Inter Press ServiceBiodiversity – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 20 Nov 2018 20:00:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Earth’s Biodiversity: A Pivotal Meeting at a Pivotal Timehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/earths-biodiversity-pivotal-meeting-pivotal-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=earths-biodiversity-pivotal-meeting-pivotal-time http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/earths-biodiversity-pivotal-meeting-pivotal-time/#respond Thu, 15 Nov 2018 08:27:52 +0000 Cristiana Pasca Palmer and Anne Larigauderie http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158677 Cristiana Pașca Palmer is the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Montreal, & Anne Larigauderie is the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), Bonn

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Zainab Samo, along with her son and daughter, planting a lemon seedling on her farm in Oan village in Pakistan’s southern desert district of Tharparkar, to fight desert’s advance and for windbreak. Credit: Saleem Shaikh/IPS

By Cristiana Pașca Palmer and Anne Larigauderie
SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt , Nov 15 2018 (IPS)

The quality of the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink depend directly on the state of our biodiversity, which is now in severe jeopardy. We need a transformational change in our relationship with nature to ensure the sustainable future we want for ourselves and our children.

Largely overshadowed by other concerns in coverage of the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was a section on how much better it will be for biodiversity – the essential variety of all life on Earth – if global warming can be held to 1.5 degrees Celsius rather than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Based on one modelling study, involving 105,000 species, the IPCC report estimates that 1.5°C of global warming will dramatically alter the world for 8% of plants, 4% of vertebrates and 6% of insects – eliminating more than half of their geographic range.

In a world 2°C warmer, the figures double for plants (16%) and vertebrates (8%), and triple for insects (18%). The knock-on effects for people would be severe.

Similarly, forest fires, the spread of invasive species and other biodiversity-related risks to human well-being are substantially lower at 1.5°C relative to 2°C of global warming.

Ocean temperatures and acidity will rise higher, and ocean oxygen levels will drop further, in a 2°C warmer world, leading to irreversible losses of marine and coastal ecosystems, less productive fisheries and aquaculture, less Arctic sea ice and fewer warm water coral reef ecosystems (70 to 90% losses at 1.5°C; more than 99% at 2ºC), with the loss of all the natural benefits that these provide to people around the globe.

One model projects a more than 3 million tonne drop in the world’s annual catch of marine fish at 2°C of global warming, twice the loss anticipated at 1.5°C.

It is against this deeply worrying backdrop that member States of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meets in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt Nov. 17 – 28 for the UN Biodiversity Conference. A central focus of the meeting will be a move towards a new set of global biodiversity action goals and targets.

The current goals, established in 2010 in Aichi, Japan, expire in 2020, when they are expected to be formally replaced.

Thankfully, we can point to meaningful progress on the protection and conservation of biodiversity over the past 10 years. For example, the annual rate of net forest loss has been halved; global protected areas have increased to 13% of coastal and marine areas and 15% of terrestrial areas (although not all world ecoregions are adequately covered, and most protected areas are not well connected); and the number of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture secured in conservation facilities has risen.

These successes are not, however, nearly enough to halt the ongoing loss of plant and animal diversity on Earth — a fundamental worldwide extinction crisis, deepening every year, and severely aggravated by climate change.

So, what can world policymakers do next?

To make better decisions on biodiversity, we need the best-possible understanding of the problems and the best evidence on which to act. Authoritative expert assessments, such as the IPCC report, and those of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the IPCC’s counterpart in biodiversity, provide this evidence.

Founded just six years ago, IPBES has already published seven major assessment reports on, for example, pollination and food production; land degradation and restoration; and regional assessments of biodiversity in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, and the Americas.

IPBES also has a landmark new assessment report in the pipeline, to be released in Paris next May – the first comprehensive global assessment of biodiversity since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005 – it will describe the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services around the world.

For almost three years, about 150 experts – including natural and social scientists, and indigenous knowledge holders – from almost 50 countries have contributed to the report, which covers land-based ecosystems, inland waters and the open oceans.

They have evaluated the changes that have occurred over recent decades, a range of possible scenarios through 2050, and the end results to expect from the pursuit of various policy options, including ‘business as usual’.

Once published, the IPBES global assessment will inform not just the critical deliberations on the world’s post-2020 biodiversity goals and targets, but all policies and actions related to biodiversity for the next decade and beyond – decisions fundamental also to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The choices humanity makes now will profoundly affect the world’s biodiversity, which in turn will impact the future economies, livelihoods, food security and quality of life of people everywhere. We must get them right.

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Excerpt:

Cristiana Pașca Palmer is the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Montreal, & Anne Larigauderie is the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), Bonn

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Lack of Funds Prevent Ugandan Communities from Investing in Cage Aquaculturehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/lack-funds-prevent-ugandan-communities-investing-cage-aquaculture/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lack-funds-prevent-ugandan-communities-investing-cage-aquaculture http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/lack-funds-prevent-ugandan-communities-investing-cage-aquaculture/#respond Mon, 12 Nov 2018 13:31:48 +0000 Wambi Michael http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158459 Colvince Mubiru had heard about cage fish farming on Uganda’s lakes. The small business owner decided to try his hand at it and spent USD8,000 to set up farming cages for Nile Tilapia on Lake Victoria, expecting to reap a huge profit. But just six months into his enterprise, he made huge losses. “It was […]

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Fishermen on the Ugandan side of Lake Victoria. Uganda has ventured into non-traditional methods of fishing on the lake with a few of companies using cage fishing. Credit: Wambi Michael/IPS

By Wambi Michael
JINJA, Uganda, Nov 12 2018 (IPS)

Colvince Mubiru had heard about cage fish farming on Uganda’s lakes. The small business owner decided to try his hand at it and spent USD8,000 to set up farming cages for Nile Tilapia on Lake Victoria, expecting to reap a huge profit. But just six months into his enterprise, he made huge losses.

“It was too costly to manage so I could not continue because I could have lost all I had,” Mubiru tells IPS.

Both Uganda and neighbouring Kenya have introduced cage fish farming as a sustainable method of ensuring a steady supply of fish stock from Lake Victoria.

Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, is shared by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. It has, according to the Lake Victoria Fisheries Management Plan III, “experienced dramatic ecosystem change over time resulting into loss of more than 500 endemic haplochromine fish species.”

Uganda began promoting cage fish farming in 2006. Cage culture encloses the fish in a cage or basket made up of floats, anchors and a frame, submerged to a depth of 10 metres.

In Uganda, small tilapia of no less than one gram are stocked in nursery cages at a density of 1,000 – 2,500 fish. These are reared to at least 15 grams in eight weeks, graded, and stocked in production cages and then reared for a further six to seven months to reach a weight of 350-600 grams before they are harvested.

Fifty-two-year-old Joseph Okeny first became a fisherman on Lake Victoria in 1997. But he abandoned wild fishing two years ago at a time when illegal fishing methods were rife and fish were scarce in Lake Victoria. He has since started a boat cruising business instead.

“You could stay on the lake for almost the entire day but could not get enough fish for consumption at home and for sale,” Okeny tells IPS.

But things have changed since Okeny stopped fishing for a living. According to the Status of Fish Stocks in Lake Victoria 2017, released in December by the NaFIRRI of Uganda, the Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) of Kenya and the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI), fish stocks in the lake have recovered by 30 percent compared to 2016 figures.

This also included the stock of Nile perch, a fish not native to the lake, which was introduced in the 1960s.

The increase in stock is noted also in a study by the Makerere University-based Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), which said aquaculture fish production in Uganda alone increased from approximately 10,000 MT per annum in 2005 to approximately 100,000 MT per annum in 2013 – accounting for around 20 percent of the total national fish production in Uganda. The study said 899 tonnes of fish were being produced in Uganda from cages in every six- to eight-month production cycle.

It also stated that there were 28 registered cage culture farmers in Uganda, with a total of 2,135 cages around Lake Victoria alone. However, KMFRI reported last month that this figure is now close to 3,696.

IPS travelled to Uganda’s Jinja district area on Lake Victoria and discovered that six cage fish farms are owned by foreign investors.

The largest of the six sells fish retail to residents around Bugungu where it has established several nursery ponds. It exports the rest to Kenya, DRC and Europe.

Asked why there were no local fish farmers with established cages on the lake, Okeny believes that adopting that technology requires financing that locals cannot afford.

Aside from the cost of the cage, which can start at USD 350, seed or fingerlings, depending on the size, can cost about USD 270, according to Uganda’s National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI). There is also the added cost of feed for the fish.

Fish farming cage on Lake Victoria. Cage culture encloses the fish in a cage or basket made up of floats, anchors and a frame, submerged to a depth of 10 metres. Credit: Wambi Michael/IPS

Dr. Richard Ogutu-Ohwayo, a Fish Biology and Ecology specialist with NaFIRRI, has worked in Uganda’s fisheries research for over 40 years, and agrees with Okeny about the cost.

“Cage fish farming is extremely expensive and you are keeping fish in a small area. If you don’t look after them very well, it is not only the environment which is going to lose, but you are also going to lose,” Ogutu-Ohwayo tells IPS.

“It is not cheap when compared to farming in ponds. And that is why cage fish farming must be practiced as a business just like you rear broiler chicken,” says Ogutu-Ohwayo.

Pointing to an abandoned cage floating within the area allocated to fish cages of an international company, Okeny says some locals tried to invest in cages but got their fingers burnt.

“They thought that cage fish farming brings money and they also started fish farming without having enough capital to buy feed,” explains Okeny.

“These people started without consulting those who have experience. So they failed and most of them withdrew from the business. So that is why you see only one cage remaining,” says Okeny.

Researchers of the survey “Prospects of Cage Fish Farming in South Western Uganda” published in June suggest that lack of funds is the main constraint in cage aquaculture and not lack of feed and fingerlings, as has been suggested in other studies in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Gerald Kwikirizaa, one of those involved in the survey, told IPS that the results suggested that lack of funds to purchase inputs was the main constraint in cage aquaculture in South Western Uganda.

He suggested that the government could boost cage fish farming through subsidising feed cost for small-holders, especially if quality floating feed is produced locally.

This cage fish farmer plans to harvest fish from the fishing cages on Lake Victoria. Credit: Wambi Michael/IPS

Fishery development is one of the key global development goals in Agenda 2030, which comprises the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with countries seeking to support the restoration of fish stocks to improve safe and diversified healthy diets.

Ending hunger, securing food supplies and promoting good health and sustainable fisheries are among the topics to be discussed at the first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference being held in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28. Over 7,000 participants from 150 countries will be discussing, among other things, how to build safe and resilient communities and to ensure healthy and productive waters.

According to Ogutu-Ohwaayo, cage fish farming is common in the Great Lakes of North America. He said Africa should utilise its inland waters to produce more fish instead of relying on declining wild fish populations.

He added that if properly and systematically developed, it can be another means of food production, explaining that 21 percent of Uganda is made up of fresh water, meaning land for food production is scarce. “So we must use our water to produce food. And cage fish farming is one way of using our waters, in addition to other services, to actually produce food,” Ogutu-Ohwayo further explains.

He said Uganda’s population, which is growing at over three percent a year, cannot survive only on wild fishing, which has stagnated.

Ogutu-Ohwayo said aquaculture is the fastest growing food industry in the world and provides an option for meeting the deficit in fish production.

Uganda’s fisheries production for capture fisheries and aquaculture is estimated at 400,000 tons per year, which is not sufficient to meet growing demand. The six kg per capita fish consumption is far below the FAO-WHO recommended level of 17.5 kg.

“My conviction is that Africa should not be left behind in cage fish farming. And we have the capacity not to be left behind if we do it well,” said Ogutu-Ohwayo, also a board member of the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR), a scientific organisation made up of researchers studying the Laurentian Great Lakes, other large lakes of the world, and their watersheds.

There have been regional efforts to address the declining fish stocks through innovative technologies.

Ogutu-Ohwa told IPS that he is mobilising fellow researchers from the African Great Lakes region to develop best practices for what he described as an “important emerging production industry.”

“You must follow best management practices. Just like you would manage a zero-grazing cow. You must put in adequate management. We as scientists are doing our best to develop these best management practices,” says Ogutu-Ohwayo.

A project known as Promoting Environmentally, Economically and Socially Sustainable Cage Aquaculture on the African Great Lakes (PESCA) is part of the efforts to address social and environmental concerns related to cage culture.

It operates in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi and generally in the African Great Lakes. PESCA has been operational since the beginning of June 2018.

“There have been concerns that cage fish farming is going to spoil the quality of the water. We want to develop tools that would promote cage fish farming in an environmentally and social way,” said Ogutu-Ohwayo.

Meanwhile, Okeny tells IPS that the introduction of cage fish farming and the efforts by the government to fight illegal fishing seem to be paying off.“Now when people go fishing they come back with good fish because that bad practice has been controlled,” says Okeny

He has seen the negative and positive aspects of cage fishing farming. “I think cage fish farming is very productive going by the amount of fish harvested by [a cage fishing company] fish. And because of that, they are paying their workers very well,” Okeny tells IPS as he docks his boat after a busy day.

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Africa’s Bumpy Road to Sustainable Energyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africas-bumpy-road-sustainable-energy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=africas-bumpy-road-sustainable-energy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africas-bumpy-road-sustainable-energy/#respond Fri, 26 Oct 2018 11:01:36 +0000 Eleni Mourdoukoutas http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158381 Eleni Mourdoukoutas, Africa Renewal*

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Credit: Johannes Ortner

By Eleni Mourdoukoutas
NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 2018 (IPS)

For years, Kenyans freely used and disposed of plastic bags. The bags were ubiquitous—in the markets, in the gutters and in the guts out of 3 out of every 10 animals taken to slaughter.

Nakuru, a town northwest of Nairobi, was a particular eyesore, with a poorly managed dump site that left bags strewn across the roads. It drove Nakuru resident James Wakibia to desperation and then to activism. Wakibia wrote letters to local papers, posted on social media, launched the hashtag #banplasticsKE and joined local group InTheStreetsofNakuru to petition the Kenyan government to ban single-use plastic bags.

It got people talking.

Finally, in August 2017, Kenya passed a landmark law banning the purchase, sale or use of plastic bags. Offenders risk four years in prison or a $40,000 fine.

“Plastic bags were virtually all over the place,” Wakibia told Africa Renewal. “But now the once-clogged drains are flowing and roadsides are free from plastic bags. There is a visible change.”

The trash and plastics nightmare can be found across the continent. Sub-Saharan Africa produces approximately 62 million tonnes of waste per year, including plastic waste, according to the World Bank. With Africa’s rapid urbanisation and economic growth, environmentalists expect that figure to double by 2025.

New uses found for waste

Yet Africa’s epidemic of waste may very well contain the seeds of a solution to another stubborn problem—the energy shortage.

In sub-Saharan Africa some 609 million people (6 out of 10) have no access to electricity, and about 80% of those in rural areas lack electricity access, according to 2017 data by the World Bank. Manufacturers in sub-Saharan Africa experience an average of 56 days of shutdown time per year due to power outages, the African Development Bank noted in 2017.

To achieve universal energy access, Africa requires an investment of more than $1.5 trillion in the energy sector between 2018 and 2050. Without such an investment, sub-Saharan Africa will be home to an estimated 89% of the world’s energy poor by 2030, according to a 2017 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), an organisation that advises governments on energy policy.

To meet demand, exploration is underway to convert the mounting piles of rubbish into much-needed energy—and some countries are already showing how that can be done.

This year Ethiopia completed the Reppie thermal plant, Africa’s first waste-to-energy plant, which has the capacity to incinerate 1,400 tons of waste per day. The plant handles 80% of Addis Ababa’s waste and converts it into electricity that, when the plant becomes fully operational, will serve 3 million people—thus providing 30% of the capital city’s needs.

To execute the $120 million project, the Ethiopian government partnered with China National Electric Engineering Co., which worked with Cambridge Industries and its managing director Samuel Alemayehu, a Stanford-educated engineer and former Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

“The Reppie project is just one component of Ethiopia’s broader strategy to address pollution and embrace renewable energy across all sectors of the economy,” Zerubabel Getachew, Ethiopia’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told UN Environment. “We hope that Reppie will serve as a model for other countries in the region and around the world.”

With only 4% of the continent’s wastes being recycled, Africa’s waste management is still in its infancy, according to a 2018 report by UN Environment and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a South Africa–based research organization.

South Africa may be an outlier. PET Recycling Company, a South African recycling company, reported in 2016 that plastic bottle recycled tonnage has grown by 822% in the country since 2005.

“Currently South Africa does not have mandatory punitive legislation in place which makes separation of recyclables [from the waste stream]… in homes, offices, restaurants and bars compulsory. Mandatory separation at the source will ensure greater recycling success in years to come,” said Shabeer Jhetam, executive director at the Glass Recycling Company.

Without legislative backing, Wakibia is sceptical about sustainable practices across Africa.

“I think the biggest hindrance to environmental protection is when politicians have vested interests,” he told UN Environment. “For example, many politicians are shareholders of companies engaged in lumbering, or are shareholders in companies dealing with plastics. So it becomes hard for them to support any initiatives calling for sustainable forestry or a ban on single-use plastics.”

“I’m glad the government of Kenya has called for massive tree planting across the country,” he continued. “I hope they will walk the talk.

Morocco tops in solar energy

The sun could be another source of sustainable energy in Africa. Africa has 117% more sunshine than Germany, the global leader in solar energy.

Due to its decreasing cost and increasing convenience, solar energy is projected to become the world’s largest source of energy by 2050, states a 2017 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organisation promoting sustainable energy.

Lighting Africa, a World Bank–supported project started by music icon Akon, his childhood friend Thione Niang and Malian philanthropist Samba Bathily, is tapping into Africa’s vast solar resource. The group hopes to provide solar energy solutions to 250 million people across sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.

Since its establishment in 2014, Lighting Africa has provided electricity access to nearly 29 million people in 25 African countries, including Benin, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone.

Morocco leads the pack in solar energy in Africa. With 32% of its energy needs currently coming from renewable sources, the country is on track to hit 44% by 2020.

Morocco’s solar energy ambition is anchored on the $9 billion Ouarzazate Solar Power Station (OSPS), also called Noor Power Station (noor means “light” in Arabic), located in the Drâa-Tafilalet region. The OSPS is expected to produce electricity for over 1 million homes by the end of 2018. The Spanish consortium TSK-Acciona-Sener is helping to develop the project.

Oil reigns supreme

However, some countries’ reliance on fossil fuels for energy and revenue may be hampering investments in renewables. Nigeria, for example, produces and sells about 2.2 million barrels of oil per day, which accounted for 69% of its revenues in 2017, reported Nigeria’s Central Bank.

Without the capacity to refine sufficient oil for domestic consumption, Nigeria subsidizes fossil fuel production by up to $2.5 billion yearly, notes the IEA, which warns that such subsidies put undue strain on governments’ budgets and create obstacles for emerging low-carbon businesses and the renewables sector.

Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, among other countries, each subsidized fossil fuel production by more than $1 billion in 2015, states the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSG), a Geneva-based organization that promotes sustainable development through trade-related policies.

Even South Africa increased its subsidy for fossil fuels from $2.9 billion in 2014 to $3.5 billion in 2016, despite a commitment the country made at the 2009 G20 summit to phase out subsidies, notes the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, whose members are the world’s richest nations. South Africa is also home to 31 billion tonnes of recoverable coal, the sixth largest in the world.

Both the Paris Agreement and Goal 12 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development require countries to focus less on fossil fuels and more on renewables. African governments are concerned that phasing out subsidies could trigger hikes in the cost of petroleum products and electricity, leading to social unrest.

“Subsidies to fossil fuel power are provided [by African countries] to compensate for electricity tariffs, which cover only 70% of the cost of power production,” states ICTSG.

Fingers crossed, Morocco’s success in solar energy development, Ethiopia’s Reppie thermal plant and renewables successes elsewhere may encourage other African countries to pay attention to sustainable practices.

*The article was originally published in Africa Renewal, published by the United Nations.

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Excerpt:

Eleni Mourdoukoutas, Africa Renewal*

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Barbados Looks Beyond its Traditional Sugar and Banana Industries into the Deep Bluehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/barbados-looks-beyond-traditional-sugar-banana-industries-deep-blue/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=barbados-looks-beyond-traditional-sugar-banana-industries-deep-blue http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/barbados-looks-beyond-traditional-sugar-banana-industries-deep-blue/#respond Wed, 24 Oct 2018 19:07:20 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158306 Allan Bradshaw grew up close to the beach and always knew he wanted to become a fisherman. Now 43 years old, he has been living his childhood dream for 25 years. But in recent years Bradshaw says he has noticed a dramatic decline in the number of flying fish around his hometown of Consett Bay, […]

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With the high demand for fish by the tourism sector, Barbados imports the majority of the fish consumed here. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS - Blue Economy development is considered key to the long-term sustainability of healthy coasts and oceans and is inextricably linked to the long-term management, social inclusive development and improved human well-being of coastal and island populations.

With the high demand for fish by the tourism sector, Barbados imports the majority of the fish consumed here. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
CONSETT BAY, Barbados, Oct 24 2018 (IPS)

Allan Bradshaw grew up close to the beach and always knew he wanted to become a fisherman. Now 43 years old, he has been living his childhood dream for 25 years.
But in recent years Bradshaw says he has noticed a dramatic decline in the number of flying fish around his hometown of Consett Bay, Barbados.

“Like in most other places the fishing stock has declined over the years, especially the flying fish,” Bradshaw tells IPS.

As is the case for all Caribbean islands, fishing and associated activities have been integral components of the economic fabric of Barbados for many years. And flying fish, which are common to most tropical seas, are found in the warm waters surrounding Barbados.

In a typical year, flying fish account for around 65 percent of the total fish catch, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

Bradshaw says not all of the fish have gone but there is a definite change and this is negatively affecting the industry.

“The mahi-mahi or dolphin, somehow they have increased in numbers but not in size, in the sense that we have a lot more abundance but smaller ones. There is a lot more juvenile fish around,” Bradshaw says.

He argues that the government needs to step in to save the industry from further collapse.

Blue Economy development is considered key to the long-term sustainability of healthy coasts and oceans and is inextricably linked to the long-term management, social inclusive development and improved human well-being of coastal and island populations.

Allan Bradshaw says he has noticed a dramatic decline in the number of flying fish around his hometown of Consett Bay, Barbados. Courtesy: Desmond Brown

Four years ago, there were just over 1,000 vessels registered and 2,200 fishers involved in harvesting with 6,600 people working in associated businesses – market vendors, processors, traders etc. – according to information provided by the FAO office in Barbados.

FAO reported that approximately 2,500 metric tonnes of fish were caught between 2013 and 2014, and noted that the catch appears to have been going down in recent years.

Flying fish catches have been shrinking due to the influx of Sargassum seaweed.

Barbados mainly exports high-value tuna (approximately 160 metric tonnes) and the exports have been marginal in comparison to the catches.

But with the high demand for fish by the tourism sector, Barbados imports the majority of the fish consumed here.

Since taking office in May this year, the new administration of Prime Minister Mia Mottley has heeded calls for Barbados to look beyond the island’s 166 square miles of land for sources of wealth. The suggestion is that the island needs to look beyond its traditional sugar and banana industries to the sea to develop an economy there.

Mottley has included a Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy (MABE) within her administration, a decision hailed by many. Some have recommended that this ministry should be replicated further afield in the Caribbean.

“FAO supports development of the Blue Economy in Barbados through providing assistance over the coming year for both the fisheries and aquaculture sectors,” Regional Project Coordinator at FAO Dr. Iris Monnereau tells IPS.

“This will be achieved through updating legislative frameworks, assessing the feasibility for utilisation of rest raw material from fish processing for direct human consumption, animal feed or fertiliser, training of 70 small-scale farmers in aquaponics, capacity building of fisherfolk and fisherfolk organisations, and providing assistance to implement sustainable value adding activities throughout fisheries value chains.”

Monnereau says Blue Economy development is considered key to the long-term sustainability of healthy coasts and oceans and is inextricably linked to the long-term management, social inclusive development and improved human well-being of coastal and island populations.

In this approach, oceans and coasts can be seen as “development spaces” whereby traditional uses (e.g. fisheries and aquaculture, transport, ship building, coastal tourism and use of offshore oil and gas) are combined with new emerging sectors (e.g. bioprospecting, marine renewable energy and offshore mining) while at the same time addressing the challenges the oceans and coasts are facing.

“For example: fisheries overexploitation, pollution of coastal waters, [Illegal], Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, invasive species, habitat destruction, coastal erosion, and climate change impacts,” Monnereau says.

MABE was only developed after the elections, on May 24, and Monnereau says it is too early to measure changes.

However, she says that with this move, the government is clearly indicating they would like to develop the Blue Economy in Barbados.

Over the past few months, the government has been actively seeking partnerships with FAO and other international organisations and private partners to develop Blue Economy activities.

The move comes as Kenya is set to be co-host, along with Canada and Japan, the first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference from Nov. 26 to 28. The high-level conference will bring together over 4,000 participants who support a global agenda to build a blue economy much in the way Barbados wants to.

Meanwhile, Minister of MABE Kirk Humphrey tells IPS he wants to see a greener and bluer Barbadian economy. This, he explains, will involve the island becoming the centre for seafaring across the Caribbean, an end to overfishing, and greater protection mechanisms put in place to guard the coral reefs.

He further expressed concern that Barbados presently imports 80 percent of the fish consumed locally, and that the sector is affected by overfishing.

He explains that the ministry was presently in the process of building out its strategy, and there was a desire to capitalise on the island’s sea space, which was 400 times greater than its land space.

In terms of the blue economy, Humphrey also stressed the need for a baseline study, so that Barbados could ascertain what is in its oceans and then assign a value to these assets so as to be able to measure the contribution to Gross Domestic Product.

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Solar Power Lights up the World’s Fastest-Growing Refugee Camphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/solar-power-lights-worlds-fastest-growing-refugee-camp/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=solar-power-lights-worlds-fastest-growing-refugee-camp http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/solar-power-lights-worlds-fastest-growing-refugee-camp/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 12:32:49 +0000 Dr Iftikher Mahmood http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158293 Dr Iftikher Mahmood is Founder and President, HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh

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Credit: HOPE Foundation

By Dr Iftikher Mahmood
DHAKA, Bangladesh, Oct 22 2018 (IPS)

Solar energy has long powered homes, businesses and portable electronics. Now, it’s powering a field hospital in the middle of the world’s fastest-growing refugee camp.

Last month, my organization, the HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh, opened the HOPE Field Hospital for Women in the Kutupalong mega-camp for Rohingya refugees.

Here, the population density is five times above the United Nations’ recommended standard for refugee camps, and there is a dire need for more health services among this vulnerable community.

UN Women estimates that more than half of the refugee population are women and girls—and UNFPA has estimated over 64,000 pregnant women will give birth this year—many of whom have been traumatized and are suffering from injuries caused by fires, brutality, rape, gunshots, and more.

The HOPE Field Hospital for Women is the first to be opened by a Bangladeshi NGO, and the only hospital in the camp that specializes in care for women. But there is another important distinction that we are equally proud of: our field hospital is significantly powered by solar energy, at a scale not seen anywhere else in the camps.

Credit: HOPE Foundation

Solar power is unique in its ability to be brought into remote areas, to be pollution free, and to scale easily. Before the new solar installations, there were numerous times when a lack of power put women and children at risk.

One example is during the recent monsoon season, when our midwives found themselves providing care in the dark after flooding brought power outages. They worked in the conditions they had to, but as you would imagine, they were quite concerned that in the dark they might make a mistake that could harm mother or the baby. But, when a mother goes into labor, you can’t exactly tell a baby to wait for the lights to come back on.

It’s not just monsoons that cause loss of power. The hot, humid conditions in southern Bangladesh are often responsible for disruptions to the electrical service.

This is another reason why it was important to HOPE to make sure that solar energy played a key role in powering our new facility. A generous donation from the family foundation of 8minutenergy Renewables’ CEO, called the Abundant Future Foundation, helped us do just that. Five solar-powered clinics, custom-built by SOLARKIOSK in Germany, now power our field hospital’s most important and power-dependent services.

They’re ensuring that labor and delivery rooms stay well lit, that our sterilization units maintain power and that our medications and vaccinations remain refrigerated at the appropriate temperature. We’ve also incorporated solar into other areas of the hospital power grid, using this technology to fuel our indoor lighting as well as lighting around the perimeter of the hospital.

Credit: HOPE Foundation

Now, our midwives won’t have to worry about delivering in the dark. And babies who need incubators and specialized care will stay safe and warm.

Nearly one million Rohingya refugees have crossed the border to Bangladesh since the Rohingya influx began a little over a year ago.

This is the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crisis. The last thing any aid organization wants to have to worry about is loss of power during an operation or a life-saving intervention.

Solar will be a game-changer for our ability to provide high-quality, uninterrupted care, and there is room for growth in this area. Other organizations have utilized solar power on a smaller scale in the camps. For example, UNFPA has distributed solar-powered LED lights to all of the health facilities in the camps that are open 24/7.

But investment in renewable energy on a larger scale could provide a tremendous payoff in terms of lives saved here in Bangladesh, and in refugee camps around the globe. In Jordan last year, UNHCR opened a solar plant in the Za’atari refugee camp, which supports 80,000 Syrian refugees.

In Kenya, you’ll find Africa’s largest solar-powered borehole, providing clean drinking water for refugees in the Dadaab camp in the country’s arid northern border. Renewable energy is good for the planet and the pocketbook, too, reducing emissions and saving precious dollars that aid organizations can apply toward providing critical services and procuring medicines, materials and staff to help alleviate suffering.

The HOPE Field Hospital for Women is the first facility to apply solar technology at such a scale in the Rohingya camps. Hopefully we’re just the first of many.

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Excerpt:

Dr Iftikher Mahmood is Founder and President, HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh

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UAE Raising Awareness About the Impact of Climate Changehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/uae-raising-awareness-impact-climate-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uae-raising-awareness-impact-climate-change http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/uae-raising-awareness-impact-climate-change/#respond Fri, 19 Oct 2018 14:24:40 +0000 Rabiya Jaffery http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158262 The Middle East, due to its geographical location, is particularly prone to the impacts of climate change. Longer droughts, more frequent and intense heatwaves, and higher temperatures in the summer are expected to to become increasingly prevalent throughout the Middle East – from Sana’a to Jeddah to Dubai to Tehran. Yet, the lack of awareness […]

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Vegan Society in the United Arab Emirates

By Rabiya Jaffery
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates,, Oct 19 2018 (IPS)

The Middle East, due to its geographical location, is particularly prone to the impacts of climate change.

Longer droughts, more frequent and intense heatwaves, and higher temperatures in the summer are expected to to become increasingly prevalent throughout the Middle East – from Sana’a to Jeddah to Dubai to Tehran.

Yet, the lack of awareness towards the issue, especially on individual levels remains prevalent for the most part.

The United Arab Emirates, however, is now working on incorporating climate change adaptation and mitigation in its national agenda and has also made it part of its vision to increase environmental awareness amongst its public.

In 2016, the UAE renamed it’s Ministry of Environment and Water to the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment, thus officially bringing the management of climate change within the scope of the ministry and includes organizing “awareness campaigns in order to promote the environmental behavior of individuals” to its sustainability agenda.

A 2017 study by the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) revealed that more than 40 per cent of the UAE’s population lack knowledge about climate change, global warming, and how human behavior contributes to environmental harm”.

Fatima Al Ghamdi, is a UAE-based climate activist, who has recently launched an advocacy group that aims to bring a shift towards a more plant-based diet in the Middle East by working on the grassroots levels.

She launched a campaign to encourage plant-based diets in the UAE in early 2017 and is planning to expand her network to the rest of the region next year.

“There is very little conversation here about how tackling meat and dairy consumption is extremely important to curb global warming levels,” said says. “A lot is being done, on awareness and policy-making levels, about deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector – not just in the UAE and the Middle East, but globally.”

Her campaign and advocacy work includes raising awareness in schools and universities about the benefits of reducing meat from daily diets, the impact of the meat industry on the climate, and what individuals can do to eat in more sustainable ways.

“I think there is a reluctance by climate change advocates and policy makers to intrude into people’s lives to the levels where they start telling them what to eat and in what quantities,” she says.

“But there can be comprehensive policies and business approaches that make dietary changes towards more plant-based diets possible and attractive for a large number of people and it’s something essential if we really want to reduce emission levels.”

Curbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change, according to one of the most comprehensive studies on the topic published in October 2018 by the journal, Nature.

In addition, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global livestock industry contributes close to one fifth of greenhouse gas emissions – even more than the combined emissions of all cars, planes, trains, and ships.

“If the top 20 meat and fairy companies in the world were a country, collectively they would be the world’s seventh largest greenhouse gas emitter,” says Daniel F Kenneth, a professor of public health nutrient, based in UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi.

He adds that it is cattle and meat industry that has the most long-reaching impact on the environment – more than one-third of the world’s methane, which is 20 times as damaging as carbon dioxide in terms of global warming, is said to be produced by cattle, including those used for milk.

This is why most environmentalists consider industrial cattle farming a triple threat to Earth’s atmosphere, as animals produce huge amounts of the greenhouse gas methane, coupled with the loss of carbon-absorbing forests that are accommodated into grazing areas, and the immense amounts of water needed to sustain the livestock.

“Cattle ranching and soya production to feed cattle often take place on deforested land, and this deforestation is thought to be one of the most significant way in which meat production contributes to global warming,” says Kenneth. “And the massive amounts of feed and soya needed to feed cattle is far from a sustainable way to use up the world’s scarce cereal grains.”

According to Kenneth, producing 1 kg of beef is estimated to require close to 14,000 litres of water and 7 to 10 kg of feed. In comparison, it takes approximately 1000 litres of water and just 2 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of chicken.

The UAE, despite being considered a “food secure” nation, relies predominantly on food imports, with up to 80% of its food imported from other countries.

“We don’t have much of our own cattle industry but that doesn’t take the burden off us,” says Al Ghamdi. “And large amounts of carbon dioxide are generated by the transportation involved in meat production – it makes more economical and environmental sense to shift to a duet culture where we rely most on foods we have the easiest access to.”

The report published by Nature calls for a “global shift” towards more plant-based diets, slashing food waste, improving farming practices with the aid of technology, better education, industry reform and improved efficiency as ways towards tackling the problem.

“In the Middle East, we used to have diets that focused on rice with lentils and chickpeas. That’s the way we’ve eaten for ages, with just small amounts of meat,” says Al Ghamdi.

“This trend to have extremely meat-focused meals is a new and Western concept but there is nothing in meat that makes it essential – there are other foods, such as legumes and beans, that provide the same protein and iron.”

Nature’s report emphasized that, coupled with a sharp projected rise in global population and global incomes (that would enable more people to eat meat-rich diets) by mid-century, the industry’s already vast impact on the environment could increase by as much as 90 percent, unless an active effort is made to reduce it.

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As Amazon Warms, Tropical Butterflies and Lizards Seek the Shadehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/amazon-warms-tropical-butterflies-lizards-seek-shade/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=amazon-warms-tropical-butterflies-lizards-seek-shade http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/amazon-warms-tropical-butterflies-lizards-seek-shade/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 10:48:00 +0000 Jewel Fraser http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158062 Recent research at a centre in Guyana shows that some types of butterflies and lizards in the Amazon have been seeking shelter from the heat as Amazonian temperatures rise. The CEIBA Biological Centre (CEIBA), in Madewini, Guyana, under its executive director Dr. Godfrey Bourne, is investigating the impact of global warming on tropical ectotherms, namely, […]

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A new CEIBA Biological Centre (CEIBA) study investigates the impact of global warming on tropical ectotherms, namely, butterflies and lizards, whose body temperatures are determined by the environment. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Jewel Fraser
PORT OF SPAIN, Oct 9 2018 (IPS)

Recent research at a centre in Guyana shows that some types of butterflies and lizards in the Amazon have been seeking shelter from the heat as Amazonian temperatures rise.

The CEIBA Biological Centre (CEIBA), in Madewini, Guyana, under its executive director Dr. Godfrey Bourne, is investigating the impact of global warming on tropical ectotherms, namely, butterflies and lizards, whose body temperatures are determined by the environment.

A study he supervised, conducted by students Chineze Obi and Noreen Heyari, revealed that “changes in wing positions [of Postman butterflies] were associated with regulating absorption of solar energy. Thus, thoracic temperatures were effectively regulated so that body temperatures were maintained between 28° and 34° C. Postman butterflies were fully active within this range of temperatures.” But when things got too hot for wing manoeuvres to help them, the butterflies simply retreated and rested, the researchers found.

They also found that the postman butterfly maintained “relatively stable temperatures during fluctuating” outside temperatures.

These findings suggest that some Amazonian ectotherms may be adjusting their behaviour to cope with the heat, but at the expense of the normal activities required for survival and breeding.

“Because postman butterflies and Neotropical collared lizards maintain lower temperatures than ambient for most of the [investigation periods], they may be shade seeking to stay cooler, instead of spending time foraging, mate seeking, and defending territories. Taken together these results suggest that rising global temperatures could already be having negative impacts on [them],” Bourne told IPS.

Accordingly, the journal, Animal Behaviour, in an article published in August explains, “Thermoregulatory behaviours are of great importance for ectotherms buffering against the impact of temperature extremes. Such behaviours bring not only benefits but also organism level costs such as decreased food availability and foraging efficiency and thus lead to energetic costs and metabolic consequences.”

Bourne said he chose to study butterflies and lizards native to the Amazon because even moderate increases in temperatures could have profound impacts on these creatures’ daily activities and metabolic function.

“Tropical terrestrial ectotherms, including butterflies and lizards, have a narrower thermal tolerance than higher-latitude species, and are currently living very close to their maximum temperature limits,” he told IPS.

He said the rate of temperature increase in the Amazon, which Guyana shares with its neighbours, was 0.25°C per decade during the late 20th century, with an expected increase in temperature of about 3.3°C during this century if greenhouse gas emissions are at moderate levels.

A Small blue Grecian Heliconius sara. Research shows that some Amazonian ectotherms may be adjusting their behaviour to cope with the heat, but at the expense of the normal activities required for survival and breeding.Courtesy: Dr. Godfrey Bourne

“Butterflies [invertebrates] and lizards [vertebrates]…both generate body temperatures primarily from temperatures of the environment; [this is in contrast to] endothermy, a high-cost physiological approach to life where body temperatures are generated from ingested foods…Butterflies and lizards are well-studied, conspicuous, and easily tractable taxa that provide some of the strongest evidence for the ecological effects of recent climate change,” he told IPS via e-mail.

His research builds on other, published, research. An article in the journal, Global Ecology and Conservation, notes that “decreasing local climate suitability (magnitude) may threaten species living close to their upper climatic tolerance limits, and high velocities of climate change may affect the ability of species to track suitable climatic conditions, particularly those with low dispersal.”

In addition, sex ratio also influences a species’ chances of survival. “If we see sexual dimorphism in behaviours with one sex being more active during hotter times of the day, then we may see changes in sex ratios, favouring the sex that is more active during higher temperatures. Under such a scenario, sex ratio imbalance will eventually contribute to population crashes,” he told IPS.

A 2016 study by Australian scientists, published in the journal Ecological Modelling, found that when the sex ratio was biased towards the female sex under warming climates, then the size of reptile populations increased greatly, but where the bias was towards the male sex under warmer temperatures, “population sizes declined dramatically.”

The cumulative impact may be “reduced breeding and low population growth for the sun-avoiding butterfly and lizard species, but longer persistence for their [sun-loving] relatives. But in 20 years, I suspect that all populations may become locally extinct,” Bourne said.

At the same time, humans will also feel the adverse consequences if these creatures lose out in the struggle against climate change. One estimate suggests a third of the foods eaten by human beings is pollinated. “In the long term…pollinator services will be minimised, leading to reduced fruit and seed production, and eventually to reduced new plant recruitment for forests,” Bourne said.

As lizards also play a role in plant recruitment, their demise will also adversely affect the food supply. The tropical lizards Bourne has studied eat small fallen fruit, and “when eating these fruit they move several metres from the parent tree where the seeds are discarded,” he explained. “Seeds discarded away from the parent tree have a higher probability of escaping insect, bird, and mammal seed predators, and so are likely to germinate. These have a higher likelihood of recruitment and becoming established into the forest matrix,” Bourne said. Hence, a reduction in lizards will ultimately mean less food from plants.

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Saving the Lungs of Our Planethttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/saving-lungs-planet/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=saving-lungs-planet http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/saving-lungs-planet/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 04:47:17 +0000 Gordon Radley http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157973 Dr Sylvia Earle, an eminent marine biologist and explorer has strong views on how nations needs to work together to save what the United Nations calls the lungs of our planet. When asked how well the U.N.’s call to action for balance and respect of the oceans will work Earle says: “It will work or […]

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Dr Sylvia Earle, an eminent marine biologist and explorer has strong views on how nations needs to work to save what the United Nations calls the lungs of our planet.

By Gordon Radley
Oct 4 2018 (IPS)

Dr Sylvia Earle, an eminent marine biologist and explorer has strong views on how nations needs to work together to save what the United Nations calls the lungs of our planet.

When asked how well the U.N.’s call to action for balance and respect of the oceans will work Earle says: “It will work or not depending on the response of people who understand the importance and the fact that there was a conference by the United Nations about the ocean is cause for hope.”

Her remarks come ahead of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference being co-hosted by Canadian and Kenyan governments in Nairobi Nov. 26 to 28.
The theme of the conference is ‘Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. It is the first global conference on a sustainable blue economy.

 

 

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Saving the Kindergarten of Sharkshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/saving-kindergarten-sharks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=saving-kindergarten-sharks http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/saving-kindergarten-sharks/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 04:38:04 +0000 Gordon Radley http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157970 Every winter dozens of bull sharks come to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera to breed. A single bull shark can give birth to up to 15 young. They are the only species of shark that can live in both fresh and salt water. Saving Our Sharks has called for a strict no fishing sanctuary along the Mexican […]

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Every winter dozens of bull sharks come to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera to breed. A single bull shark can give birth to up to 15 young. They are the only species of shark that can live in both fresh and salt water.

By Gordon Radley
MAYAN RIVIERA, Mexico, Oct 4 2018 (IPS)

Every winter dozens of bull sharks come to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera to breed.
A single bull shark can give birth to up to 15 young. They are the only species of shark that can live in both fresh and salt water.

Saving Our Sharks has called for a strict no fishing sanctuary along the Mexican Caribbean to help protect the fish at this very vulnerable time in their lives.

Ahead of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference being co-hosted by Canadian and Kenyan governments in Nairobi Nov. 26 to 28, the protection of marine life and oceans, seas, lakes and rivers is in the forefront of the development agenda.

The theme of the conference is Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

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

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

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

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

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

However, the GCF is facing a crisis of confidence.

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

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

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

An Uncertain Future

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

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

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

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

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

Splitting the Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strengthening Governance to Deliver Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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Coral reef in Mexico. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS

By Andrew Norton
LONDON, Sep 20 2018 (IPS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The negotiation process. Smooth sailing or rough seas ahead?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deposit with the UN Secretary-General

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

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

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

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Excerpt:

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

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Salmon Farming, Questioned in Chile, Arrives to Argentinahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina/#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2018 08:07:24 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157530 Questioned for its environmental and health impacts in Chile, where it is one of the country’s main economic activities, salmon farming is preparing to expand in Argentina from Norway, the world’s largest farmed salmon producer. The news has triggered a strong reaction from civil society organisations. “Argentina today has the advantage that it can refer […]

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A view of salmon cages in the Pacific Ocean in Chile. In recent decades, salmon farming has become an important industry in Chile, but the impact on the environment and people's health has been questioned. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

A view of salmon cages in the Pacific Ocean in Chile. In recent decades, salmon farming has become an important industry in Chile, but the impact on the environment and people's health has been questioned. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, Sep 10 2018 (IPS)

Questioned for its environmental and health impacts in Chile, where it is one of the country’s main economic activities, salmon farming is preparing to expand in Argentina from Norway, the world’s largest farmed salmon producer.
The news has triggered a strong reaction from civil society organisations.

“Argentina today has the advantage that it can refer to Chile’s experience, which has been extremely negative,” attorney Alex Muñoz, director for Latin America of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas programme, told IPS from Santiago, Chile.

“In Chile we have suffered the serious impacts of the activity carried out by both local and Norwegian companies. Salmon is native to the northern hemisphere and there is very clear scientific evidence that farming this species is not sustainable in the southern hemisphere,” added the environmental law specialist.

Muñoz is one of the authors of a highly critical report on the Argentine project presented by 23 Argentine and international organisations – such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Oceana and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – grouped in the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence."The effects of an industry that stretches 2,000 km along the Chilean coast have never been studied in-depth. Chemicals of all kinds are used to prevent disease and organic matter, food and fecal matter from salmon are dumped into the ecosystem.” -- Max Bello

The Forum is a network formed in 2004 to promote the care of the Atlantic Ocean in southern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina and of the Pacific Ocean in Chile.

It was the visit to Argentina in March by King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, who met with President Mauricio Macri, which gave impetus to the initiative.

It would imply the introduction for the first time of an exotic species in the Argentinean sea, since this South American country has only up to now introduced fish in lakes and rivers.

On that occasion, Innovation Norway, a state-owned company and a national development bank that promotes Norwegian investment around the world, signed a cooperation agreement with the Argentine Agribusiness Ministry to study the implementation of “sustainable aquaculture” programmes in this South American nation.

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic animals or plants in all types of water environments in controlled conditions. In the case of salmon in Argentina, feasibility studies are being carried out in the extreme south of Patagonia, off the Argentine coasts of Tierra del Fuego, the southern territory shared with Chile.

IPS’s questions about the project were not answered by the agriculture authorities of Tierra del Fuego province or by the Agribusiness Ministry, which on Sept. 3 was demoted to a secretariat as part of austerity measures aimed at cutting public spending in the midst of the country’s economic collapse.

Salmon seen in the Chilean sea. Broken cages sometimes cause hundreds of thousands of fish to end up in open sea, generating negative impacts on native species. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

Salmon seen in the Chilean sea. Broken cages sometimes cause hundreds of thousands of fish to end up in open sea, generating negative impacts on native species. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

In March, the then minister Luis Etchevere stated that “our relations with Norway will allow us to benefit from that country’s more than 50 years of experience” in aquaculture, and added that “Tierra del Fuego can be a pioneer in development within Argentina.”

Norway, which has both wild and farmed salmon, is the world’s largest producer of this species that is consumed around the world for its taste and nutritional value.

In Chile, salmon farming in sea cages began more than 30 years ago on the island of Chiloé, about 1,100 south of Santiago, in the Los Lagos Region, and from there it grew and spread throughout Patagonia, to the Aysen and Magallanes Regions.

Today salmon is one of Chile’s main export products. Official figures indicate that the sector is expanding, since in 2017 exports amounted to 4.1 billion dollars, 20 percent up from the previous year.

Last year, salmon accounted for more than six percent of the country’s total exports.

According to Chile’s Salmon Industry Association, this year will be even better and sales to 75 international markets will generate more than five billion dollars.

According to the business chamber, the activity generates more than 70,000 direct and indirect jobs.

But “no amount of economic growth justifies the destruction of Patagonian ecosystems,” Max Bello, a Chilean natural resources specialist who has been working for 15 years in marine conservation organisations, told IPS from Santiago.

Starfish seen in the seabed of the Beagle Channel, in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, where the Argentine government is promoting the development of salmon farming. The so-called Patagonian Sea is considered one of the most productive oceanic areas in the southern hemisphere. Credit: Courtesy of Beagle Secrets of the Sea

Starfish seen in the seabed of the Beagle Channel, in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, where the Argentine government is promoting the development of salmon farming. The so-called Patagonian Sea is considered one of the most productive oceanic areas in the southern hemisphere. Credit: Courtesy of Beagle Secrets of the Sea

Bello added: “The effects of an industry that stretches 2,000 km along the Chilean coast have never been studied in-depth. Chemicals of all kinds are used to prevent disease and organic matter, food and fecal matter from salmon are dumped into the ecosystem.”

“Salmon farming has spread in a brutal manner in recent years, affecting not only natural resources but also culture, as it has displaced other activities,” Bello said.

In Argentina, a country whoses population of 44 million mostly eats beef, fish are mostly for export.

In 2017, according to official figures, 706,000 tons of seafood were sold abroad, worth 1.9 billion dollars. The main products are shrimp and squid, both native. In the domestic market, 341,000 tons of seafood was consumed last year.

The report presented by the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence states that, besides the heavy use of antibiotics, the main problem posed by salmon farming is the frequent escape from the sea cages of fish that end up being an exotic species.

In fact, in July, during a storm, four of the five cages of a salmon farm owned by the Norwegian company Marine Harvest in Calbuco, near the city of Puerto Montt, broke and 650,000 salmon ended up in the sea.

“According to the law, the company has to recover at least 10 percent of the fish, because otherwise environmental damage is assumed,” biologist Flavia Liberona, executive director of the Chilean environmental foundation Terram, told IPS.

Regarding the use of chemical products, Liberona explained from Santiago that “because they are not in their environment, salmon in Chile are highly prone to diseases, which is why they use more antibiotics than in Norway.”

“In 2008 there was a major crisis in the industry due to the spread of a virus, which caused the loss of thousands of jobs,” she said.

Biologist Alexandra Sapoznikow, coordinator of the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence, said “this activity has frequent crises and we are concerned that it is seen as a possibility for economic development. Tierra del Fuego receives tourists who are looking for nature, which is this province’s opportunity.”

Speaking to IPS from the Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn, Sapoznikow, who teaches Natural Resources Management at Argentina’s National University of Patagonia, added that the introduction of salmon farming would also come into conflict with the project that civil society organisations have been working on with the Argentine government to create marine protected areas in the South Atlantic.

In November 2017, the government sent to Congress a bill for the creation of two marine protected areas near Tierra del Fuego, which would extend the total conservation area from the current 28,000 square km to 155,000.

The initiative, however, has not yet begun to be discussed, while the Ministry of Environment – which drafted it jointly with the National Parks Administration – was demoted on Sept. 3 to a secretariat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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Maya Farmers in South Belize Hold Strong to Their Climate Change Experimenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/maya-farmers-central-belize-hold-strong-climate-change-experiment/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=maya-farmers-central-belize-hold-strong-climate-change-experiment http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/maya-farmers-central-belize-hold-strong-climate-change-experiment/#respond Wed, 05 Sep 2018 14:14:45 +0000 Zadie Neufville http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157466 This is an op-ed contributed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

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In one of Belize’s forest reserves in the Maya Golden Landscape, a group of farmers is working with non-governmental organisations to mitigate and build resilience to climate change with a unique agroforestry project.

Magnus Tut a member of the Trio Cacao Farmers Association cuts open a white cacao pod from one of several bearing treen in his plot. The group is hoping to find more buyers for their organic white cacao and vegetables. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

By Zadie Neufville
BELMOPAN, Sep 5 2018 (IPS)

In one of Belize’s forest reserves in the Maya Golden Landscape, a group of farmers is working with non-governmental organisations to mitigate and build resilience to climate change with a unique agroforestry project.

The Ya’axché Conservation Trust helps farmers to establish traditional tree crops, like the cacao, that would provide them with long-term income opportunities through restoring the forest, protecting the natural environment, while building their livelihoods and opportunities. Experts say the farmers are building resilience to climate change in the eight rural communities they represent.

The agroforestry concession is situated in the Maya Mountain Reserve and is one of two agroforestry projects undertaken by the 5Cs, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), in its efforts to implement adaptation and mitigation strategies in communities across the Caribbean.

Close to 6,000 people both directly and indirectly benefit from the project which Dr. Ulric Trotz, science advisor and deputy executive director of the 5Cs, noted was established with funding from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK DFID).

“It is easily one of our most successful and during my most recent visit this year, I’ve seen enough to believe that the concept can be successfully transferred to any community in Belize as well as to other parts of the Caribbean,” he told IPS.

The Trio Cacao Farmers Association and the Ya’axché Conservation Trust have been working together since 2015 to acquire and establish an agroforestry concession on 379 hectares of disturbed forest. The agroforestry project was given a much-need boost with USD250,000 in funding through the 5Cs.

According to Christina Garcia, Ya’axché’s executive director, the project provides extension services. It also provides training and public awareness to prepare the farmers on how to reduce deforestation, prevent degradation of their water supplies and reduce the occurrence of wildfires in the beneficiary communities and the concession area.

Since the start, more than 50,000 cacao trees have been planted on 67 hectares and many are already producing the white cacao, a traditional crop in this area. To supplement the farmers’ incomes approximately 41 hectares of ‘cash’ crops, including bananas, plantains, vegetable, corn and peppers, were also established along with grow-houses and composting heaps that would support the crops.

This unique project is on track to become one of the exemplary demonstrations of ecosystems-based adaptation in the region.

The 35 farming families here are native Maya. They live and work in an area that is part of what has been dubbed the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, which connects the forests of the Maya Mountains to that of the coastal lowlands and is managed by Ya’axché.

Farmers here believe they are reclaiming their traditional ways of life on the four hectares which they each have been allocated. Many say they’ve improved their incomes while restoring the disturbed forests, and are doing this through using techniques that are protecting and preserving the remaining forests, the wildlife and water.

On tour of the Ya’axché Agroforestry Concession in the Maya Golden Landscape. From right: Dr Ulric Trotz, deputy executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC); Dr Mark Bynoe, head of project development at the 5Cs; Isabel Rash, chair of the Trios Cacao Farmers Association; Magnus Tut, farmer and ranger and behind him Christina Garcia, executive director Ya’axché Conservation Trust. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

Other members of the communities, including school-age teenagers, were given the opportunity to start their own businesses through the provision of training and hives to start bee-keeping projects. Many of the women now involved in bee-keeping were given one box when they started their businesses.

The men and women who work the concession do not use chemicals and can, therefore, market their crops as chemical free, or organic products. They, however, say they need additional help to seek and establish those lucrative markets. In addition to the no-chemicals rule, the plots are cultivated by hand, using traditional tools. But farmer Magnus Tut said that this is used in conjunction with new techniques, adding that it has improved native farming methods.

“We are going back to the old ways, which my father told me about before chemicals were introduced to make things grow faster. The hardest part is maintaining the plot. It is challenging and hard work but it is good work, and there are health benefits,” Tut told IPS.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) supports the farmers’ beliefs, reporting that up to 11 percent of greenhouse gases are caused by deforestation and “between 24 and 30 percent of total mitigation potential” can be provided by halting and reversing deforestation in the tropics.

“The hardest part of the work is getting some people to understand how/what they do impacts the climate, but each has their own story and they are experiencing the changes which make it easier for them to make the transition,” said Julio Chun, a farmer and the community liaison for the concession. He told IPS that in the past, the farmers frequently used fires to clear the land.

Chun explained that farmers are already seeing the return of wildlife, such as the jaguar, and are excited by the possibilities.

“We would like to develop eco-tourism and the value-added products that can support the industry. Some visitors are already coming for the organic products and the honey,” he said.

Ya’axché co-manages the Bladen Nature Reserve and the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, a combined 311,607 hectares of public and privately owned forest. Its name, pronounced yash-cheh, is the Mopan Maya word for the Kapoc or Ceiba tree (scientific name: Ceiba pentandra), which is sacred to the Maya peoples.

Of the project’s future, Garcia said: “My wish is to see the project address the economic needs of the farmers, to get them to recognise the value of what they are doing in the concession and that the decision-makers can use the model as an example to make decisions on how forest reserves can be made available to communities across Belize and the region to balance nature and livelihoods.”

Scientists believe that well-managed ecosystems can help countries adapt to both current climate hazards and future climate change through the provision of ecosystem services, so the 5Cs has implemented a similar project in Saint Lucia under a 42-month project funded by the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance (EU-GCCA+) to promote sustainable farming practices.

The cacao-based agroforestry project in Saint Lucia uses a mix-plantation model where farmers are allowed to continue using chemicals, but were taught to protect the environment. Like the Ya’axché project, Saint Lucia’s was designed to improve environmental conditions in the beneficiary areas; enhance livelihoods and build the community’s resilience to climate change.

In the next chapter, the Ya’axché farmers project is hoping that, among other things, a good samaritan will help them to add facilities for value-added products; acquire eco-friendly all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to move produce to access points; and replace a wooden bridge that leads to the main access road.

Tut and Chun both support the views of the group’s chair Isabel Rash, that farmers are already living through climate change, but that the hard work in manually “clearing and maintaining their plots and in chemical-free food production, saves them money”, supports a healthy working and living environment and should protect them against the impacts of climate change.

The post Maya Farmers in South Belize Hold Strong to Their Climate Change Experiment appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This is an op-ed contributed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

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New Rules for High Seas Must Include Needs of Poorest Nationshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/new-rules-high-seas-must-include-needs-poorest-nations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-rules-high-seas-must-include-needs-poorest-nations http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/new-rules-high-seas-must-include-needs-poorest-nations/#respond Tue, 04 Sep 2018 12:52:23 +0000 Essam Yassin Mohammed http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157450 Essam Yassin Mohammed is Principal Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

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Essam Yassin Mohammed is Principal Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

By Essam Yassin Mohammed
LONDON, Sep 4 2018 (IPS)

Over-fishing, warming oceans and plastic pollution dominate the headlines when it comes to the state of the seas. Most of the efforts to protect the life of the ocean and the livelihoods of those who depend on it are limited to exclusive economic zones – the band of water up to 200 nautical miles from the coast.

Fishermen offloading tunas at the industrial fish port of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Credit: FAO/Sia Kambou

But to be truly effective, all of the ocean needs to be protected. The high-seas that lie beyond national jurisdictions ― two-thirds of the ocean’s surface ― remain largely ungoverned.

The world has a new opportunity this week to move a step closer to addressing these issues as UN members start negotiating an international legally binding treaty to protect the high seas. (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, 4-17 September). The first of four rounds of negotiations that will continue until 2020.

Despite the common perception that the high seas are too remote to matter to coastal communities, strong scientific evidence shows the ocean is a highly interconnected ecosystem. For example, a number of fish species use the high seas at different stages of their lifecycle for feeding and spawning, which is why protecting it is critically important to coastal communities’ livelihoods and economies.

For these negotiations to be effective and fair, it is crucial the people living in coastal communities in the least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS) are listened to and have an active role in protecting and sustainably managing the ocean. They are among those most affected by the impacts of how the ocean is used and protected, from fishing to conservation measures.

Any measure to govern these waters must make sure that any activity in these waters benefits everyone ― particularly the poorest countries.

The ocean as a whole is recognised by international law as a common heritage of mankind ― it belongs to everyone, now and forever. But most developing countries do not have the financial or technological means to share the benefits it provides.

To make sure they have equal access, it is crucial this treaty establishes a mechanism that enables them to share its benefits. Monetary benefits can be best shared by establishing a trust fund.

This, as is the case with such governing bodies as the International Seabed Authority, would enable coastal communities to build their capacities and become involved in monitoring the environmental health of the seas.

And they would be able to participate proactively in research and development, and sustainably use the high seas as a source for medicines, science and other genetic resources.

It could be financed from a percentage of the profits that wealthier countries make through economic activities on the high seas whether from extraction of marine genetic resources or any other activity.

The equitable distribution of benefits from conservation of the high seas should also be at the core of the negotiations. It is important that any new global agreement recognises that when protected areas are designated they consider how they will affect coastal communities across the global south.

These areas linking territorial waters to the high seas are critical both for protecting marine species and helping to restore coastal fisheries, which are vital to sustaining the livelihoods of people in poor coastal communities.

One of the biggest threats to marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction is overfishing. Studies show that fishing in the high seas is unprofitable and are only economically viable because governments subsidies large fishing fleets. It is important that in this first round of talks, governments agree clear steps to end all harmful subsidies.

Instead, these subsidies should be directed towards activities that deliver positive social and environmental results. By providing support for monitoring and surveillance of marine protected areas, giving incentives to fishers for not using damaging fishing practices, and enhancing access to markets and services including by providing support for storage facilities, poor coastal communities and fishers will be able to benefit from ocean-friendly investment.

We cannot afford to keep the status quo. These negotiations are an opportunity to establish a new legally binding treaty that is fair and equitable for everyone. This is about sustainably sharing 50 per cent of the planet with 100 per cent of the world’s population.

It is crucial the needs of the poor are heard at every stage of this process to make sure they are not left behind in the drive to govern the life of the oceans.

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Excerpt:

Essam Yassin Mohammed is Principal Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

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Transforming Food Systems: Today’s Realities and Tomorrow’s Challengeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/transforming-food-systems-todays-realities-tomorrows-challenges/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=transforming-food-systems-todays-realities-tomorrows-challenges http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/transforming-food-systems-todays-realities-tomorrows-challenges/#respond Wed, 01 Aug 2018 15:37:30 +0000 Alice Lloyd http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157007 The world’s food systems face two immense challenges today. One, to produce enough food to nourish a global population of seven billion people without harming the environment. Two, to make sure food systems deliver nutrition to everyone, particularly the world’s poorest, many of whom suffer from chronic under-nutrition. Like the Economist’s 2017 Food Security Index, […]

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Radish production at West Africa Farms, in Northern Senegal. Credit: Sarah Farhat / World Bank

By Alice Lloyd
WASHINGTON, Aug 1 2018 (IPS)

The world’s food systems face two immense challenges today. One, to produce enough food to nourish a global population of seven billion people without harming the environment. Two, to make sure food systems deliver nutrition to everyone, particularly the world’s poorest, many of whom suffer from chronic under-nutrition.

Like the Economist’s 2017 Food Security Index, a new report released earlier this summer looks at the complex connections between the ways we organize and produce our food, and the implications for the environment, human health, and social wellbeing.

With input from over 150 experts from 33 countries, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Agriculture and Food: Scientific and Economic Foundations Report, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) project, makes the case for a global agri-food systems transformation. It argues that our agri-food systems today are being viewed and evaluated through a narrow, incomplete and distorted lens by focusing on per-hectare-productivity. To fix our food system, our food metrics need to be fixed.

The way we are currently producing food is negatively impacting climate, water, top soil, biodiversity and marine environments. If we do not change course, we will seriously undermine our ability to deliver adequate food for future populations. In addition to the negative environmental impacts, we are struggling to deliver nutritious and healthy diets in an equitable way. Diet-related chronic diseases are on the rise even as we fail to deliver nutritious food to millions of poor people around the world.

The consequences of our current food systems outlined in the report include:
• Agricultural production alone contributes over one-fourth of global GHG emissions.
• However, when considering the entire ‘agri-food value chain’ (including agriculture-related deforestation, farming, processing, packaging, transportation and waste), this number climbs to a staggering 43 to 57 percent of GHG emissions.
• 70 to 90 percent of global deforestation is from agricultural expansion.
• If women had the same access to resources (land, credits, education, etc.) as male farmers, they could raise yields by 20 to 30 percent, and lift as many as 150 million people out of hunger.
• Approximately one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted, enough to feed the world’s hungry six times over.
• Around 40 percent of available land is used for growing food, a figure that would need to rise to an improbable 70 percent by 2050 under a “business-as-usual” scenario.
• 33 percent of the Earth’s land surface is moderately to highly affected by some type of soil degradation mainly due to the erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, or chemical pollution of soils.
• Diets have become the main risk for human health. Six of the top eleven risk factors driving the global burden of disease are diet-related.
• The World Health Organization estimates the direct costs of diabetes at more than US$827 billion per year, globally.
• Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances causes more than 200 diseases. An estimated 600 million people fall ill after eating contaminated food, while 420,000 die every year.
• 61 percent of commercial fish populations are fully fished and 29 percent are overfished.
• In a “business-as-usual” scenario, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish (by weight) by 2050.

The agricultural revolution is still very strongly influencing our food production. While food production has successfully been increased, the environmental impacts have received a lot less attention. They have been either been ignored or been considered as a necessary trade-off.

The Economist’s 2017 Food Security Index for example, in considering how resilience to natural resource and climate related risks pose long term threats to food systems across countries, includes a tool to explore how individual countries perform on a natural resources and resilience adjustment factor.

“If you look at food production only from a price perspective, and the old paradigm of the cheaper the better, you run into a trap because the long-term sustainability of our food production system is not a given,”says Alexander Müller, Study Leader of TEEBAgriFood.

“The task for agriculture and food systems in the years to come is huge, says Muller: ‘feeding a population projected to reach 10 billion in 2050, achieving the four dimensions of food security (FAO 1996) for all people by providing healthy food, drastically reducing the impacts of different types of agricultural production on the world’s ecosystems, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit climate change and to adapt to it, developing rural areas to create jobs and to improve livelihoods of poor people, maintaining ecosystem services such as clean water and air for a rapidly urbanizing planet are only some of the challenges.”

Tackling these challenges requires a systematic approach. This report looks at all the impacts of the value chain, from farm to fork to disposal, including effects on livelihoods, the environment, and health. It identifies theories and pathways for transformational change in government, business, farming, and consumer contexts while providing a framework for evaluation that supports the comprehensive, universal and inclusive assessment of eco-agri-food systems.

Recognizing the interlinkages, in terms of impacts and dependencies that food systems have with our economies, societies, health, and environment is a crucial first step. Using the report’s Framework and its language can allow for the next generation of agricultural and food research to provide a more comprehensive basis for decision-making and together with the 2017 Food Security Index, provides a comprehensive assessment of food systems as well as natural resource availability and resilience.

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Caribbean Builds Resilience Through Enhanced Data Collectionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/caribbean-builds-resilience-enhanced-data-collection/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-builds-resilience-enhanced-data-collection http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/caribbean-builds-resilience-enhanced-data-collection/#respond Tue, 31 Jul 2018 13:53:30 +0000 Zadie Neufville http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156973 By the end of September 2018, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) would have installed the last of five new data buoys in the Eastern Caribbean, extending the regional Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) network as it continues to build resilience to climate change in the Caribbean. At the same time, the centre […]

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Meteorologists and hydro-met technicians assemble one of the 40 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) being installed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) with funding from the USAID Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP). Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

By Zadie Neufville
BELMOPAN, Jul 31 2018 (IPS)

By the end of September 2018, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) would have installed the last of five new data buoys in the Eastern Caribbean, extending the regional Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) network as it continues to build resilience to climate change in the Caribbean.

At the same time, the centre is also installing an additional 50 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) across nine countries to expand the existing network of hydro-meteorological stations- yet another push to improve data collection in the region. The data will help scientists to better evaluate potential risks and impacts, and provide the information national leaders seek to build more resilient infrastructures to mitigate climate risks.

Enhancing the data collection and availability is central to the centre’s mandate to prepare the Caribbean’s response to climate change, Dr Ulric Trotz science advisor and deputy executive director told IPS.

He noted: “Experts here are using the critical data they collect, to enhance models, design tools and develop strategies to mitigate and build resilience to the devastating impacts – rising seas, longer dry spells, more extreme rainfall and potentially higher impact tropical cyclones – associated with climate variability and change.”

Reporting in “Volume 1 of the Caribbean Climate Series,” released ahead of the 23rd Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  in Germany in 2017, researchers at the University of the West Indies Climate Studies Group, Mona Campus, Jamaica, pointed out that the Caribbean is already experiencing the impacts associated with changes in climatic conditions.

According to the report, nights and days are warmer; air and sea surface temperatures are higher and there are longer and more frequent periods of droughts. Not surprisingly, after the 2017 hurricane season, researchers also reported increasing intensity in rainfalls and more intense hurricanes with stronger winds and lots more rain.

“Even if global warming beyond the 1°C already experienced were limited to only a further half a degree, there would still be consequences for the Caribbean region,” the report said.

Trotz explained: “These data gathering systems, which were acquired with funding from the USAID Climate Change Adaptation Programme, are increasing the volume of real-time data and enhancing the reliability and accuracy of weather and climate forecasting in the region”.

In addition to the super computers installed at CCCCC’s Belize location, the University of the West Indies’ Mona Campus and Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH)-under previous projects- the newly installed data points, are already enhancing the capacity of regional scientists to monitor and process the atmospheric and other environmental variables that are affected by the changes in climatic conditions.

The data collection efforts support evidence-based decision-making, and improve the accuracy of the projections from the regional and global climate models while building the region’s resilience to the impacts of climate variability and change. In the end, the information provided in the 1.5 Report which will form part of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change global assessment report AR6 as well as all other Caribbean forecasts and models promises to be more accurate and reliable.

“The data collected from these stations forms the baseline for all climate modelling, ensuring that we have a good baseline data to suffice our regional climate services models for regional forecast and predictions. The network strengthens the baseline for climate change projection models thereby increasing the confidence in the results that are used in the decision-making for climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Albert Jones, instrumentation technician at the 5Cs, told IPS.

The retired weather forecaster explained, that the new AWS are not only improving data collection, they are also expanding the capability and roles of local Met Offices from their historic roles of providing information for primarily aviation purposes.

The importance of these systems cannot be understated, particularly in countries like Guyana and Suriname where deficiencies in the data seriously hampers the coverage of areas with significant differences in the topography and climatic conditions. This is especially significant where comparisons of hinterland and elevated forested areas to the low-lying coastal flood plains are critical to development of lives and property.

The centre, which celebrates its 14th year of operation in July 2018, has worked with several donors over its existence to improve the collection of data in a region that largely depended on manual systems and where historical data has been hard to come by. The latter is an essential input for validation of the regional models required for the production of region-specific climate scenarios, which are utilised in impact studies across all of the affected sectors in the region. These in turn form the basis of crafting the adaptation responses required to build climate resilience in specific sectors.

Popularly known as the 5Cs, the climate change centre carries out its mandate through a network of partners including government meteorologists, hydrologists, university professors and researchers. Scientists and researchers in Universities across the region and at specialist institutions like the Barbados-based CIMH, do the data crunching.

“We are building climate and weather early warning systems to build resilience, so it is important that we collect and turn this data into useful information that will benefit the society,” CIMH’s principal Dr David Farrell told hydro-met technicians at a USAID sponsored training on the grounds of the institute in March.

He noted that in designing the system, the CIMH- that has responsibility for maintaining the network- identified and reduced existing deficiencies to improve the quality of data collected.

And as global temperatures continue to soar, the World Meteorological Organisation 2018 report noted that 2017 was “was one of the world’s three warmest years on record.”

It said: “A combination of five datasets, three of them using conventional surface observations and two of them re-analysis, shows that global mean temperatures were 0.46 °C ± 0.1 °C above the 1981–2010 average, and about 1.1 °C ± 0.1 °C above pre-industrial levels. By this measure, 2017 and 2015 were effectively indistinguishable as the world’s second and third warmest years on record, ranking only behind 2016, which was 0.56 °C above the 1981−2010 average.”

With studies pointing to a warmer Caribbean and an increase in the frequency of extreme events, regional scientists are committed to improving the way they use data to guide governments on the actions that will lessen the expected impacts. In 2017, extreme weather events in the form of Hurricanes Irma and Maria claimed lives, destroyed livelihoods and infrastructure, throwing islands like Barbuda, Dominica and the Virgin Islands back several decades.

In identifying extreme weather events as “the most prominent risk facing humanity”, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2018 noted: “Fuelled by warm sea-surface temperatures, the North Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest ever for the United States, and eradicated decades of development gains in small islands in the Caribbean such as Dominica. Floods uprooted millions of people on the Indian subcontinent, whilst drought is exacerbating poverty and increasing migration pressures in the Horn of Africa.”

The CREWS network is part of a global system to improve the monitoring and management of coral reefs as environmental and climatic conditions increases coral bleaching and death. The centre works in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric and Administration to install monitoring stations that collect data on climate, marine and biological parameters for use by scientists to conduct research into the health of coral reefs in changing climatic and sea conditions.

Under previous funding arrangements, CREWS stations were also installed in Belize, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, as well as other parts of the region.

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“The Sustainable Bioeconomy, a Path Towards Post-Extractivism”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/sustainable-bioeconomy-path-towards-post-extractivism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sustainable-bioeconomy-path-towards-post-extractivism http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/sustainable-bioeconomy-path-towards-post-extractivism/#respond Fri, 20 Jul 2018 03:55:57 +0000 Ela Zambrano http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156798 Ela Zambrano interviews TARSICIO GRANIZO, Ecuador’s minister of Environment

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The post “The Sustainable Bioeconomy, a Path Towards Post-Extractivism” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Ela Zambrano interviews TARSICIO GRANIZO, Ecuador’s minister of Environment

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Blue Economy Movement Gains Traction in Africahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/blue-economy-movement-gains-traction-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=blue-economy-movement-gains-traction-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/blue-economy-movement-gains-traction-africa/#respond Mon, 16 Jul 2018 10:42:42 +0000 Miriam Gathigah http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156707 An increasing number of African countries are now embracing the blue economy for its potential to deliver solutions to their most pressing development needs–particularly extreme poverty and hunger. Countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Mauritius, Comoros, Madagascar and the Seychelles–which has already established the Ministry of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy–are recognising the need […]

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A coastal city, Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, is an area where people have relied on the ocean for food and employment for as long as they have lived there. An increasing number of African countries are now embracing the blue economy for its potential to deliver solutions to their most pressing development needs. Credit: Travis Lupick/IPS

By Miriam Gathigah
NAIROBI, Jul 16 2018 (IPS)

An increasing number of African countries are now embracing the blue economy for its potential to deliver solutions to their most pressing development needs–particularly extreme poverty and hunger.

Countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Mauritius, Comoros, Madagascar and the Seychelles–which has already established the Ministry of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy–are recognising the need to diversify their economies.

“The African Union has also adopted the blue economy, which is about exploiting resources such as oceans, lakes and rivers, into its 2063 development agenda for socio-economic transformation,” Danson Mwangangi, an independent economic researcher and analyst, tells IPS.

He says that for agrarian economies like Kenya, “agriculture alone will not be sufficient to drive the economy since the sector is facing many challenges, including shrinking farmlands, pest infestations and unpredictable weather changes.”The blue world will only be a win for Africa if there are strategies in place to exploit and protect it. -- Caesar Bita, head of underwater archaeology at the National Museums of Kenya

In Kenya, for instance, World Bank statistics show that in 2017 alone maize production dropped 20 to 30 percent due to insufficient rains and army worm infestation. The country has an annual maize shortfall of eight million bags per year.
Against this backdrop, experts are urging African countries to diversify and look beyond land-based resources by exploring the blue economy as it presents immense untapped potential.

The World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in their 2018 policy brief make a strong case in favour of the blue economy.
Mwangangi says that it can significantly enable Africa to improve its volumes of global trade, achieve food security and meet its energy demands.

Ocean renewable energy has the potential to meet up to 400 percent of the current global energy demand, according to the International Energy Agency.

“Seventy percent of African countries are either coastal or islands, we need to harness such valuable coastlines,” says Caesar Bita, head of underwater archaeology at the National Museums of Kenya.
He tells IPS that the blue world can significantly transform the lives of communities that live closest to those bodies of water since they lead very precarious lives.

According to John Omingo, head of commercial shipping at the Kenya Maritime Authority, very little has been done in the way of harnessing these vast water-based resources for economic gain.
“Africa’s coastline is about 31,000 kilometres long and yet trade among African countries accounts for 11 percent of the total trade volume, which is the lowest compared to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Europe and America,” he expounds.

Bita tells IPS that while Africa is the largest island on earth as it has the Atlantic Ocean on the west; the Indian Ocean on the east; the Antarctic ocean on the south, and the Mediterranean and Red Sea on the north, “there is very little shipping that is going on in Africa. African-owned ships account for less than 1.2 percent of the world’s shipping.”

Ahead of the upcoming Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, that will be co-host by Kenya and Canada this November, in Nairobi, economic experts are optimistic that the blue economy movement is gaining traction.
The high-level conference is expected to advance a global agenda on sustainable exploitation of oceans, seas, rivers and lakes.

One of Freetown’s larger fishing harbours is Goderich Beach, less than 30 minute’s drive from the city’s downtown core. There, a single motorised boat can bring in as much as 300 dollars worth of fish in a single day. Credit: Travis Lupick/IPS

“Holding the conference in Africa with Canada as a co-host is also very strategic and shows that the continent is coming into this agenda as an important partner. Some of the most important gateways for international trade are actually in Africa,” says Bita.
Mwangangi says that African countries will need to assess their own individual capacities and interpret the blue economy in the manner that makes most economic sense to them.

“The concept is not a one-size-fits-all. Each country will need to evaluate what water-based natural resources are at their disposal,” he says. “On the Indian Ocean side of the continent where we have South Africa and Mauritius, countries tend to embrace an industrial approach,” he adds.

Research shows that South Africa’s Operation Phakisa, a national development plan, also places a focus on the blue economy as it is expected to create one million new jobs by 2030 and add approximately USD13 billion into the country’s economy.

Experts also point to Mauritius which is among the smallest countries in the world but has territorial waters the size of South Africa, making the small nation one the strongest blue economies in Africa. It ranked as Africa’s wealthiest nation based on its per capita income in 2015. Bita adds that Mozambique, which lies alongside the Indian Ocean, is characterised by the highest species of diverse and abundant natural resources.

Kenya is among African countries that are developing strategies to mainstream the blue economy within its national economic blueprint. Bita says that this East African nation’s blue economy includes maritime transport and logistics services, fisheries and aquaculture, tourism as well as the extractive industries such as the offshore mining of gas and oil, titanium and niobium.

Nonetheless, environment experts, including Bita, have expressed concerns that ongoing talks on the blue economy have largely revolved around full exploitation, in order for countries to develop rapidly in the next 10 years, and little on sustainability.

“This is a problem since there is evidence to show that oceans resources are limited. For instance, explorers have presented evidence to show that at least 90 percent of the largest predatory fishes have disappeared from the world’s oceans,” he cautions.

The blue world will only be a win for Africa if there are strategies in place to exploit and protect it, he adds.

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