Inter Press ServiceGreen Economy – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 25 Apr 2018 00:04:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Can Sustainable Bioeconomy be a Driver of Green Growth?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/can-sustainable-bioeconomy-be-a-driver-of-green-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-sustainable-bioeconomy-be-a-driver-of-green-growth http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/can-sustainable-bioeconomy-be-a-driver-of-green-growth/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 09:42:02 +0000 Frank Rijsberman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155437 Dr. Frank Rijsberman is Director-General, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

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Can sustainable bioeconomy be a driver of Green Growth?

By Frank Rijsberman
Apr 24 2018 (IPS)

On April 19-20, I attended the second Global Bioeconomy Summit in Berlin. Bioeconomy is currently a hot topic for scientists and policymakers. Rapid advances in molecular biology combined with big data and artificial intelligence have resulted in big jumps in our understanding of living organisms as well as organic matter, the biomass produced by plants and animals, at the level of their DNA. That has gone hand in hand with technologies that allow scientists and industry to manipulate, easily, everything from enzymes to bacteria to plants and animals.

 

Bioeconomy: the 4th industrial revolution

Thus, industry can now make bio-based plastics from plant oils rather than fossil-based sources, for example. And those bio-based plastics can be made bio-degradable, even in oceans, or they can be made durable, to replace glass. In fact, pretty much anything made by the chemical industry could be made from bio-based sources, substituting fossil-based ones used primarily today.

Industry can also reproduce complex compounds found in nature, such as artemisinin, used to treat malaria. Or developed advanced biofuels that use grasses or algae for biofuels rather than sugarcane or corn. Or use bio-based sources for 3-D printing. So rapid are the changes in science and manufacturing, and so profound are its implications, that some refer to the new bio-economy, that uses bio-based sources for pretty much anything in our economy, as the 4th industrial revolution.

The 800 people in the Berlin Summit appeared to me to be roughly equally split between: (1) those wondering whether this bioeconomy disruption will be environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive – as we at GGGI define green growth; and (2) developers of these new technologies that have the power, as they believe, to change the world as we know it – much as the earlier industrial revolutions we experienced.

 

Our current agro-food system is the primary driver of planetary ill health

The traditional bioeconomy is not new – it is agriculture and forestry, or the agro-food system. Clearly, the current agro-food system is not sustainable. It produces roughly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, has led to degraded soils in a very large share of cultivated land, is responsible for some 70% of all water used by man and thus a key factor in water scarcity, overuses chemical fertilizers that causes massive pollution in rivers, lakes and coastal zones, and is responsible for the lion’s share of deforestation, loss of wetlands and biodiversity. In short, our current agro-food system is the primary driver of our planet’s ill health – and it produces unhealthy food that has produced 2 billion overweight and obese people causing massive health problems.

 

Can the new bioeconomy be sustainable?

The most important natural climate change solution is to prevent deforestation, reforest, and restore peatlands. A good example is Colombia. Forty percent of the country is part of the Amazon, some 46 million hectares (the size of Germany), of which 39 million is still forest.
Can the new bioeconomy help make the old bioeconomy sustainable? That is a big question without an obvious answer. At the summit there were certainly enough examples of eco-friendly products. Clothes made from bamboo or coffee grounds. Furniture from recycled anything. A fridge sized gadget to grow your own salads and herbs in your kitchen, fully automated. Bicycles made from bamboo.

There was also ample discussion on the downsides of the high-tech bioeconomy. Will the public accept and trust the bioeconomy – given the distrust of biotechnology, let alone GMOs? Will the benefits of the new innovations be fairly shared with the countries and people of origin of the biodiversity? Are the new bioeconomy products truly sustainable? Do we know enough about health impacts?

 

Bioeconomy, climate change and energy security

My own contribution to the Summit assessed whether the new bioeconomy has the potential to strengthen the Paris Climate Agreement and Energy Security. My conclusion is that the answer to this question is also far from obvious. To begin with, our current bioeconomy, as indicated above, is more part of the problem than the solution. But can this change? Are there bio-based, or natural, solutions to deal with climate change and can increase energy security?

 

Avoiding deforestation

The most important natural climate change solution is to prevent deforestation, reforest, and restore peatlands. A good example is Colombia. Forty percent of the country is part of the Amazon, some 46 million hectares (the size of Germany), of which 39 million is still forest.

This forest was in part conserved as a result of the 53-year existence of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who enforced limits on logging by civilians – in part to protect their cover from air raids by the government army. After the 2016 peace agreement the forest now is opened up – will it be deforested, or can there be new bio-businesses created that generate forest and agricultural products and sustainable livelihoods while conserving the ecosystem?

That is the subject of a major collaboration between the governments of Colombia and Norway, under the partnership called the Joint Declaration of Intent on cooperation on REDD+ and promoting sustainable development, supported by GGGI.

Earlier in April the Colombian and Norwegian governments agreed to extend the current program from 2020 to 2025, with an additional US$250 million contribution from Norway. A key component in the Colombian national green growth policy that GGGI is helping to develop, is a modern, sustainable bioeconomy with focus on activities ranging from biofuels with palm species to pharmacological compounds.

One exciting presentation in Berlin from Mauricio Lopes, the president of EMBRAPA in Brazil, promised carbon-neutral beef. Carbon neutral beef could be produced, in the Brazilian Amazon, through integrated systems that combine trees, brachiaria fodder grasses with a bio-stimulant, and cows.

Such integrated systems may also have a high potential for the Colombian Amazon, much in line with an innovative financial instrument being structured by GGGI, FINAGRO, and the Amazon Vision Program, dedicated to providing low-interest credit loans and additional incentives to local producers who are committed to sustainable cattle ranching practice.

In Indonesia, GGGI supports the government to develop sustainable business models to restore the peatlands, also with Norwegian funding. The goal is to prevent peatland burning which causes air pollution all over SE Asia, as well as major GHG emissions.

Our analyses show that, for example, restoration of the 40 thousand ha Utar-Serapat peatland dome in Central Kalimantan would generate 600 thousand tons of carbon credits. Even at a low $5/ton carbon, that could finance the peatland restoration in ten years.

 

Bioenergy

Can bioenergy strengthen the world’s energy security? No, that is unlikely. There just isn’t enough biomass available to do so sustainably, without competing with other uses, from food (for sugarcane or corn) to maintaining a healthy soil (for agri-waste).

At smaller scales, locally, using biomass waste for energy makes a lot of sense and is already commercially attractive. Paper mills, for example, used to leave a large share of the wood pulp as waste, and use fossil fuel to power their machines.

Turning that waste into energy can, it turns out, fully power the mill as well as supply excess energy to the grid and is commercially attractive. Similarly, sugar cane mills produce bagasse as a waste product which can be turned into energy for the mill, and excess energy for the grid.

In Vietnam, for example, 8 of the 41 sugar mills already have grid connected waste to energy plants. I visited one, in Soc Trang province, which was expanded from 6 to 12 MW in 2014. GGGI hosted a workshop to assess the total biomass waste to energy potential in Soc Trang province, which may be as much as 50MW under one optimistic scenario. The province already has one coal fired power plant, with a 1200MW capacity.

All the biomass of the province is not going to prevent the planned second coal fired power plant, of equal capacity, from being built. For Vietnam as a whole, the total potential of biomass energy, if all obstacles could be overcome, may be as high as 6000MW, or 5 coal-fired powerplants. Vietnam is planning to build another 24 coal fired power plants, however, and clearly biomass energy is not going to be an alternative source of renewable energy at that scale.

 

Traditional biomass energy

Of the estimated 19% of renewable energy as part of total final energy consumption used in the world in 2015, about half is unsustainable traditional biomass energy such as fuelwood. Worldwide an amazing 3 billion people still do not have access to clean energy for cooking, meaning that they prepare food on open woodfire. That leads to very poor indoor air quality which has a major health impact, particularly for women and children.

In Cambodia, 80% of Cambodian families in rural areas use wood fuel (wood and charcoal) for daily cooking. The industry sector also uses around 780,000 ton of firewood annually. In the garment industry, for example, firewood represented the main source of primary energy with up to 80% of the final energy consumed. GGGI is now looking at ways to green the Cambodian industry as part of its policy alignment for green growth project.

 

Can the bioeconomy be a driver of green growth?

Already, avoided deforestation, reforestation, peatland restoration are key priorities for the green growth strategies of GGGI member countries such as Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia. Modern, sustainable bioeconomy can be a key strategy to make this successful, as is underway in Colombia.

In addition, for many of GGGI’s Member and partner countries the traditional bioeconomy, agriculture and forestry, is still the backbone of the economy and responsible for 60-70% of employment, from Ethiopia to Senegal, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Laos and Myanmar.

For all these countries innovation that significantly increases the value addition of their agricultural products, sustainably, or uses waste products smartly, will be critical to create the decent green jobs. It will be important for these countries to spot the opportunities early – to leapfrog their development rather than risk getting left behind.

Such technology foresighting related to key areas of green growth-related innovation is an important goal for GGGI. If the modern bioeconomy truly develops into the 4th industrial revolution, then many least developed countries are in a good position to take advantage and transform their economies towards an environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive development path. To achieve green growth, that is.

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Excerpt:

Dr. Frank Rijsberman is Director-General, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

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From Mega to Micro, a Transition that Will Democratise Energy in Brazilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/mega-micro-transition-will-democratise-energy-brazil/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mega-micro-transition-will-democratise-energy-brazil http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/mega-micro-transition-will-democratise-energy-brazil/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 02:32:26 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155425 An energy transition is spreading around the globe. But in Brazil it will be characterised by sharp contrasts, with large hydroelectric plants being replaced by solar microgenerators and government decisions being replaced by family and community decision-making. “The future is solar, but it will be a difficult and slow process, because electricity concessionaires will not […]

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Over to You, Children! Zambia’s ‘Plant a Million Trees’ Takes Roothttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/children-zambias-plant-million-trees-takes-root/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=children-zambias-plant-million-trees-takes-root http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/children-zambias-plant-million-trees-takes-root/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 00:38:06 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155418 Trees are a vital component in the ecosystem—they not only give oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give refuge to wildlife, but also provide materials for tools, shelter and ultimately, food for both animals and human beings. In fact, according to the World Bank statistics, some 1.3 billion people around the world depend on […]

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Matero East primary school students collecting water. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

By Friday Phiri
LUSAKA, Apr 24 2018 (IPS)

Trees are a vital component in the ecosystem—they not only give oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give refuge to wildlife, but also provide materials for tools, shelter and ultimately, food for both animals and human beings.

In fact, according to the World Bank statistics, some 1.3 billion people around the world depend on forests for their livelihood—that is a fifth of the global population. This includes income from the sale of trees and tree-related products. It also includes the value of fruit, fodder, medicines, and other direct or indirect products that they consume.

In monetary terms, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates the annual net benefit of restoring 150 million hectares of land at approximately 85 billion dollars per year. Additionally, it would sequester massive amounts of greenhouse gases.

However, it is globally recognised that forest restoration requires an integrated approach which appreciates and understands forests along their entire value chain. Thus, it is crucial to see forest landscape restoration efforts as much more than just protecting forests, but as a force for economic growth and poverty reduction.

It is from this background that several game-changing initiatives such as the decade-long United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)’s Great Green Wall, UN REDD plus strategy for carbon trading, and national governments’ annual tree planting exercises are being implemented to restore the world’s degraded landscapes and in the process transform millions of lives.

Seedlings thrive at Chunga School. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

For Zambia, the forestry sector contributes significantly to household incomes for forest dependent communities, particularly in rural areas. Nationally, according to recent data by the Integrated Land Use Assessment (ILUA) project, the forestry sector contributes 5.5% to GDP.

But for a country which boasts 44 million hectares of forests covering 58.7 percent of the total land surface area, 5.5% contribution to GDP is not good enough. And an alarming annual deforestation rate of 276,021 hectares confirms this challenge that require immediate attention.

“Growing population and economic pressure has increased demand for economic and social development, forcing people to just take from the environment instead of growing from it,” says Richard Jeffery, a conservation expert. Jeffery believes “Plant A Million” (PAM) initiative could reverse this trend as it is promoting an economic benefit model.

What is PAM?

“Plant A Million” (PAM) aims to plant at least two billion trees by 2021. According to Emmanuel Chibesakunda, PAM initiator, sponsor and project manager, the vision is to accelerate and scale up a tree-based economy for socio-economic change in Zambia and mitigate climate change impacts.

“Plant A Million is a joint public-private tree planting initiative that is promoting a tree-based economy and sustainable development through local school and community participation,” Chibesakunda told IPS. “This initiative focuses on developing the future of Zambia with the full set of skills and know how, through promoting thought leadership and innovation, social responsibility, leadership skills and helping children to connect to the world.”

Therefore, he adds, the project has taken a deliberate strategy to entrust the future in the hands of future leaders—children, thus the emphasis on public schools and community participation.

Under this strategy, he says, education and attitude change are key project outcomes:

“We want to shift away from the focus on number of trees planted as the wrong success factors. Key is how many trees survive the critical first two years, and the value they add to the community. Our focus is attitude change, and it has to start with the future leaders—children.”

Children as key players

There is a common adage in one of Zambia’s local languages, Bemba, which states: imiti ikula empanga, loosely translated as “today’s seedlings are tomorrow’s forests.” In a nutshell, the values being imparted in today’s children will determine the future world view.

Roy Lombe, an educator, believes that today’s seedlings have to be well nurtured through a practical hands-on approach. “Our generation has mishandled forests due to poor attitude, and so we don’t want to fall in the same trap,” he says. “Once they learn the value of a tree while young, they will not depart from it when they grow into adults.”

Confirming this nurture-analogy, is Maureen Chibenga, a 16-year-old Grade Eleven pupil at Lake Road PTA School.

“When the project team came to our school, I did not hesitate to be a champion, as my interest in trees dates back to my early life family values—farming,” Chibenga told IPS. “My grandfather has a farm, my father has a farm, so I saw this as an opportunity to grow my knowledge of trees and their value to humanity.”

For 15-year-old Subilo Banda, also in Grade Eleven at the same school, his motivation, he says, is to correct the wrongs of the past.

“I think our generation is open-minded. The old generation’s mistakes have taught us what we know. That’s why I think it is a very good idea to start with us in terms of mindset change,” he says, adding that there is a better possibility for his generation to embrace a ‘green’ lifestyle due to this early exposure and education.

As an incentive, the schools involved will be earning an income. Chilando Chella, Lake Road PTA School Manager, cannot wait for this exciting opportunity to make extra cash: “We have targeted to raise 50,000 seedlings this year from which we expect to earn thousands of kwacha. And we plan to plough back this money into skills training, for we know that not all of our learners will end up in the formal sector.”

So far, the project has already reached out to 12 schools with 15,000 students in Lusaka district, who are growing 500,000 tree seedlings. A further 132 schools are on standby to be included in the program within the next eight months with the target from the vice president to reach 720 schools in all 10 provinces in the next two years involving approximately one million children.

Zambian Vice President Inonge Wina (right), with Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Jean Kapata, during the launch of the 2018 tree planting exercise. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

Government buy-in

With the project announced by Republican Vice President in February 2018 during the National Tree Planting day, almost all ministries are already keyed-in. Strategic among them are the Ministries of National Development Planning (overall coordination), General Education and High Education (Schools, Colleges and Universities), and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, which holds the forestry sector portfolio.

Professor Nkandu Luo is the Minister of Higher Education. With a considered view that her ministry is the bedrock on which development is anchored, Professor Luo also believes the project is in tandem with, and supports the value system agenda that government is promoting, as espoused in the country’s constitution.

“Honesty and hard work are some of the key values that our constitution is promoting, and I think this project is timely in this regard. Teaching our young ones to learn the value of hard work, of honesty and being able to earn based on one’s input and not expecting to earn where one has not sown. So, this project will be used by the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs to push the value system agenda as advocated in our constitution.”

Meanwhile, for the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the approach of not looking at plantations but individuals is very important, considering the high deforestation rate that the country is recording.

“I am not afraid to mention here, and let me put it on record, that for as long as we do not provide alternative energy solutions for our people, they will continue cutting trees,” laments Jean Kapata, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources.

“But I am happy to report that we have started looking at several alternative options one of which is the bamboo for charcoal which we believe will be a game changer if well implemented.”

According to Kapata, government is considering scaling up plantations of some fast-growing bamboo species which can be harvested starting at four years and can go on up to fifty years.

However, attitude change requires information. And Dora Siliya, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, argues for a narrative change regarding the climate change and development discourse.

“We have been looking at this climate change issue wrongly, only thinking about how to mitigate, adapt and conserve, we have not thought of what wealth and jobs can be created from this agenda…so it is time we took a different approach as communicators on how to publicise these issues for mindset change, and this ministry is taking a lead on that front.”

In terms of scale, PAM is an ambitious project that could change Zambia’s forestry landscape forever. However, with several initiatives undertaken in the past, which have seemingly not achieved the desired results, there is always room for caution.

Finnish Ambassador to Zambia Timo Olkkonen provides some guidance to the PAM initiators:

“Finland has directly and indirectly contributed to Zambia’s efforts to have sustainably managed forests, over the last 50 years of development cooperation between the two countries. However, some of the projects and programmes have not been hugely successful; it is therefore imperative for you to understand reasons why some of the initiatives of the past have not yielded much results, there are key lessons to be learnt.”

As the project awaits its official launch by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu later this month, the children already involved are keen to be key influencers.

“I wouldn’t blame charcoal makers for it is a source of livelihood for some of them, but let them learn to plant more than what they cut,” says 15-year-old Mutwiva Upeme, Grade Eleven pupil at Chunga School. “Thank you for letting us get involved—we are the future!”

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Dreaming of A New Sustainable Economyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/dreaming-new-sustainable-economy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dreaming-new-sustainable-economy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/dreaming-new-sustainable-economy/#respond Fri, 20 Apr 2018 20:59:47 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155384 Officials from around the world came together to create and support a vision for a new, sustainable economy: a bioeconomy. Almost 1000 bioeconomy experts, from former heads of state to civil society leaders, convened in Berlin for the second Global BIoeconomy Summit to discuss best practices and challenges. Already, over 50 countries have begun to […]

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Bioeconomy - Dreaming of A New Sustainable Economy

Unless leaders act promptly, climate change and environmental degradation will only worsen and cause greater global problems, scientists warn. Credit: Crustmania/ CC by 2.0

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 20 2018 (IPS)

Officials from around the world came together to create and support a vision for a new, sustainable economy: a bioeconomy.

Almost 1000 bioeconomy experts, from former heads of state to civil society leaders, convened in Berlin for the second Global BIoeconomy Summit to discuss best practices and challenges.

Already, over 50 countries have begun to pursue bioeconomy policies in their own ways.

But what exactly is bioeconomy?

Though there is no single definition for the relatively new term, bioeconomy refers to the use of renewable biological resources instead of fossil-based sources for sustainable industrial and energy production. It encompasses various economic activities from agriculture to the pharmaceutical sector.

“How will we feed a growing world population? How will we supply the world with energy and raw materials? How do we react to climate change? The bioeconomy can help us to master these challenges,” said German Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek in her opening address.

“We are facing a huge crisis on climate…people might not be as aware that agriculture and forestry— key parts of the bioeconomy—are in fact major drivers of planetary ill health,”
Frank Rijsberman, Director General, Global Green Growth Institute
“We must use renewable resources, biological knowledge and biotechnological processes to establish a biobased – and above all sustainable – economy,” she continued.

The Globa Bioeconomy Summit provides a forum to discuss such issues and to work towards protecting the ecosystem and developing an economy based on renewability and carbon-neutrality.

Among the speakers and participants at the conference is Global Green Growth Institute’s (GGGI) Director-General Frank Rijsberman.

“We are facing a huge crisis on climate…people might not be as aware that agriculture and forestry— key parts of the bioeconomy—are in fact major drivers of planetary ill health,” he told IPS.

“Our food production system is really not sustainable,” Rijsberman continued.

The world population is expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Feeding such a population means that food production will need to increase by approximately 70 percent. Production in developing countries alone would need to almost double.

However, agriculture, particularly the expansion of agriculture, significantly contributes to increased deforestation, water scarcity, soil depletion, and greenhouse gas emissions.

In South America, soybean farming has been a major driver of deforestation across the region including in the Amazon rainforest.

Soy is often used to feed livestock, and as global demand for meat and other soy products have grown, so has deforestation in order to expand soybean production.

According to Greenpeace, almost 70,000 square kilometers of the Amazon rainforest was destroyed between 2003-2006 in Brazil alone largely for soybean production. The amount of land lost is larger than the size of Ireland.

Though Brazil recently enacted laws to curb deforestation and disincentivize soybean farming in such areas, concerns still remain across the region.

Rijsberman pointed to Colombia as an example where the government and a rebel group signed a historic peace agreement after a 50-year long conflict.

“Now that there is a peace accord, which is obviously a good thing, the fear is that the part of the country that has not been accessible will suddenly be developed and that like in Brazil, trees will be cut and the cattle ranchers and soybean farmers will destroy the forest,” he told IPS.

Soon after the demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), deforestation in the country’s rainforests rose by 44 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Much of the land that was once controlled by FARC has been opened up and lost to illegal logging, mining, cattle ranching, and palm oil production.

GGGI has been working with the Colombian government to come up with alternative ways of developing and using their forests.

“We are trying to support the Colombian government…to get high-value products produced by the forests itself, to have sustainable livelihoods and green jobs…alternatives to cutting the forest down for agriculture,” Rijsberman said.

Other countries have also chipped in, including Norway which has donated $3.5 million over two years to the South American nation to curb deforestation through the adoption of sustainable farming methods and eco-tourism projects.

While bioeconomy can help countries become more green, not all bioeconomy is sustainable, Rijsberman said.

For instance, biofuels, which are made from food crops, have been seen as low-carbon substitutes for liquid fossil fuels to power transportation.

In the United States, 96 percent of ethanol was derived from corn in 2011. Brazil uses sugar cane in order to produce ethanol. Both countries produced 85 percent of the world’s ethanol in 2016.

However, research has shown that the demand for such biofuels leads to the destruction of forests, higher food prices, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, accounting for all factors in production such as land use change, biofuels from palm oil and soybean cause carbon emissions comparable to that of oil from tar sands.

Though research is already underway on new biotechnologies such as deriving clean biofuels from algae, a lot more work is needed to get government policies right, Rijsberman said.

“We need to work together on this issue. We need to find ways to share experiences between countries. That is what this summit helps do—it helps bring people together that share progress in technologies and policies that have worked in different places,” he told IPS.

Karliczek echoed similar sentiments in her opening remarks during the Global Bioeconomy Summit, stating: “We must make use of regional strengths and unite them on the global level because the shift to a sustainable bioeconomy is a global task.”

This involves the inclusion of indigenous communities who are most impacted by harmful environmental policies and are often the frontline defenders of natural resources.

However, they are often marginalized and even killed for their work.

In 2017, 67 percent of activists killed were defending land, environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights in the face of extractive industries and agribusinesses.

Rijsberman also highlighted the need for investments in research and policies as well as technology transfer to countries such as Colombia in order to transform the world’s agriculture and food system into one that is sustainable.

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FAO and El País Launch Series of Books on “The State of the Planet”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/fao-el-pais-launch-series-books-state-planet/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fao-el-pais-launch-series-books-state-planet http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/fao-el-pais-launch-series-books-state-planet/#respond Fri, 20 Apr 2018 15:47:04 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155367 Today the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) hosted an event at its headquarters in Rome, to present a set of eleven books jointly realized in collaboration with the Spanish newspaper El País. “El Estado del Planeta” (“The State of the Planet”) is a unique series of 11 books that will be published one at a […]

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The series of 11 books launched today by FAO and El País, in Rome. Credit: Maged Srour / IPS

By Maged Srour
ROME, Apr 20 2018 (IPS)

Today the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) hosted an event at its headquarters in Rome, to present a set of eleven books jointly realized in collaboration with the Spanish newspaper El País.

“El Estado del Planeta” (“The State of the Planet”) is a unique series of 11 books that will be published one at a time each week starting from Sunday 22 April, 2018. The books aim to raise awareness on the most urgent challenges faced by humanity today and in the near future ranging from climate change to food security; protection of biodiversities to sustainable cities.

It is an “unprecedented editorial effort”, said Juan Luis Cebrián, President of El País who, together with Antonio Caño, Director of El País, René Castro Salazar, FAO Assistant Director General Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department and Enrique Yeves, FAO Director of Communications presented the editorial product to a large gathering of experts and diplomats attending the event at the Sheikh Zayed Centre at FAO headquarters.

During the event, speakers from FAO and EL País highlighted the excellent partnership between the two organizations that made this possible. The collaboration has led tp to the creation of a network of 250 collaborators working on the ground.

The series of books aim to be simple and comprehensive tools. that are full of infographics and images. Yeves explained that the team of 250 researchers in the field were able to gather a multitude of reliable data. “This data is explained well and it is comprehensible for everyone: it’s for the great audience” added Yeves. “At the same time, the large amount of sources cited in the bibliography is a precious tool for all those experts working on these issues who might need reliable analyses and sources” stated FAO Director of Communications.

“Our society is still not quite aware and we need to amplify these problems. The newspapers are not fulfilling their job of communicating the realities about these issues”
Antonio Caño, Director of El País
The speakers emphasized the urgency to address the issues that are covered in11 books and which entirely corresponds to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Antonio Caño described the massive responsibility of media outlets today, when it comes to addressing problems such as climate change, food waste, industrial pollution, education, and others.

“Our society is still not quite aware and we need to amplify these problems. The newspapers are not fulfilling their job of communicating the realities about these issues” he said. He added, “the social awareness over the struggle that our planet is facing, has been growing in recent years: millions of young people across the world are now much more interested in poverty, education and about the impact of climate change on our lives”.

Caño defined the launch of this series of 11 books as “an example of how the media – together with experts on these issues – can fulfill the responsibility that aims not only to guarantee the development of our planet but also to teach us how to respect our planet”.

The main message that emerged from the debate that took place at is that the digital and technological evolution and revolution are posing an incredibly high level of challenges. The intrusion of digital tools in all fields of the economy as well as in politics, has imposed a drastic change in business models that inevitably forced the media to modify the way it plans its activities.

These changes resulted in a lower level of quality of the contents produced by the media and increased an “elitarian communication”, as defined by Antonio Caño. “The traditional media has posed itself quite distant from society: it has started to talk to society from a sort of ‘podium’, and that is happening all around the world” said the Director of El País.

The discussion emphasized how the media today is still not able to properly address these urgent issues – such as climate change. The problem, according to speakers, is that these are topics which are not considered “profitable” by the industrial media. Therefore, the contents tend to address superficial issues or possibly huge catastrophes such as earthquakes and conflicts, not keeping in mind that climate change and global hunger are both human catastrophes as well.

Despite these grim reflections, there was also an optimistic perspective about these challenges. There is also a positive outcome of this crisis in reporting. The technological and digital developments have forced the media itself to do “new things”. It has forced the media to get closer to the people, asking them what they want to hear, read and watch, and that has become a new way of interaction between society and communicators, reducing the gap in “elitarian communication”.

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Latin America Faces Uphill Energy Transitionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/latin-america-faces-uphill-energy-transition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-america-faces-uphill-energy-transition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/latin-america-faces-uphill-energy-transition/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2018 22:54:03 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155353 Latin America is facing challenges in energy efficiency, transportation and power generation to move towards a low carbon economy and thus accelerate that transition, which is essential to cut emissions in order to reduce global warming before it reaches a critical level. The region has made progress in the production of renewable energy, especially from […]

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New GCF Project Signals Paradigm Shift for Water-Scarce Barbadoshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/new-gcf-project-signals-paradigm-shift-water-scarce-barbados/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-gcf-project-signals-paradigm-shift-water-scarce-barbados http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/new-gcf-project-signals-paradigm-shift-water-scarce-barbados/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2018 00:02:28 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155338 At the start of 2017, the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPN) warned eastern Caribbean countries that they were facing “abnormal climate conditions” and possibly another full-blown drought. 

 For Barbados, it was dire news. Previous drought conditions impacted every sphere and sector of life of this historically water-scarce country. But a new project […]

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Dr. Donneil Cain (right), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre's (CCCCC) project development specialist who worked with the BWA on the Barbados Water Resilience Nexus for Sustainability Project, in discussion with Dr. Adrian Cashman from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill on the educational institutions that assisted with the project's development. Credit: Zadie Neufville

Dr. Donneil Cain (right), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre's (CCCCC) project development specialist who worked with the BWA on the Barbados Water Resilience Nexus for Sustainability Project, in discussion with Dr. Adrian Cashman from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill on the educational institutions that assisted with the project's development. Credit: Zadie Neufville

By Desmond Brown
BRIDGETOWN, Apr 19 2018 (IPS)

At the start of 2017, the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPN) warned eastern Caribbean countries that they were facing “abnormal climate conditions” and possibly another full-blown drought. 



For Barbados, it was dire news. Previous drought conditions impacted every sphere and sector of life of this historically water-scarce country. But a new project promises a new water future for Barbadians by increasing the awareness of islanders to the water cycle and the likely impacts of climate change on the island’s drinking water supply.

The Water Sector Resilience Nexus for Sustainability Project for Barbados (WSRN S-Barbados) is expected to build resilience in the sector by reducing the vulnerability to severe weather impacts, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce consumption, promote appropriate uses of diverse water sources and build the legislative safeguards to support climate smart development in water sector.

The project is being funded by the Green Climate Fund and is a collaborative effort between the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) with assistance from University of West Indies, Cave Hill Campus (UWI-CHC), and University of South Florida (USF).

WSRN-Barbados was one of several Caribbean funding commitments announced at the GCF 19th Board meeting in Korea in February to the tune of 45.2 million dollars (including 27.6 million in GCF funds and counterpart funding of 17.6 million from the BWA).

“To quantify the impact, there will be over 190,000 persons directly benefitting from this project and over 280,000 persons indirectly benefitting,” said Dr Elon Cadogan, project manager at the BWA.

He explains that within the project, there are provisions for collaboration among academic partners like UWI-CHC and USF. The aim is to develop a sharing platform that will serve as an incubator for novel ideas that will boost efforts to combat the impact of climate change and propel the discussion on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“This project proposes to gather the relevant human resources from these institutions and form a team of scientists and engineers to drive the in-depth operational research to build capacity,” Dr Cadogan explained.

The WSRN S-Barbados project will replace 16 kilometres (about 10 miles) of existing mains to reduce leakage by 0.03 MGD per km. This is expected to result in greater availability of water, which when valued at current costs, is an avoided expense to society of 1.3 million dollars.

“Increased availability of water will reduce the instances of water outages currently being experienced by many customers,” Dr. Cadogan explained.

“Previous instances of outages have had the adverse effects of persons reporting for work late or absent from work and businesses closing. Schools have had to close due to lack of water and the potential unsanitary conditions are likely to increase health treatment costs. In addition, there have been some cancellations of tourist stays and bookings,” he continued.

Tourism is one of the backbones of Barbados’ economy. In 2014, the total contribution of tourism and travel accounted for 36.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employed 37.5 percent of total employment (WTTC, 2015).

Another vital sector is agriculture. Agriculture, which in 2014 contributed 1.4 percent (value-added) of GDP and employed 2.7 percent of total employment (WDI, 2016), is essential for food and nutrition security and household income.

From the feasibility study, it was found that Barbados’ already dwindling water resources are not sufficient to meet demand in the medium to long terms. Implicit in that analysis is the demand for water by the tourism and agriculture sectors.

“This project contributes to the stability of Barbados’ macroeconomic environment, mitigates its susceptibility to inflationary pressures and external shocks and increases revenue to the government,” Dr Cadogan said.

“Barbados will benefit from foreign currency savings resulting from reduced dependence on fossil fuels due to the installation of photovoltaic panels. Barbados imported 322.7 million dollars of crude oil (2014 figures) and a significant portion is used in the production of electricity and transportation.”

The WSRN S-Barbados project will ensure that there is improved resilience to climate change and that communities have access to clean potable water.

Additional benefits include reduced leakage and the related number of disruptions, increased water available to the public, a stable price for water, increased water and food security via storage and rainwater harvesting, improved/increased resilience to storm events, and increased access to adaptation and mitigation financing (micro-adaptation and mitigation funding).

With respect to vulnerable populations as well as hospitals, polyclinics, schools and community centres, water tanks for water storage will be installed.

The project is expected to create 30 new jobs at the Belle Pumping Station, while the efforts to implement rainwater harvesting initiatives will create another 15 new jobs.

“In addition, the BWA will also ensure that Barbados plays its part to reduce the fossil fuel consumption by engaging in renewable energy solutions by the use of photovoltaic technologies. By using RE technologies, this would ensure that the Government of Barbados would have some stability with respect to tariffs and therefore be able to assist the most vulnerable on the island,” Dr Cadogan said.

“It is also envisioned that there will be (a) enhanced capacity, knowledge and climate resilience in institutions, households and communities, (b) improved knowledge on water conservation and recycling and (c) improved policy and legislative environment for climate proofing and building climate resilience,” he added.

Meanwhile, over at the CCCCC, the regional agency charged with coordinating the region’s response to climate change, project development specialist Dr. Donneil Cain, the point man on the WSRN-Barbados, is looking for the next opportunity for resilience-building in the region.

“This is why we do it,” he said. “The satisfaction comes from getting these projects up and running.”

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Caribbean Eyes Untapped Potential of World’s Largest Climate Fundhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/caribbean-eyes-untapped-potential-worlds-largest-climate-fund/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-eyes-untapped-potential-worlds-largest-climate-fund http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/caribbean-eyes-untapped-potential-worlds-largest-climate-fund/#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 00:01:25 +0000 Zadie Neufville http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155243 The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) also known as the 5Cs, is looking for ways to boost the region’s access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The Centre is on the hunt for proposals from the private and public sector organisations around the region that want to work with the Centre to develop their […]

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Deputy Director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Dr. Ultic Trotz (left) in conversation with farmers at a unique agroforestry project in Belize, one of many implemented by the Centre to boost the region's resilience to the effects of climate change. Credit: Zadie Neufville

Deputy Director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Dr. Ultic Trotz (left) in conversation with farmers at a unique agroforestry project in Belize, one of many implemented by the Centre to boost the region's resilience to the effects of climate change. Credit: Zadie Neufville

By Zadie Neufville
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Apr 12 2018 (IPS)

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) also known as the 5Cs, is looking for ways to boost the region’s access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The Centre is on the hunt for proposals from the private and public sector organisations around the region that want to work with the Centre to develop their ideas into successful projects that are in line with their country’s national priorities to build resilience to climate change.

The 5Cs, the agency with responsibility for coordinating climate action in the Caribbean, has doubled its efforts in wake of the 2017 Hurricane Season which saw the devastation of several islands and which exacerbates the need for climate proofing critical infrastructure a building resilience.

“We welcome proposals from all areas and industries,” said, Dr. Kenrick Leslie executive director of the Centre, noting that as an accredited entity: “We are able to assist organisations to access Green Climate Fund (GCF) grants for climate adaptation and mitigation projects of up to 50 million dollars per project”.

The GCF has approved a couple hundred million in preparation funding for several countries across the region, but the 5Cs boss is particularly proud of the achievements of his tiny project development team.

On March 13, the Bahamas became the second of the four countries for which the Centre is the Delivery Partner, to launch their GCF readiness programme. In 2017, three countries – the Bahamas, Belize, and Guyana, and more recently St. Lucia – were approved for grants of 300,000 to build in-country capacities to successfully apply for and complete GCF-funded projects that align with their national priorities, while simultaneously advancing their ambitions towards becoming Direct Access Entities (DAEs).

Each ‘readiness’ project is expected to run for between 18-months and 2 years and include developing operational procedures for Governments and the private sector to engage effectively with the GCF; providing training about its processes and procedures, how to access grants, loans, equities and guarantees from the GCF; and the development of a pipeline of potential project concepts for submission to the Fund. These activities are not one-off measures, but will form part of an ongoing process to strengthen the country’s engagement with the Fund.

Guyana’s ‘readiness’ project began in October 2016 and is expected to end in April this year; while the Bahamian Ministry of Environment and Housing and the Centre’s recent hosting of a project inception workshop, marked the start of that programme. The Belize project is expected to begin next month and St Lucia’s will kick-off in May, and run for two years. The readiness projects are being funded by the GCF at a cost of approximately 300,000 dollars each.

Aside from these readiness grants, the Centre secured 694,000 dollars in project preparation facility (PPF) grants for a public-private partnership between the Government of Belize and the Belize Electricity Company.

The project is intended to enable Belize to utilise the indigenous plant locally known as wild cane (scientific name Arundo donax) as a sustainable alternative source of energy for electricity generation. The grant will provide the resources needed to conduct the necessary studies to ascertain viability of the plant, with the intention of facilitating large-scale commercial cultivation for energy generation purposes.

In addition, the Centre partnered with the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to develop the proposal for the Water Sector Resilience Nexus for Sustainability Project (WSRN S-Barbados) for which the GCF announced 45.2 million dollars in funding – some of which is in counterpart funding – at the 19th meeting of the Board in Korea in March this year.

BWA’s Elon Cadogan noted that the project would directly impact 190,000 people on an island which has been described as “one of the most water stressed” in the Caribbean. The frequency of lock-offs has been costly for the country.

“Schools have had to close due to lack of water and the potential unsanitary conditions are likely to increase health treatment costs. In addition, there have been some cancellations of tourist stays and bookings,” Dr Cadogan, who is the project management officer at the BWA said.

Because of its unique operating structure, the Centre is able to call on its many partners to speedily provide the required skills to complete the assessments required to bring a project to the submission stage for further development or full project funding. In the case of the Arundo donax project, the Centre provided several small grants and with the help of the Clinton Foundation, completed a range of studies to determine the suitability of the grass as an alternative fuel.

For the Barbados project, the 5Cs worked with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and South Florida University (SFU) and the BWA to complete the submissions on time.  With the Centre’s own GCF accreditation completed within six months, the 5Cs is turning its attention to assisting countries with their own.

Head of the Programme Development and Management Unit (PDMU) and Assistant Executive Director at the Centre Dr. Mark Bynoe said that even as the Centre continues its work in project development and as a readiness delivery partner, the focus has now shifted.

“We are now turning our attention to aiding with their GCF accreditation granting process and the completion of their National Adaptation Plans (NAPS). Each country has an allocation of 3-million-dollar grant under the GCF window for their NAP preparation,” he said.

The GCF is the centrepiece of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) efforts to raise finance to address climate change related impacts. It was created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenges posed, and opportunities presented, by climate change through a network of National Designated Authorities (NDAs) and Accredited Entities (AEs).

As a readiness delivery partner, the Centre will provide the necessary oversight, fiduciary and project management, as well as monitoring and evaluation of these ‘readiness’ projects, skills that are critical to ensuring that those projects are speedily developed and submitted for verification and approval.

Every success means the Centre’s is fulfilling its role to deliver transformational change to a region under threat by climate change.

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Former UN Chief Takes the Helm of Global Green Growth Institutehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/former-un-chief-takes-helm-global-green-growth-institute/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=former-un-chief-takes-helm-global-green-growth-institute http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/former-un-chief-takes-helm-global-green-growth-institute/#respond Tue, 27 Mar 2018 16:24:03 +0000 Ahn Mi Young http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155049 In the face of climate change and growing energy demand in developing countries, Ban Ki-moon, the new president and chair of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), unveiled his vision for a more sustainable path by helping countries in their transition to greener economies and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “We at GGGI need […]

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Ban Ki-moon, the new president and chair of GGGI, with Dr. Frank Rijsberman, the group’s director general. Credit: GGGI

Ban Ki-moon, the new president and chair of GGGI, with Dr. Frank Rijsberman, the group’s director general. Credit: GGGI

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

In the face of climate change and growing energy demand in developing countries, Ban Ki-moon, the new president and chair of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), unveiled his vision for a more sustainable path by helping countries in their transition to greener economies and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We at GGGI need a much greater capacity to help member states in their transition to sustainable development and also to adapt to climate change,” said Ban Ki-moon, who previously served as the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations, in his first press conference as the President of the Assembly and Chair of the Council of GGGI on March 27 in Seoul."Countries must shift their economies towards environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive pathways." --Ban Ki-moon

Headquartered in the heart of Seoul, GGGI has 28 member states and employs staff from more than 40 countries, with some 26 projects currently in operation. These include green cities, water and sanitation, sustainable landscapes, sustainable energy and cross-cutting strategies for financing mechanisms.

As part of GGGIs growth path, Ban hopes to add new members like Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and France.

“We need more members, particularly from those countries that would be in a position to render the financial and technological support for the developing countries which otherwise would not have much capacity to mitigate or adapt to the changing climate situation. That’s why 28 countries are not a reasonable size as an international organization. We need more member states, particularly from those OECD member states,” said Ban.

“(For that), I’ll continue to use my capacity as chair of GGGI and also I will try to use my network as a former secretary-general of the United Nations,” he added. “To implement the Paris Agreement, countries must shift their economies towards environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive pathways – which we call green growth.”

Environmentalists have warned that most developed countries are falling short of their pledges to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. The future of global cooperation on the issue was clouded after US President Donald Trump’s decision last June to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

“This (withdrawal by Trump) is politically suicidal and economically irresponsible as the leader of the most powerful and the most responsible country. Moreover, this is scientifically wrong,” Ban, who has been a vocal critic of the move, said in Seoul this week.

“I sincerely hope President Trump will change and understand the gravity, seriousness and urgency of this situation, in which we must take action now. Otherwise, we’ll have to regret [the consequences] for succeeding generations, humanity and this earth.”

The new GGGI chair also discussed his transition from the secretary general of a global body with 193 member countries to his leadership of GGGI, which is mandated to recommend development solutions for developing countries.

“First, GGGI is committed to achieving the same vision that I’ve pursued for the past decade. Second, GGGI is the right place to add my own experiences and passions with which I had led the United Nations.

“To achieve GGGI’s goals, I will make the most of my own experiences. If the United Nations is dealing with internationally divisive political issues, GGGI is addressing the issue on which the whole humanity is united with their full awareness of its compelling mission.”

The appointment of Ban Ki-moon as the new Assembly President and GGGI Council Chair became effective on February 20 following the unanimous agreement by members of the GGGI Assembly, the Institute’s governing body.

 

 

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of GGGI, spoke about GGGI’s key achievements in 2017.

He said that “2017 was an excellent year for GGGI, in which we helped mobilize 524 million dollars in green and climate finance to support developing countries achieve their green growth plans.”

He said this money would be used by member countries to, for example, increase climate resilience in agriculture in Ethiopia, install solar energy plus battery storage in eight islands in Indonesia, build a green housing project in Rwanda, and prevent deforestation in Colombia.

GGGI also continued to support governments to develop green growth plans and policies, for example, a Green Growth Plan for Sonora State in Mexico, new energy efficiency laws in Mongolia, and an NDC Implementation Plan for Fiji.

Rijsberman added that GGGI has forged a strong strategic partnership with the Green Climate Fund. As of March 2018, 15 of GGGI’s member and partner countries have elected GGGI to be their delivery partner for their GCF Readiness projects. The GCF Board recently approved two direct access grants to GGGI Member countries supported by GGGI, namely a 50-million-dollar grant for Ethiopia and a 35-million-dollar project for Rwanda.

“With Mr. Ban’s leadership, I am confident that GGGI will be able to quickly expand its partnerships and memberships and mobilize greater results – championing green growth and climate resilience,” added Dr. Rijsberman.

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A Breath of Fresh Air in Indiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/breath-fresh-air-india/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=breath-fresh-air-india http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/breath-fresh-air-india/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 00:44:02 +0000 Ranjit Devraj http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154898 With India’s citizens clamouring for breathable air and efficient energy options, the country’s planners are more receptive than ever to explore sustainable development options, says Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). Rijsberman, who was in India to attend the first International Solar Alliance Summit on March 11, told IPS in an […]

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Vehicle ownership in India is projected to hit 400 million by 2040 from the 170 million recorded in 2015, which could prompt a five-fold increase in poisonous gases emitted by cars and trucks. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

Vehicle ownership in India is projected to hit 400 million by 2040 from the 170 million recorded in 2015, which could prompt a five-fold increase in poisonous gases emitted by cars and trucks. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

By Ranjit Devraj
NEW DELHI, Mar 20 2018 (IPS)

With India’s citizens clamouring for breathable air and efficient energy options, the country’s planners are more receptive than ever to explore sustainable development options, says Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

Rijsberman, who was in India to attend the first International Solar Alliance Summit on March 11, told IPS in an interview that the GGGI was prepared to support the Indian government to explore energy alternatives and improve the country’s growth model.

India is not yet a member country of the GGGI but is recognised as a partner, says Rijsberman. He points to the fact that GGGI has had small but successful projects running in India such as a collaboration to get India’s first electric buses running in Bangalore city.

“The electric buses are an example of how local level innovation can yield positive results in energy efficiency,” said Rijsberman. “The success of this project is in line with India’s Intended  Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) commitments to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency.

GGGI’s recognition of the potential for expanding its activity in India can be seen in the fact that  the organization has been recruiting top managerial talent for its India country office.

Frank Rijsberman. Credit: GGGI

“For us, it is a bit of restart in India trying to position GGGI well at a time when the Indian government clearly wants to have more leadership internationally and project its own cleantech or green growth initiatives,” Rijsberman said.

So far, the successes have not been on the scale of what India is capable of, says Rijsberman. “In other countries we sit with ministries — the ministry of planning and investment in Vietnam and Laos for instance — and help with national green growth strategy or in the next five-year plan.

“Last year, said Rijsberman, “we helped member countries get 500 million dollars’ worth of green and climate finance – we’ve had no such breakthrough in India.”

Still, Rijsberman finds encouraging the “growing concern over deteriorating air quality and other things that is convincing citizens and politicians that the quality of growth really matters — we are looking at what GGGI can do to help the Indian government shift to a model of growth that is cleaner and more sustainable.”

India has experience in increasing the share of renewable energy in its overall energy mix and GGGI is keen to work with the government, particularly the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the International Solar Alliance (ISA), to share India’s expertise, and knowhow with other developing countries facing similar developmental challenges

“India has wonderful experiences that can be shared with countries like Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and in other cases we could help share experiences from other countries that could support India’s green growth initiatives,” Rijsberman said.  

It has not all been smooth sailing though. Last year, Rijsberman said, GGGI had worked with the MNRE to find a combination of financing from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency and other sources to improve India’s small and medium industries. “In the end we could not get the seal of approval from the environment ministry — so it has got a bit stuck.”

An important international finance mechanism, the GCF is  mandated to support developing countries to access international climate finance by developing projects to achieve renewable energy targets.

India country representative for GGGI, Shantanu Gotmare, said the project has not actually been shelved and is still in process. “We haven’t given it up yet,” said Gotmare, a career bureaucrat who has taken a break from government work to lead the GGGI in India.

Gotmare explained that much of GGGI’s work, so far, has been with provincial governments like those of Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab states. “We have developed comprehensive green growth strategies and supported these state governments in adopting integrated analytical approaches to assess green growth challenges and prioritise opportunities in energy, water, agriculture and forestry.

“We supported these three state governments in implementing specific green growth opportunities by formulating detailed project proposals, policy implementation roadmaps, and capacity building initiatives,” Gotmare said.

The plan for the immediate future is to scale up GGGI’s programmatic activities to launch green growth interventions at the national level.

“Our aim is to support the government to deliver on its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) ambition by helping to develop policy frameworks, mobilising domestic and international climate finance and helping to introduce clean technologies and finally to create and share green growth knowledge and best practices,” Gotmare said.

There is an immediate opportunity to finance off-grid energy (OGE) access to millions of households in India that have limited or no access to electricity. GGGI is designing an innovative finance mechanism to support the government’s goal of ‘electricity for all’.

“This is a plan that is expected to simultaneously achieve social, economic and environmental  benefits,” Gotmare said.

According to Gotmare, as India’s citizens demand more power, it is a challenge for the government to make sure that there are energy options that are cleaner than the traditional coal or diesel-fired power plants. “This is precisely where GGGI comes in,” he said.

GGGI’s experience, says Rijsberman, allows it to work closely with the government to rapidly ramp up India’s electrification plans in a clean and sustainable way and use solar solutions to extend electrification services to India’s most marginalised households.

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Water Stress Poses Greatest Threat to MENA Regionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/water-stress-poses-greatest-threat-mena-region/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=water-stress-poses-greatest-threat-mena-region http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/water-stress-poses-greatest-threat-mena-region/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 15:00:35 +0000 Sopho Kharazi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154830 This year, World Water Day, celebrated annually on 22 March, is themed “Nature for Water”, examining nature-based solutions (NBS) to the world’s water problems. The campaign – “The Answer is in Nature” – promotes a sustainable way to normalize the cycle of water, reduce harms of climate change and improve human health through planting trees […]

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Water In Judean Desert - Credit: Bigstock

By Sopho Kharazi
ROME, Mar 15 2018 (IPS)

This year, World Water Day, celebrated annually on 22 March, is themed “Nature for Water”, examining nature-based solutions (NBS) to the world’s water problems.

The campaign – “The Answer is in Nature” – promotes a sustainable way to normalize the cycle of water, reduce harms of climate change and improve human health through planting trees to replenish forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands.

An estimated 2.1 billion people have no access to drinkable water because of the polluted ecosystems affecting quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. At the same time, the number of individuals living in the water-scarce areas equals 1.9 billion and may reach 3 billion by 2050, while about 1.8 billion people drink water coming from an unimproved source which puts them at risk of water-borne diseases. All of these negatively influence human health, education and livelihoods.

The most water-scarce region in the world is the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) where more than 60% of the population has little or no access to drinkable water and over 70% of the region’s GDP is exposed to high or very high water stress.

Water scarcity in MENA involves multiple factors such as climate change leading to droughts and floods, low water quality, and poor water management in the context of fragility, conflict, and violence. This is one of the reasons why at the World Economic Forum 2015, experts on the MENA region stated that the water crisis is “the greatest threat to the region—greater even than political instability or unemployment”.

Poor water quality in the region is caused by unsustainable water consumption, pollution and untreated wastewater. The cost of these in the region represents 0.5-2.5% of the GDP annually. This causes multiple problems, ranging from waterborne diseases to the pollution of fresh water necessary for ecosystem services such as fisheries. For this reason, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 17% of freshwater species in the region are on the brink of extinction.

Globally, MENA reports to have the highest loss of freshwater in its food supply chain. Some MENA countries lose from 80 to 177 cubic meters per capita of freshwater resources in the food supply annually. At the same time, MENA does not collect half of the wastewater and returns 57% of the collected wastewater to the environment untreated, causing health problems and high level of wasted water resources.

Climate change is one of the main factors leading to the increased water stress. It causes decreased rainfalls (in some parts of the world) and an increase in temperatures which influence water supply and demand. Climate change also increases surface water stress in the countries with political and environmental problems.

For this reason, regarding MENA, scientists predict that Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, and Syria will experience high “surface water stress” in the following years. At the same time, climate change leads to the sea level rise that increases possibility of floods which are the most frequent natural disasters in MENA. It should also be recognized that the most vulnerable group of people to the “weather-related shocks” is the poor part of the population.

Precisely planned water management is needed to sustainably solve water problems and to propose water services affordable for both consumers and governments. At the same time, water management is necessary to reduce costs and social instability followed after floods, droughts and water scarcity as water problems can contribute to the economic, social and political unrest in the countries. In 2016, World Bank estimated that MENA will lose 6-14% of its GDP because of water scarcity caused by climate change by 2050.

As climate change and damaged ecosystems play an important role in water-related problems, NBS would represent a sustainable way for solving the challenges. The main goals of NBS are the following: 1) increasing water supply and availability; 2) improving water quality; and 3) managing risks.

Hence it follows that NBS can contribute to the following SDGs: zero poverty and hunger, good health, increased employment, affordable and clean energy, industry, infrastructure and innovation, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production.

One of the main contributors to the solution of water-related problems is the World Water Council, an international organization which leads World Water Forums every three years. On 18-23 March 2018, WWC organizes the 8th World Water Forum in Brazil to lead the decision-making process on water in order to achieve sustainable management of the resource.

The organization’s political and institutional scope transforms the Forum into democratic dialogue between people from different sectors of international community.

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We Must Talk to Each Other to Solve Gender Inequalityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/must-talk-solve-gender-inequality/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=must-talk-solve-gender-inequality http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/must-talk-solve-gender-inequality/#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 09:33:09 +0000 Monique Barbut http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154757 Monique Barbut is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

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Women farmers clearing farmland in Northern Bangladesh. Credit: Naimul Haq/IPS

Women farmers clearing farmland in Northern Bangladesh. Credit: Naimul Haq/IPS

By Monique Barbut
BONN, Mar 12 2018 (IPS)

The international community agreed on the global Goal of achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment by 2030. But we can’t reach it – not even by 2050 – until we talk to each other, rather than past each other. If we are serious about empowering women and girls, we have to bridge the huge chasm that exists between the advocates of gender equality, on the one hand, and advocates of other Goals, on the other.

Take, for example, global Goal 15, on Life on Land. One of its targets is to restore degraded land and achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030. It simply means that every country will take measures to “avoid, reduce and/or reverse land degradation” so that by 2030, land degradation – at worst – does not exceed what it was in 2015. As of today, 115 countries are identifying the areas at highest risk of land degradation. A third of the countries are already planning actions to meet this target.

Monique Barbut

Monique Barbut

A majority of policy-makers are more aware and ready to embrace corrective actions that involve and help women. And it’s not just to be politically correct. A big part of it is self-interest. A case study in India comparing grazing and forest regeneration practices showed statistically significant results in villages where women participated in land management compared to villages where women did not participate. With women’s participation, the probability for controlled grazing increased by 24 percent, and by 28 percent for forest regeneration.

Without a doubt, women can be powerful actors in efforts to halt land degradation, to improve the lives of affected families and communities and to mitigate the effects of droughts that are becoming more intense, frequent and severe.

So, when the 197 countries bound to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) agreed on the framework for action for 2018-2030, it is not surprising they adopted a gender action plan to go with it. The GAP, as it is known, will tackle the gender inequalities that might undermine the achievement of national targets.

The key hindrance to gender equality today is not the absence of affirmative gender laws. Rather, it is the failure to act on them. Gender experts have the means. Technical experts have the frameworks. We are only a series of the right conversations away from righting a historical wrong and make it possible to achieve our gender goals for 2030.
The gender inequalities it identifies are high on women’s agendas everywhere, but are especially critical for the empowerment of rural women and girls. They concern women’s access to land rights, credit, knowledge and technology and full participation in decision-making. By acting on these, the Plan also stresses the need to work through women’s groups and organizations in order to build capacities.

It is important for rural women and girls to be key agents of this change, but just as important is for them to reap direct benefits from these interventions. And GAP is an instrument designed to ensure pursuing land degradation neutrality which is means avoiding, reducing and reversing land degradation, also empowers women and bridges gender inequality.

The technical staff from the ministries in charge of the Convention know both outcomes are vital. But they are not gender experts. This is not their primary function. And, they are technically ill-equipped to address any of the issues. So, in spite of the power of the political will and having a Plan, realizing both outcomes is not guaranteed.

For the goal of gender equality to be achieved by 2030, the organizations dedicated to gender rights need to take this expression of political will and ensure it is pursued through to implementation at the national level. This matters because perhaps more than at any other time in history, today technical experts are not just aware of the importance of gender equality; they are committed to action.

Gender experts and advocates at national level can be practical and help to make the results tangible. With a basic understanding of how the Convention works and its intended outcomes, gender activists, experts and advocates can provide the capacity to correct a failure and the persistent discriminatory practices in land use and land management.

The key hindrance to gender equality today is not the absence of affirmative gender laws. Rather, it is the failure to act on them. Gender experts have the means. Technical experts have the frameworks. We are only a series of the right conversations away from righting a historical wrong and make it possible to achieve our gender goals for 2030.

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Excerpt:

Monique Barbut is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

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Greening India for a Sustainable Tomorrowhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/greening-india-sustainable-tomorrow/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=greening-india-sustainable-tomorrow http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/greening-india-sustainable-tomorrow/#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 08:56:59 +0000 Frank Rijsberman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154751 Dr. Frank Rijsberman is Director-General, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

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Sunlight pours over a break in canal-top solar panels recently installed over the Vadodara branch of the Sardar Sarovar canal project in Gujarat. Credit: Malini Shankar/IPS

By Frank Rijsberman
SEOUL, Mar 12 2018 (IPS)

Actions taken today in the pursuit of environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive growth path in India stand to benefit more than 17 percent of the world’s population. A sustainable future for India carries an impact for the subcontinent and the entire world.

At GGGI – the Global Green Growth Institute – our attention is captured by the impressive economic performance of India and the progress of its more than 1.32 billion people toward improved household incomes and welfare. At a consistent annual GDP growth rate of around 7 percent, environmental sustainability and social inclusivity of growth are our highest priority concerns.

However, given India’s tremendous growth potential, it is important to incorporate green solutions for sustaining the pace of growth. Green low carbon solutions are of paramount importance in extending India’s service delivery of clean water, sanitation and energy for all. This goes hand in hand to ensure resilience of India’s ecology, its capacity to adapt to climate change impact, and enabling marginal segments of the population to participate in the mainstream economy and the emerging opportunities.

Frank Rijsberman.

Policy choices are important for achieving the goal of resilient ecosystems. Robust and growing economies have rapidly increasing energy demands. As the third largest energy consumer in the world, India is making substantial interventions in improving energy access through schemes such as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojna for rural electrification and SAUBHAGYA for intensive household electrification. However, as energy consumption grows in India and access of about 50 million additional households become a reality, India’s decisions on ways of powering its economy will have far-reaching consequences on its sustainability.

Use of modern technology to reduce emissions is a game changer in the pursuit of an inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth path. The collaboration between GGGI, Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation and other stakeholders to introduce the first electric buses to India is an example of how local level innovation can yield positive results in energy efficiency. The success of this project is in line with the country’s Intended  Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) commitments to reduce its carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency.

Successfully sustained green growth projects, such as Bengaluru electric bus project, have at least two important impacts:They demonstrate success case and the value of national government championing priority sustainability issues; and more importantly, they highlight the longer-term benefits and the more resilient rates of return of green projects that can attract more investment for funding their scaling up.

GGGI understands the importance of facilitating finance for programs to harness benefits of green technology solutions in electrification of the country. We are supporting design and financial structuring of a debt fund for the off-grid energy sector. These sources can help increase the capacity of India’s electricity network. We will continue to develop innovative financing schemes to draw more actors into these effort, especially small and medium enterprises that ordinarily see the overwhelming risks to get involved.

Development institutions and governments must collaborate to achieve their shared aims. India has taken a commendable step in this direction through the International Solar Alliance. As an international organization devoted to collaboration and partnerships, at GGGI, we stand with the Indian Government. GGGI’s experience places an accent on the compounding benefits from working together to successfully and rapidly ramp up India’s electrification network and particularly to increase the presence of solar solutions in extending electrification services country-wide, including to the most marginal households.

At GGGI, we envision a healthy ecosystem of investors, lenders, and development institutions sharing the financial burden. We aim to increase the number of investors and funding committed to increasing low-carbon and climate-resilient investments. The capital itself exits. The New Climate Economy report says the Investor Platform for Climate Actions has attracted investors with a combined $125 trillion assets. This can help governments across the world not to rely solely on budgetary resources.

The task today is to ensure that countries take bold steps to commit to reducing emissions to accomplish their carbon emission reduction goals. We encourage ambitious targets and offer the necessary support for implementation. With India’s commitment tosustainability, technology transfer and capacity building are essential ingredients to its green ambitionsand the International Solar Alliance presents an important opportunity to share knowledge among the partnership.

GGGI will work closely with countries in the ISA.We will leverage our lessons from the renewable energy sector in India and elsewhere and provide a platform for learningamong countries in the region and the world. With these efforts, and support from the governments to incorporate low carbon technology and green policy choices to enable the release of the benefits of cleaner air and extended sustainable services access we envision a sustainable greener planet.

The International Solar Alliance sets our expectations high for a sustainable future for India, the continent and the world as our resolve in sustainable growth momentum accelerates through this global partnership.

 

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Excerpt:

Dr. Frank Rijsberman is Director-General, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

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Promoting Green Growth to Meet Global Aspirations for Gender Equalityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/promoting-green-growth-meet-global-aspirations-gender-equality/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=promoting-green-growth-meet-global-aspirations-gender-equality http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/promoting-green-growth-meet-global-aspirations-gender-equality/#respond Tue, 06 Mar 2018 15:04:15 +0000 Frank Rijsberman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154649 Dr. Frank Rijsberman is Director-General, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8.

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Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

By Frank Rijsberman
SEOUL, Mar 6 2018 (IPS)

The world has seen tremendous economic growth over the last decades, which has led to poverty reduction and increased welfare for millions of people. Environmental sustainability and social inclusiveness are key to the resilience of these gains and continued growth. “Leaving no one behind” as we navigate a shift towards green economies must be woven throughout the growth and development agendas.

Most obvious is the acknowledgement that unless we can include women –50% of the world’s population – in economic growth and climate action, we will not reach our full potential. This was recognized at COP23 with the establishment of the Gender Action Plan highlighting that women and men are impacted differently by climate action, and that unequal participation of women is impeding efforts to solve our shared challenges.

Green growth provides a powerful vehicle for modernizing economies while simultaneously reducing inequalities and safeguarding natural resources and ecosystems. Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) is working with governments in 28 countries to identify transformational green growth potential through policy, financial vehicles and investment projects in support of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Frank Rijsberman.

Fortunately, our experience shows there are not necessarily trade-offs between social, environmental and economic outcomes. Increasing equitable access to sustainable services leads to the growth of markets and strengthened economies that bring resilience and prosperity to people.

Addressing barriers to gender equality requires bold leadership, innovations, and broad, cross-sectoral engagements. Transformational change happens through deliberate strategy, resources and actions. For example, the Government of Rwanda has shown commitment to gender mainstreaming across ministries, and GGGI has supported the adoption of a Gender and Social Inclusion Framework into the National Roadmap for Secondary Green City Development.

In Indonesia, GGGI has worked with the provincial governments of East and Central Kalimantan to promote gender equality, poverty reduction and safeguards through synergies between Provincial Energy Plans and across Provincial Sustainable Development Plans. The aim is to identify opportunities across sectors to allow gender equality to ride on the green growth agenda.

Out of 173 economies surveyed, 155 have laws impeding women’s economic opportunities, be it gender-based job restrictions, legal rights to land tenure, and other policies which hampers women’s opportunities to be active agents of change in the families, communities and country.

In Vanuatu, GGGI has supported the government taking policy a step further by making finance work for women, marginalized groups, and the poor by incorporating gender and social inclusion into the design of a National Green Energy Fund (NGEF). By aligning the fund’s financing criteria with the Sustainable Development Plan and National Gender Policy, the aim is to enable women and men to access credit to invest in green technologies through innovative and inclusive finance.

Under the Amazon Vision Program in Colombia, GGGI has supported indigenous groups to have direct access to financing. GGGI supported the Organization of Indigenous People of the Colombian Amazon Region (OPIAC) in developing a successful proposal for strengthened environmental governance. In its implementation, women and men will be involved as green jobs are created. Securing livelihoods opportunities is essential to fight against deforestation and remove environmental stressors in remote areas of the Amazon.

Similarly, in Indonesia, GGGI’s work with the Peatland Restoration Agency to mainstream gender responsive policies into the mobilizing of public private partnerships and carbon finance to restore and stop further degradation of peatlands across the country will ensure creation of co-benefits to local communities. Without the active participation of women in decision-making and implementation, a project is less likely to achieve its economic and environmental objectives.

We have come far, and we have a long way to go. Women are still under-represented in politics around the world. Globally, the pay gap between men and women for equal work remains a concern. The World Bank released a report in 2016[1] concluding that out of 173 economies surveyed, 155 have laws impeding women’s economic opportunities, be it gender-based job restrictions, legal rights to land tenure, and other policies which hampers women’s opportunities to be active agents of change in the families, communities and country.

GGGI’s Member countries have made ambitious NDC and SDGs commitments. There is a broad recognition that green growth will only be effective and sustainable when proven beneficial to people. For International Women’s Day, GGGI reconfirms its commitment to transforming towards economic growth that is environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive, with particular focus on gender equality”.

[1] The Word Bank. 2015. Women Business and the Law 2016. Getting to Equal. Washington.

The post Promoting Green Growth to Meet Global Aspirations for Gender Equality appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Dr. Frank Rijsberman is Director-General, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8.

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Inclusive Green Growth Must Shape Thailand’s Future, Says GGGI Chiefhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/inclusive-green-growth-must-shape-thailands-future-says-gggi-chief/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=inclusive-green-growth-must-shape-thailands-future-says-gggi-chief http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/inclusive-green-growth-must-shape-thailands-future-says-gggi-chief/#respond Mon, 26 Feb 2018 14:30:45 +0000 Sinsiri Tiwutanond http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154493 Energy efficiency in industries presents a unique opportunity for Thailand’s environmental and economic policies as regional trends push towards more inclusive and sustainable green cities for the country and its neighbors, says the Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman. Rijsberman, who is currently on a visit to the country for […]

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Sinsiri Tiwutanond Interviews the Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman in Bangkok. Credit: Sinsiri Tiwutanond/IPS

Sinsiri Tiwutanond Interviews the Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman in Bangkok. Credit: Sinsiri Tiwutanond/IPS

By Sinsiri Tiwutanond
BANGKOK, Feb 26 2018 (IPS)

Energy efficiency in industries presents a unique opportunity for Thailand’s environmental and economic policies as regional trends push towards more inclusive and sustainable green cities for the country and its neighbors, says the Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman.

Rijsberman, who is currently on a visit to the country for the UN SDG 7 Conference, revealed that expediting the global transition towards renewable energy was at the heart of discussions for international policymakers and green leaders attending the conference.

“Conferences like SDG 7 are a good opportunity to take stock of what is happening around the world. We are seeing all these exciting projects to replace coal-fired power plants with solar and wind energy. The percentage of renewables in energy production is rapidly growing to about 25 percent of the global power generation,” said Rijsberman.

The Thai government recently halted its plans for a coal-fired power plant in the South following more than a week of protests and a hunger strike by local residents and activists. Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan said on Feb. 22 that the construction of new large-scale power plants in southern Thailand is unlikely over the next five years, as the current power development plan (2015-30) is under revision by the government to serve the real demand in each region with a specific focus on the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) – a move that Rijsberman sees as a hopeful signal from the government.

The EEC, an ambitious investment project to position Thailand as the region’s powerhouse for industrial production, is also key to GGGI’s work here, added GGGI Thailand’s Green Growth & Planning & Implementation Program Manager Khan Ram-Indra.

“We have been working with industrial estates because they have the key role in driving the economy, especially for the EEC, and we want to be certain that they can deliver sustainable results,” he explained.

As part of the visit, Rijsberman planned to meet with the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand and the National Economic Sustainable Development Board to engage more key players at different levels of governance to push for viable green strategies. With the country’s employment issues and energy access at a positive level, the organization looks to industries’ energy efficiency and the shift towards renewables as its primary approaches in Thailand.

Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman (far right) moderates a panel at the Global SDG 7 Conference in Bangkok. Credit: Khan Ram-Indra/GGGI

While their work in Thailand is still in its early stages since the country only recently joined GGGI as a member in early 2016, Rijsberman said the organization has made strides in connecting the private sector with government support to develop projects that primarily focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting energy efficiency. This extends to an e-waste management project with Udon Thani province’s municipality.

GGGI also directly deals with companies in the automobile, palm oil and frozen seafood industries to provide them with a successful roadmap. The goal is to hold Thailand’s commitment to The Paris Agreement with a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gases.

“We think there are many commercially attractive opportunities for the industries to take, but often they are not necessarily thinking about energy efficiency. We want to help them be more aware and show them that it is possible to change their technologies. If they need financial help, we can help bring green finance to help, so that in the future they may not even need government support and will be able to make these investments themselves,” said Rijsberman.

While economic incentives and curbing climate change impacts are important to the overarching agenda, Rijsberman added that public health remains another immediate concern. The capital of Bangkok has been under the spotlight after suffering its worst air pollution in the city’s history between Jan. 1 and Feb. 21. The Pollution Control Department issued a warning for children to remain indoors after the city’s air pollution reached dangerous levels, measuring a level of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres, or PM 2.5 dust.

“We believe that the same green growth things that help clean up the environment can also provide a more inclusive way of growth that is critical for marginalised groups in society. Within that framework, we try to desegregate our beneficiaries. We look to work specifically with women and children. Children are often the first to suffer from pollution and climate change,” he said.

Rijsberman hoped that the visibility of such pollution will help prompt the government to be more concerned with environmental issues.

“I think the government is becoming more and more aware that economic growth is important but the quality of growth is equally as critical,” he noted.

This sentiment was echoed by Ram-Indra: “The Thai economy is growing very fast. Now is the critical time that we need to do something right for the country. Thailand as the leader country should be able to share our knowledge to neighboring countries. On top of that, Thai companies hold many stakes in investments across the region, so we should apply the same sustainable approaches to all.”

Regional efforts are starting to take shape to make green cities a priority, Rijsberman said, citing GGGI’s progress in solar and waste management in Vietnam, sanitation projects in Cambodia and electric mobility in Laos. They are not isolated opportunities either, with many countries working together to share experiences. He believes China and Korea are the key players in these areas with the most developed technologies and models for the region.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization dedicated to supporting and promoting strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in developing countries and emerging economies.

Established in 2012 at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, GGGI is accelerating the transition toward a new model of economic green growth founded on principles of social inclusivity and environmental sustainability.

With the support of strong leadership and the commitment of stakeholders, the GGGI has achieved impressive growth over the last several years and now includes 27 members with operations in 25 developing countries and emerging economies.

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Ban Ki-moon Elected President and Chair of GGGIhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/ban-ki-moon-elected-president-chair-gggi/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ban-ki-moon-elected-president-chair-gggi http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/ban-ki-moon-elected-president-chair-gggi/#respond Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:52:00 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154422 Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary General (SG) of the United Nations (UN) has been elected as President of the Assembly and Chair of the Council of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) for a two-year term. He takes over from Gemedo Dalle, of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The appointment of Ban Ki-moon became effective […]

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By IPS World Desk
SEOUL, Feb 20 2018 (GGGI)

Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary General (SG) of the United Nations (UN) has been elected as President of the Assembly and Chair of the Council of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) for a two-year term. He takes over from Gemedo Dalle, of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Dr. Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, Elected as President and Chair of GGGI

Dr. Ban Ki-moon

The appointment of Ban Ki-moon became effective on 20 February 2018 following the unanimous agreement by Members of the GGGI Assembly, the Institute’s supreme governing body.

Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of GGGI, praising Ban Ki-moon for his achievements during his tenure as UN SG stated “Under Mr. Ban’s leadership, governments of the world agreed on concrete goals and targets necessary for achieving a more sustainable and inclusive future. The Climate Change targets agreed under the Paris Agreement and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are rightly recognized among the world’s greatest diplomatic successes. His vision and leadership will help GGGI deliver even greater impact in our mission supporting Member governments to achieve the ambitions set out under the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.”

As UN SG for two consecutive terms between 2007 and 2016, Ban Ki-moon worked relentlessly as a bridge builder, giving voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, and moving the organization to be more transparent and effective. He worked closely with member states of the UN to shape the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and also to establish UN Women, thereby advancing the UN’s work for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Ban Ki-moon also undertook major steps to strengthen UN peace operations, to protect human rights, improve humanitarian response, prevent violent extremism and revitalize the disarmament agenda.

“I’m delighted to have been elected as the new President of the Assembly and Chair of the Council of GGGI and am willing to contribute to promoting green growth and sustainable development around the world. I will also try my best to fulfil the expectations of the international community in this regard,” said Ban Ki-moon after his election.

Ban Ki-moon’s dedication to tackle global challenges, including climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, food security and global health is aligned with GGGI’s objectives. With its four thematic priorities on Sustainable Energy, Water and Sanitation, Sustainable Landscapes and Green Cities, GGGI is dedicated to supporting countries in their transition to low-carbon and climate resilient development pathways – what is called “green growth”.

Prior to the time as UN SG, Ban Ki-moon was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea. His 37 years with the Ministry included postings in New Delhi, Washington D.C., and Vienna. He was responsible for varied portfolios, including Foreign Policy Adviser to the President, Chief National Security Adviser to the President, Vice Minister, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and Director-General for American Affairs.

As part of the role as President of the Assembly and Chair of the Council, Ban Ki-moon will chair the 11th Council and Assembly meeting of GGGI during the fourth quarter of 2018.

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Efficient Water Management in Central Asiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/efficient-water-management-central-asia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=efficient-water-management-central-asia http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/efficient-water-management-central-asia/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 14:56:16 +0000 Soumya Balasubramanya http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154241 Soumya Balasubramanya, Researcher in Environmental Economics at the International Water Management Institute

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The Head of a Water Users' Association (WUA) in southern Tajikistan meets cotton farmers to discuss irrigation requirements. Credit: IWMI/Neil Palmer

By Soumya Balasubramanya
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan, Feb 9 2018 (IPS)

In Tajikistan and other countries of Central Asia, local water user associations have proved vital for efficient irrigation management, and reasonably prolonged training is the key for enabling the associations to perform well.

As new challenges emerge, such as male outmigration, the training must be expanded, reaching women especially — a lesson that is important for this region and beyond.

Central Asia’s arid climate leaves little margin for error in the management of water for crop production, which depends almost entirely on irrigation. Farmers and society as a whole know all too well that shortfalls can have unacceptably high costs.

A prolonged civil war in Tajikistan during the post-Soviet period and the break-up of large collectives into thousands of private or dekhan farms led to major disruptions in irrigation management. This caused a sharp drop in the production of cotton, which has been a mainstay of Tajikistan’s agricultural economy since Soviet times.

In the aftermath of this crisis, it was clear that the problem is not so much one of water infrastructure but of water governance — the system by which decisions are made and tasks performed. Previously, Russian experts had handled all of these.

With their departure, irrigation departments were unable to cope with the complex demands of providing water to thousands of dekhan farms, using the extensive network of irrigation canals that had been developed to serve the collective farms.

In an effort to address this problem, the government of Tajikistan implemented reforms, centering on the creation of water user associations, with support from USAID and other donor organizations. The idea was to empower rural people who have a direct stake in irrigation management.

One obvious challenge was how to cultivate the habits of local participatory decision-making in a country where for decades irrigation and the entire economy had been managed from the top down.

The solution proved to be intensive training in the various duties and functions of the water user associations, from handling their finances and membership to managing and maintaining irrigation infrastructure as well as resolving conflicts.

Research carried out recently by a team from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) underlines several features of the training that are critical for its success now and in the future. These results were based on detailed household surveys and economic analysis of the performance of hundreds of farms in southern Tajikistan.

An especially decisive factor in the training proved, logically, to be the amount of time dedicated to it. Associations set up with USAID support involved training with a duration over twice that of training provided under government initiatives, using essentially the same content.

As previously seen in neighboring countries, farmers who received training for a longer time were more likely to pay membership fees, sign a water contract and attend association meetings. They were also more inclined to view the associations as transparent, accountable, responsive and fair.

More training for water user associations is essential, as they face new challenges in an economy undergoing profound transformations. One factor complicating their work is the out-migration of male laborers, mainly to Russia.

In our study, the share of dehkan farms operated by females increased from 11 percent in 2014 to 18 percent in 2016, and these were less likely to pay membership fees, sign a water contract and attend association meetings. Dehkan farms have historically been operated by males and previous training has consequently targeted them.

As more women operate farms, training programs that also reach them should increase the share of members that participate and cooperate with their water user associations.

Expanded training offers a way to link water user associations more effectively with government organizations, enhancing the performance of both.

District irrigation departments receive information from the water user associations on members’ anticipated water use, and this better enables them to plan and coordinate in response to competing needs. Training that improves the quality and timeliness of this information exchange should help improve the delivery of irrigation services.

Quantitative evidence on the positive effect of longer training for water user associations provides a powerful argument for getting one of the main success factors right.

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Excerpt:

Soumya Balasubramanya, Researcher in Environmental Economics at the International Water Management Institute

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Women on the Front Lines of Halting Deforestationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/women-front-lines-halting-deforestation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-front-lines-halting-deforestation http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/women-front-lines-halting-deforestation/#respond Mon, 29 Jan 2018 23:41:49 +0000 Sally Nyakanyanga http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154051 In Zimbabwe, the bulk of rural communities and urban poor still get their energy supplies from the forests, leading to deforestation and land degradation. The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) 2016 review on forest policies in the country found that fuel wood accounted for over 60 percent of the total energy supply, whilst 96 percent […]

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Judith Ncube, the chairperson of the Vusanani Cooperative in Plumtree, Zimbabwe. Credit: Sally Nyakanyanga

By Sally Nyakanyanga
PLUMTREE, Zimbabwe, Jan 29 2018 (IPS)

In Zimbabwe, the bulk of rural communities and urban poor still get their energy supplies from the forests, leading to deforestation and land degradation.

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) 2016 review on forest policies in the country found that fuel wood accounted for over 60 percent of the total energy supply, whilst 96 percent of rural communities rely on wood for cooking and heating.

At the same time, livelihoods are shaped by the availability of forest resources, especially in rural areas.

In Mlomwe village, Plumtree, Judith Ncube (54), along with nine other women, derives her livelihood from the marula tree through processing the nuts into oil, butter and skin care ingredients or cosmetic products.

Plumtree is in ecological region 5 in Zimbabwe, one of the areas at risk of desertification if the situation is not curbed. It is among the country’s drylands, receiving little rainfall and experiencing periodic drought.

But members of the Vusanani women’s group now support their families while in turn helping to protect the forests.

“Our livelihoods as women in this community have improved greatly, and we no longer depend on our husbands for our daily survival,” says Ncube, who is the chairperson of the cooperative.

Women are at the forefront of conserving forestry as their husbands have long gone to South Africa seeking greener pastures. Zimbabwe’s high unemployment rate forced many to flee the country, leaving women with the double burden of meeting the daily needs of their families. Some husbands don’t return, whilst some return after a year or two. Currently, most people are pinning their hopes on the new administration led by President Emerson Mnangagwa, who has promised to revive the economy following the ouster of Robert Mugabe.

Ncube and her team formed Vusanani Cooperative in 2010 through support from various development partners. They now have processing equipment to grind marula nuts into different products.

The Vusanani Cooperative, which process 40 litres of oil every week, buys the raw marula nuts from the Mlomwe community. They buy the kernels at a dollar a cup, with 20 cups producing a litre of oil. They then sell a litre of marula oil for 26 dollars, with marula butter going for a dollar.

The Marula tree is found in hot, dry land areas, an excellent source of supplementary nutrition and provides income for rural people living in this region.

Former Practical Action Officer Reckson Mutengarufu, who is based in the area, said people in the community used to cut down the marula tree to make stools, pestle and pestle stick for use in their homes.

“Things have improved now as villagers can only cut down the marula tree after consulting the village head. We have since trained people on sustainable forest management and the benefits of planting trees in their homes and fields,” Mutengarufu said.

Some members have undergone a capacity building training in South Africa through the Forest Forces project sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Practical Action, an international development charity.

Margaret Ndhlovu (57), a founding member of the group and mother of ten children, managed to travel to South Africa to undergo training under the program. This enabled her to meet and interact with South African farmers in the marula processing trade.

“This was an experience of a lifetime, as I learnt during the trip in South Africa how other female farmers are processing marula fruit into various end products such bicarbonate of soda, okra or marula beer,” Ndhlovu told IPS.

The Sustainable Development Goal 15 provides for combating of desertification, reverse of land degradation and biodiversity loss.

Agricultural expansion and tobacco curing, inadequate land use planning, infrastructural development and human settlements in both urban and rural areas, uncontrolled veld fires, illegal gold panning, elephant damage and climate change have all been cited as major factors that impede sustainable forestry management.

According to the United Nations, about 12 million hectares of land are lost globally to desertification every year, with land degradation posing a significant threat to food security.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, to which Zimbabwe is a signatory, has helped the country’s Environmental Management Agency (EMA) work with various stakeholders to address the situation especially in dry regions. EMA is a government body that oversees environmental issues in the country.

David Phiri, the FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa, told IPS how FAO is implementing other projects such as beekeeping and extraction of oil from trees including the baobab.

“FAO is promoting sustainable harvesting and value addition of non-timber forest products and use of appropriate post-harvest technologies which include metallic silos, improved granaries and hermetically sealed bags so as to minimize losses,” Phiri said.

For the women of Vusanani Cooperative, they have long-term plans. By 2020, they want to expand their small marula processing business into a large manufacturing plant. They have since registered a company to enable them to operate as a formal business entity.

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Biodiversity and Food Security: the Dual Focus of the World Potato Congresshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/biodiversity-food-security-focus-world-potato-congress/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=biodiversity-food-security-focus-world-potato-congress http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/biodiversity-food-security-focus-world-potato-congress/#respond Thu, 25 Jan 2018 00:36:44 +0000 Mariela Jara http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153999 Potatoes were first taken out of Peru, where they originated, 458 years ago to feed the world. Half a millennium later, potatoes have spread throughout the planet but there are challenges to preserve the crop’s biodiversity as a source of food security, as well as the rights of the peasants who sustain this legacy for […]

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Two farmers pick potatoes in Pampas, 3,276 meters above sea level, in the Andean region of Huancavelica, in central Peru, during a visit by specialists who accompanied IPS to the area that is home to the largest variety of native potatoes in the country. From Peru, potatoes spread throughout the entire world. Credit: Mariela Pereira / IPS

Two farmers pick potatoes in Pampas, 3,276 meters above sea level, in the Andean region of Huancavelica, in central Peru, during a visit by specialists who accompanied IPS to the area that is home to the largest variety of native potatoes in the country. From Peru, potatoes spread throughout the entire world. Credit: Mariela Pereira / IPS

By Mariela Jara
LIMA, Jan 25 2018 (IPS)

Potatoes were first taken out of Peru, where they originated, 458 years ago to feed the world. Half a millennium later, potatoes have spread throughout the planet but there are challenges to preserve the crop’s biodiversity as a source of food security, as well as the rights of the peasants who sustain this legacy for humanity.

The hosting of the 10th World Potato Congress between May 27 and 31, in the ancient city of Cuzco, the centre of what was the Inca empire in the south of the Peruvian Andes, is a recognition of Peru as the main supplier of the potatoes, since it has the largest amount of germplasm in the world, and great commercial potential.

“Peru has 3,500 potato varieties of the 5,000 existing in the world. Culturally potatoes are a way of life, a feeling, a mystique. From the point of view of commercial production, hosting the congress is an opportunity to show the world new products such as flours, flakes, liqueurs and fresh potatoes,” engineer Jesus Caldas, director of management of the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA), which leads the Organising Committee of the world congress, told IPS.“The designation of Peru as host of the congress is important; the scientific community involved in the global innovation of potato production will return to the source of its origin and diversity, which is key for food security." -- Gonzalo Tejada

Held for the first time in 1993, this technical-scientific congress is held every three years, and for the first time will be hosted by a Latin American country.

Under the theme “Returning to the origin for a better future” and promoted by the World Potato Congress (WPC), the tenth edition will reflect onbiodiversity, food security and business.

“The designation of Peru as host of the congress is important; the scientific community involved in the global innovation of potato production will return to the source of its origin and diversity, which is key for food security,” Gonzalo Tejada, national coordinator of Projects of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a member of the Organising Committee of the congress, told IPS.

The potato was domesticated about 8,000 years ago in the Peruvian highlands, in the region of El Puno, shared with Bolivia. After the arrival of the Spanish to this part of the continent at the end of the 16th century, they introduced the plant to their country, and from there it spread throughout Europe, becoming a staple food product.

The non-governmental Lima-based International Potato Centre (CIP) indicates that the tuber, which has significant nutritional properties, is today the third most important crop on the planet after rice and wheat, and that more than one billion people who eat potatoes on a regular basis consume an estimated annual production of 374 million tons.

The CIP reports that the total cultivated area of potatoes exceeds 19 million hectares in 156 countries. “The biggest consumption is by industries that use potatoes for frying, in starch or in liqueurs like vodka, which involves production by large transnational companies,” said FAO’s Tejada.

Jesús Caldas, director of Management of the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA), the Peruvian state entity that leads the Organising Committee of the 10th World Potato Congress, is photographed in his office next to the promotional posters for the event that will take place in the city of Cuzco in May. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

Jesús Caldas, director of Management of the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA), the Peruvian state entity that leads the Organising Committee of the 10th World Potato Congress, is photographed in his office next to the promotional posters for the event that will take place in the city of Cuzco in May. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

In most countries, he explained, production is concentrated in extensive agriculture carried out by large companies. This is not the case of Peru and its Andean neighbors Bolivia and Ecuador, where ancestral practices have been kept alive, making it possible to conserve the native species that constitute the basis of the crop’s biodiversity.

But these crops face the impacts of climate change, lack of technology and narrow profit margins, among other problems.

Josefina Baca, a 42-year-old farmer, plants potatoes more than 3,100 meters above sea level in Huaro, a town 43 km from the city of Cuzco. She says the heat is more intense than in the past, and is worried by how variable the rainy season is now.

“I am always coming to my farm and I work with devotion, but the climate changes are spoiling the crops: if the frost falls prematurely it ruins everything. Or sometimes there is no rain and we lose the crops. I farm organically, without chemicals, but we need support to protect our seeds, our biodiversity,” she told IPS.

 A farmer picks potatoes on community land in the high Andean region of Huancavelica, the area of Peru with the most native varieties of potatoes. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS


A farmer picks potatoes on community land in the high Andean region of Huancavelica, the area of Peru with the most native varieties of potatoes. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

Moisés Quispe, executive director of the National Association of Agroecological Producers (ANPE), which represents 12,000 native potato growers, especially in the centre and south of the Andes range, told IPS that climate change is a serious threat to rural people.

Quispe, who is a farmer and guardian of seeds in his area, explained that they are at a disadvantage in the neoliberal market because due to the lack of political will there is no promotion of small-scale agricultural development that produces the native potato in all its wide variety.

“From one hectare, you can obtain 60 tons of conventional potatoes, but only 15 at the most of native potatoes, because they are grown with no tillage, just manual labour, without machines, because the wild terrain where these potatoes grow do not allow it,” he explained.

He added that the production system entails crop rotation, natural soil fertilisation, clean water irrigation, permanent pest and disease control and seed selection.

“This demands more labour, it raises the costs of small-scale production by potato growers, but we do not get a fair price,” he said.

Native potatoes, which draw three times the price of the most commercial and conventional varieties, are species of diverse textures, shapes and colours that are produced in high areas and adapted since time immemorial to climatic adversity. They have been conserved based on the ancestral knowledge of indigenous peasant families and without using chemical elements.

ANPE’s Quispe stresses that Peru as a country of conservation of plant genetic resources which has helped to prevent hunger in different parts of the world, but regrets the lack of recognition of the rights of the small farmers who make it possible to conserve the native potatoes year after year, for generations.

He demanded a differentiated public policy that promotes in situ conservation based on the integration of local knowledge. “The law says that all seeds must be certified but we do not agree, the peasants have the potato as their father, brother, great-grandfather have inherited it, they cannot try to monopolise the seeds because they are a common good,” he argued.

Currently the country leads the production of potatoes in Latin America with 4.6 million tons per year, while per capita consumption is 85 kg a year. But greater volume is required to take on the commercial challenges.

INIA’s Caldas recognises the need to adopt public policies to increase potato productivity, and calls for greater resources for research, promotion of agriculture and seed certification.

In his view, the fact that of the 320,000 hectares of potatoes grown in the country, only 0.4 percent of the seeds used are certified is a disadvantage that contributes to low crop yields.

Miguel Ordinola stands in front of the Lima headquarters of the International Potato Centre, a non-governmental scientific body that is part of the Organising Committee of the World Potato Congress, which will be hosted in the Peruvian city of Cuzco in May. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

Miguel Ordinola stands in front of the Lima headquarters of the International Potato Centre, a non-governmental scientific body that is part of the Organising Committee of the World Potato Congress, which will be hosted in the Peruvian city of Cuzco in May. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

He also cited factors such as the lack of irrigation infrastructure, dependence on rainfall and limited knowledge about fertilisation. “There is ancestral knowledge but there is a lack of technical support,” the official said.

Miguel Ordinola, representative of the CIP in the Organising Committee of the Congress, said the meeting will offer opportunities to present global advances in research that will benefit small farmers.

“Studies have been carried out by the CIP together with American and European universities on how we are adapting to the conditions brought on by climate change. One of the hypotheses to be proved is that native varieties are being planted at higher altitudes, that with the increase in temperatures farmers are seeking higher altitudes,” where temperatures are lower, he told IPS.

During the 10th Congress, the progress made in scientific research will be seen in the field, in the Potato Park and in the visit to the Andenes Station, the only one in the world that researches Inca and pre-Inca “andenes” or platforms – step-like terraces dug into the slope of a hillside for agricultural purposes.

Ordinola said Peru and its Andean neighbours have great commercial potential to develop, to which this world congress will contribute.

“Peru got to be host because it is a centre of biodiversity for the world, which means many of the problems facing potato crops can find a solution through research in the Peruvian and regional context,” he said.

The world meeting will gather some 1,000 people from the scientific, academic, business and peasant farming communities. Of the participants, 60 percent will come from Latin American countries.

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Sustainable Energy Critical for Achieving Overall Goals of Paris Climate Agreementhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/sustainable-energy-critical-achieving-overall-goals-paris-climate-agreement/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sustainable-energy-critical-achieving-overall-goals-paris-climate-agreement http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/sustainable-energy-critical-achieving-overall-goals-paris-climate-agreement/#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 16:06:58 +0000 Miroslav http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153865 Miroslav Lajčák, President of the UN General Assembly, speaking at the 8th IRENA Assembly in Abu Dhabi

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Miroslav Lajčák, speaking at the 8th IRENA Assembly in Abu Dhabi. Credit: UN Photo

By Miroslav Lajčák
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Jan 15 2018 (IPS)

The Paris Agreement ushered in a new global approach to climate change. At the core of this agreement are the Nationally Determined Contributions. We are now implementing these pledges.

Over the last few days we have heard much about challenges and opportunities. Challenges are nothing new. It is how we respond that determines our fate.

That being said, the size and extent of the climate change threat is new. It is arguably the biggest challenge humanity faces today. This means that we must act urgently and seize opportunities quickly. One such opportunity is renewable energy.

We are now implementing the pledges. And we are more than halfway to the 2020 finish line. There will be checkpoints along the way. Later this year, there will be the 2018 facilitative dialogue. This is a much-needed chance to assess how far we have come and how much further we have to go.

We already know that the current pledges are not enough to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. We have the tools, the plan and will submit new and more ambitious pledges in 2020. But we need urgent action now.

So where do we stand today?

First, access to energy remains a major development concern. The importance of access to modern and affordable energy lies in the impact it has on people’s lives.

Billions of people around the world still lack access to affordable and modern energy. For example, in Africa just under 50% of the population had access to electricity.

The energy challenge is many-sided. But with the right energy policies we can provide energy to everyone without creating additional burden on our planet. Many developing countries are investing in low-carbon energy sources and energy efficiency measures. This can ensure that economic growth is not coupled with pressure on the environment. Likewise, the share of renewable energy in the mix is growing steadily.

To make this transition to sustainable energy, many countries need support –such as capacity building and transfer of technology. Inclusion of renewable energy plans in nationally determined contributions can help attract the financing needed to implement them. Which brings me to my next point:

Nationally determined contributions are critical tools for saving our planet.

As we are all aware, the current pledges will carry us over the 2 degree Celsius precipice, and far beyond, our 1.5 degree aspiration. On one hand, we must commend the 165 countries that made pledges. These pledges form a good basis for action. But at the same time, we cannot afford to ignore the reality that they are far from enough. We should consider the pledges as a floor rather than as a ceiling.

We need urgent and far-reaching pre-2020 action. Time is running out for the woman losing her livelihood to climate-induced desertification. For the child who will have to abandon her home to a rapidly-rising sea level.

And for the communities that will have to build back only to be washed away again. Time is already up for many lives lost in heatwaves, droughts, extreme weather events and public health crises – all due to climate change.

Simply put: We must do what we have pledged to do. We must pledge to do more. And we must take urgent action to fulfil these promises. This is our joint and individual responsibility to our people and our planet.

My third point is that SDG 7 is pivotal for the achievement of Agenda 2030. It calls on us to provide energy for all by 2030, and to do so sustainably. This means increasing access, efficiency, renewables and the means with which to do it. Sustainable energy is also critical for achieving the overall goal of the Paris Agreement – to keep the temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

Development does not necessarily equal more carbon emissions. In fact, sustainable development, creating a decent life for all on a sustainable planet, involves less carbon emissions. Instead of a vicious cycle involving development for some and increased carbon emissions, we have the chance to create a “virtuous circle” of raising ambition, development and renewable energy deployment.

In conclusion, we live in a time of challenges, opportunities and high stakes. Our failure to act decisively and unequivocally at this critical moment in history will determine our future.

The Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals are our plans. The climate pledges manifest our collective promise to the people of this world, and it is the lives of these people that should spur us into action.

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Miroslav Lajčák, President of the UN General Assembly, speaking at the 8th IRENA Assembly in Abu Dhabi

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