Inter Press Service » Natural Resources News and Views from the Global South Sat, 13 Feb 2016 08:49:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The UAE’s Journey Towards Clean Energy Fri, 29 Jan 2016 12:04:44 +0000 Rajeev Batra Rajeev Batra is partner and head of risk consulting at KPMG.]]>

Rajeev Batra is partner and head of risk consulting at KPMG.

By Rajeev Batra, Special to Gulf News
ABU DHABI, Jan 29 2016 (IPS)

(WAM) - The discovery of hydrocarbon reserves brought tremendous prosperity for the UAE and made it a central player in the global energy market. With one of the highest gross domestic product per capita levels in the world, the UAE has generally used its wealth wisely to stimulate sustainable economic growth. However, volatility in oil markets, growing unrest across the region and the growing threat of climate change has concentrated minds on the need for immediate and decisive action.

Credit: Gulf News archive

Credit: Gulf News archive

The UAE has long recognised that environmental responsibility and economic diversification are essential for a better, more sustainable future. As the first country in the region to set renewable energy targets and as home to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), Masdar City and the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the shift towards cleaner energy sources and reduced carbon emissions is evident.

Ahead of last month’s COP21 summit in Paris, the UAE government pledged to increase clean energy’s share of the national energy mix to 24 per cent by 2021. This is a pivotal step towards making the UAE a global centre of renewable energy innovation. With more than 300 days of abundant sunshine every year, increasing solar’s share of the UAE energy mix should be attainable. Hydrocarbons that are not burnt to generate electricity can be used for other, higher value-adding purposes, or sold to increase the gross national income. Clean energy could also reduce the long-term social costs the government will face as adverse environmental and health effects could be minimised — or even eradicated.

The UAE should be proud of its clean energy leadership role. Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy agency Masdar was a key sponsor of Solar Impulse, the flying laboratory full of clean technologies that represents 12 years of research and development. Solar Impulse generated tremendous global excitement when it attempted the first round-the-world solar flight to demonstrate how a pioneering spirit and clean technologies can change the world.

The Zayed Future Energy Prize — which represents the environmental stewardship vision of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan — celebrates impactful, innovative and long-term achievements in renewable energy and sustainability. It reflects the UAE’s commitment to finding solutions that meet the challenges of climate change, energy security and the environment. The 2016 winners were announced on January 19 and ranged from SOS HG Shaikh Secondary School, a school for 300 students three hours from Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa, to BYD, the largest rechargeable battery supplier and new energy vehicle manufacturer, based in Shenzhen. A lifetime achievement award to Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland recognised her many achievements and accomplishments, included being a guiding force behind the “Brundtland Report” on sustainability over 25 years ago.

The UAE, like many other developed and developing countries, faces a number of clean energy and carbon emission issues. In a reflection of its growing economy, there is an increasing number of vehicles on our roads, leading to increasing fuel usage and higher carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide levels. Electricity demand from individuals, industries and commercial buildings — which are major consumers of electricity — is high and the UAE has a significant carbon footprint. Competitively priced oil, gas and energy prices, while driving economic growth in some traditional industries, is undermining renewable energy and stifling growth in what could be a key sector of the country’s future economy.

The recent adoption of the Paris agreement was a historic moment. COP21 was an unprecedented international climate deal and presents both risks and opportunities for businesses who have an important role in terms of emissions reductions and investments to help governments achieve the goals.

As countries start reforming their economies based on their COP21 commitments, we should see the global economy evolving to a lower carbon model. Companies will be required to be more open and transparent about the financial, environmental and social risks and opportunities that they face from climate change.

Investment in clean technology should grow dramatically — governments are expected to double their clean-tech research and development budgets and the private sector is likely to increase its involvement and investment. The role of the private sector, in fact, is key to the sustainability agenda — because of its central role in the development of the global economy. The increase in the private sector’s rate of triple bottom-line reporting — which focuses on social and environmental as well as economic costs and benefits — will be a key marker of the likely success, or failure, of the COP21 programme.


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Global Renewable Energy Investments a Win-Win Scenario Thu, 28 Jan 2016 06:35:27 +0000 Wambi Michael 0 Zero Hunger? UN Leads With Landfill Salad and Recycled Food Mon, 25 Jan 2016 23:58:24 +0000 Thalif Deen By Thalif Deen

When the United Nations hosted a high-level lunch for visiting world leaders at the UN dining room during the General Assembly sessions last September, they were in for an unexpected surprise.

The lunch, hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a strong advocate of “zero hunger”, consisted largely of recycled food salvaged from the kitchen before it was dumped into garbage bins.

“Every dish was made from scraps that would normally be wasted,” Ban told another group of world leaders at a dinner on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos last week.

One of the appetizers was called “landfill salad,” he said, singling it out as “a small example of sustainable solution” to eliminating world hunger.

Ban, who will be completing his 10-year tenure at the United Nations end December, is vociferously campaigning for the total eradication of extreme hunger by 2030 under the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by world leaders last September.

Ban said more than a third of the world’s food goes to waste. And “eliminating wasted food in homes and in fields is a key element in achieving Zero Hunger.”

”The United Nations,” he declared,” is ready to lead new, large-scale initiatives to end hunger,” and practice in its own backyard – and in its own kitchen– what it is preaching to the rest of the world.

Danielle Nierenberg, President and co-founder of Washington-based Food Tank, told IPS the issue of food waste is very hot right now among foodies and environmentalists alike.

“Unfortunately, food waste continues to be an issue that not enough scientists, researchers, farmers, businesses, policymakers, and funders and investors, as well as eaters like you and me, don’t know or care about enough.”

“And it is part of our job is to help change that by highlighting some of the innovations and solutions that are happening on the ground, in fields, boardrooms, kitchens, grocery stores, restaurants classrooms, and laboratories around the country, as well as town halls and the halls of Congress”, she noted.

Currently up to 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted. That’s enough food to fill a 90,000-person stadium every day. And globally, roughly 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted per year.

At the same time, said Nierenberg, at least 1 in 6 Americans are unsure of where the next meal will come from, and more than 800 million people worldwide are hungry.

In the developing world, pests, disease, and a lack of infrastructure to store and transport crops prevent food from reaching markets or the tables of the needy; in the industrialized world, retailers and consumers waste an equal amount by throwing food away.

But food waste isn’t just a moral conundrum. It’s also an environmental problem. Food waste represents about 5 percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States and 25 percent of all water use, she noted.

Ban told the gathering in Davos: “We recently heard from aid workers who arrived in Madaya in Syria who told us people there are gaunt and fragile from such severe hunger. One family traded their car for three kilos of rice. “

Tragically, he said, this desperation is mirrored in other crises around the world. “We have a responsibility to answer the cries of people’s right to food.”

Nierenberg told IPS the good news is that the solutions for reducing food loss and waste can be surprisingly simple, inexpensive, and business-friendly.

Moreover, they can simultaneously decrease hunger, poverty, and agriculture’s carbon footprint. And youth leadership, creative solutions to food waste, and entrepreneurial development are emerging as effective ways to fight food loss and waste.

“I think some of the most exciting innovations are coming from groups like Feedback, who helped organize the lunch at the United Nations last year, are making sure that policymakers, farmers, eaters, and the funding and donor communities all realize that they have a role to play in preventing food loss and waste”.

And there are so many exciting business opportunities for small scale cooling and storage, redistribution of food that would have otherwise been wasted, and other businesses that can help both farmers and eaters prevent loss and waste.

“I think this is also an issue that will need a lot of North to South and South to North information sharing and is an opportunity for farmers and businesses all over the world to learn from one another,” she added.

Although farmers in the developing world experience different challenges regarding storage and cooling than farmers in the industrialized world, they both have to deal with unrealistic cosmetic standards that often farmers to throw away imperfect looking, but perfectly nutritious and edible produce.

Ugly produce is one of the biggest opportunities for both small and big farmers alike because they can use these ugly vegetable and fruits to make value added products and increase incomes and nutrition, she declared.

The writer can be contacted at

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Nevis Has A Date With Geothermal Energy Mon, 25 Jan 2016 12:19:29 +0000 Desmond Brown 0 One Fish Two Fish, No Fish: Rebuilding of Fish Stocks Urgently Needed Thu, 21 Jan 2016 15:22:27 +0000 Christopher Pala 0 Science: Not Just a Western Sector, It Can Help Africa Too Wed, 20 Jan 2016 07:51:31 +0000 Busani Bafana 0 Q&A: Ensuring Food Security for All Tue, 19 Jan 2016 15:55:41 +0000 Katherine Mackenzie

As the Ambassador of the Republic of the Sudan to Italy and Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Sudan to the UN Food and Agriculture organizations in Rome, Amira Daoud Hassan Gornass, takes-up her role as Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), she shares her vision for the future of food security.

By Katherine Mackenzie
Rome, Italy, Jan 19 2016 (IPS)

Coming from a developing country where, in our generation, we have experienced the devastating effects of food insecurity and the complexity of its root causes, I take to heart the objective of ensuring that during my mandate, CFS will make a ‘real’ difference to people’s lives. Achieving results is something that we owe each and every undernourished person who today, in 2016 goes to bed hungry. There is still an unacceptable 793 million people in this condition worldwide! Ensuring food security for all is also something that we owe our children.

H.E. Amira Daoud Hassan Gornass Ambassador of the Republic of the Sudan to Italy and Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Sudan to the UN Food and Agriculture organizations in Rome, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Credits: Courtesy of CFS

H.E. Amira Daoud Hassan Gornass Ambassador of the Republic of the Sudan to Italy and Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Sudan to the UN Food and Agriculture organizations in Rome, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Credits: Courtesy of CFS

Today, in our inter-connected 21st century world, the persistence of hunger and malnutrition is both unacceptable, and complex to tackle. Root causes are many, they are interlinked, and they will only be addressed successfully if all actors involved, governments, civil society, the private sector, UN organisations and the international development community generally, including research organizations, come together and agree on the policy and actions that are necessary. This is why CFS, as the most inclusive platform for all stakeholders to work together on global food security and nutrition policies, has been called upon to play a major role in two crucial areas: implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the recommendations of the Second International Conference on Nutrition.

Both the review and follow-up to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and particularly of its second goal, “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, as well as action to eradicate malnutrition in all its forms, will require platforms able to ensure inclusiveness, efficient science-policy interfaces, and an approach which breaks down silos.

Thanks to quality reports by its High Level Panel of Experts, and the participation of the different stakeholders around the table, CFS negotiates policy tools which are based on facts and evidence, and enjoy wide legitimacy and ownership. We can no longer argue that we lack the understanding or knowledge of the consequences of our actions, and today, we must all be held accountable for our actions and our choices.

Accountability is another priority that I have set myself for CFS in the coming biennium. Reality is fast changing, and CFS must be ready to evolve to stay inclusive, transparent, effective, and relevant. CFS must continue its constructive self-questioning, and examine whether its procedures are efficient, whether it is as inclusive as it should be, whether the science-based reports support policy negotiations as well as they could, and so forth. This year, we plan to carry out an independent evaluation of CFS, and we are looking forward to the results, in order to continue evolving and improving.

These new priorities represent a major turning point for CFS, and will no doubt involve challenges, as well as opportunities to prove that a participatory, inclusive model such as CFS is the future for sustainable development. I look forward to this biennium, and to achieving a lasting impact together with all CFS stakeholders!

The following is an exclusive interview with Ambassador Gornass conducted by IPS.

IPS: Please describe some of the toughest challenges we face today in trying to reach Zero Hunger.

Amb. Gornass: Our planet, however big and plentiful, has physical boundaries, and limited natural resources, which in today’s populated and globalised world, are getting scarce. This leads to competing demand for land, water, nutrients among others. Soils are depleted. This impacts upon agricultural productivity, and further affects our environment. Climate change is probably the most worrying of these changes which will affect all of us, with no exception. Political and governance factors also come into play; worldwide, protracted crises are multiplying. These conflicts affect food production from planting and harvesting to processing, distribution and the final consumer. Policy coordination and coherence is a major issue for food security and nutrition worldwide. For instance, different ministries within a government may not share the same views or may have different and sometimes competing approaches to an issue, which makes the implementation of policies such as those targeting the food insecure difficult, or may even jeopardize their impact. Countries within a region should also improve their coordination of policies. Better communication is something we need to achieve.

In general terms, there has to be an acknowledgement by all actors of their shared responsibility: each stakeholder has an interest, and responsibilities, in achieving global food security and improved nutrition.

IPS: Where have we succeeded so far and what might work better? Is SDG2 an aspirational goal or can we really reach it by 2030?

Amb. Gornass: There are examples of major advances in the fight against hunger. Globally, numbers are going down and overall, regions have made good progress, some regions having achieved both the 2015 international hunger targets. However, others have in fact gone backwards due to new factors such as political crises.

SDG2 can certainly be reached by 2030. We already know how to produce enough to feed the planet. It’s now about understanding how food systems can work better so that we no longer lose or wastefood, that it is more equally distributed, is available at a fair price that enables food producers to improve their livelihoods and encourages vocations, and that is both nutritious and adequate. As a result populations will be better off and countries will be enabled to grow. Increasing the production of smallholder farmers is key to achieving this. These are the people who will make the difference in nutrition and in the quality of food, overall.

IPS: Can you give us some specific success stories that show the way ahead for other countries as well?

Amb. Gornass: Brazil is an excellent example. Former President Lula’s Zero Hunger is a Brazilian government program introduced in 2003 by the then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, with the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty by combining an array of social protection policies and safety net measures, aimed at increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers.

India also has success stories to share! For example, India launched a very successful social media campaign aimed at educating the entire population – and targeting women in particular – about the symptoms and consequences of malnutrition, as well as on the benefits of a varied diet, especially for infants and children under the age of five. The campaign was launched thanks to the support of a telephone company, which gave to people who watched the video extra telephone minutes. As a result of this campaign, malnutrition dropped from 51 percent to 37 percent!

IPS: Attaining food security could solve so many things, including for example decreasing health issues which at the national level cause a strain on a country’s economy, to say nothing of the personal suffering due to food insecurity and malnutrition. Do you think world leaders understand the importance of food security?

Amb. Gornass: They do! This is the message that they sent last September by adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: development issues are strongly interrelated, and we need to work on these simultaneously, in a holistic and integrated manner, bringing together: developing, and developed countries; governments, and all other stakeholders.

The challenge is that, while food security and good nutrition achieve benefits that affect many sectors, such as health, economic growth as you mentioned, but also the environment, and populations’ overall well-being, achieving this also requires simultaneously moving things across many different sectors. For instance, “nutrition sensitive policies” should be included in health plans, agricultural development programmes, water management, education, etc. This is why food security and nutrition will only be achieved if all stakeholders realise this and work together. This is also why the 2030 Agenda, and enhanced nutrition, will be placed at the centre of the CFS agenda from now on; CFS multistakeholder members will meet this year in Open-Ended Working Groups to discuss how to implement concretely the decisions taken at the Committee’s Plenary meeting in October 2015.

IPS: Isn’t Climate change a huge problem for attaining food security and zero hunger by 2030? If we don’t get climate change right, how can we move ahead on food security? What role is CFS playing and couldn’t it play a greater role?

Amb. Gornass: Indeed, it is, especially in developing countries. A two degree increase will have a dramatic impact on crop yields and their nutritional content in many regions of the world and it will also affect climate variability, which in turn has adverse effects on harvests and food availability.

Climate change may also lead to important flows of displaced people, “climate refugees,” which has important food security implications. Small changes in a situation of fragile balance could have huge political and humanitarian repercussions. All countries have to work together to adapt to and mitigate climate change; we need to work on providing more funding and technical help. We need to enable farmers to sustain these changes. We need to find and adopt globally more sustainable agricultural production methods, and fast. But the solutions are in reach, thanks to the huge technology and innovation potential, as well as to traditional local knowledge on how to produce good quality food using available resources to their full potential and in a sustainable manner.

On this topic, CFS has commissioned a High Level Panel of Experts’ report on “Sustainable Agricultural Development Including the Role of Livestock”, to be launched in July 2016. In 2012, the CFS published a report on “Climate Change and Food Security” which was a game changer. The report introduced the idea of “Climate-Smart Agriculture”, with climate negotiators realizing that agriculture must needs be included in any negotiations on climate – that it was not only part of the problem but also has enormous potential for solutions! The policy recommendations which were negotiated based on this report are still very topical.

In the run-up to COP 21, CFS openly and actively advocated for a common narrative to be developed for sustainable development in the next 15 years – between the Sustainable Development Goals, Financing for Development, and quick action to check climate change – ensuring that all stakeholders take their full responsibility and contribute to a better world.

CFS will continue using its model, work, and convening power to support joint action, making sure that the implementation of all the Sustainable Development Goals that fall under its mandate take into account the need for climate action.

CFS is fully committed to supporting all its stakeholders in building a world where in 2030, not one individual will be left behind.


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Jamaica’s Climate Change Fight Fuels Investments in Renewables Mon, 18 Jan 2016 15:24:11 +0000 Zadie Neufville 0 Thousands Face Hunger and Pray for Enough Rain in Malawi Mon, 18 Jan 2016 06:42:46 +0000 Charity Chimungu Phiri 0 CoP 21: The Start of a Long Journey Thu, 14 Jan 2016 14:58:45 +0000 Rajendra Kumar Pachauri

Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, is the Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and Former Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2002-2015

By Rajendra Kumar Pachauri
NEW DELHI, Jan 14 2016 (IPS)

The agreement reached in December, 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a major step forward in dealing with the challenge of climate change. The very fact that almost every country in the world signed off on this agreement is a major achievement, credit for which must go in substantial measure to the Government of France and its leadership. However, in scientific terms, while this agreement certainly brings all the Parties together in moving ahead, in itself the commitments that have been made under the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are quite inadequate for limiting temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century relative to pre-industrial levels.

Rajendra Kumar Pachauri

Rajendra Kumar Pachauri

Any agreement on climate change has to take into account the scientific assessment of the impacts that the world may face and the risks that it would have to bear if adequate efforts are not made to mitigate the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Scientific assessment is also necessary on the level of mitigation that would limit risks from consequential impacts to acceptable levels. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has come up with a clear assessment of where the world is going if it moves along business as usual. The AR5 clearly states that without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st Century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts globally. Adaptation and mitigation are complementary strategies for reducing and managing the risks of climate change. Correspondingly, substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades can reduce climate risks in the 21st Century and beyond, increase prospects for effective adaptation, reduce the costs and challenges of mitigation in the longer term and contribute to climate-resilient pathways for sustainable development.

In the AR5, five Reasons For Concern (RFCs) aggregate climate change risks and illustrate the implications of warming and of adaptation limits for people, economies and ecosystems across sectors and regions. The five RFCs are associated with: (1) Unique and threatened systems, (2) Extreme weather events, (3) Distribution of impacts, (4) Global aggregate impacts, and (5) Large scale singular events. These RFCs grow directly in proportion to the extent of warming projected for different scenarios.

Substantial cuts in GHG emissions over the next few decades can substantially reduce risks of climate change by limiting warming in the second half of the 21st century and beyond. Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Limiting risks across RFCs would imply a limit for cumulative emissions of CO2. Such a limit would require that global net emissions of CO2 eventually decrease to zero and would constrain annual emissions over the next few decades. But some risks from climate damages are unavoidable, even with mitigation and adaptation. This results from the fact that there is inertia in the system whereby the increased concentration of GHGs in the earth’s atmosphere will create impacts which are now inevitable.

The Paris agreement is an extremely significant step taken by the global community, but to deal effectively with the challenge ahead, a much higher level of ambition would be required by all the countries of the world than is currently embodied in the INDCs. A review of the INDCs is due to take place only in 2018 and 2023. This may be too late, because a higher level of ambition will need to be demonstrated urgently, if the world is to reduce emissions significantly before 2030. Delaying additional mitigation to 2030 will substantially increase the challenges associated with limited warming over the 21st century to below 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels. And, if the global community is serious about evaluating the impacts of climate change within a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, then stringent mitigation actions will have to be taken much earlier than 2030. If early action is not taken, then a much more rapid scale up of low carbon energy over the period 2030 to 2050 would become necessary with a larger reliance on carbon dioxide removal in the long term and higher transitional and long term economic impacts.

In essence, Paris has to be seen as the beginning of a journey. If the world is to minimize the risks from the impacts of climate change adequately, then the public in each country must demand a far more ambitious set of mitigation measures than embedded in the Paris agreement. That clearly is the challenge that the world is facing, and the global community must take in hand urgently the task of informing the public on the scientific facts related to climate change as a follow up to Paris. Then only would we get adequate action for risks being limited to acceptable levels.


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The Role of SDGs in Achieving Zero Hunger Thu, 14 Jan 2016 06:25:51 +0000 Paloma Duran

Paloma Durán, is Director Sustainable Development Goals Fund at UNDP.

By Paloma Durán

It is a well-known fact that 795 million or one in nine are undernourished in our world today. This figure only goes up to more than one in eight for the developing world. Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. At the same time, the food industry is a major source of jobs and livelihoods.

The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development recognizes that food is going to play a pivotal role in achieving sustainable development and as such in ensuring Zero Hunger. Various commentators recognize the pivotal role that Goal 2 of the SDGs (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture) plays in achieving the other goals. So what can we do facilitate the achievement of Goal 2 in practical terms?

The Sustainable Development Goals Fund, the first mechanism established for SDG achievement, is already devising new platforms for joint engagement of UN Agencies, governments, civil society, businesses and communities in sustainable development with its work on the ground. In line with its constant efforts to push for innovation in promoting dialogue and action to achieve the SDGs, the SDG Fund is bringing to the table the acclaimed chefs, Joan, Jordi and Josep Roca who run El Celler de Can Roca restaurant in Girona, Spain.

With them, next January 18th at the UN, we will initiate a dialogue on the role of food and the SDGs and what how chefs like the Roca Brothers can contribute to sustainable development. You can be a part of this dialogue by signing up here or sending your questions to

With food security and nutrition defined as one of its key focus areas the SDG Fund is already funding four joint programmes that directly contribute towards achieving Goal 2. With our support, El Salvador’s government is developing new plans and regulations to tackle food security and nutrition among the most vulnerable. In Guatemala, the SDG Fund is working in 4 municipalities to increase the participation of children, youth, women and men in food security local governance mechanisms.

In Viet Nam, we operate in 2 provinces with extremely high poverty rates to focus on nutrition policies and standards and the development of institutional capacity and systems. In Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu, the SDG Fund is engaging youth in organic farming through a farm to table chain approach.

Some key themes to be debated during the dialogue with the Roca brothers will include:
• Food security and improved nutritional outcomes: local food sourcing, food waste and food loss reduction, environmental aspects of food, food preparation, the role of smallholder farmers and conservation and use of food;
• Rethinking how the food and restaurant industry landscape can create more and better jobs, protect the environment, revitalize endemic culinary traditions, educate children and youth on better eating and cooking habits and encourage food-related activities as a source of sustainable livelihoods and especially women’s role along the food chain;
• Establish a stronger understanding of sustainability issues linked to boosting farm yields and offsetting farming challenges;
• In addressing access to food, looking beyond nutrition issues to recognize food as an important engine for inclusive economic growth, reducing poverty and peacebuilding;
• Analyzing the role that Climate change is adding to the challenge of achieving sustainable food production and meeting the demands of a growing population;
• Recognizing adequate feeding and care as an integral part of national strategies and programmes to reduce hunger and undernutrition. Including promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and appropriate complementary feeding, basic requirements for nutritional wellbeing.


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TAIWAN: Polls Harken End of Nuclear Power Wed, 13 Jan 2016 13:51:11 +0000 Dennis Engbarth 0 Jamaica’s Drought Tool Could Turn the Table on Climate Change Wed, 13 Jan 2016 07:33:35 +0000 Zadie Neufville Drought-map_

By Zadie Neufville
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jan 13 2016 (IPS)

On a very dry November 2013, Jamaica’s Meteorological Service made its first official drought forecast when the newly developed Climate Predictability Tool (CPT) was used to predict a high probability of below average rainfall in the coming three months.

By February, the agency had officially declared a drought in the eastern and central parishes of the island based on the forecasts. July’s predictions indicated that drought conditions would continue until at least September.

Said to be the island’s worst in 30 years, the 2014 drought saw Jamaica’s eastern parishes averaging rainfall of between 2 and 12 per cent, well below normal levels. Agricultural data for the period shows that production fell by more than 30 per cent over 2013 and estimates are that losses due to crop failures and wild fires amounted to one billion dollars.

Jamaica’s agricultural sector accounts for roughly seven per cent of the island’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 20 per cent of its workforce.

The Met Service’s, Glenroy Brown told IPS, “The CPT was the main tool used by our Minister (of Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change) Robert Pickersgill throughout 2015 to advise the nation on the status of drought across the island .”

It was also used but the National Water Commission (NWC) to guide its implementation of island-wide water restrictions.

A technician with Jamaica’s Met Service, Brown designed and implemented the tool in collaboration with Simon Mason, a climate scientist from Columbia University’s International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“The tool provides a Windows package for constructing a seasonal climate drought forecast model, producing forecasts with updated rainfall and sea surface temperature data,” he explained.

The innovation was one of the first steps in building resilience under Jamaica’s national climate policy. It provides drought-monitoring forecasts that allows farmers to plan their planting around dry periods and has been “tailored for producing seasonal climate forecasts from a general circulation model (GCM), or for producing forecasts using fields of sea-surface temperatures,” Brown said.

The tool combines a number of applications including Google Earth and localised GIS maps, to generate one to five day forecasts that are country and location specific. The information is broken down and further simplified by way of colour-coded information and text messages for the not so tech-savvy user.

The tool designed by Brown and Mason also incorporated IRI’s own CPT (designed by Mason) that was already being used by Caribbean countries with small meteorological services and limited resources, to produce their own up-to-date seasonal climate forecasts. The new tool combined data on recent rainfall and rainfall predictions to provide a forecast that focused specifically on drought.

“It was important for us to design a system that addressed Jamaica’s needs upfront, but that would also be suitable for the rest of the region,” Mason noted.

The scientists explained, “Because impact of a drought is based on the duration of the rainfall” and not only the amount of rainfall, looking forward is not enough to predict droughts because of factors related to accumulation and intensification.

“What we’re doing is essentially putting a standard three-month rainfall forecast in context with recent rainfall measurements,” Mason, told USAID’s publication Frontlines last May. He noted that if below-normal rainfall activity was recorded during an unusually dry period, indications were there was a “fairly serious drought” ahead.

Sheldon Scott from Jamaica’s Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) told IPS that farmers who used the SMS information were able to avoid the worse effects of the drought.

“The impacts were visible in relation to farmers who used the information and others who didn’t, because those who did were able to manage the mitigating factors more effectively,” he said.

During the period, more than 500 farmers received text alerts and about 700,000 bulletins were sent to agricultural extension officers.

Among the farmers who signed up for text messaging service, Melonie Risden told Frontlines, “The information we received from the Met office gave us drought forecasts in terms of probabilities. We still decided to plant because we were fortunate to have access to the river and could fill up water drums ahead of time in anticipation of the drought.”

Risden lost the corn she planted on the 13-acre property in Crooked River, Clarendon, one of the parishes hardest hit by the drought with only two per cent of normal rainfall, but was able to save much of the peas, beans and hot peppers.

Six months after Jamaica’s Met Service made its ground-breaking forecast, the CIMH presented the first region-wide drought outlook at the Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forum in Kingston. Now 23 other Caribbean and Central American countries are using the tool to encourage climate change resilience and inform decision-making.

“Regionally the tool is now a standard fixture across several countries within the region, including the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Haiti. This regional effort is coordinated by the CIMH,” Brown said.

Back in Jamaica, the tool is being hailed “a game-changer” in the climate fight by Jeffery Spooner head of the Met Service, who described the CPT as “an extremely important tool in Climate Change forecasting and specifically for the agricultural – including fisheries- and water sectors for rainfall projection .”

The CPT is now also used to provide regular monthly bulletins that are published by the Meteorological Service on their web site RADA has also continued to use the CPT in its extension service, to enhance the ability of farmers’ and other agricultural interests to improve water harvesting, planting and other activities.

Since most of the island’s small farms depend on rainfall, more farmers – including those with large holdings – are using the information to better manage water use and guide their activities, Scott said.

Local and intentional scientists have linked the extreme atmospheric conditions related to the droughts affecting Jamaica and the region to the persistent high-pressure systems that has prevented the formation of tropical cyclones to global warming and climate change.

Across the agricultural sector, Jamaica continues to feel the impacts of drought and the challenges are expected to increase with the climate change. In a 2013 agricultural sector support analysis, the Inter-American Development Bank estimated, low impact on extreme climate events on Jamaica’s agriculture sector by 2025 could reach 3.4 per cent of “baseline GDP” annually.

In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Synthesis Report (AR5) pointed to tools like the CPT to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Its importance to Jamaica’s and the region’s food security and water sector cannot be overlooked.

In addition to adaptation for the water sector, the CPT is being modified to provide early warning indicators for wind speeds and coral bleaching among among other applications, said the report.

And as showers of blessings cooled the land and brought much relief in the closing months of the year, CPT shows the drought could well be over.


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Agroecology in Africa: Mitigation the Old New Way Mon, 11 Jan 2016 17:36:27 +0000 Frederic Mousseau agroeocology project. ]]>

Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director of the Oakland Institute, coordinated the research for the Institute’s agroeocology project.

By Frederic Mousseau
OAKLAND, California, Jan 11 2016 (IPS)

Millions of African farmers don’t need to adapt to climate change. They have done that already.

Frederic Mousseau

Frederic Mousseau

Like many others across the continent, indigenous communities in Ethiopia’s Gamo Highlands are well prepared against climate variations. The high biodiversity, which forms the basis of their traditional enset-based agricultural systems, allows them to easily adjust their farming practices, including the crops they grow, to climate variations.

People in Gamo are also used to managing their environment and natural resources in sound and sustainable ways, rooted in ancestral knowledge and customs, which makes them resilient to floods or droughts. Although African indigenous systems are often perceived as backward by central governments, they have a lot of learning to offer to the rest of the world when contemplating the challenges of climate change and food insecurity.

Often building on such indigenous knowledge, farmers all over the African continent have assembled a tremendous mass of successful experiences and innovations in agriculture. These efforts have steadily been developed over the past few decades following the droughts that impacted many countries in the 1970s and 1980s.

In Kenya, the system of biointensive agriculture has been designed over the past thirty years to help smallholders grow the most food on the least land and with the least water. 200,000 Kenyan farmers, feeding over one million people, have now switched to biointensive agriculture, which allows them to use up to 90 per cent less water than in conventional agriculture and 50 to 100 per cent fewer purchased fertilizers, thanks to a set of agroecological practices that provide higher soil organic matter levels, near continuous crop soil coverage, and adequate fertility for root and plant health.

The Sahel region, bordering the Sahara Desert, is renowned for its harsh environment and the threat of desertification. What is less known is the tremendous success of the actions undertaken to curb desert encroachment, restore lands, and farmers’ livelihoods.

Started in the 1980s, the Keita Rural Development Project in Niger took some twenty years to restore ecological balance and drastically improve the agrarian economy of the area. During the period, 18 million trees were planted, the surface under woodlands increased by 300 per cent, whereas shrubby steppes and sand dunes decreased by 30 per cent. In the meantime, agricultural land was expanded by about 80 per cent.

All over the region, a multitude of projects have used agroecological solutions to restore degraded land and spare scarce water resources while at the same time increasing food production, and improving farmers’ livelihoods and resilience. In Timbuktu, Mali, the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) has reached impressive results, with yields of 9 tons of rice per hectare, more than double of conventional methods, while saving water and other inputs. In Burkina Faso, soil and water conservation techniques, including a modernized version of traditional planting pits­zai­ have been highly successful to rehabilitate degraded soils and boost food production and incomes.

Southern African countries have been struggling with recurrent droughts resulting in major failures in corn crops, the main staple cereal in the region. Over the years, farmers and governments have developed a wide variety of agroecological solutions to prevent food crises and foster their resilience to climatic shocks. The common approach in all these responses has been to depart from the conventional monocropping of corn, which is highly vulnerable to climate shocks while it is also very costly and demanding in purchased inputs such as hybrid seeds and fertilizers. Successful sustainable and affordable solutions include managing and harvesting rain water, expanding conservation and regenerative farming, promoting the production and consumption of cassava and other tuber crops, diversifying production, and integrating crops with fertilizer trees and nitrogen fixating leguminous plants.

The enumeration could go on. The few examples cited above all come from a series of 33 case studies released recently by the Oakland Institute. The series sheds light on the tremendous success of agroecological agriculture across the African continent in the face of climate change, hunger, and poverty.

These success stories are just a sample of what Africans are already doing to adapt to climate variations while preserving their natural resources, improving their livelihoods and their food supply. One thing they have in common is that they have farmers, including many women farmers, in the driver’s seat of their own development. Millions of farmers who practice agroecology across the continent are local innovators who experiment to find the best solutions in relation to water availability, soil characteristics, landscapes, cultures, food habits, and biodiversity.

Another common feature is that they depart from the reliance on external agricultural inputs such as commercial seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and chemical pesticides, on which is based the so-called conventional agriculture. The main inputs required for agroecology are people’s own energy and common sense, shared knowledge, and of course respect for and a sound use of natural resources.

Why are these success stories mostly untold, is a fair question to ask. They are largely buried under the rhetoric of a development discourse based on a destructive cocktail of ignorance, greed, and neocolonialism. Since the 2008 food price crisis, we have been told over and over that Africa needs foreign investors in agriculture to ‘develop’ the continent; that Africa needs a Green Revolution, more synthetic fertilizers, and genetically modified crops in order to meet the challenges of hunger and poverty. The agroecology case studies debunk these myths.

Evidence is there, with irrefutable facts and figures, that millions of Africans have already designed their own solutions, for their own benefits. They have successfully adapted to both the unsustainable agricultural systems inherited from the colonial times, and to the present challenges of climate change and environmental degradation. Unfortunately, a majority of African governments, with encouragement from donor countries, focus most of their efforts and resources to subsidize and encourage a model of agriculture, largely reliant on the expensive commercial agricultural inputs, in particular synthetic fertilizers mainly sold by a handful of Western corporations.

The good news is that an agroecological transition is affordable for African governments. They spend billions of dollars every year to subsidize fertilizers and pesticides for their farmers. In Malawi, the government’s subsidies to agricultural inputs, mostly fertilizers, amount to close to 10 percent of the national budget every year. The evidence that exists, based on the experience of millions of farmers, should prompt African governments to make the only reasonable choice: to give the continent a leading role in the way out of world hunger and corporate exploitation and move to a sustainable and climate-friendly way to produce food or all.


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Water, Water Everywhere but Too Much or Too Little Fri, 01 Jan 2016 15:43:52 +0000 Francesco Farne Water is at the core of Sustainable Development and it is crucial in Climate Change adaptation and mitigation strategies. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

Water is at the core of Sustainable Development and it is crucial in Climate Change adaptation and mitigation strategies. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

By Francesco Farnè
ROME, Jan 1 2016 (IPS)

“Water is at the core of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), but it is true that for a long time water and oceans issues have been marginalized in climate conferences, considering that 90 per cent of natural catastrophes are linked to water and 40 per cent of global population will face water scarcity from now to 2050,” stated Marie-Ségolène Royal, French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, during the press conference at the launch of the #ClimateIsWater initiative at COP21. “It is through water that it is possible to measure climate change impacts,” she said.

On 2 December, “Resilience Day,” the international water community gathered in Paris Le Bourget for the launch of the #ClimateIsWater initiative. A series of events and a press conference took place with the aim of increasing visibility and raising awareness on how water is key to addressing climate change. The initiative brought together several organizations representing civil society and stakeholders.

Sustainable water management is fundamental for addressing climate change. “Actors across all sectors should contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies integrating water into future climate architecture.” In order to meet this goal, financing is a crucial aspect, declared Torgny Holmgren, of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), during the press conference.

Water is at the base of all forms of life on earth, and its existence on the planet created the preconditions for the origin of life and the billion years of evolution. Through the history of humanity many civilizations flourished depending on a water source. Mesopotamia, (land between the rivers in ancient Greek), and known as the “cradle of civilization” depended on the Tigris and Euphrates. Ancient Egypt developed on the Nile, the Chinese empire prospered along the Yellow and Yangzi basins and developed a complex administrative machine based on water management for agricultural irrigation.

It is possible to say that human development is water-driven, and this crucial resource is vital to economic and social prosperity. Today in many countries water is a common good, underlining the importance of its universal access. On the other hand, especially in western countries, water is often taken for granted. But without being able to either control its abundance as in floods and bursting sea levels and extreme weather or its scarcity with drought and desertification, water can be catastrophic.

In 2015, the World Economic Forum ranked water as the highest risk affecting global society. According to World Water Council (WWC), one in eight people live without safe drinking water and two people in five do not have adequate sanitation globally. Moreover, nearly 3.5 million deaths from water related diseases are registered every year. Unfortunately, the most affected people live in the global south.

In addition to these shocking facts, directly linked to our so called “water crisis,” there are very strong connections between water and some of the core areas of sustainable development, such as agriculture and food security, demography and urbanization, as well as climate and the environment.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agricultural irrigation accounts for 70 per cent of global water withdrawals, an impressive ratio considering demographers’ preoccupations for population growth projections. Indeed, food demand is expected to increase by 60 per cent and energy by 100 per cent by 2050.

Water is inextricably connected to energy. It is necessary not only for hydropower, but also for cooling power plants, for oil and gas hydraulic fracturing or fracking, and for biofuels. Some 1.3 billion people, mainly in Africa, have no access to electricity.

New urban development from 2010-30 is expected to equal what was built in all of human history. This will increase water withdrawals from municipalities, implying issues of access, infrastructure, sanitation and safety from extreme water hazards.

Surprisingly, in spite of all the above evidence, for a long time water has not been at the top of global agenda. It is not highlighted in climate issues, even though “the effects of climate change will be felt mainly in the water cycle, “ said Benedito Braga, President of WWC, during the press conference. Water management has a great potential for both Climate Change adaptation and mitigation, he said.

According to WWC estimates, there have already been 2.5 trillion dollar economic losses from disasters 70 per cent related to floods and droughts so far this century. And other key issues such as migration and infrastructure damage are connected to climate disasters related to water.

Even though water is not specifically mentioned in the final Paris Agreement, it is possible the international water community is gaining momentum. At the seventh World Water Council held in Daegu & Gyeongbuk last April, the Republic of Korea was a notable participant. This council also brought water into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a goal completely dedicated to water.

SDG 6 aims at ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. SDG 6 covers the entire water cycle, including the management of water, wastewater and ecosystem resources, and have strong linkages to all of the other SDGs. In fact, its realization would mean a huge step towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

There is further evidence that civil society plays a crucial role in mainstreaming water in the Global Agenda. In fact, the LPAA that brought water at the centre of discussions in Paris, involves national governments, cities, regions and other sub national entities, international organizations, civil society, indigenous peoples, women, youth, academic institutions, as well as businesses. And over 300 organisations signed Paris pact on water and adaptation to climate change in river basins at COP21.

The Eighth Water Council will be held in Brasilia, Brazil in 2018. The fact that a developing country and one of the countries most affected by the water crisis will host the event puts once again the attention on the central role of emerging economies in addressing climate and water issues.


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‘Good, But Not Perfect’, Pacific Islands Women on Climate Deal Fri, 01 Jan 2016 11:09:27 +0000 Catherine Wilson Coastal communities in the Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific Islands are already threatened by climate change with rising seas and stronger storm surges. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Coastal communities in the Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific Islands are already threatened by climate change with rising seas and stronger storm surges. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

By Catherine Wilson
CANBERRA, Australia, Jan 1 2016 (IPS)

Women leaders in the Pacific Islands have acclaimed the agreement on reducing global warming achieved at the United Nations (COP21) Climate Change conference in Paris as an unprecedented moment of world solidarity on an issue which has been marked to date by division between the developing and industrialized world. But for Pacific small island developing states, which name climate change as the single greatest threat to their survival, it will only be a success if inspirational words are followed by real action.

“It’s a huge step forward and I don’t think it would have been possible without the voices of indigenous Pacific Islanders banding together and demanding action and justice…. I am very optimistic about the future,” Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, climate activist and poet from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, who attended the historic meeting, told IPS.

Intense negotiations and compromise between the interests of 195 countries, plus the European Union, which make up the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the climate change convention, marked its 21st meeting in Paris last month.

Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the regional Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), said that “while not all the issues identified by Pacific Island countries were included in the final outcome and agreement, there were substantive advances with recognition of the importance of pursuing efforts to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the inclusion of loss and damage as a separate element in the agreement and simplified and scaled up access to climate change finance.”

Claire Anterea of the Kiribati Climate Action Network in the small Central Pacific atoll nation of around 110,000 people added that the outcome was “good, but not perfect,” highlighting that the new temperature goal and call to boost climate finance were particularly important.

The World Meteorological Organisation predicted this year will be the hottest on record with average global temperatures expected to reach 1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial age. Meanwhile Pacific Island countries are bracing for further rising temperatures, sea levels, ocean acidification and coral bleaching this century. Maximum sea level rise in many island states could reach more than 0.6 metres, reports the Pacific Climate Change Science Program.

Due to rising seas in the Marshall Islands “a simple high tide results in waves flooding and crashing through sea walls built of cement and rocks and completely destroying homes. The salt from the flooding also destroys our crops and food,” Jetnil-Kijiner said..

In the best case scenario, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea could experience a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, but under high emissions this might soar to 2.9 degrees Celsius by 2090.

Global warming could result in yields of sweet potato, a common staple crop, declining by more than 50 per cent in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands by 2050, estimates the Asian Development Bank. The burden of crop losses will fall on the shoulders of Pacific Islands’ women who are primarily responsible in communities for growing fresh produce, producing food and fetching water.

Pacific Islanders led a campaign in Paris this year to recognize a new temperature rise threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is critical, they argued, to stem future climate shocks and mitigate forced displacement as islands become increasingly uninhabitable due to loss of food, water and land.

And in a sign of shifting views in the industrialized world, Pacific Islanders were joined in their campaigning on this issue by numerous developed and developing nations in a ‘Coalition of High Ambition’ which emerged during the second week of COP21. Solidarity was demonstrated by, amongst others, Mexico, Brazil, Norway, Germany, the European Union and United States.

The final Paris agreement which seeks to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and ‘pursue efforts’ to further reduce it by another 0.5 degree was a win for the coalition.

“1.5 degrees Celsius wasn’t even on the table before the conference began, so hearing it first announced that it even made it into the text made me cry with relief. That being said, the vague wording definitely has me worried and I know it’ll take a continued push from all of us to actually reach 1.5,” Jetnil-Kijiner said.

This will not decrease the immense challenges the region already faces in adapting to extreme weather, which cannot be met by small island economies without access to international climate finance. This year island leaders called for the international community to honour its pledge to raise 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 to fund adaptation in developing countries, an objective first conceived in Copenhagen in 2009. Assessments since then of how much has been raised vary, but the World Bank claimed in April there was a serious shortfall of 70 billion dollars.

Taylor believes “there is a positive outlook for climate financing post-2020 with Article 9 of the Paris Agreement identifying that, for Small Island Developing States, financing needs to be public and grant-based resources for adaptation.” There has been debate about whether finance mechanisms, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), should issue free grants or concessional loans.

Anterea emphasised that, to be effective, funding “needs to reach grassroots people through a simple processing method.”

Recognition of loss and damage caused by extreme weather and natural disasters in the final pact was also a milestone, the PIFS Secretary General added, even though it does not provide for vulnerable nations to claim liability or compensation from big polluters.

“The legal right of countries to test the liabilities of other Parties using other avenues has not been diminished by this decision,” she said.

But the greatest hope is being invested in the binding commitment by nations to set emission reduction targets and be subject to a process of long term monitoring and review, a move which would accelerate the global transition toward renewable energy and make the burning of fossil fuels, the greatest driver of greenhouse gas emissions, increasingly unviable.

“We need the five-year review as a crucial step to keeping countries’ governments accountable to our targets and goals,” Jetnil-Kijiner emphasised. If nations are not emboldened to better their goals every time, the planet may continue toward a devastating temperature increase of 2.7 degrees Celsius or more, experts conclude.

The most pressing question, after the euphoria of the global accord demonstrated in Paris has died down, is how will these lofty promises be implemented? Pacific Islanders are depending on it.


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Credit Innovation has a Key Role in Bangladesh’s Climate Change Adaptation Thu, 31 Dec 2015 08:39:25 +0000 Sumon Dey 0 Kitchen Gardens are Victory Gardens in Boosting Nutrition and Incomes in Western Kenya Wed, 30 Dec 2015 15:35:22 +0000 Justus Wanzala 1 American Mining Giant Escaped Indonesian Law with ISDS Mon, 28 Dec 2015 13:52:32 +0000 Eve Schram

American mining corporation Newmont escaped the domestic processing requirement from Indonesia’s 2009 Mining Law. It achieved this by using a clause in a Dutch investment treaty.

By Eve Schram
JAKARTA, Dec 28 2015 (IPS)

If you want to make your developing country more attractive for foreign investors, try signing bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with rich countries. With these treaties countries promise to look after each others’ investors.

That is the dominant idea in the world. Up until now, that is. More and more countries discover that BITs can be quite risky. Indonesia, for example. Last year it received a so-called ISDS claim from an American mining company, which used the Indonesia-Netherlands investment treaty to get exemptions from certain requirements.

Problem number one

“Our perspective on BITs has changed,” says Abdulkadir Jaelani, director of Economic and Social Affairs of the Indonesian ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta. “It seems very much in favor of the investor. Our number one problem is ISDS.”

ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) is a clause in BITs that enables investors to sue a host country, if it feels it has been treated unfairly. The investor will generally claim financial compensation from the host state. This claim will be judged by a panel of three arbitrators, appointed by the investor and the state. The verdict is binding.

Indonesia received five such claims in recent years. Financial compensation was not always the goal. A claim can be used by an investor to block new legislation.

Indonesia started to terminate BITs last year. The Dutch BIT was one of the first to go.


The most recent claim against Indonesia came from the American mining corporation Newmont in the summer of 2014. Newmont has had an active copper mine on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa since 1999. Curiously, financial compensation appears never to have been the goal of Newmont. “I believe Newmont used the arbitration case to enforce an export license,” said Bill Sullivan, legal counsel in Jakarta and expert on the Indonesian mining industry.

In 2009, the Indonesian parliament voted for a new mining law, that served to kickstart the domestic processing industry. Every mining company was told to build a smelter, a plant to process mineral ores. “Indonesia is too dependent on natural resources for its budget,” said Rani Fabrianti, head of legal information at the Mining and Energy Ministry. “The Mining Law enables us to grow into an industrial economy and eventually to a service-oriented economy.”

The Mining Law dictated the mining companies to build a smelter no later than 12 January 2014. After that time, the government would enact an export ban on mineral ores.

On 11 January 2014, certain mining sectors, including the copper sector, were delayed. Copper mining companies would receive an export license for copper concentrate, if they showed progress with the building of smelters. In the meantime, the Indonesian government introduced export tariffs on copper concentrate from 25 per cent in 2014 to 60 per cent in 2017.

The two biggest copper miners in the country, the American corporations Freeport and Newmont, were not amused. Still, Freeport reached a compromise with the government soon after and received its export license. The company pledged over 100 million dollars for the construction of a smelter.


The negotiations with Newmont were more difficult. The company said building a smelter would be ‘uneconomic’ and that its mining contract with Indonesia dating from 1986 safeguarded it from such activities.

When its storage facilities reached capacity just before the summer of 2014, Newmont called into force the Force Majeure clause of its contract. It means that the company had to stop production for reasons beyond its power. Force majeure is generally used when the contract area is hit by natural disasters or violent conflict.

80 per cent of the 4000 employees of the Batu Hijau mine on Sumbawa were sent on unpaid leave. After that, Newmont filed for financial compensation from the Indonesian government, through a Dutch business entity, citing the investment treaty between Indonesia and the Netherlands. It was able to do so, because the Dutch government does not require companies to have any economic activity in the Netherlands for using its investment treaties.

But just two short months later, news broke that Newmont and the Indonesian government had reached an agreement. Newmont received its export license and can export for significantly lower tariffs than before: 7.55 in 2015 and 0 per cent in 2017. Newmont in turn pledged 25 million dollars to the smelter that Freeport was set to build and annulled its ISDS claim.


Jaelani says he is satisfied with the compromise. “We negotiated, which we prefer over ISDS”, he says. But many Indonesians think differently. Yani Sagaroa is a mining activist on Sumbawa and is often consulted by the Mining ministry in Jakarta. He blames the government for inconsistency. “Newmont had to build a smelter between 2009 and 2014, but did not. Still they can export copper,” he said. “They did not abide by the law.”

In October 2015, Newmont responded to questions about the smelter by saying it is still negotiating with Freeport.

Meanwhile, Indonesia is writing a new model text for its investment treaties, of which the Dutch journalists have gotten hold. One of the most eye catching changes is that Indonesia will only allow ISDS, if they have provided written consent before each case. This means that companies can never use it as a threat or bargaining tool. Whether western countries are willing to swallow this radical departure from the current practice, remains to be seen.

This article is part of a research by De Groene Amsterdammer, Oneworld and Inter Press Service, supported by the European Journalism Centre (made possible by the Gates Foundation). See

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Initiatives Revive Palestinian Heritage Boosting Economy and ‘Homeland’ Fri, 25 Dec 2015 11:27:41 +0000 Silvia Boarini 0