Inter Press ServiceClimate Change – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 21 Aug 2018 02:08:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Poverty-Stricken Communities in Ghana are Restoring Once-Barren Landhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/poverty-stricken-communities-ghana-restoring-barren-land/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=poverty-stricken-communities-ghana-restoring-barren-land http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/poverty-stricken-communities-ghana-restoring-barren-land/#respond Mon, 20 Aug 2018 13:53:53 +0000 Albert Oppong-Ansah http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157270 In the scorching Upper East Region of Ghana, the dry seasons are long and for kilometres around there is nothing but barren, dry earth. Here, in some areas, it is not uncommon for half the female population to migrate to the country’s south in search of work, often taking their young children with them. “We […]

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Drone visual of the area in Upper East Region, Ghana that have not been restored. Credit: Albert Oppong-Ansah /IPS

By Albert Oppong-Ansah
GARU and TEMPANE, Ghana, Aug 20 2018 (IPS)

In the scorching Upper East Region of Ghana, the dry seasons are long and for kilometres around there is nothing but barren, dry earth. Here, in some areas, it is not uncommon for half the female population to migrate to the country’s south in search of work, often taking their young children with them.

“We realised that the long dry spell, bare land and high temperature of 40 degrees and the absence of irrigation facilities for farmers to [allow them] to farm year-round…effectively made them unemployed for the seven-month dry season,” Ayaaba Atumoce, chief of the Akaratshie community from the Garu and Tempane districts, tells IPS.“But for this initiative, our younger and future generation may have never known the beauty and importance of such indigenous trees as they [would have] all been destroyed." Talaata Aburgi, a farmer from the Garu and Tempane districts in Ghana.

The Garu and Tempane districts, which encompass 1,230 square kilometres or 123,000 hectares, had large portions of barren and degraded land until just three years ago. Now, there are pockets of lush grass, neem trees, berries and indigenous fruit growing on some 250 hectares of restored land. The dry earth is beginning to flourishing, albeit it slowly.

Atumoce remembers that growing up in the area, there was dense forest cover. But it gradually diminished over time as the mostly farming communities here supplemented their income by making charcoal and selling it at regional centres. According to the 2015 Ghana Poverty Mapping report, the rate of poverty in these two districts is 54.5 percent or 70,087 people—accounting for the highest number of impoverished people in the entire region.

The rate at which trees were cut down surpassed the rate at which new trees grew, if they did at all. And soon there were less and less trees for people to make charcoal with. Sprouts were soon unable to grow also as the land became hard and lacked nutrients.

And rainfall patterns changed.

“Previously, we would prepare our farmlands in early February and start planting when the rains begin in late March or early April and ended in late September or mid-October. Now, our planting is pushed to the end of June or early July and ends just around the same period it used to. We are getting low yields,” Atumoce says.

Carl Kojo Fiati, director of Natural Resources at Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency, tells IPS that deforestation and indiscriminate bush burning in the Upper Region has reduced the natural water cycles band, a natural cycle of evaporation, condensation and precipitation, and resulted in the reduced rainfall pattern and unproductive land.

“When the shrubs are allowed to grow it draws water from the ground that evaporates into the atmosphere and becomes moisture. This moisture adds to other forms of evaporation and this is condensed and comes down as rain,” he explains.

Women and children affected

The reduced rainfall affected this community significantly. According to the Garu and Tempane districts Annual Report, 2014, large portions of the population migrated south in search of jobs from November 2013 to April 2014. According to the report, 53 percent of women in the Kpikpira and Worinyanga area councils migrated with their children to the southern part of Ghana to engage in menial jobs, exposing their children to various forms of abuse, and depriving them of basic needs such as shelter, education, health care and protection.

But three years ago, World Vision International (WVI) Ghana began implementing the Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) programme. FMNR is a low-cost land restoration technique.

“After watching the video [presented by WVI] we got to know and accepted that we are suffering all these consequences because we harvested trees for timber, firewood, and constantly cleared our farmlands, engaged in indiscriminate burning and cutting,” Atumoce says.

But by this time, farmers in Garu and Tempane already knew that their crops like maize, millet, groundnuts, onions and watermelon would not grow without the use of chemical fertilisers, Atumoce explains.

“For the past 20 years, our parcels of land have not been fertile because one cannot plant without applying fertiliser. There was a long spell of drought; I observed that because the rainy season was delayed and the period of rain has now shortened. It decreased our crop yield and left us poor,” Atumoce says.

Asher Nkegbe, the United Nation Convention to Combating Desertification and Drought focal person for Ghana, explains to IPS that Ghana has adopted Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) and set nationally determined contributions (NDCs). NDCs are commitments by government to tackle climate change by 2030. As part of Ghana’s NDCs, the country has committed to reforesting 20,000ha of degraded lands each year.

This includes identifying highly-degraded areas, establishing a baseline and increasing the vegetation cover. The Garu and Tempani districts are considered LDN key areas.

Ghana’s natural resources are disappearing at an alarming rate. More than 50 percent of the original forest area has been converted to agricultural land by slash and burn clearing practices. Wildlife populations are in serious decline, with many species facing extinction, according to a World Bank report.

The Garu and Tempane districts were the second and third areas in which the project was implemented, run in conjunction with the ministry of food and agriculture, the Ghana National Fire Service and other government agencies. From 2009 to 2012 the pilot was conducted in Talensi, Nabdam District, which is also here in Upper East Region.

The projects have been handed over to the communities and another one is now being introduced in Bawku East District, also in Upper East Region.

Farmers undertaking periodic pruning at vegetation Susudi, in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Credit: Albert Oppong-Ansah/IPS

Simple restoration methods

The restoration in Garu and Tempane began using simple principles. This community of mostly farmers selected a degraded area and were asked to not destroy the shrubs there but to protect and allow them to grow.

They were also taught by the ministry of food and agriculture how to periodically prune away weak stems, allowing the shoots to grow into full sized trees rapidly. They were also advised to allow animals to graze on the vegetation so that their droppings could become a source for manure.

“The critical science behind regeneration and improved soil nutrient are that the leaves of the shrubs or vegetation drops and decay. The decayed leaves constitute carbon in the soil and that promotes plant growth,” says Fiati.

So far, 23 communities in Garu and Tempane have adopted the approach, and 460 people were trained by the ministry of food and agriculture. Volunteers were also trained in fire fighting techniques by the Ghana Fire Service. Community volunteer brigades were then formed, and these play an active role in quashing bushfires threatening the land.

New bylaws to regulate the harvesting of surplus wood, grasses, and other resources were also passed and enforced to prevent the indiscriminate felling of trees.

The Garu, Tempane and Talensi districts are estimated to now have over 868,580 trees, with an average density of about 4,343 trees per hectare, compared to a baseline of around 10 trees per hectare.

“We gave the farmers animals to keep as a source of an alternative livelihood so that farmers do not go back to the charcoal burning,” Maxwell Amedi, Food Security and Resilient Technical officer of WVI Ghana tells IPS.

A significant number of people, including mothers and their children, now remain in the area thanks to this alternative source of livelihood.

Amedi notes that forests are essential to realising the world’s shared vision for its people, and the planet. Forests, he says, are central to future prosperity as well as the stability of the global climate.

Talaata Aburgi, 60, from Susudi community in the Garu and Tempane districts, tells IPS that neem trees have always been used here to cure ailments including diabetes, skin ulcers, birth controls, malaria fever and stomach ache. She is glad that these trees are now repopulating the area.

In addition, red and yellow berries and other indigenous fruit have started growing again. Birds, butterflies and wild animals, like monkeys and rabbits, have reappeared. As IPS travelled through the region and visited Aburgi’s farm, we saw a significant number of farmers adopting FMNR.

The FMNR project, Fiati says, is an excellent method of correcting the problem of reduced rainfall by bringing the production cycle in sync with nature.

Nkegbe is optimistic.

“With lessons learned and the results observed with regeneration initiatives, there is hope. We are scaling it up and have even expanded it to include traditional healers and have set up 14 herbaria. It may not be 100 percent but for sure there are positive signs. More support is needed,” Nkegbe says.

Meanwhile, Aburgi says that adopting the initiative has contributed to young herders spending less time seeking grazing land and allows them to attend school for longer periods.

“But for this initiative, our younger and future generation may have never known the beauty and importance of such indigenous trees as they [would have] all been destroyed,” Aburgi says.

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SLIDESHOW: Planet Earth, The Only Home We Havehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/slideshow-planet-earth-home/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=slideshow-planet-earth-home http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/slideshow-planet-earth-home/#respond Fri, 17 Aug 2018 17:11:55 +0000 Trevor Page http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157243 Trevor Page is a writer and photographer living in Alberta, Canada. His op-eds and articles, often illustrated by his own photographs, have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Time, Newsweek, National Geographic on-line and in numerous books. Mr. Page is a former director of emergency humanitarian assistance for the World Food Programme and WFP Country Director is several African, Asian and Caribbean countries.

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The melting polar ice cap in July 2018, at 80 degrees North, inside the Arctic Circle between Svalbard, Norway and Greenland. Climate change is warming polar regions twice as fast as other parts of the world. Credit: Trevor Page

The melting polar ice cap in July 2018, at 80 degrees North, inside the Arctic Circle between Svalbard, Norway and Greenland. Climate change is warming polar regions twice as fast as other parts of the world. Credit: Trevor Page

By Trevor Page
ROME, Aug 17 2018 (IPS)

Climate change is on us. Parts of the planet are burning up. Heatwaves across the northern hemisphere have dried vegetation and withered crops. Forests are ablaze in North America, Europe and Asia – even as far north as the Arctic Circle. The polar ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising. Massive storms and floods have devastated communities. Deserts continue relentlessly to encroach. And the extraordinarily hot spells this summer followed on from the extraordinarily cold spells of last winter. In 2018, extreme weather is the order of the day.

It’s not that we haven’t had adequate warning. Climate scientists, the United Nations and its intergovernmental panel on climate change, the IPCC, have been predicting this for decades. But it’s hard to get people to accept something remote in space and time, and whose very livelihood depends on maintaining the status quo. And for many still in denial, climate change is a natural phenomenon that we can’t influence anyway.

Be that as it may, Planet Earth is the only home we have – at least for the present. We must do everything we can to preserve it, lest the natural environment that spawned us be gone forever.

 

All along the Gerlach Strait in Antarctica, snow and ice is melting much faster than in earlier years, and glaciers are receding further. Credit: Trevor Page

All along the Gerlach Strait in Antarctica, snow and ice is melting much faster than in earlier years, and glaciers are receding further. Credit: Trevor Page

 

Glacier in Paradise Bay, Antarctica.Whalers operating in the area in the 1920s named the bay; though likely for the abundance of whales rather than the natural beauty! Credit: Trevor Page

Glacier in Paradise Bay, Antarctica. Whalers operating in the area in the 1920s named the bay likely for the abundance of whales rather than the natural beauty. Credit: Trevor Page

 

The face of the glacier in Antarctica’s Paradise Bay. The glacier periodically calves huge chunks of ice into the sea. Blue ice in Antarctica can be up to 1 million years old. Credit: Trevor Page

The face of the glacier in Antarctica’s Paradise Bay. The glacier periodically calves huge chunks of ice into the sea. Blue ice in Antarctica can be up to 1 million years old. Credit: Trevor Page

 

Iceberg in Hope Bay, Antarctica. Over 90% of an iceberg’s volume (and mass) is underwater. Icebergs that calve from glaciers on land cause sea levels to rise. Credit: Trevor Page

Iceberg in Hope Bay, Antarctica. Over 90% of an iceberg’s volume (and mass) is underwater. Icebergs that calve from glaciers on land cause sea levels to rise. Credit: Trevor Page

 

Gullfoss waterfall on the Hvita river in southwest Iceland. Although most of Iceland’s electricity comes from hydropower, the country has been able to strike a balance between renewable energy for industrial use and the conservation of nature. Credit: Trevor Page

Gullfoss waterfall on the Hvita river in southwest Iceland. Although most of Iceland’s electricity comes from hydropower, the country has been able to strike a balance between renewable energy for industrial use and the conservation of nature. Credit: Trevor Page

 

Wildfire damage in Glacier National Park, USA. The summer heatwave across the globe has helped the spread of wildfires from Canada and the USA to Sweden as far north as the Arctic Circle, to Greece and Japan. Credit: Trevor Page

Wildfire damage in Glacier National Park, USA. The summer heatwave across the globe has helped the spread of wildfires from Canada and the USA to Sweden as far north as the Arctic Circle, to Greece and Japan. Credit: Trevor Page

 

Ranching in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.Still small, growing numbers are favouring organically grown food and sustainable agricultural practices over factory farming. Credit: Trevor Page

Ranching in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.Still small, growing numbers are favouring organically grown food and sustainable agricultural practices over factory farming. Credit: Trevor Page

 

Huangshan or the Yellow Mountain in China’s Anhui Province. The natural beauty of rock formations, lush green pine trees and a sea of cloud has inspired countless painters and poets over the ages. Credit: Trevor Page

Huangshan or the Yellow Mountain in China’s Anhui Province. The natural beauty of rock formations, lush green pine trees and a sea of cloud has inspired countless painters and poets over the ages. Credit: Trevor Page

 

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Excerpt:

Trevor Page is a writer and photographer living in Alberta, Canada. His op-eds and articles, often illustrated by his own photographs, have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Time, Newsweek, National Geographic on-line and in numerous books. Mr. Page is a former director of emergency humanitarian assistance for the World Food Programme and WFP Country Director is several African, Asian and Caribbean countries.

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When Salt Water Intrusion is Not Just a Threat But a Reality for Guyanese Farmershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/salt-water-intrusion-not-just-threat-reality-guyanese-farmers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=salt-water-intrusion-not-just-threat-reality-guyanese-farmers http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/salt-water-intrusion-not-just-threat-reality-guyanese-farmers/#respond Tue, 14 Aug 2018 07:46:03 +0000 Jewel Fraser http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157018 Mikesh Ram would watch his rice crops begin to rot during the dry season in Guyana, because salt water from the nearby Atlantic Ocean was displacing freshwater from the Mahaica River he and other farmers used to flood their rice paddies. The intrusion of salt water into the rice paddies had been happening off and […]

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Kaieteur Falls, Guyana. Guyanese farmers have been reporting salt water intrusion for a number of years. This especially happens during periods of drought and in those regions where irrigation water is sourced from rivers and creeks which drain into the Atlantic Ocean. Courtesy: Dan Sloan/CC By 2.0

By Jewel Fraser
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Aug 14 2018 (IPS)

Mikesh Ram would watch his rice crops begin to rot during the dry season in Guyana, because salt water from the nearby Atlantic Ocean was displacing freshwater from the Mahaica River he and other farmers used to flood their rice paddies.

The intrusion of salt water into the rice paddies had been happening off and on for the past 10 years, and he, like many other rice farmers in Regions 4 and 5 of Mahaica, Guyana, had sustained periodic financial losses due to the ocean overtopping the 200-year-old sea walls erected as barricades to the sea. And while 2015 was an unusually good year for Guyana’s rice harvest, the following year, 2016, saw a 16 percent drop in production.

Though the fall-off in production that year could not entirely be attributed to the salt water intrusion, expert sources say this was part of the problem. The United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service’s Commodity Intelligence Report notes that reduced rice production “was due to myriad problems including drought, water rationing, salt water intrusion, lack of crop rotation, less fertiliser input, and slower and lower returns to farmers.” It added that for the first rice crop of 2016, “about 20 percent was affected by drought and another 15 percent had salt water intrusion on fields.”“The knowledge of the [agricultural] extension officers in mitigating and adapting to the salt water intrusion is questionable, however, but a real education and awareness campaign should start with these officers who interact with farmers more frequently.” -- Heetasmin Singh

The rice-growing regions of Demerara-Mahaica and Berbice-Mahaica are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, located as they are six feet below sea level on Guyana’s Atlantic north coast.

Heetasmin Singh, who completed a master’s degree at the University of Guyana, presented a paper on the subject at the just concluded Latin America and Caribbean Congress for Conservation Biology, held Jul. 25-27 at the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies, Trinidad. Following her presentation, she told IPS via e-mail of some of the concerns farmers in the region have.

She said, “Farmers have been reporting salt water intrusion for a number of years, maybe as much as 10 years (or more) in certain regions of the country. This especially happens during periods of drought and in those regions where irrigation water is sourced from rivers and creeks which drain into the Atlantic Ocean (as opposed to a water conservancy or catchment)… the salt water intrusion is not just a threat, it is a reality for many of them.”

Farmer Mikesh’s son, Mark Ram, is a colleague of Singh as well as a scientific officer at the Centre for the Study of Biological Diversity at the University of Guyana. He told IPS that salt water intrusion normally occurs during the dry season when there is less fresh water because the rains have not fallen. He said the salinity had one of two effects on growing rice plants: it could either kill them or slow down their rate of growth,

“Usually, [salt water] affects the plant when they have just been planted because…we are required to flood the fields. So what we would do, we usually wait until it rains a bit, then flood the fields and add fertiliser. Then we release the water and then try to flood it again. It is at this time [when] the water becomes saline because the rain has not fallen that it affects the crop, it kills out the rice fields.” On the other hand, he said, “it can delay harvesting time because the rice is not going to grow as fast as it should.”

Sometimes, he said, “there is actual rotting of the plant” due to the water’s salinity.

To counteract the problems caused by salt water intrusion, farmers in the Mahaica region rely on fresh water supplies from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority. According to the USDA Commodity Intelligence Report, Guyana is “divided into water conservancy regions, [and] has developed an irrigation and dike infrastructure to help farmers use supplemental irrigation from reservoirs while protecting areas through levees from unseasonably heavy rains which could flood or erode land. To help the agricultural sector, starting in January 2016, Guyana’s National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) water authorities begin pumping available water into the drier conservancies.”

“Farmers ask the NDIA to release some of the fresh water from the major reservoirs,” Ram said.  “Once they receive this it reduces the salinity so that the water becomes usable.” However, no other adaptation or mitigation measures had so far been implemented by farmers, he said.

Singh noted via e-mail that “the knowledge of the [agricultural] extension officers in mitigating and adapting to the salt water intrusion is questionable, however, but a real education and awareness campaign should start with these officers who interact with farmers more frequently.”

She added, “Many farmers I interviewed saw the effects of the soil salinisation on their crops but many were not familiar with the term climate change or were not adapting best practices for ameliorating soil salinisation. They instead sought to solve their low crop yields issues with more fertilisers which would end up doing more harm than good for the crops.”

However, she notes that some will flush their fields and allow water and the salts to percolate through and past the root zone of the crops. Others will ensure their soils are deep ploughed to ensure faster percolation of salts past their crop root zone. With sea level rises for Guyana projected to rise anywhere from 14 cm to 5.94 metres in 2031; from 21 cm to 6.02 metres in 2051; and from 25 cm to 6.19 metres in 2071, the need for proactive adaptation and mitigation measures becomes ever more urgent.

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New Agreement with China: Opportunity to Save Mozambique’s Forestshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/new-agreement-china-opportunity-save-mozambiques-forests/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-agreement-china-opportunity-save-mozambiques-forests http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/new-agreement-china-opportunity-save-mozambiques-forests/#respond Thu, 09 Aug 2018 14:32:14 +0000 Duncan Macqueen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157160 Duncan Macqueen is a principal researcher on forests at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)*

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Vast quantities of logs being unloaded in the port of Zhangjiagang, South-East China. China’s commitment to invest in establishing timber processing plants in Mozambique means it can help end the export of whole logs to China, introduce modern, efficient processing facilities that are less wasteful and so use fewer trees, create jobs for local people and increase much needed tax revenue. Credit: Simon Lim/IIED

By Duncan Macqueen
LONDON, Aug 9 2018 (IPS)

Mozambique’s forests are disappearing at an alarming rate, with most of the destruction caused by excessive logging, corruption and weak laws.

Better enforcement and improving regulations, including in its trade with China, are key to reversing this trend as ‘China in Mozambique’s forests: a review of issues and progress for livelihoods and sustainability’, a new report from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) shows.

About 10,000 square metres of Mozambique’s forests are being cut down every minute. And almost all of the 93% of its timber that it exports to China is from just five species. According to customs import and export data, the rate of harvesting these species exceeds even the highest limit permitted under Mozambique’s forest law. Some analysts are concerned that this could lead to the complete depletion of these commercial species over the next 15 years.

The country’s forests cannot sustain this rate of destruction. Not only will it devastate the country’s environment, it will also damage its development.

In June, China and Mozambique signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which has the potential to help save Mozambique’s forests and make its timber industry more sustainable.

One crucial aspect is that it commits China to invest in establishing timber processing plants within Mozambique. This will help put an end to the practice of shipping either whole logs or poorly cut timber to China, which in some cases are not useable by the time it arrives. Or due to outdated technology, has resulted in unnecessary and significant waste.

In China, state of the art industrial processing plants are standard. With China adopting a ‘go global’ investment strategy it has an opportunity to transfer high-tech processing technology to Africa. The new processing facilities that have already been established in Mozambique can cut the timber with minimal waste.

New giant drying warehouses allow freshly cut wood to dry properly stopping it from warping en route to China where it is turned into furniture, flooring, panelling and a range of other household items.

A Chinese worker at the timber depot of Green Timber, a Chinese-owned timber concession operating in Mozambique’s Nampula and Zambezia provinces. Green Timber has a concession area in excess to 200,000 hectares. Some of their timber is sawn and used in Mozambique but much of it is exported uncut. Credit: Mike Goldwater

The more processing that can take place in Mozambique, the more the timber industry can provide local jobs, while also increasing the amount of tax that is paid to the Mozambique government. Better processing also means that fewer trees are cut for each item created because the processing is more precise and wastes less wood.

This type of increased investment also acts as an incentive for Chinese companies to care about the health of the forest. In committing significant amounts of money, they will expect to see a sustainable supply of timber over the long term in order to pay back their investments. This will not be possible if the forests are depleted by over logging.

The Memorandum of Understanding also calls for the two governments to work together to increase such investments and develop a bilateral verification system to combat illegal logging and sustainably manage forests. Cutting out low-cost, illegal operators is an important part of making sustainable forestry pay.

One frequent problem has been that the volume of timber leaving Mozambique has been recorded as significantly lower than the amount recorded on arrival. According to UN Comtrade, in 2013 Mozambique reported exporting 280,796 cubic metres of timber to China. The amount recorded on arrival was more than double that at 601,919 cubic metres.

By jointly developing a bar-coded, internet-based, electronic timber tracking system that allows real-time data entry and checking throughout the supply chain, Mozambique’s ability to control legal and illegal logging can be increased.

Beyond the Memorandum, inspection and monitoring also need to be improved. Mozambican forest experts have calculated that the number of forest inspectors needs to be more than doubled from 630 to 1,800 to help implement any new timber tracking system.

Mozambique also needs to implement substantial reforms to its forest law. Legal reforms began in 2015 but have stalled. Critical is the need to change how concessions for logging are granted. There are two types of licences: Long-term industrial-scale concessions and short-term simple licences.

Simple licences, which are granted for up to 10,000 hectares of forest designated for logging, are particularly destructive.

Loading logs on a flatbed lorry. Credit: Mike Goldwater

Renewable every five years, the short licence period and minimal management requirements makes these forests especially vulnerable to wholesale plundering of valuable species, as there is no incentive for companies to give smaller trees time to mature for future harvests.

And in 2017, geo-referenced mapping revealed that some of the concession areas are more than six times larger than officially allowed.

It is crucial that simple licences are scrapped and that all concessions are granted for 50 years, with mandatory regular compliance assessments and sustainable management plans.

The forest law also needs to grant commercial forest rights to communities that already have land rights. Currently, local forest communities are required to abide by the same expensive and complicated process as industrial companies when applying for concessions – including having to build a processing plant.

Because of this, many communities collaborate with illegal loggers to earn at least some money from the rapidly diminishing forests. In a couple of cases, local NGOs have helped communities apply for concessions, but the costs and complexities of running a processing industry is far beyond their means. More needs to be done to secure their commercial rights.

This could include establishing new community forest concessions that are conditional on keeping the forest intact. By giving local women and men the right to make money from timber sales to third parties, they will have more incentive to protect the forests.

Mozambique and China are in a position to make the changes needed to establish a sustainable forest industry that will benefit local forest communities and the country as a whole. Now it is just a question of whether they have the political and practical will.

For IIED’s video ‘China’s Investment, Africa’s forests’ and for more information on China in Africa’s forests see: https://www.iied.org/finding-green-path-for-china-africa

*The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is a policy and action research organisation based in the United Kingdom. It promotes sustainable development to improve livelihoods and protect the environments on which these livelihoods are built. For more information please see www.iied.org

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Excerpt:

Duncan Macqueen is a principal researcher on forests at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)*

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Indigenous Peoples Least Responsible for the Climate Crisishttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/indigenous-peoples-least-responsible-climate-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indigenous-peoples-least-responsible-climate-crisis http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/indigenous-peoples-least-responsible-climate-crisis/#comments Thu, 09 Aug 2018 07:43:06 +0000 Jamison Ervin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157153 Jamison Ervin is Manager, UNDP’s Global Programme on Nature for Development

 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds initiated by IPS on the occasion of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, on August 9.

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Photo - UNDP/ PNG-Bougainville People celebration

By Jamison Ervin
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 9 2018 (IPS)

Indigenous peoples, who comprise less than five percent of the world’s population, have the world’s smallest carbon footprint, and are the least responsible for our climate crisis. Yet because their livelihoods and wellbeing are intimately bound with intact ecosystems, indigenous peoples disproportionately face the brunt of climate change, which is fast becoming a leading driver of human displacement.

In Papua New Guinea, for example, residents of the Carteret Islands – one of the most densely populated islands in the country – have felt the effects of climate change intensify over recent years. With a high point on their islands of just 1.2 meters above sea level, every community member is now at risk from sea level rise and storm surges.

Moreover, the community depends almost entirely on fishing for their food and livelihoods, but the health of sea grass beds and coral reefs has gradually deteriorated from warming waters and coral bleaching.

The residents of these islands faced a stark choice – to be passive victims of an uncertain government resettlement program, or to take matters into their own hands. They chose the latter. In 2005, elders formed a community-led non-profit, called Tulele Peisa, to chart their own climate course. In the Halia language, the name means “Sailing the Waves on our Own,” an apt metaphor for how the community is navigating rising sea levels.

In 2014, the initiative won the prestigious, UNDP-led Equator Prize, in recognition for their ingenuity, foresight and proactive approach in facing the challenges of climate change, while keeping their cultural traditions intact.

Earlier this month, Jeffrey Sachs published an article entitled “We Are All Climate Refugees Now,” in which he attributed the main cause of climate inaction to the willful ignorance of political institutions and corporations toward the grave dangers of climate change, imperiling future life on Earth. 2018 will likely be recorded as among the hottest year humanity has ever recorded.

Yet a slew of recent articles highlight that we are not on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. We have not shown the collective leadership required to tackle this existential crisis.

Carteret Islanders have been broadly recognized as the world’s first climate refugees, but they are not alone. Arctic indigenous communities are already facing the same plight, as are their regional neighbors from the island nation of Kiribati.

According to the World Bank, their plight will likely be replicated around the world, with as many as 140 million people worldwide being displaced by climate change within the next 30 years or so.

But the Carteret Island leaders are more than just climate refugees. They have done something precious few political leaders have done to date – they recognized the warning signs of climate change as real and inevitable, they took stock of their options, and they charted a proactive, realistic course for their own future that promised the most good for the most people. Therefore, they could also be called the world’s first true climate leaders.

Let’s hope that our world’s politicians and CEOs have the wisdom, foresight and fortitude of the elders of Carteret Islanders. Because like it or not, we will all be sailing the climate waves on our own, with or without a rudder and a plan.

The post Indigenous Peoples Least Responsible for the Climate Crisis appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Jamison Ervin is Manager, UNDP’s Global Programme on Nature for Development

 
This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds initiated by IPS on the occasion of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, on August 9.

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States Must Act Now to Protect Indigenous Peoples During Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/states-must-act-now-protect-indigenous-peoples-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=states-must-act-now-protect-indigenous-peoples-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/states-must-act-now-protect-indigenous-peoples-migration/#respond Wed, 08 Aug 2018 19:13:13 +0000 UN experts on Indigenous Peoples http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157142 States around the world must take effective action to guarantee the human rights of indigenous peoples, says a group of UN experts. In a joint statement marking International day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the experts say it is crucial that the rights of indigenous peoples are realised when they migrate or are displaced from […]

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Indigenous men and women of Nuñoa in Puno, Peru, spin and weave garments based on the fiber of the alpacas. Credit: SGP-GEF-UNDP Peru/Enrique Castro-Mendívil

By UN experts* on Indigenous Peoples
GENEVA/NEW YORK, Aug 8 2018 (IPS)

States around the world must take effective action to guarantee the human rights of indigenous peoples, says a group of UN experts. In a joint statement marking International day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the experts say it is crucial that the rights of indigenous peoples are realised when they migrate or are displaced from their lands:

“In many parts of the world, indigenous peoples have become migrants because they are fleeing economic deprivation, forced displacement, environmental disasters including climate change impacts, social and political unrest, and militarisation. Indigenous peoples have shown remarkable resilience and determination in these extreme situations.

We wish to remind States that all indigenous peoples, whether they migrate or remain, have rights under international instruments, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

While States have the sovereign prerogative to manage their borders, they must also recognise international human rights standards and ensure that migrants are not subjected to violence, discrimination, or other treatment that would violate their rights. In addition, states must recognise indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination; lands, territories and resources; to a nationality, as well as rights of family, education, health, culture and language.

The Declaration specifically provides that States must ensure indigenous peoples’ rights across international borders that may currently divide their traditional territories.

Within countries, government and industry initiatives, including national development, infrastructure, agro-business, natural resource extraction and climate change mitigation, or other matters that affect indigenous peoples, must be undertaken with the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples, such that they are not made to relocate against their will. States must recognise that relocation of indigenous peoples similarly triggers requirements including free, prior and informed consent, as well as restitution and compensation under the Declaration.

We are concerned about human rights violations in the detention, prosecution and deportation practices of States. There is also a dearth of appropriate data on indigenous peoples who are migrants. As a result of this invisibility, those detained at international borders are often denied access to due process, including interpretation and other services that are essential for fair representation in legal processes.

We call on States immediately to reunite children, parents and caregivers who may have been separated in border detentions or deportations.

In addition, States must ensure that indigenous peoples migrating from their territories, including from rural to urban areas within their countries, are guaranteed rights to their identity and adequate living standards, as well as necessary and culturally appropriate social services.

States must also ensure that differences among provincial or municipal jurisdictions do not create conditions of inequality, deprivation and discrimination among indigenous peoples.

We express particular concern about indigenous women and children who are exposed to human and drug trafficking, and sexual violence, and indigenous persons with disabilities who are denied accessibility services.

We look forward to engagement in the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration regarding indigenous peoples’ issues.

On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, we urge States, UN agencies, and others, in the strongest terms possible, to ensure indigenous peoples’ rights under the Declaration and other instruments, and to recognise these rights especially in the context of migration, including displacement and other trans-border issues.”

(*) The experts: The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council. Its mandate is to provide the Council with expertise and advice on the rights of indigenous peoples as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to assist Member States in achieving the ends of the Declaration through the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the rights of indigenous peoples. It is composed of seven independent experts serving in their personal capacities and is currently chaired by Ms Erika Yamada.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The Forum is made up of 16 members serving in their personal capacity as independent experts on indigenous issues. Eight of the members are nominated by governments and eight by the President of ECOSOC, on the basis of broad consultation with indigenous groups. It is currently Chaired by Ms Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine. 

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples was established by the General Assembly in 1985. The Fund provides support for indigenous peoples’ representatives to participate in sessions of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Human Rights Council, including its Universal Periodic Review, and UN human rights treaty bodies. Its Board of Trustees is currently Chaired by Mr. Binota Dhamai.

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Why the Flooding in Grenada is a Clear Reminder of its Vulnerability to Climate Changehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/flooding-grenada-clear-reminder-vulnerability-climate-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=flooding-grenada-clear-reminder-vulnerability-climate-change http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/flooding-grenada-clear-reminder-vulnerability-climate-change/#respond Wed, 08 Aug 2018 08:47:13 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157093 Grenada is still tallying the damage after heavy rainfall last week resulted in “wide and extensive” flooding that once again highlights the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to climate change. Officials here say extreme weather events like in 2004 and 2005 are still fresh in the minds of residents. Rising sea levels are […]

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Grenada is still tallying the damage after heavy rainfall last week resulted in “wide and extensive” flooding. Courtesy: Desmond Brown

By Desmond Brown
ST GEORGE’S, Aug 8 2018 (IPS)

Grenada is still tallying the damage after heavy rainfall last week resulted in “wide and extensive” flooding that once again highlights the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to climate change.
Officials here say extreme weather events like in 2004 and 2005 are still fresh in the minds of residents. Rising sea levels are leading to an erosion of coastlines, while hurricanes and tropical storms regularly devastate crucial infrastructure.

For three hours, between 9 am and 12 noon on Aug. 1, a tropical wave interacting with the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, lingered over the island, dumping several inches of rain, which resulted in rapidly-rising flood waters."We had so much rain over such a short period, the whole system was inundated, and it speaks clearly to the effects of climate change.”-- senator Winston Garraway, minister of state in the ministry of climate resilience.

The Maurice Bishop International Airport Meteorological Office recorded six inches of rain over the three-hour period, and officials said the interior of the island received significantly more rainfall. No recording of the island’s interior was immediately available.

“The flooding was wide and extensive,” senator Winston Garraway, minister of state in the ministry of climate resilience, told IPS.
“St. David and St George [parishes] were badly impacted and we have decided that both areas will be disaster areas.”

In St. David, Garraway said there were 60 landslides, and these have impacted on the road network in the parish which is the country’s main agriculture zone.

A total of nine homes in both parishes have been badly affected and families had to be relocated, Garraway said, adding that disaster officials are looking at either demolishing and rebuilding or relocating homes.
“The national stadium took a bad beating from the flood waters and this is likely to impact on activities going forward in the immediate future,” Garraway said.

Damage to the ground floor of the stadium also led to the postponement of one of the main carnival events.

Garraway, who also has responsibility for the environment, forestry, fisheries and disaster management, said the weather event was another clear remainder that Grenada and other SIDS are among the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

“We have been one of the strong proponents of the impact of climate change, so we’ve been training our people as it relates to mitigation measures. But we had so much rain over such a short period, the whole system was inundated, and it speaks clearly to the effects of climate change,” he said.

“One might ask, was there any chance of us mitigating against some of these challenges that we have seen? In some sense, I think yes, in a large sense, no. The system could not have absorbed the amount of water we had that short time.”

The minister of communication, works and public utilities, Gregory Bowen, agrees with Garraway that events like these highlight the effects of climate change on SIDS.

Bowen said there is an urgent need for grant financing to help at the community level.

“A lot of the flood waters passed through private lands. The state is responsible for state properties, but for private people, the size of drains that would have to run through their properties, they can’t afford it,” Bowen told IPS.

“So that is one area that we have to work on, getting granting financing to help the people. Because the rains come, and it will find its own path and it’s usually through private lands. If you have good drains you could properly channel the run off.

“So that is one critical component that we have to move on immediately. Millions of dollars are needed to be spent on that,” Bowen added.
But he said the island simply cannot afford to cover these costs, noting that Grenada only recently concluded a three-year, International Monetary Fund supported Structural Adjustment Programme.

While the formal impact assessment is still being done by the ministry of works in collaboration with the ministry of finance, officials here have already reached out to regional partners for support.

Garraway said officials at the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, have been in touch with local disaster management officials to ascertain the extent of the damage and the immediate assistance needed.

Meanwhile, epidemiologist in the ministry of health, Dr. Shawn Charles, has advised residents to stay away from the stagnant water resultant from the flooding. He warned that they may not only be contaminated with debris such as broken bottles and plastics, but pathogens that can cause life-threatening conditions.

“Flood water from the level of rainfall we received from that tropical wave is normally contaminated with all kinds of things and it’s not wise for anyone to expose themselves to it. There are all kinds of contaminants that can impact differently, so swimming, running and doing other things in that type of contaminated water should be avoided,” Charles told IPS.

“One of the life-threatening contaminants in flood water is droplets and urine from rats and that is the main transmitter for leptospirosis, and that disease can cause death. So, it’s not advisable for a person to just go about exposing themselves to flood water. It is just not wise; it can result in sickness. People need to be very cautious. Personal contact with flooded water should be avoided.”

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VIDEO: Climate Change Could Have Devastating Consequences for Saint Luciahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/video-climate-change-devastating-consequences-saint-lucia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=video-climate-change-devastating-consequences-saint-lucia http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/video-climate-change-devastating-consequences-saint-lucia/#respond Tue, 07 Aug 2018 11:14:05 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157104 The Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia is home to more than 2,000 native species — of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else in the world. Though less than 616 square kilometres in area, the island is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. Saint Lucia’s best-known species, the endangered Amazon parrot, is recognised by […]

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Climate Change Could Have Devastating Consequences for Saint Lucia

By Desmond Brown
CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Aug 7 2018 (IPS)

The Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia is home to more than 2,000 native species — of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else in the world. Though less than 616 square kilometres in area, the island is exceptionally rich in animals and plants.

Saint Lucia’s best-known species, the endangered Amazon parrot, is recognised by its bright green plumage, purple forehead and dusty red-tipped feathers.

But a major conservation organisation warns that climate change and a lack of care for the environment could have devastating consequences for Saint Lucia’s healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity.

Sean Southey chairs the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

He told IPS that urgent action is needed to safeguard the eastern Caribbean island nation’s biodiversity, which is under constant threat.

Other species of conservation concern include the pencil cedar, staghorn coral and St. Lucia racer. The racer, confined to the nine-hectare island of Maria Major, is thought to be the world’s most threatened sake. Also at risk are mangrove forests and low-lying freshwater wetlands, Southey said.

But he said it was not too late to take action. He urged St. Lucia and its Caribbean neighbours to take advantage of their small size.

 

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Amidst Rising Heat Waves, UN says Cooling is a Human Right, not a Luxuryhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/amidst-rising-heat-waves-un-says-cooling-human-right-not-luxury/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=amidst-rising-heat-waves-un-says-cooling-human-right-not-luxury http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/amidst-rising-heat-waves-un-says-cooling-human-right-not-luxury/#respond Mon, 06 Aug 2018 14:18:15 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157076 The rising heat waves in the world’s middle income and poorer nations are threatening the health and prosperity of about 1.1 billion people, including 470 million in rural areas without access to safe food and medicines, and 630 million in hotter, poor urban slums, with little or no cooling to protect them, according to the […]

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A refrigerator being transported by cart.

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 6 2018 (IPS)

The rising heat waves in the world’s middle income and poorer nations are threatening the health and prosperity of about 1.1 billion people, including 470 million in rural areas without access to safe food and medicines, and 630 million in hotter, poor urban slums, with little or no cooling to protect them, according to the latest figures released by the United Nations.

At least nine countries, with large populations, face “significant cooling risks”, including India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, China, Mozambique and Sudan.

Rachel Kyte*, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), says that in a world facing continuously rising temperatures, access to cooling is not a luxury.

“It’s essential for everyday life. It guarantees safe cold supply chains for fresh produce, safe storage of life-saving vaccines, and safe work and housing conditions.”

But rising temperatures – made worse by global warming – is not confined only middle income and poorer nations.

In a July 30 piece in the US weekly Time magazine, Justin Worland points out that extreme heat recently melted roads in the UK; hit a record-shattering 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Chino, California; and led more than 70 deaths in Quebec, Canada.

“These cases illustrate a vexing paradox for scientists and policy makers: air conditioning keeps people cool and save lives but is also one of the biggest contributors to global warming.”

Erik Solheim of Norway, executive director the Nairobi-based UN Environment (UNE), is quoted as saying that air-conditioning has been “an enormous, enormous drain on electricity.”

“Cooling is probably the biggest energy consumer, and people tend not to think of it,” said Solheim, a former Chair of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Meanwhile, at one time, there were reports that when middle class families, with rising incomes in India, were able to access TV, air conditioners and refrigerators, there were environmental groups that were critical of this because it would add to global warming.

But the middle class argued this was never an issue when the rich and privileged luxuriated with air conditioners and refrigerators as part of essential living.

Asked for a response, Kyte told IPS: “Sustainable Energy for All believes this is a fundamental issue of equity, as we need to ensure ALL have access to effective solutions. At the same time, we must recognize the needs of our planet and the future of our children.”

She said it has been estimated that cooling is now responsible for 10% of warming and growing rapidly. “So, we need to provide cooling solutions that are clean and sustainable over the long-term.”

She said a new report titled “Chilling Prospects: Providing Sustainable Cooling for All” – released last month– recommends all stakeholders accelerate their innovation efforts and think more holistically about the way we provide cooling, focusing firstly on reducing heat loads and then thinking about how to deliver remaining cooling as affordably and sustainably as possible.

“We’re calling on business and other private sector entities to provide those solutions. These groups have to come together as a matter of priority to provide low Global Warming Potential (GWP) technology and business models that are affordable and sustainable, and that address the needs of the poor and vulnerable populations most at risk, so no one has to make a choice between cooling and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate objectives.”

Asked if air conditioning and global warming are some of the lingering issues of the UN’s global campaign for ”sustainable energy for all”, Kyte told IPS that achieving both equity and sustainability is one of the reasons this new Chilling Prospects report is so timely and important.

“Cooling is not a luxury. It’s a human right and a fundamental issue of equity that underpins the ability of millions to escape poverty and realize the SDG’s’, she noted.

She said the “findings of the report are a wake-up call for us all, and a call-to-action for government policymakers and industry to think and act more systematically about pathways to provide sustainable cooling that will benefit these communities, economies and current and future generations. “

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: What is the practical answer to the lack of access to cooling in some of the world’s poorest nations where refrigeration and air conditioning are still luxuries?

KYTE: It’s a great question, because practical and sustainable solutions are absolutely crucial to closing gaps in access to cooling, in all countries, but particularly in the developing world.

This new Chilling Prospects: Providing Cooling for All report tackles the challenge from several angles, including through some very practically-focused recommendations.

For example, the report recommends solutions that address consumer finance, which is a critical requirement for selling sustainable cooling solutions to the rural poor; government financing – governments can make direct investment with public bulk procurements to lower cost and improve efficiency; enterprise financing such as fundraising in the off-grid sector and financing for mini-grids; and then there’s donor funding for concessional financing.

Given that products and markets for access to cooling are still poorly defined, grant and highly concessional financing is really important because it can support R&D on innovative technologies, capital for small businesses offering cooling services and financing for low-income consumers.

It’s important to note that while there are major threats to life, health, economies and the climate, there are also huge opportunities in closing cooling access gaps: reducing the number of lost work hours, improving the productivity of the workforce, avoiding costs of healthcare for people with food poisoning or who are suffering because their vaccines weren’t stored properly, increasing the incomes of farmers, and increasing the number of jobs available to service a new cool economy.

IPS: Is there a role for governments to make these affordable to the poor? if so, how?

KYTE: The Chilling Prospects report calls on all stakeholders to embrace a paradigm shift – thinking more holistically about the way we provide cooling – and that definitely includes governments.

On a practical level, the report includes a recommendation that government policymakers should immediately measure gaps in access to cooling in their own countries, as an evidence base for more proactive and integrated policy-making.

More broadly, government policy-makers need to think and act more systematically about pathways to provide sustainable cooling that will benefit communities, economies and current and future generations.

One example noted in the report, is a 2017 program in India administered by EESL, which was a joint venture by the Indian Ministry of Power and Public Service Undertakings (PSUs). They used $68 million in public resources for a competitive procurement of 100,000 room air conditioners at efficiencies better than had generally been available in the market.

More concerted efforts like these, between governments (national and local) and industry are needed to develop and provide cooling solutions that are affordable and sustainable for all.

IPS: In the US, there are public cooling centres for senior citizens when temperatures reach beyond 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit? Are there any such facilities for the poor in any of the developing nations? Or should they?

KYTE: Ahmedabad in India is a very pertinent example cited in the Chilling Prospects report. It was the first city in South-Asia to formulate a Heat Action Plan after a devastating heat wave hit the city in 2010. Local authorities mapped areas with populations at high risk of heat stress—including slums—and developed an easy-to-understand, early-warning system, as well as a strategy for mobilizing the city in advance of impending heat waves. Their plan uses a well-publicized color-coding system to warn citizens at risk of extreme heat to go to emergency cooling centers.

Chilling Prospects – global map of countries at risk_graphic

The program has proven its worth. Heat-related casualties in Ahmedabad remained low during a major 2015 heat wave, while thousands tragically died elsewhere across India. Last year, 17 cities and 11 states across India had released or were developing heat action plans.

There are also other simple and cost-effective solutions like white-washing rooves or using solar power to drive fans and create a more comfortable and safe living environment for people living in densely packed slums. We need to scale-up today’s most efficient technologies, power them with renewables, and make them affordable for those that need it most. Governments will play essential roles to address cooling access gaps holistically.

*Rachel Kyte served until December 2015 as World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for an ambitious agreement at the 21st Convention of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 21). She was previously World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development and was the International Finance Corporation Vice President for Business Advisory Services.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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As It Recovers, Argentina’s Beef Production Faces Environmental Impact Questionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/argentinas-beef-production-recovers-faces-questions-environmental-impacts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=argentinas-beef-production-recovers-faces-questions-environmental-impacts http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/argentinas-beef-production-recovers-faces-questions-environmental-impacts/#comments Mon, 06 Aug 2018 08:32:40 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157055 Beef is one of the symbols historically identified with Argentina. After lean years, production and exports are growing, as is the debate on the environmental impact of cattle, which is on the radar of environmentalists and actors in the agricultural value chain. The problem of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – methane and nitrous oxide – […]

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Cattle line up at a trough in a feedlot, which are now widely used in Argentina. Credit: Courtesy of Ana Garcia

Cattle line up at a trough in a feedlot, which are now widely used in Argentina. Credit: Courtesy of Ana Garcia

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, Aug 6 2018 (IPS)

Beef is one of the symbols historically identified with Argentina. After lean years, production and exports are growing, as is the debate on the environmental impact of cattle, which is on the radar of environmentalists and actors in the agricultural value chain.

The problem of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – methane and nitrous oxide – from livestock farming has been raised since the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit.

But “it was very hard to get Argentina to take it seriously,” veterinarian Guillermo Berra, who led the first research group on the subject at the governmental National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), told IPS."The aim must be to improve the productivity of livestock systems. The weaning rate, which reflects the proportion of cows that produce the ideal of one calf per year that is ready to be fattened, is 60 percent, compared to 85 percent in the United States. Improving that rate would mean producing more meat with the same emissions." -- Sebastián Galbusera

“The intensification of production processes through feedlots has improved yields lately and has therefore contributed to reducing GHG emissions, but it has generated another problem, which is soil and groundwater pollution,” he explained.

According to the latest National GHG Inventory, which Argentina submitted last year to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agriculture and livestock raising, including deforestation, generates 39 percent of total emissions.

A significant detail emerges from the data: livestock farming is the subsector with the highest emissions, ahead of transport, emitting 76.41 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year, which represents 20.7 percent of the total.

‘Enteric fermentation’, which refers to the methane that cattle release into the atmosphere as a result of their normal digestion process, is the main source.

Sebastián Galbusera, who teaches environmental economics at the ‘Tres de Febrero’ National University, told IPS that “these results should come as no surprise in a country where farming is key. But they show us the complexity of the challenge of reducing emissions.”

“The aim must be to improve the productivity of livestock systems. The weaning rate, which reflects the proportion of cows that produce the ideal of one calf per year that is ready to be fattened, is 60 percent, compared to 85 percent in the United States. Improving that rate would mean producing more meat with the same emissions,” he added.

Argentina was the world’s largest exporter of beef at the beginning of the 20th century. However, in recent decades, livestock farming has not experienced the same technological development as agriculture, which has gained ground and relegated it to feedlots or marginal areas.

Osvaldo Barsky, a researcher on rural history in Argentina, told IPS that “with the incorporation of technologies and varieties, agriculture expanded to the best lands.”

“In livestock farming, the processes were slower and there were even times of decline, such as when President Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007) temporarily banned exports to curb the growth of domestic prices,” he said.

Livestock farming is responsible for the highest greenhouse gas emissions in Argentina, ahead of transport, emitting 76.41 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, which is 20.7 percent of the total. Credit: Courtesy of Ana Garcia

Livestock farming is responsible for the highest greenhouse gas emissions in Argentina, ahead of transport, emitting 76.41 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, which is 20.7 percent of the total. Credit: Courtesy of Ana Garcia

As a result, “there was a major drop in production, 10 million head of cattle were lost and neighbours like Uruguay and Paraguay overtook us in the international market,” said Barsky. Meanwhile, Brazil has become the world’s largest exporter of beef and poultry in the last two years.

Today, beef is one of the few sectors of economic activity where the government of Mauricio Macri, in office since December 2015, can show favourable figures.

Macri himself, in fact, led the bimonthly meeting of the National Beef Board, which brings together various state and private stakeholders, on Jul. 16.

According to official data, in the first five months of this year Argentina exported 60 percent more beef than in the same period in 2017: 121,277 tons against 75,934.

Government projections released on Jul. 19 indicate that the country will export 435,000 tons of beef this year, surpassing Uruguay and Paraguay for the first time in years, although still far behind Brazil, which will export some two million tons.

Currently, half of Argentina’s beef exports go to China, followed by Russia, Chile, Israel and Germany in that order.

Exports reached 1.2 billion dollars in 2017 and the government hopes they will bring in nearly two billion dollars this year.

Production is also growing, albeit at a slower pace.

Average domestic consumption of beef in this country of 44 million people, which at one point reached an average of 80 kg per person per year, fell due to competition from other kinds of meat, but is still high: 59 kg, according to updated figures from the Argentine Beef Promotion Institute (IPCVA).

Berra warns that “If we want to continue exporting in the long term, livestock production must not only be economically efficient but also environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.”

“Argentina, in the future, could be at a commercial disadvantage if environmental trade barriers are implemented,” he added.

In this sense, feedlots play a fundamental role. Extensive livestock farming and its pastoral image of cows grazing in open fields is becoming less and less common.

Feedlots, which began to be used in Argentina in the 1990s, allow for intensive meat production in less time and with less space.

Currently, 65 to 70 percent of the cattle that arrive at slaughterhouses in Argentina come from feedlots, Fernando Storni, general manager of the Argentine Feedlot Chamber, told IPS.

“This production method in Argentina is relatively new and regulations are still being designed. The disposal of livestock waste is only regulated in one province (Córdoba),” he added.

Storni said that “we are aware that we have to work on mitigating the impacts because the requirements are going to be increasingly strict at the international level.”

The issue is being followed with concern by researchers from the School of Agronomy of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA).

Ana García, who holds a PhD in Agricultural and Forestry Research and is a researcher at the UBA School of Agronomy, said that “it is urgent to regulate these activities because they have a negative impact on the environment and can affect human health.”

“I have been studying feedlots since 2004 and I see that there is no adequate treatment or final destination for problems that accumulate over the years. There is a lack of synchronisation of the production system with environmental criteria. You have to help producers to set criteria before you can demand it,” said Ileana Ciapparelli, a professor of Inorganic Chemistry at UBA.

She explained that “producers don’t know how to dispose of the feedlot solid waste and do what they can. Some use it to try to improve soil fertility but others leave it in piles, generating a source of methane emissions.”

Ciapparelli carried out a study that showed that hundreds of tons of manure deposited in clay soil generate concentrations of substances that can penetrate the soil up to more than a metre deep and contaminate groundwater, which in turn is connected to surface water bodies.

One of these substances is phosphorus, a nutrient that agricultural producers buy through fertilisers and that could be obtained from the waste from feedlots, which today contaminate watercourses.

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Land Degradation: A Triple Threat in Africahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/land-degradation-triple-threat-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=land-degradation-triple-threat-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/land-degradation-triple-threat-africa/#respond Fri, 03 Aug 2018 08:41:45 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157041 Sustainability, stability, and security—the three overlapping issues are an increasing concern among many especially in Africa where land degradation is displacing citizens and livelihoods. African ministers and United Nations officials convened at the U.N. as part of the Initiative on Sustainability, Stability, and Security (3S), which aims to address migration and instability caused by land […]

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A rice farmer in Northern Ghana during better days. Croplands that were once fertile in northern Ghana are now unproductive, which has led to decreased incomes while water sources are drying up due to prolonged droughts. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 3 2018 (IPS)

Sustainability, stability, and security—the three overlapping issues are an increasing concern among many especially in Africa where land degradation is displacing citizens and livelihoods.

African ministers and United Nations officials convened at the U.N. as part of the Initiative on Sustainability, Stability, and Security (3S), which aims to address migration and instability caused by land degradation across the continent.

“We need to take ownership of our responsibility,” said minister of environment and sustainable development of Senegal Mame Thierno Dieng. The west African nation was one of the countries that helped launch the 3S initiative."We need to ensure people have jobs within their communities and environment. We want them to stay on their farms and farm." -- Ghana’s deputy-minister of environment, science, technology, and innovation Patricia Appiagyei.

Among its objectives, 3S hopes to stabilise “at risk” areas by creating new, green jobs for the most vulnerable communities through investments on land rehabilitation and sustainable land management.

Without any such action, the dangers for communities are undeniable.

Globally, 80 percent of land degradation is caused by agriculture. Since 1950, 65 percent of Africa’s cropland, which millions depend on, has been affected by land degradation by mining, poor farming practices, and illegal logging.

Meanwhile, an estimated 375 million young Africans are estimated to enter the job market within the next 15 years. Of this population, 200 million will live in rural areas.

As resource-based sectors such as agriculture account for 80 percent of employment, young people will be left without a healthy environment to survive on. According to 3S, this could lead to conflict over natural resources, instability caused by the lack of income-generating opportunities, and increased exposure to extremist groups.

Ghana, renowned for its tropical forests and cocoa farms, is already seeing this scenario play out.

Approximately 35 percent of the west African country’s land is under threat of desertification especially in the north where land degradation and climate change have exacerbated poverty.

Croplands that were once fertile in northern Ghana are now unproductive, which has led to decreased incomes while water sources are drying up due to prolonged droughts.

Such losses have forced northern residents to migrate to the southern region of the country where they live in “highly deplorable” conditions, Ghana’s deputy-minister of environment, science, technology, and innovation Patricia Appiagyei told IPS.

“It is about time that we find ways of ensuring we neutralise the high rate of degradation,” she said.

“[3S] is an initiative we are very passionate about and we believe that we need to join to address these issues because land degradation and desertification issues is not just affecting the land but it is also affecting water, energy, food baskets, and livelihoods of the people who live within those communities,” Appiagyei continued.

While Ghana has begun investing in agricultural development in the north, conflicts are beginning to escalate between farmers and herders who are losing grazing land for their cattle.

The Gambia is facing similar challenges, with almost 80 percent of its woodlands degraded in alongside a rapid decrease in the productivity of its cropland.

As 64 percent of its population are young people, Gambians have been forced to move to urban areas or abroad for greener pastures.

Many Gambians have also been returning which is proving to be an additional challenge, said minister of environment, climate change, and natural resources Lamin Dibba to IPS.

“There was a particular month that there were about 400 people returning from abroad. This is very worrying for the fact that when they stay long without any livelihood support system, this can bring a lot of social disorder,” he said.

In an effort to avoid such instability, the Gambia hopes to create 25,000 green jobs for youth in their communities as well as returning migrants in the fields of agriculture, tourism, and conservation.

To achieve this, education is a crucial component, both Appiagyei and Dibba said.

“[We need] to reach out to the communities to explain to them what is climate change, what are the causes, what are the likely impacts…this is why we call it integrated—we want to look at all aspects of people’s livelihoods,” Dibba said.

Supported by the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative, the Gambia is implementing an education project targeting schools about GGW and land restoration methods.

Appiagyei noted the importance of including farmers, especially women, in such initiatives through education on agricultural practices and new technologies.

“They are currently suffering from the agricultural practices they are undertaking and the weather doesn’t really help…we need to ensure people have jobs within their communities and environment. We want them to stay on their farms and farm,” she said.

While Ghana is considering a lift on a ban on small-scale mining, which has impacted swathes of forests and water bodies, Appiagyei told IPS that sustainable land management comes first.

“We are thinking about lifting the ban, but not until we are able to improve on land management practices and apply the right legislation. Not until we are convinced that we have the right measures to curb the activities of small-scale illegal mining,” she said.

But no one of this will be possible without meetings and support from the international level.

“We want to ensure these projects become a reality,” said Dibba.

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Is Thailand Making Progress Towards Reaching its Climate Change Mitigation Goals?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/thailand-making-progress-towards-reaching-climate-change-mitigation-goals/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=thailand-making-progress-towards-reaching-climate-change-mitigation-goals http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/thailand-making-progress-towards-reaching-climate-change-mitigation-goals/#respond Wed, 01 Aug 2018 09:31:14 +0000 Sinsiri Tiwutanond http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156986 As preparations are underway for an important formal discussion between countries committed to the Paris Agreement; Thailand, Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, has been determining its progress towards reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20 to 25 percent by 2030. But experts have warned against merely emphasising policies to affect real changes. Under the Facilitative Dialogue […]

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Runoff from the north into the Chao Phraya River, heavy rains and high tides all pose major flooding threat to Bangkok. Credit: Ron Corben/IPS

By Sinsiri Tiwutanond
BANGKOK , Aug 1 2018 (IPS)

As preparations are underway for an important formal discussion between countries committed to the Paris Agreement; Thailand, Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, has been determining its progress towards reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20 to 25 percent by 2030. But experts have warned against merely emphasising policies to affect real changes.

Under the Facilitative Dialogue 2018, countries will have the opportunity to revisit  their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in a fight to close the gap between the GHG emissions trajectory needed to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. NDCs are outlines of the actions countries propose to undertake in order to limit the rise in average global temperatures to well below 2°C.

“Climate change impacts deal with long-term planning. We need to be looking at how we are planning to adapt ourselves to the impact in the next five to 10 years and the infrastructure needed to be resilient to those impacts. It is very site-specific. You can’t really focus on the policy level alone,” Wanun Permpibul of Thailand Climate Action Network told IPS.

According Permpibul, unofficial talks have indicated that Thailand may not be revisiting their NDC commitments this year.

“When we meet with government officials, they claim that they already achieved 17 percent of reduction even though we haven’t implement the NDCs yet. It seems they are still unsure if we are going to resubmit our targets this year,” she said.

She cautioned against this optimism as there are still ongoing projects from the government that contradict their NDC commitment, in particular a plan for two coal-fired powered plants in in the southern tourist destinations of Krabi and Songkhla. Earlier this year, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand announced it would delay the construction of the power plants after months-long opposition from local villagers and activists. However, the coal-fired power plants remained on the pipeline with an expected start date in the next three years.

“There is no room to say we have a marginalised renewable energy and that is already acceptable. We’ve been working with communities and networks in the lower northern region of Thailand and they have already witnessed the impacts of climate change. It’s more difficult now to plan for their crops because the rainfall pattern has changed,” Permpibul said.

She believes a stronger push is needed to see real progress towards the government’s commitment. “We need to limit the temperature to 1.5 degrees. It’s a matter of life and death and it’s the urgency that Thailand is not aware of. You can’t afford to go for another half degree.”

Global Green Growth Intuitive (GGGI) Thailand’s green growth and planning and implementation programme manager Khan Ram-Indra said that the country is making meaningful progress on their NDC goals. Credit: Sinsiri Tiwutanond/IPS

Global Green Growth Intuitive (GGGI) is one of the organisations working closely to assist the country’s Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy (ONEP).

GGGI’s Thailand’s green growth and planning and implementation programme manager Khan Ram-Indra said that Thailand is making meaningful progress on their NDC goals.

The organisation has previously worked with the government to develop a GHG reduction roadmap for the Thai industry to remain on track with the agreement.

“GGGI’s work in Thailand has a strong focus on green industries. We believe we are in the best position to help Thailand achieve their ambitious target in GHG reduction. Out of the 20 percent [commitment under the NDC], eight percent will be from the energy industry, which is the area we are focused on, so we are currently working to turn those plans into real actions by collaborating directly with the private sector to develop bankable projects,” Ram-Indra said.

He said what makes GGGI’s work here crucial is that it is among a few development agencies working to focus on bankable project developments in the implementation phase of the value chain instead of planning. This has already demonstrated hopeful results from local companies. Under GGGI’s Accelerate NDC Implementation track, the organisation worked with local industry to identify potential energy efficiency projects and helped mobilise financing from its reach of investors.

Through a series of audits, on-site electricity and economic studies, the organisation was able to narrow down two companies with the most potential for energy efficiency projects.

GGGI was also able to raise USD1 million for a green industry project and based on that project, the organisation predicts similar successes across the country. While green investment makes up the bulk of GGGI’s efforts, Ram-Indra stressed that the means are as important as the end. “What we want is to see real tangible GHG reduction by the end of the project,” he added.

“For our Thailand programmes, they tend to focus more on climate change mitigation. Because GGGI’s mandate is to create a resilient world of strong inclusive and sustainable growth, with all of our projects, especially green cities, we make sure that the plan that we develop to help mobilise finance has a strong aspect of resilience to address climate change,” Ram-Indra explained.

Other projects on GGGI’s portfolio also include assisting the Udon Thani municipality develop a feasibility study to decide what will be the most cost-effective measures in collecting e-waste products. Udon Thani, a province located 560 km northeast of Bangkok, is ramping up efforts to become a regional hub for waste products after successfully developing their own waste treatment plant. GGGI is also assisting them conduct a feasibility study for a recycling plant that disassemble products like mobile phones and makes them more economically viable to sell to third-parties.

Another focus is on the Green Climate Fund, which Thailand currently has limited capacity in accessing. GGGI is working closely with ONEP which is the focal point of the fund to help the agency effectively access it.

Whether these efforts would bolster the country’s results to meet its NDCs by 2030 remains to be seen.

“If you set your demands very high, it doesn’t reflect the reality of this country. Rather, why don’t we use the time and resources to make our targets more ambitious and affect real changes,” Permpibul concluded.

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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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Q&A: Indonesia Takes Steps to Reduce Emissions – But It’s Not Enoughhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/qa-indonesia-takes-steps-reduce-emissions-not-enough/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-indonesia-takes-steps-reduce-emissions-not-enough http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/qa-indonesia-takes-steps-reduce-emissions-not-enough/#respond Wed, 25 Jul 2018 09:31:30 +0000 Kanis Dursin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156847 Since 2013, the Global Green Growth Institute has been working with the government of Indonesia promoting green growth. IPS correspondent Kanis Dursin interviewed Indonesia Deputy Country Representative Dagmar Zwebe about the country's steps in mitigating climate change.

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Peatland degradation in Indonesia has also caused a decrease in fish populations. Courtesy: Global Green Growth Institute

By Kanis Dursin
JAKARTA, Jul 25 2018 (IPS)

The South Asian nation of Indonesia is the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouses gases (GHG) and is ranked as the world’s second-largest plastic polluter of oceans, just behind China. So when the country committed in the Paris Agreement to limit the rise in average global temperatures to below 2°C by unconditionally reducing its emissions by 29 percent with using its own finances and by 41 percent with international funding, many felt the goals too ambitious.

Climate Action Tracker, which produces scientific analysis measuring the actions governments propose to undertake in order to limit climate change impact, noted that Indonesia’s 2016 commitment actions to reduce GHG, are “highly insufficient.”

The World Resources Institute (WRI), in a study on what is required for the country to reduce its emissions as promised in the Paris Agreement, noted that more ambitious actions would be necessary in order to meet the targets – referred to as nationally determined contributions or NDCs.

“For Indonesia to achieve both its unconditional and conditional NDC targets, more-ambitious mitigation actions will be necessary. Our analysis suggests that the key areas of increased ambition should be strengthening and extending the forest moratorium policy, restoring degraded forest and peatland, and increasing energy conservation efforts,” WRI said.

The Global Green Growth Institute, which has a mandate to support emerging and developing countries develop rigorous green growth economic development strategies, has been assisting this Asian nation draw up its national green growth roadmap. GGGI focuses on assisting countries in achieving quality economic growth through less stress on the environment and natural capital.

“As the country aims to become a high-income country in the 2030s, continued rapid economic growth is required. Without adopting green growth approaches, Indonesia, already the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the largest contributor of forest-based emissions would only pollute the world more,” Indonesia deputy country representative Dagmar Zwebe told IPS.

However, private sector involvement, strengthening of national policies and regulation on land use are required to bring the country closer to its targets.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Q: GGGI helped Indonesia draw up its national Green Growth Programme. Tell us more about the roadmap and how you chose the priority sectors?

The roadmap helps Indonesia chart a course toward a sustainable economy and focuses on energy, sustainable landscape, and infrastructure. These priority sectors were selected based on multi-stakeholder consultations, involving many government agencies and ministries, including advice provided by the Green Growth Programme Steering Committee.

Q: Briefly, what green initiatives has GGGI introduced in each of the priority sectors?

At the policy level, the national government and two provincial governments are now working to mainstream green growth in planning processes. For projects, GGGI designed a hybrid solar photovoltaic (PV) project combining an existing diesel-based power grid with solar PV in eight locations in East Nusa Tenggara. The facilities would reduce diesel consumption by 236 million litres or the equivalent to a total reduction of 549,300 tonnes of CO2 emissions and potential savings for state-owned electricity company Perusahaan Listrik Negara of around USD125 million over 20 years.

In the forest and land-use sector, Central Kalimantan has now formed public-private partnerships for rewetting, replanting and revitalisation of peat landscapes, while in the infrastructure sector, GGGI helps develop bankable green infrastructure projects, especially in special economic zones.

Q: Has there been any difficulty faced in implementing the programme?

One of the difficulties faced is that often the general public, in all sectors, associate green developments with more work or more barriers, decreased returns, and slower developments.

Q: What is needed to drive private investment in green initiatives?

Just for example, the current administration has put infrastructure development as one of the country’s priorities. Based on the current plans, a total investment of USD400 billion is required in the transportation, energy, water and waste sectors over a five years period. While the government has allocated significant funding toward this goal, there is still a gap of USD150 billion to overcome.

This is where the private sector can come in and play an important role. That has not happened yet for various reasons, including the national political and regulatory environment, lack of healthy pipeline of high quality, green and inclusive bankable projects, and capacity limitations in the public, private, and financial sector.

Q: Under the Green Growth Programme, GGGI, in cooperation with government agencies, will train 30,000 civil servants on green growth.

An important aspect of the Green Growth Programme is to build systems and capacity in ways that can be replicated. This is done through the establishment and operations of a web-based green growth knowledge platform hosted by the Indonesian ministry of national development planning, which will extend support to initiatives in other provinces beyond the two current pilot provinces of Central and East Kalimantan. The knowledge platform was launched in July, and will be further built upon over the next few years.

GGGI is also working to strengthen capacity of stakeholders in the application of the extended cost benefit analysis tool, specifically in mainstreaming the tool into strategic environmental assessment methodologies, as part of the government of Indonesia’s development and spatial planning process.

Q: In the first phase, GGGI worked with the Central and East Kalimantan provinces on several green programmes. How have the programmes developed? 

Districts Murung Raya and Pulang Pisau in Central Kalimantan allocated USD8.8 million in 2015 to implement their green growth strategies, covering six key sectors: forestry, mining, plantation, aquaculture, energy and cross-sectorial developments.

GGGI has provided strong support for the development of the provincial general energy planning for East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan. The plan followed the issuance of the General Plan for National Energy.

Q: Do you think Indonesia can achieve its targeted reduction of GHG emissions?

Indonesia has pledged to reduce emissions by 29 percent financed by its own resources and by 41 percent subject to international assistance by 2030. This is an ambitious target, but Indonesia is taking many steps to reach this. Even with all these efforts though, Indonesia is not yet on track to reach its targets.

However, further strengthening of the earlier mentioned national policies and regulations in the land-use and energy sectors, including the moratorium on new forest and peatland concessions, peatland restoration, renewable energy mix targets, social forestry and degraded forest land rehabilitation, could bring Indonesia much closer to their target.

– Additional reporting by Nalisha Adams

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Excerpt:

Since 2013, the Global Green Growth Institute has been working with the government of Indonesia promoting green growth. IPS correspondent Kanis Dursin interviewed Indonesia Deputy Country Representative Dagmar Zwebe about the country's steps in mitigating climate change.

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Building the Caribbean’s Climate Resilience to Ensure Basic Survivalhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/building-caribbeans-climate-resilience-ensure-basic-survival/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=building-caribbeans-climate-resilience-ensure-basic-survival http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/building-caribbeans-climate-resilience-ensure-basic-survival/#respond Mon, 23 Jul 2018 09:13:01 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156816 In 2004, when the Category 4 hurricane Ivan hit the tiny island nation of Grenada and its 151 mph winds stalled overhead for 15 hours–it devastated the country. But not before pummelling Barbados and other islands, killing at least 15 people. And again last year, the destruction left behind in several Caribbean islands by Hurricanes […]

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Grenada has rebounded after being destroyed by Category 4 hurricane Ivan in 2004 which destroyed 90 percent of homes. More than a decade later, the island’s prime minister Dr. Keith Mitchell says adjusting to the new normal requires comprehensive and coordinated efforts to mainstream climate change considerations in development planning. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
ST GEORGE’S, Jul 23 2018 (IPS)

In 2004, when the Category 4 hurricane Ivan hit the tiny island nation of Grenada and its 151 mph winds stalled overhead for 15 hours–it devastated the country. But not before pummelling Barbados and other islands, killing at least 15 people.

And again last year, the destruction left behind in several Caribbean islands by Hurricanes Irma and Maria once again highlighted the vulnerability of these island countries.

It has also emphasised the need for a strong natural resource base to protect and make communities and ecosystems more resilient to the impacts of climate change, which are expected to become even more severe in the future.“We have seen first-hand how poverty and social weaknesses magnify natural disasters. This need not be the case.” -- Grenada’s prime minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

“Building the region’s resilience to climate change, natural hazards and environmental changes is not only a necessary and urgent development imperative, but it is also a fundamental requirement to ensure our basic survival as a people,” Grenada’s prime minister Dr. Keith Mitchell told IPS.

“We have no choice as a region but to pursue climate-smart development, as we forge ahead to build a climate-resilient Caribbean.”

Grenada is among 10 Caribbean countries getting help from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to address water, land and biodiversity resource management as well as climate change.

Under the five-year Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF-IWEco Project), countries are implementing national sub-projects at specific sites in order to enhance livelihood opportunities and socio-economic co-benefits for targeted communities from improved ecosystem services functioning.

Project sites include the upper reaches of the Soufriere Watershed in Saint Lucia, the Cedar Grove and Cooks Watershed areas and McKinnons Pond in Antigua, and the Negril Morass in Jamaica.

“Adjusting to the new normal requires comprehensive and coordinated efforts to mainstream climate change considerations in development planning,” Mitchell said.

“In practice, this will require a shift in focus, from sustainable development to climate-smart sustainable development.”

In addition to Grenada―Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago ―are also participating in the project, which also aims to strengthen policy, legislative and institutional reforms and capacity building.

Half of the 10 countries ― Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and; St. Vincent & the Grenadines ― belong to the sub-regional grouping, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Their participation in the project is being funded by the GEF to the tune of USD20 million.

IWEco is being co-implemented by United Nations Environment and the U.N. Development Programme and co-executed by U.N. Environment’s Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (U.N. Environment CAR RCU), which is the Secretariat to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (the Cartagena Convention).

All OECS countries are signatories to the Cartagena Convention, a comprehensive, umbrella agreement for the protection and development of the marine environment.

Fresh and coastal water resources management, sustainable land management and sustainable forest management are all challenges to Caribbean SIDS, and more so as the region’s economies face numerous demands and, inevitably, another hurricane season.

Addressing these challenges while improving social and ecological resilience to the impacts of climate change are objectives of the IWEco Project.

Stating that storms and hurricanes do not have to result in catastrophic disasters, Mitchell said in too many instances in the region this has been the case because of the prevailing susceptibilities of communities.

“We have seen first-hand how poverty and social weaknesses magnify natural disasters. This need not be the case,” he said.

“We must redouble our efforts to improve the conditions for the most vulnerable in our societies so that they are empowered and supported to manage disasters and climate risks.”

Grenada, along with all participating countries, will benefit from regional project activities aimed at strengthening policy, legislative and institutional frameworks, strengthening monitoring and evaluation, and public awareness.

At a recent meeting in Montserrat, the regional coordinator of the Cartagena Convention, Dr. Lorna Inniss noted that since the particularly destructive hurricane season of 2017, perhaps even as a consequence of it, the trend in the region towards consolidating several related areas of responsibility into single ministries seems to have grown.

Grenada, for instance, now has the combined ministry of climate resilience, the environment, forestry, fisheries, disaster management and information. Dominica now has the ministry of environment, climate resilience, disaster management and urban renewal.

The most recent projections in climate research all anticipate a significant increase in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, as well as slow onset climate-related changes, such as sea-level rise, less rainfall and increased sea surface temperatures.

These impacts can disrupt Grenada’s economy and critical economic sectors like agriculture and tourism and damage critical infrastructure and personal property.

The findings of a regional study concluded that climate change has the potential to increase the overall cost to local economies by one to three percent of GDP by 2030 in the Caribbean. It also alters the risk profile of the islands by impacting local sea levels, hurricane intensity, precipitation patterns and temperature patterns.

According to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), in absolute terms, expected losses may triple between 2010 and 2030. Climate change adaptation is therefore critical for the economic stability of the tri-island state.

“Charting a course to 2030 is even more an urgent requirement as the impacts of climate change are increasingly affecting CCRIF’s Caribbean and Central American member countries,” CCRIF CEO, Isaac Anthony said.

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Limiting Global Temperature Rise to 1.5 Degreeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/limiting-global-temperature-rise-1-5-degrees/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=limiting-global-temperature-rise-1-5-degrees http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/limiting-global-temperature-rise-1-5-degrees/#respond Wed, 18 Jul 2018 12:33:50 +0000 Saleemul Huq http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156765 In the run-up to the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in its 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in December 2015, one of the most politically contentious issues was whether the limit of the long-term global temperature rise should be kept at 2 degrees centigrade or changed to 1.5 degrees. […]

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PHOTO: PETER ANDREWS/REUTERS

By Saleemul Huq
Jul 18 2018 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)

In the run-up to the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in its 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in December 2015, one of the most politically contentious issues was whether the limit of the long-term global temperature rise should be kept at 2 degrees centigrade or changed to 1.5 degrees.

Bangladesh, as part of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group of Negotiators under the leadership of Angola, and also the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) under the leadership of President Aquino of the Philippines, was very active in advocating for a change to 1.5 degrees. However, there was strong initial resistance from the developed countries as well as large developing countries such as China and India, and also the oil-exporting countries led by Saudi Arabia. The specific technical argument they used was the need for more scientific studies and wanted the topic passed on to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to produce a special report which would take several years.

However, by the end of COP21, we were able to convince all the countries to include 1.5 degrees as an aspirational goal with the main goal being “well below 2 degrees” in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This was a major victory for the vulnerable developing countries including Bangladesh.

In the meantime, the IPCC did indeed go ahead with the preparation of the Special Report on 1.5 degrees over the last few years, and a draft final report has been prepared which is expected to be finalised for dissemination in October at the IPCC Plenary.

However, the draft final report has been leaked and is already available, even though it is yet to be finalised and endorsed by the IPCC. Based on this leaked report, I am going to share some key messages which are unlikely to change in the final official version in October.

The first finding is the difference in global impacts for 2 degrees versus 1.5 degrees. They have shown that the additional cost of climate change impacts will be over USD 10 trillion globally over the next few decades, and that these adverse impacts will be worst in certain locations and groups. The greatest hotspots are West Africa and South Asia, and within the latter category, coastal Bangladesh will be a major hotspot that will lead to tens of millions of people being forced to migrate.

The second assessment made by the IPCC is how feasible the goal of staying below 1.5 degrees is. The answer is that it is still possible to do so but it will require the current efforts to reduce emissions to not just be doubled but redoubled. This particular result will be a key issue in COP24 to be held in December 2018 in Katowice, Poland, where the issue of raising ambition and measuring, verifying and measuring progress is expected to be agreed on.

The third and final topic which is addressed in the report is the emerging realisation globally that not only is zero emission going to be possible, but it may in fact be very profitable for companies engaged in providing sustainable energy solutions to replace fossil fuels-based energy.

Hence, more and more countries are planning to bring forward their respective goals of reaching zero emission which is what is needed to stay below 1.5 degrees.

In conclusion, the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 degrees, which we expect to be finalised and released in October, is likely to feed into COP24 in December in Poland. Hence, Bangladesh and other vulnerable countries have to ensure maximum pressure on all countries to raise their levels of ambition in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees.

Saleemul Huq is Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB).
Email: saleem.icccad@iub.edu.bd

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

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Humanitarian Situation Worsens as Over 800,000 Displaced People Face Cold and Heavy Rains in Ethiopiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/humanitarian-situation-worsens-800000-displaced-people-face-cold-heavy-rains-ethiopia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=humanitarian-situation-worsens-800000-displaced-people-face-cold-heavy-rains-ethiopia http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/humanitarian-situation-worsens-800000-displaced-people-face-cold-heavy-rains-ethiopia/#respond Fri, 13 Jul 2018 13:10:42 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156700 Over 800,000 internally displaced persons are living without adequate shelter and safe sanitation in Ethiopia, resulting in a worsening humanitarian situation further exacerbated by cold, wet weather brought on by the rainy season. Clashes last month between communities along the border of two Ethiopian regions – Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) and Oromia […]

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Samira,* a displaced Ethiopian, holds one of her seven children in front of the tiny space she shares with other families at the Gedeb site. Credit: Olivia Headon/IOM 2018

By International Organization for Migration
DILLA, Ethiopia, Jul 13 2018 (IOM)

Over 800,000 internally displaced persons are living without adequate shelter and safe sanitation in Ethiopia, resulting in a worsening humanitarian situation further exacerbated by cold, wet weather brought on by the rainy season.

Clashes last month between communities along the border of two Ethiopian regions – Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) and Oromia Region – forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Those displaced in June added to some smaller-scale displacements that occurred in April and May.

According to data collected through IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), there were already 1,776,685 people internally displaced throughout Ethiopia – most due to drought and subsequent floods – before these latest movements.

Walking for days to find safety, many sleeping out in the open along the way, the displaced communities have few if any possessions beyond the clothes they left in, and no food or money.

Samira*, a 22-year-old mother of seven who arrived three months ago in one of the first waves of displacement, is now living in Gedeb (Gedeo Zone), where local authorities have requested IOM, the UN Migration Agency, to focus its site management support.

Her family left home with very little and have hardly had enough to sustain their lives while displaced. Her husband was also wounded in his leg when they were fleeing.

“We only managed to escape with our lives – we did not carry anything with us, only our children, but I know there are people here who have it worse than us,” said Samira, whose family has found shelter in a disused building.

“We are really grateful to have shelter to protect us from the outside but we need more food and clothes – our children are cold. There are good organizations supporting us but we need much more.”

The Government of Ethiopia which has lead the response since the crisis began, is racing to provide vital humanitarian services across numerous displacement sites in West Guji Zone (Oromia) and Gedeo Zone (SNNPR), the latter hosting the majority of those displaced.

Many of the displaced people are staying with relatives in local communities or in rented accommodations, while others are sheltering in collective centres like schools, government buildings and disused factories. Those staying in local communities still come to the collective centres during the day to access humanitarian services.

Thousands of people are crammed into overcrowded collective centres unfit for human habitation. Others sleep outside on dirt floors with nothing more than a tarpaulin to shield them from the cold and rain. Open fire cooking in overly congested buildings, poor sanitation and cold weather are all contributing to a worsening environment from both health and protection perspectives.

In support of and in close coordination with the Government of Ethiopia, IOM is providing humanitarian assistance to displaced populations in collective centres and within local communities through an integrated approach focusing on core aid distribution, emergency shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance, primary emergency health care and site management support. In addition, IOM’s DTM is supporting the overall response by much needed identification of population movements and needs.

“With so many people displaced in such a short space of time, IOM mobilized response teams and resources to immediately help the Government and local communities address the rapidly-mounting humanitarian needs,” said Maureen Achieng, IOM Ethiopia Chief of Mission and Representative to the African Union, IGAD and UNECA.

“However, the rains continue and people have very little to survive on – more support is urgently needed from the international community.”

In the past week, IOM distributed 1,000 blankets and began building 40 communal shelters to protect displaced communities from the weather. By Thursday (12/07), IOM had completed 15 of a planned 150 latrines and had started digging several more. These activities are being done in addition to displacement tracking rapid assessments, and other ongoing support.

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon in Ethiopia, Tel: +251902484062, Email: oheadon@iom.int

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Q&A: Raising the Profile on the Largest Environmental Issue of Our Timehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/raising-profile-largest-environmental-issue-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=raising-profile-largest-environmental-issue-time http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/raising-profile-largest-environmental-issue-time/#respond Fri, 13 Jul 2018 10:54:03 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156690 IPS correspondent Tharanga Yakupitiyage spoke to Robert Scholes, ecologist and co-chair of Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (IPBES) assessment, about land degradation and efforts needed to halt and reverse the catastrophe.

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Soil degradation, climate change, heavy tropical monsoonal rain and pests are some of the challenges the young farmers face. Soil degradation will impact two-thirds of humanity who will be food-insecure while societies are left with a heightened risk of instability. Credit: IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 13 2018 (IPS)

Land degradation caused by human activities is occurring at an alarming rate across the world, and the cost will be steep if no action is taken.

In recent years, environmental groups have been sounding the alarm on land degradation while stories of the human impact on the environment have inundated twitter feeds and development news—and with good reason.

This year, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (IPBES) produced the world’s first comprehensive, evidence-based assessment highlighting the dangers and far-reaching impacts of land degradation.

The United Nations-backed study found that land degradation has reached “critical” levels across the world as 75 percent of land is already degraded and projections show that such degradation will increase to over 90 percent by 2050.

Since then, more reports have poured in highlighting concerns over the issue.

Most recently, the Joint Research Centre at the European Commission created a “World Atlas of Desertification” and found that an area half the size of the European Union is degraded every year by farming, city expansion, and deforestation.

Before that, the U.N Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) reported that the global economy will lose a staggering USD23 trillion by 2050 because of land degradation.

Not only will it affect economies, but the phenomenon will impact two-thirds of humanity who will be food-insecure while societies are left with a heightened risk of instability.

IPS spoke to Robert Scholes, ecologist and co-chair of IPBES’ assessment, about land degradation and efforts needed to halt and reverse the catastrophe.

Q: How is land degradation caused, and what are the dangers? 

Land degradation is kind of at the overlap of many contemporary concerns. For instance, a very long proportion of the current drivers of climate change come out of things that are related to land degradation.

About one-third of current climate change relates to processes of land degradation—either deforestation or decrease in soil carbon for agriculture and other similar processes.

Climate change has a reverse effect on land degradation—as the climate changes, the ecosystems that were in a particular place can no longer exist there. In the transition period while ecosystems try to sort everything out, those ecosystems lose their ability to supply the things on which we come to rely.

The current major driver of biodiversity loss is the loss of habitat, and loss of habitat is directly related to land degradation.

From the human side, these direct impacts come through the supply of food.

The result of a lot of this is that for people who depend on ecosystems for their livelihoods, their livelihoods are undermined. So those people are either worse off or are forced to move off the land and into other people’s territories and that leads to problems of conflict.

Q: What were some of the more concerning or surprising findings in the IPBES assessment?

This is quite likely the single environmental issue within the world today that affects the largest number of people.

There are many environmental issues that are going to have a big effect as the century unfolds—things like climate change and biodiversity loss— and there are many environmental issues that affect limited populations, like air pollution.

But when you look over the entire world, about two people out of every five are directly materially impacted by land degradation.

Q: What are some of the challenges around acting on land degradation? And what action(s) should governments take to overcome such challenges? 

The biggest single constraining factor is the fragmentation of land issues across many authorities … This is costing us, in terms of lost production and risks, billions and billions of dollars. But it’s not obvious to anyone because no one sees the full picture.

I think you need to attack the problem of integration between authorities at multiple levels.

First, the kind of management we do on the land physically has to move to what we call landscape-scale management. In other words, you don’t look at all the little bits individually, you actually look across the landscape and then you fit the bits into it.

When you get a level up, which is national management, it’s probably better that we do this by arranging for more than communication but coordination between the various agencies which have partial responsibility.

We also need coordination at the international level because although land degradation has its primary impact on the local level, many of the drivers of the causes of it have international manifestations.

So you can’t solve it purely at the local level—you have to have a national level which sets in place the right policies, and you need an international level to ensure, for instance, that global trade does not take place in such a way that it drives land degradation.

Q: Is it a matter of achieving land degradation neutrality or do people need to make a shift in lifestyle?

Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

We do need to achieve land degradation neutrality, which is basically equivalent to saying that you are halting the decline. The only way to achieve that in the long term is to alter many of our lifestyle impacts because it is those that are ultimately driving the increasing degradation of the land.

Land degradation neutrality is the strategy we would take but it has to be underpinned by these bigger scale changes in the demands that we put on ecosystems.

Q: What is your message to the international community to act on this issue? 

I am concerned that not enough is being done.

There’s a distribution of responsibility—you can’t solve this all at the international level nor all at the local level. It requires really strong action at all of those levels.

If you think of the Rio Conventions—the three conventions including the Climate Change Convention, the Biodiversity Convention, and the one related to land degradation, which was specifically around dry land degradation—the climate convention has moved forward with some ground breaking international collaborative agreements. Biodiversity is sort of moving forward but perhaps not as fast, and the convention on desertification hasn’t gone anywhere at all. The question is why?

Partly, because up until now, this has not been seen as a critically important issue. [It is an] ‘it affects far away people; it doesn’t affect us’ kind of issue.

What we point out is that both the causes and the consequences ultimately end up being international so it does affect everyone.

It’s a key driver of both the biodiversity loss and climate change, and that’s one of the reasons we have to raise its profile and address it sooner rather than later.

Other ambitions like many of the Sustainable Development Goals will not be possible unless we sort this one out too.

The post Q&A: Raising the Profile on the Largest Environmental Issue of Our Time appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

IPS correspondent Tharanga Yakupitiyage spoke to Robert Scholes, ecologist and co-chair of Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (IPBES) assessment, about land degradation and efforts needed to halt and reverse the catastrophe.

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Forests and Marine Resources Continue to Shrinkhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/forests-marine-resources-continue-shrink/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=forests-marine-resources-continue-shrink http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/forests-marine-resources-continue-shrink/#respond Thu, 12 Jul 2018 20:28:56 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156681 Deforestation and unsustainable farming are depriving the planet of forests, while destructive practices in fishing are limiting the chance to sustainably manage our oceans. According to United Nations estimates, the world’s population is projected to increase from 7.6 billion today to close to 10 billion people by 2050. The global demand for food is estimated […]

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About 80 percent of Guyana’s forests, some 15 million hectares, have remained untouched over time. Time is running as the total area of the world’s forests shrink by the day. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Maged Srour
ROME, Jul 12 2018 (IPS)

Deforestation and unsustainable farming are depriving the planet of forests, while destructive practices in fishing are limiting the chance to sustainably manage our oceans.

According to United Nations estimates, the world’s population is projected to increase from 7.6 billion today to close to 10 billion people by 2050. The global demand for food is estimated to grow by 50 percent,  placing productive land and seas under huge pressure.

It ultimately means that the way we manage our forests and oceans now is crucial in addressing our future needs, warn two biennial reports released this July by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.

The two reports titled The State of the World’s Forests(SOFO) and on The State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA), aim to highlight key facts over the state of our planet’s forests and waters and shed light on the need to address forestry, fisheries and aquaculture issues.

Time is running out for the world’s forests

“Time is running out for the world’s forests, whose total area is shrinking by the day,” says the SOFO report. In addition, deforestation is a leading cause of climate change as forests’ ability to sequester carbon decreases as they are lost.

The report warns that by halting deforestation, restoring degraded forests, and managing forests sustainably, damaging consequences for the planet and its dwellers can be avoided. The international community needs to promote an all-inclusive approach that fosters the benefits of forests and trees, engaging all stakeholders.

The SOFO report highlights that forests and trees are vital both to people and the planet, as they bolster livelihoods, provide clean air and water, conserve biodiversity and respond to climate change. It also refers to the greening of urban areas too.

“Making cities greener is critical to ensure the sustainable future of cities health and wellbeing of city dwellers,” Simone Borelli, agroforestry and urban/peri-urban forestry officer at FAO, told IPS. “Adding vegetation in urban areas has been shown to reduce urban temperatures and is regularly cited as a key mechanism for the Urban Heat Island Effect.”

Making cities greener is critical to ensure the sustainable future of cities health and wellbeing of city dwellers. Pictured here is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

“Measures such as shading and judicious use of vegetation are of special importance in hot-arid regions, where intense solar radiation and high air temperatures may have detrimental impacts on even the most basic human activities,” he said.

Borelli said that research in Dubai has shown that trees in urban areas “can reduce temperatures by up to 8°Celsius” and similar studies conducted in Amman have shown that trees “can reduce the cooling load of building by up to 35 percent.”

Furthermore, “by absorbing excess water and increasing soil infiltration and stability, urban and peri-urban trees can mitigate the occurrence and impact of flooding events.”

These issues will also be discussed in November during the first World Forum on Urban Forests, which will take place in Mantova, Italy, to discuss possible long-term collaboration on the development of urban forestry strategies.

The importance of sustaining fisheries

Meanwhile, 60 million people are engaged in the primary sector of fisheries and aquaculture, according to the SOFIA report.

“Including those engaged in the fisheries and aquaculture value chain, their families and dependents, we estimate that 10 to 12 percent of the world’s population relies on the sector for their livelihood. This demonstrates how important it is to sustain fisheries,” Manuel Barange, director of the fisheries and aquaculture policy and resources division at FAO, told IPS.

The 2018 edition of the SOFIA report is an updated analysis illustrating the major trends in global capture fisheries and aquaculture. It also highlights emerging issues, such as the increase in fish consumption (which has doubled due to population growth since 1961) and climate change, that “will affect humanity’s ability to sustainably manage global aquatic resources in the future.” 

The SOFIA report includes future projections of fish production, aquaculture production, prices and food fish supply. 

Fishermen carry their boat in from the sea in Doring Bay, 350km North of Cape Town. Credit: Patrick Burnett/IPS

The report highlights that too many people around the world rely on fish for their livelihoods and survival and therefore it is important to enact sustainable fishing and tackle worst practices such as the enormous food waste that occurs in the fish sector.

“While the sustainability of fisheries is improving in developed countries, this is not the case in developing countries,” said Barange. “Unless we change this trend, we will challenge the food and nutrition security of places where fish is needed most.”

One example of an unsustainable fishing practice is dynamite fishing. The practice, which is illegal, involves the use of explosives to kill fish. This, however, harms the ecosystem and has contributed to the destruction, for example, of Southeast Asian coral reefs for the past 20 years.

Another key aspect to address, according to the report, is that of illegal, unreported and unregulated or IUU fishing. IUU fishing often occurs, undermining national, regional and global efforts to manage fisheries sustainably. “[IUU fishing] is threatening the sustainability of fisheries. Implementing the Port States Measures Agreement, which came into force in 2016, is crucial to make IUU history,” said Barange.

“Countries need to do more than recognise the risk of IUU fishing – they must act decisively, and act now.”

IUU fleets have largely targeted valuable species such as the ‘Antarctic krill’ (Euphasia superba) and the ‘Patagonian toothfish’ (Dissostichus eleginoides). However, through management measures implemented by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the situation is slowly improving.

Moving forward to the 2030 agenda

Food and agriculture are key to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and, as the two reports note, “many of the SDGs are directly relevant to fisheries and aquaculture as well as to forestries.”

The SOFO report suggests that the contributions of forests and trees to SDGs might be “complex and context-specific”, and “more work is needed to understand some of the relationships that underlie these contributions.”

SDGs are directly linked to fisheries and aquaculture, too, as the SOFIA report highlights the critical importance of these activities for the food, nutrition and employment of millions of people, many of whom struggle to maintain reasonable livelihoods.

Forest, seas, lakes and waterways are crucial environments for our healthy lives and, for millions of people, for their subsistence and survival. Underestimating the importance of preserving them and regulating their management in a more sustainable way, would be an enormous mistake.

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Strengthening Cuban Coastal Landscape in the Face of Climate Changehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/cuban-coastal-landscape-strengthened-face-climate-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cuban-coastal-landscape-strengthened-face-climate-change http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/cuban-coastal-landscape-strengthened-face-climate-change/#respond Mon, 09 Jul 2018 21:42:46 +0000 Ivet Gonzalez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156610 Strong winds agitate the sea that crashes over Punta de Maisí, the most extreme point in eastern Cuba, where no building stands on the coast made up of rocky areas intermingled with vegetation and with sandy areas where people can swim and sunbathe. A little inland, a white, well-kept lighthouse rises 37 metres above sea […]

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The 37-metre tall lighthouse is a symbol of the municipality of Maisí. Built in 1862, it is located at the eastern tip of Cuba, in the province of Guantánamo. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

The 37-metre tall lighthouse is a symbol of the municipality of Maisí. Built in 1862, it is located at the eastern tip of Cuba, in the province of Guantánamo. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Ivet González
MAISÍ, Cuba, Jul 9 2018 (IPS)

Strong winds agitate the sea that crashes over Punta de Maisí, the most extreme point in eastern Cuba, where no building stands on the coast made up of rocky areas intermingled with vegetation and with sandy areas where people can swim and sunbathe.

A little inland, a white, well-kept lighthouse rises 37 metres above sea level. Standing there since 1862, it is an icon of the municipality of Maisí, in the province of Guantánamo, in the east of this Caribbean island nation of 11.2 million inhabitants.

“Occasionally there’s a cyclone. Matthew recently passed by and devastated this area,” said Hidalgo Matos, who has been the lighthouse keeper for more than 40 years.

Matos was referring to the last major disaster to strike the area, when Hurricane Matthew, category four on the one to five Saffir-Simpson scale, hit Guantánamo on Oct. 4-5, 2016.

Thanks to this rare trade, which has been maintained from generation to generation by the three families who live next to the lighthouse, the 64-year-old Matos has seen from the privileged height of the tower the fury of the sea and the winds from the hurricanes that are devastating Cuba and other Caribbean islands, more and more intensely due to climate change.

“One of the benefits of the area is that the majority of the population makes a living from fishing,” said the lighthouse-keeper.

This is the main reason why coastal populations are reluctant to leave their homes by the sea, and even return after being relocated to safer areas inland.

Facing this and other obstacles, the Cuban authorities in the 1990s began to modify the management of coastal areas, which was accelerated with the implementation in 2017 of the first government plan to address climate change, better known as Life Task.

Currently, more than 193,000 people live in vulnerable areas, in conditions that will only get worse, as the sea level is forecast to rise 27 centimetres by 2050 and 85 centimetres by 2100.

The relocation of coastal communities and the restoration of native landscapes are key to boosting resilience in the face of extreme natural events.

Hidalgo Matos is the keeper of the lighthouse located in Punta de Maisí at the eastern tip of Cuba, in the province of Guantánamo. From his watchtower, he has witnessed the effects of climate change - the increasingly recurrent and extreme natural events. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Hidalgo Matos is the keeper of the lighthouse located in Punta de Maisí at the eastern tip of Cuba, in the province of Guantánamo. From his watchtower, he has witnessed the effects of climate change – the increasingly recurrent and extreme natural events. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Scientists say that natural elements of coastal protection such as sandy beaches, sea grasses, reefs and mangroves cushion the tides.

Of the country’s 262 coastal settlements, 121 are estimated to be affected by climate change. Of these, 67 are located on the north coast, which was affected almost in its entirety by the powerful Hurricane Irma in September 2017, and 54 are in the south.

In total, 34,454 people, 11,956 year-round homes, 3,646 holiday homes and 1,383 other facilities are at risk.

Cuban authorities reported that 93 of the 262 coastal settlements had been the target of some form of climate change adaptation and mitigation action by 2016.

Measures for relocation to safer areas were also being carried out in 65 of these communities, 25 had partial plans for housing relocation, 22 had to be completely relocated from the shoreline, and another 56 were to be reaccommodated, rehabilitated and protected.

“There are no plans to move any settlements or people in the municipality because after Cyclone Matthew everything was moved,” said Eddy Pellegrin, a high-level official in the government of Maisí, with a population of 28,752 people who depend mostly on agriculture.

“Since 2015 we have been working on it. From that year to 2017, we relocated some 120 people,” he said in an interview with IPS in Punta de Maisí.

The view towards the mainland from the emblematic lighthouse in the farming town of Maisí, at the eastern tip of Cuba, where the municipal government is implementing several projects to adapt the vulnerable coastline to climate change. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

The view towards the mainland from the emblematic lighthouse in the farming town of Maisí, at the eastern tip of Cuba, where the municipal government is implementing several projects to adapt the vulnerable coastline to climate change. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A total of 840 people live along the 254 km of coastline in this municipality, “who are not in dangerous or vulnerable places,” the official said, discussing the national programme to manage the coastal area that Maisí is preparing to conclude with a local development project.

“There is no need to make new investments in the coastal area, what remains is to plant sea grapes (Coccoloba uvifera) to increase production,” he said of a local development project that consists of planting these bushes typical of the beaches, to restore the natural protective barrier and produce wine from the fruit.

Punta de Maisí and Boca de Jauco are the areas to be reforested with sea grape plants.

Pellegrin added that coconut groves – a key element of Guantánamo’s economy – will be replanted 250 m from the coast.

Maisí is an illustration of the long-term challenges and complexities of coastal management, ranging from the demolition of poorly located homes and facilities, to changing the economic alternatives in those communities that depend on fishing, to major engineering works.

Guantánamo has been hit continuously in recent years by major hurricanes: Sandy (2012), Matthew (2016) and Irma (2017), in addition to the severe drought between 2014 and 2017 that affected virtually the entire country.

“The latest atmospheric phenomena have affected the entire coastal area,” Daysi Sarmiento, an official in the government of the province of Guantánamo, told IPS.

Sports coach Milaydis Griñán lives near the historic Punta de Maisí lighthouse on the eastern tip of the Cuban island. Members of three families have worked as lighthouse keepers for generations. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Sports coach Milaydis Griñán lives near the historic Punta de Maisí lighthouse on the eastern tip of the Cuban island. Members of three families have worked as lighthouse keepers for generations. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

“Now Baracoa Bay is being dredged,” said Sarmiento, referring to Baracoa, the first town in the area built by the Spaniards in colonial times, which faces the worst coastal risks.

The dredging is part of investments expected to be completed in September to protect Baracoa’s coast, which is highly vulnerable to floods, hurricanes and tsunamis.

By August 2017, the authorities had eliminated more than 900 state facilities and 673 private buildings from beaches nationwide. On the sandy coasts in this area alone, a total of 14,103 irregularly-built constructions were identified at the beginning of the Life Task plan.

The central provinces of Ciego de Avila and Sancti Spíritus are the only ones that today have beaches free of zoning and urban planning violations.

There are at least six laws that protect the coastline in various ways, in particular Decree-Law 212 on “Coastal Area Management”, which has been in force since 2000 and prohibits human activities that accelerate natural soil erosion, a problem that had not been given importance for decades.

“The community has grown further away from the coast,” sports coach Milaydis Griñán told IPS. She defines herself as Cuba’s “first inhabitant” because of the proximity of her humble home to the Punta de Maisí lighthouse, which is still recovering from the impacts of Hurricane Matthew.

“The risks have been high because we are very close to the beach, especially when there is a storm or hurricane or tsunami alert, but we don’t have plans for relocation inland,” she said.

The post Strengthening Cuban Coastal Landscape in the Face of Climate Change appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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