.”

The Paris Agreement is the first international agreement in history, which compels all countries in the world to take action on climate protection. The implementation package will allow for the implementation of the agreement in practice. It will thus set global climate and energy policy for the coming years.

Thomas pointed to recent devastating hurricanes and their impact on the region, saying the Caribbean must attend the COP to work towards resilience building, to make progress on; the issue of loss and damage, and the issue of technology development, especially since it relates to the changing energy sector.

“So, we need to be there to protect all of those gains that we have made so far and to consolidate our actions going forward in terms of climate action for the Caribbean,” he said.

“Resilience is key. Building resilience across the Caribbean or across all Small Island Developing States is a key issue we need to be working on at the COP.”

Thomas said the Paris Agreement is a framework agreement, setting out the platform for global action on climate change.

He said the Paris Agreement deals specifically with the framework for mitigation, but also has a framework for adaptation, a framework for loss and damage, a framework for gender, a framework for agriculture, one for transparency, and it also has a technology framework.

“In my view, what needs to be done now is for us to elaborate and to implement those frameworks and to create the rules and guidelines for those frameworks,” Thomas explains.

“So, in a sense, it is the platform for going forward. It changed the dynamics of the previous negotiations and it has centralised the issues, to the extent that all parties now, all countries have taken a commitment based on their own domestic situation to deal with the issue of climate change.”

Meanwhile, Leon Charles, Advisor in Grenada’s Ministry of Environment, said there are two outcomes that will result from the 2018 negotiations.

He said the first is the elaboration of the framework for implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“The last two years we spent elaborating on what are these day-to-day rules to implement the agreement. So, for example, in terms of the national contributions of countries, we’re negotiating how should these contributions be defined; what information should be presented so that we can actually measure that people have done what they said they are going to do. Then how do you report on what you said you’re going to do, how is it validated and so on,” Charles told IPS.

“There’s a system called the compliance system for example, how do we measure whether or not countries have delivered what they said they were going to deliver, and more importantly, what’s going to happen to those who have not met their targets. We’re supposed to come up with something that’s facilitative and should help them in future years to improve their targets.”

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa says with the devastating impacts of climate change increasingly evident throughout the world, it’s crucial that parties achieve the primary goal of the COP24: finalising the Paris Agreement Work Programme.

This will not only unleash the full potential of the Paris Agreement, but send a signal of trust that nations are serious about addressing climate change, she said.

Like Thomas, Charles agrees that it is important that the Caribbean is represented at the COP24.

“If we want to be successful and get the 2018 outputs to reflect what’s important for us, we have to participate,” he said.

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Asia-Pacific Takes Stock of Ambitious Development Targetshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/asia-pacific-takes-stock-ambitious-development-targets/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=asia-pacific-takes-stock-ambitious-development-targets http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/asia-pacific-takes-stock-ambitious-development-targets/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 05:16:58 +0000 Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana and Natalia Kanem 2 http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158909 Ministers and senior policymakers across Asia and the Pacific are gathered in Bangkok this week to focus on population dynamics at a crucial time for the region. Their goal: to keep people and rights at the heart of the region’s push for sustainable development. They will be considering how successful we have been in balancing […]

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By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana and Natalia Kanem
BANGKOK, Thailand, Nov 28 2018 (IPS)

Ministers and senior policymakers across Asia and the Pacific are gathered in Bangkok this week to focus on population dynamics at a crucial time for the region. Their goal: to keep people and rights at the heart of the region’s push for sustainable development. They will be considering how successful we have been in balancing economic growth with social imperatives, underpinned by rights and choices for all as enshrined in the landmark Programme of Action stemming from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, or ICPD.

In the Programme of Action, diverse views on population, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, and sustainable development merged into a remarkable global consensus that placed individual dignity and human rights at the heart of development.

Truly revolutionary at the time, ICPD remains all the more urgent and relevant a quarter-century later, in this era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its Sustainable Development Goals. Without ICPD we would not have the SDGs, and indeed they go hand in hand. The ICPD is a dedicated vehicle through which we can – and will – address, achieve and fulfill the SDGs.

How well have we responded to trends such as population ageing and international migration? How successful have we been in ensuring optimal sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for all, including the right to choose when or whether to get married and when or whether to have children, and how many? How well have we done in strengthening gender equality and women’s empowerment, and upholding the rights of the most vulnerable among us? Where should our efforts be refocused to leave no one behind?

Asia and the Pacific has much to celebrate. The region remains the engine of global growth and at the forefront of the global fight against poverty. It is now home to half the world’s middle class. The share of the population living in poverty has dropped considerably although it is still unacceptably high. People are living, longer healthier lives. Rights-based family planning has contributed to considerable economic success and women’s empowerment. And we are on track to achieve universal education by 2030.

Yet for all this growth, considerable injustices remain. On its current trajectory, the region will fall short of achieving the 2030 Agenda. In several areas we are heading in altogether the wrong direction. Inequalities within and between countries are widening. Some 1.2 billion people live in poverty of which 400 million live in extreme poverty. Lack of decent job opportunities and access to essential services are perpetuating injustice across generations.

At the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), we are keen to shine the spotlight on three key issues where regional commitment is vital.

First, we need to respond to the unprecedented population changes unfolding across the Asia-Pacific region. Many countries are facing a rapidly ageing population. The proportion of people above the age of sixty is expected to more than double by 2050. Effectively meeting the needs of an ageing society and ensuring healthy and productive lives must be a priority. This requires a life cycle approach – from pregnancy and childbirth, through adolescence and adulthood, to old age – ensuring that all people are allowed to fulfil their socioeconomic potential, underpinned by individual rights and choices.

Equally, there is a strong case for strengthening Asia-Pacific’s response to international migration. Migrants can, when allowed, contribute significantly to development. However, we know that migrants are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. So, our ambition is for discussions this week to build further momentum in support of safe, orderly and regular migration to fully harness its development benefits.

Second, there is clear evidence the region must spend more on social protection, as well as on health care and education. Today, social protection is the preserve of a few, rather than a right for all. As a result, 60 per cent of our population are at risk of being trapped in vulnerability or pushed into poverty by sickness, disability, unemployment or old age, often underpinned by gender inequality. The “Social Outlook for Asia and the Pacific: Poorly Protected”, which ESCAP will publish later this week, sets out why expanding social protection is the most effective means of reducing poverty, strengthening rights and making vulnerable groups less exposed. Many women, migrants, older persons and rural communities would also benefit. Our evidence suggests it could even end extreme poverty in several countries by 2030.

Third, we need to invest in generating disaggregated data to tell us who is being left behind to ensure our response to population dynamics is targeted and credible. Availability of data on social and demographic issues lag far behind anything related to the economy. Millions of births remain unregistered, leading to the denial of many basic rights, particularly to women and girls. Of the 43 countries which conducted a census between 2005 and 2014, only 16 have reliable data on international migration. With the 2020 round of censuses upon us, we will be redoubling our efforts to close these data gaps by strengthening new partnerships for data capacity and working with governments and other partners to translate data into policy and action.

The Midterm Review of the Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development as well as the Committee on Social Development provide the region with an opportunity to speak with one voice on population and development issues. ESCAP and UNFPA stand united in their commitment to supporting their Member States to build and strengthen a regional response to issues that will shape the future for generations to come.

We look to this week’s discussions to galvanize countries behind the ambition and vision that link ICPD and the SDGs and accelerate work to leave no one behind in Asia and the Pacific.

Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

Dr. Natalia Kanem is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

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Youth Create Businesses that Are Geared to Protecting the Environmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/youth-create-businesses-geared-protecting-environment/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=youth-create-businesses-geared-protecting-environment http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/youth-create-businesses-geared-protecting-environment/#respond Tue, 27 Nov 2018 08:04:34 +0000 Ahn Mi Young http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158880 An organic pesticide safe for farmers and the environment, and carbonised fuel briquettes made from agricultural waste materials and organic waste are all business ideas that promote a green economy. The entrepreneurs who started these businesses are among the winners of this year’s ‘Greenprenuers’ Programme, which is designed by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) […]

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Brian Kakembo Galabuzi who founded Waste to Energy Youth Enterprise (WEYE) Clean Energy Company Ltd in Uganda which makes carbonised fuel briquettes from agricultural waste materials and organic waste. In Africa, over 640 million people have no access to electricity, with many relying on dirty sources of energy sources for heating, cooking and lighting. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Ahn Mi Young
SEOUL, Nov 27 2018 (IPS)

An organic pesticide safe for farmers and the environment, and carbonised fuel briquettes made from agricultural waste materials and organic waste are all business ideas that promote a green economy.

The entrepreneurs who started these businesses are among the winners of this year’s ‘Greenprenuers’ Programme, which is designed by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) to supercharge green growth start-ups. It was run with GGGI, Youth Climate Labs and Student Energy (SE).

The programme helps young entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas “take their idea from concept to business plan, for a solution that positively impacts the future of sustainable energy; water and sanitation; sustainable landscapes (forestry and agriculture); or green city development.”

“It was very amazing to be selected among the 10 finalists out of over 345 applicants from around the world,” said Brian Kakembo Galabuzi who founded Waste to Energy Youth Enterprise (WEYE) Clean Energy Company Ltd in Uganda. It makes carbonised fuel briquettes from agricultural waste materials and organic waste.

In Uganda, 80 percent of solid waste is organic and can be used to produce cheaper and cleaner cooking charcoal briquettes that can substitute firewood.

The prize winner told IPS how he addressed the grassroots challenges he experienced with GGGI’s help.

He said like many young start-ups his biggest challenge was the lack of adequate finance, and limited experience that resulted in a process of trial and error.

“In the beginning, our targets were not that high so it was easy to achieve them, but through the ‘Greenprenuers’ programme we have learned to set bold targets and stand by them until we can achieve them,” said Galabuzi

Galabuzi added that ‘Greenprenuers’ helps with the two-most crucial requirements for the green growth start-ups: “It offers the right skills and knowledge through its 10-week web-based programme, and which is accompanied by an opportunity to win seed funding at the end of the programme.”

Galabuzi also explained that the programme helped him develop a well-structured business plan. “GGGI has also provided the seed funding through the ‘Greenprenuers’ programme, which has availed us finances to test out our business plan in a field seen as high risk by financing institutions in Uganda.”

Winners of this year’s ‘Greenprenuers’ Programme, which is designed by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) to supercharge green growth start-ups.

Students of the programme were also given an opportunity to receive free consultations and be mentored by experts around the world who have built and run their won successful companies and organisations.

“This is something we would have paid a lot of money to get access to in conferences and training workshops, but we got for free,” said Galabuzi.

Meanwhile, the award came as a surprise to Jonathan Kent Sorensen, who is from Bumdest in Indonesia. His company produces CountrySide, an organic pesticide that is safe for both the environment and farmers.

Sorensen said through the module training his company was able to specify their target market and reach out to prospective customers. “Through this process, we could determine our package size to fit the local need, then to reasonably determine our prices,” he told IPS.

Thanks to the programme, Sorensen’s team secured an agreement for the field test with a local agriculture company. “If it was not because of ‘Greenprenuers’, we might never [have taken] the practical step to turn our research idea to a business idea,” said Sorensen.

Sirey Sum and Aaron Sexton from Cambodian Green Infrastructure (CGI) Social Enterprise also agreed that the 10-week course was helpful in turning their idea into a business.

CGI planned to work with the capital city of Phnom Penh to address stormwater and urban green space issues.

After decades of economic growth, Phnom Penh faces stormwater flooding and has very few urban green spaces.

“[The] lean startup model helped us to develop, and quickly adjust our business plan,” Sum told IPS.

Finally, the prize winners shared their future vision to take the next step.

Galabuzi said that for his company this would be to collaborate with the GGGI-Uganda office to take his idea to public institutions first, and hopefully later to  private intuitions.

“Through these collaboration, we can replicate this model to save the forest in Uganda. Also, it is essential to have access to affordable financing options,” he said.

“Youth unemployment in Uganda is so high yet the youth have great business ideas that if supported can create more jobs and boost the country’s economy. We need programmes like ‘Greenpreneurs’ to give us a platform to grow these ideas better into bankable projects or businesses,” he added.

Sorensen said that the next step for his company was to conduct a field test and to build a pilot plant with the seed capital. “It is essential for our start-up to have the right marketing method to the local farmers. In doing so, we think that we should work with local government agencies to convince that our product is worth to try.”

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‘What Fish Can Do for the WTO’http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/fish-can-wto/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fish-can-wto http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/fish-can-wto/#respond Mon, 26 Nov 2018 19:33:09 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158882 Fish will soon be off the menu, unless global leaders strike a deal ending multi-billion dollar harmful fisheries subsidies blamed for threatening world fish stocks and widening the inequitable use of marine resources. The inaugural Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, which opened in the Kenyan capital today, heard of the urgency for global leaders to reach […]

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Government squads demolish illegal stake net prawn enclosures on the Chilka Lagoon in eastern India in this picture dated 2010. / Credit:Manipadma Jena/IPS

By Busani Bafana
NAIROBI, Nov 26 2018 (IPS)

Fish will soon be off the menu, unless global leaders strike a deal ending multi-billion dollar harmful fisheries subsidies blamed for threatening world fish stocks and widening the inequitable use of marine resources.

The inaugural Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, which opened in the Kenyan capital today, heard of the urgency for global leaders to reach an agreement that will end subsidies to the global fisheries industries, which in 2016 generated value in excess of 360 billion dollars.

Convened by Kenya, co-hosted by Canada and Japan, the conference attracted over 18,000 participants to discuss ways of harnessing the potential of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers in improving livelihood epically of people in developing states. Over 3 billion people worldwide depend on fisheries for food, income and jobs.

The world has rallied around the enormous pressures facing our oceans and waters, from plastic pollution to the impacts of climate change. The conference builds on the momentum of the United Nations’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris and the U.N. Ocean Conference 2017 “Call to Action”.

However, fisheries subsidies, some introduced more than 50 years ago, have become a sore point in the harvesting, trade and consumption of fish in the oceans, which technically no one owns.

Since 2001, global leaders have been haggling about certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. Since 2001, negotiations have been on to eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Global fisheries subsidies are estimated at 20 billion dollars a year.

World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations on fisheries subsidies were launched in 2001 at the Doha Ministerial Conference, with a mandate to “clarify and improve”, existing WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies. That mandate was elaborated in 2005 at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference, including a call for prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.

Roberto Zapata Barradas, Chair, WTO Rules Negotiating Group and Mexico’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO says that negotiations have been on to eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing needs to be reached by December. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

Most recently, at the 2017 Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference (MC11), ministers decided on a work programme to conclude the negotiations. They have aimed to adopt, at the 2019 Ministerial Conference, an agreement on fisheries subsidies. The agreement should deliver on Sustainable Development Goal 14.6 on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Fishing paradox

Sticking points on the negotiation include the need for including appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing country members and least developed country members in the negotiations. While the aim is to stop subsidies that deplete the natural capital of fish stocks, rules for harmful subsidies have to be framed as having the potential to deliver a win-win situation for trade, the environment and development.

Stephen de Boer, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the WTO, said the agreement is not about maintaining the credibility of the WTO but about fish and tackling development challenges.

“Canada is concerned that we have little time to get this done and there is wider divergence of issues,” de Boer told IPS. “My fear is there is not enough concern about the fish but we are spending too much time on old positions and not showing the flexibility to reach an agreement. Negotiators need to have discussions outside the WTO to the broader public from fisher communities to civil society to put pressure on us.”

An agreement must be reached in December, Roberto Zapata Barradas, Chair, WTO Rules Negotiating Group and Mexico’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO, told IPS.

“I am happy with the level of engagement that the delegates are showing in Geneva,” said Barradas. “There is still a lot of doubts and concerns as to what the outcome is going to be but it is about having a good process to ventilate those positions and trying to find middle ground and areas of convergence.”

Zapata agrees the time to cobble together an agreement is tight but that the 164 WTO members need to be creative in opening the necessary space in Geneva to achieve agreement.

Peter Nyongesa Wekesa, Fisheries Expert at the Secretariat of the 79- member African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) said there are good subsidies that reinforce good management of resources enabling spending on research, stock assessment, training and removing excess capacity from the fisheries like buying back excess vessels in the industry.

“The bad subsidies are those throwing money for fuel, building new vessels to continue catching fish when you know that stocks are not in good shape. These serve no purpose because you are worse off outcome for the same money that you are spending.

“We are looking at the complexity of the countries but we do not want subsidies that support IUU fishing and contribute to over fishing. Fisheries are extremely important to the ACP for food, nutritional security, exports and employment. For some small islands countries fish exports account for 50 percent of their commodities trade.”

Saving fish today for the future

Ernesto Fernandez, from the Pew Charitable Trust, says addressing the challenges of fish resources is the most important step governments could take in 2019 to ensure the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on the fishing trade.

“Instead of saying what WTO should do for fish we might reverse and think what the fish can do for WTO,” Monge said.

Oceans contribute 1.5 trillion dollars per year to the global economy, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that 60 million people are directly employed in the fisheries industry many in small-scale operations in developing countries.

The global fish production in 2016 reached an all-time high of 171 million tons, of which 88 percent was for human consumption, said José Graziano da Silva FAO Director-General in the 2018 State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture report. While the value of global fish exports in 2017 rose to 152 billion dollars with 54 percent originating from developing countries.

2019, deal or no deal?

Should we reach Christmas 2019 without a deal, what next?

“I am not factoring in that possibility. I am fully focused on reaching an agreement,” Zapata told IPS.

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‘A Turtle is Worth More Alive Than Dead’http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/turtle-worth-alive-dead/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=turtle-worth-alive-dead http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/turtle-worth-alive-dead/#respond Mon, 26 Nov 2018 13:30:13 +0000 Nalisha Adams http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158874 On the north-eastern shores of Trinidad and Tobago, on the shoreline of Matura, more than 10,000 leatherback turtles climb the beaches to nest each year. But there the local community is keenly area of one thing: ‘a turtle alive is worth more than a turtle dead.” It’s a lesson the community learned almost three decades […]

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A leatherback turtle on the beach. Communities in Trinidad and Tobago are actively conserving the leatherback. Courtesy: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region Follow/CC by 2.0

By Nalisha Adams
NAIROBI, Nov 26 2018 (IPS)

On the north-eastern shores of Trinidad and Tobago, on the shoreline of Matura, more than 10,000 leatherback turtles climb the beaches to nest each year. But there the local community is keenly area of one thing: ‘a turtle alive is worth more than a turtle dead.”

It’s a lesson the community learned almost three decades ago when the government of Trinidad and Tobago first created a tour guide training course in the north-eastern region. Dennis Sammy, Treasurer of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), also a community leader from Matura, was part of the course. But instead of just working as tour guides, the community had a bigger vision of conservation, at a time when people were “killing lots of turtles”.

The area of Matura is one of the few places in the world where the leatherback turtles nest. Sammy tells IPS that it is also easily accessible via a beach road, something which places the turtles at risk to poachers.

But in four years the community residents, who had formed a conservation organisation, were able to stop the slaughter of turtles, Sammy tells IPS. The residents themselves had been part of the problem initially, he adds.

“They changed because the community became part of the solution.”

By 2000, the population of turtles rose as a result of the conservation efforts, thereby creating a problem for local fishers as up to 30 turtles a day became caught in their nets.

Now, ecotourism is practiced and people pay to come watch the turtles nesting.

Sammy is one of the participants at the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, which is currently being held in Kenya and spoke to IPS alongside a side event on blue enterprises.

He uses the above example of turtle conservation as a key example of a community-led intuitive during the discussion on the blue enterprise titled “SIDS inclusive economic development through community-led conservation and social enterprise”.

“We have seen one turtle, by documenting and tagging it, come up so many times and we have been able to identify the number of people seeing this turtle. And we have traced back the value that these people pay to come and look at this turtle, and it’s a very high value,” Sammy says.

He explains that this is clear to the local communities that, “a turtle is worth more alive than dead”.

Nicole Leotaud, Executive Director of CANARI, a non-profit technical institute which facilities and promotes participatory natural resource management, says that in order to engage further community engagement, the Local Green-Blue Enterprise Radar, a tool that engages small enterprises by questioning them about their sustainability.

The radar is a list of questions, with each question being an indicator related to the SDGs. It looks particularly at poverty, environmental sustainability, well-being, and good governance.

This happens through a facilitated process where each and every member of the enterprise, not just business leaders, are asked probing questions.

“The blue economy and green economy are very top-down concepts being imposed on us. How do we make it real and how do we involve local communities and recognise small and micro enterprises as part of economic development?

“Very much you are hearing about big sectors, tourism and shipping and [seabed] mining and how do you involve the real enterprises that are there and always doing it?”

Nicole Leotaud, Executive Director of CANARI, a non-profit technical institute which facilities and promotes participatory natural resource management. Credit: Nalisha Adams/IPS

CANARI asked the questions how local, rural and marginalised communities could become part of the movement that was not only delivering economic benefits to communities but also asked how these communities could practice environmental sustainability.

“The radar is really designed for community enterprises that are using natural resources,” Leotard tells IPS.

“They are already starting to make changes. We are not telling them to make changes, it is a self-discovery.”

Leotaud explains that the organisation Grande Riviera Turtle Conservation experienced a similar process of discovery.

“One community enterprise working on turtle conservation have big tanks where they keep baby turtles, if these have been born in the day,” Leotaud says. She says thanks to the radar, the organisation then looked into not merely conserving turtles but also conserving water and using renewable energy.

“They said can we think about renewable energy. It would not only be good for the environment but it would be a steady energy supply because [they are based] in a remote village where they are cut off [from electricity] all the time.

“They realised that they can do better in terms of energy and water. And they realised they have a few powerful leaders but they are not doing enough to engage other members of the enterprise and bring them in, they are not doing enough to build partnerships,” says Leotaud.

“They said: ‘Ah now we see how we are part of the blue economy.’”

Mitchell Lay of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation says that in order to help community enterprises become part of the blue economy and to become even stronger, the actors already operating in the space have to be recognised.

The small fisheries sector, he says has “across the globe operating in the aqua environment over 90 million individuals. In the Caribbean region, the Caribbean community alone, we have in excess of 150,000 operating in the entire production already in the blue economy space.”

He says their contributions should be recognised. These contributions include “not only to SDG 14, but to the other SDGs. Their contribution to eradicating poverty, in terms of job creation, their contribution to human health and wellness. The contribution to ending hunger.”

Lay says support is critical because of the nature of the enterprises as they are small and micro and that their sustainable development needed to be promoted.

“So support from a policy perspective, support from other perspectives as well, capacity development etc.”

Meanwhile Leotaud says that “Community enterprises especially because they are informal they are marginalised. They are not part of the decision making they are not part of the discussion. So how can we get them to feel a part of this movement, for them to make their own transformation? And for them to call on governments?”

She explains more enabling policies were needed and that CANARI was working on building a more enabling environment for the micro enterprises.

She says that community enterprises don’t have access to finance, and that the technical capacity available in countries for enterprise development was not tailored for them.

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Global, Inclusive Partnerships Essential for the Future Sustainability of our Oceans and Seashttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/global-inclusive-partnerships-essential-future-sustainability-oceans-seas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-inclusive-partnerships-essential-future-sustainability-oceans-seas http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/global-inclusive-partnerships-essential-future-sustainability-oceans-seas/#respond Sat, 24 Nov 2018 08:40:44 +0000 Lisa Stadelbauer http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158838 Lisa Stadelbauer is the High Commissioner-designate of Canada to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda; the Ambassador-designate to Somalia, Burundi; and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nairobi. She is a career diplomat with over 25 years in the Canadian Foreign Service.

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Djibouti, situated at the Horn of Africa, has an increasing network of ocean ports. The blue economy is about the shipping industry, which is essential to trade; tourism and recreation. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By Lisa Stadelbauer
NAIROBI, Nov 24 2018 (IPS)

Throughout history, oceans, seas, lakes and rivers have provided life and livelihoods to people around the world. Today, they are a multi-trillion-dollar global economy supporting hundreds of millions of people and helping drive economic growth in all corners of the world.

But the true potential of the blue economy has not been fully captured.

In Canada, we understand the importance of water. Not only does Canada have the largest coastline in the world, we border three oceans and hold 20 percent of the world’s freshwater resources. Our waters also drive a marine economy which supports roughly 350,000 jobs and contributes close to 35 billion Canadian dollars to our country’s GDP.

Crucially though, with proper stewardship, those waters have also come to play a key role in not just creating good jobs and expanding industry, but in promoting and supporting inclusivity.  As innovative projects in Canada have shown, we can preserve the marine environment and improve livelihoods at the same time. Indigenous communities have a special relationship with our waters, and their stewardship, cultures and knowledge are helping to keep our lake, river and ocean ecosystems healthy.

Canada made the blue economy a cornerstone of its G7 presidency this year, shepherding the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas, and Resilient Coastal Communities and the Oceans Plastics Charter. We invited countries from outside the G7 – including Kenya – for a dedicated conversation on oceans. Additionally, last week Canada held its first leader to leader engagement with the Pacific Islands Forum where Prime Minister Trudeau demonstrated Canada’s continued commitment to supporting those countries faced with the existential and immediate threat of climate change. We see the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference as a natural extension of our work, and when approached to co-host the conference with Kenya, we had no hesitation in accepting.

Furthermore, this conference will help us continue the important work of meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goals five and fourteen, in particular, emphasise the importance of achieving gender equality, and conserving and sustainably utilising the oceans, seas and marine resources. It is our hope that the conference serves to reinforce our collective implementation of this critical agenda.

We are thrilled that a global conference of this magnitude and importance is taking place in Africa, where the potential for the blue economy is enormous.  Almost three quarters of African countries have a coastline or are themselves islands, and the total continental coastline is over 47,000 km.  When we add the riches of African rivers and lakes, we can understand the impact that a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable blue economy can have on communities.

Lisa Stadelbauer is the High Commissioner-designate of Canada to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda; the Ambassador-designate to Somalia, Burundi; and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nairobi.

When we say “blue economy” we are not only talking about fish. We are also talking about the shipping industry, which is essential to trade; tourism and recreation, which is so important to the Kenyan economy; and energy. The International Energy Agency says ocean renewable energy can potentially supply more than four times current global energy demand. Canada is a leader in harnessing tidal power, and Africa could look to do the same, complementing other exciting work in renewable energy on the continent, such as wind, solar and geo-thermal. 

But it is important to remember that this is not just an African conference, it is a global conference. Oceans and seas know no boundaries and successfully harnessing their potential can only be done with global co-operation. It would be a short-sighted to think otherwise. 

Canada’s contribution of two million dollars will help ensure the meaningful participation of delegates from seventy Small Island Developing States and other developing countries representing governments, academia, and civil society organisations, with a strong focus on women leaders in the sector.   

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference is special in that it is the first conference to bring scientists, innovators, businesses, academics and civil society together with heads of state, ministers and policymakers in one forum around these issues.  It is a chance for people from all over the world to exchange ideas, experiences and the latest scientific advances and innovative solutions to allow us to conserve and sustain the waters that underpin the blue economy as we look at the same time to use them help spread wealth and prosperity. 

There is often a misunderstanding that economic growth and environmental protection must be mutually exclusive. This is far from the case with the blue economy, as innovative projects and initiatives from all parts of the world have shown, and will be showcased at the conference.

Canada also sees this conference as an opportunity to promote a stronger role and voice for women in the blue economy. We cannot expect to reap the benefits of the blue economy if half of the population is left behind. Research shows that 85 percent of workers in the ocean economy in the Global South are women, but very few of them are in senior or leadership positions. We need to make sure that their voices and ideas are heard, and that they are able to access high value jobs, in all sectors of the blue economy.

In 2017, Canada launched its first ever Feminist International Assistance Policy. In short, women and girls are at the heart of Canada’s approach to development. The policy recognises that supporting gender equality is the best way to build a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world.  So, Canada’s vision for the blue economy is one that is transformative and inclusive. Investments in the blue economy should ensure that the benefits of this economic growth are equally distributed, including amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised people.

Meaningful youth employment is critical for the success of our economies, and we think that the blue economy offers real opportunities to create good jobs, and harness the creativity, energy, and innovation of young minds. 

Canada is supporting the Youth Pre-Conference, and a side event at the conference itself focused on Women of the Blue Economy, to broaden and highlight the discussion on inclusion. We also hope that the issue of gender in particular will be raised in all conference panels. 

The blue economy has the potential to support and improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world in both developed and developing countries.  Under good global stewardship, it can also be environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically prosperous for all.

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference is a global first and a chance to lay the foundations for a sustainable, inclusive and prosperous future involving our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers. We must make sure that together we take that opportunity. Now is the time for action

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Excerpt:

Lisa Stadelbauer is the High Commissioner-designate of Canada to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda; the Ambassador-designate to Somalia, Burundi; and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nairobi. She is a career diplomat with over 25 years in the Canadian Foreign Service.

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