Inter Press ServiceGlobal Governance – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 17 Oct 2018 15:43:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 UN Vote on Palestine a Humiliating Defeat for US & its Envoyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/un-vote-palestine-humiliating-defeat-us-envoy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-vote-palestine-humiliating-defeat-us-envoy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/un-vote-palestine-humiliating-defeat-us-envoy/#respond Wed, 17 Oct 2018 15:43:47 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158235 Nikky Haley, the vociferously anti-Palestine US Ambassador to the United Nations, warned member states last year she will “take down names” of those who vote against American interests in the world body—perhaps with the implicit threat of cutting US aid to countries that refuse to play ball with the diplomatically-reckless Trump administration. But that vengeance-driven […]

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Credit: Institute for Palestine Studies

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 17 2018 (IPS)

Nikky Haley, the vociferously anti-Palestine US Ambassador to the United Nations, warned member states last year she will “take down names” of those who vote against American interests in the world body—perhaps with the implicit threat of cutting US aid to countries that refuse to play ball with the diplomatically-reckless Trump administration.

But that vengeance-driven head count – and no ball playing — could be a tedious exercise for the US when 146 out of 193 member states vote to affirm Palestine as the new chairman of the 134-member Group of 77, the largest single coalition of developing countries at the United Nations.

The 146 included some of the strongest Western allies of the US, plus four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: UK, France, China and Russia.

The only two countries that stood sheepishly by the US were Israel, its traditional client state, and Australia, a newcomer to the ranks of US supporters.

The 15 abstentions included some of the usual suspects: Austria, Andorra, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Honduras, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Monaco, Poland, Slovakia and Tuvalu.

The vote in the General Assembly on October 16 was, by all accounts, a humiliating defeat to the Trump administration which moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and cut $300 million from its contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) aiding Palestinian refugees.

Both were decisions aimed at undermining Palestine at the United Nations. But the Palestinians pulled off a major victory despite the behind-the-scenes lobbying both by the US and Israel to thwart the Palestinians.

Palestine, which is a non-member state, was endorsed as the chairman of the Group of 77, beginning January next year, at a ministerial meeting late September. The General Assembly vote was a ratification of that decision.

Mouin Rabbani, Resident Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies at Washington DC, told IPS the election of Palestine as the new Chairman of the Group of 77, particularly given the overwhelmingly lopsided nature of the vote, can only be interpreted as a pre-meditated and deliberate slap in the face to the United States by the international community.

Last month the civilized world audibly laughed at Trump as he engaged in another boorish display of Americana at the General Assembly, he added.

“Today it demonstrated that its response to the determination of the United States to dismantle the international system and its institutions, eliminate the concept of accountability under international law, make US power the sole arbiter of international affairs, and use the Question of Palestine as the vehicle of choice for achieving these objectives, can also take more serious forms”.

Following the vote, Haley said the United States voted against the resolution granting the Palestinians privileges at the United Nations as chair of the “Group of 77” – a coalition of developing Member States at the UN.

“The United States does not recognize a Palestinian state, notes that‎ no such state has been admitted as a UN Member State, and does not believe that the Palestinians are eligible to be admitted as a UN Member State.”

The U.S. strongly opposes the Palestinian election as Chair of the G77, as well as the so-called enabling resolution in the UN General Assembly, added the outgoing envoy, who announced last week that she will resign her post by the end of the year.

“The Palestinians are not a UN Member State or any state at all. The United States will continually point that out in our remarks at UN events led by the Palestinians.

“Today’s UN mistake undermines the prospects for peace by encouraging the illusion held by some Palestinian leaders that they can advance their goals without direct peace negotiations. In fact, today’s vote does nothing to help the Palestinian people,” said Haley.

The Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour said the General Assembly vote represents multilateralism at its best, with the wider membership supporting a resolution to enable the elected Chair of a group to perform its duties effectively.

He said it was an expression of respect for the decision of the Group of 77 and China to elect the State of Palestine as its chair for the year 2019 by consensus, following the endorsement by the Asia-Pacific group of the State of Palestine’s candidature, also by consensus.

“The State of Palestine will spare no effort to prove worthy of this trust in its capacity to represent and defend the interests of the Group of 77 and China, while also engaging constructively, and in an inclusive and transparent manner, with all partners, in order to advance cooperation and mutually beneficial agreements, for the common good of all humanity,” he added.

The General Assembly resolution not only ratified the ministerial decision but also provided Palestine with additional rights and privileges, including the right to make statements on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, including among representatives of major groups; the right to submit proposals and amendments and introduce them on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and the right to co-sponsor proposals and amendments.

Additionally, Palestine has been given the right to make explanations of vote on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of 77 and China; the right of reply regarding positions of the Group of 77 and China; and the right to raise procedural motions, including points of order and requests to put proposals to the vote, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

Rabbani said the election of Palestine to lead the Group of 77 should be seen as a direct response to the US recognition of exclusive Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem in flagrant violation of numerous UNSC resolutions, the termination of US funding to UNRWA as part of a campaign to redefine Palestinian refugees out of existence, punitive measures taken against the Palestinian civilian population of the occupied territories to dissuade the Palestinians from pursuing claims against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and further measures to legitimize perpetual Israeli control over the Palestinian people, their territory, and resources.

“If this was a traditional election for the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 it is questionable whether Palestine would have been nominated, highly unlikely it would have won, and virtually out of the question it would have achieved the result it did. In other words, this was about issues much larger than the managerial qualifications of the successful candidate, and above all a political message directed at Washington,” Rabbani declared.

The vast majority of Group of 77 members have gotten in line to ask Nikki Haley, and by extension the “hidden genius”, Jared Von Metternich, to take down their names and note that they categorically reject US policy on Palestine and on the broader objectives the Trump administration is seeking to achieve, he said.

“The greater challenge is to translate these symbolic victories, important as they may be, into substantive achievements,” he declared.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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Parliamentarians to Assess Population & Development Funding 24 Years After Historic Conferencehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/parliamentarians-assess-population-development-funding-24-years-historic-conference/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=parliamentarians-assess-population-development-funding-24-years-historic-conference http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/parliamentarians-assess-population-development-funding-24-years-historic-conference/#respond Wed, 17 Oct 2018 13:11:56 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158232 When international parliamentarians-– both from the developed and developing world— meet in Canada next week, the primary focus would be to assess the implementation of a landmark Programme of Action (PoA) on population and development adopted at a ground breaking UN conference, led by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), held in Cairo back in 1994. […]

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By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 17 2018 (IPS)

When international parliamentarians-– both from the developed and developing world— meet in Canada next week, the primary focus would be to assess the implementation of a landmark Programme of Action (PoA) on population and development adopted at a ground breaking UN conference, led by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), held in Cairo back in 1994.

Population Growth through 2100. Credit: UN Photo

With one year to go before the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), more than 150 parliamentarians will meet at a three day forum in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, October 22-24, to rate the successes and clear roadblocks, if any, to a strategy laid out more than two decades ago.

The thrust of the PoA included a commitment to reduce maternal and infant mortality, promote reproductive health and family planning, halt the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and children, as well as strengthen women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Underlying some of these issues were problems related to ageing, urbanization, female genital mutilation (FGM), midwifery, migrants and refugees, child marriages, adolescent pregnancies, the role of youth and the rising world population, which now stands at over 7.6 billion.

Besides sharing experiences, parliamentarians will also focus on the road ahead with a call for an increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA) — specifically funding for population and development which is being increasingly diverted to help finance refugee settlements.

Austria is one of the Western donors which has taken a lead role in helping developing nations reach some of the ICPD goals.

Asked about her country’s contributions, Petra Bayr, an Austrian member of parliament (MP) and chair of the Sub-Committee for Development Cooperation in the Austrian Parliament, told IPS: “As a multi-party group on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), we are pushing for more funds in that important political field for many years.”

“At the moment, we are successful. For the first time in recent years, we have some extra funding to combat FGM and to support access to SRHR services in the development cooperation budget,” she added.

She pointed out that there is one million Euros (about $1.2 million US dollars) available for fighting FGM and providing family planning services, and the UNFPA is being supported with 200,000 Euros (about $232,000) in core budgeting.

“I anticipate more cooperation between the Austrian Development Cooperation and UNFPAwhich remains to be explored,” said Bayr, who is also chair of the Austrian All Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development.

She also pointed out that the Austrian strategy on International Financial Institutions (IFI) tackles the empowerment of women and their better involvement in economic activities.

“We know that economic independence leads to increased self-determination, also in private lives, including the decision about the number and the spacing of children,” she declared.

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: What are your expectations of the upcoming International Parliamentarians’ Conference in Ottawa? Should there be, in your opinion, any economic commitments from Western nations to meet the funding needs of some of the developing countries who have fallen behind in the implementation of the PoA?

BAYR: My expectations are focused on cooperation, exchange of strategies on how to combat the global back clash in the field of SRHR and how we can fortify our communication to strengthen women’s rights which are human rights.

Also, how to meet economic commitments governments of the global north have already signed or pledged but still not fulfilled; they should definitely be an important part of our discussions in Ottawa.

IPS: The US, which was a significant contributor to UNFPA providing about $69 million in FY 2016, has cut off all funding to the UN agency. Should European nations step in and fill this funding gap?

BAYR: I’m very grateful that the Dutch minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liliane Ploumen, initiated the global fund “She Decides” to curb the shortfall of about USD 600 million over the four years of Trump´s presidency and guarantee millions of women access to SRHR services.

Besides, this supports the fundamental rights of girls and women to decide freely and for themselves about their sexual lives, including whether, when, with whom and how many children they want to have. UNFPA shares the same goals, and of course, the agency´s loss should be refilled, also with funds from European countries.

The financial contribution of Austria will definitely not be enough to fill the gap but we are working hard as multi party group to push our government for more core funding for UNFPA.

IPS: As one of the key parliamentarian networks, what role does the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF) play in helping implement the PoA, including reproductive health, reducing maternal and infant mortality and gender empowerment?

BAYR: It’s we as legislators who decide about the laws underlying the programs that support SRHR and it is for us to ensure there is sufficient funding for these programs. As EPF has a clear focus on the rights of women and girls not only in Europe but through our development cooperation also in the global South, we have a key role to play so that women and girls can enjoy their human rights, have access to evidence based sexuality education and modern means of contraceptives, as well as medically attended pregnancies and deliveries and the economic independence to decide and self determine. EPF supports us in order to exchange good practise, take part in international discussions on SRHR and join forces to make SRHR a reality for all.

IPS: Is the widespread refugee problem in Europe hindering Europe’s ODA commitments? Is there a diversion of European funds from development financing to refugee funding?

BAYR: In general, we have witnessed a shift from fundings for development cooperation to refugee funding in Europe. I’m happy that we managed not to have this terrible involvement in Austria.

Despite the fact that our ODA is very poor, only 0.3% of the gross national expenditure (GNE) and that — already for decades — Austria extensively counts all fundings for refugee spendings in Austria into our ODA, even if this is in line with the criteria of OECD. We have to increase our ODA and dedicate it to the needs of those who are mostly in need.

If we want to achieve the spirit of the Agenda 2030 and leave no one behind, we should follow the good examples of some Nordic countries, the UK and others who show that it is possible to meet one’s international commitments by fostering the political will to do so.

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Caribbean Nations Pay Steep Price for Climate Change Caused by Othershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/caribbean-nations-pay-price-climate-change-caused-others/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-nations-pay-price-climate-change-caused-others http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/caribbean-nations-pay-price-climate-change-caused-others/#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 19:10:50 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158216 Although their contribution to global warming is negligible, Caribbean nations are bearing the brunt of its impact. Climate phenomena are so devastating that countries are beginning to prepare not so much to adapt to the new reality, but to get their economies back on their feet periodically. “We live every year with the expectation that […]

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Q&A: Using Data to Predict Internal Displacement Trendshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/qa-using-data-predict-internal-displacement-trends/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-using-data-predict-internal-displacement-trends http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/qa-using-data-predict-internal-displacement-trends/#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 17:18:53 +0000 Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158207 Carmen Arroyo interviews ALEXANDRA BILAK, director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

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When isolated by floodwaters, families, like this one in Morigaon, India, have no choice but to use boats for transportation; even children must learn the survival tool of rowing. Credit: Priyanka Borpujari/IPS

By Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 16 2018 (IPS)

This year the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) noted that 2017 saw the highest number of displacements associated with conflict in a decade-11.8 million people. But this is not a situation that is going to be resolved any time soon, says the organisation which has been reporting on displacements since 1998.

These numbers were published in the World Migration Report 2018, which was released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) last month. The report also stated that an average of 25.3 million people are displaced each year because of natural disasters. “This will only get worse with climate change,” said IDMC’s director Alexandra Bilak in an interview with IPS.

Bilak has over 15 years of experience with NGOs and research institutes working on African conflicts. She lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2004 to 2008 and in Kenya for the next five years. In 2014, she joined IDMC. The biggest change for her, claimed Bilak, was “disconnecting from the field and connecting to high political levels of decision making.”

The IDMC, part of the Norwegian Refugee Council, is the leading international institution of data analysis on internal displacement. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the centre works towards creating dialogues on displacement and providing accurate metrics. IDMC, according to Bilak, takes data analysis to the next level: “We combine many methodological approaches to provide a databased to build research agendas. It is a very interest combination of quantitative and qualitative research, but not from an academic perspective.” She added: “The analysis wants to be practical and policy-relevant.”

Under Bilak, the institute has changed its focus. While three years ago the IDMC understood displacement as a human rights issue, now it treats it with a more comprehensive approach. “By doing that, it wasn’t having the right kinds of conversations,” claimed Bilak. Now, their employees are not only lawyers and political scientists, they are also anthropologists, geographers, and data analysts.

With a calmed voice, Bilak tells IPS that this shift was a team effort, and that she is very happy with the results. Excerpts of the interview below.

Inter Press Service (IPS): How did your interest on displacement start?

AB: I started my work in the Great Lakes region in Rwanda, but when I moved over to Eastern Congo I was exposed to the full scope of conflict impact. Displacement was a major issue. I was really struck with the capacity of communities to cope with the problem. That’s where my interest started.

Then I moved from one job to another and narrowed down on the issue of displacement. Now, at IDMC we are very interested in understanding the connections between internal displacement and wider migratory flows, cross border movements, and broader development challenges. At Geneva, you can bring the experience from the field to the higher level and see where it all ties in together.

IPS: What are your goals for the future of IDMC?

AB: I think we want to maintain this position as global authority and consolidate our expertise on data. We cannot rest on our laurels. We have to keep up our efforts. We need to continue building trust-based relationships with national governments. They are the change agents when it comes to finding solutions for internal displacement. You can’t achieve anything if you avoid them.

IPS: If national governments are the change agents, what’s the role of international organisations in displacement?

AB: Although it is a development issue for the national governments, there are many humanitarian implications that need to be addressed. International organisations provide that immediate protection and assistance that international displaced people need. This is the role they must continue playing, despite their reduced budgets. Also let’s keep in mind that there are many diplomatic efforts to prevent these conflicts.

This is the development, humanitarian and peace building nexus. They need to go hand in hand for a comprehensive approach. But yes, ultimately, it still boils down to political will.

IPS: What about natural disasters? How can we predict them to avoid their consequences?

AB: There are already models that project into the future and give a good sense of the intensity of natural hazards in the future. IDMC has actually developed a global disaster displacement risk model. There’s a way of having a sense of the scale and scope of what to expect in the future.

But our message has always been the same. This is only going to get worse with climate change, unless there is a significant investment in preventative measures like disaster-risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

We know which are the countries that are going to be most affected. The latest report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) on climate clearly pointed out what communities are going to be more affected in the future. This will impact internal displacement.

IPS: So, what would be your recommendation to a national government to manage this situation?

AB: There are many recommendations for those countries that suffer from the impacts. They need better early warning systems and preparedness measures, so people can be quickly evacuated in the right way.

Our recommendation is also to build on the good practices governments that have already been implemented. For example, in the Philippines displacement figures are part of their disaster loss database. It would be great if every country could have the same kind of national data system in place.

Other recommendations come from processes of relocation. In the Pacific, entire communities that are at risk of climate change impact have to be relocated. How are these communities going to be moved in a dignified way respecting their cultural heritage?

Finally, there also needs to be a gender perspective to make sure that women and children can be consulted in the process.

IPS: What do you predict for the next 12 months in terms of displacement?

AB: Based on what we are monitoring, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East will continue to be areas of concern for us due to conflict. We are looking at a recent peak in displacement in Ethiopia. This is not a situation that is going to be resolved any time soon, so we will see a displacement crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria… also in Syria. We will look at high displacement figures next year.

In terms of disaster displacement, we will see massive hurricanes in Asia, which will have long-term consequences. There are pockets of displaced people that remain so for large periods of time, also in high-income countries like Japan.

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Excerpt:

Carmen Arroyo interviews ALEXANDRA BILAK, director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

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True Cost of a Plate of Food Around the Worldhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/true-cost-plate-food-around-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=true-cost-plate-food-around-world http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/true-cost-plate-food-around-world/#comments Mon, 15 Oct 2018 12:13:57 +0000 Herve Verhoosel http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158153 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16

 
Herve Verhoosel is Senior Spokesperson at the UN World Food Programme (WFP)

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This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16
 
Herve Verhoosel is Senior Spokesperson at the UN World Food Programme (WFP)

By Herve Verhoosel
GENEVA, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

How much would you expect to pay for the most basic plate of food? The kind of thing you might whip up at home – nothing fancy, just enough to fill you up and meet a third of today’s calorie needs. A soup, maybe, or a simple stew – some beans or lentils, a handful of rice, bread, or corn?

Credit: World Food Programme

In the rich Global North – say, in New York State, USA – such a meal would cost almost nothing to make: 0.6 percent of the average daily income, or US$1.20.

In parts of the developing world, by contrast, food affordability can shrink to the point of absurdity: in South Sudan, a country born out of war and disintegrating into more war, the meal-to-income ratio is 300 times that of industrialized countries.

It is, in other words, as if a New Yorker had to pay nearly US$348.36 for the privilege of cooking and eating that plate of food.

How do people in South Sudan afford it? It’s simple. They don’t.

This is not a unique issue to South Sudan. Across the board, food is becoming ever less affordable in poorer countries that are subject to political instabilities.

Lack of access to food, and the costliness of it, have many causes: climate extremes, natural disasters, post-harvest losses, or bad governance, all of which can damage- or even shatter- farming supply chains and markets.

But, one overriding cause stands out: conflict. At WFP, we’ve long known that hunger and war are tragically symbiotic. Which makes it that much harder to eradicate the one without ending the other.

The 2018 edition of WFPs Counting the Beans: The True Cost of a Plate of Food Around the World index, now spanning 52 countries, underscores this clear correlation between food affordability costs and political stability and security.

The index looks at whether food costs for the original 33 countries analyzed in 2017 have risen or fallen, and compares costs for the same meal in some of the world’s poorest places with one of its richest, by using a New York baseline to highlight vast gaps in global food affordability.

In many countries, it was found that food affordability measured in this way has actually improved since 2017. This is situational, thanks to strong economic growth, political stability, and/or a better rainy season- or in the case of southern Africa- humanitarian assistance helping to offset the effects of severe drought.

Though despite such progress made in many countries through the past year, food costs are often still intensely disproportionate in relation to income. This is the case across much of Africa, as well as in parts of Asia and, to a lesser degree, of Latin America.

Among the countries surveyed for the study, Peru tops the list with the most affordable plate at the NY equivalent of US$ 3.44, just 1.6 percent of per capita income, vs. what that same plate would cost in New York, amounting to 0.6 percent of per capita income.

While Laos and Jordan are close runners-up to Peru, other countries have deteriorated. Almost invariably, these are nations where peace has been (further) eroded by violence, insecurity or political tension, including South Sudan- where the cost of a plate of food has soared from the exorbitant 155 percent of daily income in 2016 (USD $321.70) to 201.7 percent of daily income in 2018 (USD $348.36).

It now costs twice the national daily income to buy a plate of food in South Sudan. Northeast Nigeria took second to last place, at USD $222.05, or 128.6 percent of daily income in 2018, up from USD $200.32, or 121 percent of daily income in 2016.

These abysmal numbers highlight the vast gaps in global food affordability, where 821 million people go hungry while elsewhere one can get a simple nutritious meal with a just a handful of change.

The fact that this still occurs defies both reason and decency, and it’s why we – the World Food Programme and other humanitarian partners – are there.

However, the impact of WFP and other humanitarian actors in saving and changing lives cannot be sustained without political investment, good governance, transparent markets, and wider partnerships.

Societies cannot lift themselves out of the poverty trap if families are continuously priced out of providing their children with the nutritional meals essential for them to develop into healthy and productive adults, if climate degradation continues to threaten food security and development gains, and if protracted conflicts continue to destroy societies and force young talent elsewhere.

With a concerted global effort, the international community can achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and end hunger and malnutrition. Governments must engage with and support their developing country counterparts in peacebuilding, conflict resolution and disaster risk reduction.

The private sector must embrace that turning a profit can go hand in hand with advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through employing young people to boost incomes, sourcing from smallholder farms, and through working alongside leaders to strengthen supply chains.

The shocking and outraging numbers in this year’s “Counting the Beans” index highlight that peaceful societies and affordable food go hand in hand. We have the modern technological capacities to end world hunger, but first we must end the conflict that fosters it.

Together, we can work towards reversing the figures in this year’s index, and ensure that in the future, nobody will have to work a day and a half to afford a simple meal.

The post True Cost of a Plate of Food Around the World appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16

 
Herve Verhoosel is Senior Spokesperson at the UN World Food Programme (WFP)

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Rural Migration: An Opportunity, Not A Challengehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 11:03:04 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158170 While it can be a challenging issue, migration must be seen as an opportunity and be met with sound, coherent policies that neither stem nor promote the phenomenon. A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) examines rural migration and urges countries to maximise the contribution of such migrants […]

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Women and children caught in a dust-laden gust at an IDP settlement 60km south of the town of Gode, reachable only along a dirt track through the desiccated landscape. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Women and children caught in a dust-laden gust at an IDP settlement 60km south of the town of Gode, reachable only along a dirt track through the desiccated landscape. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

While it can be a challenging issue, migration must be seen as an opportunity and be met with sound, coherent policies that neither stem nor promote the phenomenon.

A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) examines rural migration and urges countries to maximise the contribution of such migrants to economic and social development.

“We cannot ignore the challenges and costs associated with migration,” FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva said.

“The objective must be to make migration a choice, not a necessity, and to maximise the positive impacts while minimising the negative ones,” he added.

FAO’s senior economist and author of the report Andrea Cattaneo echoed similar sentiments to IPS, stating; “Migration, despite all the challenges that it may pose, really represents the core of economic, social, and human development.”

Though international migration often dominates headlines, the report shows that internal migration is a far larger phenomenon.

More than one billion people living in developing countries have moved internally, with 80 percent of moves involving rural areas.

Migration between developing countries is also larger than those to developed countries. For instance, approximately 85 percent of refugees globally are hosted by developing countries, and at least one-third in rural areas.

Cattaneo additionally highlighted the link between internal and international migrants, noting that in low-income countries, internal migrants are five times more likely to migrate internationally than people who have not moved.

A significant portion of international migrants are also found to have come from rural areas. FAO found that almost 75 percent of rural households from Malawi migrate internationally.

Abdul Aziz stands with his child in Dhaka's Malibagh slum. He came to Bangladesh’s capital a decade ago after losing everything to river erosion, hoping to rebuild his life, but only to find grinding poverty. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Abdul Aziz stands with his child in Dhaka’s Malibagh slum. He came to Bangladesh’s capital a decade ago after losing everything to river erosion, hoping to rebuild his life, but only to find grinding poverty. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Why all the movement?

While human movements have long occurred since the beginning of time, many migrants now move out of necessity, not choice.

Alongside an increase in protracted crises which force communities out of their homes, it is the lack of access to income and employment and thus a sustainable livelihood that is among the primary drivers of rural migration.

In China, significant rural-urban income gaps drove rural workers to abandon agriculture and migrate to cities.

Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of China’s population living in urban areas increased from 26 percent to 56 percent, and an estimated 200 million rural migrants now work in the East Asian nation’s cities.

However, such rapid urbanisation increasingly seen around the world is posing new challenges in the availability of resources.

Poor environmental conditions and agricultural productivity have also driven rural workers away.

A recent study revealed that a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature is associated with a 5 percent increase in the number of international migrants, but only from agriculture-dependent societies.

In other countries such as Thailand and Ghana, migration is prompted by the lack of infrastructure and access to services such as education and health care.

This points to the importance of investing in rural areas to ensure migration is not overwhelming and that residents have the means to live a prosperous life.

However, it is very important to consider the right type of investments and development, Cattaneo said.

“The type of development matters. Development per say is not going to reduce migration…but if you have the right type of development and investments in rural areas, you can make the case that you can reduce some of this migration,” Cattaneo told IPS.

A forward outlook

In the report, FAO advocates a territorial development approach to reduce rural out-migration  and thus international migration including investments in social services and improving regional infrastructure in or close to rural areas.

For instance, investments in infrastructure related to the agri-food system—such as warehousing, cold storage, and wholesale markets—can generate employment both in agriculture and the non-farm sectors and provide more incentive for people to stay instead of move to already overburdened cities.

Policies should also be forward-thinking and context specific, Cattaneo noted while pointing the consequences of climate change. This could mean investing in new activities that are viable to a particular region while another region moves towards more drought-resistant crop.

While migration may still continue, it will not be driven by the lack of economic opportunities or suitable living conditions.

“Migration is a free choice but if you put in place good opportunities at home, many people may decide not to migrate. Some will still want to migrate and that’s fine—that’s actually the type of migration that works. It’s not out of need, it’s out of choice,” Cattaneo told IPS.

In fact, migration often plays a significant role in reducing inequalities and is even included as a target under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10, which aims to reduce inequality within and among countries.

Whilst reducing their own inequalities, migrants also contribute to economic transformation and development around the world.

“We focus on the challenges without looking at the opportunities that can come with migration because at the end of the day, people are a resource for society,” Cattaneo said.

“If we can find a way to put them into productive use, then that’s an added value for the destination or host country,” he added, pointing to Uganda as an example.

In recent years, Uganda has seen an influx of refugees from conflict-stricken nations such as South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With its open-door policy, the East African country now has 1.4 million refugees, posing strains on resources.

Despite the challenges, its progressive refugee policy allows non-nationals to seek employment, go to school, and access healthcare. The government also provides a piece of land to each refugee family for their own agricultural use.

“This is a country that has looked beyond the challenges to see the opportunities, and they are making these people be productive part of society,” Cattaneo said.

With certain rhetoric that has cast migrants in a negative light, the international community still has a way to go to learn how to turn challenges into opportunities.

“Much remains to be done to eliminate poverty and hunger in the world. Migration was – and will continue to be – part and parcel of the broader development process,” Graziano da Silva concluded.

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Latin America Backslides in Struggle to Reach Zero Hunger Goalhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-america-backslides-struggle-reach-zero-hunger-goal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-america-backslides-struggle-reach-zero-hunger-goal http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-america-backslides-struggle-reach-zero-hunger-goal/#respond Sun, 14 Oct 2018 13:48:03 +0000 Orlando Milesi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158148 This article is part of a series of stories to mark World Food Day October 16.

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A girl helps her family peeling cassava in Acará, in the northeast of Brazil's Amazon jungle. More than five million children are chronically malnourished in Latin America, a region sliding backwards with respect to the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty, while obesity, which affects seven million children, is on the rise. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

A girl helps her family peeling cassava in Acará, in the northeast of Brazil's Amazon jungle. More than five million children are chronically malnourished in Latin America, a region sliding backwards with respect to the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty, while obesity, which affects seven million children, is on the rise. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

By Orlando Milesi
SANTIAGO, Oct 14 2018 (IPS)

For the third consecutive year, South America slid backwards in the global struggle to achieve zero hunger by 2030, with 39 million people living with hunger and five million children suffering from malnutrition.

“It’s very distressing because we’re not making progress. We’re not doing well, we’re going in reverse. You can accept this in a year of great drought or a crisis somewhere, but when it’s happened three years in a row, that’s a trend,” reflected Julio Berdegué, FAO’s highest authority in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The regional representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations said it is cause for concern that it is not Central America, the poorest subregion, that is failing in its efforts, but the South American countries that have stagnated."More than five million children in Latin America are permanently malnourished. In a continent of abundant food, a continent of upper-middle- and high-income countries, five million children ... It's unacceptable." -- Julio Berdegué

“More than five million children in Latin America are permanently malnourished. In a continent of abundant food, a continent of upper-middle- and high-income countries, five million children … It’s unacceptable,” he said in an interview with IPS at the agency’s regional headquarters in Santiago.

“They are children who already have scars in their lives. Children whose lives have already been marked, even though countries, governments, civil society, NGOs, churches, and communities are working against this. The development potential of a child whose first months and years of life are marked by malnutrition is already radically limited for his entire life,” he said.

What can the region do to move forward again? In line with this year’s theme of World Food Day, celebrated Oct. 16, “Our actions are our future. A zero hunger world by 2030 is possible”, Berdegué underlined the responsibility of governments and society as a whole.

Governments, he said, must “call us all together, facilitate, support, promote job creation and income generation, especially for people from the weakest socioeconomic strata.”

In addition, he stressed that policies for social protection, peace and the absence of conflict and addressing climate change are also required.

New foods to improve nutrition

In the small town of Los Muermos, near Puerto Montt, 1,100 kilometers south of Santiago, nine women and two male algae collectors are working to create new foods, with the aim of helping to curb both under- and over-nutrition, in Chile and in neighboring countries. Their star product is jam made with cochayuyo (Durvillaea antarctica), a large bull kelp species that is the dominant seaweed in southern Chile.

“I grew up on the water. I’ve been working along the sea for more than 30 years, as a shore gatherer,” said Ximena Cárcamo, 48, president of the Flor del Mar fishing cooperative.

Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, in his office at the agency's headquarters in Santiago, Chile, during an interview with IPS to discuss the setback with regard to reaching the zero hunger target in the region. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, in his office at the agency’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile, during an interview with IPS to discuss the setback with regard to reaching the zero hunger target in the region. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

The seaweed gatherer told IPS from Los Muermos about the great potential of cochayuyo and other algae “that boost health and nutrition because they have many benefits for people,” in a region with high levels of poverty and social vulnerability, which translate into under-nutrition.

“We are adding value to products that we have in our locality. We want people to consume them and that’s why we made jam because children don’t eat seaweed and in Chile we have so many things that people don’t consume and that could help improve their diet,” she explained.

In the first stage, the women, with the support of the Aquaculture and Fishing Centre for Applied Research, identified which seaweed have a high nutritional value, are rich in minerals, proteins, fiber and vitamins, and have low levels of sugar.

The seaweed gatherers created a recipe book, “cooking with seaweed from the sea garden”, including sweet and salty recipes such as cochayuyo ice cream, rice pudding and luche and reineta ceviche with sea chicory.

Now the project aims to create high value-added food such as energy bars.

“We want to reach schools, where seaweed is not consumed. That’s why we want to mix them with dried fruit from our sector,” said Cárcamo, insisting that a healthy and varied diet introduced since childhood is the way to combat malnutrition, as well as the “appalling” levels of overweight and obesity that affects Chile, as well as the rest of Latin America.

The paradox of obesity

“Obesity is killing us…it kills more people than organised crime,” Berdegué warned, pointing out that in terms of nutrition the region is plagued by under-nutrition on the one hand and over-nutrition on the other.

“Nearly 60 percent of the region’s population is overweight. There are 250 million candidates for diabetes, colon cancer or stroke,” he said.

He explained that “there are 105 million obese people, who are key candidates for these diseases. More than seven million children are obese with problems of self-esteem and problems of emotional and physical development. They are children who are candidates to die young,” he said.

According to Berdegué, this problem “is growing wildly…there are four million more obese people in the region each year.”

A seaweed gatherer carries cochayuyo harvested from rocks along Chile's Pacific coast. The cultivation and commercialisation of cochayuyo and other kinds of seaweed is being promoted in different coastal areas of the country, to provide new foods to improve nutrition in the country. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

A seaweed gatherer carries cochayuyo harvested from rocks along Chile’s Pacific coast. The cultivation and commercialisation of cochayuyo and other kinds of seaweed is being promoted in different coastal areas of the country, to provide new foods to improve nutrition in the country. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

The latest statistic for 2016 reported 105 million obese people in Latin America and the Caribbean, up from 88 million only four years earlier.

In view of this situation, the FAO regional representative stressed the need for a profound transformation of the food system.

“How do we produce, what do we produce, what do we import, how is it distributed, what is access like in your neighborhood? What do you do if you live in a neighborhood where the only store, that is 500 meters away, only sells ultra-processed food and does not sell vegetables or fruits?” he asked.

Berdegué harshly criticised “advertising, which tells us every day that good eating is to go sit in a fast food restaurant and eat 2,000 calories of junk as if that were entirely normal.”

Change of policies as well as habits

“You have to change habits, yes, but you have to change policies as well. There are countries, such as the small Caribbean island nations, that depend fundamentally on imported food. And the vast majority of these foods are ultra-processed, many of which are food only in name because they’re actually just chemicals, fats and junk,” he said.

He insisted that “we lack production of fruits, vegetables and dairy products in many countries or trade policies that encourage imports of these foods and not so much junk food.”

And to move toward the goal of zero hunger in just 12 years, Berdegué also called for generating jobs and improving incomes, because that “is the best policy against hunger.”

The second of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which make up the 2030 Development Agenda, is achieving zero hunger through eight specific targets.

Poverty making a comeback

“In Latin America we don’t lack food. People just can’t afford to buy it,” Berdegué said.

He also called for countries to strengthen policies to protect people living in poverty and extreme poverty.

According to the latest figures from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), poverty in the region grew between 2014 and 2017, when it affected 186 million people, 30.7 percent of the population. Extreme poverty affects 10 percent of the total: 61 million people.

Moreover, in this region where 82 percent of the population is urban, 48.6 percent of the rural population is poor, compared to 26.8 percent of the urban population, and this inequality drives the rural exodus to the cities.

“FAO urges countries to rethink social protection policies, particularly for children. We cannot allow ourselves to slow down in eradicating malnutrition and hunger among children,” Berdegué said.

He also advocated for the need for peace and the cessation of conflicts because “we have all the evidence in the world that when you lose peace, hunger soars. It is automatic. The great hunger hotspots and problems in the world today are in places where we are faced with conflict situations.”

“We have countries in the region where there is upheaval and governments have to know that this social and political turmoil causes hunger,” he concluded.

The post Latin America Backslides in Struggle to Reach Zero Hunger Goal appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories to mark World Food Day October 16.

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Latin American Rural Women Call for Recognition and Policieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-american-rural-women-call-recognition-policies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-american-rural-women-call-recognition-policies http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-american-rural-women-call-recognition-policies/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 13:39:07 +0000 Mariela Jara http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158128 This article forms part of IPS coverage of International Rural Women's Day, celebrated Oct. 15.

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Yolanda Flores, an Aymara indigenous woman, speaks to other women engaged in small-scale agriculture, gathered in her village square in the highlands of Peru's southern Andes. She is convinced that participating in local decision-making spaces is fundamental for rural women to stop being invisible and to gain recognition of their rights. Credit: Courtesy of Yolanda Flores

Yolanda Flores, an Aymara indigenous woman, speaks to other women engaged in small-scale agriculture, gathered in her village square in the highlands of Peru's southern Andes. She is convinced that participating in local decision-making spaces is fundamental for rural women to stop being invisible and to gain recognition of their rights. Credit: Courtesy of Yolanda Flores

By Mariela Jara
LIMA, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

Rural women in Latin America play a key role with respect to attaining goals such as sustainable development in the countryside, food security and the reduction of hunger in the region. But they remain invisible and vulnerable and require recognition and public policies to overcome this neglect.

There are around 65 million rural women in this region, and they are very diverse in terms of ethnic origin, the kind of land they occupy, and the activities and roles they play. What they have in common though is that governments largely ignore them, as activists pointed out ahead of the International Day of Rural Women, celebrated Oct. 15."They play key roles and produce and work much more than men. In the orchards, in the fields, during planting time, they raise the crops, take care of the farm animals, and disproportionately carry the workload of the house, the children, etc., but they don't see a cent." -- JulioBerdegué

“The state, whether local or national authorities, neglect us,” Yolanda Flores, an Aymara woman, told IPS. “They only think about planting steel and cement. They don’t understand that we live off agriculture and that we women are the most affected because we are in charge of the food and health of our families.”

Flores, who lives in Iniciati, a village of about 400 indigenous peasant families in the department of Puno in Peru’s southern Andes, located more than 3,800 metres above sea level, has always been dedicated to growing food for her family.

On the land she inherited from her parents she grows potatoes, beans and grains like quinoa and barley, which she washes, grinds in a traditional mortar and pestle, and uses to feed her family. The surplus is sold in the community.

“When we garden we talk to the plants, we hug each potato, we tell them what has happened, why they have become loose, why they have worms. And when they grow big we congratulate them, one by one, so our food has a lot of energy when we eat. But people don’t understand our way of life and they forget about small farmers,” she said.

Like Flores, millions of rural women in Latin America face a lack of recognition for their work on the land, as well as the work they do maintaining a household, caring for the family, raising children, or caring for the sick and elderly.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) urges governments in the region to assume a commitment to reverse the historical disadvantages faced by this population group which prevent their access to productive resources, the enjoyment of benefits and the achievement of economic autonomy.

“Depending on the country, between two-thirds and 85 percent of the hours worked by rural women is unpaid work,” Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, told IPS.

Women engage in subsistence agriculture at more than 3,300 metres above sea level in the highlands of the southern department of Cuzco, in the Andes of Peru, in the municipality of Cusipata. With the support of nongovernmental organisations, they have built greenhouses that allow them to produce a range of vegetables despite the inclement weather. Credit: Janet Nina/IPS

Women engage in subsistence agriculture at more than 3,300 metres above sea level in the highlands of the southern department of Cuzco, in the Andes of Peru, in the municipality of Cusipata. With the support of nongovernmental organisations, they have built greenhouses that allow them to produce a range of vegetables despite the inclement weather. Credit: Janet Nina/IPS

Berdeguè, who is also deputy director general of FAO, deplored the fact that they do not receive payment for their hard work in agriculture – a workload that is especially heavy in the case of heads of families who run their farms, and during growing season.

Public policies against discrimination

María Elena Rojas, head of the FAO office in Peru, told IPS that if rural women in Latin American countries had access to land tenure, financial services and technical assistance like men, they would increase the yield of their plots by 20 to 30 percent, and agricultural production would improve by 2.5 to 4 percent.


That increase would help reduce hunger by 12 to 15 percent. "This demonstrates the role and contribution of rural women and the need for assertive public policies to achieve it and for them to have opportunities to exercise their rights. None of them should go without schooling, healthy food and quality healthcare. These are rights, and not something impossible to achieve," she said.

“They play key roles and produce and work much more than men,” the official said from FAO’s regional headquarters in Santiago. “In the orchards, in the fields, during planting time, they raise the crops, take care of the farm animals, and disproportionately carry the workload of the house, the children, etc., but they don’t see a cent.”

“We say: we want women to stay in the countryside. But for God’s sake, why would they stay? They work for their fathers, then they work for their husbands or partners. That’s just not right, it’s not right!” exclaimed Berdegué, before stressing the need to stop justifying that rural women go unpaid, because it stands in the way of their economic autonomy.

He explained that not having their own income, or the fact that the income they generate with the fruit of their work is then managed by men, places rural women in a position of less power in their families, their communities, the market and society as a whole.

“Imagine if it was the other way around, that they would tell men: you work, but you will not receive a cent. We would have staged a revolution by now. But we’ve gotten used to the fact that for rural women that’s fine because it’s the home, it’s the family,” Berdegué said.

The FAO regional representative called on countries to become aware of this reality and to fine-tune policies to combat the discrimination.

A global workload greater than that of men, economic insecurity, reduced access to resources such as land, water, seeds, credit, training and technical assistance are some of the common problems faced by rural women in Latin America, whether they are farmers, gatherers or wage-earners, according to the Atlas of Rural Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, published in 2017 by FAO.

But even in these circumstances, they are protagonists of change, as in the growth of rural women’s trade unions in the agro-export sector.

Afro-descendant Adela Torres (white t-shirt, front), secretary general of the National Union of Agricultural Industry Workers (Sintraingro) in the banana region of Urabá, in the Colombian department of Antioquia, sits on the floor during a meeting of women members of the union. Credit: Courtesy of Sintrainagro

Afro-descendant Adela Torres (white t-shirt, L-C, front), secretary general of the National Union of Agricultural Industry Workers (Sintrainagro) in the banana region of Urabá, in the Colombian department of Antioquia, sits on the floor during a meeting of women members of the union. Credit: Courtesy of Sintrainagro

With the increased sale of non-traditional products to international markets, such as flowers, fruit and vegetables, women have swelled this sector, says another regional study, although often in precarious conditions and with standards that do not ensure decent work.

Trade unions fight exploitative conditions

But trade unions are fighting exploitative labour conditions. A black woman from Colombia, Adela Torres, is an example of this struggle.

Since childhood and following the family tradition, she worked on a banana farm in the municipality of Apartadó, in Urabá, a region that produces bananas for export in the Caribbean department of Antioquia.

Now, the 54-year-old Torres, who has two daughters and two granddaughters, is the secretary general of the National Union of Agricultural Industry Workers (Sintrainagro), which groups workers from 268 farms, and works for the insertion of rural women in a sector traditionally dominated by men.

“When women earn and manage their own money, they can improve their quality of life,” she told IPS in a telephone conversation from Apartadó.

Torres believes that women’s participation in banana production should be equitable and that their performance deserves equal recognition.

“We have managed to get each farm to hire at least two more women and among the achievements gained are employment contracts, equal pay, social security and incentives for education and housing for these women,” she explained.

She said rural women face many difficulties, many have not completed primary school, are mothers too early and are heads of households, have no technical training and receive no state support.

In spite of this, they work hard and manage to raise their children and get ahead while contributing to food security.

Making the leap to positions of visibility is also a challenge that Flores has assumed in the Andes highlands of Puno, to fight for their proposals and needs to be heard.

“We have to win space in decision-making and come in as authorities; that is the struggle now, to speak for ourselves. I am determined and I am encouraging other women to take this path,” Flores said.

Faced with the indifference of the authorities, more action and a stronger presence is the philosophy of Flores, as her grandmother taught her, always repeating: “Don’t be lazy and work hard.” “That is the message and I carry it in my mind, but I would like to do it with more support and more rights,” she said.

With reporting by Orlando Milesi in Santiago.

The post Latin American Rural Women Call for Recognition and Policies appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article forms part of IPS coverage of International Rural Women's Day, celebrated Oct. 15.

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Transforming Food Systems for Resilience in Africa & Asiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/transforming-food-systems-resilience-africa-asia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=transforming-food-systems-resilience-africa-asia http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/transforming-food-systems-resilience-africa-asia/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 06:08:53 +0000 Nathanial Matthews and Deon Nel http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158118 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Nathanial Matthews is Program Director and Deon Nel, CEO of the Global Resilience Partnership

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A Filipino farmer reviews FarmerLink SMS messages. Credit: Grameen Foundation

By Nathanial Matthews and Deon Nel
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

Our food system requires fundamental transformation. Disasters and shocks, from extreme flooding to persistent drought, are occurring more frequently and lasting longer, threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of small farmers across the globe.

Diets are shifting towards less diverse and less nutritious food, as populations become increasingly urban. The resource base that agriculture relies on is dwindling, and carbon emissions and land use associated with the sector need to be kept in check. In 2017, 124 million people faced crisis food in security across 51 countries, an increase of 16 million from 2016 (FSIN 2018).

Neither business as usual, nor change as usual will deliver the transformation necessary to scale and secure people’s wellbeing and ensure our planet stays within a safe operating space.

These issues are interconnected. Therefore, only systemic solutions that address the food system as a whole will be sustainable.

What are some of the bold changes we can make to transform the food system in Asia and Africa?

The Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) has been working with innovators for the last three years to boost the resilience of the millions of smallholder farmers in these regions that not only rely on agriculture for their own food security and livelihoods, but form the foundation of our food supply worldwide.

Reducing the risk for financing farmers

GRP is working with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Machakos County in Kenya to provide improved access to financial services for smallholder farmers without access to banking.

According to the Mastercard Foundation, only 1 per cent of bank lending in sub-Saharan Africa is allocated towards the agricultural sector, despite providing around 20% of GDP and more that 60% employment. This is because farmers are seen as risky investments, and rarely have the collateral needed to take out a loan.

IFPRI has devised a novel financial product which helps manage this risk. Their “Risk Contingent Credit” (RCC) product is linked to rainfall. Loans are given to farmers in the form inputs.

Farmers receive seeds, fertilizer and pesticides – enough to grow an acre of maize. They are trained in insurance policies by project partners Equity Bank, and in best agricultural practices.

In the event of weather-related crop failure, the Risk-Contingent Credit covers repayments on a farmer’s loan. The payments are triggered when a pre-determined threshold for rainfall is met.

This financing system acts as a social safety net, allowing farmers to persist through poor harvests. It also gives farmers confidence to invest in their farms. Though climate shocks will continue to affect farmers living in areas like Machakos, this new breed of insurance product can help them to transform their livelihoods into resilient businesses.

Devising digital tools to help farmers weather storms

Every year, farmers in the Philippines brace themselves for inevitable tropical cyclones and their devastating impact. Since 2013, it is estimated that 40 million coconut trees have been buffeted by storms and ravaged by pests. On top of this, replanted coconuts can take 20 years to reach full production.

That is why GRP grantee Grameen Foundation launched FarmerLink, a mobile-based advisory service that compiles early warning weather data, agricultural training, financial services and stronger links with market buyers. It works in remote areas to ensure that farmers are connected, even when they’re offline.

Field agents and local experts using the tool can collect farm specific, localised data to create bespoke development plans for farmers, helping to send detailed and targeted agronomic advice via SMS to farmers.

The pilot provided agronomic advice to nearly 30,000 farmers. Agents, providing individualized plans and training to 1,525 farmers helped reduce losses associated with extreme weather events and volatile markets.

Floods and cyclones are expected to become more frequent and extreme in the Philippines. With improved, accurate data made accessible via digital technology, farmers can offset the effects of climate risk on their crops and build sustainable, resilient livelihoods.

Extreme weather, scarce natural resources and persistent poverty in regions where many of our agricultural commodities originate, all threaten our food supply. But holistic interventions like these, acknowledge and embrace the interconnectedness of these challenges and solutions will be our best bet to create a more resilient and food secure future for all.

The post Transforming Food Systems for Resilience in Africa & Asia appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Nathanial Matthews is Program Director and Deon Nel, CEO of the Global Resilience Partnership

The post Transforming Food Systems for Resilience in Africa & Asia appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Sustainable Development Depends on Better Nutrition for All Nationshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/sustainable-development-depends-better-nutrition-nations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sustainable-development-depends-better-nutrition-nations http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/sustainable-development-depends-better-nutrition-nations/#respond Thu, 11 Oct 2018 11:38:24 +0000 Dr Lawrence Haddad and Dr David Nabarro http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158114 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro are World Food Prize Laureates of 2018

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Children in northern Pakistan line up for food rations. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS

By Dr Lawrence Haddad and Dr David Nabarro
DES MOINES, IOWA, Oct 11 2018 (IPS)

From cold chains and blockchains – major technological revolutions are on the brink of transforming food systems.

While cold chain technology can prevent losses as food travels from farm to market, blockchain technology can help digitally and accurately relay vast amounts of data between networks of farmers, traders and vendors.

All this can help reduce transaction costs, reduce financial barriers to accessing markets and build trust in the provenance of food, from farm, forest and ocean to fork.

Today more than one person in 10 struggles to get needed nourishment from food systems. It is tempting to turn to technology to solve such issues, This, however, will not be enough.

Instead, we need to shift our thinking from seeking singular solutions, and start to look at building better food systems as a means to deliver on the entire Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda.

By investing in nutrition and more reliable food systems, you can reap rewards across all the goals. Yet according to the Global Nutrition Report of 2017 funding for nutrition by global development donors only constitute 5 per cent of all total global aid. Governments, on average, allocate a similar share of their budget to nutrition.

This needs to change, not only to improve nutrition for nutrition’s sake, but to achieve all of the Global Goals.

Better Health

The biggest driver of mortality and poor health today is poor diets. Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are on the rise in both the developed and developing world, putting a major strain on healthcare systems worldwide.

Many policymakers right now are very concerned about how to make universal healthcare financially feasible. One of the ways to reduce the financial burden of universal healthcare is to invest in sustainable diets and better nutrition now, before these diseases become a critical issue.

Hence the need to make sure that all food systems yield the kind of food that is needed for good nutrition and for good health. We can do this by enabling everyone to widen their diets to include more diverse and nutritious crops.

A Resilient Planet

The people who work in food systems across the world tend to be some of the poorest and most vulnerable people. They are particularly vulnerable to adverse weather patterns, so we need to help them to be both prosperous with decent livelihoods and resilient in the face of stress.

Farming systems that deliver nutritious diets, can also improve the resilience of farmers, and the resilience of our planet. Crop diversification for example can replenish nutrients to degraded soils, while offering a more diverse and nutritious diet to farmers. It also reduces risk for farmers who will no longer suffer a devastating loss if one crop is destroyed by bad weather or pests.

What we grow and what we eat also have a fundamental impact on greenhouse gas emissions. It is not enough for farming and food production to adapt to changing climates – it must also help to extract carbon from the environment.

Food systems that yield nutritious foods are perfectly capable of doing this – so the health of our planet and the health of our population can progress hand in hand.

Decent Work

Good nutrition improves wellbeing, and therefore productivity of a workforce. If Africa is to harness a dividend from its booming youth population, investments to ensure young people have adequate nutrition to support cognitive and physical development must be made now.

Nutrition-sensitive interventions can easily be integrated into the workplace. For example, can we enable women to have affordable nutritious snacks when they’re hard at work making garments that we will eventually buy in our supermarkets? Can tea plantations offering a facility for women who are lactating to be able to breast feed onsite?

The biggest innovation we need to achieve sustainable development is a different way of thinking about nutrition. This will involve getting people together within and across countries to begin talking about what the problems are and the solutions we can produce in collaboration.

Too often the conversations have been fractured between those who care about physical systems and those who care about human systems; between those who care about humanitarian issues versus those who care about development, or between those who care about the environment versus those who care about human health.

By integrating good nutrition into wider development interventions, we can tackle all these interconnected issues. We can work together towards zero malnutrition, a more resilient planet and prosperous societies.

The post Sustainable Development Depends on Better Nutrition for All Nations appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro are World Food Prize Laureates of 2018

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When Gender Parity Knocks at the UN Door, Does Merit Fly Out of the Window?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/gender-parity-knocks-un-door-merit-fly-window/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gender-parity-knocks-un-door-merit-fly-window http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/gender-parity-knocks-un-door-merit-fly-window/#comments Thu, 11 Oct 2018 10:02:45 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158108 As gender empowerment gathers momentum, both inside and outside the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to announce shortly a set of new proposals to improve UN human resources policies– specifically aimed at increasing gender and geographical diversity within the Secretariat. When he swore in Michele Bachelet as the new High Commissioner for Human […]

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By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 11 2018 (IPS)

As gender empowerment gathers momentum, both inside and outside the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to announce shortly a set of new proposals to improve UN human resources policies– specifically aimed at increasing gender and geographical diversity within the Secretariat.

Credit: UN photo

When he swore in Michele Bachelet as the new High Commissioner for Human Rights back in September, he also anointed a new Ombudswoman.

These two swearings-in bring the parity of women to men, 24 to 22 — 24 women to 22 men in the Secretary-General’s Senior Management Group, perhaps for the first time in the 73-year history of the world body.

But his recent proposals to amend UN staff rules and regulations to further advance gender parity at the United Nations, have triggered a strong protest from the Geneva-based federation of UN staffers worldwide.

Ian Richards, President, Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations (CCISUA), representing over 60,000 staffers in the UN system worldwide, told IPS that staff unions disagree with the proposal to change the downsizing rules to make achievement of gender parity at the UN a factor in determining who is fired when posts are cut.

“The current rules state an order of retention based on contract type with due consideration for length of service, performance and integrity — standard practice for most organisations elsewhere as well”.

This is implemented, he pointed out, through a points system that has been signed off by the secretary-general and unions, and is relatively well accepted by staff.

But “management is now proposing to sweep this aside so that gender becomes the determining factor regardless of performance, competence, integrity, length of service and so forth,” Richards added.

In a brief but pithy comment, Guy Candusso, a former Vice President of the UN Staff Union, told IPS: “Merit left the building years ago”.

“More important is that senior officials are never held accountable for their decisions, especially in terms of personnel”, noted Candusso, a longstanding UN staffer, currently in retirement.

Guterres is emphatic that achieving gender parity was a top priority for him. When he took over as Secretary-General in January 2017, he said management reform must ensure “we reach gender parity sooner rather than later”

He pointed out that the initial target for the equal representation of women and men among United Nations staff was the year 2000.

“We are far from that goal. I pledge to respect gender parity from the start in all my appointments to the Senior Management Group and the Chief Executives Board.”

By the end of his mandate, he pledged, the UN should reach full gender parity at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels, including special representatives and special envoys.

“We need a clear road map with benchmarks and time frames to achieve parity across the system, well before the target year of 2030”.

Richards said the situation is pretty serious as there is plenty of restructuring going on right now: at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), peacekeeping missions, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) —and they would all be affected.

On top of that, should those staff wish to apply for posts elsewhere in the UN to avoid them and their families being put out on the street, they would be subject to the same gender barriers to get back in.

“We all want a diverse workforce, including geographically, for which lip service is paid. But the measures proposed are dangerous. The gender team appears to have got carried away at the expense of staff and their families,” he declared.

He said they forget that those same staff risk their lives in the world’s most dangerous locations for this organization.

“Staff are now merely numbers in a political calculation”.

Richards said member states aren’t aware of this yet but it will come their way.

“They may pick up that it contravenes Article 8 of the UN Charter, which states that you shouldn’t be barred from a job at the UN because of your gender.”

In the meantime, he said, the staff union has requested an emergency meeting of the Staff-Management Committee. Staff are worried for their jobs and will be watching this very closely, he added.

In January 2017, a Gender Parity Task Force was established to come up with a clear roadmap, with benchmarks and timeframes, to achieve parity across the system, according to the UN.

The Task Force, consisting of staff from more than 30 UN entities, was divided into subgroups focusing on:
• Data / setting targets / establishing common definitions of what is being measured / accountability
• Special measures
• Senior Appointments
• Mission Settings
• Enabling environment / organizational culture / policies related to work environment

Meanwhile, an Asian diplomat, who monitors the UN’s Administrative and Budgetary Committee (Fifth Committee), told IPS that while Guterres may be doing the right thing, there could also be a long-term hidden agenda, according to rumours floating down the UN corridors.

To the best of my knowledge, he is not being pushed by any member states on his far reaching proposals on gender. Perhaps it’s his own initiative to stave off a potential challenge to his second term in office from a woman, he added.

Also, Guterres’ entry into the UN coincided with an increase in the retirement age to 65. And with few staff due to retire, the only way to meet his tight gender targets is to fire people, the diplomat added.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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Conserving Africa’s Precious Resource Base While Fighting Hungerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/conserving-africas-precious-resource-base-fighting-hunger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=conserving-africas-precious-resource-base-fighting-hunger http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/conserving-africas-precious-resource-base-fighting-hunger/#respond Wed, 10 Oct 2018 16:27:37 +0000 Kalongo Chitengi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158102 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Kalongo Chitengi, is Zambia Country Director of Self Help Africa, a Farming First supporter.

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Felister Namfukwe on her farm. Credit: Self Help Africa

By Kalongo Chitengi
LUSAKA, Zambia, Oct 10 2018 (IPS)

Rosemary Chate’s seven children gather around the table inside their home in Malela, a village in Zambia’s remote Northern Province. They dig their spoons into bowls of food prepared by their mother – for the second time that day.

Not long ago, Rosemary’s family would assemble to eat just once a day – their resources, for many months each year, were so thin that they needed to ration their food supplies to just a single family meal.

This is the reality for millions of African farmers like Rosemary. Many challenges are keeping yields on the continent low. Farmers lack access to inputs that farmers in developed countries have utilized for decades, from quality seeds and herbicides, to the right type of fertilizer for their undernourished soils.

The hand hoe – even in this century – is still the main tool for smallholder families. Migration to urban areas and the impact of AIDS have left many rural homesteads with a labour shortage.

Climate change has also emerged as another challenge, and rural families grapple with adaption. Changes in the climate have brought with them not only drought and flooding, but new plant diseases and insect attacks.

The fall armyworm in sub-Saharan Africa has caused tremendous damage. This unpredictable reality has made crop management very difficult, and indigenous knowledge alone can no longer suffice.

African farmers need scientific innovation – from low to high tech – to face these challenges. Yet preserving Africa’s environment, its most precious resources after its people, is also a high priority.

This is one of the fundamental concerns of agroecology – ensuring farmers can produce food and earn a good living, while keeping the natural resource base intact.

With the right approaches that blend traditional knowledge with scientific innovation, this can be achieved.

At Self Help Africa, we are working with farmers to achieve this through the implementation of conservation agriculture. In Zambia alone, we have reached over 80,000 farmers in the last five years.

Conservation farming involves a combination of approaches. First, farmers are encouraged to intercrop a variety of species, such as groundnuts, which can naturally fix nitrogen to the soil, and cassava, for example.

This ensures maximum use of a piece of land that has been cleared – producing more food with less resources. Crop rotation and mulching, along with an integrated use of mineral and organic fertilizers are also part conservation agriculture.

59-year old Felister Namfukwe has seen the benefits of this farming approach. Not only are her soils healthier, but her income is as well. With the help of her sons and her profits from groundnuts, she is building a new home made of brick, replacing her previous mud home.

“Being part of this (Self Help Africa) project has lightened my burden,” she told us.

We also work with local farmers to build their capacity to grow good quality seed, and to strengthen community based seed systems. Recycling seed is a common practice in Africa, when access to better seed is scarce. However, recycled seed loses its efficacy.

We are currently working with 300 seed growers across the country, who are multiplying seeds that are more able to cope with climate extremes, are higher yielding and more resistant to pests and disease.

In Zambia’s remote Western Province, the Kamasika Seed Growers Association illustrates how effective community-based seed multiplication is assisting local food production in the face of climate change.

The group received training and support in seed multiplication techniques from Self Help Africa and government advisors on the technical requirements for producing certifiable seed.

The farmers were then linked to a new state-run seed testing laboratory, established with support from Self Help Africa in nearby Mongu town, to ensure that the seed being produced met the requisite germination, moisture content and other standards required to attain certification.

The group has since opened several retail shops where they sell farm inputs, including certified groundnut, bean, sorghum, maize and vegetable seed that they are producing, and supply to several thousand smallholder farmers across the Province.

African farmers are most at risk from rising temperatures and persistent hunger. We must ensure they have access to all the tools and technologies necessary to thrive in the face of these threats.

The post Conserving Africa’s Precious Resource Base While Fighting Hunger appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Kalongo Chitengi, is Zambia Country Director of Self Help Africa, a Farming First supporter.

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“Our Choices Matter More Than Ever Before” To Limit Climate Changehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/choices-matter-ever-limit-climate-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=choices-matter-ever-limit-climate-change http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/choices-matter-ever-limit-climate-change/#respond Wed, 10 Oct 2018 08:53:24 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158087 The release of a groundbreaking report has left the international community reeling over very real, intensified impacts of climate change which will hit home sooner rather than later. So what now? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has revealed that the international community is severely off track to limit climate change and that we […]

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Flooding in Trinidad's capital of Port of Spain. As human activities have already caused approximately 1°C global warming above pre-industrial levels, impacts of the changing climate have already unfolded and manifested through floods, droughts, and heatwaves. Credit: Peter Richards/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 10 2018 (IPS)

The release of a groundbreaking report has left the international community reeling over very real, intensified impacts of climate change which will hit home sooner rather than later. So what now?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has revealed that the international community is severely off track to limit climate change and that we will see the world warm over 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030 if no urgent action is taken.

“It is quite discouraging to be told how little time we have,” Amnesty International’s policy advisor Chiara Liguori told IPS.

Policy director of the Climate and Energy Programme at the Union of Concerned Scientists Rachel Cleetus echoed similar sentiments to IPS, stating: “This report should be the shot in the arm that governments of the world need. They asked for this information in 2015 and it is now before us, and it is deeply sobering.”

As human activities have already caused approximately 1°C global warming above pre-industrial levels, impacts of the changing climate have already unfolded and manifested through floods, droughts, and heatwaves.

This year saw an unprecedented global heatwave from the Arctic to Japan.

In the United States, extreme heat now causes more deaths in cities than all other weather events combined while Japan saw 65 peopled killed in one week due to a heatwave, which was declared to be a “national disaster.”

The IPCC report, called Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, known as SR15, projects that such extreme weather events will only get worse if warming is not limited to below 1.5°C compared to 2°C.

For instance, the 91 authors who prepared the report estimated that there will be lower risks for heat-related morbidity and mortality at 1.5°C compared to 2°C.

Seas will rise 0.1 meters less at global warming of 1.5°C, which means than 10 million fewer people would be exposed to related risks including flooding and displacement particularly in small island nations.

Impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, including species extinction of coral reefs, are also projected to be lower at 1.5°C.

“Even though it seems like a small difference, there are really consequential differences between 1.5 and 2°C,” said Cleetus.

“Every fraction of a degree we can avoid is important,” she added.

While small island developing states advocated heavily for limiting warming to 1.5°C before the Paris Agreement, the international community settled on 2°C.

However, due to the lack of climate-related commitments, the world is on a path for a temperature rise of more than 3°C.

“The feasibility of 1.5°C is tied up in policy decisions we make, technology choices, social and economic choices…and we’ve got no time to waste,” Cleetus said.

Both Cleetus and Liguori highlighted the need for a large-scale transformation in all sectors including the energy sector.

The report notes that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will need to decrease by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ by 2050.

This means that any remaining CO2 emissions would need to be removed from the air.

Many have looked to CO2 removal technologies such as bioenergy with CO2 capture and storage (BECCS), a process, which involves burning biomass such as plant matter for energy, collecting the CO2 they emit, and then storing the gasses underground.

However, Liguori noted that the controversial BECCS technology requires large lots of land in order to grow biomass, which could displace agricultural production and even communities.

“We’ve already seen patterns of climate change mitigation measures that are taken in the name of combatting climate change but at the same time they don’t respect human rights and result in serious consequences for people,” she told IPS.

“It can put an excessive burden on people that are already the most exposed to climate change and less able to defend their rights,” Liguori said.

In May 2018, Amnesty International documented how the Sengwer indigenous community from Embobut forest, Kenya were forced from their homes and stripped of their lands after a government campaign to reduce deforestation.

However, claims that the Sengwer are harming the forest were not substantiated, Liguori said.

“All these measures need to be compliant with human rights, because you cant just transfer one problem to the other. We need to shift towards a zero-carbon economy but we cannot replicate the same pattern of human rights violations that we have currently,” she added.

Cleetus also pointed to the need for climate finance for developing countries.

“Countries need help making this clean energy transition as well as help to invest in resilience to keep their communities safe—this is a piece that must be addressed,” she told IPS.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has been a crucial instrument to address climate change in developing countries and support efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

However, of the USD10 billion pledged to the fund, only three billion has been paid leaving the GCF in desperate need of sustained if not increased financial commitments from countries in order to limit warming to below 1.5°C.

But countries such as Australia and the U.S. have rejected requests to provide more money.

Climate finance has been a major sticking point in many international negotiations including at the Conference of the Parties (COP) and is predicted to pose a major hurdle at the upcoming COP in Poland where governments will convene to finalise the implementation rules for the Paris Agreement.

While the solutions to address and respond to climate change exist, it is this lack of political will and engagement that is most concerning.

“There is a lot we can do to seriously limit emissions and its up to the policymakers and governments of the world to step up,” Cleetus said.

And people have already begun to fight back, holding their governments accountable to climate action.

Most recently, the Hague Court of Appeal upheld a 2015 ruling which ordered the Dutch government to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

The case, put forth by the Urgenda Foundation and a group of almost 1,000 residents, argued that a failure of the government to act on climate change amounts to a violation of the rights of Dutch citizens.

Similar cases can now be seen around the world.

“This is quite encouraging because it is an element that can push governments to get there, to step up their commitments,” Liguori said.

Cleetus expressed her hope for the future of climate action and urged the international community to do more to make the transition to a carbon-free economy and society a reality.

“We don’t have to make a false choice between sustainable development, poverty eradication, and our climate goals. They can go hand in hand and indeed they must go hand in hand if we are going to surmount these policy and political obstacles to climate action,” she said.

“Our choices still matter—in fact our choices matter more than ever before. It is in our hands what the future of our world climate will look like and the kind of climate we will leave to our children and grandchildren,” Cleetus concluded.

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New Agreement with Canada and U.S. Is Win-Lose for Mexicohttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/new-agreement-canada-u-s-win-lose-mexico/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-agreement-canada-u-s-win-lose-mexico http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/new-agreement-canada-u-s-win-lose-mexico/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 23:14:21 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158082 Following the fanfare of the countries’ leaders and the relief of the export and investment sectors, experts are analysing the renewed trilateral agreement with Canada and the United States, where Mexico made concessions in sectors such as e-commerce, biotechnology, automotive and agriculture. Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director of Trade and Global Governance at the U.S.-based Institute for […]

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Consumption & Emissions: Rich Indians v/s Rich (& Poor) Americanshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/consumption-emissions-rich-indians-vs-rich-poor-americans/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=consumption-emissions-rich-indians-vs-rich-poor-americans http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/consumption-emissions-rich-indians-vs-rich-poor-americans/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 09:57:42 +0000 Chandra Bhushan http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158064 The growing consumption of the ‘rich’ in ‘poor’ countries has been a running theme in the climate change debate for some time now. A large majority of opinion makers in developed countries, especially the US, are convinced that rising consumption of the rich in the developing world is responsible for climate change. In the last […]

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The richest Indians consume less than even the poorest 20 per cent Americans. Credit: Getty Images

By Chandra Bhushan
NEW DELHI, Oct 9 2018 (IPS)

The growing consumption of the ‘rich’ in ‘poor’ countries has been a running theme in the climate change debate for some time now. A large majority of opinion makers in developed countries, especially the US, are convinced that rising consumption of the rich in the developing world is responsible for climate change.

In the last few years, the theme of the egregiously consuming middle class in India scorching the world has taken a whole new form. In this form, the excesses of the developed world are hidden.

The problem is not the lifestyle of the North; rather, it is the burgeoning consumption of the South. I have a problem with this narrative. I do support and propagate the view that there is a level of consumption that is required to meet basic needs of everyone in the world.

Let’s start a serious debate around sustainable consumption and production (SCP). To do this, let’s compares consumption and emissions of the rich in India with that of the rich in the US.

There is absolutely no comparison between the consumption expenditure of the average American household and that of the average Indian household. In MER terms, the average per capita consumption expenditure in the US is 37 times higher than India’s (US $33,469 as compared to US $900).

Even in terms of PPP, the average per capita consumption expenditure in the US is 11 times higher than India’s (US $33,469 as compared to US $3,001). To enable comparison, Indian rupees have been converted to US dollars both in terms of the market exchange rate (MER) and purchasing power parity (PPP).

In MER terms, an average American spends 15 times more on food and beverages, 50 times more on housing and household goods and services, over 6,000 times more on recreation, and over 200 times more on health compared to an average Indian. Comparing ‘averages’ is, therefore, meaningless.

The topmost consuming class in India is the top 5 per cent of urban households, or the urban 12th fractile class as per the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) consumer expenditure survey 2011–12.

The richest Indians consume less than even the poorest 20 per cent Americans. If we consider the consumption expenditure in terms of MER, the richest Indians consume less than one third of the poorest 20 per cent Americans.

Even if we consider the consumption expenditure in terms of PPP, the richest 5 per cent Indians still spend on goods and services close to what the poorest 20 per cent Americans do.

Data on the energy-related products and services for the richest Indians has been compared with that for various classes of Americans for the year 2014. This is the closest year to 2011–12 for which data on electricity prices in India is publicly available.

Petrol prices in India are actually higher than in the US. In 2014, the average pump price for petrol in India was US $1.2 as compared to US $0.91 in the US. So, a dollar in India, in terms of MER, actually buys less petrol than a dollar in the US.

The annual per capita expenditure on electricity and fuels and on gasoline and motor oil of the richest 5 per cent Indians was about US $241 in 2011–12. The corresponding expenditure for the poorest 20 per cent Americans is about US $1,500—more than six times higher than that for the richest 5 per cent Indians.

The expenditure of the richest 20 per cent Americans on energy goods is US $2,145, about nine times higher than expenditure of the richest 5 per cent Indians. Assuming equal prices of energy (an underestimation for consumption in the US), the richest in India consume less than one sixth of the energy the poorest 20 per cent in the US consume.

Per capita CO2 emissions (excluding emissions from land use, land use changes and forestry) of the top 10 per cent of Indians are similar to per capita emissions of the bottom 20 per cent of Americans.

The per capita CO2 emissions of the richest 10 per cent Indians are about 4.4 tonnes. In comparison, the per capita emissions of the richest 10 per cent Americans are 52.4 tonnes— almost 12 times higher than that of the richest Indians.

The per capita CO2 emissions of the poorest 10 per cent Americans are about 2.4 tonnes. This is 60 per cent higher than the average per capita CO2 emissions of India.

If we rely only on efficiency improvements, it is near impossible to meet the Paris Agreement goal. Efficiency is not sufficiency—without addressing consumption it would be near impossible to meet the climate target.

The idea of an ultimate win-win—to consume but not pollute is a mirage. The question the world faces today is not whether consumption should be curtailed, but how. The definition of sustainable consumption and production must reflect this.

The link to the original article follows:
https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/consumption-and-emissions-rich-indians-v-s-rich-and-poor-americans-61805

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Leveraging the Potential for Green Growth in Vulnerable Countrieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/leveraging-potential-green-growth-vulnerable-countries/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=leveraging-potential-green-growth-vulnerable-countries http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/leveraging-potential-green-growth-vulnerable-countries/#respond Mon, 08 Oct 2018 09:39:19 +0000 Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158030 In May the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced next year’s summit on climate. This assertion has given the Global Green Growth Institute international momentum, which was reflected in the events of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City. During the UNGA week the Global Green Growth […]

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A farmer walks past the solar panels used to pump water in the Soan Valley. The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) works closely with countries to diversify their economies, promote solar energies, and connect financial investors with specific green growth projects. Credit: Zofeen Ebrahim/IPS

By Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 8 2018 (IPS)

In May the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced next year’s summit on climate. This assertion has given the Global Green Growth Institute international momentum, which was reflected in the events of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City.

During the UNGA week the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), an international organisation based in Seoul, South Korea, led the conversation on green growth. Frank Rijsberman, the institute’s director general, highlighted that green growth is not a matter of the future but of the present. Green growth, defined as sustainable economic growth, is essential due to the damage caused by climate change and increased pollution.

While at UNGA, GGGI participated in the Sustainable Development Impact Summit, organised by the World Economic Forum, the P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030), and the Sustainable Investment Forum, organised by Climate Action and U.N. Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

GGGI also helped organise the event named “Leveraging Green Growth Potential in Vulnerable Countries,” which took place at the U.N. headquarters. Representatives from the Rwandan and Ethiopian governments, the U.N.-OHRLLS (U.N. Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States), and the European Union participated.

Challenges and best practices for green growth

At the event, the speakers discussed the challenges green growth encounters, the best practices in the field, and how public opinion regarding sustainable energies has shifted in the last years. Green growth, at the core of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, is not at the sidelines of international policy anymore, but at the centre of the conversation.

The United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, and even South Korea are already pursuing green growth agendas. But the shift is especially important for developing countries, which are more at risk due to climate change.

“Mainstreaming green growth is the only option for vulnerable countries,” stated Rijsberman at the event. “This is not just a challenge but also an opportunity.”

For Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for U.N.-OHRLLS, promoting sustainable growth in developing countries is a priority. She told IPS: “Leveraging the potential for green growth in vulnerable countries is critically important.”

Often times environmental damages are linked with other issues, explained Katoa. “Poverty and its alleviation are intricately linked to the environment and climate change is a threat which demands our immediate attention,” she commented.

Policy and finance obstacles to green growth

Despite its importance, getting governments to change to sustainable growth is not always easy.

According to Rijsberman, “policy obstacles, government, and finance” need to be taken into account. But the biggest challenge remains shifting investment patterns. The breakthrough for renewable energies comes with lower prices, he says.

“It is hard to compete fossil fuels if they are cheap,” said Rijsberman at the event. When fossil fuels become more expensive than renewable energies, it is easier to find investment for green growth projects. That, claimed Rijsberman, is already happening.

“Solar and wind have become cheaper than coal,” Rijsberman told IPS.

Now, the challenge for GGGI and national governments is to find investors to fund green growth projects —for example, increasing solar panels.

“Our goal for 2020 is to raise more than two and a half billion dollars in green and climate finance,” said Rijsberman.

Katoa, from U.N.-OHRLLS, stated: “It is clear that global financing needs to be stepped up considerably and directed towards investments that contribute to green growth and building resilience. This includes both traditional as well as new channels.”

The difficulties of changing public opinion have been overcome in the most part. Natural disasters, heat waves, and pollution have made public opinion aware that climate change is real, and solutions are needed.

During the event at the U.N. headquarters, Mauro Petriccione, director general for Climate Action at the European Union, pointed out how European opinion has shifted.

“It has taken the last two summers to make Europeans aware of the effects of climate change,” he said. Now, he added, “Europe is taking strong legislative action to this respect.”

New skills for renewable energies

Finally, the loss of jobs in the fossil fuel industry needs formal solutions. Rijsberman suggested formal retraining, because the skills needed in renewable energies are different from those required in the coal and oil industries.

Despite these difficulties, there are many cases of success in this transition. Rwanda and Ethiopia have already changed to sustainable growth. They are, as Rijsberman calls them, “champions of green growth.”

For countries like Ethiopia the change to sustainable energies is crucial. Climate disruptions have an immediate effect on their economy, which depends mainly on agriculture. Thus, the government prioritises climate resilience to secure its citizens’ livelihood.

Selamawit Desta, the Ethiopian representative at the event, shared with IPS how they succeeded in transitioning to green growth. “In 2008, we stopped subsidising fossil fuels. It was hard, but we gave an option. Food or fossil fuels,” she explained. And since then, Ethiopia barely has emissions.

Other countries with vast natural resources, also affected by climate change, need to take advantage of their ability to develop renewable energies.

Katoa stated: “Natural resource bases play a critical role in the economies of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and Small Island Developing States.”

She continued: “These nations also typically have a large untapped potential for renewable energy, which can help to bring sustainable energy access to underserved and remote rural communities.”

Collaborative work with GGGI

The institute, founded in 2010, relies upon 36 countries, both members and partners of GGGI. They work closely with them to diversify their economies, promote solar energies, and connect financial investors with specific green growth projects.

Inevitably, their work depends on the will of the national governments. But more and more states are willing to collaborate with the Institute. During the event “Leveraging Green Growth Potential” both the Rwandan minister of environment, Vincent Biruta, and the representative for the Pacific Islands expressed their gratitude to GGGI.

GGGI also counts with a large institutional network, working with organisations such as the U.N., the World Bank, and the OECD, to promote green growth knowledge.

She added: “We look forward to ongoing cooperation with GGGI particularly in addressing climate change challenges and improving access to sustainable energy in vulnerable countries.”

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G20 Women’s Summit Pushes for Rural Women’s Rightshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/g20-womens-summit-pushes-rural-womens-rights/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=g20-womens-summit-pushes-rural-womens-rights http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/g20-womens-summit-pushes-rural-womens-rights/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 14:52:59 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158026 Rural women play a key role in food production, but face discrimination when it comes to access to land or are subjected to child marriage, the so-called affinity group on gender parity within the G20 concluded during a meeting in the Argentine capital. The situation of rural women was one of the four themes of […]

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Investing in Arab and Asian Youth For a Sustainable Futurehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/investing-arab-asian-youth-sustainable-future/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=investing-arab-asian-youth-sustainable-future http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/investing-arab-asian-youth-sustainable-future/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 11:08:16 +0000 Aniqa Haider http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158002 As the youth population has increased to unprecedented levels in Arab and Asian regions, governments need to do more to invest in them. “We are proposing concrete ideas on the effective use of the natural environment in the Arab region to contribute food security and youth employment,” said Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) board […]

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Governments, particularly those in Arab and Asian regions need to leverage youth population for sustainable development instead of making them an element of social instability. Credit: Victoria Hazou/IPS.

By Aniqa Haider
MANAMA, Oct 5 2018 (IPS)

As the youth population has increased to unprecedented levels in Arab and Asian regions, governments need to do more to invest in them.

“We are proposing concrete ideas on the effective use of the natural environment in the Arab region to contribute food security and youth employment,” said Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) board of directors’ head and Japan Parliamentarians Federation for Population (JPFP) vice chair Teruhiko Mashiko.

According to Youth Policy, a global think thank focusing on youth, more than 28 percent of the population – some 108 million people – in the Middle East are youth, between the ages of 15 and 29.

“This is the largest number of young people to transition to adulthood in the region’s history,” the organisation states. In Asia the number is almost 10 times greater with over one billion youth.

Mashiko was speaking during a key regional parliamentary forum called “Asian and Arab Parliamentarians Meeting on Population and Development – Investing in Youth: Towards Regional Development and Achievement of the SDGs” held in Manama, Bahrian this week.

Growing population, food security, unemployment and investing in youth for sustainable future were the main topics discussed during the meeting.

It was hosted by Bahrain under the patronage of Shura Council chair Ali Saleh Ali, and organised by the APDA and the Forum of Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAPPD) and brought together Asian and Arab parliamentarians along with experts and government officials.

Mashiko said governments needed to leverage youth population for sustainable development instead of making them an element of social instability.

“While these ideas may not seem to be directly linked to the issues of population, expanded youth employment and education programmes in the workplace can promote their acceptance of population programmes, [and have] various other implications for bringing about improvements in the existing situation.”

He further said that many regional parliamentarians forums on population and development are unable to sufficiently fulfil their roles. He said 40 years after activities on population and development started, it was becoming difficult to share the underlying principles of these activities.

“We are communicating with the people and governments about the concept of development from an international viewpoint,” he said.

Jordan member of parliament (MP) Marwan Al-Hmoud told IPS that he has a strong belief and faith in the importance of the role played by the youth.

“We need to focus on educating youth and emphasise on reinforcing values necessary to combat attacks against the Arab region,” he explained.

The annual Arab Youth Survey shows that defeating terrorism, well-paying jobs and education reform were among the top properties of Arab youth. “Overall defeating terrorism is cited as
a top priority more frequently than any other issue, with a third (34 percent) of young Arabs selecting it as a top priority to steer the region in the right direction.”

Al-Hmoud added: “Our youth are taking a step back from the Arab reality and [are] influenced by globalisation and foreign cultures, resulting in a lot of our youth to [having] no identity.”

Indian MP Nadimul Haque told IPS that the youth are the energy of the nation.

“Finding solutions in the field of population and development which impacts all areas concerned with humans is important,” he added.

“It needs to be uniform and sustained otherwise the whole idea of SDGs will fall flat,” he said. He was referring to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a collection of global goals to end poverty, mitigate climate change and protect the planet and to ensure equity and peace, among others.

According to the U.N. the world’s population as currently 7.6 billion as of 2017 and is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100 with “the upward trend in population size expected to continue, even assuming that fertility levels will continue to decline.”

Haque said this might lead to a multitude of problems, such as lack of access to resources, knowledge and health services.

“It can lead to resource depletion, inequality, unsustainable cities and communities, irresponsible consumption and production, climate change, conflicts, [and can] gradually lead to an erosion of the quality of life on land.”

Haque highlighted success stories from his home city of Kolkata.

“We have successfully installed rooftop solar power in individual dwellings/buildings,” he explained. “For waste management, we have set up compactor units and we are proud that India is self-reliant in producing its own food grains.”

A list of recommendations to achieve the SDGs was issued, which identified combating health issues, especially communicable diseases and expanding primary health care as an important step.

Recommendations included, among others:

  • universal access to reproduce health services;
  • further improvement in primary education;
  • comprehensive sex education;
  • eradicating gender-based violence;
  • and increasing employment opportunities for youth.

Bahraini MP Juma Al Kaabi said that his country’s legislative authority supported young people and mobilised their energies and strengths.

Al Kaabi further added that the government has made many sporting, cultural, humanitarian and scientific initiatives aimed at raising and developing Bahraini youth who are self-aware and capable of belonging to their homeland and participating in real and effective development and growth.

Al Kaabi said the Tamkeen Foundation has been established by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to support young jobseekers through a variety of training programmes that would equip them in being skilled for the job market and to also help financial guidance and support.

“The King Hamad Award was launched to empower the world’s youth, which is the first of its kind at the global level to create the conditions for young people to participate in the development of creative and professional ideas that have reached the United Nations goals for sustainable development,” he told the IPS

While MP Amira Aser from Sudan told IPS: “Agriculture was one of the key sources of livelihood in the state and youth involvement would further boost agriculture activities.”

In some regions of Sudan, farming is largely characterised by rain-fed production, low fertiliser use, poor quality seeds, inadequate water management and low soil fertility.

The region has experienced some of the lowest per hectare crop yields in the world.

Japanese Ambassador to Bahrain, Hideki Iko, summed it up: “Investing in youth for their education, employment and welfare are important as they are an investment for a better future for all countries.”

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Climate Change Response Must Be Accompanied By a Renewed Approach to Economic Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/climate-change-response-must-accompanied-renewed-approach-economic-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-response-must-accompanied-renewed-approach-economic-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/climate-change-response-must-accompanied-renewed-approach-economic-development/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 07:16:25 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157932 In the face of the many challenges posed by climate change, Panos Caribbean, a global network of institutes working to give a voice to poor and marginalised communities, says the Caribbean must raise its voice to demand and support the global temperature target of 1.5 °C. Ahead of the United Nations climate summit in December, […]

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In August Grenada expereinced heavy rainfall which resulted in “wide and extensive” flooding that once again highlighted the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to climate change. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
KINGSTON, Oct 5 2018 (IPS)

In the face of the many challenges posed by climate change, Panos Caribbean, a global network of institutes working to give a voice to poor and marginalised communities, says the Caribbean must raise its voice to demand and support the global temperature target of 1.5 °C.

Ahead of the United Nations climate summit in December, Yves Renard, interim coordinator of Panos Caribbean, said advocacy, diplomacy and commitments must be both firm and ambitious.

He said this is necessary to ensure that the transition to renewable energy and a sharp reduction in emissions are not only implemented but accelerated.

“This is a mission that should not be left only to climate change negotiators. Caribbean leaders and diplomats, the private sector and civil society must also be vocal on the international scene and at home,” Renard told IPS.

“The global response to climate change must not be reduced to a mechanical concept. It needs to be accompanied by a renewed approach to economic development and by a change in mentality, so that it is included in the broader context of people’s livelihoods, social values and development priorities.”

The Panos official said artists, civil society leaders and other actors in the Caribbean should emphasise the need to challenge the dominant approaches to development and to help shape new relationships between people, businesses, institutions and the natural world.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) said community-based and ecosystem-based approaches are critical to build resilience to climate change, especially in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

“Investing in conserving, sustainably managing and restoring ecosystems,” CANARI states, “provides multiple benefits in terms of building ecological, economic and social resilience, as well as mitigation co-benefits through carbon sequestration by forests and mangroves.”

Renard said as evidenced all over the Caribbean in recent years, it is the poorest, marginalised and most vulnerable who are the most affected by climate change.

These include small farmers suffering from severe drought, households without insurance unable to recover from devastating hurricanes, and people living with disabilities unable to cope with the impacts of disasters.

“Climate change exacerbates inequalities, and adaptation measures must provide the necessary buffers and support to poor and vulnerable groups,” Renard told IPS.

“All sectorial, national and international legal and policy frameworks must recognise the benefits that can be gained from participation and partnerships, including the empowerment of communities, businesses, trade unions and civil society organisations to enable them to play a direct role in the identification and implementation of solutions, particularly in reference to adaptation.”

Yves Renard, interim coordinator of Panos Caribbean, says artists, civil society leaders and other actors in the Caribbean should emphasise the need to challenge the dominant approaches to development and to help shape new relationships between people, businesses, institutions and the natural world. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Additionally, he said the architecture and operations of climate finance institutions must be improved to facilitate direct access by national and regional actors; and to consider the financing of adaptation actions on the basis of full cost, especially in small countries where there is limited potential to secure co-financing.

He said that climate finance institutions also needed to facilitate civil society and private sector involvement in project design and execution; and, increase SIDS representation in the governance of financing institutions.

Renard said that in light of the critical importance of decentralised and community-based approaches to adaptation and resilience building, financing institutions and mechanisms should design and implement facilities that make technical assistance and financing available to local actors, as is being done, with significant success, by the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility.

He said that even in some of the poorest countries in the region, local actors have been taking the initiative in responding to the impacts of climate change.

“For the Caribbean, a regional coalition of civil society actors is necessary so as to build solidarity, and to share experiences and expertise on climate action in local contexts. These civil society networks must reinforce and build on actions taken by regional governments, and more international support is required for this work to be undertaken,” he said.

“Increased resources and capacities in communications and advocacy are required in order to disseminate the scientific evidence on climate change, to deepen understanding within the region on climate change and its impacts, and to push for more ambitious action on climate change at the global level.”

In addressing the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly debate, Grenada’s foreign affairs minister Peter David called on other Caribbean nations and SIDS to serve as “test cases” for nationwide implementation of climate-related technologies and advances.

David said the Caribbean also represents some of the most globally compelling business cases for sustainable renewable energy investment.

“Being climate smart goes beyond policies,” he said. “It goes beyond resilient housing, resilient infrastructure and resilient agriculture. It means that the region can also serve as a global beacon for renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

“We aim to not only be resilient, but with our region’s tremendous potential in hydro-electricity and geothermal energy, we could also be climate smart.”

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Boiling Point: The World’s Biggest Jump in Greenhouse Gas Emissionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/boiling-point-worlds-biggest-jump-greenhouse-gas-emissions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=boiling-point-worlds-biggest-jump-greenhouse-gas-emissions http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/boiling-point-worlds-biggest-jump-greenhouse-gas-emissions/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 12:23:53 +0000 Amit Prakash http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157982 Amit Prakash is a Singapore-based journalist and founder of FINAL WORD, a content and communications consultancy.

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Amit Prakash is a Singapore-based journalist and founder of FINAL WORD, a content and communications consultancy.

By Amit Prakash
SINGAPORE, Oct 4 2018 (IPS)

The Blue Dragon, a small riverfront eatery in Hoi An, Vietnam, serves morsels of local trivia to tourists along with $2 plates of crisp spring rolls and succulent noodles.

On its damp-stained walls, the Blue Dragon’s owner, Nam, marks the level of annual floods that submerge this popular UNESCO World Heritage town renowned for its bright-yellow-painted buildings.

Last November, days before presidents and prime ministers arrived in nearby Da Nang for a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the water level at the Blue Dragon rose to 1.6 meters (5.25 feet) when typhoon-driven rains lashed the city. Patrons scurried to safety as pots and pans floated by.

“Every time we get big rains or typhoons, it floods and everything shuts down for three to four days,” says Nam, 65, who goes by one name. “Last year people had to escape in boats because the water was too high.”

Typhoons and floods are becoming more intense and frequent as Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia bear the brunt of climate change. Long coastlines and heavily populated low-lying areas make the region of more than 640 million people one of the world’s most vulnerable to weather extremes and rising sea levels associated with global warming. Governments are under pressure to act quickly or risk giving up improvements in living standards achieved through decades of export-driven growth.

Southeast Asia faces a dual challenge. It not only must adapt to climate change caused largely by greenhouse gases emitted over decades by advanced economies—and more recently by developing economies such as China and India—it also must alter development strategies that are increasingly contributing to global warming.

The region’s growing reliance on coal and oil, along with deforestation, are undermining national pledges to curb emissions and embrace cleaner energy sources.

Average temperatures in Southeast Asia have risen every decade since 1960. Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand are among 10 countries in the world most affected by climate change in the past 20 years, according to the Global Climate Risk Index (pdf) compiled by Germanwatch, an environmental group. The World Bank counts Vietnam among five countries most likely to be affected by global warming in the future. The economic impact could be devastating.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates Southeast Asia could suffer bigger losses than most regions in the world. Unchecked, climate change could shave 11 percent off the region’s GDP by the end of the century as it takes a toll on key sectors such as agriculture, tourism, and fishing—along with human health and labor productivity—the ADB estimated in a 2015 report (pdf). That’s far more than its 2009 estimate of a 6.7 percent reduction.

The region could shift to a “new climate regime” by the end of the century, when the coolest summer months would be warmer than the hottest summer months in the period from 1951 to 1980, says a 2017 study (pdf) by the ADB and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

In the absence of technical breakthroughs, rice yields in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam could drop by as much as 50 percent by 2100 from 1990 levels. Hotter weather is also pushing tropical diseases such as malaria and dengue fever northward to countries like Lao P.D.R., where they were formerly less prevalent.

While the region’s greenhouse gas emissions have been low relative to those of advanced economies in per capita terms, that is starting to change, largely because of its increasing reliance on coal and other fossil fuels. Between 1990 and 2010, emissions of carbon dioxide increased faster in Southeast Asia than anywhere else.

Energy mix

Energy demand will grow as much as 66 percent by 2040, predicts (pdf) the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA). Coal alone will account for almost 40 percent of the increase as it overtakes cleaner-burning natural gas in the energy mix.

That poses a risk to the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting the average global temperature gain to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. All 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the Paris Agreement.

“At the present rate, Southeast Asia, coupled with India and China, could wipe out gains from energy efficiency and emissions reductions elsewhere in the world,” says Srinivasan Ancha, the ADB’s principal climate change specialist.

Demand for coal is partly driven by the fuel’s relative abundance and its low cost compared with oil, gas, and renewable energy. Coal-fired power plants are also easier to finance than renewable energy projects. Indonesia is the world’s fifth-largest coal producer and its second-largest net exporter, while Malaysia and Thailand are the eighth- and ninth-largest net importers, IEA data (pdf) show.

Reliance on coal is projected to grow: Vietnam’s coal-power capacity under active development is the third largest in the world after China’s and India’s, according to a March 2018 report (pdf) by environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Indonesia and the Philippines rank fifth and tenth, respectively.

Deforestation is another major source of greenhouse gases. In Indonesia and Malaysia, home to the world’s largest forestlands, trees are cut down to make way for farms to feed growing populations and for the production of pulp and paper and palm oil, which are big sources of export revenue. Deforestation accounts for almost half of Indonesia’s emissions—more than fossil fuels, though these are fast catching up.

Clearing forests in peatlands and peat swamps poses additional problems. Draining peat swamps releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide trapped in each hectare of soil. The problem is compounded when farmers burn the dry peat, releasing the gas more quickly.

Smoke from such fires has repeatedly choked neighboring Singapore and Malaysia since 1997; emissions from the most recent incident in 2015 exceeded those of the entire European Union, according to Reuters.

Rapid economic growth and urbanization are contributing to climate change while also magnifying its impact. Migrants from rural areas flock to cities, which emit more heat. New construction in floodplains blocks waterways, leaving cities more vulnerable to floods. And the more cities grow, the greater the damage from increasingly frequent floods and storms.

“You have to unravel the impact of climate change, which is certainly there, and economic development and population growth,” says Marcel Marchand, a Hanoi-based expert in flood risk management. “The impact of a flood or storm is now generally more than in the past. That is not only because there are more hazards, or because hazards are more severe, but also because there are more people, and cities are becoming bigger.”

Marchand is advising on a $70 million internationally funded project that will provide more timely warning of floods to the residents of Hoi An. He attributes flooding, in part, to the construction of reservoirs in catchment areas upstream, which has changed river flows. The reservoirs become overwhelmed by extreme rainfall events, and excess water released downstream floods Hoi An and nearby Da Nang.

Both cities are growing fast as a tourism boom attracts migrants seeking work. A decade ago, Da Nang, Vietnam’s fourth-largest city, had just one luxury resort. Now it boasts almost 90 four- and five-star hotels, many of them dotting the 30-kilometer coastal road to Hoi An. The flow of workers is swelling Da Nang’s population, which is forecast to surge to 1.65 million by 2020 from 1 million today, according to World Bank estimates.

While tourism creates jobs, related infrastructure development also indirectly contributes to coastal erosion that makes the area more vulnerable to storm surges and rising sea levels. The shoreline along Hoi An’s popular Cua Dai Beach receded by 150 meters in the years from 2004 to 2012, according to a report prepared by the Quang Nam provincial People’s Committee. Floodwalls and sandbags have become eyesores for vacationers.

“In the last two decades the rainfall pattern has changed and increased significantly,” says Phong Tran, a technical expert at the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International (ISET-International), which works with several Vietnamese cities to develop climate resilience.

Phong worries that rising sea levels, along with prolonged dry spells, will cause salinity intrusion and hurt agriculture in the fertile Mekong Delta, one of the world’s most densely populated areas. The delta is Vietnam’s food bowl, producing more than half of its rice and other staples and over 60 percent of its shrimp, according to the Manila-based ADB.

Some 70 percent of Vietnam’s population lives along its 3,200-kilometer coastline and in the low-lying delta. Other Southeast Asian nations are similarly vulnerable.

Indonesia has one of the world’s longest coastlines at 54,700 kilometers. In the Philippines, which has 36,300 kilometers of coastline, 20 typhoons on average make landfall yearly, with increasing destructiveness. Cambodia, Lao P.D.R., and Thailand are also affected by storms and excessive rain, as well as by heat extremes that take a toll on agriculture and human health.

Southeast Asian governments, acutely aware of the magnitude of the threat, have pledged to reduce emissions. They also recognize the need to move toward low-carbon developmental strategies. ASEAN leaders approved a plan that targets a 23 percent share of renewables in the region’s energy mix by 2025, up from 10 percent in 2015. The need to curb deforestation also figures prominently in national and regional policy agendas.

Yet, promised emission cuts are partly or wholly conditional on international funding. Indonesia has pledged to reduce emissions by 29 percent by 2030 and said it could increase that to 41 percent with outside support. Vietnam’s analogous targets are 8 percent and 25 percent.

The Philippines has made only a conditional pledge, of a 70 percent reduction. Even these conditional pledges will result in higher global warming than envisaged under the Paris Agreement, highlighting the need for more ambitious goals.

While the region has seen increases in renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind, their limited generation capacity means countries remain reliant on fossil fuels. Consumption of all types of fuels is rising as governments strive to provide universal access to electricity and petroleum-based fuels for cooking and transport. The IEA estimates that 65 million Southeast Asians lack electricity and 250 million use biomass, such as firewood and animal manure, for cooking fuel.

National goals for reducing fossil fuel use often conflict with policies to subsidize the cost of petroleum products and electricity for the benefit of the poorest sections of society.

Such subsidies not only boost fuel demand and render cleaner-burning fuels and renewable energy less competitive, they are also estimated to cost governments more than what it would take to meet the region’s Paris Agreement goals, according to the ADB-Potsdam Institute study.

Given the political and practical difficulties of cutting subsidies and encouraging the adoption of low-carbon technology, preventing deforestation may be the most effective way to cut emissions. Indonesia and Malaysia stand to earn billions of dollars in carbon credits; preserving forests would also cost less than radically cutting fossil fuel emissions and buying carbon credits.

According to analysts at the World Resources Institute, just enforcing Indonesia’s 2011 moratorium, which prohibits clearing certain primary forests and peatlands, could eliminate 188 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, or about 60 percent of France’s total output in 2016. Increasing agricultural productivity could eliminate the need to clear forests, the institute said in a 2017 working paper.

The IEA sees the emergence of affordable low- carbon technologies as a path toward greater energy efficiency as declining costs of solar and wind energy boost investment in local manufacturing. Malaysia and Thailand, for example, are fast becoming global players in the manufacture of solar panels, with the help of Chinese investors seeking to circumvent antidumping duties imposed by the European Union and the United States.

Both countries may need to seek new markets after the United States this year announced plans for new tariffs on solar-panel imports as part of its crackdown on alleged unfair trade practices by Chinese companies. But with a significant increase in investment in renewable energy generation witnessed in Southeast Asia since the start of this century, the region is potentially a huge market for such products.

Even so, incentives such as tax breaks, duty-free imports, and preferential loans, along with easier access to financing, will be needed to increase investment in renewables and encourage adoption of more energy-efficient technologies.

“Policies and recommendations alone are not enough,” says Phong, from ISET-International in Vietnam. “Businesses need incentives to embrace renewable energy or environmentally friendly technologies, as well as for encouraging reforestation.”

*The article first appeared in Finance & Development published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The link follows:

https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2018/09/southeast-asia-climate-change-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions-prakash.htm?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

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Amit Prakash is a Singapore-based journalist and founder of FINAL WORD, a content and communications consultancy.

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