Inter Press ServiceNatural Resources – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Thu, 17 Jan 2019 16:51:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 Getting Sustainable Development Back on Track in Asia & the Pacifichttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/getting-sustainable-development-back-track-asia-pacific/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=getting-sustainable-development-back-track-asia-pacific http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/getting-sustainable-development-back-track-asia-pacific/#respond Thu, 03 Jan 2019 13:53:51 +0000 Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159472 Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

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Social Protection and Financing Social Development
Against the backdrop of persisting poverty and widening inequalities, ESCAP supports national and regional efforts by functioning as a knowledge platform for social protection, including through its Social Protection Toolbox (http://socialprotection-toolbox.org). ESCAP advocates for inclusive social protection along the Social Protection Floor and works to strengthen the capacity of policymakers in the Asia-Pacific region to design, implement and finance inclusive social protection as a tool for achieving the 2030 Agenda.

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
BANGKOK, Thailand, Jan 3 2019 (IPS)

2019 will be a landmark year for the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Four years will have passed since world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Four years since governments recommitted themselves to eradicating extreme poverty, improving universal health care coverage, education and food security, and achieving a sweeping set of economic, social and environmental objectives. Long enough to assess our direction of travel and then refocus work where progress is falling short.

As the United Nations development arm in the region, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s (UN ESCAP) absolute priority is to support our members achieve the SDGs by 2030. We work to give scale to their effort through regional cooperation and the South-South cooperation. So, we see the stock taking in 2019 as an opportunity. One to ensure our region remains on track to achieve sustainable development.

We already know our region’s effort must be intensified. UN ESCAP analysis shows that on our current trajectory only one SDG, universal education, is on track to be met by 2030. Environmental degradation and air pollution are worsening. Our region is feeling the full force of climate change, but our greenhouse gas emissions remain high. Intraregional trade and connectivity remain below their potential. Inequalities, both within and between countries, are widening.

Much good work is underway to overcome these challenges. But there is scope to step up our region’s response in three main areas.

First, the region cannot afford to ignore widening inequality. Had the proceeds of growth been shared more equitably over the past decade, 140 million more people could have been lifted out of poverty. Inequalities of income, opportunity and increased exposure to natural disasters are all on the rise. Our response clearly needs to cut across sectors. But UN ESCAP research shows social protection delivers the highest return on investment. Countries such as Thailand or Vietnam have expanded their social protection programmes and have expertise to share. Let us use South-South cooperation to share it.

Continuing to strengthen our resilience to natural disasters is also key. We know disasters increase inequality. They keep children out of school and adults out of work, increase inequality and entrench poverty. Regional cooperation can help establish multi-hazard early warning systems, improve impact forecasting and damage assessment. UN ESCAP works closely with the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space of Indonesia (LAPAN) towards these objectives. LAPAN had a leading role in developing the recently agreed Asia-Pacific Plan of Action on Space Applications for Sustainable Development. Now, we need to focus on implementation, to harness space applications and digital innovations, to protect people from natural disasters better.

Second, the region must fulfil its longstanding ambition to increase intraregional trade. Recent trade tensions highlight Asia and the Pacific’s vulnerability to protectionism from major export markets. UN ESCAP analysis shows how regional value chains are being disrupted. 2.7 million jobs could be lost due to trade tensions, with unskilled workers, particularly women, suffering most. Increasing intraregional trade and connectivity should be part of our response. By implementing the framework agreement on the facilitation of cross-border paperless trade in Asia and the Pacific, adopted by UN ESCAP members to support the exchange of electronic trade data and documents, smoother commercial exchanges are within reach. Particularly if transport and energy connectivity are also increased. ASEAN’s achievement in strengthening power grids across borders is a leading example of successful political commitment and technical cooperation. We need this at the regional level.

Third, Asia and the Pacific should move decisively to reduce its ever-growing environmental footprint that is undermining development and peoples’ health. We should start with air pollution. As rapid urbanization continues, the region accounts for the bulk of cities with unhealthy air pollution levels. It leads to over 2 million premature deaths a year. Now is the time to agree a common response. One which limits hazardous health effects, accelerates the region’s transition to cleaner energy, promotes sustainable transport and strengthens our fight against climate change. A framework for science-based policy cooperation could make a real difference, including by raising ambitions when it comes to fighting climate change. The countries of North East Asia have already agreed a Clean Air Partnership. We should consider building on this approach at a regional level.

2019 is the region’s moment to build a more coherent regional response to these major challenges. To take decisive steps to combat air pollution and climate change, boost intraregional trade, improve social protection and resilience to natural disasters. We owe it to future generations to seize this opportunity, to come together and to quicken our pace to achieve sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.

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Excerpt:

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

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Restoring Ghana’s Mangroves and Depleted Fish Stockhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/restoring-ghanas-mangroves-depleted-fish-stock/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=restoring-ghanas-mangroves-depleted-fish-stock http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/restoring-ghanas-mangroves-depleted-fish-stock/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 10:56:13 +0000 Albert Oppong-Ansah http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159368 It was just three and a half years ago that the Sanwoma fishing village, which sits between the sea and the mouth of the Ankobra River on the west coast of Ghana, experienced perpetual flooding that resulted in a loss of property and life. This was because the local mangrove forests that play a key […]

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A fish catch has come in. Since the community from the Sanwoma fishing village have begun restoring the mangroves, the lagoon has seen a marginal increase in fish stock. However, the stock in the ocean remains depleted. Credit: Albert Oppong-Ansah/IP

By Albert Oppong-Ansah
ACCRA, Dec 20 2018 (IPS)

It was just three and a half years ago that the Sanwoma fishing village, which sits between the sea and the mouth of the Ankobra River on the west coast of Ghana, experienced perpetual flooding that resulted in a loss of property and life.

This was because the local mangrove forests that play a key role in combating the effects of coastal erosion and rising sea levels had been wantonly and indiscriminately harvested. “Of a total 118-hectares mangrove, we had depleted 115 hectares,” Paul Nato Codjoe, a fisherman and a resident of the community explains.

The fisherfolk here depended heavily on the Ankobra wetland mangroves for cheap and available sources of fuel for fish processing. Wood from the mangroves was also used as material for construction, and sold to generate income.

But a video shown by officials of Hen Mpoano (HM), a local non-governmental organisation, helped the community understand the direct impact of their indiscriminate felling.

And it spurred the fishfolk into action. Led by Odikro Nkrumah, Chief of the Sanwoma, the community commenced a mangrove restoration plan, planting about 45,000 seeds over the last three years.

Rosemary Ackah, 38, one of the women leaders in the community, tells IPS that the vulnerability to the high tides and the resultant impact was one of the reasons for actively participating in the re-planting.

HM, with support from the United States Agency for International Development-Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP),provided periodic community education about the direct and indirect benefits of the mangrove forests.

In Ghana, there are about 90 lagoons and 10 estuaries with their associated marshes and mangrove swamps along the 550-km coastline stretch.

Dr Isaac Okyere, a lecturer at the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, University of Cape Coast, explains to IPS in an interview that the conservation of mangrove forests is essential for countries like Ghana, where the marine fishery is near collapse, with landings of important fish species at 14 percent of the record high of 140,000 metric tons 20 years ago.

The fisheries sector in Ghana supports the livelihoods of 2.2 million people — about 10 percent of the population.

Carl Fiati, Director of Natural Resource at the Environmental Protection Agency speaking in an interview with IPS, explains: “Ghana is in a precarious situation where many of the stocks are near collapse and species like the sardine and jack mackerel cannot be found again if we do not take steps to conserve, restock and protect them. A visit to the market shows that sardines, for instance, are no more.”

The Sanwoma community is not unique in the degradation of their mangroves. According to Okyere, the Butuah and Essei lagoons of Sekondi-Takoradi, the Fosu lagoon of Cape Coast, the Korle and Sakumo lagoons of Accra and the Chemu lagoon of Tema are typical examples of degraded major lagoons in the country.

“Most of the lagoons, especially those located in urban areas, have been heavily polluted within the last decade or two.” Domestic and industrial effluent discharge, sewage, plastics, and other solid waste and heavy metal contaminants (lead, mercury, arsenic, etc.) from industrial activities are blamed for this.

Rosemary Ackah is part of the women’s group that was assigned to collect seedlings used to grown a nursery of mangrove trees. Credit: Albert Oppong-Ansah/IPS

According to Ackah, many of the women in the community also became involved in the mangrove regeneration because of the positive resultant effect of clean air that would reduce airborne diseases in the community.

“As women, we take care of our husbands and children when they are ill so we thought we should seize this opportunity to engage in this as health insurance for our families,” she added.

Ackah says the women’s group was assigned to collect seedlings used to grown a nursery. They also watered the seedlings.

“We also played a significant role during transplanting. When our husbands dig the ground we put in the seedlings and cover the side with sand. It is a joy to be part of such a great replanting project, that will help provide more fuelwood for our domestic use,” Ackah told IPS.

Codjoe says that thanks to the technical assistance from the project, the community developed an action plan for restoration and is also enforcing local laws to prevent excessive mangrove harvesting.

The community has taken control of its future, and particularly its natural resources, and has established the Ankobra Mangrove Restoration Committee to guide and oversee how the mangrove is used and maintained.

To ensure that the re-planting is sustainable, Codjoe explains that the community has, in agreement, instituted a by-law that all trees within 50 meters of the river must not be harvested. Anyone doing so will have to replant them.

It is uncertain if indiscriminate felling of the mangroves continues to happen as many in the community acknowledge the positive results of the re-planting.

“We have seen positive signs because of the re-generation, the flooding has been drastically reduced,” says Ackah.

She has witnessed another direct improvement: the high volume and large size of the shrimp, one of the delicacies in Ghana, that they local community harvests. “This has really boosted our local business and improved our diet,” she says.

Codjoe says the fish stock in the river increased and agreed that a high volume of shrimp was harvested.

Ackah adds that the project donors SFMP and local implementer HM also helped them reduce dependence on the mangroves for their livelihoods and created a resilience plan in the form of a Village Savings and Loan Scheme.

The scheme, she explains, has financially empowered members to address social and economic challenges they face, thus reducing dependence on fisheries and mangroves in terms of the need for income.

In West Africa, the economic value of nature’s contributions to people per km2 per year is valued at 4,500 dollars for mangrove coastal protection services, 40,000 dollars for water purification services, and 2,800 dollars for coastal carbon sequestration services.

This is according to an Assessment Report on the state of biodiversity in Africa, and on global land degradation and restoration, conducted under the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Fiati says that Ghana’s new draft Coastal and Marine Habitat Regulation policy, which encapsulates the protection, management and sustainable use of mangroves, will be ready and sent to the Attorney General’s Department this month to be signed into law.

And the local fisherfolk of Sanwoma are assisting in sharing their experiences and knowledge.

In the meantime, the Sanwoma are ensuring that the importance of the preservation of their mangrove forests is passed down to young people.

“Because of a lack of knowledge about the importance of such a rich resource we were destroying it. And it was at a fast rate. Now I know we have a treasure. As a leader, I will use it to sustainably and protect it for the next generation. Also, I will make sure I educate children about such a resource so they will keep it safe,” Nkrumah told IPS.

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Costa Rica: First Country to Protect Sustainable Fisheries of Large Pelagics Specieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/costa-rica-first-country-protect-sustainable-fisheries-large-pelagics-species/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=costa-rica-first-country-protect-sustainable-fisheries-large-pelagics-species http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/costa-rica-first-country-protect-sustainable-fisheries-large-pelagics-species/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 12:31:47 +0000 Kifah Sasa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159227 Kifah Sasa is Sustainable Development Officer at UNDP Costa Rica

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Credit: UNDP

By Kifah Sasa
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Dec 13 2018 (IPS)

Twelve years ago, in a restaurant in Puntarenas on the pacific coast of Costa Rica, a group of long line fishermen met with three UNDP conservation specialists.

The conservationists wanted to understand how best to avoid illegal fishing inside Cocos Island Marine Protected Area, located off the shore of Costa Rica and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As part of their stakeholder engagement strategy, they decided to meet longline fishermen for dinner. It didn’t turn out quite as they had hoped – not many hands were shaken after dessert.

There was one table but two very different perspectives. The UNDP personnel were working on a project which saw illegal fishing on Cocos Island as a conservation issue.

On the other hand, the group of local entrepreneurs from Puntarenas were challenged by depleted resources and closed markets. Though some of them were indeed responsible for illegal fishing, none were big businessmen with major ambitions, but rather owners of a couple of long line vessels trying to make a living — with little access to credit and paying the highest social security costs in the region for every member of their expeditions.

The prospect of UNDP supporting the government to further restrictions on their livelihoods, was not taken lightly. A lot of mistrust turned the food, and the mood, sour.

According to data estimated by the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA), the country’s fishing sector is made up of around 400 boats with each boat carrying between five and eight people, forming a working population of around 2,000 to 3,200 directly linked to the sector.

Together with the families that depend on this activity, the affected population reaches between 10 to 16 million people and this is without including those indirectly linked through the thousands of other indirect jobs which ensure fishing activity such as transportation, fishing supplies, food, mechanics, and others.

Credit: UNDP

Fast forward to the present day and twelve years later, the perspectives of both the conservationists and the fishermen have changed. Last November, not far from that restaurant in Puntarenas, Costa Rica was the first country in the world to launch a National Action Plan for sustainable fisheries of large pelagic species, using UNDP’s methodology.

Through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA) and the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the country officially presented a plan with three main areas of work: improving the fisheries of large pelagic species in Costa Rica such as tuna, swordfish and mahi mahi; increasing the supply of seafood from sustainable sources and ensuring the social welfare of the people linked to the fishing activity.

During the presentation of the plan, one of those same sector leaders from the restaurant took the opportunity to approach the same UNDP staff member he met all those years ago and said to him, “I wanted to thank UNDP for the trust it has given us and for helping us build a formal plan with institutions”.

A clear victory for UNDP’s firm confidence and strong commitment to multi-stakeholder dialogue as the key element to achieve systemic change for sustainable commodity production.

The National Action Plan for Large Pelagic Fisheries will run for ten years and will directly contribute to the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Costa Rica.

Credit: UNDP

A model case study of successful convening and collaboration between different stakeholders, it is the result of a process of dialogue lasting twelve months and involving more than one hundred representatives of government, academia, civil society, international cooperation, fishermen, exporters, restaurants and supermarkets.

A group of people who were not likely to be happy in same room a few years ago but are now committed to working together towards a more sustainable, inclusive and promising future for Costa Rican fisheries.

Through 2019, we celebrate ten years of UNDP supporting multi-stakeholder approaches to the sustainability challenges of highly-traded commodities around the world.

Through the Green Commodities Programme, UNDP’s approach has been to build trust among stakeholders by facilitating neutral spaces where they can collaborate on a shared vision and agenda for action, coming to a collective agreement on the root of the sustainability problems of key commodities and on how they will work together to resolve them.

Through its multi-stakeholder National Commodity Platforms, the programme is currently working on palm oil, cocoa, coffee, beef, soy, pineapple and fisheries in Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

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Excerpt:

Kifah Sasa is Sustainable Development Officer at UNDP Costa Rica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Middle Eastern Countries Can Overcome Pressing Challenges By Developing a Blue Economyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/middle-eastern-countries-can-overcome-pressing-challenges-developing-blue-economy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=middle-eastern-countries-can-overcome-pressing-challenges-developing-blue-economy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/middle-eastern-countries-can-overcome-pressing-challenges-developing-blue-economy/#respond Fri, 07 Dec 2018 13:17:17 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159082 The Blue Economy is becoming an ‘El Dorado’, a new frontier for traditionally arid and water-stressed nations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to Christian Averous, Vice President of Plan Bleu, one of the Regional Activity Centres of the Mediterranean Action Plan developed under the United Environment Regional Seas Programme. But against […]

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Aquaponics, an innovative practice in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, is revolutionising the way of conceiving food supply in many MENA countries. This dated picture shows fish pools in Palestine. Credit: Eva Bartlett/IPS.

By Maged Srour
ROME, Dec 7 2018 (IPS)

The Blue Economy is becoming an ‘El Dorado’, a new frontier for traditionally arid and water-stressed nations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to Christian Averous, Vice President of Plan Bleu, one of the Regional Activity Centres of the Mediterranean Action Plan developed under the United Environment Regional Seas Programme.

But against the backdrop of the enormous potential represented by the Blue Economy, there are numerous challenges and critical issues that the region faces. Overfishing, water scarcity, highly salty waters, climate change, high evaporation rates, the oil industry and pollution are just some of things that place at risk the development and conservation of marine and aquatic resources in the MENA region.

In addition, rapid population growth throughout the region complicates things. According to the U.S.-based Population Reference Bureau, “MENA experienced the highest rate of population growth of any region in the world over the past century” and is growing at a current rate of 2 percent per year. It’s the second-highest growth rate in the world after sub-Saharan Africa, the organisation says.

Population growth leads to an increased demand for fish as a food source and this, combined with poor regulations and rapacious fishing practices, ultimately leads to an overall decline in marine populations. Eventually it compromises the survival status of the Red Sea coral reef, which is already highly threatened by pollution, unsustainable tourism and climate change, (even though corals in this region proved to be resistant to global warming).

The MENA region has also had to cope with poor management of water resources, with agriculture using 85 percent of freshwater. Available freshwater in the region is mainly underground and its non-renewable stocks are being depleted, warns the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Over the last four decades, the availability of freshwater in the MENA region has decreased by 40 percent and will probably decrease by 50 percent by 2050. The consequences could be disastrous in terms of food security, rural livelihoods and economies.

The Blue Economy: a way to overcome challenges and boost development?

“It is very important to promote an ocean-based economy in today’s world, as governments struggle for economic growth, [particularly] in the MENA region as well as in the whole Mediterranean region and in the Gulf countries,” Averous tells IPS. 

This means that countries in the region should not only seek to preserve aquatic and marine resources, but should also invest in these same resources to foster a process of economic development and growth through them.

Farmed Tilapia on sale in a Cairo supermarket. Local farmers from Egypt, Algeria and Oman participated in farmer-to-farmer study tours, visited 15 integrated agri-aquaculture farms, and learnt new skills and techniques from each other. Credit: Cam McGrath/IPS.

Fisheries and Aquaculture

But best practices across the region are demonstrating just how much these countries believe in the enormous potential of the Blue Economy. One example is aquaponics, an innovative practice in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors that is revolutionising the food supply in many MENA countries. Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture — the practice of fish farming and hydroponics (the cultivation of plants in water without soil).

“While hydroponics still uses some chemical fertilisers to grow plants, with aquaponics, the fish themselves, through their excrements, fertilise the water allowing plants to grow,” Valerio Crespi, Aquaculture Officer in FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department in Rome, tells IPS.

Egypt, Algeria and Oman recently embarked on a cooperation project promoted by FAO, where local farmers participated in farmer-to-farmer study tours where they visited 15 integrated agri-aquaculture farms and learnt new skills and techniques from each other.

“It was a good experience,” says Basem Hashim, an Egyptian farmer and consultant for the General Authority of Fish Resources Development, a movement which tries to shape new ideas and actions for agriculture and food in Egypt.

Basem took part in the study tours organised by FAO and thanks to that experience was able to outline and understand the most pressing challenges for the farming communities in the region.

“We know the importance of using water properly and of improving production [not only in terms of quantity, but] also in terms of quality,” he tells IPS. “At the same time, I think there is still not enough awareness in Egypt in terms of water scarcity, pollution and waste, even though the government is working with associations to raise awareness and transfer experiences.”

“The study tours were a clear example of successful South-South Cooperation,” says Crespi. “The ultimate goal, which is what we are working on right now, is to draft a road map to outline the best practices to best use water in these areas where water is scarce. In the three countries we have created national teams that have produced three technical reports that will be the basis of the road map.”

Aquaponics is an incredible innovation also because it allows these communities to have, thanks to the fish that are raised in those structures, a source of protein that would otherwise be poorly available if not nonexistent in some of these countries.

“In addition, with the same use of resources,” says Basem, “we also have fruits and vegetables. This is what the future looks like.”

Tere are other countries in the region are known for their best practices in the Blue Economy, particularly in the aquaculture sector:

  • Iran has long-standing experience with rice-fish farming, which is currently estimated by experts to be practiced in 10 percent of all rice fields in the country, on a total area of between 50,000 to 72,000 hectares.
  • Lebanon has been practicing aquaculture for many decades and in 2017 total fishery production from marine capture fisheries and aquaculture were 3,608 and 1,225 tonnes, respectively.
  • Fish farmers in Israel are developing innovative technologies and breeding methods which are revolutionising their industry. The excellence of Israeli technology is not used alone in breeding in the country but is also appreciated and exported all over the world.

Coastal and marine tourism

According to Plan Bleu, in the past 20 years the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution of the tourism sector has increased by 60 percent in Mediterranean countries. The Mediterranean region is the world’s leading tourism destination. International tourist arrivals have grown from 58 million in 1970 to nearly 324 million in 2015. It is also among the most frequented areas by cruise ships in the world, with some 27 million passengers visiting the area by 2013. Therefore tourism has been a positive economic asset for the region. 

But as surprising as it may be, it is not so much industrial pollution that represents the greatest damage to the marine environment, but tourism that has a huge negative impact on the region.

Tourism is in fact one of the main threats to ecosystems in the area. Indeed, locals confirm that industries and cruises operating, for example, in the Red Sea are subject to harsh regulations but the main threat to the environment is posed by waste disposal, especially of plastic, and by the enormous water footprint that each tourist leaves behind.

Perspectives about the future

The Middle East certainly has many challenges to face in terms of scarcity of natural resources and food security. For this reason the economy based on maritime sectors in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East represents a crucial potential for the economic development.

“We do not have any ‘miraculous’ innovation. We simply have some technologies that, if associated to traditional methods, can stimulate a process of sustainable development, which is a key factor for those countries struggling for finding enough natural resources,” says Crespi.

“Moreover,” he adds, “promoting a policy of implementation of Blue Economy, could reduce the rural exodus of these populations from the countryside to the cities, or even the exodus across the Mediterranean to get to Europe, risking their lives often for not finding the much desired job and economic prosperity.”

  • The first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and was co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Participants from 150 countries around the world gathered to learn how to build a blue economy.

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

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

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

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

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

Rachel Kyte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post The Revolution of Renewable Energy Needs Political Leadership appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

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

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Q&A: Creating an African Bamboo Industry as Large as China’shttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-creating-african-bamboo-industry-large-chinas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-creating-african-bamboo-industry-large-chinas http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-creating-african-bamboo-industry-large-chinas/#respond Wed, 05 Dec 2018 09:57:24 +0000 Jamila Akweley Okertchiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159042 IPS correspondent Jamila Akweley Okertchiri interviews DR. HANS FRIEDERICH, Director General of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)

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Hans Friederich at a Chinese bamboo plantation. Photo Courtesy of INBAR

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri
ACCRA, Dec 5 2018 (IPS)

The bamboo industry in China currently comprises up to 10 million people who make a living out of production of the grass. But while the Asian nation has significant resources of bamboo — three million hectares of plantation and three million hectares of natural forests — the continent of Africa is recorded to have an estimated three and a half million hectares of plantations, excluding conservation areas.

This means that there is a possibility of creating a similar size industry in Africa, according to International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) director general Dr. Hans Friederich.

“In China, where the industry is developed, we have eight to 10 million people who make a living out of bamboo. They grow bamboo, manufacture things out of bamboo and sell bamboo poles. That has given them a livelihood and a way to build a local economy to create a future for themselves and their children,” he tells IPS.

INBAR is the only international organisation championing the development of environmentally sustainable bamboo and rattan. It has 44 member states — 43 of which are in the global south — with the secretariat headquarters based in China, and with regional offices in India, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Ecuador. Over the years, the multilateral development organisation has trained up to 25,000 people across the value chain – from farmers and foresters to entrepreneurs and policymakers.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Africa is estimated to have three and a half million hectares of bamboo. While China has about six million hectares of natural forests, almost double the size of Africa’s, experts say there is potential for developing the industry on the continent. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Inter Press Service (IPS): What has been INBAR’s Role in the South-South Cooperation agenda?

Dr. Hans Friederich (DHF): In fact, a lot of our work over the last 21 years is to link our headquarters in China with our regional offices and our members around the world to help develop policies, put in place appropriate legislation and regulations to build capacity, train local people, provide information, and carry out real field research to test new approaches to manage resources in the most efficient way.

I think we [have been] able to help our members more effectively and do more in the way of training and capacity building. I also hope we can develop bamboo and rattan as vehicles for sustainable development with our member countries around the world, especially in the Global South.

IPS: What are the prospects for Africa’s bamboo and rattan industry?

DHF: The recorded statistics say that Africa has about three and half million hectares of bamboo, which excludes conservation [areas].

So, if I were to make a guess, Africa has as much bamboo as China [excluding China’s natural forests] and that means theoretically, we should have the possibility of creating an industry as large as China’s in Africa. That means an industry of 30 billion dollars per a year employing 10 million people.

IPS: How is INBAR helping to develop such a huge potential in Africa?

DHF: The returns we are seeing in China may not happen overnight in Africa, China has had 30 to 40 years to develop this industry.

But what we are doing is working with our members in Africa to kick off the bamboo value chain to start businesses and help members make the most out of these plants.

IPS: Working with countries from the global south means replication of best practices and knowledge sharing among member states. Are there any good examples worth mentioning?

DHF: China is the world’s leading country when it comes to the production and management of bamboo so we have a lot to learn from China. Fortunately China has the financial resources that makes it easy to share that information and knowledge with our members …Looking at land management activities in Ghana, as an example, I think bamboo can really help in restoring lands that have been damaged through illegal mining activities.

Maybe that is actually where we can learn from other African countries because we are already looking at how bamboo can help with the restoration of degraded lands in Ethiopia.

Also, when we had a training workshop in Cameroon last year and we looked at architecture, we brought an architect from Peru who shared his experience of working with bamboo in Latin America, which was quite applicable to Cameroon. So we are using experience from different parts of the world to help others develop what they think is important.

IPS: What is the most important thing in the development of the bamboo and rattan value chain for an African country like Ghana?

DHF: There are a number of things that we can do. One area that Ghana is already working on with regards to bamboo and rattan, is furniture production. I know that there is fantastic work being done with skills development.

The value chain of furniture production is an area where Ghana already has a lot to offer. But if we can improve quality, if we can make the furniture more interesting for consumers, through skills training [of artisans], then that is an area where we can really help.

IPS: Which other opportunity can Ghana look at exploring in the area of Bamboo and Rattan value chain?

DHF: Another area of opportunity is to use bamboo as a source of charcoal for household energy. People depend on charcoal, especially in rural areas in Ghana, but most of the charcoal comes from often illegally-cut trees.

Instead of cutting trees we can simply harvest bamboo and make charcoal from this, which is a legally produced source.

The great thing about Bamboo is that it re-grows the following growing season after harvesting, so it is a very sustainable source of charcoal production.

IPS: What does the future look like for INBAR?

DHF: Two months ago Beijing hosted the China Africa Forum and we were very, very pleased to have read that the draft programme of work actually includes the development of Africa’s bamboo industry. There is a paragraph that says China and Africa will work together to establish an African training centre.

We understand this will most likely be in Ethiopia and it will happen hopefully in the coming years.

Another thing is that China and Africa will work closely together to develop the bamboo and rattan industry. They will also develop specific activities on how to use bamboo for land restoration and climate change mitigation and to see how bamboo can help with livelihood development in Africa in partnership with China.

This is a very exciting development, a new window of opportunity has opened for us to work together to develop bamboo and rattan in Africa.

 

The post Q&A: Creating an African Bamboo Industry as Large as China’s appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

IPS correspondent Jamila Akweley Okertchiri interviews DR. HANS FRIEDERICH, Director General of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)

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Climate Action Should be a Global Priority for World Leadershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/climate-action-global-priority-world-leaders/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-action-global-priority-world-leaders http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/climate-action-global-priority-world-leaders/#respond Tue, 04 Dec 2018 10:14:38 +0000 Patricia Espinosa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159013 Patricia Espinosa was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2016, a year after the adoption of the Paris Agreement to intensify actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. Prior to that, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

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Patricia Espinosa was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2016, a year after the adoption of the Paris Agreement to intensify actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. Prior to that, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

By Patricia Espinosa
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 4 2018 (IPS)

The IPCC report says that it is not impossible to limit climate change to 1.5͒C? Do you think we can realistically achieve that? Politically, what needs to happen?

History shows that when the human race decides to pursue a challenging goal, we can achieve great things. From ridding the world of smallpox to prohibiting slavery and other ancient abuses through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we have proven that by joining together we can create a better world.

Patricia Espinosa

Today, I believe we can succeed in limiting climate change to 1.5°C – but only if we once again work in solidarity with a powerful unity of purpose.

Humans have evolved to respond to immediate threats and opportunities. We find it more difficult to address problems that play out over years and decades. We must overcome this natural short-sightedness and commit to urgent climate action.

The Paris Agreement confirms the political commitment to climate action, and the UN system provides a platform for international collaboration. What we need now is for more leaders and more citizens to recognize climate action as a global priority and to start working together more urgently.

There was a great surge of enthusiasm for action among industries, governments and even regular people after Paris. Do you think that enthusiasm has been sustained and how can their involvement be ramped up?

There is no quick fix for climate change. Effective climate action will require a long-term, full-time commitment by virtually everyone. Every climate policy, every new technology, every personal action that contributes to reducing emissions and building resilience should be recognized and applauded.

There will be other surges of excitement, as in 2015 when the Paris Agreement was adopted, but most importantly we need to rely on consistent, steady action. We can sustain enthusiasm by sharing success stories, closely monitoring and publicizing emissions levels and climate trends, and keeping the climate conversation alive on a daily basis.

Climate change is, in many respects, the quintessential multilateral issue. What needs to happen to strengthen multilateralism to tackle climate change?

Climate change is a global phenomenon that requires global solutions. Fortunately, we already have platforms for multilateral action such as the United Nations and forums such as the G20.

Meanwhile, thanks to the media and to rapid communications, people are increasingly aware of what is happening in other parts of the world. They see how migration, trade and technology are making us more interdependent than ever before.

Although we do see a backlash against global integration in some parts of the world today, I am convinced that the sense of international solidarity will only grow in the years to come. An increasing awareness that we have a shared destiny on this fragile planet will help to strengthen inclusive multilateral action in the years to come.

How do we get people and governments to move beyond commitments to concrete actions?

Governments need to translate the multilateral goals of the Paris Agreement into specific policies. These policies must to reflect national circumstances and priorities. They need to create what we call an “enabling environment” that motivates and rewards companies, communities and individuals to take concrete actions.

Through the Paris Agreement we will monitor national and global emissions trends to determine which national policies seem to be working and which need to be reviewed.

So in sum we must build on the broad political commitment set out in Paris to craft national policies that encourage and recognize concrete measures by the full range of actors.

We are all responsible for emitting greenhouse gases, so we all have a role – whether in our work, or in our personal lives – in taking concrete actions to reduce emissions.

There are many success stories in all regions and all sectors that demonstrate the enormous potential of climate action.

To start with, a growing number of cities and regions have adopted targets to achieve zero net emissions between 2020 and 2050. These targets are often developed in collaboration.

Just one example: Nineteen city leaders from the C40 coalition signed the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration to ensure that all new buildings operate with a neutral carbon footprint by 2030.

The rise of inclusive multilateralism, where not only national governments but local and regional governments as well as a diverse array of associations and organizations work closely together, is a powerful force for climate action.

Collaboration is also taking place among actors in particular economic sectors. Earlier this year, the global transport sector, which is responsible for some 14 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, created the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance.

The Alliance recognizes that lowering transport emissions will also help to reduce urban pollution and improve public health. Transport companies and managers are creating innovative solutions, including new materials and designs, the increased use of renewable energy, improved public transport systems, and more efficient management of road, air and other transport networks.

Building collaboration within a sector is a great way to raise ambition and to share success stories and best practices.

We also see a growing list of individual corporations adopting emissions targets. Many have signed up to a Science Based Target to ensure that they are in line with the 1.5-2°C temperature limit enshrined under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

To date, over 700 leading businesses around the world have made strategic climate commitments through the We Mean Business coalition’s Take Action campaign.

There are so many more inspiring examples from a wide range of actors. Their efforts, more than anything else, is what gives me hope that we can achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and minimize global climate change and its risks. Their stories should inspire all of us to contribute more energetically to climate action.

*Originally published by the SDG Media Compact which was launched by the United Nations in September 2018 in collaboration with over 30 founding media organizations –– encompassing more than 100 media and entertainment outlets. The SDG Media Compact seeks to inspire media and entertainment companies around the world to leverage their resources and creative talent to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

World leaders are meeting at the Climate Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, 2 to 14 December, to finalize the rulebook to implement the 2015 landmark Paris Agreement on climate change. In the agreement, countries committed to take action to limit global warming to well under 2°C this century. At the conference in Poland, the UN will invite people to voice their views and launch a campaign to encourage every day climate action.

The post Climate Action Should be a Global Priority for World Leaders appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Patricia Espinosa was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2016, a year after the adoption of the Paris Agreement to intensify actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. Prior to that, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

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Get Ready for COP24: Transition to a Sustainable Futurehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/get-ready-cop24-transition-sustainable-future/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=get-ready-cop24-transition-sustainable-future http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/get-ready-cop24-transition-sustainable-future/#respond Mon, 03 Dec 2018 14:54:13 +0000 Manuela Matthess http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159002 Manuela Matthess is advisor on international energy and climate policy at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Berlin*

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UNFCCC Secretariat | COP24 opening plenary

By Manuela Matthess
BERLIN, Dec 3 2018 (IPS)

COP24 is the time for governments to act and increase their pledges to prevent global warming ensuring a just transition that leaves no one behind.

The Paris Agreement and the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deliver a clear and potent message: we urgently need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius if we want to protect our ecosystems as well as the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide.

To prevent severe consequences caused by the devastating effects of climate change, it has become evident and imperative that “business as usual” is not possible anymore. We need a transformation to a zero-carbon world in pretty much all sectors; we need to decarbonize our energy systems, our industries as well as our transport systems, we need to establish sustainable ways to do agriculture, and we need to re-think the way we build cities.

The challenges we are facing are enormous, but they come with endless opportunities as well. For the necessary transformation processes to be successful, they must be managed in a just and inclusive fashion: we need a just transition to a sustainable future!

In December 2018, heads of State will gather for the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), in Katowice, Poland, to continue discussing ways to implement the Paris Agreement. A just transition will be high up on the political agenda. But what does it encompass?

A just transition is defined by the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius, as stated in the Paris Agreement, but in a way that the well-being of all people is protected. The recent IPCC report on 1.5 degrees spotlights the need for early action, once again reinforcing that a rapid transition across all sectors of the economy is necessary to mitigate the most catastrophic risks of climate change.

There is great urgency involved—we only have 12 more years to turn things around! The lives and livelihoods of millions of people, especially in Global South countries, depend on fast action and ambitious climate policies to prevent the worst-possible impacts. For them, climate change is already a harsh reality, even though they have contributed almost nothing to its creation.

A just transition can only be successful if it brings all affected groups to the table. It maximizes climate protection while minimizing the negative impacts of climate change and climate policy on societies, lives and livelihoods. Climate change will influence every sector of our lives.

This includes the employment sector, which will be impacted by climate change as well as by climate change policies. Workers in the fossil industries and their families and communities are at the front line of the transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energies. Their interests need to be considered in the process.

Structural-change processes always have a strong regional component as sometimes it is coal or oil extraction which serves as the only source of employment in certain parts of a country. Good alternatives must be made available for people who will be affected by the phasing out of coal, oil and gas—even more so because that phase-out needs to happen fast to stop global warming.

Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius through a just transition of the world economy opens up many opportunities, including possibilities for decent work and quality jobs. Communities least responsible for and most negatively affected by climate change can and must profit from a Just Transition through poverty eradication, sustainable development opportunities and the creation of decent and quality jobs.

There is huge job-creation potential in renewable energies. The jobs of the future need to be green jobs with decent working conditions everywhere in the world. A just transition is a time-limited opportunity to shape the necessary change. If we do not act now, the risks could be uncontrollable, not only for workers and their communities but also for societies, lives and livelihoods of all people worldwide.

A Just Transition starts with a high level of ambition and accelerated climate action. This is the only way to ensure that there is sufficient time to implement the transition in a just way. Currently, countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are not nearly ambitious enough, putting us on a pathway to global warming of 3–4 degrees celsius.

What does that portend? Unbearable extreme weather conditions, sea-level rise that threatens the existence of many people, loss of biodiversity, lack of food security, disappearing coral reefs that are essential to a healthy balance of our ecosystems as well as an increasing number of climate refugees and violent conflicts fuelled by the consequences of climate change. Do you want to live in a world like this?

COP24 is the time for governments to act and increase their pledges to prevent global warming.

* For more information on the international work by FES on the topic visit the dedicated website page.
The link to the original article: https://www.fes-connect.org/spotlight/get-ready-for-cop24-four-things-to-know-about-a-just-transition-to-a-sustainable-future/

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Excerpt:

Manuela Matthess is advisor on international energy and climate policy at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Berlin*

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Limiting Climate Change to 1.5 C is not Impossible, Says IPCC Chairhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/limiting-climate-change-1-5-c-not-impossible-says-ipcc-chair/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=limiting-climate-change-1-5-c-not-impossible-says-ipcc-chair http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/limiting-climate-change-1-5-c-not-impossible-says-ipcc-chair/#respond Mon, 03 Dec 2018 11:13:15 +0000 Lee Hoesung http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158997 Lee Hoesung was appointed Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2015. He is also the Endowed Chair Professor of economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development in the Republic of Korea*.

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Lee Hoesung was appointed Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2015. He is also the Endowed Chair Professor of economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development in the Republic of Korea*.

By Lee Hoesung
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 3 2018 (IPS)

When governments set a target in December 2015 of limiting global warming to well below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to hold it at 1.5ºC, they invited the IPCC to prepare a report to provide information on this Goal.

Lee Hoesung

They asked the IPCC to assess the impacts of warming of 1.5ºC, the related emissions pathways of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that would result in warming of that amount, and the differences between warming of 1.5 and 2ºC or higher.

The new IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC shows that it is not impossible to limit warming to 1.5ºC but that doing so will require unprecedented transformations in all aspects of society.

The report shows that this is a worthwhile goal as the impacts of warming of 2ºC on lives, livelihoods and natural ecosystems are much more severe than from warming of 1.5ºC.

The global temperature has already risen about 1ºC from pre-industrial levels. The report shows that because of past emissions up to the present it will continue to warm. But these emissions alone are not enough to take the temperature to 1.5ºC: it is still possible to hold it at that level.

This requires very strong cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030, for instance by decarbonization of electricity production, and further cuts after that so that emissions fall to net zero by 2050.

Net zero means that any continuing emissions of greenhouse gases, for instance in transport, are compensated by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through measures such as afforestation or other techniques and technologies.

This will be achieved by reducing energy demand, for instance through greater energy efficiency, and changes in energy use, construction, transport, cities and food and diets.

Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible in terms of physics; the technology and techniques are there; the question is whether people and societies will support politicians in taking these measures.

What do world leaders need to know about the climate science that will affect the prosperity and well-being of their citizens?

World leaders need to know that the climate is already changing because of emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from human activities such as energy production and use, transport, and agriculture and other forms of land use.

These changes pose threats to people from increases in extreme weather events such as heatwaves, forest fires, drought, heavy precipitation and floods. The warming climate is causing the sea level to rise.

It is affecting biodiversity and making it harder for species to survive or forcing them to move. These are already affecting people’s lives and livelihoods.

If we carry on emitting greenhouse gases the climate will continue to warm and these threats will get worse. The new IPCC report shows there is even a big difference in risks between warming of 1.5ºC and 2ºC: every bit of warming matters.

The report also shows that it is pursuing policies to address climate change, by reducing emissions and adapting to the changes already underway, can creates a more prosperous and sustainable society by fostering innovation and the green economy and building more resilient communities. Economic development and climate action go hand in hand as sustainable development.

How optimistic are you about our ability to limit global warming to 1.5 C?

The new IPCC report shows it is not impossible, in terms of physics or technology, to limit global warming to 1.5ºC. But the unprecedented transformations in society will require continuing technical innovation and changes in behaviour and lifestyle.

The question is whether individuals and companies are ready to make those changes and encourage politicians to put the conditions in place to create a prosperous and sustainable low-carbon society.

*Originally published by the SDG Media Compact which was launched by the United Nations in September 2018 in collaboration with over 30 founding media organizations –– encompassing more than 100 media and entertainment outlets. The SDG Media Compact seeks to inspire media and entertainment companies around the world to leverage their resources and creative talent to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

World leaders are meeting at the Climate Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, 2 to 14 December, to finalize the rulebook to implement the 2015 landmark Paris Agreement on climate change. In the agreement, countries committed to take action to limit global warming to well under 2°C this century. At the conference in Poland, the UN will invite people to voice their views and launch a campaign to encourage every day climate action.

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Excerpt:

Lee Hoesung was appointed Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2015. He is also the Endowed Chair Professor of economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development in the Republic of Korea*.

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Fish Farming Takes on Crime in Papua New Guineahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/fish-farming-takes-crime-papua-new-guinea/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fish-farming-takes-crime-papua-new-guinea http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/fish-farming-takes-crime-papua-new-guinea/#respond Mon, 03 Dec 2018 10:26:02 +0000 Catherine Wilson http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158988 In the rugged mountainous highlands of Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific Islands fish farming has transformed the lives of former prisoners and helped reduce notorious levels of crime along the highlands highway, the only main road which links the highly populated inland provinces with the east coast port of Lae. Moxy, who completed […]

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A fish farm in Central Province near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

By Catherine Wilson
CANBERRA, Australia, Dec 3 2018 (IPS)

In the rugged mountainous highlands of Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific Islands fish farming has transformed the lives of former prisoners and helped reduce notorious levels of crime along the highlands highway, the only main road which links the highly populated inland provinces with the east coast port of Lae.

Moxy, who completed his sentence at the Bihute Prison in Eastern Highlands Province ten years ago, has used skills learned during his time in gaol to set up a fish farming enterprise in his village, located 15 kilometres northwest of the Province’s main town of Goroka. Today he is proudly known as ‘Daddy Fish’ in his community where he has regained self-esteem, social status and is sought after for his wisdom and knowledge.

“Whenever I feel down or I am tempted to do wrong, I sit by my fish ponds and look at what I achieved,” he said.

Moxy is one of many inmates who have participated in the Fish for Prisons program, the result of a partnership between Papua New Guinea’s National Fisheries Authority and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The initiative, begun in 2008, aims to train and mentor prisoners in aquaculture practice so they are equipped for a new livelihood before they are released.  But the training has also made ex-prisoners more disciplined, self-motivated, emotionally resilient and less likely to reoffend.

Aquaculture, while still a relatively under-developed industry in the Pacific Islands, possesses huge potential to help meet future food and nutritional needs in the region, where fish is a major part of the daily diet.

The global average fish consumption rate of 20.2kg per person pales in comparison to the Pacific Islands where consumption is 53kg per person in Papua New Guinea, 85kg in Tonga and 118kg in the Solomon Islands.

Yet for people living in inland areas of Papua New Guinea, far from the sea, protein deficiency is common. It was high levels of malnutrition in the highlands which prompted the introduction of aquaculture into the country in the 1960s, although development of the sector was very slow until recently. A decade ago, there were an estimated 10,000 fish farms in the country, but today the number has jumped to about 60,000 aided by improved research, training programs and outreach support.

Fish farming is as important as ever to combating malnutrition, which remains pervasive among the Melanesian nation’s population of more than 8 million people. The child stunting rate is the fourth highest in the world and children living in the highlands are at greater risk than those living in coastal communities.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) claims that, with its multiple nutrients, fish is the optimum single food for addressing undernourishment.  It possesses high quality animal protein, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals, as well as fat and water soluble vitamins.

But aquaculture is also giving young people in rural areas, where unemployment is as high as 70 percent, the chance to acquire vocational skills, economic self-reliance and sense of achievement.

This has happened in the Eastern Highlands village of Hogu where a criminal band, locally known as a ‘raskol gang’, renowned for car jackings, extortion, robbery and an illegal marijuana racket, had turned the nearby section of highway into the infamously known ‘Barola Raskol Hotspot.’ It was a treacherous place for any motorist or traveller.

But that all changed when fish farmer training was conducted in the village three years ago, gaining the attention of the gang.

“They saw the training being held and came down to see what was going on in their territory. They became interested, were welcomed by the [training] team and eventually participated,” Associate Professor Jes Sammut of the University of New South Wales’ Centre for Ecosystem Science and the fisheries consultant in Papua New Guinea for the ACIAR told IPS.

The program covered all facets of practice, including husbandry, water quality management, building and maintaining fish ponds, producing low cost fish feed and the use of organic fertilisers with the aim of strengthening sustainable food security and household incomes.

After finishing the course, the raskols, aged from 25-47 years, established 100 fish ponds, which now produce tilapia and carp and help to feed the village’s population of more than 680 people. In so doing, they gained an honest livelihood and respect within the community, eventually destroying their marijuana crops and abandoning crime.

Micah Aranka, who works with fish farmers in Hogu, said that “they [the gang] worked hard on digging their ponds and digging canals to draw water to their ponds…..and by watching the fish in their ponds they have found peace.”

In the most populous Pacific Island nation, aquaculture has emerged as an unlikely agent of social change, as well as a more secure food future.

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Marine Waste is Turning the Earth into a Plastic Planethttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/marine-waste-turning-earth-plastic-planet/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=marine-waste-turning-earth-plastic-planet http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/marine-waste-turning-earth-plastic-planet/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 14:16:27 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158928 Africa risks being the worst plastic-polluted place on earth within three decades overtaking Asia, says a continental network calling for African contributions to solving the growing threat of marine waste. “Plastic pollution is real and worrying,” says Tony Ribbink, CEO of Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) which is implementing the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) focusing on […]

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Over Half of the World’s Tropical Forests Have been Destroyed, Say Conservationistshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/half-worlds-tropical-forests-destroyed-say-conservationists/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=half-worlds-tropical-forests-destroyed-say-conservationists http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/half-worlds-tropical-forests-destroyed-say-conservationists/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 06:53:06 +0000 Rabiya Jaffery http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158917 Biodiversity conservationists have revealed that at least 10 more percent of land than what is currently being used to grow green crops will be required to successfully replace fossil fuels with alternatives derived from natural sources such as biofuel. Speaking to government ministers and other high level representatives at the ongoing Biodiversity Conference in Egypt, […]

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UN Biodiversity Conference in progress in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. The conference ends November 29. Credit: International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

By Rabiya Jaffery
SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 28 2018 (IPS)

Biodiversity conservationists have revealed that at least 10 more percent of land than what is currently being used to grow green crops will be required to successfully replace fossil fuels with alternatives derived from natural sources such as biofuel.

Speaking to government ministers and other high level representatives at the ongoing Biodiversity Conference in Egypt, Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), said that the increase in the need for land for energy-related uses could undermine natural habitats across the world.

Deforestation and forest degradation are one of the biggest threats to forests worldwide and, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in the last 60 years, over half of the tropical forests worldwide have been destroyed.

Currently, one of the biggest drivers of deforestation is the meat industry with over 2.71 million hectares of tropical forests destroyed to pasture for beef cattle every year. To put it into perspective, this is more than half of tropical deforestation in South America, and more than five times as much as any other commodity in the region. Other significant drivers also include wood products, soybeans, and palm oil.

“Degradation and loss of forests threatens the survival of many species, and reduces the ability of forests to provide essential services,” states Larigauderie. “And an increase in the need for more land could have devastating impacts that undermine the essential diversity of species on Earth.”

Established by 130 member governments in 2012, IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body that provides objective scientific assessments regarding the planet’s biodiversity to global policymakers – similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was established 30 years ago.

During a panel discussion, Larigauderie said IPCC’s latest report gives a sense of “extreme urgency” on “tradeoffs and synergies between climate, biodiversity and land degradation.”

While it is uncertain just how much land is currently being used for biofuel crops, several researches estimate it lies between 15 and 30 million hectares. Meanwhile, IPCC predicts an increase of up to 744 million hectares in the land area needed to grow biofuel crops to slow down global warming.

“Where would this huge amount of new land come from?” asked Larigauderie. “Is there currently such a large amount of ‘marginal land’ available or would this compete with biodiversity?”

‘Marginal land’ refers to areas of land that have little to no agricultural potential because of poor soil or other undesirable characteristics.

Scientific studies on the better use of marginal lands have been going on for nearly two decades and studies show that marginal lands represent significant untapped resources to grow plants specifically used for biofuel production.

But some scientists also argue that there is not enough marginal land left to grow enough biofuels to significantly replace fossil fuels.

Larigauderie pointed out that the important issue of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities which drives up global warming needs to be addressed but relying on biofuels as a replacement for fossil fuels will almost certainly result in an increase in the demand for land which will have negative consequences on biodiversity – and consequently, carbon dioxide emissions.

Land ecosystems today soak up about a third of annual carbon dioxide emissions, with the world’s oceans accounting for about another quarter annually.

“Reforestation and safeguarding plant and animal species is far better at protecting the climate than most biofuel crops,” she stated. ““All methods that produce healthier ecosystems should be promoted as a way to combat climate change.”

IPBES intends to publish a primer detailing elements of its Global Assessment of Biodiversity in May 2019.

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Indigenous Leaders are Calling for New Global Agreement to Protect Amazonhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/indigenous-leaders-calling-new-global-agreement-protect-amazon/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indigenous-leaders-calling-new-global-agreement-protect-amazon http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/indigenous-leaders-calling-new-global-agreement-protect-amazon/#respond Tue, 27 Nov 2018 10:38:05 +0000 Rabiya Jaffery http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158902 Leaders of Amazon’s indigenous groups are calling for a new global agreement to protect and restore at least half of the world’s natural habitats. The Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (or COICA), an activist group, has prepared a proposal that will be presented to the secretariat, government bodies, and NGOs during […]

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By Rabiya Jaffery
SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 27 2018 (IPS)

Leaders of Amazon’s indigenous groups are calling for a new global agreement to protect and restore at least half of the world’s natural habitats.

The Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (or COICA), an activist group, has prepared a proposal that will be presented to the secretariat, government bodies, and NGOs during the ongoing 14th Conference of the Parties (COP-14) UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Egypt.

COICA was founded in 1984 in Lima, Peru, and coordinates nine national Amazonian indigenous organizations in promoting and developing mechanism to defend the self-determination of Indigenous peoples and coordinate the actions of its members on an international level.

COICA’s proposal invites more input and involvement of indigenous communities in conservation efforts and policy-making that addresses biodiversity loss, as the parties negotiate on defining the terms of the post 2020 global framework on biodiversity that is to be adopted in Beijing, China in two years.

The proposal resulted from a COICA summit held last August with indigenous leaders from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, and Venezuela.

“Nearly 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity is found on the lands of tribal peoples and that the majority of the most biodiverse places on Earth are tribal peoples’ territories,” said Juan Carlos Jintiach, a representative of COICA, currently in Egypt.

“Tribal people have been contributing and sustainably using the resources on their lands for thousands of years and it’s not possible to create policies that will be effective without their input.”

In the declaration, the indigenous delegations invite States and other entities to include ancestral knowledge in policies that address conservation, and is planning to start bilateral negotiations with different actors in an effort to create a fair ambitious agreement for 2020.

“COICA wants to work with other players behind a common goal to protect and restore half of the planet before 2050.

COICA is also pushing for a dialogue with the governments of the Amazon region to include the joint vision of the indigenous confederations through an “alliance and commitment to protect the region, its biodiversity, its cultures, and sacredness” to protect the rainforest and its “biological corridor”.

An agreement to protect a “biological corridor” that possesses over 135 million hectares of areas and is distributed between Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia is being promoted among the three countries.

The corridor will cover zones from the Amazon, the Andes Cordillera, and the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the regions of major biodiversity in the world and indigenous groups believe that their input and perspectives are important for the effectiveness of the agreement.

“65% of the world’s lands are indigenous territories but only 10% are legalized. Guaranteeing indigenous territorial rights is an inexpensive and effective of reducing carbon emissions and increasing natural areas,” stated Tuntiak Katan, Vice President of COICA.

In 2015, former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos welcomed Brazil’s input in the ongoing talks on the Amazon-Andres-Atlantic (AAA) agreement which, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s former president, considered analyzing in a statement during the Summit of the Americas talks in Panama.

Indigenous communities are also expressing deep concerns about statements on environmental policies and indigenous issues made by Brazil’s President-Elect, Jair Bolsonaro, during his campaigns.

Bolsonaro will not assume office until January, but he has supported a weakening of protections for the Amazon. As a result, less land will controlled by indigenous and forest communities and more will be open to agribusiness, miners, loggers and construction companies.

“His views are worrying, but the new government will also face a challenge in reversing policies that are already in line because they will lose their position as an international leader on environmental issues,” says Oscar Soria, senior campaigner, of Avaaz– a global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.

“We wish to remind Bolsonaro that Brazil has national and international obligations to guarantee territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and to respect their free, prior, and informed consent,” he adds.

“We hope the new government will respect international obligations and we will continue to stand by NGOs and Indigenous Peoples who are fighting to save the world – the world cannot protect biodiversity without Brazil but Brazil cannot destroy biodiversity alone.”

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Q&A: The Arrival of the African Blue Economy as a Real Prospecthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/qa-arrival-african-blue-economy-real-prospect/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-arrival-african-blue-economy-real-prospect http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/qa-arrival-african-blue-economy-real-prospect/#respond Mon, 26 Nov 2018 20:19:28 +0000 Nalisha Adams http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158886 IPS Correspondent Nalisha Adams interviews DR. CYRUS RUSTOMJEE, a former director of economic affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, and a senior fellow with Global Economy Programme, Centre for International Governance Innovation.

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Dr Cyrus Rustomjee, a former director of economic affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, says there is clearly the will, the determination, the excitement, the collective endeavour at an African level to take the blue economy forward. Credit: Nalisha Adams/IPS

By Nalisha Adams
NAIROBI, Nov 26 2018 (IPS)

The first every global conference to address the twin focuses on both conservation and economic growth of the oceans has fulfilled the broad range of expectations it set out to define.

It could also be starting point for spurring on a whole new range of global development co-ordination challenges harmonising terrestrial and ocean-related laws and treaties.

This is according to Dr. Cyrus Rustomjee, a former director of economic affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, and a senior fellow with Global Economy Programme, Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Rustomjee was at the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, Kenya as some 18,000 participants gathered in the East African nation. The conference hosted by the Kenyan government and co-hosted by Canada and Japan, set out to discuss how to create economic growth that is inclusive and sustainable, how to ensure healthy and productive waters, and how to build safe and resilient communities.

Rustomjee has held various positions for his native South Africa with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. IPS was able to speak to the South African who holds a Ph.D. in Economics and a Masters in Development Economics.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): Can you tell us in terms of this conference what were the expectations that you had coming here.

Cyrus Rustomjee (CR): I think I didn’t want to create expectations for myself about this because it is the inaugural Sustainable Blue Economy Conference. It hasn’t happened before in this way. We have had conferences on the Blue Economy in various parts of the world, we have had global United Nations-driven conferences. We haven’t had one which tries to bring together the conservation and the growth dimensions of the Blue Economy.

In the past they have really been seen as two contending perspectives of the Blue Economy, where as in fact what this conference is saying is that they are part and parcel of a sustainable blue economy. You have to have sustainability of the oceans if you want to harness the wealth or other opportunities from it. But at the same time you can’t continuously focus on conservation because there will be some who will exploit the ocean while others persist simply with conservation.

So the benefits that the ocean offers will be then inequitably shared.

No one wanted to confront this issue at a global level. And to try to discern practical ways to harmonise this and to bring these two strands, which is a common concept together. So I didn’t have any particular expectations. I had a whole lot of questions about the scope and the ambition of the conference. And that has been fully fulfilled. Because I think the scope is enormous, it’s covered a very very wide range of policy issues, a wide range of conceptual issues, it’s brought it science, it’s brought in legal frameworks and transboundary challenges which are part of the unique characteristics of this sustainable blue economy concept.

It really has brought many many countries to the table to discuss, in some sense without preconceived positions, which is very valuable. Which is really saying let us kind of take a step back and then take a collective step forward. And I think that is what is happening at this conference.

IPS: In light of what you have heard, what are your first impressions?

CR: It is only day one. First impressions are that I wasn’t sure to what extent an African voice would come forward. Because it is in this space that the fullest potential of the Blue Economy will reveal itself or not in the years ahead. So Africa has watched the oceans being utilised and has hesitated to utilise the resources of the oceans for a whole host of reasons, including insufficient technology, skills, human resources, legislative frameworks, co-ordination at an inter-continental level and many many other factors.

Whereas I would say many advanced economies particularly have gone surging ahead with the blue economy, whether sustainable or not, I don’t know.

Now Africa has an opportunity to take advantage of all of that. And build on continental momentum to do so in many other areas. For example, we just recently secured a continental free trade arrangement and there are already ingrained in African continent-wide policies and strategies the concept of the Blue Economy. It is the 2063 Agenda [of the African Union]. It is in the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) framework. Not it is time to operationalise it in practical ways.

So a big take-away from me is there is clearly the will, the determination, the excitement, the collective endeavour at an African level to take this forward.

I think if there is anything we look back on in, say five years from now, we will look back at two things. One is, this is where the world got together to recognise this concept as a practical mechanism in some sense for operationalising sustainable development fully. Not only in terrestrial activity but across the whole spectrum of what the earth’s surface is.

We started also talking today about the interaction and the interplay between the terrestrial sustainable development framework and the ocean and realising it is actually a single framework…

The second big thing from today is the arrival of the African Blue Economy as a real prospect.

IPS: Kenya says it wants to lead the way in building a sustainable blue economy. With your background in finance and development, can you give us some key take-aways they need to look at?

CR: It’s a difficult one because we are very much in a pioneering state for a continent that has 38 coastal states, and has 31,000 km of coastline, and which also has 13 million square kilometres of exclusive economic zone. It’s a huge, huge environment. [The number of people living along the coast] is high and it’s rising. For a whole host of reasons.

We are at the dawn of the journey. We are at the dawn but in the context where there are many components that is encouraging many african countries have started developing their blue economy strategies and laws and concepts. And they have started to tackle some of the co-ordination issues that come with that, simply-explained ones, co-ordination between the coastal tourism and fisheries sectors, for example, jurisdictional issues between different portfolios, they’ve developed integrated coastal zone management strategies and many have developed marine protected areas and have started working on the challenges in sustaining those.

Many have been in the forefront, globally now, of innovative blue finance [for example the Seychelles issued a Blue Bond last month]. We are seeing a lot more activity at a regional level. We are starting actively to see discussion about how to integrate regional and continental initiatives. In a certain sense the Blue Economy in an African context is an African Blue Economy, not an African-specific national series of Blue Economies.

That is where the full potential of the Blue Economy will arise, rather than at a national level. We are starting to see this is part of the longer-term vision which we will end up realising as a continent.

So there are lots of promises, lots of opportunity and lots of action. But a lot of action is happening at a national level and some critical steps for the future now, in an African context is to build the institutional capacity to share knowledge, experience within the continent and to build the institutions what will quickly bring the inter-continental collaboration needed to realise the Blue Economy.

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Excerpt:

IPS Correspondent Nalisha Adams interviews DR. CYRUS RUSTOMJEE, a former director of economic affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, and a senior fellow with Global Economy Programme, Centre for International Governance Innovation.

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

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

By Busani Bafana
NAIROBI, Nov 26 2018 (IPS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fishing paradox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saving fish today for the future

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

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

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

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

2019, deal or no deal?

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

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

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

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

By Nalisha Adams
NAIROBI, Nov 26 2018 (IPS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Amidst Rising Hunger, BCFN Forum to Promote Food Sustainabilityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/amidst-rising-hunger-bcfn-forum-promote-food-sustainability/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=amidst-rising-hunger-bcfn-forum-promote-food-sustainability http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/amidst-rising-hunger-bcfn-forum-promote-food-sustainability/#respond Mon, 26 Nov 2018 07:33:30 +0000 Stella Paul http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158858 As 2018 nears its end, the world faces a new wave of food insecurity with the level of hunger being on the rise globally. A record 821 million people are facing chronic food deprivation – a sharp rise from 804 million figure in 2016 – said a report published by the UNFAO earlier this year. […]

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An organic farmer in his sustainable farm in Paro, Bhutan. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

By Stella Paul
MILAN, Italy, Nov 26 2018 (IPS)

As 2018 nears its end, the world faces a new wave of food insecurity with the level of hunger being on the rise globally. A record 821 million people are facing chronic food deprivation – a sharp rise from 804 million figure in 2016 – said a report published by the UNFAO earlier this year. Along with rising hunger, food security has declined across Africa and South America while undernourishment is on the rise again in Asia, said the report which attributed the changing scenario to climate-related changes, adverse economic conditions and conflict. With this alarming picture as the backdrop, the 9th Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) International Forum on Food and Nutrition in Milan is all set to take off on November 27.

A Diverse, Promising Platform

Founded with the aim to “provide an open space for interdisciplinary discussion on issues of nutrition and sustainability,” the annual 2 day BCFN forum has always drawn food and nutrition experts, policy makers, media leaders and civil society. With a long line of speakers from governments, academia, business, research and media organizations, this year’s forum also appears promising where participants and followers can expect rich and diverse opinions, stories, and ideas, especially on sustainable food –which is the core focus area at this year’s forum. There is also a long list of topics being discussed that include hunger and obesity, optimum use of natural resources, reducing food waste, promoting sustainable diets, and the effects of climate change.

SDGs, Collaborative Food Action in Focus

The 2-day event is co-hosted by BCFN, in joint collaboration with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), and is designed to have three sessions. The first session focused on understanding the three paradoxes of food: An obese planet dying of hunger; competition for natural resource among people, animals, and cars; and food loss and food waste. Session two is focused on the role of agriculture, nutrition, and food in migration and development while the third and fine session focuses on solutions towards a sustainable urban food system.

A prawn farmer selling his produce in Can Tho of Vietnam. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

The Forum also will present the publication Food and Cities, a joint initiative between BCFN and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) which highlights effective food policies of various European Cities.

It is estimated that over 50 per cent of the world’s population today live in cities – a number expected to rise to 80% by 2050. If such trend continues undeterred, current food systems cannot meet the growing demand with sustainable development, especially since high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming directly affects food production. Also, rising demand for food will require more water and land which will be in shortage due to raising of animals, grazing and cultivation of fodder.

The MUFPP which has 180 signatory cities worldwide, is an excellent example of collaborative action taken by cities to deal with the food security issues of tomorrow. The BCFN will, therefore, be a window to this global food action.

Food Sustainability and Role of Media

A salient feature of the forum has been its strong focus on the role of media in highlighting food and nutrition issues and also helping create a model for food sustainability, especially in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For the second year on, the forum is hosting the Food Sustainability Media Award – an international contest that recognizes journalistic excellence in reporting on food from a different perspective and turning the spotlight on food sustainability. Apart from this, the pool of speakers also has a number of leading voices from media who will share their experiences of covering food and nutrition issues, throwing light on the biggest challenges faced by the global communities as well as the solutions that are working on the ground.

The full agenda of the event can be accessed here

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VIDEO: Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, Nairobi, Kenya 2018http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/video-sustainable-blue-economy-conference-nairobi-kenya-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=video-sustainable-blue-economy-conference-nairobi-kenya-2018 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/video-sustainable-blue-economy-conference-nairobi-kenya-2018/#respond Sat, 24 Nov 2018 11:40:04 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158845 The first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and is being co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Over 13,000 participants from around the world are coming together to learn how to build a blue economy.     Read more: http://www.ipsnews.net/topics/sustainable-blue-economy-conference/

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The first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and is being co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Over 13,000 participants from around the world are coming together to learn how to build a blue economy.

By IPS World Desk
ROME, Nov 24 2018 (IPS)

The first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and is being co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Over 13,000 participants from around the world are coming together to learn how to build a blue economy.

 

 

Read more: http://www.ipsnews.net/topics/sustainable-blue-economy-conference/

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

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

By Lisa Stadelbauer
NAIROBI, Nov 24 2018 (IPS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Excerpt:

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

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