Inter Press ServiceGreen Economy – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 17 Oct 2018 15:43:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 A New IFC Vision for Greening Banks in Emerging Marketshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/new-ifc-vision-greening-banks-emerging-markets/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-ifc-vision-greening-banks-emerging-markets http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/new-ifc-vision-greening-banks-emerging-markets/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 11:26:02 +0000 Philippe Le Houerou http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158182 Philippe Le Houérou is President, International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank affiliate

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The Benban Solar Park will provide fast-growing Egypt with the clean energy it needs to drive economic growth sustainably. Credit: Dominic Chavez/World Bank

By Philippe Le Houérou
WASHINGTON DC, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

The International Finance Corporation is rapidly greening its portfolio.

This past fiscal year, 36 percent of our own accounts and mobilization supported climate-smart projects — up from 12 percent a decade ago. Since May, we have been applying a carbon price to all project finance investments in the cement, chemicals, and thermal power sectors, at $40-80 per metric ton.

And in less than a decade we, along with other development finance institutions, have become a global leader in creating the green bond market, helping to start a market that didn’t exist in 2007 and that last year totaled more than $150 billion in investments.

Yet we should do more. Over the past few years, civil society groups have been critical of IFC for supporting financial intermediaries that have coal exposures. We do not lend for the purpose of financing coal-related activities.

In the past, we have made equity investments in banks that may have exposures to such coal projects, and we have given general purpose loans to banks and those funds may have inadvertently been invested in coal projects.

In response, we have changed our policy in the past two years to vastly reduce our direct and indirect exposure to coal in new financial intermediaries projects.

For one thing, we have eliminated our general-purpose loans to any financial intermediaries; we now ring-fence about 95 percent of our lending to financial intermediaries to ensure that the financing only supports targeted areas, such as projects promoting energy efficiency, renewables, women business owners, or small and medium-sized enterprises.

We will certainly continue to lend to financial intermediaries with targeted credit lines going forward, and take equity in banks that are not engaged in financing coal projects, in support of our development mandate. We also have stepped up our work with emerging market banks on green bonds.

But the broader discussion around the vast need for climate finance and action has spurred a lot of thinking inside IFC. We have asked ourselves, how can we have a bigger impact? Would it be to never invest in, or divest ourselves of, all equity investments in financial intermediaries that have invested in coal in the past? That, indeed, is one way.

I believe there’s a different new and more impactful approach. I want to proactively seek financial intermediaries that would like our help in greening their portfolios and reducing their exposure to coal projects, which are not only bad for the environment but could also become stranded assets in the future.

I want to develop a green equity investment approach to working with financial intermediaries that formally commit upfront to reduce or, in some cases, exit all coal investments over a defined period.
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In the coming months, we will work to define the parameters of this new approach, including a framework for transparency and disclosure as well as time-bound commitments.

I strongly believe that transparency is essential to promoting accountability and ensuring good development outcomes.

On this front, I also plan to introduce a number of improvements. We will require new equity financial intermediary clients exposed to coal projects to publicly disclose their total exposure in this sector. We will also require all new financial intermediary clients exposed to high-risk projects to disclose a summary of their environmental social management systems.

In addition, we have decided to pilot a voluntary initiative with our financial intermediary clients exposed to high-risk projects for the next two years to promote disclosure of such high-risk sub-projects initiated from IFC lending, including the name, sector, and host country of the project.

I believe we must also push transparency from the regulatory angle. In this regard, we will seek to put disclosure on the agenda of the Sustainable Banking Network, which brings together banking regulators and associations from 35 countries to transform their financial markets toward environmental and social sustainability.

The experience gained through the pilot program, discussions with clients, and feedback from regulators will help us define a much better way forward on transparency.

It is our intent that this twin strategy aimed at creating incentives for financial intermediary equity clients to reduce or exit coal projects, as well as improving transparency, will result in fewer of these investments. There are no guarantees, of course.

But I believe that IFC and other development finance institutions must move urgently with new ideas to preserve our planet. We have no choice but to be bold.

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Excerpt:

Philippe Le Houérou is President, International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank affiliate

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Women & Youth Key to Achieving Agenda 2030 in South-South Cooperationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-youth-key-achieving-agenda-2030-south-south-cooperation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-youth-key-achieving-agenda-2030-south-south-cooperation http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-youth-key-achieving-agenda-2030-south-south-cooperation/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 10:52:12 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158159 Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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India and Kenya signed agreements in the field of agriculture during Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to New Delhi. Credit: G.N. Jha

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

By 2050 Africa will have 830 million young people. Many countries in the global south, India included are seeing a youth(men and women) bulge. To reap a demographic dividend countries in the global south need to share and exchange knowledge to leapfrog socio-economic transformation.

When the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Technical Cooperation Amongst Developing Countries (BAPA) was adopted, few would have predicted that only 40 years later, developing countries would be accounting for the largest levels of global economic output.

It is an acknowledgement of the fact that new pillars of growth and influence have clearly emerged from the global south that the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) stress the importance of South-South cooperation in implementing the 2030 agenda.

Goal 17 on revitalizing global partnerships for sustainable development stresses the role of South-South and Triangular Cooperation in achieving the SDGs.

South-South Cooperation (SSC) is on the rise in scale and scope. It is recognized as crucial in collective efforts to address challenges such as poverty eradication, climate change, food security, social protection, public health and infrastructure development.

SSC is seen by various development actors as a vital complement to North-South Development Cooperation. It may also represent the fertilization of a debate on how Overseas Development Aid flows relate to broader financing for development flows.

This year, 49 of the 55 member states of the African Union signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which will come into effect once 22 countries ratify it. It will be the largest free trade area that creates an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a GDP of US$2.5 trillion.

At the moment, infrastructure projects account for just over half of South-South cooperation, with China leading in this area. India is a considerable player, with projects such as the Pan African E-Network Project that will connect African countries by a satellite and a fibre-optic network for tele-education, tele–medicine, internet and videoconferencing.

Yet the feeling persists that the potential of this cooperation has not been fully leveraged, and a key topic of discourse being how south to south cooperation can contribute to sustainable development and what more needs to be done to scale-up and improve such cooperation for sustainable development.

How do we ensure that trade, investment, technology transfer and knowledge sharing address the needs of recipient countries as prioritized in their development strategies?

These are the kind of questions that will preoccupy organisations such as the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and United Nations Development Programme(UNDP). These two are leading efforts to establish the South-South Global Thinkers initiative that will enable joint research and knowledge sharing to inform global policy dialogues on South-South cooperation for the SDGs.

Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator emphasized UNDP’s role in addressing the knowledge gap that many countries face when confronting their poverty challenges and emphasized that South-South Cooperation has become a “way we conduct business on a daily basis” because it has proven to deliver results on the ground.

If we are to keep our eyes on the overall goal of the SDGs – reduction of poverty – it is time to bring support to social sectors on the same level as infrastructure. It is time for investments to target the women and youth. Empowerment of these two groups provides the quickest pathway to poverty reduction especially in Africa, with agriculture-based investments the most promising sector.

Kenya’s economy is anchored on agriculture, where 70% of the population finds its upkeep. While in many regions crop yields have remained a step ahead of population growth, helping free them of hunger and famine, Africa has not managed to keep up with this trend; the impact of new technologies has been less apparent and agricultural productivity has stagnated, and even fallen in some areas.

In Africa’s agriculture sector, two-thirds of the labour force comprises women. Unfortunately, women farmers have less access to essential inputs—land, credit, fertilizers, new technologies and extension services. As a result, their yields tend to be less than optimum.

In addition, while African women are highly entrepreneurial and own about a third of all businesses across Africa, they are more likely to be running microenterprises in the informal sector, engaging in low-value-added activities that reap marginal returns.

If south-south investments are not deliberately designed for gender-responsiveness, the development course will continue to miss out on the multiplier effect that has been so well documented regarding women’s income. Women reinvest a much higher part of their earnings in their families and communities than men, spreading wealth and creating a positive impact on future development.

The World Bank says that agriculture will be a one trillion dollar business in Africa by 2030. Is there a better way to prepare to reap from part of this business than positioning the continent’s richest resource – the youth?

In his acceptance speech as the global champion of the youth agenda at the UN General Assembly 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “progress for the youth means progress for the entire humanity”.

In Kenya for example, one million young people join the work force every year. Of these young people, only about one in five is likely to find a formal job, with the rest either being unemployed or engaged in some non-wage earning occupation.

This means that Kenya needs a million new jobs every year for the next 10 years to keep up with the rapidly-expanding youth bulge. The median age of Kenyan farmers is 61, yet the median age of the population is 18. This is a potential force that must be involved in Agriculture.

To do this, creative and sustainable ways must be found to create opportunities that will present youth with the allure and career progression currently lacking in agriculture. With one of the fastest internet penetration rates, the youth in the country can be supported to exploit information technology for various value-addition ventures in agri-business.

This can be even more useful when focusing on areas with untapped potential, such as what is now known as the Blue Economy. Africa’s economies have continued to post remarkable growth rates, largely driven by the richness of its land-based natural resources, yet 38 of the continent’s 54 states are coastal.

India and Kenya have already made initial moves in this direction. Following the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kenya two years ago, the two governments agreed to pursue initiatives in the sustainable management and extraction of ocean-based resources.

India will be sharing with Kenya expertise on space-based applications to address natural resources management and weather forecasting, expertise that can be exploited to improve food output in the country.

The rise of SSC introduces new dynamics to international development cooperation. SSC challenges traditional donor aid relationships inasmuch as it promotes economic independence and collective self-reliance of developing countries, and aspires for cooperation on the basis of equality, solidarity and mutual benefit.

There is a need to re-orient SSDC, along with international development cooperation more broadly, to adhere to norms and guidelines that consistently takes into account human rights, equity, gender equality, decent work, ecological sustainability, democratic ownership and other key elements of social justice.

As President Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future.”

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Excerpt:

Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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Helping Ethiopia Achieve Green Growth and Avoid Industrialised Nations’ Environmental Mistakeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/helping-ethiopia-achieve-green-growth-avoid-industrialised-nations-environmental-mistakes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=helping-ethiopia-achieve-green-growth-avoid-industrialised-nations-environmental-mistakes http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/helping-ethiopia-achieve-green-growth-avoid-industrialised-nations-environmental-mistakes/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 09:14:42 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158165 As Ethiopia undergoes a period of unprecedented change and reform, the Global Green Growth Institute(GGGI) is partnering with the Ethiopian government to try and ensure this vital period of transition includes the country embracing sustainable growth and avoiding the environmental mistakes made by Western nations. The basis of this effort comes from GGGI supporting the […]

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Ethiopia is not an industrialised country but is looking at alternative economic activity that allows a low-carbon economy and means of living. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By James Jeffrey
ADDIS ABABA, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

As Ethiopia undergoes a period of unprecedented change and reform, the Global Green Growth Institute(GGGI) is partnering with the Ethiopian government to try and ensure this vital period of transition includes the country embracing sustainable growth and avoiding the environmental mistakes made by Western nations.

The basis of this effort comes from GGGI supporting the Ethiopian government in the development and implementation of its Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE), a strategy launched in 2011 to achieve middle-income status while developing a green economy.

As elsewhere in Africa where GGGI is partnering with other member countries—Ethiopia was the first country to sign up among the current group of 10—the goal is to act now to enable countries to have a future comprising economic growth and poverty reduction while building resilience, promoting sustainable infrastructure and ensuring efficient management of natural resources.

“Countries like Ethiopia aren’t industrialised, so they have a chance to leapfrog in their development that means they wouldn’t follow us and make the mistakes we did when we industrialised,” Dexippos Agourides, GGGI’s head of programmes for Africa and Europe who is based in Addis Ababa, tells IPS. “We are talking about an alternative economic activity that allows a low-carbon economy and means of living.”

The global effort toward green growth gained momentum after the Paris Agreement in which signatories agreed to collectively tackle climate change through the mechanism of implementing nationally determined contributions (NDC), a country’s tailored efforts to reduce its emissions and enable it to adapt to climate change-induced challenges.

“The government has made big commitment and set very ambitious targets, so even if they only go halfway to their targets that would still be a significant achievement,” Agourides says. “There are big gaps in the plan, which is where we come in to accompany the government in this ambition.”

Hence GGGI’s 12-person team in Addis Ababa providing embedded expert and advisory technical support and capacity building to the Ethiopian government.

Their main effort is to ensure CRGE strategies and financing go toward six sectors identified as key for green growth: energy, reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, agriculture (land use and livestock), green urbanisation and cities, transport, industry and health.

Ethiopia’s goal is to act now to enable it to have a future comprising economic growth and poverty reduction while building resilience, promoting sustainable infrastructure and ensuring efficient management of natural resources. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

One example of how this looks on the ground is Ethiopia’s programme of building industrial parks becoming greener, through schemes such as waste sludge from factories being used by other industries.

Another example is Ethiopia’s ambitious programme of reforestation and management of existing forest cover, which had reduced from covering about 35 percent of the country a century ago to around 3 percent in 2000—it’s now back up to around 15 percent.

GGGI is also working with the government on adaptation plans for areas prone to drought and flash flooding that appear increasingly volatile due to climate change.

“We look at past patterns and predict who suffers and how, so we can make plans so people are not hit,” says Innocent Kabenga, GGGI’s country representative for Ethiopia.

At the same time, Kabenga notes, methods such as reusing water, hydro-power, wind and solar are all being considered as means of mitigating Ethiopia’s carbon footprint. Such a plethora of renewable energy options comes from Ethiopia having one of the most complex and variable climates in the world due to its location between various climatic systems and its diverse geographical structure.

When it comes to the often-contentious issue of more foreign funds going to Ethiopia—already one of the world’s biggest recipients of overseas aid—those at GGGI point out that it is not necessarily a case of more funds but making sure existing funding go to the right place.

At the same time, there is no getting around the financial costs involved, both for Ethiopia’s green growth goals—in 2017, GGGI helped Ethiopia access USD 135 for its programme reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, as well as access the Green Climate Fund—and for GGGI. Its budget comes from a mixture of developed and developing countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico and Indonesia, a geographic spread reflecting the nature of the challenge that GGGI is engaged with.

“These are issues that have no boundaries, that no one country can solve, which is why we need to implement these national agreements that will help the world to survive,” Kabenga says. “Western countries have more money, and it their actions [contributing to climate change] that have affected the developing world.”

Despite governmental willingness, those at GGGI acknowledge much more is needed to turn words into concrete actions, especially within the complex context of Ethiopia’s federal democracy that devolves significant power to each region.

Furthermore, each ministry involved in the CRGE must do its job, and the government policy at the federal level must be successfully transmitted to Ethiopia’s regional governments—who must then do their bit.

Tying all that together—and as the country is going through one of its most significant political upheavals in 27 years as a new prime minister attempts to initiate significant reforms throughout government and society—is no easy thing, Agourides acknowledges. But if it can be done, then the economic and environmental benefits for Ethiopia could be huge, while allowing it to avoid the pitfalls elsewhere of growth at any cost that has done untold damage to this precious planet.

“Ethiopia stands at the top of least developed countries in terms of commitment, engagement and awareness,” Agourides says. “But implementation is the issue given the size and complexity of the country.”

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Students Go Green to End Global Energy Povertyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/students-go-green-end-global-energy-poverty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=students-go-green-end-global-energy-poverty http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/students-go-green-end-global-energy-poverty/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 08:47:25 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158155 In Africa, over 640 million people – almost double the population of United States – have no access to electricity, with many relying on dirty sources of energy sources for heating, cooking and lighting. While not offering a solution to the electricity gap in Africa, Brian Kakembo Galabuzi, a Ugandan economics student, can offer a […]

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A Congolese man transports charcoal on his bicycle outside Lubumbashi in the DRC. Credit: Miriam Mannak/IPS

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe , Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

In Africa, over 640 million people – almost double the population of United States – have no access to electricity, with many relying on dirty sources of energy sources for heating, cooking and lighting.

While not offering a solution to the electricity gap in Africa, Brian Kakembo Galabuzi, a Ugandan economics student, can offer a cleaner and cheaper solution.

Galabuzi is the founder of Waste to Energy Youth Enterprise (WEYE), which is registered as a limited company that makes carbonised fuel briquettes from agricultural waste materials and organic waste.

Galabuzi got the idea after networking with other students concerned about global energy poverty at the 2015 International Student Energy Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Energy poverty is defined as the lack of adequate modern energy for cooking, warmth, lighting, and essential energy services for manufacturing, services, schools, health centres and income generation.

WEYE was created with the basic idea of commercialising grass root bio-waste to energy solutions in order to create a youth-led clean cooking transition in Uganda.

The promise of a financial income or benefit have been effective hooks to get young people to embrace sustainable energy as a source of income. The  youth promote sustainable energy because they want to earn from it, says Galabuzi.

“We believe that the benefits of sustainable energy, such as time saving, clean air, environmental conservation and good health are not what the highly-unemployed youth what to hear,” Galabuzi tells IPS.

“The majority of the world’s population is youth – of which the biggest population is unemployed. This why we designed a solution based on financial benefit (income generating opportunity) for unemployed youth and women,” he says.

Resource rich but energy poor

Africa is energy rich but nearly two thirds of its population of more than 1,2 billion have no access to electricity.

The African continent has an estimated 10 terawatts of potential solar energy, 350 gigawatts (GW) of hydroelectric power and 110 GW of wind power. All these sources can be harnessed with the right investment, a 2015 study by influential consulting company, McKinsey & Company found.

However, poor investment in off-grid connections in Africa means that polluting fossil fuels and biomass are major energy sources. However, off grid connections can provide clean and affordable energy to millions of people while helping reduce carbon emissions and preventing indoor pollution.

Growing energy demand in Africa and other developing economies presents an urgent need for the promotion and provision of more affordable and cleaner energy. Wood, charcoal, grass and solid waste, such as animal and human waste, are forms of biomass that can be converted into fuel and used as energy sources.

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

A clean energy business

And students like Galabuzi are seeing opportunities here.

While acknowledging that his company is not the first to make briquettes, Galabuzi says what is unique is that the briquettes are made from organic waste materials and sold to institutions that use firewood – 80 percent of which harvested in Uganda. Recent studies indicate that Uganda is at risk of losing all its forest in 40 years unless it halts deforestation. This is largely due to population growth and increased demand for land and firewood energy.

“Our solution guarantees our clients a 35 percent reduction in cost of cooking fuel, 50 percent reduction in cooking time and, most importantly, a smoke free cooking environment for the cooking staff,” Galabuzi tells IPS.

Galabuzi says despite the presence of solar, hydro power and gas as alternative sources of cooking energy, fuel briquettes are affordable and efficient energy alternatives.

A pilot of the fuel briquettes at St. Kizito High School, a school based in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, and the first school to adopt WEYE’s technology, showed encouraging results. Galabuzi explains the school registered an annual financial saving of over USD 2,500, a 50 percent reduction in cooking time and increased job satisfaction among the cooking staff due to the healthy, clean and smokeless cooking conditions.

“Our project uses organic waste from farmers and food markets such as maize cobs, banana peels and many others, which were considered useless,” he says.

“We offer the farmers and waste collectors monetary value for this organic waste and give them a new avenue to generate income, boosting the agricultural and waste management sectors.”

Galabuzi says his business has the potential of employing over 40 individuals in waste collection, sorting, production, marketing, distribution and finance.  It also has a potential market of over 30,000 institutions in Uganda. Already WEYE is training youth and women how to make briquettes and to start up their own briquette companies, with support from the Uganda government youth fund.

The WEYE Clean Energy Company Limited is authorised to sell charcoal briquettes and clean cook stoves in Uganda. The business model was tested during an 8-week ‘Greenprenuers’ programme run by the Global Green Growth Initiative, Youth Climate Labs and Student Energy (SE).

Felistas Ngoma, 72, from Nkhamenya in the Kasungu District of Malawi, prepares food in her kitchen. Credit: Charity Chimungu Phiri/IPS

Students driving sustainable energy transition

SE is a global organisation, based in Alberta, Canada. It builds the potential of young people to accelerate subsistence energy transitionthrough training, coaching and mentorship.

The interest in energy by SE, which has a membership of 50,000 young people from 30 different countries around the world, led to a partnership with Seoul-based Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI) to promote the young ‘greenpreneurs’ programme. This programme gives the youth opportunities to turn innovative ideas into green businesses in sustainable energy, water and sanitation, sustainable landscapes and green cities.

“We got interested in greenpreneurship because a lot of people in our network are interested in energy but are more at a systems level and how energy connects to gender, empowerment, access to clean sources of fuel, access to energy in remote areas and smart technology,” Helen Watts, director of Innovation and Partnerships at SE, tells IPS.

Global discussions on energy, while politicised, have previously been at commercial and academic levels. But SE has opened a platform to promote wider discussions on finding and implementing innovative solutions to solving the energy challenge and help meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Watts says the partnership with GGGI is an opportunity to open up GGGI’s youth entrepreneurship model, which is country specific, into a global accelerator model with young people from emerging and developing economies. Another organisation, the Youth Climate Lab, an innovation lab space organisation that seeks to build the capacity of young people to participate in the climate policy, innovate and collaborate on climate adaptation and mitigation, has been brought in as a partner.

“Young people have this incredible capacity to break the kind of zero sum game of sustainability of profitability,” says Watts.

“They have an amazing ability to think outside boxes of what has been done and collaborate with different peers and community members to map out these incredible solutions to both grow their communities and local economies while providing cleaner, affordable solutions to different challenges community members are facing.”

SE was started in 2009 by a group of students who worked in the energy industry in Canada and every two years it organises an international summit on the future of sustainable energy as a platform to talk about energy transition.

The first International Student Energy Summit in 2009 brought together 350 students from 40 countries. The 6th International Students Energy Summit was hosted in Mexico in 2017 with 600 students from 100 countries. Next year the summit will be in London and is expected to attract 700 students.

SE has also developed energy chapters in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America and South Asia, which are like student clubs in post-secondary institutions. The chapters are supported to help members develop their green energy ideas into reality in their communities. The first chapters were established in United Kingdom, Nigeria and Canada.

“Energy has really captured me and inspired me to dedicate my entire career to energy transition projects because of how fundamental energy is to our everyday lives,” Sean Collins, a co-founder of SE, tells IPS, adding that the value of energy is embedded in the work of SE that there is consideration of both energy’s striking benefits and its impacts.

“I think the thing I am most proud of has been our work to set the expectation that youth deserve a seat at the table in all energy conversations as a peer with older generations, policy makers, legacy industry and other groups. It is our generation that will be primarily responsible for the practical transition to a lower carbon economy, so we need to be an active participant in these discussions from day one.”

Fostering discussions and implementation of energy innovations creates impact. Businesses like Galabuzi’s WEYE clean energy company can be potential models to provide energy to more 600 million people in Africa who go without electricity.

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Indonesia Unveils Low Carbon Development Frameworkhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/indonesia-unveils-low-carbon-development-framework/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indonesia-unveils-low-carbon-development-framework http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/indonesia-unveils-low-carbon-development-framework/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 20:47:23 +0000 Kanis Dursin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158144 Indonesia is convinced that low carbon development and a green economy are key to further boosting economic growth without sacrificing environmental sustainability and social inclusivity. Low carbon development, also called low emission development strategies or low carbon growth plans, refers to economic development plans or strategies that promote low emissions and or climate-resilient economic growth. […]

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A woman works in her vegetable patch at the foot of Mount Sinabung, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) that cause global warming on our now beleaguered planet Earth.Credit: Kafil Yamin/IPS

By Kanis Dursin
JAKARTA, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

Indonesia is convinced that low carbon development and a green economy are key to further boosting economic growth without sacrificing environmental sustainability and social inclusivity.

Low carbon development, also called low emission development strategies or low carbon growth plans, refers to economic development plans or strategies that promote low emissions and or climate-resilient economic growth.

“It is timely for Indonesia to put in place sustainable development principles that balance the economic, social and environmental aspects. In this context, the government of Indonesia has committed to become the pioneer of sustainable development by initiating the LCDI [Low Carbon Development Indonesia report] and at the same time, preparing and implementing green financing mechanisms,” minister of national development planning (BAPPENAS) Bambang Brodjonegoro said.

He was launching the LCDI report that spells out the country’s green development path at the “Conference on Low Carbon Development and Green Economy” organised by the Indonesian government on Thursday, Oct. 11.

Organised as part of the 2018 International Monetary Fund-World Bank Group Annual Meetings that run through Oct. 14, the conference was co-hosted by several international institutions that help Indonesia in mapping and designing green growth programmes, including the UK Climate Change Unit, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Indonesian Climate Change Trust Fund, the New Climate Economy, and the World Resources Institute Indonesia.

The renewed stance towards green growth comes as the archipelago island nation is recovering from a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and a resultant tsunami that hit its Sulawesi Island on Sept. 28. There were an estimated 2,000 casualities.

It was followed Thursday Oct. 11 by another earthquake of 6.0 magnitude which hit the tourist area of Bali, where the current IMF-World Bank Group Annual Meetings are being held.

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) that cause global warming on our now beleaguered planet Earth.

In 2012, Indonesia produced a total of 1,453 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCOe), an increase of 0,459 GtCOe from the year 2000, according to the first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Indonesia submitted to the United Nations. At least 47.8 percent of the country’s GHG emissions came from land-use change and forestry, including peatland fires, followed by emissions from the energy sector, at 34.9 percent.

In 2015, Indonesia set an ambitious target to reduce GHG emissions by 29 percent under the business-as-usual scenario, and by 41 percent with international assistance and financial support by 2030. The same target was put in the NDC submitted to the U.N. under the Paris Agreement, which seeks to slow down warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

Marcel Silvius, GGGI Indonesia country representative at his office in Jakarta, Indonesia. Credit: Kanis Dursin/IPS

“The pledge puts Indonesia in a vulnerable position,” Marcel Silvius, Indonesia Country Representative of GGGI, an inter-governmental organisation that supports the implementation of green growth in Indonesia, told IPS. “It sets the agenda for former, current, and future governments.

“That is very brave, it is something that is lacking in other governments. There are very strong positive signals that Indonesia is a country that other countries look at as an example and they want Indonesia to succeed,” he added

“Countries that are not so forthcoming in their pledges will receive less foreign collaboration. So, it is all positive for Indonesia. I think Indonesia is leading on certain fronts, one clearly is on the peat land restoration, only a few countries put so much emphasis on rehabilitation of this ecosystem, Indonesia is one and Russia is another,” Silvius said.

In September, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo instructed related ministries and regional governments to stop issuing new permits for oil palm plantations, which are often blamed for forest and peatland fires, and to review existing ones for possible revocation.

In January 2016, the government established the Badan Restorasi Gambut or Peatland Restoration Agency. Directly under the president, the agency is tasked with restoring 20,000 square kilometres of degraded peat forest by 2020.

“I think Indonesia in many respects has been braver compared to other countries such as the United States, [and] even Europe. Indonesia has taken the right steps that we don’t see in other countries, including in developed countries,” Silvius said.

He also praised Indonesia’s decision to organise the conference on low carbon development and the green economy during the IMF-World Bank Group Annual Meetings in Bali.

“The event gives a strong policy signal and creates a proper investment climate for organisations like the IMF and the World Bank and countries who are members of the World Bank and the IMF. The government also needs to give this kind of signals to the private sector,” Silvius told IPS in the interview in Jakarta.

The conference included panel discussions featuring several prominent speakers including former vice president Boediono, former trade minister Mari Elka Pangestu, Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, CEO of Unilever and Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Paul Polman, and LCDI Commissioner and Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Lord Nicholas Stern.

During the discussions, the speakers and participants shared their knowledge on the green economy, including business models that incorporate inclusive development and GHG emission reductions and ensure maintenance and restoration of natural capital, sectorial financing priorities and challenges, as well as strategies on how to effectively implement low carbon development.

The LCDI serves as a guideline in designing a development plan. If followed accordingly, the framework is “expected to accelerate rapid economic growth, reduce the poverty rate, and decrease greenhouse gas” emissions.

“To underline this commitment of implementing LCDI, the ministry of national development planning will mainstream the LCDI report on low carbon development framework into our next five years 2020-2024 National Medium Term Development Plan. This will become the very first ever low carbon development plan in the history of Indonesia,” said Brodjonegoro.

Recent global research suggested that bold climate action could deliver 26 trillion dollars in economic benefits in the form of new jobs and better health outcomes globally from now to 2030, compared to the business-as-usual approach.

Frank Rijsberman, Director General of GGGI, explained that foreign and domestic capital was available for the development of green projects, but that private investors require a sound supportive policy framework to help de-risk their investments in innovative green projects.

“There needs to be a strong collaboration of trusted global institutions and leaders from government and the private sector that are committed to green growth. This can certainly bring a significant change, which is very much needed by Indonesia for a better, cleaner, and more prosperous future,” Rijsberman said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank hailed Indonesia’s implementation of its NDC but warned that the current policy framework was still a challenge.

“Indonesia is making significant strides in the implementation of its NDC, including in aspects of mitigation and adaptation. However, the current policy, regulatory, and governance framework for forested landscapes remains a challenge,” Ann Jeannette Glauber, lead Environment Specialist for the World Bank, told IPS via email.

The World Bank, Glauber said, has worked with the Indonesian government, private sector, and civil society to support the country’s efforts to move toward a green growth trajectory, including providing knowledge, partnership and financing support.

“We continue to stand ready to support the government of Indonesia with technical assistance and financing support to meet their green growth objectives at their request,” Glauber said.

And what is the way forward for the country? With all the pledges and programmes to cut gas emissions, Indonesia, according to Silvius, needs support.

“I don’t think any government in the world can do these things on their own including developed countries. There should be real collaboration and transfer of knowledge between countries, financial collaboration and assistance. Indonesia cannot do it on its own,” he said.

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Rwanda Leverages Green Climate Fund’s Opportunities to Fast-Track Sustainable Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rwanda-leverages-green-climate-funds-opportunities-fast-track-sustainable-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rwanda-leverages-green-climate-funds-opportunities-fast-track-sustainable-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rwanda-leverages-green-climate-funds-opportunities-fast-track-sustainable-development/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 16:16:26 +0000 Aimable Twahirwa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158135 In a move to achieve its green growth aspirations by 2050, Rwanda has placed a major focus on promoting project proposals that shift away from “business as usual” and have a significant impact on curbing climate change while attracting private investment. The latest report published by the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) in 2015 states […]

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Greening practices are being adopted in Rwanda which include the terracing on hillsides to control erosion like here in Rulindo district, Northern Rwanda. Credit: Aimable Twahirwa/IPS

By Aimable Twahirwa
KIGALI, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

In a move to achieve its green growth aspirations by 2050, Rwanda has placed a major focus on promoting project proposals that shift away from “business as usual” and have a significant impact on curbing climate change while attracting private investment.

The latest report published by the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) in 2015 states that the country needs to adapt – and keep adapting – so that Rwandans can become climate resilient and be assured that they can thrive under changing climate conditions.

Rwanda is one of a few nations in the world to develop its own climate-related domestic budget to finance mitigation and adaptation projects and leverage international climate finance. Since it was established in 2012, the National Fund for Climate and Environment, commonly known as “FONERWA”, has played a major role in this country’s climate resilient development by financing various green economy projects.

It is also the focal point for channeling international climate finance into projects in Rwanda, while offering technical assistance to project proponents to ensure the success of investments.

“Thanks to this expertise, much of the core funding has been allocated to projects on a grant basis, returns are being measured in impact,” Daniel Ogbonnaya, the acting country representative and lead, Rwanda programme coordinator of Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), in Kigali, tells IPS.

GGGI is an international organisation that has partnered with the Rwandan government to help the country access the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF, established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), assists developing countries in adaptation and mitigation to counter climate change.

For example, one of FONERWA’s major impacts during the implementation phase has seen over 130,000 green jobs created, nearly 25,000 families connected to clean energy, and approximately 20,000 hectares of land secured against erosion, according to official estimates.

Now the East African country which has faced challenges related to the pressures on natural resources from a growing population is relying on FONERWA to implement its national Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy, adopted in 2011, to achieve some of its national climate targets.

FONERWA, which is the sole vehicle through which environment and climate change finance is channeled, programmed, disbursed and monitored in the country, is also being used by the government as an instrument to facilitate direct access to international environment and climate finance.

Government departments and districts can access FONERWA funding. But the fund is also open to charitable and private entities, including businesses, civil society and research institutions. However, to be eligible for funding, proposals are required to meet standard criteria set out for achieving the country’s green growth.

GGGI is providing technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of FONERWA in designing world class climate resilience projects and to enhance the fund’s ability to mobilise more resources.

The institute has been focusing on providing demand-driven technical advisory services; the development of inclusive green growth plans that are gender sensitive; and the creation of an enabling environment to engage and foster public and private sector investment in green growth.

While a significant amount of money has been allocated by FONERWA toward efforts to help mitigate climate change, one of the key criteria for approval of funding proposals was taken into account in selecting public and private adaptation and mitigation projects and programmes to finance.

The director general of REMA and also the national focal person of the GCF, Coletha Ruhamya, explained that growth in Rwanda is only possible if the private sector is on board and plays a leading role.

“This is because business practice in the country has always been associated with environmental pollution and degradation,” she told IPS.

In April, FONERWA proposed a new approach dedicated to encouraging the private sector to take advantage of the existing opportunities in addressing environmental challenges, including climate change.

Since its inception in 2012, FONERWA has successfully funded 35 competitively-awarded, high-impact projects to the tune of 54 million dollars and has also received in 2018 another 33 million dollars of earmarked funding from the GCF as the accredited entity’s implementing partner for a new climate-resilience project in Rwanda.

However, some stakeholders in the private sector stress the need for serious sensitisation programmes meant for local investors to understand the opportunities that are in the industrial sector through leveraging on the green fund.

The chief executive officer of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), Stephen Ruzibiza, told IPS that local private investors have a lot to access withinvthe green fund.

Currently the PSF is engaging with FONERWA and a limited number of local financial intermediaries to offer long-term loans to private businesses focusing on environmental sustainability with a low interest rate which is fixed at 11.5 percent.

The current average lending interest rate for commercial banks in Rwanda is 17.58 percent, according to the National Bank of Rwanda.

According to Jean Ntazinda, a consultant with the FONERWA Readiness Support Project, the private sector in Rwanda has so far been left behind when compared to government entities in accessing the GCF financing mechanism.

“Although at the national level some private sector projects relating to adaptation got financed, there is a long way to bring the private sector on board due to the lack of another entity accredited by GCF,” Ntazinda told IPS in an exclusive interview.

In 2015, Rwanda’s ministry of environment became accredited with the GCF and received a promise of 10 to 50 million dollars in climate finance. It was the country’s first national institution to receive GCF accreditation.

In March 2018, the government of Rwanda received an additional 32.8 million dollars from GCF to strengthen climate resilience in Gicumbi District, Northern Province.

The ‘Strengthening Climate Resilience of Rural Communities in Northern Rwanda’ project, that will run for six years, is expected to invest in climate-resilient settlements for families currently living in areas prone to landslides and floods, and support community-based adaptation planning and livelihoods diversification.

Currently FONERWA is in the process of developing several innovative funding mechanisms to finance pro-poor climate projects in Rwanda.

For instance, Result-Based Finance (RBF) is one of the approaches currently being used to fund renewable energy mini-grid projects in poor rural areas of Rwanda at a time when Rwandan officials are aiming to achieve 51 percent of electricity access by the end of 2019, from the current 45 percent.

RBF are payments that are disbursed at the end of the construction of the mini-grids, provided that pre-agreed conditions and milestones are met.

“This incentivises developers to look for private equity and debt to fund the construction costs. And it gives further certainty to the lenders that parts of the debt will be repaid,” Ogbonnaya told IPS.

However, Ogbonnaya is convinced that local commercial banks in Rwanda are willing to promote access to private finance for green initiatives, but don’t yet understand the process.

“This is because using government or local budget is key to showing country ownership and to showing that a specific project is part of a broader national strategy, but for adaptation funds, co-benefits such as social, environment, gender impacts and pro-poor impacts are so crucial,” he said.

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Consumption & Emissions: Rich Indians v/s Rich (& Poor) Americanshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/consumption-emissions-rich-indians-vs-rich-poor-americans/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=consumption-emissions-rich-indians-vs-rich-poor-americans http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/consumption-emissions-rich-indians-vs-rich-poor-americans/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 09:57:42 +0000 Chandra Bhushan http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158064 The growing consumption of the ‘rich’ in ‘poor’ countries has been a running theme in the climate change debate for some time now. A large majority of opinion makers in developed countries, especially the US, are convinced that rising consumption of the rich in the developing world is responsible for climate change. In the last […]

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The richest Indians consume less than even the poorest 20 per cent Americans. Credit: Getty Images

By Chandra Bhushan
NEW DELHI, Oct 9 2018 (IPS)

The growing consumption of the ‘rich’ in ‘poor’ countries has been a running theme in the climate change debate for some time now. A large majority of opinion makers in developed countries, especially the US, are convinced that rising consumption of the rich in the developing world is responsible for climate change.

In the last few years, the theme of the egregiously consuming middle class in India scorching the world has taken a whole new form. In this form, the excesses of the developed world are hidden.

The problem is not the lifestyle of the North; rather, it is the burgeoning consumption of the South. I have a problem with this narrative. I do support and propagate the view that there is a level of consumption that is required to meet basic needs of everyone in the world.

Let’s start a serious debate around sustainable consumption and production (SCP). To do this, let’s compares consumption and emissions of the rich in India with that of the rich in the US.

There is absolutely no comparison between the consumption expenditure of the average American household and that of the average Indian household. In MER terms, the average per capita consumption expenditure in the US is 37 times higher than India’s (US $33,469 as compared to US $900).

Even in terms of PPP, the average per capita consumption expenditure in the US is 11 times higher than India’s (US $33,469 as compared to US $3,001). To enable comparison, Indian rupees have been converted to US dollars both in terms of the market exchange rate (MER) and purchasing power parity (PPP).

In MER terms, an average American spends 15 times more on food and beverages, 50 times more on housing and household goods and services, over 6,000 times more on recreation, and over 200 times more on health compared to an average Indian. Comparing ‘averages’ is, therefore, meaningless.

The topmost consuming class in India is the top 5 per cent of urban households, or the urban 12th fractile class as per the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) consumer expenditure survey 2011–12.

The richest Indians consume less than even the poorest 20 per cent Americans. If we consider the consumption expenditure in terms of MER, the richest Indians consume less than one third of the poorest 20 per cent Americans.

Even if we consider the consumption expenditure in terms of PPP, the richest 5 per cent Indians still spend on goods and services close to what the poorest 20 per cent Americans do.

Data on the energy-related products and services for the richest Indians has been compared with that for various classes of Americans for the year 2014. This is the closest year to 2011–12 for which data on electricity prices in India is publicly available.

Petrol prices in India are actually higher than in the US. In 2014, the average pump price for petrol in India was US $1.2 as compared to US $0.91 in the US. So, a dollar in India, in terms of MER, actually buys less petrol than a dollar in the US.

The annual per capita expenditure on electricity and fuels and on gasoline and motor oil of the richest 5 per cent Indians was about US $241 in 2011–12. The corresponding expenditure for the poorest 20 per cent Americans is about US $1,500—more than six times higher than that for the richest 5 per cent Indians.

The expenditure of the richest 20 per cent Americans on energy goods is US $2,145, about nine times higher than expenditure of the richest 5 per cent Indians. Assuming equal prices of energy (an underestimation for consumption in the US), the richest in India consume less than one sixth of the energy the poorest 20 per cent in the US consume.

Per capita CO2 emissions (excluding emissions from land use, land use changes and forestry) of the top 10 per cent of Indians are similar to per capita emissions of the bottom 20 per cent of Americans.

The per capita CO2 emissions of the richest 10 per cent Indians are about 4.4 tonnes. In comparison, the per capita emissions of the richest 10 per cent Americans are 52.4 tonnes— almost 12 times higher than that of the richest Indians.

The per capita CO2 emissions of the poorest 10 per cent Americans are about 2.4 tonnes. This is 60 per cent higher than the average per capita CO2 emissions of India.

If we rely only on efficiency improvements, it is near impossible to meet the Paris Agreement goal. Efficiency is not sufficiency—without addressing consumption it would be near impossible to meet the climate target.

The idea of an ultimate win-win—to consume but not pollute is a mirage. The question the world faces today is not whether consumption should be curtailed, but how. The definition of sustainable consumption and production must reflect this.

The link to the original article follows:
https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/consumption-and-emissions-rich-indians-v-s-rich-and-poor-americans-61805

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Leveraging the Potential for Green Growth in Vulnerable Countrieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/leveraging-potential-green-growth-vulnerable-countries/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=leveraging-potential-green-growth-vulnerable-countries http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/leveraging-potential-green-growth-vulnerable-countries/#respond Mon, 08 Oct 2018 09:39:19 +0000 Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158030 In May the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced next year’s summit on climate. This assertion has given the Global Green Growth Institute international momentum, which was reflected in the events of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City. During the UNGA week the Global Green Growth […]

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A farmer walks past the solar panels used to pump water in the Soan Valley. The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) works closely with countries to diversify their economies, promote solar energies, and connect financial investors with specific green growth projects. Credit: Zofeen Ebrahim/IPS

By Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 8 2018 (IPS)

In May the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced next year’s summit on climate. This assertion has given the Global Green Growth Institute international momentum, which was reflected in the events of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City.

During the UNGA week the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), an international organisation based in Seoul, South Korea, led the conversation on green growth. Frank Rijsberman, the institute’s director general, highlighted that green growth is not a matter of the future but of the present. Green growth, defined as sustainable economic growth, is essential due to the damage caused by climate change and increased pollution.

While at UNGA, GGGI participated in the Sustainable Development Impact Summit, organised by the World Economic Forum, the P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030), and the Sustainable Investment Forum, organised by Climate Action and U.N. Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

GGGI also helped organise the event named “Leveraging Green Growth Potential in Vulnerable Countries,” which took place at the U.N. headquarters. Representatives from the Rwandan and Ethiopian governments, the U.N.-OHRLLS (U.N. Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States), and the European Union participated.

Challenges and best practices for green growth

At the event, the speakers discussed the challenges green growth encounters, the best practices in the field, and how public opinion regarding sustainable energies has shifted in the last years. Green growth, at the core of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, is not at the sidelines of international policy anymore, but at the centre of the conversation.

The United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, and even South Korea are already pursuing green growth agendas. But the shift is especially important for developing countries, which are more at risk due to climate change.

“Mainstreaming green growth is the only option for vulnerable countries,” stated Rijsberman at the event. “This is not just a challenge but also an opportunity.”

For Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for U.N.-OHRLLS, promoting sustainable growth in developing countries is a priority. She told IPS: “Leveraging the potential for green growth in vulnerable countries is critically important.”

Often times environmental damages are linked with other issues, explained Katoa. “Poverty and its alleviation are intricately linked to the environment and climate change is a threat which demands our immediate attention,” she commented.

Policy and finance obstacles to green growth

Despite its importance, getting governments to change to sustainable growth is not always easy.

According to Rijsberman, “policy obstacles, government, and finance” need to be taken into account. But the biggest challenge remains shifting investment patterns. The breakthrough for renewable energies comes with lower prices, he says.

“It is hard to compete fossil fuels if they are cheap,” said Rijsberman at the event. When fossil fuels become more expensive than renewable energies, it is easier to find investment for green growth projects. That, claimed Rijsberman, is already happening.

“Solar and wind have become cheaper than coal,” Rijsberman told IPS.

Now, the challenge for GGGI and national governments is to find investors to fund green growth projects —for example, increasing solar panels.

“Our goal for 2020 is to raise more than two and a half billion dollars in green and climate finance,” said Rijsberman.

Katoa, from U.N.-OHRLLS, stated: “It is clear that global financing needs to be stepped up considerably and directed towards investments that contribute to green growth and building resilience. This includes both traditional as well as new channels.”

The difficulties of changing public opinion have been overcome in the most part. Natural disasters, heat waves, and pollution have made public opinion aware that climate change is real, and solutions are needed.

During the event at the U.N. headquarters, Mauro Petriccione, director general for Climate Action at the European Union, pointed out how European opinion has shifted.

“It has taken the last two summers to make Europeans aware of the effects of climate change,” he said. Now, he added, “Europe is taking strong legislative action to this respect.”

New skills for renewable energies

Finally, the loss of jobs in the fossil fuel industry needs formal solutions. Rijsberman suggested formal retraining, because the skills needed in renewable energies are different from those required in the coal and oil industries.

Despite these difficulties, there are many cases of success in this transition. Rwanda and Ethiopia have already changed to sustainable growth. They are, as Rijsberman calls them, “champions of green growth.”

For countries like Ethiopia the change to sustainable energies is crucial. Climate disruptions have an immediate effect on their economy, which depends mainly on agriculture. Thus, the government prioritises climate resilience to secure its citizens’ livelihood.

Selamawit Desta, the Ethiopian representative at the event, shared with IPS how they succeeded in transitioning to green growth. “In 2008, we stopped subsidising fossil fuels. It was hard, but we gave an option. Food or fossil fuels,” she explained. And since then, Ethiopia barely has emissions.

Other countries with vast natural resources, also affected by climate change, need to take advantage of their ability to develop renewable energies.

Katoa stated: “Natural resource bases play a critical role in the economies of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and Small Island Developing States.”

She continued: “These nations also typically have a large untapped potential for renewable energy, which can help to bring sustainable energy access to underserved and remote rural communities.”

Collaborative work with GGGI

The institute, founded in 2010, relies upon 36 countries, both members and partners of GGGI. They work closely with them to diversify their economies, promote solar energies, and connect financial investors with specific green growth projects.

Inevitably, their work depends on the will of the national governments. But more and more states are willing to collaborate with the Institute. During the event “Leveraging Green Growth Potential” both the Rwandan minister of environment, Vincent Biruta, and the representative for the Pacific Islands expressed their gratitude to GGGI.

GGGI also counts with a large institutional network, working with organisations such as the U.N., the World Bank, and the OECD, to promote green growth knowledge.

She added: “We look forward to ongoing cooperation with GGGI particularly in addressing climate change challenges and improving access to sustainable energy in vulnerable countries.”

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Going Full Circle for Growth and the Planethttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/going-full-circle-growth-planet/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=going-full-circle-growth-planet http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/going-full-circle-growth-planet/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 14:04:02 +0000 Li Yong and Hong Joo Hahm http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158017 LI Yong is Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Hong Joo Hahm is Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

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LI Yong is Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
Hong Joo Hahm is Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

By Li Yong and Hong Joo Hahm
Oct 5 2018 (IPS)

The business case for making our economy more sustainable is clear. Globally, transitioning to a circular economy – where materials are reused, re-manufactured or recycled-could significantly reduce carbon emissions and deliver over US$1 trillion in material cost savings by 2025.(1) The benefits for Asia and the Pacific would be huge. But to make this happen, the region needs to reconcile its need for economic growth with its ambition for sustainable business.

LI Yong

Today, the way we consume is wasteful. We extract resources, use them to produce goods and services, often wastefully, and then sell them and discard them. However, resources can only stretch so far. By 2050, the global population will reach 10 billion. In the next decade, 2.5 billion new middle-class consumers will enter the fray. If we are to meet their demands and protect the planet, we must disconnect prosperity and well-being from inefficient resource use and extraction. And create a circular economy, making the shift to extending product lifetimes, reusing and recycling in order to turn waste into wealth.

These imperatives underpin the 5th Green Industry Conference held in Bangkok this week, hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in partnership with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Royal Thai government. High-level policymakers, captains of industry and scientists gathered to discuss solutions on how to engineer waste and pollution out of our economy, keep products and materials in use for longer and regenerate the natural system in which we live.

The goal is to embed sustainability into industries which we depend on for our jobs, prosperity and well-being. Action in Asia and the Pacific could make a major difference. Sixty percent of the world’s fastmoving consumer goods are manufactured in the region. Five Asia-Pacific countries account for over half of the plastic in the world’s oceans. The region’s material footprint per unit of Gross Domestic Product is twice the world average and the amount of solid waste generated by Asian cities is expected to double by 2025.

Hong Joo Hahm

If companies could build circular supply chains to reduce material use and increase the rate of reuse, repair, remanufacture and recycling – powered by renewable energy – the value of materials could be maximized. This would cushion businesses, manufacturing industries in particular, from the volatility of commodity prices by decoupling production from finite supplies of primary resources. This is increasingly important as many elements vital for industrial production could become scarce in the coming decades.

With these goals in mind, the United Nations is working with governments and businesses to support innovation and upgrade production technologies to use less materials, energy and water. UNIDO is engaged across industrial sectors, from food production to textiles, from automotive to construction. Over the past twenty-five years, its network of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production Centres has helped thousands of businesses to “green” their processes and their products. The Global Cleantech initiative has supported entrepreneurs to produce greener building materials. Industrial renewable energy use is being accelerated by the Global Network of Sustainable Energy Centres. New business models such as chemical leasing help reduce chemical emissions. And the creation of eco-industrial parks has contributed to the sustainable development of our towns and cities.

In Asia and the Pacific, the UN is intensifying its efforts to reducing and banning single use plastics. The Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy is implementing programmes to reduce plastics consumption, marine litter and electronics waste, and encourage sustainable procurement practices. UNESCAP is identifying opportunities in Asian cities to return plastic resources into the production cycle by linking waste pickers in the informal economy with local authorities to recover plastic waste and reduce pollution.

The 5t h Green Industry Conference is an opportunity to give scale to these efforts. The gap between our ambition for sustainability and many business practices is significant. So it’s essential for best practice to be shared, common approaches coordinated, and success stories replicated. We need to learn from each other’s businesses to innovate, sharpen our rules and increase consumer awareness. Let’s step up our efforts to build a circular economy in Asia and the Pacific.

(1) World Economic Forum, Towards the Circula r Economy. Available from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_ENV_TowardsCircularEconomy_Report_2014.pdf

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Excerpt:

LI Yong is Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Hong Joo Hahm is Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

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How to Green Uganda’s Citieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/green-ugandas-cities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=green-ugandas-cities http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/green-ugandas-cities/#respond Wed, 03 Oct 2018 11:52:43 +0000 Wambi Michael http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157934 Locals in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, always have two or three things to say in a conversation about how the city is developing. Some say it is filthy because of the growing waste; others say it is a slum because of its unplanned settlements; and then there are those who say it is just plain inconvenient […]

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Old taxi Park in Uganda's Capital Kampala. The Green Growth Strategy in Uganda seeks to introduce rapid bus transport and light railways to avoid this type of congestion. Credit Wambi Michael/IPS

By Wambi Michael
KAMPALA, Oct 3 2018 (IPS)

Locals in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, always have two or three things to say in a conversation about how the city is developing. Some say it is filthy because of the growing waste; others say it is a slum because of its unplanned settlements; and then there are those who say it is just plain inconvenient because of the traffic congestion created by the boda boda (motorcycle taxis) and commuter taxis that honk incessantly as they make their way along the streets.

But Juliana (not real name), a student from Seven Hills International School, has a solution to the capital’s urbanisation crisis.

“I’m praying that a hurricane hits Kampala so that we would have no choice but to re-organise it,” she says. She is part of a class team working on a project to turn Kampala into modern city.

“What would be the name of that hurricane? This was a big statement. Have our children given up?” asks Amanda Ngabirano, an Urban Planning lecturer from Makerere University.

Ngabirano, has been working in partnership with the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) on plans for a downtown car-free zone. She disagrees with Juliana on the suggestion that the entire city should be razed and says it can transition to a low carbon future based on the Global Green Growth Institute’s green cities model.

A green city is an urban area that moves toward long-term environmental protection, social inclusion, and economic sustainability. A green city, according to GGGI, is understood as an urban area that moves toward long-term environmental protection, social inclusion, and economic sustainability. GGGI is a treaty-based international organisation that promotes green growth.

Ngabirano tells IPS that there is still an opportunity to green Uganda’s urban settlements.

A city impacted by growth

Uganda is slowly urbanising with about 19 percent of its population living in urban centres. It is projected that 30 percent of Uganda’s almost 42 million people  will be urban dwellers by 2035.

Kampala, the country’s biggest city, is faced with a number of problemswhich include the growth of informal settlements, encroachment on wetlands, and inadequate sewage and water treatment plants to service the city’s population of 1.5 million–all of which are exerting pressure on the natural environment.

Urban planners and environmentalists have concluded that Uganda’s current “grow dirty now, clean up later” style of urbanisation is not sustainable.

However, the government has embarked on reversing the damage to its natural resources. With support from development partners, the government is looking towards a green growth strategy that emphasises the need for a more harmonious relationship between development and the environment.

In partnership with GGGI, the government recently developed the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy 2017/18 – 2030/31.

Launched last November, it will be implemented over the next 14 years and is estimated to cost USD11 billion.

Urban green growth model

The strategy suggests a new urban growth model that encourages a more compact, connected national transition by 2040. It projects to increase access to basic services by over 33 percent, reduce the aggregate infrastructure investment requirement by 11 percent, and reduce greenhouse gases by 27 percent.

Peter Okubal, the GGGI country representative to Uganda, tells IPS that his organisation has already embarked on policy changes and formulations to enable this East African nation to follow a green path to its development.

“Our analysis suggests that improved urban policy is not enough – correcting ongoing issues in the economy will be just as important for a successful urban transition,” Okubal says.

Uganda’s Vision 2040 suggests eight priority interventions to catalyse better urban growth. If implemented, they could boost GDP by USD4.3 billion by 2040, as well as provide new jobs and positive environmental benefits.

Okubal says that there is indeed an opportunity for Kampala and other cities in Africa to change the trajectory that they are on by adopting the green cities model of urbanisation.

“The population living in green cities is rapidly growing. So if the governments took advantage and developed cities that are competitive, then they are likely to reap the urban dividend rather than getting the confusion associated with urbanisation,” explains Okubal.

GGGI has supported Uganda’s ministry of lands and urban development complete the national urban policy through its green cites programme. It has also supported the process of development of a strategy to implement the green cities road map.

The road map provides a step-by-step process through which a city can be transitioned from an ordinary one to one that is competitive, compact and coordinated.

“That is the model that we promote. [For] cities in Uganda should be able to connect to each other, they must be competitive. That means that they should be able to generate businesses, they must be livable at the same time but also productive in nature,” Okubal says.

The Uganda Vision 2040 proposes four regional cities and five strategic cities in the course of Uganda’s urbanisation. These are the capital city Kampala, the regional cities of Gulu in Northern Uganda, Mbale in Eastern Uganda, Mbarara in Western Uganda, and Arua in West Nile region.

“Uganda is endowed with rich natural diversity that necessitates incorporation of sustainable and consumption practices into the economy to ensure the sustainability of natural resource capital,” Paul Mafabi, director for environment at Uganda’s ministry of water and environment, tells IPS.

He says well-planned urban settlements based on a green cities model could save the country’s natural resources.

“Most of these resources are non-renewable or in case of degradation, [result in] loss or extinction, their restoration demands a lot of financial, moral and physical input,” says Mafabi.

Chebet Maikut, Uganda’s commissioner for climate change, tells IPS that GGGI’s efforts towards a green growth model, especially in urban areas, cannot be underestimated.  “GGGI is currently helping government to work on the monitoring, verification framework for Uganda, which is quite essential under the transparency framework of the Paris Agreement which emphasises the need to track progress and report on the country’s progress on tackling climate change.”

Waste Management

In a related development, GGGI is taking steps towards addressing the increasing solid waste management crisis in the country. It recently completed the national urban solid waste policy. The document provides a framework in which the government of Uganda can manage solid waste nationally.

“The current waste management approach that the government has been using in Kampala is what we call pick and dump. Pick the waste from the household and dump it into land fill. Now GGGi proposes an alternative to that,” says Okubal.

“If we treated waste as a resource, and indeed waste is a resource, then we can leverage on the amount of waste generated to create 4 million jobs over the next 15 years,” he further explains.

According to Okubal, there are plans to develop a bankable project estimated at USD15 million to address the waste challenge in Uganda’s cities and urban authorities.

Financing Options For Green Growth in Uganda

Uganda’s government needs to mobilise USD11 billion over the next 15 years. It also needs USD2 billion dollars to be spent over the next five years. Some development actors have doubted whether the government can raise that funding from its budget or through development partners. But Okubal is of a different opinion.

“There is quite a lot of money out there. The money is out there but the governments are failing to tap the money,” he argues.

He explains that it is possible for governments to access those funds in different forms, either through routine budget cycle or through major players within the green economy.

“The EU [European Union] has, for example, allocated 60 million euro to be spent over the next two years to support the government of Uganda to implement the green growth strategy,” he explains.

Sweden, Norway and other individual EU countries are, according to Okubal, considering funding green growth efforts in Uganda.

“We have the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility and there are other international windows for funding for a green economy. All these are opportunities which the government of Uganda can tap into,” Okubal says.

The government plans to introduce the bus rapid transit and light rail which will either be run through a private/public partnership arrangement or by the a private sector led financing model.

The United Nations Development Programme country office in Uganda recently mobilised USD 24.1 million from the Green Climate Fund to implement the Presidential Initiative to restore the country’s degraded wetlands.

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Fixing the Crisis of Confidence in the Green Climate Fundhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/fixing-crisis-confidence-green-climate-fund/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fixing-crisis-confidence-green-climate-fund http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/fixing-crisis-confidence-green-climate-fund/#respond Mon, 01 Oct 2018 15:19:33 +0000 Jacob Waslander and Patricia Quijano Vallejos http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157909 Jacob Waslander is a Senior Associate at World Resources Institute and a former board member of the Green Climate Fund & Patricia Quijano Vallejos is a lawyer and Research Analyst in the Finance Center at World Resources Institute.

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GCF invests in adaptation and mitigation activities in developing countries, managing a project portfolio that is implemented by its partner organisations, known as Accredited Entities.

By Jacob Waslander and Patricia Quijano Vallejos
WASHINGTON DC, Oct 1 2018 (IPS)

The Green Climate Fund’s mandate couldn’t be more crucial: accelerating climate action in developing countries by supporting transformational investments in adaptation and emissions reduction.

Projects already financed by the GCF range from solar power in Mongolia and improved water management in Colombia, to climate-resilient agriculture in Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda.

However, the GCF is facing a crisis of confidence.

Its most recent Board meeting, in July, was spectacularly unproductive, and its executive director left the organization. This is only the latest example of a broader problem—a GCF that in the eyes of many can be a lot more effective and efficient.

More resources and strengthened governance are fundamental to restoring confidence in the GCF, as we lay out in a new working paper, Setting the Stage for the GCF’s First Replenishment.

After speaking with 86 stakeholders—including board members from developing and developed countries—we have recommendations for strengthening key aspects of the GCF.

An Uncertain Future

In 2014, contributors pledged $10.3 billion to the GCF, making it the biggest multilateral climate fund. This money is used to stimulate environmentally sustainable economic growth in developing countries by funding projects like renewable energy facilities and storm shelters that reduce emissions and adapt a country to the changing climate.

Now, four years after the initial contributions were pledged, the GCF is getting close to allocating most of its resources and triggering a new round of funding (“replenishment”). However, given the GCF’s crisis of confidence, uncertainty looms over the process.

That is a problem, for the present as well as the future. Developing countries have prepared their nationally-determined contributions (NDCs, which are national climate plans) with the expectation that–in addition to their own domestic budget resources–they can count on financial support from developed countries, including through the GCF.

Given the longer-term objectives of the NDCs, good planning and timely implementation are key; this in turn requires predictable external financial support.

Hence, replenishing the fund and providing predictability to that funding is very important. The question is, how should contributing countries split the bill?

Splitting the Bill

How should the financial burden be allocated? The same way you might approach dividing up a dinner check among friends: agree on an objective, transparent, and fair way to determine who should pay for what.

In a similar manner, contributors might apply objective criteria to assess their contributions to the GCF. In our paper, to advance the conversation, we designed a formula that combines three objective criteria: gross national income (GNI), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and GHG emissions per capita.

This is just one suggestion; the important thing is that any way of thinking through what countries contribute should remain based on objective data. You can interact with our methodology using our Contributions Calculator:

As expected, applying the formula will require most developed countries to increase their contributions. For leading countries—Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom—each of whom exercised exemplary global leadership in the initial round of funding, giving more than the minimum—we recommend they at least match their ambitious contributions in the replenishment.

More details on what our formula would imply for each of the contributing countries can be found in our GCF Contributions Calculator.

To be sure, the elephant in the room is the United States. The world’s second-largest GHG emitter has made no contributions to the GCF since 2016, at which point it had contributed a third of its pledge.

Stakeholders we interviewed stressed the need to stay engaged with the United States, the country that our model suggests should make the biggest contributions to the GCF.

Another feature of the Calculator relates to other countries, which might join the mix of contributors; you can experiment with the possibilities in our Calculator.

If developing countries decide to contribute, especially those that are already major emitters, it must be clear that these contributions will be voluntary and will not count towards the international finance goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year from 2020 onwards by developed countries.

Strengthening Governance to Deliver Results

The most recent GCF Board meeting in South Korea in July 2018 ended in gridlock. The Board had $1 billion in projects in the queue, and shockingly approved none. Project proposals from countries all around the world (like Tonga, India, Guatemala, South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire) are still waiting their turn. The Board also failed to advance preparations for the replenishment process.

This is just a recent example of deficiencies in the GCF’s governance system, which undermine confidence stakeholders’ confidence in the GCF – including developing and developed countries.

This loss of confidence will potentially restrain contributors from making new funds available to fill the coffers of GCF, subsequently affecting developing countries’ ambition to contribute to the timely implementation of the Paris Agreement.

This lack of progress corroborates concerns about the GCF’s governance interviewed stakeholders shared with us. We identified several shortcomings. We think three cross-cutting solutions can unlock the gridlock:

Apply consensus, not unanimity, to decisions. The GCF has interpreted consensus to mean each and every one of the 24 members has to agree with a proposed decision. Consensus is important, but not at all costs: if some Board members have reservations with a proposed decision, the Board should still be able to move forward through a mechanism for decision-making in the absence of consensus (as provided for in the GCF’s governing document.) This is essential to remain a reliable partner and to be able to accelerate climate action in developing countries.

Introduce a Board self-assessment mechanism. The Board needs to work in a collegial, structured and results-focused manner; it is important to assess from time to time whether deliberations are living up to these standards. Like many other institutions, we recommend both an external assessment and a self-assessment of Board performance.

Strengthen the Board’s role as a representative body. Most stakeholders noted a lack of clarity on what role Board members have, which countries selected them, and what responsibilities the hold. A more transparent system for selecting Board members, accounting for their positions on policy issues and clarity about their mandate, would rectify these ambiguities, as would better efforts to connect Board members with the countries they represent.

For the GCF to work, it needs predictable funding and governance reform. Predictable funding and governance reform can only come from committed leaders, who support climate action and from that perspective are willing to support a dynamic and transparent GCF, which can take risks for the sake of promoting bold action.

Time is not on our side, leaders need to act to make sure that GCF can make up its promise to support transformational change in developing countries.

The post Fixing the Crisis of Confidence in the Green Climate Fund appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Jacob Waslander is a Senior Associate at World Resources Institute and a former board member of the Green Climate Fund & Patricia Quijano Vallejos is a lawyer and Research Analyst in the Finance Center at World Resources Institute.

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Q & A: Why Switching to Renewable Energy Sources is No Longer a Matter of Morality, But of Economicshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/q-switching-renewable-energy-sources-no-longer-matter-morality-economics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=q-switching-renewable-energy-sources-no-longer-matter-morality-economics http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/q-switching-renewable-energy-sources-no-longer-matter-morality-economics/#respond Sun, 30 Sep 2018 10:51:47 +0000 Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157887 When the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was founded eight years ago, the general public thought that renewable energies would never replace oil and coal. Today, the tables have turned. Dr. Frank Rijsberman has been the director general of the institute since 2016, and for him, green growth is no longer a matter of morality, […]

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The Bangui Wind Farm located in the northern Philippines hosts 20 wind turbines with a capacity of 33 megawatts. GGGI works mainly with governments that express an interest in sustainable growth and is supporting the Philippines in mainstreaming green growth into the country’s development planning. Credit: Kara Santos/IPS

By Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 30 2018 (IPS)

When the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was founded eight years ago, the general public thought that renewable energies would never replace oil and coal. Today, the tables have turned.

Dr. Frank Rijsberman has been the director general of the institute since 2016, and for him, green growth is no longer a matter of morality, but of economics. Renewable energies are now cheaper than fossil fuels. They create employment, do not pollute and provide countries with the amount of energy they need. Last week he joined several side events at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

GGGI is an intergovernmental organisation that works with over 60 countries. It seeks commitments among governments and private companies to switch to green growtheconomic growth that takes into account environmental sustainability.

The organisation, based in Seoul, South Korea, works mainly with governments that express an interest in sustainable growth. Its work does not directly depend on changes in administrations.

Under Rijsberman, GGGI has consulted with Colombia on their protection of the Amazon rainforest, the United Arab Emirates on how to diversify its economy, and more recently with New Zealand. Rijsberman is especially proud of the organisation’s work in Ethiopia and Rwanda, with its president Paul Kagame, who he considers a “champion of green growth”.

Rijsberman is not only very knowledgeable, he also calls his job “his passion”. When he describes GGGI’s presence worldwide, he jumps from Australia to Ethiopia, from South Korea to Mexico, and from Norway to the Philippines.

He talks slowly, like a teacher giving his first class, or a father trying to get his point through. And when he talks about GGGI’s achievements, he smiles in the affable way most Dutch people do. His excitement is justified: renewable energies are the present. And public opinion cares. Excerpts of the interview follow:

Director general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman outside the Office of the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning in Thailand Photo Credit: Sinsiri Tiwutanond/IPS

Inter Press Service (IPS): Why has green growth become relevant?

Frank Rijsberman (FR): A variety of countries are already convinced green growth is their only option for pollution and climate reasons. For example in Asia, air pollution is a strong driver of investors in green growth. In Seoul, everybody checks the air condition in the morning, because it is a real issue. We have to decide whether we are going to wear air masks or not. In the West, last summer we saw fires and heat waves. And in Africa, the average farmer is convinced the climate has changed."In the end there are gonna be more jobs with renewables than with coal." -- Director general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman.

I’ve been involved in climate change for a long time, and it used to be something we talked about that would happen in a 100 years. Then for our grandchildren. Then our children and then… it’s today.

Before, ministers of finance used to say they wanted first to develop and then they would care about the climate. Now, they also care about the quality of growth.

IPS: Has that international public opinion changed since United States president Donald Trump’s election?

FR: The truth is that the U.S. government was very influential in making the Paris Agreement exist in the first place. We have to thank them for that. They brought China to the table.

And after Trump was elected, the Chinese government did not back out, because solar and wind have become cheaper than coal. Wind energy prices have dropped by 66 percent and solar by 86 percent. In the last three years, the atmosphere has changed. There is a stronger belief that renewable energies are making a breakthrough.

Apart from the prices, the second big deal is batteries.Generally, you need a grid or a diesel generator to back solar and wind up. But instead of using diesel generators, now we can use batteries that store energy. Battery prices have also gone down by 80 precent. And over the next five years, batteries will be cheaper than the diesel backups. The investment recommendation we make is to buy batteries now, not diesel generators.

IPS: Where have renewable energies impacted the most?

FR: For example, in electricity production, we’ve seen a huge disruption. Most of the investments go to renewable energies. However, electricity is only 20 percent of energy use.

The other 80 percent is transportation and buildings. But I am confident that in some years, electric vehicles will be cheaper than normal fuel cars. These autonomous vehicles could reduce the number of vehicles in cities by three, which would reduce pollution, traffic, and costs.

IPS: The institute must also face challenges when promoting green growth. Is shifting investment patterns its biggest challenge?

FR: Yes. The hardest has been convincing Southeast Asian countries with fast-growing economies. They still invest in coal. Convincing those governments that solar and wind are cheaper remains the biggest challenge.

Sometimes we also find resistance in the utilities, companies that work with fossil fuels. We’ve had one government for which we did a plan for renewable energies, and then they told us they had already signed with fossil fuels. There are also countries where hotels want to put solars on their rooftops, but utilities say: “we will cut you off the grid.”

However, once the government agrees, it can take a short amount of time for them to transition to sustainable energies. In India it took two years. India had coal fired power plants. But as soon as the price of renewables decreased, the coal fired plants went down.

The example of Canberra (Australia) is also enlightening. They decided they wanted to be renewable by 2020. So, they put solars in schools, and they made it accessible so people could also put it on their homes. People got used to it and then they moved to utility-scale renewables.

IPS: Does this resistance in transitioning have to do with the loss of jobs?

FR: In the end there are gonna be more jobs with renewables than with coal. Trump talks about the job losses in coal, but he doesn’t talk about the new jobs with renewables. It’s true they may not be the same people, so you need some formal training. But that is normal. One industry dies and another is born.

IPS: You have been director general for two years, what have you achieved so far?

FR: GGGI has been strong in policy for a number of years. My predecessor saw there was a gap in developing bankable projects, and he started green investment finance services.

In 2017, we mobilised half a billion dollars in green and climate finance for the first time. I increased our goals to mobilise a couple billion dollars in our strategic planning. We raise it by investor commitments. Although our clients are governments, sometimes they can’t find investment themselves for renewable plans. We help find projects, we bring investors to the table, they sign a letter of intent, we hand it to the government and they decide over it.

IPS: And what do you want to accomplish in the next two years?

FR: We want to demonstrate that we can do it. Our goal for 2020 is to raise more than two and a half billion dollars in green and climate finance. And then convince more governments that this is crucial. Not only renewable energy, also waste management, pollution, and green jobs. We want to get more evidence that this works, and scale it to more countries. Our goal is to transform countries’ economies to green growth.

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Q&A: Why Young and Smart Greenpreneurs are the Future of Sustainable Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-young-smart-greenpreneurs-future-sustainable-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-young-smart-greenpreneurs-future-sustainable-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-young-smart-greenpreneurs-future-sustainable-development/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2018 15:16:04 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157757 IPS correspondent Busani Bafana speaks to Global Green Growth Institute's Greenpreneurs programme manager Juhern Kim.

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Members of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CEYN) clean debris from a river in Trinidad. GGGI has developed a new platform for young entrepreneurs with a flair for business development that is environmentally and socially sound, i.e. green growth business. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe , Sep 25 2018 (IPS)

Young people – a growing population segment in developing countries – are intrepid innovators and entrepreneurs who can help solve pressing climate and development challenges today.

Believing in the potential of the youth, the Seoul-based Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI), in partnership with Student Energy and Youth Climate Lab, has developed a new platform for young entrepreneurs with a flair for business development that is environmentally and socially sound.

Greenpreneurs is designed to provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs to transform innovative ideas into green businesses in sustainable energy, water and sanitation, sustainable landscapes and green cities.

GGGI’s manager leading the Greenpreneurs Programme, Juhern Kim, says the institute has been working with developing countries for the last six years as an inter-governmental organisation and realised the need to work with young people in those countries as a new engine of green growth. Many young people have innovative ideas on green growth but do not have a proper ecosystem to convert them into business opportunities that create jobs.

“Based on my experience, I learned firsthand about the limitation of an aid-based development approach, and recognised the need of partnering with business as a solution provider of traditional development issues that we want to tackle through a green growth intervention,” Kim tells IPS. “There might be a role of us – solely dedicated to promoting green growth – as a facilitator or platform creator to serve the needs in developing countries, working with various stakeholders including investors.”

Excerpts of the interview follow:

GGGI’s manager leading the Greenpreneurs Programme, Juhern Kim, says the idea behind the programme was to ultimately develop locally-driven, locally-originated green businesses. Courtesy: Juhern Kim

Inter Press Service (IPS):What was the motivation behind the Greenpreneurs Programme?

Juhern Kim (JK):To promote young entrepreneurs developing green business and contributing to green growth. Young entrepreneurs in developing countries have a lack of access to the right technical training, network, mentorship, (strategy to access to) investment capital. They require coaching to convert their ideas into solid business plans.

But incubating young entrepreneurs is not a simple task, since the demand is varied depending on diverse stages of business development, e.g. idea stage–prototyping–testing–commercialisation. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to help entrepreneurs, particularly for those who are committed to green growth. And we are not talking about Silicon Valley here, with abundant capital, intellectual and physical infrastructure, and advanced ecosystem. These types of platforms are not always installed in every country in the developing world. For young entrepreneurs in the developing world, [we have to] level the playing field.

IPS: Why the youth for greenpreneurship?

JK: I was working in Cambodia from 2011 to 2013 and realised that young people in rural areas were leaving their towns looking for new jobs. I wondered if rural areas are losing their young people who could look after the future of those villages, from economic, social, and environmental perspectives.

The idea behind promoting Greenpreneurs was to ultimately develop locally-driven, locally-originated green businesses. Ideas created by local people are authentic and ultimately sustainable if the business is taken care of with local ownership, since they know what they need, in terms of culture and practice. We thought, if that worked, that would provide green jobs for the youth.

IPS:Are green jobs possible in achieving the SDGs?

JK: Yes. Depending on the country situation and our intervention, we are focused mainly on goals #6, #7, #11, #13, #15 and #17 on climate change, energy, water and sanitation, land, agriculture, forestry and green cities. We want to grow the green economy sector and this can be associated with green finance and education and support social goals…the idea is to support and boost innovation in terms of green growth and provide some support. We believe ultimately these early stage investments will create jobs and, if successful, will ensure the hiring of local people and these kinds of businesses can be expanded.

IPS: Talk me through the business plan competition behind this initiative?

JK: Through our pilot programme this year, we have received 349 applications globally from youth startups. From these applicants we shortlisted 10 finalists and they have been working with us since early August through the 10-week web modules. We thought the online modules were ideal instead of developing a physical incubator, since we targeted youth entrepreneurs who do have enough support on the ground.

We started off with a webinar with GGGI’s director general Frank Rijsberman’s message to young entrepreneurs while providing content-based modules dealing with customer segmentation and problem-solving techniques to financial/impact modelling. We are now on Week 7 and up to Week 10 we will be help them organise their ideas to customise them for a final business pitch.

This will be a five-minute video pitch in which they will quantify social and environmental returns and show a robustness of the financial model to evaluate the proposal. We will then select three finalists who will come to Seoul in late October to be awarded the prize, during the side event of GGGI council.

IPS: Green growth is quite a fancy concept especially in the African context and in your experience do you see a lot of interest in this low carbon based development given that developing countries have technically argued they pollute less than developed countries but bear the brunt of the impact of climate change? 

JK: I would dare to say this is an old argument. The kind of radical confrontation is over. The situation is different now. The facts are there. Simply put, in 2016 solar power became cheaper in terms of clean energy – there is no reason to not pursue an economically beneficial and social sound renewable business. It is not just about limiting development for the sake of the environment, but more about thinking of ways of using the natural capital wisely in the growing economy.

One of the examples is bio-economy, which could be considered a subset of green growth based on biological resources. Agriculture and food production are part of the bio-economy as one of the easiest entry points for the development of innovative bio-economy opportunities – agriculture is the largest driver of global environmental change, and is most affected by these changes. Therefore, a transformation to a sustainable agriculture and food system is a must.

IPS: What next?

JK: We have tried to make this programme as flexible as possible, focusing on actual impacts on the ground nurturing promising entrepreneurs. We do not want to re-invent the wheel, as there are many players in entrepreneurship such as incubators and accelerators.

We will partner with them leveraging our comparative advantage of working directly with our partner governments. After this year’s competition – equipped with the seed capital for entrepreneurs hopefully from our new private sector partners – we hope to make a better global and national programme giving more opportunities to young people in developing countries dedicated to green growth with an aim of actual job creation.

The post Q&A: Why Young and Smart Greenpreneurs are the Future of Sustainable Development appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

IPS correspondent Busani Bafana speaks to Global Green Growth Institute's Greenpreneurs programme manager Juhern Kim.

The post Q&A: Why Young and Smart Greenpreneurs are the Future of Sustainable Development appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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The Revolutionary Ambition of AGRF 2018 Must be Sustainedhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/revolutionary-ambition-agrf-2018-must-sustained/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=revolutionary-ambition-agrf-2018-must-sustained http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/revolutionary-ambition-agrf-2018-must-sustained/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 20:37:32 +0000 Korir Sing Oei http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157740 Korir Sing’Oei is Legal Advisor & Head of Policy at Office of Deputy President, Kenya

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President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, together with Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto, President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo, the Prime Minister of Gabon, Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair during the Presidential Summit at the AGRF 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Credit: Mark Irungu/AGRF

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, together with Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto, President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo, the Prime Minister of Gabon, Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair during the Presidential Summit at the AGRF 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Credit: Mark Irungu/AGRF

By Korir Sing’Oei
Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

In early September 2018, about 2,800 delegates from 79 countries and high-level dignitaries, including current and former heads of states, international agencies, CEOs of global corporations and youth entrepreneurs, and techies involved in agriculture gathered in Kigali for this year’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).

The convening happened against the backdrop of the sudden death of Kofi Annan, whose clarion call for a unique African green revolution in the mold of India, gave rise to the establishment of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which hosts AGRF.

The monumental success of AGRF 2018 is clearly a tribute to the steering role played by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) secretariat, led by former Rwanda agriculture minister, Dr. Agnes Kalibata and funding partners; notably the Gates Foundation, Rockefeller and other multilateral donors.

But why would a consummate diplomat in the person of Kofi Annan focus his attention on agriculture rather than global governance issues?

Korir Sing’Oei

AGRF’s theory of change appears to be premised on the idea that high level political dialogue and exchanges are a prerequisite to policy coherence for agricultural transformation. In attracting and bringing heads of states, ministers, senior policy makers together with business actors around a conversation on agriculture, several policies, institutional and programmatic ideas become clear, as was witnessed in Kigali.

First, as an institutional design issue, agriculture must be entrenched as a high level political and business priority across the continent as it ought to have been. Left to travail at ministries of agriculture, often underfunded and poorly linked to the rest of government departments, agricultural transformation stands stunted in the intense resource competition, pitting it against seemingly more productive options such as industrialization and infrastructure – including the much-vaunted railway development.

Second, critical delivery required to transform agriculture cannot be driven at ministerial level. The mechanization agenda for instance, cannot be siloed in the ministry of agriculture. It must become an inter-ministerial and whole of governments’ effort.

As it was argued by the Malabo Montpellier Panel at the AGRF 2018, sustainable agricultural growth above 4% annually requires machinery uptake growth of no less than 2.5%. In this trajectory, Kenya like several other African countries falls below the mark, with mechanization of its agricultural systems still way below 35%.

Agriculture in Africa must cease being a struggle to survive and converted into a business that thrives. This, in my view, is what inspired Dr. Kofi Annan, to make agriculture the centerpiece of his post UN Secretary General agenda

The resulting low production levels is partly attributable to the mechanization deficit and measures that allow production of agricultural equipment at reasonable price should be considered, if scale is to be achieved. Regional manufacturing hubs that pool a number of countries can make such manufacturing viable and remove policy constraints.

However, an agenda of this magnitude cannot entirely be based at the agricultural ministries but must become a national and sub-regional imperative. The AGRF 2018 #HowWillYouLead campaign, that seeks to rally public and private sector leaders in Africa and beyond to intensify agricultural transformation in the continent, represents this understanding.

Food is central to the sustenance of the human condition. The cyclical occurrences of drought and hunger, exacerbated by the climate change phenomenon, continues to place the continent’s population in a state of dependency and vulnerability.

Rain fed agriculture can no longer guarantee the food and nutrition requirements of a continent, whose population is projected to reach a billion people by 2050. The assertion by Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman of Econet Group that “crops do not need rain they need water” resonated so much with the AGRF 2018 delegates, becoming a near slogan and a central theme of the conference.

As attested to by the Africa Agriculture Status Report 2018, countries whose agricultural sectors have registered marked transformation over the last decade, such as Ethiopia, have aggressively expanded irrigated farmlands. With 3.3 million hectares under irrigation out of 70 million hectares of arable land, Ethiopia’s food security turnaround was touted as a marker of success that craves continental replication.

Thus, the Kigali Declaration on Farmer-led Irrigation for Smallholder Farming Enterprises was adopted urging “public investment, commercial financing, and capacity building that enable individual smallholders to afford, own, operate and benefit from irrigation systems.”

For a long time, the African Union’s agriculture-related commitments have been an invisible inconvenience, lost in the bureaucratic maze of the Addis diplomatic behemoth that is sold out on the peace and security agenda.

Even the well-known Comprehensive African Agricultural Programme (CAADP) and the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods remain technical scientific niceties of little impact to the development of agricultural sectors at country level. And as demonstrated in Kigali, AGRF, has now become the apposite space that animates these continental commitments, vivifying them with data, content, funding ideas and implementation matrices.

While this revolution is yet to be televised, the young techies that straddled the ornate floors of Kigali Conference Centre at AGRF 2018 demystified agriculture and made it attractive to the burgeoning youth of our continent, who must take center stage in reimagining the sector for the 21st century. This was so much evident that when Deputy President Ruto, reminded the forum that the average age of a farmer in Kenya is 60 years against a mean age of 19, concern regarding the sustainability of the sector was unmistakable.

And as farmers across the continent continue their perennial dance to grow sufficient food and convey it from farm to fork for consumption by the millions of us, more must be done to make farming not only sustainable but profitable. Agriculture in Africa must cease being a struggle to survive and converted into a business that thrives. This, in my view, is what inspired Dr. Kofi Annan, to make agriculture the centerpiece of his post UN Secretary General agenda.

The post The Revolutionary Ambition of AGRF 2018 Must be Sustained appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Korir Sing’Oei is Legal Advisor & Head of Policy at Office of Deputy President, Kenya

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

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Coral reef in Mexico. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS

By Andrew Norton
LONDON, Sep 20 2018 (IPS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post First Steps Towards a Global Agreement on the High Seas appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

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

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Q&A: Achieving Sustainable Goals: “In the End it is All About People. If People Want, it Will Happen.”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-achieving-sustainable-goals-end-people-people-want-will-happen/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-achieving-sustainable-goals-end-people-people-want-will-happen http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-achieving-sustainable-goals-end-people-people-want-will-happen/#respond Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:05:07 +0000 Manipadma Jena http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157577 Manipadma Jena interviews the Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead at the Global Green Growth Institute's (GGGI) Investment and Policy Solutions Division, PETER VOS.

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On Bangladesh's extensive estuaries, millions of poorest climate vulnerable families eke out a paltry living from inter-tidal fishing like this father-son team that is selling their catch of catfish to tourists on a power boat. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

By Manipadma Jena
STOCKHOLM, Sep 12 2018 (IPS)

Today just over two billion people live without readily available, safe water supplies at home. And more than half the world’s population, roughly 4.3 billion people, live in areas where demand for water resources outstrips sustainable supplies for at least part of the year.

Yet the world is not managing water well or making the most of it, the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development said in July this year. This is due above all to failures of policies, governance, leadership and markets."So currently there is emerging a good opportunity to attract conservation finance for nature conservation, for water management, for sustainable landscapes." -- Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead at the Global Green Growth Institute, Peter Vos.

By 2030, investment in water and sanitation infrastructure will need to be around USD0.9 -1.5 trillion per year, according to the New Climate Economy Report 2018. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate released this major report earlier this month.

Maximising returns on water investment requires recognising the potential for natural or green infrastructure to complement or replace built infrastructure. It also requires mobilising private finance and investment at scale and generating adequate revenue returns. It will also be vital to put an appropriate value on water and sanitation services.

This is what the South Korea headquartered Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) helps developing countries and emerging economies do, among other things. GGGI, an inter-governmental organisation with 28 member countries, supports and promotes strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in its partner countries. It supports countries’ national efforts to translate climate commitments, contained in their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, into concrete climate action.

“GGGI delivers green growth services in the water sector that requires [the application of] market-based solutions for managing ecosystem services using innovative financial instruments such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES),” said Peter Vos, deputy director and Global Water Sector Lead during World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. Vos has extensive experience in international water projects both in the public and private sector.

He said that GGGI saw the PES model as not only providing a vehicle for incentivising ecosystem management, but also being able to help achieve long-term sustainable goals.

In a presentation on financing water conservation for ecosystem services at the global event organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute, Vos strongly emphasised PES as a powerful tool for enhancing economic, environmental and social returns from investments in integrated ecosystem management. Excerpts of the interview follow:

Peter Vos, Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead in GGGI’s Investment and Policy Solutions Division, said that GGGI saw the Payment for Ecosystem Services model as not only providing a vehicle for incentivising ecosystem management, but also being able to help achieve long-term sustainable goals. Courtesy: Peter Vos

IPS: Please tell us about GGGI’s participation in the World Water Week and how it benefits from it.

PV: What is getting the attention of the water discussion now is ecosystem services. We try to get knowledge about the crucial elements of this aspect. GGGI is implementing PES in the water sector and has been involved in the development of financial instruments to support ecosystem services in several developing countries.

GGGI works to address issues impacting water availability and use by encouraging water-related innovation in industries and investment in green urban infrastructure, and through integration with policies on water allocation in economic sectors.

Secondly, there are the bilateral meetings which hold importance for our future work and at World Water Week we met a cross-section of stakeholders, including from ministries, donors, also NGOs.

We had very intense discussions and made good progress. GGGI is an international organisation focusing on green growth, and we need partners to pursue our agenda, not only in terms of attracting finance but also in ways in which we can work together, to cooperate, expand and have more impact. We are a small organisation and cannot do it alone.

IPS: GGGI’s water sector has been providing a range of appropriate technical guidance towards green growth to low and lower-middle income countries that are tailored to their socio-economic conditions, their capacity and demand. What are GGGI’s working strengths in this area?

PV: GGGI focuses on mainstreaming water resources management in green planning frameworks, decentralised sanitation and water quality investments, and innovation through bio-economy, including climate resilient food systems and payment for ecosystem services.

What makes GGGI’s operations successful is that we are embedded in the government. We are not outsiders but one of them. We have our staff sitting in the ministry itself, discussing constantly how to improve sustainable economic growth, looking at policy reform through the green pathway.

Green growth policies allow for limited water resources to be used more efficiently and enable access to all at a reasonable cost, while leaving sufficient quantities to sustain the environment. New green projects in water and sanitation not only improve overall capacity in sustainable water management, but also create additional green jobs.

The second aspect about the way GGGI works is that it is there with partner countries for the long haul. Our commitments are long term and we see it through from policy reforms all the way to supporting project implementation. We are there monitoring projects even five years after [implementation] and assist governments if something goes wrong.

Our linkages between policy reform and project development ensures implementation. But if it is only about policy reform then it is very likely that it will be written in a report and may never see the light of day. Without policy implementation, policy reform is a toothless tiger; it will not be successful…So we have two pillars. The first is policy reform to create a conducive environment. [And the] second is project implementation that creates the hands and feet of what we jointly want to achieve.

IPS: What are some of the implementation challenges GGGI faces and how does it handle them?

PV: In setting the ground for reforms, yes challenges are there. Politicians are there for the short term. Elected governments may be there for four years but ministers are often changed in a year’s time. One cannot rely on political support only; one has to work with all the layers below it – the civil service and municipalities – to make a policy or a project sustainable and internalise it.

We consider ourselves the strategic advisors, discussing policies and project extensively till the administration is fluent with them. We ensure that we have a broad base of support and not concentrated on one or two [powerful] persons.

We have been very nimble. The world is changing very fast and we need to adapt and respond quickly to the needs and opportunities for our member countries. So in the past year we have strengthened our presence in the countries of operations. With two-thirds of our staff in member countries, and just one-third at headquarters, we are closer than before to ground operations in member countries.

IPS: GGGI also helps member countries with investment strategies for their green projects. What is its investment mantra in an increasingly public fund-squeezed world?

PV: The mantra is that public investments are not sufficient to change the world. We need to attract other financing. Private financing is very important. There is a huge amount of private financing floating around. They are all looking for investment opportunities.

With current low interest rates it is difficult for them to find the right investment opportunities. So currently there is emerging a good opportunity to attract conservation finance for nature conservation, for water management, for sustainable landscapes.

Definitely there is a search for returns on investments but investors want impact; they want to do good for Nature, to do good for people. So this is also helping. Investors, especially in Germany, in the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries, are contributing to this shift. We have to find our opportunity in this shift to attract funding.

Since there is limited public money, we have to use it intelligently. What GGGI is doing is putting government and donor money or contributions from the Green Climate Fund into projects in such a way that the private investor feels confident that their investment will give assured returns. For instance, in Rwanda we are working on energy efficiency and climate change investments. Financial vehicles are designed with a foundation of public funds and this gives comfort to private investors.

IPS: How do you see the earth in 2050 and where do you see hope for sustainability coming from?

PV: In principle I am very optimistic. This is not a scientific answer but a personal opinion. I am also optimistic that we will be able to achieve positive results and in the end remain below the two degree warming limit.

This positivity is fed by the innovations for sustainability I see, that investors now are looking for impact rather than financial returns and the fact that the membership of GGGI increased to 28 members who remain very committed to a sustainable growth path. Countries like China may still be resorting to coal-powered electricity but they are taking big steps towards sustainability simultaneously.

Today, it is a combination of positive and negative factors, but I hope and expect the positive will prevail, that we will be able to turn the ship in the end. In the end it is all about people. If people want, it will happen.

The post Q&A: Achieving Sustainable Goals: “In the End it is All About People. If People Want, it Will Happen.” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Manipadma Jena interviews the Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead at the Global Green Growth Institute's (GGGI) Investment and Policy Solutions Division, PETER VOS.

The post Q&A: Achieving Sustainable Goals: “In the End it is All About People. If People Want, it Will Happen.” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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“Running Out Of Time” – Local Communities Mobilise for the Climatehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/running-time-local-communities-mobilise-climate/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=running-time-local-communities-mobilise-climate http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/running-time-local-communities-mobilise-climate/#respond Wed, 12 Sep 2018 08:42:24 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157572 Local communities across the globe have risen up to demand commitments on climate change, as frustration mounts over the lack of action. Over the next few days, leaders from civil society, local governments, and the private sector will convene in California to highlight the urgency of the threat of climate change and “take ambition to […]

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Fayaz Ahmad Khanday plucks a lotus stem from Wullar Lake in India’s Kashmir. He says the fish population has fallen drastically in recent times. The Global Climate Action Summit aims to hear the voices and experiences of local communities, but also to showcase the existing grassroots achievements in climate action and that progress is possible. Credit: Umer Asif/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 12 2018 (IPS)

Local communities across the globe have risen up to demand commitments on climate change, as frustration mounts over the lack of action.

Over the next few days, leaders from civil society, local governments, and the private sector will convene in California to highlight the urgency of the threat of climate change and “take ambition to the next level.”

And it is nothing if not timely.

Not only is it being hosted midway between when the Paris Agreement was signed in 2016 and when it will legally commence in 2020, the Global Climate Action Summit is happening as the United States’ government continues to roll back federal regulations aimed at addressing the issue.“All of the scientists who understand climate change are telling us that we are running out of time to address this issue.” -- Union of Concerned Scientists’ president Ken Kimmell.

In July, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed weakening a rule on carbon dioxide pollution from vehicles. Most recently, the U.S. agency proposed easing Obama-era rules on the reduction of oil and gas industry leaks of methane gas, a major fossil fuel that contributes to climate change.

“The Trump Administration is kind of a wrecking ball that is swinging at virtually all the policies we have in place to try to address climate change,” Union of Concerned Scientists’ president Ken Kimmell told IPS. The union is a nonprofit science advocacy organisation.

“What’s so important about the summit is that if you look beyond the federal government and look at what states and cities and the private sector are doing, you see that in fact there is a still very significant commitment to addressing climate change… it gives us a chance to tell the rest of the world that we are still in this fight,” he continued.

Just days before the meeting, over 300,000 people took part in climate marches and protests around the world to urge local governments to step up action—from rising sea levels in Vanuatu to fossil fuel extraction across the U.S. to coal mining in Kenya.

350 Pilipinas conducted a virtual march by projecting the photos more than 500 frontline communities, activists, students, artists, churchgoers, and other advocates for climate action in Quezon City, Metro Manila. Courtesy: AC Dimatatac/350.org

Executive director of international climate change campaign 350.org, May Boeve, told IPS of the importance of local voices and action, stating: “Part of why the mobilisation is rooted in the local is because we recognise that tackling the climate crisis requires building a new economy that works for all of us and leaves no one behind.”

“This is a set of people who, in many ways, are dedicating their lives to making sure this transition happens. For them, the fact that it’s global, helps them realise that they are not isolated, that the fight that they are waging in their community may seem unwinnable at times but they can draw inspiration from elsewhere,” she continued.

And the summit aims to do exactly that—put the local at the heart by not only hearing the voices and experiences of local communities, but also to showcase the existing grassroots achievements in climate action and that progress is possible.

Earlier this week, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to transition the state’s electricity to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, a major step forward to achieving a carbon-free society.

On the other side of the country, the state of Massachusetts has announced its intention to create offshore wind farms to help power homes.

In China, electric buses are replacing diesel-fuelled assemblies at a rapid rate. Soon, Chinese company BYD, the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer, will supply electric vehicles to the U.S. state of Georgia, which will help the state achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gases.

Even still, more can be done, Boeve and Kimmell said.

Boeve highlighted the need for Brown to cease the expansion of oil drilling and fracking. While production has decreased, California is still ranked sixth among U.S. states in crude oil production.

Kimmell noted that states and cities could work to make building more efficient while the private sector can purchase and use renewable energy for their operations.

“For us to effectively fight climate change, it really has to be from the bottom up, not the top down. It’s really important that local governments and states and private businesses are thinking about what they can do within their power to lower their carbon footprint and the answer is that there is a lot that they can do,” Kimmell told IPS.

A semi-submerged graveyard on Togoru, Fiji. The island states in the South Pacific are most vulnerable for sealevel rise and extreme weather. Credit: Pascal Laureyn/IPS

Boeve expressed concern that progress on climate action, including the transition to renewable energy and the Paris Agreement, are not moving fast enough.

“This is an enormous opportunity to make this transition happen. But if that happens in 50-75 years, we are not actually addressing what we know will reduce warming in the future so we have to make sure the people making decisions on this issue know that the timetable is critical,” she said.

A recent United Nations (U.N.) climate change meeting in Bangkok was criticised by activists after it failed to produce concrete outcomes, including a set of guidelines to implement the Paris Agreement.

“We have not progressed far enough. It is not just an additional session; it is an urgent session,” said Fijian prime minister and COP23 president Frank Bainimarama in his opening remarks. COP23 is the 23rdannual Conference of the Parties to the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Among the controversial topics in the meeting was climate finance for developing countries, from which developed nations such as the U.S. shied away from committing to.

“When people understand the climate crisis, you immediately realise that any country can’t do it alone. Not even half the countries can do it alone—it really requires all of us together,” Boeve said.

“All of the scientists who understand climate change are telling us that we are running out of time to address this issue,” Kimmell said.

He expressed hope that summit participants will leave with a renewed appreciation for the urgency of the crisis and motivation to raise their own and their local and national government’s ambitions.

“There are all of these different success stories and what’s driving this progress is technology and innovation coupled with clear-thinking state policies…this is really a clean energy train that has left the station and I don’t think that Donald Trump can stop it,” Kimmel said.

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Law of the Sea Convention Expands to Cover Marine Biological Diversityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/law-sea-convention-expands-cover-marine-biological-diversity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=law-sea-convention-expands-cover-marine-biological-diversity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/law-sea-convention-expands-cover-marine-biological-diversity/#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 11:21:21 +0000 Palitha Kohona http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157556 Dr Palitha Kohona is former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations & former co-Chair of the UN Adhoc Working Group on Biological Diversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction

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Coral reef ecosystem at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Jim Maragos/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

By Dr Palitha Kohona
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Sep 11 2018 (IPS)

Responding to a persistent demand by developing countries, the conservation community and science, the UN General Assembly has commenced a process for bringing the areas beyond national jurisdiction in the oceans under a global legally binding regulatory framework.

Approximately two thirds of the oceans exist beyond national jurisdiction. The Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS), concluded in 1982, currently provides the broad legal and policy framework for all activities relating to the seas and oceans, including, to some extent, for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

However, despite the comprehensive nature of UNCLOS, many feel that BBNJ is not adequately covered under it as detailed knowledge of BBNJ was not available, even to the scientific community, at the time. Advancements in science and technology have brought vast amounts of knowledge to our attention in the years following the conclusion of UNCLOS.

Today human knowledge about the oceans, including its deepest parts which were inaccessible previously, is much more comprehensive and new information continues to flood in due to significant scientific and technical advances.

UNCLOS, referred to as the ‘Constitution for the Oceans’ by the former Singaporean Ambassador Tommy Koh, came into force in 1994,and will necessarily be further elaborated as human knowledge of the oceans increases and human activities multiply.

It is already complemented by two specific implementing agreements, namely the Agreement relating to Part XI of UNCLOS, which addresses matters related to the Area as defined in the UNCLOS (the sea bed beyond national jurisdiction), and the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of UNCLOS relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. The proposed treaty on BBNJ will be the third implementing agreement under the UNCLOS.

The seas and oceans, which have acquired unprecedented commercial value and have become a major source of global nutrition, have also been the subject of considerable international rule making, most of it piecemeal. An estimated 200 million people world-wide make a living from fishing and related activities. Mostly in poor developing countries.

Fish provide at least 20 % of the animal protein intake of over 2.6 billion people. A treaty on BBNJ, as envisaged, while filling a gap in the existing global regulatory framework, will also result in significant areas of the oceans being set aside as Marine Protected Areas (MPA) to provide protection to marine biological diversity, its critical habitat, including spawning areas, as well as ensuring the equitable division of the benefits resulting from the scientific exploitation of such resources, especially through the development of new products.

Under the umbrella of UNCLOS, and carefully accommodated within it and its implementing agreements, a number of international instruments (and regimes) at the global and regional levels relevant to the conservation and
sustainable use of marine BBNJ, have been put in place already.

At the global level, these include inter alia, the regulations adopted by the International Seabed Authority for the protection and preservation of the marine environment in the Area; the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); instruments adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); measures adopted by the International Maritime Organization; measures relating to intellectual property in the context of the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

At the regional level, the relevant measures include those adopted by regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements (RFMO/As) by regional seas organizations having competence beyond areas of national jurisdiction.

A range of non-binding instruments/mechanisms also provide policy guidance of relevance to the conservation and exploitation of marine biodiversity, including beyond areas of national jurisdiction. These include the resolutions of the UN General Assembly on oceans and the law of the sea and on sustainable fisheries, as well as the Rio Declaration and Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the outcome document of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, i.e. The future we want, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development).

However, despite the existence of the above regimes, the need for a legally binding multilateral instrument to govern the protection, sustainable utilisation and benefit sharing of BBNJ has been advocated by a range of interest groups for some time. A champion of this process has been Argentina.

The negotiation process. Smooth sailing or rough seas ahead?

The UN ad-hoc working group (WG) on BBNJ, established by the GA in 2004, in response to the demands of a majority of the international community, took over ten years to finalise its recommendations in February 2015. Initially, the WG made little progress and was running the risk of being terminated.

Since 2010, it was co-chaired by Sri Lanka (Ambassador Dr Palitha Kohona) and the Netherlands (Dr Liesbeth Lijnzard). While the subject was not easy, and many delegations were only beginning to grasp its complexities, curious coalitions began to form. The Group of 77 (G77) and the European Union (EU) formed a common and a powerful front for different reasons.

Many strategic negotiating approaches were discussed behind the scenes and effectively deployed by these two unlikely allies resulting in a successful outcome to the work of the WG. Basically, the G77 wanted the future exploitation of BBNJ regulated globally so that the anticipated benefits would be distributed more equitably and marine technology transferred consistent with the commitments made under the UNCLOS.

Already significant numbers of patents based on biological specimens, including microorganisms (12,998 genetic sequences), retrieved from the oceans, many from hydrothermal vents, have been registered. (11% of all patent sequences are from specimens recovered from the ocean). 98 per cent of patents based on marine species were owned by institutions in 10 countries.

The German pharmaceutical giant, BASF, alone has registered 47% of the patented sequences. The financial bonanza that was expected from the commercialisation of these patents was hugely tempting. It is estimated that by 2025, the global market for marine biotechnological products will exceed $6.4 billion and was likely to grow further.

The EU, for its part, wanted to reserve large areas of the oceans for marine protected areas for conservation purposes. Conservation in this manner would result in providing space for genetic material to replenish itself naturally. The goals of the two groups were not necessarily contradictory.

The reservations on the need for a global legally binding regulatory mechanism for BBNJ were expressed mainly by the US, Japan, Norway and the Republic of Korea. Their interest was in preserving the unhindered freedom of private corporations to exploit biological specimens to conduct research and produce new materials, including drugs, biofuels and chemicals for commercial purposes.

These corporations needed the assurance that the billions that they were expending on research would produce financially attractive results. The difficulties involved in identifying the sources from where the specimens were recovered (whether beyond national jurisdiction or within), the costs usually associated with a discovery and bringing a commercially viable product into the market place, the actual need for a legally binding instrument in the current circumstances, the possibility of achieving the same goals through a non binding instrument, etc, were some of the concerns articulated.

These concerns are expected to be raised during the treaty negotiations as well. The US which held out to the bitter end preventing consensus at the WG is not even a party to the UNCLOS. A Preparatory Committee established by the UNGA to make recommendations on the elements of a draft of an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine BBNJ under UNCLOS, prior to holding an international conference met in four sessions in 2016 and 2017. Treaty negotiations began in September 2018 following the organizational session (in April 2018) and the conclusion of the fourth and concluding session of the Preparatory Committee.

It could be expected that the US and the like-minded group, reflecting a recognisable private enterprise oriented policy bias, would continue to raise objections affecting the smooth progress of the negotiations. The Trump administration, which has made it a habit of distancing itself from compacts to which the US had solemnly subscribed cannot be expected to be more sympathetic to the BBNJ aspirations of the G77 and the EU any more than the Obama administration.

Deposit with the UN Secretary-General

The Secretary-General is the depositary of over 550 multilateral treaties, mostly negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations. The UNCLOS and its two implementing agreements are examples. These are customarily deposited with the SG due to the recognition that he enjoys in the international community as a high level independent global authority.

The proposed treaty on BBNJ would in all likelihood, be deposited with the UN SG, when concluded. The day to day management of activity relating to these multilateral treaties is the responsibility of the Treaty Section of the UN Office of Legal Affairs, a function which dates back to the early days of the creation of the UN. Exceptionally, a major multilateral treaty may be deposited elsewhere.

For example, the NPT is deposited with the governments of the US, UK and Russia. Under Article 102 of the UN Charter all treaties, both multilateral and bilateral are required to be registered with the UN. The UN is the custodian of over 55,000 bilateral treaties so registered, currently available on line.

The post Law of the Sea Convention Expands to Cover Marine Biological Diversity appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Dr Palitha Kohona is former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations & former co-Chair of the UN Adhoc Working Group on Biological Diversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction

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UN Begins Talks on World’s First Treaty to Regulate High Seashttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-begins-talks-worlds-first-treaty-regulate-high-seas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-begins-talks-worlds-first-treaty-regulate-high-seas http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-begins-talks-worlds-first-treaty-regulate-high-seas/#comments Fri, 07 Sep 2018 10:22:21 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157498 After several years of preliminary discussions, the United Nations has begun its first round of inter-governmental negotiations to draft the world’s first legally binding treaty to protect and regulate the “high seas”—which, by definition, extend beyond 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) and are considered “international waters” shared globally. “The high seas cover half our planet […]

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A trawler in Johnstone Strait, BC, Canada. Human activities such as pollution, overfishing, mining, geo-engineering and climate change have made an international agreement to protect the high seas more critical than ever. Credit: Winky/cc by 2.0

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

After several years of preliminary discussions, the United Nations has begun its first round of inter-governmental negotiations to draft the world’s first legally binding treaty to protect and regulate the “high seas”—which, by definition, extend beyond 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) and are considered “international waters” shared globally.

“The high seas cover half our planet and are vital to the functioning of the whole ocean and all life on Earth. The current high seas governance system is weak, fragmented and unfit to address the threats we now face in the 21stt century from climate change, illegal and overfishing, plastics pollution and habitat loss”, says Peggy Kalas, Coordinator of the High Seas Alliance, a partnership of 40+ non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“This is an historic opportunity to protect the biodiversity and functions of the high seas through legally binding commitments” she added.

The two-week Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which concludes 17 September, is described as the first in a series of four negotiating sessions which are expected to continue through 2020.

Asked about the contentious issues facing negotiators, Dr Veronica Frank, Political Advisor at Greenpeace International, told IPS “although it is still early, we can expect that some of the potential issues that will require attention include the relationship between the new Global Ocean Treaty and existing legal instruments and bodies.”

These will include those who regulate activities such as fishing and mining, and what role
these other organizations will play in the management of activities that may impact on the marine environment in future ocean sanctuaries on the high seas.

“Also tricky is the issue of marine genetic resources, especially how to ensure the access and sharing of benefits from their use,” Dr Frank said.

Asked how different the proposed treaty would be from the historic 1994 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Essam Yassin Mohammed, Principal Researcher on Oceans and Environmental Economics at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), told IPS: “This new treaty is particularly significant because it is the first time the high seas will be governed.”

These negotiations are an opportunity, not just to protect the health of the oceans, but also to make sure all countries ― not just the wealthy few ― can benefit from the ocean’s resources in a sustainable way, he pointed out.

“As important as The Law of the Sea is, it only covers the band of water up to 200 miles from the coast. It does not cover the use and sustainable management of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction,” he added.

While this was acceptable in an era when the technological capacities that enabled people to venture beyond this area were limited, rapid innovation and technological advancement has changed this. Increasingly, economic activities are taking place in the high seas, he noted.

Most are unregulated and pose a major threat to marine biodiversity. It is more urgent than ever to fill this governance gap and monitor and regulate any activity in the high seas and make sure they benefit everyone ― particularly the poorest countries, he argued.

According to the High Seas Alliance, the ocean’s key role in mitigating climate change, which includes absorbing 90% of the extra heat and 26% of the excess carbon dioxide created by human sources, has had a devastating effect on the ocean itself.

Managing the multitude of other anthropogenic stressors exerted on it will increase its resilience to climate change and ocean acidification and protect unique marine ecosystems, many of which are still unexplored and undiscovered. Because these are international waters, the conservation measures needed can only be put into place via a global treaty, the Alliance said.

Dr Frank said the new treaty must create a global process for the designation and effective implementation of highly protected sanctuaries in areas beyond national borders.

Such global process must include the following elements: (a) a clear objective and a duty to cooperate to protect, maintain, and restore ocean health and resilience through a global network of marine protected areas, in particular highly protected marine reserves, and (b) the identification of potential areas that meet the conservation objective.

Asked about the existing law of the sea treaty, she said UNCLOS, which is the constitution of the ocean, sets the jurisdictional framework, ie general rights and obligations of Parties in different maritime zones, including some general obligations to cooperate and protect marine life and marine living resources that also apply to waters beyond national borders.

However, the Convention doesn’t spell out what these obligations entail in practice and puts much more emphasis on the traditional freedoms to use the high seas.

The Convention does not even mention the term biodiversity, she said, pointing out that
the treaty under negotiation will be the third so-called “Implementing Agreement” under UNCLOS – after the agreement for the implementation of Part XI on seabed minerals and one on fish stocks – and it will implement, specify and operationalise UNCLOS broad environmental provisions in relation to the protection of the global oceans.

Dr Frank said this is the first time in history that governments are negotiating rules that will bring UNCLOS in line with modern principles of environmental governance and provide effective protection to global oceans.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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Climate Change Becomes a Reality Check for the Northhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/climate-change-becomes-reality-check-north/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-becomes-reality-check-north http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/climate-change-becomes-reality-check-north/#comments Wed, 05 Sep 2018 15:53:42 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157468 “This season, the month of May was particularly hot and dry,” says Leo De Jong, a commercial farmer in Zeewolde, in Flevopolder, the Netherlands. Flevopolder is in the province of Flevoland, the largest site of land reclamation in the world. Here a hectare of land costs up to 100,000 Euros. “At the moment, we are spending […]

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A drought stressed maize crop on Leo De Jong's farm, in the Netherlands. De Jong says he spends between 20,000 and 25,000 Euros per week on irrigation. Credit: Friday Phiri/IPS

By Friday Phiri
WAGENINGEN, The Netherlands, Sep 5 2018 (IPS)

“This season, the month of May was particularly hot and dry,” says Leo De Jong, a commercial farmer in Zeewolde, in Flevopolder, the Netherlands. Flevopolder is in the province of Flevoland, the largest site of land reclamation in the world. Here a hectare of land costs up to 100,000 Euros. “At the moment, we are spending between 20,000 and 25,000 Euros per week on irrigation.”

While most reports point to developing nations being the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, it is slowly emerging that farmers in the North who generally have more resources are feeling the heat too.

From incessant wild fires and powerful hurricanes in the United States and the Caribbean, to record-breaking high temperatures and droughts in Europe and Asia, the scientific community is unanimously in agreement that climate change is the more likely cause of these extremes in weather.

And it is causing severe disruptions to agricultural production systems, the environment and biodiversity.

This is troubling as, according to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a rise in temperature of more than 2°C could exacerbate the existing food deficit and prevent the majority of African countries from attaining their Sustainable Development Goals on poverty and hunger.

While De Jong can afford spending thousands of Euros on irrigation each week, he knows it is no longer sustainable for his farming business. He currently grows potatoes, onions and wheat, among other crops, on 170 hectares of reclaimed land.

Leo De Jong in his potato field, in the Netherlands. Credit: Friday Phiri/IPS

Soil health emerges as key

With 18 million inhabitants, the Netherlands is densely populated. Half of the Netherlands is below sea level, but part of the sea was reclaimed for agricultural purposes.

After a flood in 1916, the Dutch government decided that the Zuiderzee, an inland sea within the Netherlands, would be enclosed and reclaimed. And later, the Afsluitdijk was completed—a 32 kilometre dyke which closed off the sea completely. Between 1940 and 1968, part of this enclosed inland sea was converted into land and in 1986 it became the newest province of the Netherlands—Flevoland.

Soil health in the Flevopolder, Flevoland, which sits about four meters below sea level, is of particular importance. De Jong sees it as a hallmark for every farmer in this era of climate change, regardless of their location.

He believes the answer to the climate challenge lies in farmers’ ability to “balance between ecology and economy.” This, he tells IPS, can be achieved through various ways such as improved and efficient irrigation technology, research and innovation, as well as farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchanges like the one to which he belongs—the Skylark Foundation. At the foundation he exchanges knowledge with a group of colleagues, mainly focusing on soil health.

“I have a feeling that the climate is getting extreme but consistent usage of manure, cover crops and other efficient sustainable practices guarantees good soil health, and soil health is the hallmark on which sustainable crop production is built.”

Similarly, Peter Appelman, who specialises in farming broccoli and cabbage, agrees with the soil health argument.

Appelman says that farmers should not be preoccupied with the various systems (conventional and organic farming) currently being propagated by researchers. He says that farmers should rather adopt systems that work for them depending on the type of soils on their farms.

“We have stopped feeding the crop but the soil,” he tells IPS, pointing at a pile of composite manure. “I am not an organic farmer but I try to be sustainable in whatever way because this comes back to you. You can’t grow a good product in bad soil.”

Market access for sustainability

In addressing the production cost side of the business, Appelman points to consumer satisfaction and predictable markets as key enablers to farmers’ sustainability in this era of climate stress.

As consumer preferences become more obvious, Appelman says farmers should not expend their energies complaining about market access and growing consumer demands but should rather work hard to satisfy them.

“I think my fellow farmers complain too much, which is not the best practice for the business,” he says. “As farmers, we should exert this energy in looking for customers, and work to satisfy them—I believe better farmer-to-customer relations should be the way forward.”

According to Appelman, production should be determined by consumer/market preferences. “I travel around the world looking for markets, and through these interactions, I learn and do my work according to the needs of my customers. Look for customers first and then proceed to produce for them, because it is tough in the production stage,” says Appelman, whose farm has an annual turn-over of about two million Euros.

The Appelman family grow broccoli on 170 hectares and red and white cabbage on 60 hectares.

Research and innovation

According to Professor Louise Fresco, president of the research executive board of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the answer to the global food challenge lies in ensuring that the contribution of agriculture to climate change is positive rather than negative.

This, she says, is only possible through investment in research and innovation in order to achieve maximum efficiency for food production and to minimise waste.

“The agriculture sector therefore needs to do more than produce food—but produce efficiently,” she said in her opening address to the 2018 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists congress held in the Netherlands in July. “Food has to be produced not as a chain, but in a circular way. Water and energy use are highlights.”

Under the theme: Dutch roots—small country, big solutions; the congress highlighted what lies at the centre of the Netherlands’ agricultural prowess.

“Productivity through innovation and efficiency is the answer to why the Netherlands,ca small country, is the second-largest agricultural exporter [in the world],” said Wiebe Draijer, chief executive officer and chairman of Rabobank.

Draijer said Rabobank, which was founded as a cooperative, was happy to be associated with the Dutch agricultural prowess, which is anchored in sustainable and innovative practices.

“In response to the global food challenge, we keep refining our lending modalities to support environmental sustainability. For example, we track farmers that we give loans to to monitor their environmental sustainability practices, and there is an incentive in the form of a discount on their loans.”

Sustainability is the buzz word globally. However, it seems there is much more to be done for farmers to achieve it, especially now that negative effects of climate change are similarly being felt in both the north and the global south.

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