Inter Press ServiceFresh Ideas from the Classroom – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 19 Dec 2018 06:42:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 Q&A: Why Young and Smart Greenpreneurs are the Future of Sustainable Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-young-smart-greenpreneurs-future-sustainable-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-young-smart-greenpreneurs-future-sustainable-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-young-smart-greenpreneurs-future-sustainable-development/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2018 15:16:04 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157757 IPS correspondent Busani Bafana speaks to Global Green Growth Institute's Greenpreneurs programme manager Juhern Kim.

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Members of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CEYN) clean debris from a river in Trinidad. GGGI has developed a new platform for young entrepreneurs with a flair for business development that is environmentally and socially sound, i.e. green growth business. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe , Sep 25 2018 (IPS)

Young people – a growing population segment in developing countries – are intrepid innovators and entrepreneurs who can help solve pressing climate and development challenges today.

Believing in the potential of the youth, the Seoul-based Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI), in partnership with Student Energy and Youth Climate Lab, has developed a new platform for young entrepreneurs with a flair for business development that is environmentally and socially sound.

Greenpreneurs is designed to provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs to transform innovative ideas into green businesses in sustainable energy, water and sanitation, sustainable landscapes and green cities.

GGGI’s manager leading the Greenpreneurs Programme, Juhern Kim, says the institute has been working with developing countries for the last six years as an inter-governmental organisation and realised the need to work with young people in those countries as a new engine of green growth. Many young people have innovative ideas on green growth but do not have a proper ecosystem to convert them into business opportunities that create jobs.

“Based on my experience, I learned firsthand about the limitation of an aid-based development approach, and recognised the need of partnering with business as a solution provider of traditional development issues that we want to tackle through a green growth intervention,” Kim tells IPS. “There might be a role of us – solely dedicated to promoting green growth – as a facilitator or platform creator to serve the needs in developing countries, working with various stakeholders including investors.”

Excerpts of the interview follow:

GGGI’s manager leading the Greenpreneurs Programme, Juhern Kim, says the idea behind the programme was to ultimately develop locally-driven, locally-originated green businesses. Courtesy: Juhern Kim

Inter Press Service (IPS):What was the motivation behind the Greenpreneurs Programme?

Juhern Kim (JK):To promote young entrepreneurs developing green business and contributing to green growth. Young entrepreneurs in developing countries have a lack of access to the right technical training, network, mentorship, (strategy to access to) investment capital. They require coaching to convert their ideas into solid business plans.

But incubating young entrepreneurs is not a simple task, since the demand is varied depending on diverse stages of business development, e.g. idea stage–prototyping–testing–commercialisation. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to help entrepreneurs, particularly for those who are committed to green growth. And we are not talking about Silicon Valley here, with abundant capital, intellectual and physical infrastructure, and advanced ecosystem. These types of platforms are not always installed in every country in the developing world. For young entrepreneurs in the developing world, [we have to] level the playing field.

IPS: Why the youth for greenpreneurship?

JK: I was working in Cambodia from 2011 to 2013 and realised that young people in rural areas were leaving their towns looking for new jobs. I wondered if rural areas are losing their young people who could look after the future of those villages, from economic, social, and environmental perspectives.

The idea behind promoting Greenpreneurs was to ultimately develop locally-driven, locally-originated green businesses. Ideas created by local people are authentic and ultimately sustainable if the business is taken care of with local ownership, since they know what they need, in terms of culture and practice. We thought, if that worked, that would provide green jobs for the youth.

IPS:Are green jobs possible in achieving the SDGs?

JK: Yes. Depending on the country situation and our intervention, we are focused mainly on goals #6, #7, #11, #13, #15 and #17 on climate change, energy, water and sanitation, land, agriculture, forestry and green cities. We want to grow the green economy sector and this can be associated with green finance and education and support social goals…the idea is to support and boost innovation in terms of green growth and provide some support. We believe ultimately these early stage investments will create jobs and, if successful, will ensure the hiring of local people and these kinds of businesses can be expanded.

IPS: Talk me through the business plan competition behind this initiative?

JK: Through our pilot programme this year, we have received 349 applications globally from youth startups. From these applicants we shortlisted 10 finalists and they have been working with us since early August through the 10-week web modules. We thought the online modules were ideal instead of developing a physical incubator, since we targeted youth entrepreneurs who do have enough support on the ground.

We started off with a webinar with GGGI’s director general Frank Rijsberman’s message to young entrepreneurs while providing content-based modules dealing with customer segmentation and problem-solving techniques to financial/impact modelling. We are now on Week 7 and up to Week 10 we will be help them organise their ideas to customise them for a final business pitch.

This will be a five-minute video pitch in which they will quantify social and environmental returns and show a robustness of the financial model to evaluate the proposal. We will then select three finalists who will come to Seoul in late October to be awarded the prize, during the side event of GGGI council.

IPS: Green growth is quite a fancy concept especially in the African context and in your experience do you see a lot of interest in this low carbon based development given that developing countries have technically argued they pollute less than developed countries but bear the brunt of the impact of climate change? 

JK: I would dare to say this is an old argument. The kind of radical confrontation is over. The situation is different now. The facts are there. Simply put, in 2016 solar power became cheaper in terms of clean energy – there is no reason to not pursue an economically beneficial and social sound renewable business. It is not just about limiting development for the sake of the environment, but more about thinking of ways of using the natural capital wisely in the growing economy.

One of the examples is bio-economy, which could be considered a subset of green growth based on biological resources. Agriculture and food production are part of the bio-economy as one of the easiest entry points for the development of innovative bio-economy opportunities – agriculture is the largest driver of global environmental change, and is most affected by these changes. Therefore, a transformation to a sustainable agriculture and food system is a must.

IPS: What next?

JK: We have tried to make this programme as flexible as possible, focusing on actual impacts on the ground nurturing promising entrepreneurs. We do not want to re-invent the wheel, as there are many players in entrepreneurship such as incubators and accelerators.

We will partner with them leveraging our comparative advantage of working directly with our partner governments. After this year’s competition – equipped with the seed capital for entrepreneurs hopefully from our new private sector partners – we hope to make a better global and national programme giving more opportunities to young people in developing countries dedicated to green growth with an aim of actual job creation.

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Excerpt:

IPS correspondent Busani Bafana speaks to Global Green Growth Institute's Greenpreneurs programme manager Juhern Kim.

The post Q&A: Why Young and Smart Greenpreneurs are the Future of Sustainable Development appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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I am a Nigerian Migrant, Struggling to Live the ‘European Dream’ – Part 1http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/nigerian-migrant-struggling-live-european-dream-part-1/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nigerian-migrant-struggling-live-european-dream-part-1 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/nigerian-migrant-struggling-live-european-dream-part-1/#comments Thu, 23 Aug 2018 09:41:54 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157316 This is the first part of our series about migration to Italy.

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Migrants arriving at Lampedusa, Italy in this picture dated 2011. Jim arrived in Italy via an ocean port in 2010. Credit: Ilaria Vechi/IPS.

By Maged Srour
ROME, Aug 23 2018 (IPS)

Jim*, a 34-year-old Nigerian, has been living in Italy for the last eight years. And even though he has a legal permit to reside in the country, he is yet to find steady employment. Instead, for three days a week you will find him begging for alms in front of a supermarket in Rome.

“Nobody is giving me a job even if I go four days a week to give my resume all around the city,” he tells IPS.

Before leaving Nigeria in 2009, he was president of a Christian youth congregation in his hometown. One day, his church was bombed. Jim blames the bombing on a major, central-right political party in Nigeria.

He says the party was against the donation of a generator to his church by another political party."More closure creates only more illegality and consequently the impossibility of promoting and applying integration policies for those migrants, who do not have a legal permit to stay in Europe.” -- Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesperson for IOM.

“We were not subtly colluding with any party,” says Jim.

“Simply, a certain party that had been successful in the last elections, had given us an electric generator and this was not good with the [major central-right political party] because it was afraid of losing its influence.”

As an important figure-head at the church, Jim’s life was at risk.

“One day I was beaten by some militants of the [central-right political party],” Jim tells IPS, closing his eyes when he describes those moments.

He eventually fled the country. And when he arrived in Libya in 2009, Gaddafi was still in power.

When IPS asks him if it was a good place to live, Jim does not hesitate: “It was a terrible place. There was no freedom. I could not walk freely on the streets. [If I did] I would have been stopped by the Asma boys, the criminal gangs who would have robbed me and called the police to lock me up. This was daily life there.”

He says in order to feel safe he would pay to travel by taxi. In 2009, it cost him between USD 7 to USD 144.

“Walking in the streets for a black African was too dangerous.”

Jim worked for five months as a car washer in Libya and saved the USD 1,200 he needed to pay for the trip to Italy.

“The journey is not easy at all, my friend,” he says, his eyes full of emotion.

“I remember that big wave.”

The boat’s captain, a young Algerian man, was able to navigate the wave without any losses.

“Everyone was alone with himself [in that moment], praying to God not to die.

“And when they came to rescue us, I just felt so relieved.”

Nigerian migration to Italy: trends and facts

Jim is one of the 106,069 Nigerians, according to the Italian ministry of interior, who are residing in Italy as of the start of the year. These numbers do not include the many irregular migrants, estimated by the ministry to be in the thousands.

According to the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM), although the number of Nigerian migrants entering Italy decreased between 2017 and the first half of 2018; from 2015 to 2017 Nigerian migrants were the largest single group entering the country, largely via ocean ports.

These are the numbers:

  • In 2015: out of 153,842 arrivals, 22,337 were from Nigeria;
  • In 2016: out of 181,436 arrivals, 37,551 were from Nigeria;
  • In 2017: out of  119,369 arrivals, 18,158 were from Nigeria.
  • In the first six months of 2018 Nigerian arrivals numbered only 1,229.

The sharp decrease in 2018 is mainly due to the new closure policies regarding the migration flows, which was initiated in April 2017 by the previous Italian government and supported by the current one.

According to data from the Italian National Institute of Statistics, which is the main producer of official statistics in Italy, Nigerians living in country have risen from:

  • 48,220 registered as of January 2012,
  • to 88,527 in 2017,
  • and to 106,069 in 2018.

“More closure creates only more illegality”

It seems incredulous that Jim, who has a legal permit to stay and work in the country, is still begging for money almost a decade since his arrival.

The only job he was ever able to secure, he tells IPS, was one selling drinks at the Stadio Olimpico. But that had been only for a few months, and the salary was incredibly low.

Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesperson for IOM, tells IPS that something has to change in terms of integration policies.

“Today we are witnessing the management of immigration by European countries marked by closure. This is very wrong: we need to reopen the legal routes,” Di Giacomo says.

“Let’s not forget that an efficient immigration policy, must include everything, even forced repatriations. More closure creates only more illegality and consequently the impossibility of promoting and applying integration policies for those migrants, who do not have a legal permit to stay in Europe.”

In Italy, thousands of migrants struggle to find a regular job that will allow them to legalise their documents.

So in Jim’s case, the paradox is a bitter one. While he has legal rights to stay in Italy, he just cannot find employment.

And struggles to feed himself, let alone his wife and son who live back in Nigeria.

IPS asks him if he ever though about doing something illegal to earn money. But he says: “I am a good Christian, I could never do that.”

*Not his real name.

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Excerpt:

This is the first part of our series about migration to Italy.

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What a Waterful Worldhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/03/what-a-waterful-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-a-waterful-world http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/03/what-a-waterful-world/#respond Wed, 09 Mar 2016 15:05:04 +0000 Celia Manzi and Tommaso Amadio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=144135 Water is the engine of the earth. It sustains all forms of life, and our species’ progress completely depends on the availability of water. The importance of this precious resource is matched only by the challenges that its scarcity and poor quality can present to the entire world, even the most developed countries. To better […]

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We must acknowledge clean water as a fundamental means to support growth and foster development and its scarcity as a powerful force generating envinronmental disturbances and perpetuating health issues and social disparitie. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Celia Manzi and Tommaso Amadio
Milan, Mar 9 2016 (IPS)

Water is the engine of the earth. It sustains all forms of life, and our species’ progress completely depends on the availability of water. The importance of this precious resource is matched only by the challenges that its scarcity and poor quality can present to the entire world, even the most developed countries. To better grasp human’s vast and complex relationship to water, we must consider its biological and social impact on individuals and communities.

Water hygiene determines the benefits or hazards water can bring to our bodies. As the fundamental force in the biosphere, water can also transform human societies, playing a central role in major issues like pollution, water scarcity-related conflicts, desertification, forest die-back, and water-logging of mismanaged agricultural lands.

Social problems related to water scarcity are often most pronounced in rural areas in developing nations. Only 15% of Ugandans have access to water on tap, inhibiting the progress of individuals and the nation as a whole. In rural India, to collect all the water needed for drinking, washing and cooking, people must walk miles upon miles while carrying on their heads heavv vessels, for which they often pay exorbitant prices.

Issues of water access and hygiene are global in scale: one in three people lack access to a toilet. Women are disproportionately impacted by social issues surrounding water: in some countries, cultural norms forbid women relieve themselves during the day, leaving these women to wait until nightfall. For the girls worldwide that are fortunate enough to attend school, only half attend schools with toilets, posing major risks to their health and safety.

Nearly half of the world’s total workers work in direct contact with water. Many of these 1.5 billion people are not protected by basic labour rights, while they provide us with one of our most basic needs. We must work to protect the lives of those who provide us with life.

Water-related problems remain unresolved globally, largely because many people underestimate the scope and complexity of these challenges. We must acknowledge clean water as a fundamental means to support growth and foster development and its scarcity as a powerful force generating environmental disturbances and perpetuating health issues and social disparities.

Though we should acknowlege water’s importance to our world every day, World Water Day provides us with an opportunity to recognize one of earth’s most precious elements. Since its proposal by the UN Conference in 1992, World Water Day is celebrated every 22nd of March, focusing on different issues related to water each year.

In 1998, UNICEF led World Water Day with the theme “The Invisible Resources,” focusing on groundwater sources for drinking supply among other uses. In 2003, coordinated by the UNEP, World Water Day was themed “Water for Future” and emphasized mantaining and improving the quality and quantity of fresh water available to future generations. In 2015, important actors like the WWAP, UNESCO, HABITAT, UNEP, World Bank and UN-DESA supported UNDP to plan a World Water Day focused on sustainable development.

This year, the United Nations will to look at from an economic perspective with a World Water Day theme of “Better water, Better Jobs.” This conference will explore how workers’ lives and livelihoods can be improved by the right quantity and quality of water and how water can even transform societies and economies. But as Ban Ki-Moon has noted, “climate change, demographics, water, food, energy, global health, women’s empowerment – these issues are all intertwined. We cannot look at one strand in isolation. Instead, we must examine how these strands are woven together.” The issues that face our earth and our global community have one common thread: water flows everywhere and through everything.

(End)

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COP21: A Bridge Between Past and Future Contradictionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/cop21-a-bridge-between-past-and-future-contradictions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cop21-a-bridge-between-past-and-future-contradictions http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/cop21-a-bridge-between-past-and-future-contradictions/#respond Wed, 20 Jan 2016 17:15:39 +0000 Tommaso Amadio and Gabriele La Porta http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143644 “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it.” This is the most significant concept of what USA president, Barack Obama, said during the opening day of 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21). This conference, for the first time of over 20 years […]

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Wood Scarcity - CHAD, CAMP IRIDIMI. Climate change have caused a shortage of wood and forced aid agencies to make collections some 60 kilometers away from the camp. Credit: Anne Holmes/GraziaNeri - Italy/IPS

By Tommaso Amadio and Gabriele La Porta
Milan, IULM University, Jan 20 2016 (IPS)

“We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it.” This is the most significant concept of what USA president, Barack Obama, said during the opening day of 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21). This conference, for the first time of over 20 years of UN negotiations, aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate.

All the adversities our world is witnessing and facing in this period, triggered by the terrible Paris attacks on November 13th, have not obtained to hinder most powerful and influent political figures of the contemporary world to sit together in Paris, to face what Vladimir Putin defined “the real humanity common enemy”: climate change. This is the only threat that doesn’t really know any frontier, rules and limitation and affects all of us.

It’s time to turn our nationalism contrasts and interests into a new perspective of globalization. Not centred in business, but in a sane community policy of cooperation, exchange and sharing of sustainable values, resources, information and solutions due to carry us to a new equitable balance. Obvious, it seems easy to say. But if we think about the huge size of the effort that this challenge is asking to all of us, it would be easier to be able to make one more step to a concrete cooperation.

Almost 200 nations delegates have assembled there this week, sharing and defining the new goals linked to this problem, which are focused on:
1- The negotiation of a universal agreement to increase the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
2- The presentation of the program of all the single States, to show that they’re moving forward together in the same direction.
3- The financial aspects, functional to allow developed and developing countries to achieve their goals before and after 2020.
4- The commitment of civil society and non-governmental stakeholders in order to start with common concrete actions.
But what population will get from all these purposes and all these data? How could we benefit and act in consequence of what our leaders are arguing and according in this fundamental moment of human history?

Obviously nobody can have the 100% of what it was expected. When 196 parties try to get a common deal in a so complex theme, each one asks for the 100%, but many of them could receive zero%. For this reason everybody should be able to accept some compromises. The most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change have prayed for an ambitious agreement, which should have been respectful for human rights. In fact, these countries are the most exposed to natural catastrophes, moreover UN predict that 250 million migrants will leave these lands by 2050.

There are hundreds of billions dollars ready to deploy to countries around the world if they get the signal that we mean business this time. Maybe people is already prepared to accept and put in practice these new rules, everyone of us singularly knows how to act and most of us are already facing the problem in a concrete way, doing its part.

At the same time it’s not so easy to believe to the words of our governors, a common solution is difficult to find if any state doesn’t think out of its box. For instance, Xi Jinping, president of China, has declared that his country confirms its goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gas of 70% by 2030. But at the same time he asks for a differentiated responsibility, in order to protect legitimate countries needs and to allow developing countries to achieve their goals of social and economic grow.

The vast majority of the countries, especially Southern ones, submitted plans of action to reduce emissions; Nicaragua, for instance, is refusing to do so and then symbolically objecting to the final draft – after it was approved – on the ground that “rich nations” are not doing enough to protect “Mother Earth”. They don’t want to pay for what other countries did. India seems to be on the same way. As we know, it is a developing nation, its prime minister Narendra Modi professing satisfaction that “justice” had been done, which included acceptance of his plan to construct some 455 coal-fired power stations, over 100 more than China. These countries are accepting these new regulations, but it has been considered their moment of high developing and so they’ve been allowed to have larger times for their application.

Russian government declared to be one of the first states of the world that has reduced its gas emissions, achieving a strong delay of the increasing temperature warming, being at the same moment one of the biggest exporters of gas and petrol oil.

About Italian situation, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi declared that Italy has reduced the emissions of about 23% in the last 20 years, but at the same time, in Italy, Pianura Padana represents the most polluted zone in Europe and the second in the world. He promised 4 billion euros destined to Italian corporations as Eni and Enel until 2020, while the same companies are digging new oil fields all around the world.

Until now, people only watched climate changes instead of changing our habits and trying to anticipate it. Our generation has born exactly in the middle of this process and for this reason is charged of a big responsibility: to create a bridge between past and future, melting all the values and perspectives, in the present.

We’re completely conscious about the importance of the consequences of our actions, we learnt to watch behind us to give to the next generations, and to our beautiful Heart, what they deserve. Every one of us represents the present and the future of the world, now we mustn’t ignore it.

(End)

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Choco Pie: A Bite of Freedomhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/12/choco-pie-a-bite-of-freedom-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=choco-pie-a-bite-of-freedom-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/12/choco-pie-a-bite-of-freedom-2/#respond Fri, 18 Dec 2015 12:47:54 +0000 Dacia Paje and Margherita Rossi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143399 How could a chocolate snack challenge a regime? Surprisingly, in North Korea, it can. On the 30th of July 2014, a group of 200 people gathered in Paju, a small South Korean city situated at the borders with North Korea. South Koreans, along with North Koreans defectors, grouped to send to the other side 50 […]

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By Dacia Pajé and Margherita Rossi
Dec 18 2015 (IPS)

How could a chocolate snack challenge a regime? Surprisingly, in North Korea, it can.

On the 30th of July 2014, a group of 200 people gathered in Paju, a small South Korean city situated at the borders with North Korea. South Koreans, along with North Koreans defectors, grouped to send to the other side 50 oversized balloons, filled with boxes of Choco Pie, a well-known South Korean snack.

The North Korean totalitarianism banned the snack as a symbol of the American capitalism strongly fought in any way by the North Korean dictatorship.

As reported by Sokeel Park in The Guardian, Choco Pies have always played an important role in the Korean Hallyu (the Korean Wave of pop culture), one of the most effective soft power tools used by South Korea to spread its culture all around the world. North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, saw it as a potential contaminator and an enemy for his regime. After banning it, he decided to create a domestic competitor of it as well. On one hand, taking this commercial measure created an alternative to the consumers. On the other hand, stopping the so-called sweet revolution, he again took away the choice from the citizens.

The Cold War between the two Koreas has started long ago, after WWII, which provoked the breakup of lots of families as well as a strengthening the regime. The outlawing of the Choco Pie is just an example of what it is going on inside the country. It is just a hint of how human rights are not respected at all. This apparently absurd privation shows also how North Korean people have no voice in their own country as well as outside it.

In North Korea, we cannot even talk about censorship of means of communication, because everything belongs to the dictator and it is controlled from the beginning by the political headquarter.

Have you ever thought about the fact that we are shown only images about the regime ceremonies?

When we watch the society celebrating the oligarchic government acting like robots, do we perceive them as regular human beings? And still, they are.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the official title of North Korea) is actually a huge bubble of violence, in which no one can neither enter nor escape. The country has closed its commercial doors in order to preserve itself and to cut off its population form the occidental world.

“Democracy grows from within, and external actors can only support it.” That is what we can read among the four key recommendations resulting from the International Round Table on Democracy, Peace and Security: The Role of the United Nations, in 2010. However, it is difficult to make this principle reality if we are in a non-existent society with non-existent rights. It is hard to believe that North Korean people by themselves could stand the systematic violence committed by the oligarchic group of soldiers who keep the country as a social prison.

If they refuse everything coming from the outside world, why should we turn our back on them? They deserve the right to bite a pie freely, don’t they?

(End)

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Cities Need Increased Climate Financing, Says New Studyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/12/cities-need-increased-climate-financing-says-new-study/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cities-need-increased-climate-financing-says-new-study http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/12/cities-need-increased-climate-financing-says-new-study/#respond Mon, 07 Dec 2015 19:17:52 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143257 As a global climate change agreement reaches its final stage at COP21, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and international partners have released a new report outlining strategies for climate financing in cities. The report, The State of City Climate Finance released on 4 Dec, highlights the investment gaps, obstacles and requirements needed for the creation of low-emission, […]

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By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 7 2015 (IPS)

As a global climate change agreement reaches its final stage at COP21, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and international partners have released a new report outlining strategies for climate financing in cities.

The report, The State of City Climate Finance released on 4 Dec, highlights the investment gaps, obstacles and requirements needed for the creation of low-emission, climate-resilient urban infrastructure.

“The global response to the climate challenge must also include robust action by cities,” Ban remarked at launch of the report.

“Climate-smart infrastructure is essential for creating a safer, better future for growing urban populations around the world,” he continued.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), urban areas consume over 70 percent of the world’s energy and are responsible for almost half of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

Cities are also increasingly vulnerable to climate impacts. Over 90 percent of all urban areas are coastal, putting populations at risk of rising sea levels and devastating storms.

During COP21, the African Development Bank noted that some of Africa’s biggest cities are extremely susceptible to climatic events, including Accra, Dar es Salaam and Lagos which alone constitute approximately 24 million residents.

As urbanization and population growth continues to increase at a rapid pace, extreme weather events will take an increasing toll on urban communities.

The World Bank estimates that urban areas will bear more than 80 percent of overall annual global costs of climate change adaptation.

The study, initiated by the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance (CCFLA), found that approximately 93 trillion dollars will be needed to design low-emission, climate-resilient infrastructure globally over the next 15 years.

More than 70 percent of this infrastructure will be in urban areas, costing 4.5 to 5.4 trillion dollars per year.

However, according to the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI), annual global climate flows in 2013 totaled only 331 billion dollars to both non-urban and urban areas, an almost 30 billion dollar decrease from 2012.

The report also noted that cities in developing countries are often unable to access financing for development since existing frameworks for international climate finance primarily focus on the national rather than municipal level.

CCFLA noted the challenge and need for urban climate finance to increase, stating: “Climate finance will not close the infrastructure investment gap alone— indeed, it represents a small part of total financing flows—but it plays a vital catalytic role, and it will need to be scaled in the coming years.”

In the report, the Alliance underscored five measures to mobilize investment for urban infrastructure.

It urges engagement with national governments to develop policies that encourage cities to invest in low-emission, climate-resilient infrastructure and support for cities to adopt frameworks that price climate externalities, such as cap-and-trade mechanisms.

As of September 2015, 23 cities, states and provinces have implemented carbon-pricing instruments including cap-and-trade policies, which help to control and limit greenhouse gas emissions.

For instance, after four years of a cap-and-trade programme in Tokyo, emissions have been reduced by 23 percent.

CCFLA also recommends the strengthening of facilities to develop climate mitigation and adaptation projects; collaboration with local financial institutions to help cities finance climate-smart infrastructure solutions and; the creation of a network of labs to identify innovative financial instruments and funding models.

The Alliance stated that though these proposals will not by themselves overcome the complex challenges that cities face, taken together, they are an important step towards the creation of climate-smart cities that safeguard the health and wellbeing of people.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged the global community to reflect on the report’s recommendations, stating: “We have no time to lose. There is no plan B.”

CCFLA is a collation of over 40 banks, national governments and civil society organizations established by the UN Chief at the UN Climate Summit in September 2014.

Alliance members aim to publish the State of City Climate Finance report annually and are currently working on a plan to help translate the study’s recommendations into action.

(End)

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