Inter Press ServiceIPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 19 Jun 2018 18:05:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 2.5 Million Migrants Smuggled Worldwide, Many Via Social Mediahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/2-5-million-migrants-smuggled-worldwide-many-via-social-media/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=2-5-million-migrants-smuggled-worldwide-many-via-social-media http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/2-5-million-migrants-smuggled-worldwide-many-via-social-media/#respond Tue, 19 Jun 2018 15:43:09 +0000 Emily Thampoe and Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156291 At least 2.5 million migrants were smuggled worldwide in 2016, generating an income for smugglers which ranged between $5.5 billion and $7.0 billion, according to a newly published report “2018 Global Study On Smuggling Of Migrants” by the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Coincidentally, the release of the report followedthe arrival in […]

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The Italian Navy rescues migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Credit: Italian Coastguard/Massimo Sestini

By Emily Thampoe and Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 19 2018 (IPS)

At least 2.5 million migrants were smuggled worldwide in 2016, generating an income for smugglers which ranged between $5.5 billion and $7.0 billion, according to a newly published report “2018 Global Study On Smuggling Of Migrants” by the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Coincidentally, the release of the report followedthe arrival in Spain, over the weekend, of more than 600 stranded migrants, initially rejected by Italy’s new populist government which followed through on its anti-immigration campaign policies.

During the launch of the report, many member states’ representatives were also concerned with the rising role of social media in the illegal smuggling of migrants. The report concluded that many social media platforms are used to advertise smuggling services.

This promotion can be seen through published advertisements on Facebook or other platforms that migrants themselves make use of to share their opinions and experiences with smuggling services.

On the one hand, smugglers will often gander the attention of those thinking to migrate through the creation of enticing advertisements with very nice photos and also provide logistical information such as payment options and methods of getting in contact with them.

While migration has long been an issue handled by member states; since 2016, they decided to work together to produce the Global Compact for Migration through the UN. Intergovernmental negotiations are still ongoing and the states will meet next December in Morocco for the final Intergovernmental Conference.

The report, launched at the meeting,described as the “New York Launch of the First Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants” at the UN HeadquartersJune 13, discusses the topic of smuggling migrants in great lengths, but specially highlights the use of social media by both migrants and smugglers.

The researchers Kristiina Kangaspunta and Angela Me presented the report and discussed its results with the member states’ representatives attending the meeting.

According to the study, smuggling processes vary widely, depending on the area and the type of routes they follow. The duration of the journey, for example, depends on the travel -which can be through sea, air or land- and the organization.

The fastest journeys can last between 15 and 20 days, when smugglers give contacts to the migrants for the different steps of the route. This method is used specially to move migrants from South Asia into Greece.

Once again, this report raised the question of how to handle the migration crisis; and different individuals provided different answers. From UNODC the general claim, held by Kangaspunta and Me, was to encourage member states to share their information on migrants.

On the other hand, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) urged the international community to act faster in order to prevent the refugee crisis.

Oussama El Baroudi, Communications Officer at the IOM, told IPS: “Stopping one boat or more in the Mediterranean Sea is not an answer to Europe’s migration challenges. A comprehensive approach to migration governance is needed, combining opportunities for safe and orderly movement, humane border management and countering migrant smuggling and trafficking. Saving lives should always be our top concern. We must urgently find a means to help these rescued migrants and work for a comprehensive method of supporting migrants and States throughout Europe.”

Asked what IOM is proposing, he added: “IOM urges the EU to re-consider a revision of the Dublin regulation based on the European Parliament’s proposal, and to reach agreement in Council to ensure solidarity among member states fully respecting the provisions of the Treaties”.

However, for some non-profit organizations, member states act too slow to stop the migrant crisis. “European governments and institutions have not always coped well with this crisis and have struggled to provide safe, humane options and adequate care and support for those affected by the trauma of conflict and displacement”, Chelsea Purvis, Mercy Corps Policy and Advocacy Advisor, told IPS.

The Mediterranean is not the only area of concern when talking about the migrant crisis, as some nonprofit organizations emphasize.

David Kode, who leads campaigns and advocacy for global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, urged member states to rethink their approach to the Palestinian refugees: “There are currently about 7.0 million Palestinian refugees across the world including the approximately 1.3 million refugees in the Gaza strip. If some states continue to support Israel’s actions and other states remain silent in the face of the atrocities committed against Palestinians, very little will change as Israeli forces continue to use unnecessary, indiscriminate and disproportionate force against protesters”.

The role of social media

The smuggler’s key to success, says the report, depend on building trust with migrants. That’s why, often times “they have the same citizenship as the migrants they smuggle”, and they target the youth in small villages -which are more eager to believe them.

Other tactics used by smugglers may be deceptive and manipulative. Sometimes they use Facebook to pose as employees for NGOs or personnel who are involved with fake European Union organizations.

Some smugglers, especially in relation to Afghan migrants, have made themselves appear to be legal advisors for asylum on various social media platforms. El Baroudi, from IOM, shares his concern with IPS: “Criminal organized groups show unfortunately great capacity in exploiting new technologies to expand their benefits. Social networks are obviously a great leverage of coercion and may result into the trafficking of human beings as observed in Libya”.

On the other hand, migrants also take advantage of social media to discuss the specifics of migrating and using the services of smugglers. In some cases, social media may be used as a sort of “consumer forum” to share experiences with specific smugglers with fellow migrants; akin to a research tool.

For example, Syrians use social media extensively to research the smugglers, asking other migrants for information through Skype, WhatsApp or Facebook.

When asked how the UN, member states, and NGOs can use social media to counter illegal smuggling, Kangaspunta and Me replied that they must harness the power of social media in creating communities, in the same way that migrants warn each other of the risks of hiring a smuggling service.

Sharing her insights with IPS, Purvis said: ”Mercy Corps’ focus is on using technology and social media to help refugees on the move find safety, and our Signpost programme operates in Europe and Jordan. Using an online platform provides refugees with accurate and factual information in their own language about their options and how they can access services in the country they are in.”

El Baroudi shared with IPS what seems to be IOM’s goal: “The desired future outcome is that states, international organizations, and other actors work towards a situation where migration systems, at a minimum, do not exacerbate vulnerabilities but rather guarantee protection of the human rights of migrants irrespective of status, while migration takes place within the rule of law, and is aligned with development, social, humanitarian and security interests of states”.

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Sustainable Land Management, the Formula to Combat Desertificationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/sustainable-land-management-formula-combat-desertification/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sustainable-land-management-formula-combat-desertification http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/sustainable-land-management-formula-combat-desertification/#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2018 22:11:05 +0000 Ela Zambrano http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156279 Sustainable land management (SLM) and conservation are the recipes that with different ingredients represent the basis for combating soil degradation, participants in the event to celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD)agreed on Jun. 17 in Ecuador. Under the theme “Land has true value. Invest in it,” a Latin American country hosted for the […]

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Now is Not the Time to Give up on the People of DRChttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/now-not-time-give-people-drc/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=now-not-time-give-people-drc http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/now-not-time-give-people-drc/#respond Fri, 15 Jun 2018 14:33:56 +0000 Jean-Philippe Marcoux http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156251 Jean-Philippe Marcoux is Mercy Corps Country Director, Democratic Republic of Congo

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Displaced women at the Simba Mosala Site in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: Badylon Kawanda Bakiman/IPS

Displaced women at the Simba Mosala Site in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: Badylon Kawanda Bakiman/IPS

By Jean-Philippe Marcoux
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jun 15 2018 (IPS)

After more than 20 years of brutal conflict, few might believe that things could get worse in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). And yet they most dishearteningly are.

In the last year, we have witnessed a continuous escalation of violence that has spread to half of the country, endangering millions. Some 2 million children suffer from acute hunger, and the DRC is home to the largest number of displaced people in Africa.

Political instability has sparked a flare-up of militia violence that has pockmarked eastern and central Congo, forcing tens of thousands to flee in recent months and stirring fears the African nation could plunge back into civil war. Now is the time for the international community to recognize the threat and to finally address the root causes of DRC’s seemingly endless cycle of conflict.

Yet many donors are forced to pick and choose which disasters to respond to in a world grappling with an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises. Budget constraints make it is easy to justify diverting funds to meet emergency needs.

However, the value of long-term development projects, which too often get short-shrift in the face of ongoing crisis, cannot be underestimated.

We know that humanitarian responses mostly serve to alleviate the symptoms of larger issues and are not solutions themselves. So, my organisation, Mercy Corps, and other agencies are working to address what drives conflict in the DRC: the grievances stemming from the lack of access to services and economic opportunities in a country where two-thirds of the population is under the age of 25.

As insecurity and violence in DRC has forced people out of the traditional rural and farming areas and into towns and cities where they feel safer, urban services are struggling to keep up with the new demand.

Currently, three-quarters of the population lack access to safe drinking water. Without access to clean water, people are more susceptible to disease, and women and girls are disproportionately impacted as they often have to take responsibility for the collection of water. As Justine, one of the women we work with says: “Water is life. So there is nothing we can do without water.”

This is why Mercy Corps is undertaking one of our largest-ever infrastructure programmes to provide safe drinking water to approximately 1 million people in the cities of Goma and Bukavu.

The IMAGINE programme, delivered with support from the U.K. government, involves nine local organisations, six health zones, five districts, two cities, two provincial water ministries and the public water utility.

All of these different parts form an integrated water governance initiative working in partnership to ensure that neighbourhoods have access to safe, clean water, as well as the means to provide feedback to improve water-delivery service. IMAGINE is proof that development gains can be made, even while chaos reigns in other parts of the country.

To be sure, Mercy Corps and other aid groups must and do respond to the most pressing needs that arise from violence in the DRC. Since the beginning of 2018, we have doubled our humanitarian response and set up the Kivu Crisis Response for newly displaced Congolese.

This programme allows us to coordinate with other organisations to respond in a smarter more rapid way to the most urgent needs of displaced people, providing lifesaving assistance in a way that maintains their dignity.

Ultimately, the Congolese people hold the power to decide their own futures. This includes choosing their own leaders through elections that are scheduled for this year. Development programmes like IMAGINE are tools that the Congolese people can use to build safer and healthier futures for themselves and future generations. Maintaining, and where possible, increasing development programming is central to this effort.

Home of to some of Africa’s most majestic national parks, this is a nation whose almost boundless natural beauty and potential eludes most newspaper headlines. Despair often eclipses the energy and determination of its inhabitants after so many years of war. But there are seedlings of hope. Now is not the time to give up on the people of DRC.

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Excerpt:

Jean-Philippe Marcoux is Mercy Corps Country Director, Democratic Republic of Congo

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Is there Gender Parity & Reverse Sexual Harassment at UN?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/gender-parity-reverse-sexual-harassment-un/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gender-parity-reverse-sexual-harassment-un http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/gender-parity-reverse-sexual-harassment-un/#comments Thu, 14 Jun 2018 12:52:25 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156237 Faced with growing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in the UN system, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last year announced a “zero-tolerance” policy to fight harassment in the world body. But UN Women, which was created in July 2010 and dedicated to gender empowerment, has moved one step further– and appointed an Executive Coordinator and […]

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By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 14 2018 (IPS)

Faced with growing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in the UN system, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last year announced a “zero-tolerance” policy to fight harassment in the world body.

But UN Women, which was created in July 2010 and dedicated to gender empowerment, has moved one step further– and appointed an Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, perhaps one of the few UN bodies to do so.

Dr. Purna Sen, UN Women

Holding that new position is Dr. Purna Sen, Director of Policy at UN Women, who under the newly-created role, will build on the current momentum “to find lasting solutions to stop, prevent and respond to sexual harassment both, within and outside the UN.”

Asked whether there have been any charges of sexual abuse or sexual harassment at UN Women, she told IPS that in 2015, one case of sexual harassment was reported: the allegations, which involved a contractor for UN Women, were substantiated, and the contract was immediately terminated.

In 2016, she said, two cases of allegations of sexual harassment were reported. None of the allegations were substantiated.

In 2017, there was one case of allegations of sexual misconduct against one UN Women staff member. The case is still under investigation.

As part of her mandate, Dr Sen will be calling upon and supporting states, government administrations and the private sector to ensure actions are taken to respond to women’s experiences of sexual harassment.

She begins her assignment with two calls: firstly, asking women to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault and secondly, asking for examples of good practices, policies and laws dealing with harassment.

The email address follows: end.sexualharassment@unwomen.org

Announcing Dr Sen’s appointment, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director PhumzileMlambo-Ngcuka said: “UN Women was established to protect and promote women’s rights. We have a unique role to play in driving action towards accountability.”

“This means zero tolerance for violence and harassment, and actions to ensure that victims are supported. We currently see practices and cultural norms that enable harassment and penalize victims. This has to change.

”In her new role and with her directly relevant background, Purna will help address the deep-rooted patterns of inequality and abuse of women”, she declared.

In an interview with IPS, Dr Sen also responded to charges of “reverse sexual harassments” and the status of gender parity in the UN system.

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: What is your response to charges of sexual harassment in reverse – where some high ranking UN officials point out cases where “women staffers throw themselves on their bosses to advance their careers?.”

Dr Sen: “Let’s decipher that statement: is it claimed that women are offering sex for jobs or promotion? If so, surely there are some clear responses.

Any muddying of professionalism, competency and recruitment with matters of sexual behaviour is inappropriate and not for defending. That holds whether it is powerful, high ranking officials (mostly men) or junior staff (more likely to be women, young people, national staff etc). Sexual activities in exchange for career advancement is of course unacceptable.

This possibility or practice must not be treated either as a distraction from the seriousness or ubiquity of gendered, structured sex discrimination that is manifest in sexual harassment, abuse and assault or riposte to accusations.

Those men in high ranking positions making these allegations have no doubt had the opportunity to use their positions to raise this issue over their careers. Has this been done? Or are these issues being raised now when women are calling for accountability for those who abuse?

Treating sexual harassment as isolated incidents, or as incomprehensible acts of individuals (as the formulation in the question suggests) is problematic. It leads to obfuscation or denial of the structural and systemic basis of sexual harassment and assault: these are expressions of patterns of unequal power structures where powerful men (predominantly) hold authority and control over junior staff (more likely to be women, local staff.) such that they can influence their careers or experiences at work.

Denial, distraction and excusing of sexual harassment and assault illustrate cultures where the seriousness and harm of harassment is not recognised or prioritized”.

IPS: A General Assembly resolution going back to the 1970s — and reaffirmed later– called for 50:50 gender parity amongst UN staffers, particularly in decision-making posts. How is UN women conforming to this resolution? What is the breakdown of your staff in numbers between men and women?

Dr Sen: UN Women is supporting the SG’s gender parity efforts through its unique mandate to lead and coordinate the UN system’s work on gender equality, as well as promote accountability, including through regular monitoring of system-wide progress.

UN Women is also a source of substantive guidance on gender parity and related issues for the UN system, and serves as a repository for best practices, provides guidance and tools, and analyses overall UN system trends to identify obstacles to and key drivers of change in advancing towards equal representation.

Additionally, UN Women supports interagency knowledge-sharing and collaboration, as well as capacity building of gender expertise, through system-wide gender networks, including the Gender Focal Points, IANWGE and the UN-SWAP network

Another important step UN Women is taking is the upcoming development of the Guidelines on Enabling Environment, containing system-wide recommendations and practical measures aimed at creating a work environment that is free from discrimination, harassment and abuse of authority, as well as supports women in their careers through family-friendly policies, work-life balance and professional development programmes.

As of today our overall workforce breakdown is 71% female; 29% male.

IPS: What is your response to the argument that jobs in the UN system should go to the most qualified and the most competent – rather than based on gender equality?

Dr Sen: “The problem with this question is that it assumes a contradiction between being ‘the most qualified and the most competent’ on the one hand, and the pursuit of gender equality, on the other. That is a false premise. It assumes that the goal of gender equality jettisons competency and good qualification.

What lies behind this assumption is the belief that women (for it is in general the appointment of greater numbers of women that makes up actions towards gender equality in staffing or representatives’ profiles) cannot be the best qualified or the most competent.

Therein lies a fully gendered belief in the essential incompetence of women and, in contrast, the innate competence of men. I reject that assumption and there are many examples that support such rejection.

In a nutshell, women can be and are both competent and qualified, including the most competent and qualified, in any sector. More pertinent is the question why is it that competent and qualified women are not being appointed?

The same gendered assumption that pre-supposes that women can be neither, is what stops their true talents, skills and competencies being recognized and rewarded. Cultures of gender inequality are insidious and have long passed their expiry date.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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Intelligent Land Use Seeks to Make Headway in Latin Americahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/intelligent-land-use-makes-headway-latin-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=intelligent-land-use-makes-headway-latin-america http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/intelligent-land-use-makes-headway-latin-america/#respond Wed, 13 Jun 2018 02:06:56 +0000 Orlando Milesi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156189 This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17.

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Farmers are trained in sustainable land management in the Coquimbo region, in northern Chile, bordering the region of Atacama, home to the driest desert on earth. Initiatives such as this are part of the measures to combat soil degradation in Latin America. Credit: National Forest Corporation (CONAF)

Farmers are trained in sustainable land management in the Coquimbo region, in northern Chile, bordering the region of Atacama, home to the driest desert on earth. Initiatives such as this are part of the measures to combat soil degradation in Latin America. Credit: National Forest Corporation (CONAF)

By Orlando Milesi
SANTIAGO, Jun 13 2018 (IPS)

Consumers can be allies in curbing desertification in Latin America, where different initiatives are being promoted to curtail it, such as sustainable land management, progress towards neutrality in land degradation or the incorporation of the bioeconomy.

Ecuador is cited as an example in the region of these policies, for its incentives for intelligent and healthy consumption and promotion of sustainable land use practices by producers and consumers.

This is important because 47.5 percent of the territory of that South American country is facing desertification and the worst situation is along the central part of its Pacific shoreline.

On Jun. 15, the second phase of a Sustainable Land Management (SLM) project, promoted by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Ecuador’s Environment Ministry, will be launched with funding from South Korea.

The plan promotes the strengthening of the capacity of communities affected by degradation. In the first phase 348,000 dollars were invested.

Juan Calle López, of the FAO office in Ecuador, told IPS from Quito that the project’s aim is “to improve the capacity of local community and institutional actors, to address and implement SLM in degraded landscapes.”

“The project seeks to have pilot sites serve as a reference for communities to verify SLM efforts and their potential to adapt to local conditions,” he said.

“It also seeks for these practices to have a landscape approach that integrates the management of remaining ecosystems and agricultural areas to maintain local environmental services in the long term, such as regulation of the hydrological cycle and sustainable land use,” he said.

Calle López explained that “the project will work together with local municipal governments, local parishes, and producers’ associations, to jointly define best practices for each area depending on the social and environmental conditions of each site.”

“Local farmers will be the direct stakeholders in the project since their involvement is a prerequisite for developing the different practices on their farms,” in a process which will use tools already tested by FAO and the results of the National Assessment of Land Degradation, carried out in the country in 2017.

Ecuador is also the country that will host this year’s global observance of World Day to Combat Desertification, on Jun. 17. This year’s focus will be on the role of consumers on sustainable land management through their purchasing decisions and investments.

Under the theme “Land has true value. Invest in it,” one of the objectives is to “encourage land users to make use of the land management practices that keep land productive,” said Monique Barbut, executive secretary of the UNCCD.

Symbolically, the event will take place at the Middle of the World Monument, located exactly on the equator, from which the Andean country takes its name, about 35 km from Quito, to symbolise the union of the two hemispheres, the UNCCD coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, José Miguel Torrico, based in Santiago, Chile, told IPS.

Ecuador’s commitment to innovative initiatives to combat soil degradation and to promote sustainable land management, which also include advances in the transition to a bioeconomy, is also recognised by its choice as host.

Tarsicio Granizo, Ecuador’s environment minister, defined the bioeconomy as “an economic model based on renewable biological resources, replacing fossil resources,” which has special meaning in a country that has depended on oil exports for decades as one of the pillars of its economy.

“Experts agree that this model combines economic progress with care for the environment and biodiversity,” Granizo said during the Second Global Bioeconomy Summit, held in Berlin in April.

The minister warned, however, that “this is not a short-term issue. We are only just beginning to develop a framework to transition toward a bioeconomy.”

Meanwhile, in Santiago, Torrico pointed out that “desertification entails losses of 42 billion dollars in annual global income, while actions to recover land cost between 40 and 350 dollars per hectare.”

“On the other hand, the returns on investments in actions against degradation at the global level are four to six dollars for every dollar invested,” he said, explaining the benefits of mitigation projects.

This also applies in Latin America and the Caribbean, where it is estimated that 50 percent of agricultural land could be affected by desertification.

In this region, “13 percent of the population lives on degraded lands, which varies from country to country: in Uruguay 33 percent of the population lives in degraded areas, compared to just two percent of the population in Guyana,” said the UNCCD regional coordinator.

“The annual costs of land degradation are estimated for Latin America and the Caribbean at 60 billion dollars per year, while globally they are estimated at 297 billion per year,” Torrico added.

He warned that “inaction in the face of land degradation will mean that global food production could be reduced by more than 12 percent in the next 25 years, leading to a 30 percent increase in food prices.”

“In direct terms, 40 percent of the world’s population (more than 2.8 billion people) live in regions undergoing desertification, while around 900 million people lack access to safe water,” he said.

“Estimates indicate that in order to supply the world population by 2050 (which is projected to reach nine billion people), agricultural production will have to increase by 70 percent worldwide and by 100 percent in developing countries,” he said.

Otherwise, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population (5.3 billion) could live under water stress conditions. This would mean that 135 million people would have to migrate by 2045, as a result of desertification,” he added.

According to Torrico, “In Latin America and the Caribbean, the most immediate situations are related to how to deal with droughts, for which the Drought Initiative has been implemented in eight countries of the region: Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Paraguay and Venezuela.”

This strategy, he explained, “seeks to harmonize public policies to address this phenomenon.

“The other emergency has to do with the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda, where 26 countries in the region have established a programme of goals to achieve,” he said.

This new commitment is that “what we take from the earth, we have to replace and maintain productivity,” Torrico concluded, on the commitment by its 195 States parties to achieve this neutrality by 2030, assumed in 2015 within the framework of the UNCCD.

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Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17.

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We Have Told G7 Leaders to Make Gender Inequality & Patriarchy Historyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/told-g7-leaders-make-gender-inequality-patriarchy-history/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=told-g7-leaders-make-gender-inequality-patriarchy-history http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/told-g7-leaders-make-gender-inequality-patriarchy-history/#comments Tue, 12 Jun 2018 10:20:06 +0000 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Michael Kaufman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156161 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women &
Michael Kaufman is Co-founder, White Ribbon Campaign and Senior Fellow, Promundo institute

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Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women & Michael Kaufman is Co-founder, White Ribbon Campaign and Senior Fellow, Promundo institute

By Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Michael Kaufman
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 12 2018 (IPS)

For most people, the annual G7 meeting may just seem like an expensive photo-op that doesn’t connect with any concrete change in people’s lives. But for us, appointed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sit on his G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, it was a unique opportunity to push for strong commitments for girls’ and women’s rights.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at the G7 summit last week.

We had the opportunity to meet the seven leaders for breakfast and make a strong case for concrete commitments and accelerated action to achieve gender equality within a generation.

There is unprecedented momentum and support for gender equality and women’s rights. With the universal adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, which put gender equality at the center, and the global attention brought by #MeToo and related campaigns on ending sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women, support for improving outcomes for girls and women has never been so high.

The explosion of discussions in our offices and shop floors, our boardrooms and locker rooms, our dining rooms and bedrooms must come right to the G7 table. It is therefore significant that leaders spent two hours discussing gender equality and that it was also part of other discussions.

As the richest economies in the world, G7 countries can bring about far reaching systemic changes envisaged in the global agenda for sustainable development. The impact of G7 countries goes well beyond their borders. We have told leaders that they must use this unique footprint for the benefit of women and girls.

Together with the Gender Equality Advisory Council, we have put forward a comprehensive set of recommendations.

As a foundation, it is critical to eliminate discriminatory legislation which persists in G7 countries and around the world. We also called for the removal of barriers to women’s income’s security and participation in the labour market.

Concrete measures, such as legislation and implementation of pay equity can close the wage gap between men and women. And the jobs of the future, whether it is in the digital economy or artificial intelligence, must help close – not further widen – the gender gap.

For most women, the challenge of balancing productive and reproductive lives creates a “motherhood penalty” that triggers major setbacks for women in the economy. G7 leaders can shape an economy that closes the gap between women and men through affordable childcare, paid parental leave, and greater incentives for men to do half of all care work.

Addressing violence against women in the workplace is critical. Employers, shareholders, customers, trade unions, Boards, Ministers all have an obligation to make workplaces safe, hold perpetrators accountable and end impunity.

The emerging International Labour Organization’s standard to end violence and harassment at work should be supported to drive greater progress in this area.

None of this will happen without the full participation and voice of women at all decision-making tables. We applaud the increasing numbers of countries with gender equal cabinets. We need more countries to follow suit, as well as the private sector.

Because men still disproportionately control our political, economic, religious, and media institutions, they have a special responsibility to actively support policies and cultural change. Men’s voices and actions, including those of our predominately male political leaders, are critical because they have such a big impact on the attitudes and behavior of other men.

We welcome the announcement by Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank of an investment of nearly US$ 3 billion for girls’ education, including the single largest investment in education for women and girls in crisis and conflict situations. This is a significant step forward to build a foundation for greater progress.

In our own work, as the Executive Director of UN Women, and as a writer and activist focused on engaging men to promote gender equality and end violence against women, we’ve been witness to dramatic changes over the past few decades. The courage of individual women and the leadership of women’s movements have meant that patriarchy is being dismantled in front of our eyes.

But greater leadership is required. A strong commitment by G7 leaders to take this agenda forward beyond the Summit can push forward the most dramatic and far-reaching revolution in human history. The one that will make gender inequality history.

The post We Have Told G7 Leaders to Make Gender Inequality & Patriarchy History appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women &
Michael Kaufman is Co-founder, White Ribbon Campaign and Senior Fellow, Promundo institute

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Human Rights Must Be on the Table During U.S.-North Korea Talkshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/human-rights-must-table-u-s-north-korea-talks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=human-rights-must-table-u-s-north-korea-talks http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/human-rights-must-table-u-s-north-korea-talks/#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2018 06:54:46 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156112 Human rights issues must be included in next week’s United States-North Korea summit in order to create a “sustainable agreement”, said a UN expert. In an effort towards denuclearization, U.S. President Trump is set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. In anticipation of the summit, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights […]

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Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, addresses the Assembly’s annual general debate. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 8 2018 (IPS)

Human rights issues must be included in next week’s United States-North Korea summit in order to create a “sustainable agreement”, said a UN expert.

In an effort towards denuclearization, U.S. President Trump is set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

In anticipation of the summit, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Tomás Ojea Quintana called for human rights issues to be a topic of discussion.

“At some point, whether [in] the next summit or other summits to come or meetings, it is very important that human rights are raised,” Quintana said.

“I am not of the opinion that a human rights dialogue will undermine the opening and the talks on denuclearization at all,” he added.

Instead, DPRK’s participation in a discussion on human rights will give them “credibility” and “show that they want to become a normal state.”

While they have signed and ratified several human rights treaties, North Korea remains one of the most repressive, authoritarian states in the world

A 2014 UN report found systematic, gross human rights violations committed by the government including forced labor, enslavement, torture, and imprisonment.

It is estimated that up to 120,000 people are detained in political prison camps in the East Asian nation, often referred to as the “world’s biggest open prison.”

“My call is for an amnesty, a general amnesty that includes these prisoners, and it is a concrete call,” Quintana said.

The UN Commission of Inquiry also found the “inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

Approximately two in five North Koreans are undernourished and more than 70 percent of the population rely on food aid.

Most North Koreans also lack access to basic services such as healthcare or sanitation.

Diarrhea and pneumonia are the two main causes of death for children under five, the report said.

It wouldn’t be the first time that President Trump has taken a strong stance on North Korea.

“No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea,” Trump said during his first speech to the General Assembly in 2017.

“It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior,” he added.

In an open letter, more than 300 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world have also called on North Korea to reform its regime and hope the upcoming meeting will urge human rights improvements as part of any agreement.

“North Korea’s increased dialogue with other countries is a positive step, but before the world gets too excited they should remember that Kim Jong Un still presides over perhaps the most repressive system in the world,” said Human Rights Watch’s Asia Director Brad Adams.

“As the UN Security Council has recognized, human rights abuses in North Korea and threats to international peace and security are intrinsically connected, so any security discussion needs to include human rights,” he continued.

Human Rights Watch is among the human rights organizations that signed the letter.

Among the letter’s calls to actions, organizations urged Kim Jong Un to act on UN human rights recommendations, increase engagement with the international human rights system, end abuses in detention and prisons, and to accept international humanitarian aid for needy communities.

“If [Kim Jong Un] really wants to end North Korea’s international isolation, he should take strong and quick action to show the North Korean people and the world that he is committed to ending decades of rights abuses,” Adams said.

Quintana echoed similar sentiments, noting that human rights issues were sidelined over two decades ago when the U.S. and the DPRK signed an agreement to freeze Pyongyang’s nuclear programme and again during recent six-party talks.

“Those processes, although they were well-intentioned, were not successful,” he said.

“For this new process to be successful, my humble opinion as a human rights rapporteur is that the human rights dialogue should be included because it is part of the discussion. Human rights and security and peace are interlinked, definitely, and this is the situation where we can prove that,” Quintana continued.

Otherwise, any denuclearization agreement would send the “wrong message” and prevent the two parties from building a “sustainable agreement.”

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It Takes More Than Two to Tango: Platform to Achieve SDGshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/takes-two-tango-platform-achieve-sdgs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=takes-two-tango-platform-achieve-sdgs http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/takes-two-tango-platform-achieve-sdgs/#respond Thu, 07 Jun 2018 14:16:16 +0000 Silvia Morimoto http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156103 Silvia Morimoto is Country Director UNDP Argentina

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Argentina is in a need of a new development paradigm, to combat a slew of development challenges. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By Silvia Morimoto
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Jun 7 2018 (IPS)

Buenos Aires is a charming city; rich with history, magnificent architecture, and a soul and music that can pull you to tango in a heartbeat.

But the city’s staggering beauty and its abundant culture struggles with challenges. Argentina’s average poverty rate stands at 25.7% today. Hard-core poverty has averaged around 20% in the last few decades unequally distributed along the country and concentrated in urban areas.

Argentina is in a need of a new development paradigm, to combat a slew of development challenges. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) believes those development challenges require a platform approach, using technology and innovation, to hack development challenges, even faster.

One of the favorite maxims of development experts is that everything is complex and interconnected. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted by all nations manifest those strong linkages.

To contend with those complex linkages, we are developing a platform in Argentina to mediate connections between an unprecedented range of actors, to help the country achieve the SDGs.

The objective of such a platform is to intensify support to the government in dealing with development challenges, while providing space for building relationships beyond traditional partners.

The idea is to partner with so called ‘unusual suspects’ to convene, connect, engage in co-creating innovative solutions, and raising much needed resources to finance those solutions.

This will foster active collaboration between UN agencies, as well as a range of institutions including government agencies, the private sector, international financial institutions, academia, unions, faith-based institutions and civil society organizations.

Rene Mauricio Valdez, UN Resident Coordinator in Argentina, sees UNDP as a platform that allows to interconnect different actors, sectors and even other platforms to generate sounder policies and programs.

In the world of digital economies, speed and flexibility in decision making are imperative. Mobile technologies have enabled millions to live their lives online. A platform approach is vital if we are to keep up with this ever-shifting development landscape.

Our vision is to try to focus on so called ‘wicked problems’ – problems that seem impossible to resolve. In Argentina, this means for example taking on the challenge of Matanza-Riachueloriver that meanders around the southern edge of Buenos Aires.

That once sleepy and muddy river -as the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges described it- on whose banks more than five million people reside is now a toxic waterway, contaminated by factories, tanneries, and sewage. It has high levels of arsenic, cadmium and other pollutants that are affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, especially children who live along the riverbanks. They have lead in their bloodstreams, and suffer from a host of respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.

UNDP is willing to support the government to transform the lives of the people living by the river.

It is the kind of problem that befits platform thinking. It requires giving up control and opening-up the space for creative processes to thrive. This will mean moving away from business as usual in an organization steeped in traditions and processes, which allows for unprecedented openness and freedom, to harness integrated responses to economic, social and environmental issues.

We are up for that challenge, as adapting and innovating to a shifting development landscape has long been part of our raison d’etre. A platform approach to our work represents that evolution.

It would ensure that programmes and projects are implemented more efficiently, and with greater transparency and accountability. And it would spawn a growing archive of knowledge, experience, and best practices from across the world, but especially between MERCOSUR states.

UNDP’s new Strategic Plan sets out a vision for UNDP’s ambitions over the next four years, reflecting the people centred nature of the 2030 Agenda. UNDP Argentina has already contributed to mapping available information on sustainable development through the country’s 2017 National Development Report 2017, and developed an online platform with statistical information on baselines and targets for select indicators.

Assessments of the country’s resources to meet SDGs targets will allow for identification of funding gaps for prioritized goals and help raise resources to bridge those gaps.

This will further strengthen and accelerate the process of integrating the 2030 Agenda into Argentina’s plan’s and policies. The aim is to create a more prosperous Argentina at every level. Argentina is showing that it takes more than two to tango, “To leave no one behind.”

The post It Takes More Than Two to Tango: Platform to Achieve SDGs appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Silvia Morimoto is Country Director UNDP Argentina

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Afghan Electorate: Basic Needs Must be met Before Political Progress can be Ensuredhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/afghan-electorate-basic-needs-must-met-political-progress-can-ensured/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=afghan-electorate-basic-needs-must-met-political-progress-can-ensured http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/afghan-electorate-basic-needs-must-met-political-progress-can-ensured/#respond Thu, 07 Jun 2018 05:56:55 +0000 Will Carter http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156097 Will Carter is Head of Programme, Norwegian Refugee Council, Afghanistan

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Despite the poor situation regarding food security and displacement, the upcoming elections in Afghanistan provide the populace with a sense of hope.

A family struggles through a dusty environment in Afghanistan. Credit: Fraidoon Poya / UNAMA

By Will Carter
KABUL, Afghanistan, Jun 7 2018 (IPS)

After four decades of perpetual conflict, Afghanistan rolls into two consecutive election years – parliamentary this year, presidential the next. But the country and its people are going through even tougher times than usual with continued displacement and a looming hunger crisis.

Since the last elections in 2014, hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees and migrants have been deported or are returning, not out of hopefulness for a country reborn, but of desperation in a hostile and unwelcoming climate abroad. Increasing numbers of refugees are displaced again after they return.

In addition, over a million Afghans have fled their homes within the country due to worsening armed conflict creating record levels of internal displacement. Left with no opportunities for a safe life, many deportees attempt to make their journeys abroad again and so the vicious circle continues.

Now the full effects of a drought coinciding with the political deadlock of elections are threatening an already exhausted population. Hunger is now hitting the country hard. The drought has already affected two out of three provinces in Afghanistan, with displaced families in the North and West regions particularly at risk.

Food insecurity levels have always been high in this country whose main agricultural output is opium, and where food production struggles to break even. But successive ‘prolonged dry spells’ over the past years are now forcing communities to their knees – thousands of families selling off their assets in ‘distress sales’ are now camped in urban centres.

In a survey released by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in January, one in two displaced Afghans said they could not adequately feed their families and were often skipping meals. This is an increase from one in three in 2012.

In hard-to-reach Badghis province in the northwest of the country, the most food insecure province in the country, over half of the recently displaced had no food stocks, and the rest had less food than to last them for a full week. 86 per cent of these displaced households had below borderline food consumption scores, with three quarters borrowing food, two thirds going into mounting debts, and a third eating smaller portions and fewer meals. One in four had restricted their own eating so that small children could eat. Over two million people risk becoming food insecure in the coming months.

Taking a step back, the landlocked country seems like a series of potent man-made and natural disasters stacked atop one another, altogether creating one of the most complex, protracted, largest emergencies on earth.

In spite of this, political and donor commitments to the country are now wavering, if not withering. Compared to five years ago, perhaps the peak of the military stabilisation period, there are now five times more internally displaced Afghans, but only half the humanitarian budgets.

NRC’s own emergency response mechanism in Afghanistan has been halved due to funding shortfalls earlier this year, specifically reducing our capacities in the North and West regions of the country.

Given the current desperate situation, it seems Afghans do not have much choice in the matter of the upcoming elections. The question of whether or not now is a good time stands as a rhetorical one.

Are Afghans hopeful of the years ahead? This one is not a rhetorical question. The odds are obviously stacked against them, but opinion polls (such as The Asia Foundation) reveal something else.

A sense of hope.

If Afghans still have hope amidst continued violence, swirling forced displacement and hunger, ahead of approaching elections, then so too must world leaders, donor countries and humanitarians.

We cannot give up, give in, abandon, or go silent.

The global public must force politicians to make good on their commitments to Afghanistan. Donors must step up their support to aid work. Humanitarians must be held accountable to not shrink but to help hungry and displaced, but yet hopeful Afghan boys and girls despite the darker, more dangerous context.

If Afghans’ hopes are dashed yet again – even they will eventually stop hoping. And that is a recipe for disaster – hope will be replaced by depression, anger, and an overwhelming need to escape. We cannot afford this, and Afghans deserve better than conflict, hunger, and forced displacement.

The post Afghan Electorate: Basic Needs Must be met Before Political Progress can be Ensured appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Will Carter is Head of Programme, Norwegian Refugee Council, Afghanistan

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The Spotlight Initiative: Eliminating Violence & Harmful Practices Against Women & Girlshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/spotlight-initiative-eliminating-violence-harmful-practices-women-girls/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=spotlight-initiative-eliminating-violence-harmful-practices-women-girls http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/spotlight-initiative-eliminating-violence-harmful-practices-women-girls/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 15:58:05 +0000 Natalia Kanem http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156089 Natalia Kanem is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Population Fund, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women & Achim Steiner, Administrator, UN Development Programme

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Credit: UN

By Natalia Kanem, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka & Achim Steiner
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 6 2018 (IPS)

The numbers are shocking: at least one in three women on the planet has suffered physical or sexual violence, usually at the hands of a family member or intimate partner. More than 700 million women alive today were married as children. Up to 250 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation.

Although violence against women and girls is widely recognized as a global pandemic, the response has ranged from indifferent to sporadic to inadequate, with weak enforcement of laws, the continued impunity of perpetrators and limited resources to address the issue.

But less than a year ago, something significant emerged: the Spotlight Initiative, an unprecedented, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations, with 500 million euros in seed funding from the EU. Comprehensive in scope, targeted in focus, it is changing how we do business across the UN system and across countries and regions.

We recognize that violence against women and girls is a complex phenomenon deeply embedded in unequal power relations between men and women, and persistent social norms, practices and behaviours that discriminate against women at home, in the workplace, and in society at large.

Several factors can further heighten the risk of women and girls facing violence, such as their ethnicity, religion, age, income, immigrant status, disability, and sexual orientation. Those who are most vulnerable to violence are very often those whose lives are under threat in other ways, through poverty or lack of access to health or education.

They are often those who society has left out. They are also those who, through Spotlight, we will not allow to be left behind, following the central tenet of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Until now, investments in prevention and essential services for survivors of violence and their families have been insufficient or uneven across or within countries. We know that the solutions rely on working at multiple levels and bringing many different players to the table.

We need to hold the uncomfortable conversations that address the root causes of such violence and extend rights and opportunities to those who have previously been excluded.

Since its launch, the Spotlight Initiative has been working closely with countries in Asia (the Safe and Fair programme for migrant women workers), Africa (with a focus on sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices), and Latin America (focusing on femicide) with plans to extend activities to the Pacific and the Caribbean in the months ahead.

The planning phase has been nothing less than inspiring: government officials from multiple departments breaking through silos with international partners from different UN agencies and the EU, civil society and activists who are usually excluded from the tables of decision-making and project design.

Each country programme is being led by the UN Regional Coordinator, in line with the latest UN reform efforts to make the initiative more collaborative, transparent, and effective.

In Malawi, through Spotlight, we are supporting dialogue on discriminatory social norms, for example, through community theatre, engaging traditional leaders and educators to teach their communities how to build non-violent, respectful and equitable relationships from early childhood onwards.

In Mexico, we are training health care workers to identify early signs of abuse and prevent violence against women through school-based campaigns to raise awareness about gender stereotypes and negative ideas about masculinity.

In Niger, we are engaging men and boys and strengthening the ability of women’s rights defenders to advocate policy reform and hold decision-makers accountable. The focus in Niger, as in the other seven participating countries in Africa, is on sexual and gender-based violence, harmful practices (such as child marriage and female genital mutilation) as well as sexual and reproductive health rights.

In Zimbabwe, we are using radio and other media to spread awareness on the issue. To ensure that services are accessible to all women and girls, including those with disabilities, we are introducing measures such as access ramps at service centres, sign language, braille and audio versions of information materials.

Guided by common principles of human rights, the benefits of multilateralism, as well as the objectives set out by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Spotlight Initiative reflects a deep commitment to eliminating gender-based violence across the globe. The Initiative is a flagship programme for UN reform to deliver in an integrated way on the SDGs.

Violence against women has been ignored or kept in the shadows for far too long. The name of the Initiative – Spotlight –symbolizes the importance of driving this issue into the light so it can be seen, tackled and eliminated. The UN and participating countries are willing to spread that light. Now it is time for everyone to join us.

The post The Spotlight Initiative: Eliminating Violence & Harmful Practices Against Women & Girls appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Natalia Kanem is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Population Fund, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women & Achim Steiner, Administrator, UN Development Programme

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Q&A: Greening Colombia’s Energy Mixhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/qa-greening-colombias-energy-mix/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-greening-colombias-energy-mix http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/qa-greening-colombias-energy-mix/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 01:15:11 +0000 Constanza Vieira http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156075 Constanza Vieira interviews JUHERN KIM, GGGI acting representative in Colombia

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Juhern Kim, acting representative of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Colombia, gives a presentation on the intergovernmental organisation’s strategies. Credit: GGGI Colombia

Juhern Kim, acting representative of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Colombia, gives a presentation on the intergovernmental organisation’s strategies. Credit: GGGI Colombia

By Constanza Vieira
BOGOTA, Jun 6 2018 (IPS)

Colombia is a global power in biodiversity and water resources, but at the same time it depends on exports of fossil fuels, coal and oil, to the world. But don’t panic: in the green economy there are also incomes and jobs – says a world expert on the subject, Juhern Kim.

“If Colombia makes intelligent use of its abundant natural resources, its natural capital, it can create new business opportunities linked to bio-economics, sustainable agriculture and forestry, which have the potential to generate income and create green jobs,” Kim, an environmental economist and ecosystem management specialist, told IPS in an interview.

Kim is acting representative in Colombia of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), an intergovernmental organisation created in 2012, which promotes sustainable development that is both economically viable and socially inclusive. It works directly in 26 countries, including Colombia.

In June last year, Colombia ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, by which it pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2030, to help fight global warming.

Among other issues, Kim analysed in his interview with IPS how this South American country is moving towards climate change mitigation and adaptation and a low-carbon economy, as committed to in the climate agreement signed in December 2015 in the French capital, at the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The expert, who previously represented the GGGI in Vietnam and worked on issues related to the green economy at the UN Environment, also analysed how Colombia can make its energy mix and its economy greener in general.

IPS: Colombia is the world’s fifth largest producer of coal. How does the GGGI suggest bringing about an end to mining, an activity that runs counter to the climate accords?

JUHERN KIM: Coal production plays an important role in the Colombian economy: it contributes around 1.5 percent of GDP and 18 percent of total exports. Since about 95 percent of the coal produced in Colombia is exported, national coal production is affected by international market trends.

The recent volatile price fluctuation for commodities, and the associated impact on the Colombian economy, clearly shows that the country’s economy needs to be diversified in order to grow more and better.

Furthermore, future global demand for coal will tend to fall, although it will happen progressively and not for all types of coal.

Many countries have started to shut down their coal plants, and have been working on reducing the consumption of other fossil fuels, reinforced by international commitments such as the Paris Agreement, where Colombia made its own commitment as well.

GGGI promotes a sustainable and inclusive economic growth path, which implies the reduction of coal and other fossil fuel use, due to the negative environmental impacts.

That’s why GGGI has been supporting the government of Colombia for the last year and a half through the National Planning Department (DNP) to formulate a long-term green growth policy, that proposes actions related to the economic activity of coal in three ways:

1. Incorporation of renewable energy in the energy mix. GGGI advocates for countries to achieve energy transitions towards cleaner technologies. In Colombia, the production of electricity from coal amounts to 8 percent of the total.

2. Exploring new economic growth drivers to diversify the economy currently depending on the mining-energy sector (oil and coal exports). For instance, Colombia has abundant resources associated with natural capital, such as biodiversity – if Colombia utilizes these resources wisely, they can create new business opportunities related to bio-economy, sustainable agriculture, forest economy, which have the potential to generate income and create jobs (green jobs).

3. Curbing the environmental impacts of coal mining, especially by informal miners. Coal mining has informality rates close to 40 percent, while many productive units do not have an environmental license and have exploitation techniques that are harmful to the environment. It is intended to strengthen the mining formalization and provide technical assistance to reduce pollution.

IPS: How can the coastal population be protected from the intensification of tropical storms and the advance of coastal erosion?

JK: Colombia is being highly threatened by tropical storms and coastal erosion in two coastal areas that represent nearly 1,700 km in the Caribbean and 1,300 km in the Pacific.

Colombia has coasts on two oceans, and the frequency and intensity of such extreme events have been increasing, which, added to the deficient planning of urban development, increases the vulnerability and risk of people, infrastructure, and ecosystems.

The National Adaptation Plan recognises the country’s vulnerability to this type of events.

The country is now moving in the right direction led by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) by including climate change variables within the planning and zoning of the territories, which will be articulated with adequate financing and technology transfer to implement mitigation measures for this type of risks.

Of particular importance is the ecosystems-based adaptation measure.

In this case, protecting and increasing the mangroves on the coastal lines will reduce coastal erosion, and at the same time allow the sustainable use of this type of ecosystem for the benefit of local people’s livelihood.

In other cases, it will be necessary to implement traditional infrastructure measures that avoid short-term calamities. Increasing local capacities, public awareness, adequate planning and the implementation of risk mitigation measures are key to achieving this objective.

IPS: A key question is the energy transition. How can clean energy be promoted in Colombia? Is community self-management better, or are large regional concessions, criticised as monopolies, preferable?

JK: Colombia has a high proportion of clean energy from hydroelectric generation (70 percent). However, this energy depends on the hydrological cycle which makes it vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

In that sense, it will be beneficial for Colombia to diversify its energy mix with other sources of clean energy, with some policy changes and regulations in the wholesale energy market.

Colombia currently lags behind in terms of the production of non-conventional renewable energy resources, compared to neighboring Latin American countries like Chile. However, Colombia has a strong potential for generation of solar, wind and biomass energy, and those can also serve as alternative off-grid solutions.

We believe that renewable energy projects should be carried out by entities that have the right technical and financial strengths required to develop, operate and maintain this type of projects.

IPS: What does the GGGI think of fracking?

JK: Fracking, like any other exploitation technique, has associated risks in its implementation and management, as it is known for generating many environmental impacts, such as potential contamination of ground and surface aquifers, methane emissions, air pollution, etc. In addition, it also has a potential for increasing oil spills, which can harm soil and surrounding vegetation.

In general, as an institute dedicated to green growth, we promote the development of alternative renewable energy sources to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. As mentioned above, it would be expected that the government make some efforts to diversify their economy to generate new sources of economic development while taking care of the environment and social impact.

IPS: According to environmental analysts, when the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) withdrew from the territories it controlled, it became evident that the guerrillas had played a role as forest rangers in those areas, because thousands of hectares have been razed since then. What is your take on the situation and what do you think can be done?

JK: Although the presence of guerrillas in many forested zones of the country prevented the entry of agricultural expansion and exploration for natural resources in some sense, it is probably not that simple to say that they played a role as forest rangers, because they also supported the production of illicit crops that generated deforestation.

In brief, understanding the reasons for the increase in deforestation in the country is not simple math at all. And finding solutions is not simple as well.

It seems that the post-conflict process has been generating a change in the territorial dynamics, in some cases through an absence of control arguably provided by guerrillas in the past, in other cases through a high-level of speculation associated with unproductive land use, with false hope embedded for some people wanting to be awarded land titles if they put any type of activities in the land, and sell their land at a better price in the future.

The playing field must be levelled. The abovementioned situation prevents rural producers and entrepreneurs from accessing land with adequate support for productive activities and conservation incentives, such as credits (i.e. financial instruments), access to markets, financial incentives for conservation (e.g. payment for ecosystem services), and so on.

In fact, the whole landscape should be properly planned in an integrated way – i.e. sustainable landscapes approach, which promotes economic gains but minimising environmental impact and increasing social returns.

For instance, productive zones for local economic development should be set up, but it is not wise to set them in the biological corridor. Also, financial instruments designed to promote sustainable agriculture methods, such as agroforestry, can be a driver for making a sustainable transition.

Also, Colombia has defined an Integrated Strategy for the Control of Deforestation and Forest Management, which sets clear guidelines on how to address this issue. However, having this strategy is not enough if there is no tight alliance among Colombian society as a whole.

In addition, the public authorities have an important role to play to implement the vision for conservation of forests (i.e. command and control) – e.g. functions of the prosecutor offices, judges and many other actors, committed to reduce illegality.

The post Q&A: Greening Colombia’s Energy Mix appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Constanza Vieira interviews JUHERN KIM, GGGI acting representative in Colombia

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‘Don’t Try to Be a Superwoman’: An Interview With Michelle Bachelethttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/dont-try-superwoman-interview-michelle-bachelet/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dont-try-superwoman-interview-michelle-bachelet http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/dont-try-superwoman-interview-michelle-bachelet/#respond Mon, 04 Jun 2018 17:30:58 +0000 Dulcie Leimbach http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156051 Dulcie Leimbach, PassBlue*

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In one of her last public appearances as president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet visits Lo Prado, a community in Santiago, the capital, on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2018. Her advice to women and girls who want to lead an exemplary life in our chaotic times? Don’t try to be perfect.

By Dulcie Leimbach
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 4 2018 (IPS)

Michelle Bachelet ended her second term as president of Chile on March 11, 2018. Her first term, from 2006 to 2010, was marked by an ambitious social and economic agenda advancing women’s rights and better health care. Her cabinet of ministers, for example, was composed of an equal number of men and women, as she vowed to do during her campaign.

During her second presidency, Bachelet, 66, aimed higher in reducing inequalities but met more resistance. Nevertheless, her achievements included free education at the university level, especially for poor students; creating a Ministry of Women and Gender Equality; and decriminalizing abortion.

Her tax-reform measures helped subsidize her social reforms, although some experts contend that higher taxes on the rich and corporations have stifled the economy.

Bachelet’s history of being imprisoned and tortured in Chile is well known. In 1973, her father, Brig. Gen. Alberto Bachelet Martínez, was locked up and tortured after the Sept. 11 coup ousting President Salvador Allende, aided and abetted by the CIA.

Her father died in prison from a heart attack in 1974; soon after, Bachelet and her mother, Ángela Margarita Jeria Gómez, a famous archeologist, were imprisoned and tortured by the Pinochet regime.

Bachelet and her mother sought and won exile first in Australia and then moved to East Germany, where Bachelet worked on her medical degree, married and had her first child.

She and her family returned to Chile in 1979, where she delved into politics a few years later (and separated from her husband). When she first ran for president, she was a single mother of three children.

That’s not all: besides being a pediatrician, Bachelet is a military specialist, having served as the country’s health minister and then defense minister before winning the presidency in 2006.

Bachelet, who between her presidencies was the first executive director of UN Women, is said to be a shortlisted candidate for the next United Nations high commissioner for human rights, though she would not confirm that status.

In an email interview with Bachelet, who has been traveling since March from Chile to Washington, D.C., to Geneva, India and back to Chile, she answered questions about her immediate post-presidential life, which appears to be just as active — if equally public — as her job running one of South America’s most democratic countries.

When Bachelet left office, she was the last female president standing in the continent.

In the interview, she touches on her new role in the World Health Organization; how her role as the first female defense minister of Chile, from 2002 to 2004, enabled her to garner the respect from that sector that she needed to run the country; how her mother has supported her emotionally throughout her life; what advice Bachelet gives to girls and women in our chaotic times; and whether she prays (she is an agnostic, she answered). — DULCIE LEIMBACH

Q. You’ve just become a private citizen after your recent four-year presidential term ended in mid-March; how does that feel and what is a routine day for you now? Are you based in Santiago, Chile’s capital?

MICHELLE BACHELET: I’ve enjoyed going back to my everyday life! However, I haven’t stayed home resting. I’m based in Santiago, I moved back to my house — I lived in another house during my Presidency — and I’ve also been busy opening up my new foundation, which will serve as a space for dialogue and political reflection, without partisan divisions, and that will take on the challenge of articulating a common project with civil society.

Q: Tell us about your new role as co-chair of the High-Level Steering Group for Every Woman Every Child and chairman of the board of the World Health Organization’s Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health? What do women and girls need the most globally, health-wise? And what is your strategy for attaining these needs? Will it require politicking?

BACHELET: I am very excited about [my] new role in the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. I’ve been working on this issue since the mid-1990s at a national level, and hopefully, will continue to contribute in an international sphere.

The health inequities that prevail all around the world, particularly among women and girls, are not only unjust, they also threaten the advances we have made in the last decades, and they endanger economic growth and social development.

I believe that each country needs to develop an integrated health program for women and girls, strengthening components of the United Nations’ global strategy [Sustainable Development Goals] in early childhood development; the health and well-being of adolescents; the improvement in quality, equity and dignity in health services; and sexual and reproductive rights as a way to empower women and girls worldwide and without leaving anyone behind.

The global strategy establishes ambitious but achievable goals, and I look forward to discussing with states and stakeholders about the required actions needed to ensure that people realize their right to the highest attainable standard of health.

Q. Do you think it helped in your two presidencies that you had been a defense minister of Chile, that you had the trust of the military, especially since you are a woman?

BACHELET: Yes, of course. My family has always been linked to the military world. My father was a general in Chile’s air force and I studied defense issues, focusing on military strategy and Continental defense.

When I was appointed the first woman to occupy the position of Minister of Defense in Chile and in Latin America, my academic and military background was considered an asset and that led to very good relationships with this institution during my time as Minister and during my Presidency.

Q. How did you navigate barriers to your ambitious social and economic agenda in your second term as president of Chile? What personal trait or support did you rely on to deal with barriers in your way?

BACHELET: Since the return of democracy in 1990, Chile has experienced sustained economic growth at an annual average of 5 percent, and became the first South American country to join the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development]. However, this strong growth has not meant the end of inequality in access to health or education.

That is why, when I returned in 2013 to run for my second term, I was determined to carry out the kind of social, economic and political reforms that I believed were necessary to make people’s lives better. In order to do that, we have risked political capital and I believe it was worth it, because we had the courage to put Chile in motion, and with it, we have seen Chile change.

Q. Your mother, Ángela Margarita Jeria Gómez, an archeologist, reportedly lives with you; how has her presence helped you as president? Did she keep your spirits up in such a demanding, round-the-clock role?

BACHELET: Although I am very close with my mother, at 91 years old, she continues to be very independent and does not live with me! She is an inspiring, strong, dignified and resilient companion, but also a very affectionate and supportive presence, especially during the harder parts of being president. I am thankful for her companionship me during these past years.

Q. Chile is a predominately Catholic country; do you practice that religion? Do you use your faith to manage your life and the political obstacles? Do you pray?

BACHELET: Chile is a diverse society with different religious beliefs, cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic realities. I, however, am agnostic and believe in the diversity of opinions and worldviews, respecting people’s freedom of worship. During my government, we protected religious freedom based on equality and respect.

For example, we supported the Chilean Association of Interreligious Dialogue for Human Development, made up of various organizations, including the plurality of religions found in Chile. We also worked on an interreligious code of ethics for dialogue for democratic coexistence. I am certain that the respectful expression of convictions is good for our country, and enriches us as a society.

Q. It’s relatively easy to advise women and girls to persevere in seeking the life they want — in education, work and as a person — but what is the most important thing for women and girls to remember in trying to lead an exemplary life, especially in our chaotic times?

BACHELET: I get asked this question often and my answer is always the same: don’t try to be a superwoman or a super girl, because it will only bring frustrations. Instead, seek the help of someone you can count on. Be assertive but also learn the art of dialogue, learn to communicate. And, of course you should have a sense of humor!

*PassBlue is an independent, women-led digital publication offering in-depth journalism on the US-UN relationship as well as women’s issues, human rights, peacekeeping and other urgent global matters, reported from our base in the UN press corps. Founded in 2011, PassBlue is a project of the New School’s Graduate Program in International Affairs in New York and not tied financially or otherwise to the UN; previously, it was housed at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. PassBlue is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News.

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Excerpt:

Dulcie Leimbach, PassBlue*

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Plastic Tsunamis Threaten Coast in Latin Americahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/plastic-tsunamis-threaten-coast-latin-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=plastic-tsunamis-threaten-coast-latin-america http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/plastic-tsunamis-threaten-coast-latin-america/#respond Sun, 03 Jun 2018 08:47:56 +0000 Fabiana Frayssinet http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156036 This article is part of special IPS coverage for World Environment Day, on June 5, whose theme this year is “Beat Plastic Pollution”.

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Volunteers from the Peruvian Institute for the Protection of the Environment Vida clean up the waste washed up by the sea on the coast near Lima. Half of the 6,000 tonnes of marine debris collected by the organisation since 1998, with the support of 200,000 volunteers, is disposable plastic. Credit: Courtesy of Vida

Volunteers from the Peruvian Institute for the Protection of the Environment Vida clean up the waste washed up by the sea on the coast near Lima. Half of the 6,000 tonnes of marine debris collected by the organisation since 1998, with the support of 200,000 volunteers, is disposable plastic. Credit: Courtesy of Vida

By Fabiana Frayssinet
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 3 2018 (IPS)

Although Latin America produces just five percent of the world’s plastic, it imports billions of tons annually for the use of all kinds of products, some of which end up in the sea as garbage.

It thus contributes to this kind of artificial tsunami that threatens the biodiversity of the oceans, where 13 million tons of waste, mostly disposable plastics, are dumped each year at a global level, according to UN Environment – enough to wrap around the Earth four times.

The impact is such that it also affects human health, as this resistant waste enters the food chain, and has led the United Nations to declare “Beat Plastic Pollution” as the theme for this year’s World Environment Day, on Jun. 5."Plastic discarded improperly on beaches, rivers and the sewers ends up in the sea and causes the death of thousands of marine animals every year. Drinking straws, cigarette butts, caps, plastic bags, improperly discarded, represent the highest percentage of environmentally hazardous materials for marine wildlife." -- Marcelo Szpilman

Favoured by a 3,000-km coastline on the Pacific Ocean, with one of the world’s most nutrient-rich waters, Peru was one of the first Latin American countries to join the Clean Seas campaign, launched a year ago by UN Environment.

The global campaign aims to eliminate by 2022 the main sources of marine debris, which can remain in ecosystems for 500 years. There are five identified ‘islands’ of plastic rubbish in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, one of them between Chile and Peru.

“We have witnessed firsthand the serious impacts of different types of waste, including plastic in our seas,” said Ursula Carrascal, project coordinator for the Institute for the Protection of the Environment Vida in Peru.

For 20 years, the organisation has been leading a campaign to clean up beaches and coastlines in this Andean country, involving all sectors of society.

According to Carrascal, the problem is exacerbated when the country suffers additional damage caused by natural disasters, such as the “La Niña” phenomenon that in 2017 caused flooding and the shifting of tons of waste accumulated on river banks.

“Marquez Beach in Callao was literally covered in garbage for three km. Many beaches are now gone, fishing boats and artisanal fishermen are affected by the damage to their nets or engines caused by plastic,” she told IPS from Lima.

The country, according to the Environment Ministry, generates 6.8 million tons of solid waste. Lima and the neighbouring port city of Callao alone generate an estimated three million tons per year. Of that total, 53 percent is organic waste, and in second place comes plastic, accounting for 11 percent, a percentage in line with the world average.

In fact, half of the 6,000 tons of marine debris collected by Vida since 1998, with the support of 200,000 volunteers, is plastic.

“There is a strong concern about the risk in the field of food safety due to the plastic accidentally ingested by fish,” Carrascal said.

The governmental Marine Institute of Peru has been studying the impact of microplastic (less than five mm long) on Peruvian beaches and in the digestive tract of fish for years. A 2017 report found 473 plastic fragments per square metre on a beach in Callao.

The British Ellen MacArthur Foundation, dedicated to promoting the circular economy – based on the reduction of both new materials and waste, to create loops of recycling – warns that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans and reminds us that all marine life eats this waste.

One of the consequences, say scientists at Ghent University in Belgium, is that when you eat fish and seafood, you ingest up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic, a material most commonly derived from petrochemicals, every year.

In Brazil, a country with more than 9,000 km of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, a marine aquarium was inaugurated in October 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. AquaRío, which promotes environmental education and scientific research for biodiversity conservation, is the institution with which the Clean Seas campaign was launched.

Guanabara bay, a symbol of Río de Janeiro, Brazil which until recently was surrounded by waste, mainly plastic, along its shores, has changed thanks to new awareness among groups like fisherpersons, who are helping to keep it clean. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

Guanabara bay, a symbol of Río de Janeiro, Brazil which until recently was surrounded by waste, mainly plastic, along its shores, has changed thanks to new awareness among groups like fisherpersons, who are helping to keep it clean. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

“Plastic discarded improperly on beaches, rivers and the sewers ends up in the sea and causes the death of thousands of marine animals every year. Drinking straws, cigarette butts, caps, plastic bags, improperly discarded, represent the highest percentage of environmentally hazardous materials for marine wildlife,” director Marcelo Szpilman told IPS.

“The remains of nets, fishing lines, ropes and plastic bags abandoned in the sea remain in the environment for many years due to their low biodegradability and end up injuring or killing countless animals that end up entangled and die by asphyxiation or starvation,” added the marine biologist.

To raise awareness among children about this silent killing at sea, the aquarium uses the image of mermaids dying from the ingestion of plastic.

This happens in reality in the oceans to fish, birds, seals, turtles and dolphins that confuse floating plastic waste with octopuses, squid, jellyfish and other species that they eat.

“Dolphins have been found with their stomachs full of city trash. Cigarette butts, the most widely collected item in all beach clean-up campaigns, have caused the death of animals that swallow them mistaking them for fish eggs,” Szpilman said.

In addition, he noted, “a plastic bag drifting at sea is easily mistaken for a jellyfish, which is a food for several species of sea turtles, which as a result can die from asphyxiation.

According to experts, in Brazil and other Latin American countries, the problem is combated with isolated initiatives, such as the banning of plastic bags in supermarkets, when what is needed is a broader change in the model of plastic production and consumption.

But some things have started to be done.

In Peru, for example, Vida has coordinated actions with the waste management industry to promote the circular economy model through recycling chains with the waste collected in coastal cleanups throughout the country.

This work has been carried out not only with large industry but also with small and medium-sized enterprises and the National Movement of Recyclers of Peru.

“Greater efforts and investment in recycling technology are needed to solve the plastic problem. In Peru, much of the plastic waste collected, although it could be 100 percent recycled, is not recycled because there are no recycling plants, due to lack of knowledge or lack of adequate technology,” Carrascal said.

In his opinion, “great progress is being made in the separation of waste from primary sources, but this cycle ends when the waste ends again in a landfill.”

The Peruvian model of waste management in the marine ecosystem has been used as a reference point in other countries of the Southeast Pacific, including Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama.

The post Plastic Tsunamis Threaten Coast in Latin America appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of special IPS coverage for World Environment Day, on June 5, whose theme this year is “Beat Plastic Pollution”.

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Nuclear Nonproliferation Malpracticehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/nuclear-nonproliferation-malpractice/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nuclear-nonproliferation-malpractice http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/nuclear-nonproliferation-malpractice/#respond Fri, 01 Jun 2018 12:11:56 +0000 Daryl G. Kimball http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156024 Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association*

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Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association*

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, Jun 1 2018 (IPS)

The global nuclear nonproliferation system has always relied on responsible leadership from the United States and other global powers. The effort to create, extend, and strengthen the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which was opened for signature 50 years ago on July 1, 1968, has succeeded, albeit imperfectly, because most U.S. presidents have made good faith efforts to back up U.S. legal and political commitments on nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a speech, “After the Deal: A New Iran Strategy”, at the Heritage Foundation, in Washington, D.C, on May 21, 2018. Credit: [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Beginning in 2003 when Iran was discovered to have a secret uranium-enrichment program, key European states, along with China, Russia, and later, the United States under President Barack Obama, put enormous effort into negotiating the complex multilateral deal to curtail and contain Iran’s nuclear program and to verifiably block its pathways to nuclear weapons: the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

But now, with his May 8 decision to unilaterally violate the JCPOA, President Donald Trump effectively has ceded the traditional nonproliferation leadership role of the United States, opened the door for Iran to quickly expand its uranium-enrichment capacity, and shaken the foundations of the global nuclear nonproliferation system. Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran and any businesses or banks that continue to do business with Iran puts the valuable nonproliferation barriers established by the JCPOA at grave risk.

If the accord is to survive Trump’s reckless actions, EU governments and other responsible states must now try to sustain it without the United States by taking bold steps to ensure that it remains in Iran’s interest not to break out of the JCPOA’s rigorous constraints.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said May 8 that “[a]s long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear[-]related commitments, as it is doing so far, the European Union will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal.

Europe Union states, as well as China and Russia, have little choice but to part ways with the Trump administration on the Iran deal because Trump has rejected reasonable proposals from leaders of the E3 countries (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) to address his concerns and because his new “strategy” to pursue a “better deal” to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran is pure fantasy.

To try to address Trump’s complaints about the JCPOA, the E3 worked in good faith for several months to negotiate a supplemental agreement designed to address concerns about Iran’s behavior that fall outside the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, including its ballistic missile program and its support for radical groups in the Middle East.

That effort failed because Trump stubbornly refused to guarantee to the E3 that if they entered into such an agreement, he would continue to waive nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.

Trump administration officials say they will try to “cajole” the European powers and other states to re-impose even stronger sanctions on Iran to try to compel Iran to come back to the negotiating table to work out a “better” deal for the United States and a more onerous one for Iran.

In the meantime, Trump is demanding that Iran must still meet the JCPOA’s nuclear restrictions and submit to its tough International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring provisions. Such arrogant bullying has no chance of producing a cooperative response from leaders in Tehran or in other capitals.

If European and other powers fail to adequately insulate their financial and business transactions with Iran from U.S. sanctions, Iran could decide to quickly expand its enrichment capacity by putting more machines online and increasing its uranium supply. Asked on May 9 how he would respond to such actions, Trump said, “If they do, there will be very severe consequences.”

Within hours of Trump’s May 8 announcement, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, “If Iran acquires nuclear capability, we will do everything we can to do the same.”

Incredibly, the Trump administration, which is in the process of negotiating an agreement for civil nuclear cooperation with Riyadh, failed to respond to this alarming threat from the Saudi monarchy to violate its NPT commitments.

Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA is also a body blow to efforts to strengthen the NPT system in the run-up to the pivotal 2020 NPT Review Conference. Statements from U.S. diplomats about how others should advance NPT goals will ring hollow so long as the United States continues to ignore or repudiate its own nonproliferation obligations.

For instance, at the NPT gathering in May, U.S. representatives argued that progress toward a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East suffers from a “lack of trust” and nonproliferation “noncompliance” by states in the region. Unfortunately, U.S. noncompliance with the JCPOA has only exacerbated these challenges.

Trump’s decision on the nuclear deal has transformed the United States from a nonproliferation leader to an NPT rogue state. For now, the future of the hard-won Iran nuclear accord and maybe the NPT as we now know it will depend largely on the leadership of key European leaders and restraint from Iran’s.

*The link to the original article: https://armscontrol.org/act/2018-06/focus/nuclear-nonproliferation-malpractice

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Excerpt:

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association*

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Latin America Begins to Discover Electric Mobilityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/latin-america-begins-discover-electric-mobility/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-america-begins-discover-electric-mobility http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/latin-america-begins-discover-electric-mobility/#respond Thu, 31 May 2018 23:07:59 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156009 With 80 percent of the population living in urban areas and a vehicle fleet that is growing at the fastest rate in the world, Latin America has the conditions to begin the transition to electric mobility – but public policies are not, at least for now, up to the task. That is the assessment of […]

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The podium at the conference in Argentina’s lower house of Congress, where representatives of UN Environment assured that public transport, which in Latin America has the highest rate of use in the world per capita, will lead the transition to electric mobility. Credit: Daniel Gutman / IPS

The podium at the conference in Argentina’s lower house of Congress, where representatives of UN Environment assured that public transport, which in Latin America has the highest rate of use in the world per capita, will lead the transition to electric mobility. Credit: Daniel Gutman / IPS

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, May 31 2018 (IPS)

With 80 percent of the population living in urban areas and a vehicle fleet that is growing at the fastest rate in the world, Latin America has the conditions to begin the transition to electric mobility – but public policies are not, at least for now, up to the task.

That is the assessment of UN Environment, according to a conference that two of its officials gave on May 29 in Argentina’s lower house of Congress, in Buenos Aires.

The shift towards electric mobility, however, will come inexorably in a few years, and in Latin America it will begin with public passenger transport, said the United Nations agency’s regional climate change coordinator, Gustavo Máñez, who used two photographs of New York’s Fifth Avenue to illustrate his prediction.

The first photo, from 1900, showed horse-drawn carriages. The second was taken only 13 years later and only cars were visible."As at other times in history, this time the transition will happen very quickly. I am seeing all over the world that car manufacturers are looking to join this wave of electric mobility because they know that, if not, they are going to be left out of the market." -- Gustavo Máñez

“As at other times in history, this time the transition will happen very quickly. I am seeing all over the world that car manufacturers are looking to join this wave of electric mobility because they know that, if not, they are going to be left out of the market,” said Máñez.

Projections indicate that Latin America could, over the next 25 years, see its car fleet triple, to more than 200 million vehicles by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

This growth, if the transition to sustainable mobility does not pick up speed, will seriously jeopardise compliance with the intended nationally determined contributions adopted under the global Paris Agreement on climate change, according to Máñez.

The reason is that the transport sector is responsible for nearly 20 percent of the region’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In this regard, the official praised the new president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, who called for the elimination of fossil fuel use and for the decarbonisation of the economy. Máñez also highlighted that “Chile, Colombia and Mexico are working to tax transport for its carbon emissions.

“This is an example of public policies aimed at generating demand for electric vehicles,” said Máñez, while another positive case is that of Uruguay, one of the countries in the region that has made the most progress in electric mobility, stimulating it with tax benefits.

“But the region still needs to do a great deal of work developing incentives for electric mobility and removing subsidies for fossil fuels,” he added.

In this respect, he asked Latin America to look to the example of Scandinavian countries, where electric vehicles already play an important role, thanks to the fact that their drivers enjoy parking privileges or use the lanes for public transport, in addition to other sustained measures.

There are very disparate realities in the region.

Thus, while electric vehicles have been sold in Brazil for years, the country hosting the conference is lagging far behind and only began selling one model this year.

An electric bus parked on a downtown street in Montevideo. Credit: Inés Acosta / IPS

An electric bus parked on a downtown street in Montevideo. Credit: Inés Acosta / IPS

In fact, the meeting was led by Argentine lawmaker Juan Carlos Villalonga, of the governing alliance Cambiemos and author of a bill that promotes the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, which is currently not on the legislative agenda.

“The first objective is to generate a debate in society about sustainable mobility,” said Villalonga, who acknowledged that Argentina is lagging behind other countries in the region in the transition to clean energy.

Argentina only started a couple of years ago developing non-conventional renewable energies, which in the country’s electricity generation mix are still negligible.

As for electric mobility, the government of the city of Buenos Aires hopes to put eight experimental buses into operation by the end of the year, as a pilot plan, in a fleet of 13,000 buses.

Combating climate change is not the only reason why electric mobility should be encouraged.

“Health is another powerful reason, because internal combustion engines generate a lot of air pollution. In Argentina alone, almost 15,000 people die prematurely each year due to poor air quality,” said José Dallo, head of the UN Environment’s Office for the Southern Cone, based in Montevideo.

“There is also the issue of energy security, as electricity prices are more stable than the price of oil,” he added.

In 2016, UN Environment presented an 84-page report entitled “Electric Mobility. Opportunities for Latin America,” which noted the change would mean a reduction of 1.4 gigatons in carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for 80 percent of GHG emissions, and savings of 85 billion dollars in fuels until 2050.

The report acknowledges that among the region’s obstacles are fossil fuel subsidies “and a lower electricity supply than in developed countries, where the boom in electric mobility has been concentrated so far.”

It also notes that Latin America is the region with the highest use of buses per person in the world, and that public transport “has a strategic potential to spearhead electric mobility.”

Along these lines, the experience of Chile through the Consortium Electric Mobility, a mixed initiative with the participation of the Ministry of Transport and scientific institutions from Chile and Finland, was also shared during the conference in Buenos Aires.

Engineer Gianni López, former director of the government’s National Environment Commission and a member of the Mario Molina Research and Development Centre, said that “in Chile the decision has already been taken to move public transport towards electric mobility.”

He explained that there will be 120 electric buses operating next year in Santiago and that the goal is 1,500 by 2025 – more than 25 percent of a total fleet of nearly 7,000 public transportation units.

“There are many aspects that make it easier to start with public buses than private cars,” Lopez said.

“On the one hand, buses run many hours a day so the return on investment is much faster; on the other hand, since they have fixed routes, it is easier to install recharging systems; and autonomy is not a problem because you know exactly how far they are going to travel each day,” he said.

One example of this is Uruguay, where electric taxis have been operating since 2014, and since 2016 a private mass transit company has a regular service with electric buses. In addition, a 400-km “green route,” with refueling stations every 60 km, was inaugurated last December.

As for the cost of electric vehicles, Máñez assured that China, which leads the production and sale of electric vehicles, is now close to reaching cost parity with conventional vehicles.

In this sense, the official also spoke of the need for Latin America to develop a technology that is currently underdeveloped.

He highlighted the case of Argentina, which is not only a producer of conventional vehicles, but in the north of the country has world-renowned reserves of lithium, a mineral used in batteries for electric vehicles.

The question is that lithium is exported as a primary product because this South American country has not developed the technology to manufacture and assemble the batteries locally.

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UN Launches its Most Ambitious New Development Systemhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/un-launches-ambitious-new-development-system/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-launches-ambitious-new-development-system http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/un-launches-ambitious-new-development-system/#respond Thu, 31 May 2018 16:57:37 +0000 Antonio Guterres http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156006 António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in an address to the UN General Assembly, on “Repositioning the UN Development System”

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António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in an address to the UN General Assembly, on “Repositioning the UN Development System”

By António Guterres
UNITED NATIONS, May 31 2018 (IPS)

I just arrived this morning from Mali – but I wanted to be here personally to thank you for your leadership, engagement and constructive spirit.

Allow me to pay a special tribute to the co-facilitators Sabri Boukadoum, Permanent Representative of Algeria, and Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark.

António Guterres

The resolution you adopt today ushers in the most ambitious and comprehensive transformation of the UN development system in decades. It sets the foundations to reposition sustainable development at the heart of the United Nations.

And it gives practical meaning to our collective promise to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for everyone, everywhere — with poverty eradication as its first goal, leaving no one behind. That is what this is really about.

In the end, reform is about putting in place the mechanisms to make a real difference in the lives of people.

You have been clear in your mandates to establish a new generation of UN Country Teams and strengthen our investments in people, planet, peace and prosperity.

National ownership and a strong focus on accountability and results will guide the system every step of the way. Our teams on the ground will now be better able to tailor their presence, capacities, skillsets and overall response to your priorities.

We will reach out and build stronger partnerships with civil society, academia, the private sector and beyond to take actions to scale. Our joint planning instrument in countries – the UN Development Assistance Framework – will better reflect country priorities and needs.

You will be able to count on impartial and empowered Resident Coordinators – fully devoted to the needs that you require to fulfil the 2030 Agenda, drawing on experience, skills and knowledge across the system.

I am extremely proud of the 129 Resident Coordinators working hard around the world in 165 countries – in some cases against all odds. Being a Resident Coordinator is one of the most challenging jobs in the United Nations.

But the structures we have today at the country level are excessively reliant on personalities and goodwill across a system that does not always reward cooperation.

We now can resolve a historic deficit in our coordination function, and institutionalize what works, across the board. I count on your support to adequately and predictably fund this reinvigorated Resident Coordinator nationally-driven, people-centred system.

As you know, my preference would have been to fund the Resident Coordinator system through the regular budget of the United Nations, to ensure predictability, sustainability and ownership from all Member States.

The hybrid funding solution put forward by the co-facilitators is the best possible alternative. By combining different sources, it diversifies the funding base and enhances the prospect of adequate and predictable funding.

You can count on the Secretariat – and on my personal commitment – to do our utmost to ensure successful implementation of this model. But let us also bear in mind that success will rely heavily on your generosity and sustained commitment.

I therefore appeal to you for your immediate support so that we can hit the ground running on 1 January 2019. I am aware that we need to work now on the modalities by which the reinvigorated RC system will be operationalized, including its funding arrangements.

Before the end of the current General Assembly session, I will present an implementation plan addressing these questions. We will consult closely with you as we develop the implementation plan and move to the transition phase.

We will soon enter year four of the 2030 Agenda. We don’t have a moment to lose. We are committed to fast-track transformation, working closely with you – and for you on behalf of people.

Change is never easy. But it can be well-managed and inclusive to ensure smooth transitions and tangible outcomes. This is our commitment.

You can rely on my leadership and the UN development system to step up to meet your ambition. I ask you to carry forward your resolve by supporting change through the governing bodies of agencies, funds and programmes – and through your capitals, in your bilateral relationship with each entity.

I will move immediately to put in place a transition team under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary-General to implement your decisions. This team will work in the same open, transparent and inclusive way we have conducted this process thus far and ensure the inclusion of our funds, programmes and specialized agencies.

I thank you for your determination and resolve. You have shown that consensus and ambition can go hand in hand. You have done so because a stronger UN development system is in our common interest. It means more results for people, and more value for money.

Let us build on this achievement. Let us see our efforts through for all those who look to us with hope to better their lives in our increasingly complex world.

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Excerpt:

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in an address to the UN General Assembly, on “Repositioning the UN Development System”

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Why Israel Dropped Out of the Security Council Race: Not Enough Voteshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/israel-dropped-security-council-race-not-enough-votes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=israel-dropped-security-council-race-not-enough-votes http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/israel-dropped-security-council-race-not-enough-votes/#comments Tue, 29 May 2018 16:32:20 +0000 Kacie Candela http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155973 Kacie Candela, PassBlue*

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On March 8, 2018, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and his wife, Sara, toured the “3000 Years of History: Jews in Jerusalem” exhibition at the UN in New York. Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, right. Israel recently dropped its campaign to run for a seat in the next term of the Security Council. The election is June 8. Credit: ESKINDER DEBEBE/UN PHOTO

By Kacie Candela
UNITED NATIONS, May 29 2018 (IPS)

From the start, it was a closely watched contest pitting Germany, Belgium and Israel against one another for their regional bloc’s two seats in the next term on the United Nations Security Council. Israel has never held a seat on the Council, and as it celebrates its 70-year membership in the UN in 2018, the country was aiming high for the June 8 election.

But it was never going to be a shoo-in for Israel. It has been a permanent member of WEOG, or the Western Europe and Others Group, since 2004, falling into this UN regional slot first as a renewable member in 2000, because its Arab neighbors refused to let it into their Asia-Pacific group.

So, when Israel announced abruptly on May 4 that it was withdrawing from the Council race, just as a debate for the contestants was being staged at the UN, the campaigning by Germany and Belgium was done.

Competing for the 10 elected seats on the Council seats is always intense, but Israel’s last-minute withdrawal leaves the overall election for the 2018-2019 term with few surprises. Only the Maldives and Indonesia, from the Asia-Pacific group, are left competing — for that region’s open seat.

The Security Council’s 10 nonpermanent members hold staggered two-year terms, which are not immediately renewable.

For the upcoming term, the African group has pre-selected South Africa; the Latin American and Caribbean group has preordained the Dominican Republic. The one seat allotted for Eastern Europe will be open next year.

The work to win a Council seat can begin years before the election. Besides events like cultural affairs (Italy, campaigning in 2016 at UN headquarters, showcased its cinema and food), freebies like felt satchels and more extravagant ventures such as a free trip for diplomats to visit a candidate’s country, the campaigns’ expenses are rarely publicized. There are virtually no rules on spending limits.

According to a report by the CBC on Canada’s candidacy for the 2021-22 Council term, countries have spent anywhere from $4 million to $85 million on campaigns.

The money goes to everything from postage stamps to travel and hospitality, but it does not include the salaries of those appointed to lead the efforts, although not all countries have a designated campaign staff, like Canada.

Israel, however, never had a slogan, website or logo. According to the General Assembly Affairs Branch of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, it never received notification from Israel that it was a candidate.

Israel’s campaign was less focused on cultivating an image with the UN press corps and civil society and more on currying favor among countries whose votes it needed. The Israeli mission paid for three visits of groups of UN diplomats to Jerusalem over the last few months.

The delegates were predominantly from countries in Africa and Latin America and Pacific island nations. Some Eastern European countries, such as Hungary, were rumored to have supported Israel’s bid, as well as a handful of US allies, like Guatemala.

When asked a few days after its withdrawal from the race which countries had supported Israel, Ambassador Danny Danon told PassBlue that it was a “long list” but not enough to meet the two-thirds’ threshold to win the election, which is held in the UN General Assembly among all 193 member nations. Danon declined to name any of the countries on the list.

When the Israeli mission announced its decision to drop out, some ambassadors at the UN said they were not surprised. Arab countries in the UN had been actively lobbying against Israel, especially after the Great March of Return in Gaza began this spring and Israeli forces killed more than 100 protesters at the rallies. Various high-level officials said there were rumors that Danon had even hinted about Israel foregoing the race.

One irony of Israel’s decision is that Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, has repeatedly bemoaned the back-room negotiating and lack of competition in UN elections generally.

The race among Israel, Belgium and Germany had been awkward all along, notably because of Israel’s odd place in WEOG as a Middle Eastern country among Western Europeans and Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The United States is not a member of any regional group but votes in the WEOG bloc.

Israel has vied for a Council seat for more than 10 years. It announced it would run for the 2018-2019 seat in 2005, after it agreed to withdraw from Gaza. At the time, 2018-2019 was the next term for which the WEOG seats had not been claimed. Belgium announced its candidacy in 2009.

But in 2013, Germany announced it too would run, meaning Israel and Belgium would no longer be running uncontested. Germany could not have announced its intention earlier because it served on the Council from 2011-2012, and it is against UN election rules to campaign for a Council seat until a country is done with an active term. Germany has repeatedly contended it decided to run because by practice it sought a seat every eighth year.

In March 2018, reports in Israeli and American media contended that Germany’s bid violated an agreement brokered in the 1990s by Richard Holbrooke, the US ambassador to Germany from 1993-1994, to allow Israel to run unopposed for a seat after Israel became a member of WEOG.

In an interview with PassBlue in April 2018, Christoph Heusgen, Germany’s ambassador to the UN, said, “Israel is very grateful to Germany for its help getting Israel out of the Asian group and into the Western Europe and Others Group.

“We have excellent bilateral relations with Israel, but there has never been an agreement between Israel and Germany. We have been very straightforward to all our partners since we arrived at the UN in 1973. We have been a candidate for the Security Council every eight years and we have never departed from this. We want to be very clear in what we do. There was no deal with Israel that I read in some papers, and the Israeli government has never accused us of breaking any deal.”

Both East and West Germany joined the UN in 1973, but when German officials reference the country’s history on the Security Council, they usually refer to West Germany, which has served on the Council about every eight years since its first term in 1977-78. According to the United Nations Association of Germany, until German unification, the two nations took turns serving on the Council.

The May 4 announcement by Israel seemed timed to coincide with the start of the debate among the WEOG candidates. The public forum, sponsored by the New York-based World Federation of United Nations Associations, was designed to make Council elections more transparent.

WFUNA, as the group is known, held hearings for Council candidates for the first time in 2016, but last year there were no competitive slates, so no hearings were held.

Up to the minute the debate began, the organizers still did not know whether Israel would show up, but soon into the program, the Israeli press release arrived in email in-boxes, saying that “after consulting with our partners, including our good friends, the State of Israel has decided to postpone its candidacy for a seat on the Security Council.

“It was decided that we will continue to act with our allies to allow for Israel to realize its right for full participation and inclusion in decision-making processes at the U.N. This includes the Security Council as well as an emphasis on areas related to development and innovation.”

After the debate, a question-and-answer format proceeded. Kelley Currie, the US representative for the UN’s Economic and Social Affairs Council, asked about human rights being discussed more actively in the Security Council. She then gave a statement about Israel, America’s close ally.

“We respect the decision by Israel to postpone its Security Council candidacy today,” Currie said. “We note the United Nations’ poor record of inclusion of Israel in membership in UN bodies and on the Security Council throughout Israel’s nearly 70 years as a UN-member state in good standing. This is a shameful record. The United States looks forward to the day when Israel is treated like every other member state and is appropriately included in this organization.”

Heusgen responded by saying the US gave “a remark, not a question with regard to Israel.”

He continued, “We can only underline that Germany together with others in the west European and others group have seen to it that Israel has become a member of this group to be able to exercise its rights and possibility to participate in this organization.”

*PassBlue is an independent, women-led digital publication offering in-depth journalism on the US-UN relationship as well as women’s issues, human rights, peacekeeping and other urgent global matters, reported from our base in the UN press corps. Founded in 2011, PassBlue is a project of the New School’s Graduate Program in International Affairs in New York and not tied financially or otherwise to the UN; previously, it was housed at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. PassBlue is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News.

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Excerpt:

Kacie Candela, PassBlue*

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Food Waste Enough to Feed World’s Hungry Four Times Overhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/food-waste-enough-feed-worlds-hungry-four-times/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=food-waste-enough-feed-worlds-hungry-four-times http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/food-waste-enough-feed-worlds-hungry-four-times/#comments Mon, 28 May 2018 17:17:58 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155952 The United Nations is continuing to fight a relentless battle to eradicate extreme hunger – particularly in the world’s poorest nations—by 2030. But it is battling against severe odds: an estimated 800 million people still live in hunger— amidst a warning that the world needs to produce at least 50 percent more food to feed […]

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Food Waste Enough to Feed World’s Hungry Four Times Over

Poland wastes at least 8.9 million tonnes of food every year. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu / IPS

By Thalif Deen
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, May 28 2018 (IPS)

The United Nations is continuing to fight a relentless battle to eradicate extreme hunger – particularly in the world’s poorest nations—by 2030.

But it is battling against severe odds: an estimated 800 million people still live in hunger— amidst a warning that the world needs to produce at least 50 percent more food to feed the growing 9.0 billion people by 2050—20 years beyond the UN’s goal.

Still, the World Bank predicts that climate change could cut crop yields by more than 25 percent undermining the current attempts to fight hunger.

The hunger crisis has been aggravated by widespread military conflicts – even as the Security Council, the most powerful body at the United Nations, was called upon last month to play a greater role in “breaking the link between hunger and conflict.”

Holding out the prospect of wiping out famine “within our lifetime”, Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told the Security Council that almost two thirds of people living in hunger were in conflict-stricken countries.

He singled out war-devastated Yemen, South Sudan and north-eastern Nigeria, which still faced severe levels of hunger, while the food security situation in Ethiopia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was “extremely worrying”.

In an interview with IPS, Alessandro Demaio, Chief Executive Officer of the Norway-based EAT, an organization promoting healthy and sustainable food for all, said: “At EAT, our mission is a simple but ambitious one: to transform the global food system and enable us to feed a growing global population with healthy food from a healthy planet – leaving no-one behind.”

“We do this by bringing together leading actors from business, science, policy and civil society to close scientific knowledge gaps, translate research into action, scale up solutions, raise awareness and create engagement,” he noted.

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: One of the UN’s 17 SDGs (Goal 2, Zero Hunger) aims to eradicate extreme hunger – particularly in the world’s poorest nations– by 2030. Do you thinks this is feasible?

Demaio: Food is, in one way or another, linked to all UNs 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As a doctor, it deeply concerns me that more than 800 million people go hungry and more than two billion are overweight or obese, worldwide. These numbers are accompanied by a ballooning epidemic of diet-related and preventable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancers.

We´re not only producing what makes us sick and destroys the planet, we continue to subsidize it with billions of dollars annually. It is the worlds’ poor and the communities who are least responsible for creating them who are disproportionately affected by these trends.
While working in Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia at the frontlines, I saw firsthand how hunger has many forms. Undernutrition manifests in children in two key ways: by becoming dangerously thin for their height (wasting), or permanently impeding their growth (stunting). In the other extreme, populations with calorie dense but nutrient-poor diets drive the global burden of overweight and obesity.

There is a deeply unjust disconnect between food availability and quality in different parts of the world. One third of all food produced gets lost or goes to waste — that’s enough to feed all of the world’s hungry four times over!

But slow response to increasing pressures from climate change and increasing social inequalities means that not everyone gets access to the right foods. In fact the United Nations last year declared that hunger, after more than a decade in decline, was on the rise again.

I do believe that we can reach zero hunger by 2030. We have many of the solutions to do so, such as connecting smallholder farmers to markets, removing barriers to trade and boosting food production sustainably.

But we just need the political will to match, and to get stakeholders across sectors, borders and disciplines to work together and pull in the same direction.

Food is our number one global health challenge and a formidable climate threat. We´re not only producing what makes us sick and destroys the planet, we continue to subsidize it with billions of dollars annually. It is the worlds’ poor and the communities who are least responsible for creating them who are disproportionately affected by these trends.

 

IPS: What is your agenda to help reform the global food system, including increasing agricultural productivity, and recycling food waste?

Demaio: In our work to reform the global food system, we at EAT connect and partner across science, policy, business and civil society to achieve five urgent and radical transformations by 2050:

  1. Shift the world to healthy, tasty and sustainable diets;
  2. Realign food system priorities for people and planet;
  3. Produce more of the right food, from less;
  4. Safeguard our land and oceans; and
  5. Radically reduce food losses and waste.

About 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year, that’s an estimated one in three mouthfuls of food every day. In poorer nations, this waste generally occurs pre-market and can be part-solved by simple technologies in supply chains including transport, packaging and refrigeration. Technological interventions such as precision agriculture or investments in post-harvest processes will make huge differences.

In wealthier countries, the majority of waste occurs after market, in supermarkets and in our homes. This is where buying less but more frequently, avoiding impulse buys and taking measures to reduce the “buy one get one free” that incentivize over-purchasing, are all key.

 

IPS: The world needs to produce at least 50 percent more food to feed the growing 9.0 billion people by 2050. Is this target achievable because climate change can cause devastation to crop yields?

Demaio: The bad news is that modern agriculture doesn’t feed us all and it does not feed us well. The good news is that we have never had a bigger opportunity, more knowledge or the ingenuity and skills to fix it.

Increasing investment in harvesting infrastructure combined with improving access to markets and technology can result in minimizing field losses for farmers in low and middle-income countries, as well as help to pull millions out of poverty. In high income countries, business and consumers have a transformative role to play in reducing wasted food.

Through new business models, improved production, packaging and educational campaigns, businesses can nudge consumers in the right direction. By nudging better purchasing habits, better evaluations of portion size and improving food preparation techniques, consumers can dive headlong towards a circular food economy. Every pound of food saved from loss or waste will create economic, health and environmental gains.

Through working with remote communities, health professionals, and science and business leaders, I have seen how plant-based dietary trends have fueled a rediscovery of countless crop varieties with promising nutritional and environmental profiles.

With their abilities to deliver ‘more crop per drop’ and withstand unpredictable seasonal changes, diversifying what we grow can help meet local and global nutrition needs. In contrast, gene editing or lab grown meats offer to increase productivity, nutrition and tolerance to environmental uncertainties.

Essentially, the future of agriculture doesn’t lie in intensive expansion only — it lies in the harnessing of holistic, precise and tech savvy methods that enhance the production of more nutritious and more climate resilient foods.

 

IPS: How are ongoing military conflicts, particularly in Asia and Africa, affecting the world’s food supplies?

Demaio: Major regional or national conflicts have often profound impacts on food supplies as they disrupt society. Conflicts often originate from a competition over control of the factors of food production, such as land and water.

A growing global population, lower yields and diminished nutrient content of some crops due to changing climatic conditions contribute to increasing stress, raising the risk of civil unrest or military conflict. Countries under the greatest stress often have the least capability to adequately respond to civil unrest.

Contexts are important and whether it is climate change, food shortages, water crises, ocean sustainability, or geopolitical conflicts — many or most are interlinked.

An example of this is how ocean acidification and warming impacts fishery yields and the redistribution of already overfished and stressed fish stocks, which can cause new geopolitical tensions. Given that many of these challenges are intertwined, they also present common opportunities for co-mitigation.

 

IPS: What is the primary goal of the upcoming EAT forum in Stockholm, June 11-12? What’s on the agenda?

Demaio: Feeding a healthy and sustainable diet to a future population of almost 10 billion will be a monumental challenge, but it is within our reach. The EAT Stockholm Food Forum is a contribution to solving this challenge. The concept is simple genius — my favorite kind.

Bring together innovators, leaders and forward thinkers who usually rarely meet but are working on interrelated, global challenges — food systems, climate change, food security, global health and sustainable development. Put them in one room and get them to share ideas, share best practice, share the latest research and hopefully reshape the broken systems driving our planetary shortcomings.

This year we’re hosting the fifth EAT Stockholm Food Forum in partnership with the Government of Sweden. We have an incredible line-up of speakers, including: World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva; climate leader Christiana Figueres, an architect of the historic Paris Climate Agreement; Sam Kass, chef and former chief nutritionist to the Obama Administration; plus a host of global food heroes representing twenty-nine countries and six continents.

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Pompeo’s Iran Speech a Prelude to War?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/pompeos-iran-speech-prelude-war/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pompeos-iran-speech-prelude-war http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/pompeos-iran-speech-prelude-war/#respond Fri, 25 May 2018 13:33:00 +0000 Stephen Zunes http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155929 Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

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By Stephen Zunes
SAN FRANCISCO, May 25 2018 (IPS)

The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech this past Monday targeting Iran may have created a new benchmark for hypocritical, arrogant, and entitled demands by the United States on foreign governments.

The speech included gross misstatements regarding the seven-nation Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, which Trump Administration unilaterally abrogated earlier this month.

More critically, it promised to impose “the strongest sanctions in history” against Iran, including secondary sanctions against governments and private companies which refuse to back the U.S. agenda, unless Iran changed a series of internal and regional policies. With the re-imposition of such sanctions, Iran will no longer have any incentive to stick to its part of the nuclear deal.

Most of the Iranian policies cited by Pompeo are indeed problematic, yet are hardly unique to that country. Furthermore, the failure to offer any kind of reciprocity effectively guarantees that the Islamic Republic will reject any changes in its policies.

For example, Pompeo demanded that Iran withdraw its troops from Syria—which are there at the request of the Syrian government—but made no demand that Turkish or Israeli forces withdraw their troops from Syrian territory. Nor did he offer to withdraw U.S. forces.

Pompeo similarly demanded an end to Iranian support for various militia groups in the region, without any reciprocal reduction of support for rebel groups by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or the United States.

And Pompeo demanded that Iran cease providing missiles to Houthi rebels, who have fired them into Saudi Arabia in response to Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign and siege of Yemen. There was no offer to end the U.S. policy of providing the bombs, missiles, jet fighters to Saudi and Emirati forces which have killed many thousands of Yemeni civilians.

Pompeo further demanded Iran provide “a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program,” despite the fact that this limited research effort ended more than fifteen years ago. Of course, there was no offer that the United States or its allies rein in their own nuclear programs. Israel, Pakistan, and India have never opened up their nuclear facilities to outside inspections, despite two U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on them to do so.

Though most arms control agreements have historically been based on some kind of tradeoff, Pompeo insists that Iran unilaterally cease its ballistic missile program while making no such demand of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, or other allies in the region. Nor is there any offer to limit U.S. ballistic missiles, even though U.S. missiles are capable of striking Iran while no Iranian missiles have the capability of coming anywhere close to the United States.

And while Pompeo was right to criticize the Iranian regime’s corruption, economic mismanagement, and human rights abuses, he expressed no qualms about the even worse records of U.S. allies in the region

Perhaps the most hypocritical demand in Pompeo’s speech was that Iran “must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government,” which the United States has repeatedly subverted for a decade and a half.

In fact, Iran is already in compliance to some of Pompeo’s other demands, such as stopping production of enriched uranium and allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency full access to its nuclear facilities. The Iran nuclear pact already limits Iranian stockpiles to an extremely low enrichment level of 3.67 percent, well below the 90 percent needed for weapons production, and guarantees extensive and intrusive inspections of all nuclear-related facilities.

It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which the Trump Administration claims the only recourse is war.

No nation can be expected to comply with such unilateral demands, particularly coming from a country which is responsible for far more destabilizing policies, civilian deaths, and weapons proliferation in the region than is Iran. Pompeo made his demands knowing they would be rejected.

And that may be part of a deliberate strategy. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in the not-too-distant future in which the Trump Administration claims that since “sanctions didn’t work,” the only recourse is war.

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Excerpt:

Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.

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Upholding International Law in the Context of International Peace & Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/upholding-international-law-context-international-peace-security/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=upholding-international-law-context-international-peace-security http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/upholding-international-law-context-international-peace-security/#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 16:57:00 +0000 Dr Amrith Rohan Perera http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155858 Ambassador Amrith Rohan Perera is Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations

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Ambassador Amrith Rohan Perera is Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations

By Dr Amrith Rohan Perera
UNITED NATIONS, May 21 2018 (IPS)

The Security Council debate last week – on “Upholding International Law within the context of Maintenance of International Peace and Security – took place at a crucial moment when the strengthening and invigorating of collective measures for the maintenance of international peace and security has become an imperative.

H.E. Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera

The fabric of the global order is increasingly coming under threat with the rise of flash points, conflicts and the spread of the spectre of terrorism and violent extremism.

It is vital that member states forge new and innovative partnerships in the context of preserving international peace and security. In doing so, governments must act under the imprimatur of the law.

This is the foundation upon which a peaceful, equitable and prosperous international community is built. Therefore, it must be the common responsibility of all member states to strengthen the international order based on the respect for International Law.

If we are to strengthen International Law amidst these challenges, then we must ensure that there is equality before the law; a guarantee of independence of international judicial mechanisms; and, that legal remedies remain accessible to the most vulnerable among us.

It is vital that all states have an equal opportunity to participate in the international law making process. This is the essence of the evolution of modern international law, from its classical origins, as a law that governed a limited community of states prior to decolonization. It is also a principle that protects all states, especially developing countries, from the harshness of an empirically unequal world.

Upholding International Law within the context of maintenance of International Peace and Security requires absolute adherence to Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations: namely the core principles of sovereign equality of States and non-interference, the prohibition on the threat or use of force and the obligation to settle international disputes peacefully – through recourse to peaceful methods of dispute settlement – such as by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, or other peaceful means as set out in Article 33 of the UN Charter.

The efficacy of international law in preserving international peace and security, would require the achievement of a global consensus, which must necessarily factor in the hopes and aspiration of all states and not that of a select few.

Historically, the General Assembly and its Legal Committee (Sixth Committee) have provided a platform for the effective and equitable participation of all states in the international norm creating process.

Judge Hisashi Owada, Senior Judge and President Emeritus of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) drew our attention to another vital aspect and clearly underlined the importance of the organs of the United Nations acting in concert within their respective spheres of functions as stipulated in the Charter. Their synergies must be harnessed in achieving our collective goal of maintenance of international peace and security.

In today’s world, disputes that threaten the international order have complex political and legal dimensions and in addressing such issues, the key organs of the United Nations, the Security Council, the General Assembly and the International Court of Justice can make a collective contribution and strengthen international peace and security.

The contribution that the International Court of Justice has made over the years in the field of maintenance of International Peace and Security has been invaluable. I wish to make particular reference to the advisory opinion of the Court on the question of the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons.

Greater recourse to the advisory jurisdiction of the Court in addressing critical and complex issues with political and legal ramifications is an option that could be usefully pursued in matters relating to international peace and security.

As pertinently observed by Judge Owada, in the course of the Security Council debate, in exercising its advisory jurisdiction, the Court is expressing “an authentic legal opinion” in order to clarify legal issues to the other organs of the organization.

Let me also state that this debate is also an opportunity for Member States to recognize the invaluable work of the principal legal organ of the United Nations – the International Law Commission, as it celebrates its 70th anniversary here in New York, and to pay tribute to its invaluable contribution over the years in the codification and progressive development of international law.

Its pioneering work on the draft Code of Offences against peace and security of mankind, on the draft statute of an International Criminal Court have been path breaking and have set the pace for the current developments in the area of international criminal responsibility.

Items on its current agenda such as Universal Jurisdiction, Immunity of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction and Genocide are of particular significance in this regard.

In conclusion, Sri Lanka wishes to draw the attention of the Council to the challenges faced by developing States in its full and effective participation in the multilateral treaty making process.

This is an area where the UN can and must play a crucial role, in particular, by assisting States with capacity building, and thereby contribute to the universality of International Law making.

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Ambassador Amrith Rohan Perera is Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations

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