Inter Press ServiceHeadlines – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 25 Sep 2018 16:46:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Development of ICT Innovation Expected to Help in Fight Against Banana Disease in Rwandahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/development-ict-innovation-expected-help-fight-banana-disease-rwanda/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=development-ict-innovation-expected-help-fight-banana-disease-rwanda http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/development-ict-innovation-expected-help-fight-banana-disease-rwanda/#respond Tue, 25 Sep 2018 16:46:29 +0000 Aimable Twahirwa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157764 When Telesphore Ruzigamanzi, a smallholder banana farmer from a remote village in Eastern Rwanda, discovered a peculiar yellowish hue on his crop before it started to dry up, he did not give it the due consideration it deserved. “I was thinking that it was the unusually dry weather causing damage to my crop,” Ruzigamanzi, who […]

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In Rwanda the banana disease BXW is detrimental to a crop and has far-reaching consequences not only for farmers but for the food and nutritional security of their families and those dependent on the crop as a source of food. Credit: Alejandro Arigón/IPS

By Aimable Twahirwa
KIGALI, Sep 25 2018 (IPS)

When Telesphore Ruzigamanzi, a smallholder banana farmer from a remote village in Eastern Rwanda, discovered a peculiar yellowish hue on his crop before it started to dry up, he did not give it the due consideration it deserved.

“I was thinking that it was the unusually dry weather causing damage to my crop,” Ruzigamanzi, who lives in Rwimishinya, a remote village in Kayonza district in Eastern Rwanda, tells IPS.

But in fact, it was a bacterial disease.

Ruzigamanzi’s crop was infected with Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW), a bacterial disease that affects all types of bananas and is known locally as Kirabiranya. "Our ongoing effort to develop, test, and deploy smart or normal mobile applications is a critical step towards cost-effective monitoring and control of the disease spread." -- Julius Adewopo, lead of the BXW project at IITA.

Here, in this East African nation, BXW is detrimental to a crop and has far-reaching consequences not only for farmers but for the food and nutritional security of their families and those dependent on the crop as a source of food.

Banana is an important crop in East and Central Africa, with a number of countries in the region being among the world’s top-10 producers, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database.

According to a household survey of districts in Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, banana accounts for about 50 percent of the household diet in a third of Rwanda’s homes.

But the top factor affecting banana production in all three countries, according to the survey, was BXW.

Researchers have indicated that BXW can result in 100 percent loss of banana stands, if not properly controlled.

Complacency and lack of information contribute to spread of the disease

The BXW disease is not new to the country. It was first reported in 2002. Since then, there have been numerous, rigorous educational campaigns by agricultural authorities and other stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations.

Farmers in Ruzigamanzi’s region have been trained by a team of researchers from the Rwanda Agriculture Board and local agronomists about BXW. But Ruzigamanzi, a father of six, was one of the farmers missed by the awareness campaign and therefore lacked the knowledge to diagnose the disease.

Had he known what the disease was, and depending on its state of progress on the plant, Ruzigamanzi would have had to remove the symptomatic plants, cutting them at soil level immediately after first observation of the symptoms. If the infection is uncontrolled for a long time, he would have had to remove the entire plant from the root.

And it is what he ended up doing two weeks later when a visiting local agronomist came to look at the plant.

By then it was too late to save the banana stands and Ruzigamanzi had to uproot all the affected mats, including the rhizome and all its attached stems, the parent plant and its suckers.

Ruzigamanzi’s story is not unique. In fact, a great number of smallholder farmers in remote rural regions have been ignoring or are unaware of the symptoms of this bacterial banana infection. And it has increased the risk of spreading of the disease to new regions and of resurgence in areas where it had previously been under control. Several districts in eastern Rwanda have been affected by the disease in recent years.

An enumerator for the ICT4BXW project conducting a baseline assessment of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW), a bacterial disease, status in Muhanga district, Rwanda. Courtesy: Julius Adewopo/ International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

Using technology to strengthen rural farmers and control spread of BXW

Early 2018, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in partnership with Bioversity International, the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies and the Rwanda Agriculture Board, commenced a collaborative effort to tackle the disease through the use of digital technology. IITA scientists are exploring alternative ways of engaging farmers in monitoring and collecting data about the disease. The institute is renowned for transforming African agriculture through science and innovations, and was recently announced as the Africa Food Prize winner for 2018.

The new three-year project (named ICT4BXW), which launched with a total investment of 1.2 million Euros from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, seeks to explore the use of mobile phones as tools to generate and exchange up-to-date knowledge and information about BXW.

The project builds on the increasing accessibility of mobile phones in Rwanda. According to data from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority, this country’s mobile telephone penetration is currently estimated at 79 percent in a country of about 12 million people, with a large majority of the rural population currently owning mobile phones.

“Our ongoing effort to develop, test, and deploy smart or normal mobile applications is a critical step towards cost-effective monitoring and control of the disease spread,” says Julius Adewopo, who is leading the BXW project at IITA. He further explained that, “Banana farmers in Rwanda could be supported with innovations that leverages on the existing IT infrastructure and the rapidly increasing mobile phone penetration in the country.”

Central to the project is the citizen science approach, which means that local stakeholders, such as banana farmers and farmer extensionists (also called farmer promoters), play leading roles in collecting and submitting data on BXW presence, severity, and transmission. Moreover, stakeholders will participate in the development of the mobile application and platform, through which data and information will be exchanged.

About 70 farmer promoters from eight different districts in Northern, Western, Southern, and Eastern province will be trained to use the mobile phone application. They will participate in collecting and submitting data for the project—about incidence and severity of BXW in their village—via the platform. The project expects to reach up to 5,000 farmers through engagement with farmer promoters and mobile phones.

Further, data from the project will be translated into information for researchers, NGOs and policy makers to develop effective and efficient support systems. Similarly, data generated will feed into an early warning system that should inform farmers about disease outbreaks and the best management options available to them.

A real-time reporting system on the disease

While the existing National Banana Research Programme in Rwanda has long focused on five key areas of interventions with strategies used in the control or management of plant diseases, the proposed mobile-based solution is described as an innovative tool that it is easily scalable and flexible for application or integration with other information and communications technology (ICT) platforms or application interfaces.

“We observe limitations in the availability of reliable and up-to-date data and information about disease transmission patterns, severity of outbreaks, and effect of control measures,” Mariette McCampbell, a research fellow who studies ICT-enabled innovation and scaling on the ICT4BXW project, tells IPS. “We also have lack good socio-economic and socio-cultural data that could feed into farmer decision-making tools and an early warning system.”

The new reporting system intends to develop into an early warning system that will allow the Rwandan government to target efforts to mitigate the spread of BXW, it also aims to serve as a catalyst for partnerships among stakeholders to strengthen Banana production systems in the country.

“This [ICT] innovation could enable [near-]real-time assessment of the severity of the disease and support interventions for targeted control,” explains Adewopo.

The project team is currently working hard to co-develop the ICT platform, with farmer promoters and consultants. By the second quarter of 2019, tests with a pilot version of the platform will start in the eight districts where the project is active.

The project team have already identified a variety of scaling opportunities for a successful platform.“Problems with Banana Xanthomonas Wilt are not limited to Rwanda, neither is it the only crop disease that challenges farmers. Therefore, our long-term goal is to adapt the platform such that it can be scaled and used in other countries or for other diseases or other crops,” McCampbell explains.

According to Adewopo, “the vision of success is to co-develop and deploy a fully functional tool and platform, in alignment with the needs of target users and with keen focus on strengthening relevant institutions, such as the Rwanda Agricultural Board, to efficiently allocate resources for BXW control and prevention through democratised ICT-based extension targeting and delivery.”

There is increasing need for smarter and faster management of risks that have limited production in agricultural systems.

In recognition of BXW’s terminal threat to banana crops, there is no doubt that the use of ICT tools brings a new hope for banana farmers, and can equitably  empower them through improved extension/advisory access, irrespective of gender, age, or social status – as long as they have access to a mobile phone.

*Additional reporting by Nalisha Adams in Johannesburg

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Q&A: Why Young and Smart Greenpreneurs are the Future of Sustainable Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-young-smart-greenpreneurs-future-sustainable-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-young-smart-greenpreneurs-future-sustainable-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-young-smart-greenpreneurs-future-sustainable-development/#respond Tue, 25 Sep 2018 15:16:04 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157757 IPS correspondent Busani Bafana speaks to Global Green Growth Institute's Greenpreneurs programme manager Juhern Kim.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpts of the interview follow:

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

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

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

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

IPS: Why the youth for greenpreneurship?

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

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

IPS:Are green jobs possible in achieving the SDGs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IPS: What next?

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

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

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Excerpt:

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

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How Technology Has Changed Lives for the Betterhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/technology-changed-lives-better/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=technology-changed-lives-better http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/technology-changed-lives-better/#respond Tue, 25 Sep 2018 09:28:18 +0000 Henrietta Fore and Simon Segars http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157754 Henrietta Fore is Executive Director, UNICEF and Simon Segars is CEO, Arm

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Investments in technology solutions to social challenges in emerging urban centers have the potential to improve the lives of 2 billion people and generate up to $2 trillion in revenue by 2022 according to research released by Arm and UNICEF.

By Henrietta Fore and Simon Segars
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 25 2018 (IPS)

Rose lives in Nairobi. Getting safe, reliable drinking water for her six daughters in the slum where they live used to involve risking disease from an illegally tapped water supply.

But a year ago, a metered water pump was installed that provided clean and affordable water using an electronic key loaded with credit.

Moving East; Ica lives in Jakarta. With no degree, she was trapped in an entry-level corporate communications job. Her prospects were poor.

That was until she began an e-learning degree programme with a European university. The chance to access a world-class education in another continent has changed her life and her ability to improve her career opportunities.

On the other side of the world, Anna lives in Mexico City where she holds down two jobs at a store near her home and at a packaging facility. But even with a double income, the rapidly increasing living costs in Mexico City meant her weekly wage still wasn’t enough to make ends meet.

Again, technology offered a solution and she now finds extra cleaning work with an online home and business cleaning service that digitally connects her to clients.

Three real people, three very different stories but with a single thread that connects them all. That thread is in how technology has changed their lives for the better.

100 billion reasons to engage

The companies that provide these technological innovations have to sustain themselves and cannot take action solely to improve lives. There has to be commercial viability.

For companies looking beyond established markets, tapping into the commercial potential of emerging markets and their new customers represents real, often uncontested, commercial opportunity.

This is the message that we want to send on behalf of our organizations – UNICEF and Arm. You don’t have to only think about the world’s poorer regions as places for corporate philanthropy.

They are also commercially viable markets representing new consumer groups that are predicted to become some of the largest and most important over the next few decades.

By 2030, up to two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities – approximately 1.8 billion of them under the age of 24, and the majority in Africa and Asia.

Instinctively, these rapidly growing urban centres feel like huge opportunity zones for business. But until now, the value of that opportunity has not been fully quantified.

Now, new research co-commissioned by UNICEF and Arm reveals the scale of what is possible. It sets out to chart the scale of unrealized potential in cities through a ground-breaking piece of research: Tech Bets for an Urban World.

In the research we see that businesses investing in emergent technology solutions across emerging world markets can not only potentially improve the lives of four billion people but they could also generate up to $100 billion in profits by 2022.

The Tech Bets

UNICEF and Arm have long shared the view that although the technology sector has the potential to change lives profoundly, it is currently not serving the people with the greatest need.

To catalyse change, we needed to explore the potential financial and social opportunity available to companies who choose to invest in unrealised markets.

As a result, we jointly commissioned Dalberg to produce the new Tech Bets market research. This focused on three urban cities: Nairobi, Jakarta and Mexico City and identified six ‘tech bets’: Digital Learning, Multi-Modal Skilling, Smart Recruitment, Water Metering, Emergency Response and Commuter Ride-Sharing.

The first three tech bets highlight the growing market for job sector preparation for some of the 1.8 billion future students, interns, mentees and job applicants. With Digital Learning, teachers can use online lessons to engage and inspire 500-600 million young people.

Multi-Modal Skilling, combining online education with in-person mentoring, could equip 120 million young people with important skills. And to assist people looking for work, Smart Recruitment quickly connects individuals and employers in the informal economy. All these strategies start with companies selling their technology services.

Our research indicates technological innovations for infrastructure investments could also pay significant dividends. Smart Water Solutions – like IoT networks of sensors and meters – are a great example.

As well as generating revenues for hardware and services operators, there are huge economic benefits to giving at-risk individuals, such as Rose, access to affordable and clean water.

Looking beyond health, Ride Sharing platforms could offer a safer, more efficient way to travel for the 350 million people living in cities, whose commuting time can often take up to three hours each way.

This would help take the pressure off traditional transport services and put more flexible transport options at the centre of reinvigorated city economies.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Real progress in dramatically improving lives means looking beyond philanthropy and working with businesses to identify and meet market needs.

The Arm and UNICEF partnership was founded on the desire to do just that, innovating and accelerating the development of new technology to overcome the barriers that prevent millions of people across the world from accessing basic health, education and support services.

Changing minds is about big partnerships and so we are also beginning to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and partners to identify and support new technology that can improve lives. Our first initiative is a smart water challenge that will start to turn the Tech Bets for an Urban World research into action.

We want to go further too. The 2030Vision initiative launched by Arm in partnership with the UN system, NGOs and others in the tech industry is all about collaborating to drive the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The aim is to improve a billion people’s lives by 2030.

Together, UNICEF and Arm are calling on the tech sector to develop new partnerships that can unleash the potential of technology and answer the needs of these new urban markets.

With a chance to invest in six tech bets, create up to $100 billion in profit, and improve the lives of billions of people like Rose, Ica and Anna, it’s clear that it’s possible to both do good and do good business. You just need to place your tech bet. We’re placing ours now.

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Excerpt:

Henrietta Fore is Executive Director, UNICEF and Simon Segars is CEO, Arm

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U.N. General Assembly Kicks Off With Strong Words and Ambitious Goalshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/u-n-general-assembly-kicks-off-strong-words-ambitious-goals/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=u-n-general-assembly-kicks-off-strong-words-ambitious-goals http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/u-n-general-assembly-kicks-off-strong-words-ambitious-goals/#respond Tue, 25 Sep 2018 08:37:47 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157747 In honour of Nobel Peace Laureate Nelson Mandela’s legacy, nations from around the world convened to adopt a declaration recommitting to goals of building a just, peaceful, and fair world. At the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, aptly held in the year of the former South African leader’s 100th birthday, world leaders reflected on global peace […]

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Graça Machel, member of The Elders and widow of Nelson Mandela, makes remarks during the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit. Credit: United Nations Photo/Cia Pak

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 25 2018 (IPS)

In honour of Nobel Peace Laureate Nelson Mandela’s legacy, nations from around the world convened to adopt a declaration recommitting to goals of building a just, peaceful, and fair world.

At the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, aptly held in the year of the former South African leader’s 100th birthday, world leaders reflected on global peace and acknowledged that the international community is off-track as human rights continues to be under attack globally.Guterres highlighted the need to “face the forces that threaten us with the wisdom, courage and fortitude that Nelson Mandela embodied” so that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity.

“The United Nations finds itself at a time where it would be well-served to revisit and reconnect to the vision of its founders, as well as to take direction from Madiba’s “servant leadership” and courage,” said Mandela’s widow, and co-founder of the Elders, Graça Machel. The Elders, a grouping of independent global leaders workers for world peace and human rights, was founded by Machel and Mandela in 2007.

Secretary-general Antonio Guterres echoed similar sentiments in his opening remarks, stating: “Nelson Mandela was one of humanity’s great leaders….today, with human rights under growing pressure around the world, we would be well served by reflecting on the example of this outstanding man.”

Imprisoned in South Africa for almost 30 years for his anti-apartheid activism, Mandela, also known by his clan name Madiba, has been revered as a symbol of peace, democracy, and human rights worldwide.

In his inaugural address to the U.N. General Assembly in 1994 after becoming the country’s first black president, Mandela noted that the great challenge to the U.N. is to answer the question of “what it is that we can and must do to ensure that democracy, peace, and prosperity prevail everywhere.”

It is these goals along with his qualities of “humility, forgiveness, and compassion” that the political declaration adopted during the Summit aims to uphold.

However, talk along of such principles is not enough, said Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo.

“These are words that get repeated time and time again without the political will, urgency, determination, and courage to make them a reality, to make them really count. But we must make them count. Not tomorrow, but right now,” he said to world leaders.

“Without action, without strong and principled leadership, I fear for them. I fear for all of us,” Naidoo continued.

Both Machel and Naidoo urged the international community to not turn away from violence and suffering around the world including in Myanmar.

“Our collective consciousness must reject the lethargy that has made us accustomed to death and violence as if wars are legitimate and somehow impossible to terminate,” Machel said.

Recently, a U.N.-fact finding mission, which reported on gross human rights violations committed against the Rohingya people including mass killings, sexual slavery, and torture, has called for the country’s military leaders to be investigated and protected for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

While the ICC has launched a preliminary investigation and the U.N. was granted access to a select number of Rohingya refugees, Myanmar’s army chief General Min Aung Hlaing warned against foreign interference ahead of the General Assembly.

Since violence reignited in the country’s Rakhine State in August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Still some remain within the country without the freedom to move or access basic services such as health care.

Naidoo warned the international community “not to adjust to the Rohingya population living in an open-air prison under a system of apartheid.”

This year’s U.N. General Assembly president Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces of Ecuador said that while Mandela represents “a light of hope,” there are still concerns about collective action to resolve some of the world’s most pressing issues.

“Drifting away from multilateralism means jeopardising the future of our species and our planet. The world needs a social contract based on shared responsibility, and the only forum that we have to achieve this global compact is the United Nations,” she said.

Others were a little more direct about who has turned away from such multilateralism.

“Great statesmen tend to build bridges instead of walls,” said Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, taking a swipe at U.S. president Trump who pulled the country of the Iran nuclear deal and has continued his campaign to build a wall along the Mexico border.

Trump, who will be making his second appearance at the General Assembly, is expected to renew his commitment to the “America First” approach.

Naidoo made similar comments in relation to the U.S. president in his remarks on urging action on climate change.

“To the one leader who still denies climate change: we insist you start putting yourself on the right side of history,” he told attendees.

Trump, however, was not present to hear the leaders’ input as he instead attended a high-level event on counter narcotics.

Guterres highlighted the need to “face the forces that threaten us with the wisdom, courage and fortitude that Nelson Mandela embodied” so that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity.

Machel urged against partisan politics and the preservation of ego, saying “enough is enough.”

“History will judge you should you stagnate too long in inaction. Humankind will hold you accountable should you allow suffering to continue on your watch,” she said.

“It is in your hands to make a better world for all who live in it,” Machel concluded with Mandela’s words.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the U.N. awarded Machel an honorary membership of its Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance for Food Security and Peace in recognition of her late husband’s struggle for freedom and peace.

“It is an honour for us to have her as a member of the Alliance. In a world where hunger continues to increase due to conflicts, her advocacy for peace will be very important,” FAO director general José Graziano da Silva said.

In addition to honouring the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, the Summit also marks the 70th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute which established the ICC.

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In Argentina, Agriculture Ignores the Right to Foodhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/argentina-agriculture-ignores-right-food/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=argentina-agriculture-ignores-right-food http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/argentina-agriculture-ignores-right-food/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 23:16:56 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157743 In front of one of the busiest railway stations in the capital of Argentina, there are long lines to buy vegetables, which farmers themselves offer directly to consumers, at prices several times lower than those seen in stores. This scene taking place in Plaza Once, across from the railway station that connects with western Greater […]

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The Revolutionary Ambition of AGRF 2018 Must be Sustainedhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/revolutionary-ambition-agrf-2018-must-sustained/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=revolutionary-ambition-agrf-2018-must-sustained http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/revolutionary-ambition-agrf-2018-must-sustained/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 20:37:32 +0000 Korir Sing Oei http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157740 Korir Sing’Oei is Legal Advisor & Head of Policy at Office of Deputy President, Kenya

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President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, together with Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto, President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo, the Prime Minister of Gabon, Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair during the Presidential Summit at the AGRF 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Credit: Mark Irungu/AGRF

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, together with Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto, President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo, the Prime Minister of Gabon, Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair during the Presidential Summit at the AGRF 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Credit: Mark Irungu/AGRF

By Korir Sing’Oei
Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

In early September 2018, about 2,800 delegates from 79 countries and high-level dignitaries, including current and former heads of states, international agencies, CEOs of global corporations and youth entrepreneurs, and techies involved in agriculture gathered in Kigali for this year’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).

The convening happened against the backdrop of the sudden death of Kofi Annan, whose clarion call for a unique African green revolution in the mold of India, gave rise to the establishment of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which hosts AGRF.

The monumental success of AGRF 2018 is clearly a tribute to the steering role played by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) secretariat, led by former Rwanda agriculture minister, Dr. Agnes Kalibata and funding partners; notably the Gates Foundation, Rockefeller and other multilateral donors.

But why would a consummate diplomat in the person of Kofi Annan focus his attention on agriculture rather than global governance issues?

Korir Sing’Oei

AGRF’s theory of change appears to be premised on the idea that high level political dialogue and exchanges are a prerequisite to policy coherence for agricultural transformation. In attracting and bringing heads of states, ministers, senior policy makers together with business actors around a conversation on agriculture, several policies, institutional and programmatic ideas become clear, as was witnessed in Kigali.

First, as an institutional design issue, agriculture must be entrenched as a high level political and business priority across the continent as it ought to have been. Left to travail at ministries of agriculture, often underfunded and poorly linked to the rest of government departments, agricultural transformation stands stunted in the intense resource competition, pitting it against seemingly more productive options such as industrialization and infrastructure – including the much-vaunted railway development.

Second, critical delivery required to transform agriculture cannot be driven at ministerial level. The mechanization agenda for instance, cannot be siloed in the ministry of agriculture. It must become an inter-ministerial and whole of governments’ effort.

As it was argued by the Malabo Montpellier Panel at the AGRF 2018, sustainable agricultural growth above 4% annually requires machinery uptake growth of no less than 2.5%. In this trajectory, Kenya like several other African countries falls below the mark, with mechanization of its agricultural systems still way below 35%.

Agriculture in Africa must cease being a struggle to survive and converted into a business that thrives. This, in my view, is what inspired Dr. Kofi Annan, to make agriculture the centerpiece of his post UN Secretary General agenda

The resulting low production levels is partly attributable to the mechanization deficit and measures that allow production of agricultural equipment at reasonable price should be considered, if scale is to be achieved. Regional manufacturing hubs that pool a number of countries can make such manufacturing viable and remove policy constraints.

However, an agenda of this magnitude cannot entirely be based at the agricultural ministries but must become a national and sub-regional imperative. The AGRF 2018 #HowWillYouLead campaign, that seeks to rally public and private sector leaders in Africa and beyond to intensify agricultural transformation in the continent, represents this understanding.

Food is central to the sustenance of the human condition. The cyclical occurrences of drought and hunger, exacerbated by the climate change phenomenon, continues to place the continent’s population in a state of dependency and vulnerability.

Rain fed agriculture can no longer guarantee the food and nutrition requirements of a continent, whose population is projected to reach a billion people by 2050. The assertion by Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman of Econet Group that “crops do not need rain they need water” resonated so much with the AGRF 2018 delegates, becoming a near slogan and a central theme of the conference.

As attested to by the Africa Agriculture Status Report 2018, countries whose agricultural sectors have registered marked transformation over the last decade, such as Ethiopia, have aggressively expanded irrigated farmlands. With 3.3 million hectares under irrigation out of 70 million hectares of arable land, Ethiopia’s food security turnaround was touted as a marker of success that craves continental replication.

Thus, the Kigali Declaration on Farmer-led Irrigation for Smallholder Farming Enterprises was adopted urging “public investment, commercial financing, and capacity building that enable individual smallholders to afford, own, operate and benefit from irrigation systems.”

For a long time, the African Union’s agriculture-related commitments have been an invisible inconvenience, lost in the bureaucratic maze of the Addis diplomatic behemoth that is sold out on the peace and security agenda.

Even the well-known Comprehensive African Agricultural Programme (CAADP) and the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods remain technical scientific niceties of little impact to the development of agricultural sectors at country level. And as demonstrated in Kigali, AGRF, has now become the apposite space that animates these continental commitments, vivifying them with data, content, funding ideas and implementation matrices.

While this revolution is yet to be televised, the young techies that straddled the ornate floors of Kigali Conference Centre at AGRF 2018 demystified agriculture and made it attractive to the burgeoning youth of our continent, who must take center stage in reimagining the sector for the 21st century. This was so much evident that when Deputy President Ruto, reminded the forum that the average age of a farmer in Kenya is 60 years against a mean age of 19, concern regarding the sustainability of the sector was unmistakable.

And as farmers across the continent continue their perennial dance to grow sufficient food and convey it from farm to fork for consumption by the millions of us, more must be done to make farming not only sustainable but profitable. Agriculture in Africa must cease being a struggle to survive and converted into a business that thrives. This, in my view, is what inspired Dr. Kofi Annan, to make agriculture the centerpiece of his post UN Secretary General agenda.

The post The Revolutionary Ambition of AGRF 2018 Must be Sustained appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Korir Sing’Oei is Legal Advisor & Head of Policy at Office of Deputy President, Kenya

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Climate Change Undermining Global Efforts to Eradicate Hungerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/climate-change-undermining-global-efforts-eradicate-hunger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-undermining-global-efforts-eradicate-hunger http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/climate-change-undermining-global-efforts-eradicate-hunger/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 14:27:25 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157737 The United Nations warned last month that the accelerating impacts of climate change—“already clearly visible today”– have triggered an unpredictable wave of natural disasters– including extreme heatwaves, wild fires, storms, and floods during the course of this year. “If we do not change course by 2020”, cautions UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “we risk missing the […]

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Despite the UN goal to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger globally, Africa's senior citizens are finding themselves cornered with destitution. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo / IPS

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

The United Nations warned last month that the accelerating impacts of climate change—“already clearly visible today”– have triggered an unpredictable wave of natural disasters– including extreme heatwaves, wild fires, storms, and floods during the course of this year.

“If we do not change course by 2020”, cautions UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.”

Coincidentally, his warning was followed by the annual 2018 report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which singled out climate change as one of the primary factors responsible for the rise in global hunger – and for the third consecutive year in 2017.

Along with military conflicts and global economic meltdowns, climate change is a driving force in the rise in global hunger while extreme weather, land degradation, desertification, water scarcity and rising sea levels—are collectively undermining global efforts to eradicate hunger.

As the UN continues to express concern over rising natural disasters worldwide, the world body is taking an active role in New York City’s “Climate Change Week” which is scheduled to conclude Sunday September 30—and takes place in the margins of the 73rd sessions of the UN General Assembly where more than 125 world political leaders are due to speak this week.

A primary focus of Climate Change Week will be the number of climate-related disasters, which have doubled since the early 1990s, with an average of 213 of these events occurring every year during the period of 1990–2016, according to FAO.

Asked about the severity of climate change on food security, Cindy Holleman, Senior Economist at FAO, told IPS the number of extreme climate-related disaster events has doubled since the early 1990s (extreme heat, droughts, floods and storms) – “which means we now experience on average 213 medium and large climate-related catastrophic events every year”.

She pointed out that climate-related disasters account for more than 80 percent of all major internationally reported disasters. Climate variability and extremes are already negatively undermining the production of major crops in tropical regions.

“So climate variability and extremes, are not only events that will happen in the future; they are occurring now and are contributing to a rise in global hunger,” she warned.

Holleman said droughts feature among the most challenging climate extremes in many parts of the world. Drought causes more than 80 percent of the total damage and losses in agriculture, especially for the livestock and crop production subsectors.

For almost 36 percent of the countries that experienced a rise in undernourishment since the mid-2000s, this coincided with the occurrence of a severe agricultural drought, she noted.

“Most striking is that nearly two-thirds of these cases (19 out of 28) occurred in relation to the severe drought conditions driven by El Niño in 2015–2016.

During the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event of 2015–2016, this change across so many countries contributed to a reversal of the prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) trend at the global level, she noted.

In its latest 2018 report on “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” (SOFI), FAO said the absolute number of undernourished people, i.e. those facing chronic food deprivation, has increased to nearly 821 million in 2017, from around 804 million in 2016. These are levels from almost a decade ago.

The share of undernourished people in the world population – the prevalence of undernourishment, or PoU – may have reached 10.9 percent in 2017, according to the report.

Persistent instability in conflict-ridden regions, adverse climate events in many regions of the world and economic slowdowns that have affected more peaceful regions and worsened the food security, all help to explain this deteriorating situation.

The situation is worsening in South America and most regions of Africa, FAO said. Africa remains the continent with the highest PoU, affecting almost 21 percent of the population (more than 256 million people).

The situation is also deteriorating in South America, where the PoU has increased from 4.7 percent in 2014 to a projected 5.0 percent in 2017. Asia’s decreasing trend in undernourishment seems to be slowing down significantly.

The projected PoU for Asia in 2017 is 11.4 percent, which represents more than 515 million people. Without increased efforts, the world will fall far short of achieving the SDG target of eradicating hunger by 2030.

The most recent Typhoon Mangkhut, on September 15, caused considerable devastation in the Philippines.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the typhoon affected 893,000 people, including over 280,000 farmers. Some 236,000 people were displaced — 70 per cent of whom are still in evacuation centres.

The typhoon damaged nearly 1,500 houses. It is also estimated that 1.22 million hectares of rice and corn have been damaged, with losses estimated at $267 million.

The United Nations said it is working closely with its partners and the Government of the Philippines to coordinate rapid assessment and response. Major needs include food, health care, water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as shelter. The United Nations said it stands ready to support the Government’s relief efforts as needed.

Still, there are some who are skeptical about climate change itself.

As Gail Collins, a columnist for the New York Times, pointed out last week the unpredictable US President Donald Trump does not believe in climate change.

“Who among us can forget the time he claimed the whole idea (of climate change) was a Chinese plot to ruin American manufacturing”,? she asked.

Guterres, meanwhile, is convening a Climate Summit in September 2019 to bring climate action to the top of the international agenda. The high-level gathering of world political leaders is scheduled to take place one year before countries are set to enhance their national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement.

“I am calling on all world leaders to come to next year’s Climate Summit prepared to report not only on what they are doing, but what more they intend to do when they convene in 2020 for the UN climate conference,” he said.

Kristen Hite, Oxfam International Climate Policy Lead, told IPS climate change is a factor leaders must take into account as we all collectively try to reach the milestones set by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She said climate change is already compromising food security and food production, including hitting adaptive limits, with more people migrating because they cannot grow food anymore. And this is only the beginning. With every tick up on the thermometer, millions more are forced into poverty.

Hite said climate impacts on the poor happen through increased food prices, food insecurity and hunger, lost resource base for livelihoods and income, and displacement from flooding and heat waves.

“There is a big difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees, especially for crop production in Sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America. The poor are hit the hardest, and rain-fed agriculture is especially vulnerable.”

As climate emissions barrel on, she said, there is more pressure to displace food farming with carbon farming. It doesn’t have to be this way- if wealthy polluters can get their emissions in check and we all embrace the renewable energy revolution, there is still time to curb this crisis.

Meanwhile, at the upcoming climate change conference, COP24 in Poland in December, there will be an attempt to finalize the rulebook of the Paris Agreement and to deliver on its promises.

FAO’s Holleman told IPS the strongest direct impacts are felt on food availability, given the sensitivity of agriculture to climate and the primary role of the sector as a source of food and livelihoods for the rural poor.

Climate variability and extremes are undermining also the other dimensions of food security. Spikes in food prices and price volatility follow climate extremes and extend well beyond the actual climatic event.

Net buyers of food are the hardest hit by price spikes: these are the urban poor, but also small-scale food producers, agriculture labourers and the rural poor. Those whose livelihoods depend on agriculture and natural resources lose income but also assets and access to food, she pointed out.

The quality and safety of food is affected by more erratic rainfall and higher temperatures: crop contamination, outbreaks of pests and diseases because of rainfall intensity or changes in temperature, she explained.

Hollleman said that stability of production and access to food is also increased by climate variability and extremes. Changes in climate also heavily impact nutrition through impaired nutrient quality and dietary diversity of foods produced and consumed impacts on water and sanitation, with their implications for patterns of health risks and disease.

Prolonged or recurrent climate extremes lead to diminished coping capacity, loss of livelihoods, distress migration and destitution, she declared.

Asked if some of the countries, mostly in Asia, Latin America and sub Saharan Africa, will be able to meet the SDG goal of hunger eradication by 2030, Holleman said ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition is an ambitious goal, but it is one we strongly believe can be reached.

“We need to strengthen our common efforts and work to tackle the underlying causes of hunger and malnutrition, as well as to urgently address key drivers behind the recent rise in hunger,” she said.

“ We should strengthen political will and put hunger elimination and good nutrition as a fundamental goals in the development effort. Extreme poverty, inequality and marginalization is at the roots of hunger and need to be addressed. This is universal, almost a tautology.”

Fundamental entry points to the effort to eliminate hunger is agriculture, the food system in general and social protection. “We also have to deal with the additional challenges created by conflict, climate variability and extremes and economic slowdowns.”

Addressing the root causes of conflict will involve humanitarian, development and peace building strategies which meet immediate needs while making the necessary investments to build resilience for lasting peace and food security and nutrition for all, Holleman declared.

“Meeting the challenge posed by climate variability and extremes requires that we scale-up actions to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity of people and the agricultural and food systems.”

She added: “We need integrated—rather than dissociated—disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaption policies, programmes and practices with short-, medium- and long-term vision.”

Meanwhile, in what was described as “an unprecedented global partnership”, the United Nations, World Bank, International Committee of the Red Cross, Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services have announced a plan to prevent future famines.

The international organizations are launching the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM) – the first global mechanism dedicated to preventing future famines.

In the past, responses to these devastating events has often come too late, once many lives have already been lost, incurring high assistance costs.

“The FAM seeks to change this by moving towards famine prevention, preparedness and early action – interventions that can save more lives and reduce humanitarian costs by as much as 30%. The initiative will use the predictive power of data to trigger funding through appropriate financing instruments, working closely with existing systems,” the coalition said in a press release September 24.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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Countries On the Frontline of Climate Change Impact Call for Stronger Mitigation Commitmentshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/countries-frontline-climate-change-impact-call-stronger-mitigation-commitments/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=countries-frontline-climate-change-impact-call-stronger-mitigation-commitments http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/countries-frontline-climate-change-impact-call-stronger-mitigation-commitments/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 13:24:05 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157725 Caribbean leaders want larger countries to pick up the pace at which they are working to meet the climate change challenge and keep global warming from devastating whole countries, including the most vulnerable ones like those in the Caribbean. Diann Black-Layne, ambassador for Climate Change in Antigua and Barbuda’s ministry of agriculture, lands, housing and […]

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Damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Road Town, on the British Virgin Island of Tortola. Caribbean leaders want larger countries to pick up the pace at which they are working to meet the climate change challenge and keep global warming from devastating whole countries. Courtesy: Russell Watkins/DFID

By Desmond Brown
SAN FRANCISCO and ST. JOHN’S, Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

Caribbean leaders want larger countries to pick up the pace at which they are working to meet the climate change challenge and keep global warming from devastating whole countries, including the most vulnerable ones like those in the Caribbean.

Diann Black-Layne, ambassador for Climate Change in Antigua and Barbuda’s ministry of agriculture, lands, housing and the environment, said that at present, most studies show that globally we are on track for a 3-degree Celsius temperature rise before the end of this century.

She pointed to extreme impacts already being experienced, such as greater storms, melting ice caps, increased overall temperatures, species fragmentation, increased invasive species and many other impacts.

“Currently, we need to be below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably at 1.5 degrees, to see a drastic improvement in climate,” Black-Layne told IPS.

“To put this in context, globally we are already 1 degree Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels.”

Black-Layne added that governments must back words with action and step up to enhance their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2020 in line with the Paris Agreement and the ratchet up mechanism.

Although the contributions of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to greenhouse gases are negligible, every little action towards alleviating climate change counts.

“More importantly, a global agreement requires everyone to do their part, to build trust and encourage others to act,” Black-Layne said.

“SIDS can be some of the early movers to decarbonise our economies – that means growing an economy without growing emissions.”

At the recent Talanoa Dialogue held in September in San Francisco, newly-elected prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley said while the Caribbean countries are not responsible for causing the greatest changes in the climate, they are the ones on the frontline. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Meanwhile, at the recent Talanoa Dialogue held this month in San Francisco, newly-elected prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley said while the Caribbean countries are not responsible for causing the greatest changes in the climate, they are the ones on the frontline.

“Dominica was hit by [hurricanes] Irma and Maria, in fact devastated to the tune of 275 percent of its GDP last year. And that came on top of [tropical storm] Erica which devastated communities and led to loss of life,” said Mottley, whose Barbados Labour Party won all 30 seats in the May 24 election.

“This is our lived reality in the Caribbean. This is not an academic discussion. This is difficult for us. And therefore, when the discussions took place between whether it is 1.5 or 2 [° C ], others could wallow in the ease of an academic discussion. For us it will have implications for what communities can survive in the Caribbean, in the Pacific and different other parts of the world.”“This is our lived reality in the Caribbean. This is not an academic discussion. This is difficult for us. And therefore, when the discussions took place between whether it is 1.5 or 2 [° C ], others could wallow in the ease of an academic discussion. For us it will have implications for what communities can survive in the Caribbean, in the Pacific and different other parts of the world.” -- prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley

In 2015, 196 parties came together under the Paris Agreement to transform their development trajectories and set the world on a course towards sustainable development, with an aim of limiting warming to 1.5 to 2° C above pre-industrial levels.

Through the Paris Agreement, parties also agreed to a long-term goal for adaptation – to increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that did not threaten food production. Additionally, they agreed to work towards making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

In June 2017, United States president Donald Trump ceased all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord.

That includes contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund (to help poorer countries to adapt to climate change and expand clean energy) and reporting on carbon data (though that is required in the U.S. by domestic regulations anyway).

But the U.S. remains part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Forty years ago, Barbados commenced the use of solar water heaters through tax incentives.

Today, Mottley says, no one in the country thinks about building a house without a solar water heater.

“That simple example showed us how the change of behaviour of citizens can make a fundamental difference in the output. We aim by 2030 to be a fossil fuel-free environment but we can’t do it just so,” she said.

Explaining that Barbados has recently entered a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund, she lamented that her new government inherited a situation where Barbados is the third-most indebted country in the world today.

“It means that our options for development and financing are seriously constrained but our reality to fight what is perhaps the gravest challenge of our time continues. We cannot borrow from the World Bank or other major entities because we’re told that our per capita income is too high,” Mottley said.

“But within 48 hours, like Dominica, we could lose 200 percent of our GDP. That is the very definition of vulnerability if ever there was one. And unless we change it we are going to see the obliteration or civilisations or we’re going to see problems morph into security and migration issues that the world does not want to deal with.”

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Seize the Opportunity Offered by Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area, says UNIDO Chiefhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/seize-opportunity-offered-africas-continental-free-trade-area-says-unido-chief/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=seize-opportunity-offered-africas-continental-free-trade-area-says-unido-chief http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/seize-opportunity-offered-africas-continental-free-trade-area-says-unido-chief/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 13:03:28 +0000 Li Yong http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157733 LI Yong is Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

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LI Yong is Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

By Li Yong
VIENNA, Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

Since the turn of the millennium, Africa has experienced a steady and unprecedented economic growth.

However, poverty continues for people across the continent, especially in the sub-Saharan region. Unemployment and inequality have remained high. The rural population and the urban poor, women and youth, have not benefited from economic growth.

African policymakers realize that, for the benefits of growth to be shared by all, there needs to be a structural transformation of the economy. Specifically, there is an acknowledgement that its composition should change, with increased shares of manufacturing and agro-related industry in national investment, output, and trade.

Manufacturing, thanks to its multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy, has always been one of the most important drivers of economic development and structural change, especially in developing countries. Manufacturing is an “engine of growth” that enhances higher levels of productivity and greater technical change, thus creating more jobs with higher wages for both women and men.

Recognizing this, the United Nations has proclaimed the period 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) in order to increase global awareness and encourage partnerships to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrialization.

Today, Africa has exceptional opportunities for industrialization.

In the next few decades, Africa will become the youngest and most populous continent in the world with a working age population expected to grow by 450 million people. Or close to 70 per cent of the total, by 2035.

With a rapidly growing population, and one of the world’s highest rates of urbanization, the middle class is on the rise too. This will drive consumption of consumer goods, creating a market worth USD 250 billion, set to grow at an annual rate of 5 per cent over the next eight years.

Industrialization, diversification and job creation in Africa, however, cannot happen without continental economic integration. The recent signing of the historic agreement for an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by 49 out of 55 countries creates an opportunity for inclusive and sustainable economic development, moving away from structural stagnation and commodity-based economics.

The AfCFTA agreement will create the world’s largest single, integrated market for goods and services, and a customs union that will enable free movement of capital and business travelers in Africa.

This will provide great business opportunities for trading enterprises, businesses and consumers, unlocking trade and manufacturing potential and further enhancing industrialization in Africa.

With the AfCFTA agreement, exports of processed or intermediate goods will increase rapidly, further opening the way to Africa’s economic transformation to dynamically-diversified economies and globally competitive industrial production locations.

Higher trade among African countries will also strengthen African regional value chains, making it easier for local small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for around 80 per cent of Africa’s businesses, to build competitiveness, supply inputs to larger regional companies, and participate in and upgrade to global value chains.

This will give unprecedented opportunities to exploit the full agri-business potential of the continent. Strengthening the continent’s agro-industries can generate high social and economic returns, create jobs in rural areas and for young women and men, as well as responding to the urgent need to ensure food security and poverty reduction.

By taking bold actions in advancing the agenda of the AfCFTA, using it as one of the best means of promoting industrialization, African countries are well-positioned to build an Africa that can become a strong link in today’s interdependent global economy.

Structural transformation, however, is never automatic. Political goodwill and commitments are a first important step; but a multi-pronged, action-based approach with partnerships at the heart, along with concrete industrial policies, is needed for this to become a reality.

That is why UNIDO has developed an innovative country-owned, multi-stakeholder partnership model to provide governments with a platform to bring together various stakeholders, including development finance institutions and the private sector, to mobilize large-scale resources, accelerate industrialization and achieve a greater development impact.

Using this Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) approach, and helping governments to identify priority sectors based on prospects for job creation, strong links to the agricultural sector, high export potential and capacity to attract investment, UNIDO has already started assisting Ethiopia, Senegal, Morocco and other countries in Asia and Latin America in achieving their export goals and enabling the manufacturing sector to compete on the increasingly globalized market.

Now more than ever, such innovative schemes and mechanisms for enabling partnership building and resource mobilization for sustainable industrial development are needed to address the urgent need for structural transformation in Africa and seize the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA.

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Excerpt:

LI Yong is Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

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End Tuberculosis by Empowering Community Health Workershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/end-tuberculosis-empowering-community-health-workers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=end-tuberculosis-empowering-community-health-workers http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/end-tuberculosis-empowering-community-health-workers/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 10:26:07 +0000 David Bryden http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157729 “I’m alive because of support from my family and the community health worker who brought medicine directly to my house, accompanied me during treatment and gave me hope. Without care and human support, there’s no way I could be here today,” says Melquiades Huauya, a survivor of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) from Peru. From his […]

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Credit: Nichole Sobecki / The Global Fund

By David Bryden
WASHINGTON DC, Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

“I’m alive because of support from my family and the community health worker who brought medicine directly to my house, accompanied me during treatment and gave me hope. Without care and human support, there’s no way I could be here today,” says Melquiades Huauya, a survivor of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) from Peru.

From his harrowing experience with tuberculosis (TB), Huauya now knows a lot about how to stop it, the world’s biggest infectious disease killer. The disease, which claims about 4300 lives a day, is the subject of a United Nations’ High-Level Meeting on September 26 in New York, alongside the 73rd General Assembly.

Tuberculosis is an airborne bacterial infection that is preventable and curable, with the right medication. But, as Melquiades Huauya experienced, in addition to appropriate medication, it is “human support” that makes the difference between life and death.

Miriam Were, a noted Kenyan medical doctor and public health expert, states in a recent online presentation that community health workers are essential to providing culturally sensitive care and overcoming the distrust and “social distance” that keeps people from accessing the formal health care system and getting cured of diseases like TB.

Health facilities can also be many hours away from people’s homes, a common barrier to accessing care. As a result, of the 10 million people developing TB every year, 3.6 million are “missed” by the formal system and are unreported, and likely going untreated. In ten of the countries with high TB burdens, more than 45 percent of the people with TB are “missed.”

This includes children, who are highly vulnerable to TB. By fully tapping the potential of community health workers, we can identify and locate these people, connect them to care, and, ultimately, reduce and prevent further TB infections and other health conditions.

Consider the investment case by the South African Medical Research Council, issued in May 2018, entitled “Saving lives, saving costs.” The researchers found that an expanded and well-supported network of community health workers would have enormous benefits for South Africa, translating into 33,064 MDR-TB averted cases and saving 60,642 livesover a 10-year period.

According to the researchers, while such a strategy requires significant financial investment initially, the cost-saving will, ultimately, be more than offset by preventing the disease and costly hospitalization.

By recruiting previously unemployed people from the same disadvantaged communities to visit the homes of TB patients and seek out others in need of TB screening, the economy will also benefit. And, according to the analysis, other health issues can also be addressed through this approach, including HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and hypertension.

Several countries are already using an expanded network of community health workers to stop TB, similar to the program in Peru, which was so crucial to Huauya’s recovery. In 2003, Ethiopia began training and employing female village-based health workers, called health extension workers, to regularly visit households in their villages to implement basic packages of healthcare.

These visits have identified people with TB and given essential support to patients already taking the long course of treatment. This has helped deliver very impressive results, with the country seeing a significant reduction in TB. Pakistan and Bangladesh have also successfully used community health workers to reduce TB.

Still, there are also major challenges facing community health workers. Were says most abandon their jobs when they realize it is a dead-end, without prospects of advancement; attrition is as high as 70 percent in some places.

She emphasizes that community health workers need adequate training, supervision, and remuneration to keep serving their communities. They also need back-up from qualified nurses and doctors to whom they can refer patients.

Care-givers also need care themselves. Frontline health workers are frequently exposed to TB and other health risks due to inadequate protection, such as masks and respirators, or environmental measures to lessen the danger.

The result is that healthcare personnel have significantly higher rates of developing TB, including often-deadly MDR-TB , as documented by the South African organization, TB Proof.

Facing a three to six times increased risk, related inadequate working conditions and a lack of supplies or equipment, can lead to poor morale and high rates of attrition, further adversely affecting the quality of care.

Tuberculosis cannot be defeated unless these challenges are addressed head-on. For the UN High Level Meeting, all member states have agreed on a Political Declaration on the Fight Against Tuberculosis, and it contains a key promise: that they “Commit to find the missing people with tuberculosis.”

To keep this promise, governments must lay out specific and costed plans for training, protecting and compensating the frontline health care workers who do the hard work of going out into the community, even going door-to-door, to find people in need and give them hope. As Were puts it, “If it doesn’t happen in the community, it doesn’t happen.”

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Ethiopia’s Struggle Against Climate Change Gets a Boost from Green Climate Fundhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/ethiopias-struggle-climate-change-gets-boost-green-climate-fund/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ethiopias-struggle-climate-change-gets-boost-green-climate-fund http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/ethiopias-struggle-climate-change-gets-boost-green-climate-fund/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 09:00:11 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157720 Faced with worsening droughts due to climate change, Ethiopia is joining an international initiative seeking to build global resilience against the problems caused by it, and enable developing countries to become part of a united solution to the ongoing problem.  Funded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Global Climate Fund […]

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Women living in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, which is particularly prone to drought, say how hard it is to live off the land and support their families. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By James Jeffrey
ADDIS ABABA, Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

Faced with worsening droughts due to climate change, Ethiopia is joining an international initiative seeking to build global resilience against the problems caused by it, and enable developing countries to become part of a united solution to the ongoing problem. 

Funded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Global Climate Fund (GCF) was established to help developing countries achieve national efforts to reduce national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

The GCF is part of a united global response fuelled by the urgency and seriousness of the climate change challenge. That clarion call gained momentum worldwide after the 2015 Paris Agreement in which signatories agreed to collectively tackle climate change through the mechanism of implementing nationally determined contributions (NDC), a country’s tailored efforts to reduce its emissions and enable it to adapt to climate change-induced challenges.

Ethiopia is taking this multilateral global endeavour particularly seriously due to the massive changes the country is undergoing as it develops economically.

“Ethiopia is one of the few countries that have submitted a very ambitious and conditional NDC to the UNFCCC,” says Zerihun Getu with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation. “Ethiopia aims to cut 64 percent of emissions by 2030 and build a climate resilient and middle-income economy.”

Currently Ethiopia has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to many other countries, having not industrialised, but Zerihun notes why it is important to take action now.

“Projections indicate that with population and economic growth, Ethiopia’s level of emissions will grow significantly, from 150 million tonnes in 2010 to 450 million by 2030,” Zerihun tells IPS. “Hence Ethiopia should focus both on mitigation and adaptation measures in order to reduce emission as well as build resilience and reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.”

Approved in October 2017, Ethiopia’s GCF-backed project will be implemented over the course of five years at a cost of USD50 million—with USD5 million co-financed by the government—to provide rural communities with  critical water supplies all year round and improve water management systems to address risks of drought and other problems from climate change.

The funding will go toward a three-pronged approach: Introducing solar-powered water pumping and small-scale irrigation, the rehabilitation and management of degraded lands around the water sources, and creating an enabling environment by raising awareness and improving local capacity.

Guidance on the project’s implementation is coming from the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), a treaty-based international organisation that promotes green growth: a balance of economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Climate change has a disproportionately worse impact on the lives and livelihoods of societies which depend on the natural environment for their day-to-day needs. In Ethiopia, about 80 percent of the population remain dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Those who are subsistence farmers are especially vulnerable to shifting weather patterns that can result in severe water shortages, devastating food production and livelihoods.

When such natural disasters strike, the situation of vulnerable populations can quickly deteriorate into a food and nutrition crisis, meaning the poor, many of whom in Ethiopia are women, are disproportionately affected.

This is what the Ethiopian GCF project seeks to mitigate, hence its focus on improving economic and social conditions for women.  Over 50 percent of the project’s aimed for 1.3 million beneficiaries will be women, with 30 percent of beneficiary households being female-headed.

During the past three years, regions of Ethiopia have experienced terrible drought exacerbated by the ocean warming trend El Niño that is causing unusually heavy rains in some parts of the world and drought elsewhere.

While El Niño is a complex and naturally occurring event, scientific research suggests that global warming could be making this cyclical event occur more frequently and intensely.

Despite there being some scientific uncertainty about how the naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other, Ethiopia has experienced enough climate-related trouble so that its government doesn’t want to take any chances.

Hence Ethiopia is an example of an early adopter of green growth. In 2011 the country launched its Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE), a strategy to achieve middle-income status while developing a green economy.

“The government’s goal is to create climate resilience within the context of sustainable development,” says Mitiku Kassa, Ethiopia’s state minister of agriculture and commissioner for its National Disaster Risk Management Commission. “Then, one day, we will be able to deal with drought without any appeals.”

In addition to challenges posed by El Niño, most of the world’s scientific community agrees that long-term significant changes in the earth’s climate system have occurred and are occurring more rapidly than in the past.

Furthermore, continued emissions into the earth’s atmosphere are projected to cause further warming and increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible effects on every continent, including increasing temperatures, greater rainfall variability with more frequent extremes, and changing the nature of seasonal rainfalls—all of which threaten Ethiopia’s agricultural backbone.

It’s not just scientists making such claims. Ethiopian pastoralists in their seventies and eighties who have lived with frequent droughts say the recent ones have been the worst in their lifetimes—and they aren’t alone in noticing worrying trends.

“While working in Central America, East Africa, and the Middle East, I’ve always talked to elder people, especially those in agriculture, and the message from them is consistent,” says Sam Wood, Save the Children’s humanitarian director in Ethiopia. “Weather patterns are becoming less predictable and when rain comes it is too much or too little.”

As of May 2018, the GCF portfolio has 76 projects worldwide worth USD12.6 billion with an anticipated equivalence of 1.3 billion tonnes of CO2 avoided and 217 million people achieving increased resilience.

“We’re working with GCF in Senegal and Tajikistan [and] we think their work will be vital,” the World Food Programme’s Challiss McDonough tells IPS. “WFP’s goal of ending hunger cannot be achieved without addressing climate change.”

But the GCF can only do so much. The overall bill just for empowering Ethiopia to effectively respond to climate change is estimated at USD150 billion, Zerihun notes, a sum that can only be achieved through “huge investment.”

“Ethiopia allocates its domestic resources for climate actions [but it] should also mobilise support from international communities including the GCF to realise its vision and achieve its NDC targets,” Zerihun says. “The GCF will make a significant contribution to Ethiopia’s vision through financing projects and programmes as well as through helping Ethiopia build capacity to mobilise other climate finance sources and leveraging other investment.”

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Journalism for Democracy, Caught Between Bullets and Censorship in Latin Americahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/journalism-democracy-caught-bullets-censorship-latin-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=journalism-democracy-caught-bullets-censorship-latin-america http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/journalism-democracy-caught-bullets-censorship-latin-america/#respond Sun, 23 Sep 2018 01:27:30 +0000 Humberto Marquez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157723 The murder of journalists and changing forms of censorship show that freedom of expression and information are still under siege in Latin America, particularly in the countries with the greatest social upheaval and political polarisation. Journalism “maintains a central role in the work for democracy in the region, although it suffers persecution of the media, […]

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Ethiopian Domestic Workers Battle for Survival in Saudi Arabiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/ethiopian-domestic-workers-battle-survival-saudi-arabia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ethiopian-domestic-workers-battle-survival-saudi-arabia http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/ethiopian-domestic-workers-battle-survival-saudi-arabia/#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 13:08:47 +0000 Rabiya Jaffery http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157714 Marjani F, 44, spent 8 years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital working as domestic help. “My husband was killed by the military after being accused of organizing a protest. I have four children and there was no way I could pay the bills staying there,” she says. For nearly a decade, she lived and worked […]

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African refugees await news of their work and residency visa applicatiosn in Lavinsky Park near the Tel Aviv, Israel. Credit: Zack Baddorf/ZUMA Press / IPS

By Rabiya Jaffery
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Sep 21 2018 (IPS)

Marjani F, 44, spent 8 years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital working as domestic help. “My husband was killed by the military after being accused of organizing a protest. I have four children and there was no way I could pay the bills staying there,” she says.

For nearly a decade, she lived and worked as an undocumented domestic worker employed by a Saudi family until she was deported in 2017.

“The rules on keeping workers who don’t have their papers are getting stricter and the family I worked for were scared they would have to pay heavy fines,” she explains. “They knew someone who had to pay penalty for keeping undocumented help and I guess they got scared – but didn’t want to pay for my sponsorship either so they sent me back.”

Marjani is now living in Bahir Dar, a city in Ethiopia, and describes her life back home as “hopeless”.

“My children aren’t even close to me anymore – I was just someone who would send them money and speak on the phone every now and then for so long,” she says. “And most of my family has been killed in political protests or are in military camps now – it is all futile.”

Marjani was one of the reportedly 5 million undocumented migrants living in Saudi Arabia – a country with an official population of 33 million.

“For the most part – the authorities had turned a blind eye to them,” says Abdullah Harith, a migrant lawyer working in the Gulf countries. “Every few years there would be a couple of crackdowns and some people would be deported back – but overall for decades, the millions of undocumented migrants – some who have been living in the country for generations at this point – were just overlooked.”

But this leniency have changed radically recently as the Kingdom is now actively seeking to deport them as part of its new economic reforms agenda.

A campaign called “Nation Without Violators” was launched in 2017 that was to “progress to deport foreign workers illegally staying in violation of residence, labor, and border regulations of the Kingdom”.

“A 90-day amnesty began in March 2017 that allowed undocumented migrants to finalize their status and leave the country without any penalties,” says Harith.

The amnesty was extended twice and, according to official statistics, at least 800 violators per day were voluntarily deported during the 9 month period.

By the end of the amnesty period, reportedly 45,000 Ethiopians – including Marjani – had registered with the Saudi government and voluntarily returned home.

The remaining estimated 500,000 Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia are continuing to live in fear as security authorities are actively continuing to deport undocumented migrants in the country. Violations can result in deportation, a prison sentence, and fines ranging between SR15,000 ($4,000) and SR100,000 ($26,700).

“There are concerns over the humanitarian impacts of returning hundreds of thousands of people back to endemic poverty and potential harm,” says Ayda Gebre , an aid worker for RATSON – Women, Youth and Children Development Programme, a community development NGO based in Ethiopia. RATSON has been working on assisting Ethiopian migrants settle back in the country.

While the role Ethiopian migrants play in helping the country’s economy is significant – in 2015, Ethiopians abroad sent back nearly $4 billion to the country coping with crippling poverty. And while many Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia come for economic reasons, a significant number arrived after fleeing serious abuses at the hands of their government.

During crackdowns on undocumented migrants in 2013 in Saudi Arabia, over 160,000 Ethiopians were returned. Most of the Ethiopians interviewed by Human Rights Watch who were part of the 2013 Saudi expulsions were detained within a week of their return to Ethiopia.

“Most of them were tortured in detention and had, in fact, originally left because of Ethiopian government human rights violations,” says Gebre.

Ethiopia has long been criticized for its human rights violations including its harsh prison conditions, brutality of security forces, lack of freedom of speech, and forced displacement.
“In many other countries, Ethiopians just might be able to claim asylum and potentially be entitled to international protection,” says Gebre.

“But Saudi Arabia has no refugee law and is not a party to the United Nations Refugee Convention, which means that, should expulsions be carried out, many thousands of Ethiopians could be forcibly returned home to face the persecution they fled.”

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Experts Call For Global Momentum on Gender Parityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/experts-call-global-momentum-gender-parity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=experts-call-global-momentum-gender-parity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/experts-call-global-momentum-gender-parity/#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 12:45:26 +0000 Miriam Gathigah http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157711 The world’s most important meeting is underway in New York, providing yet another opportunity for world leaders to discuss a wide array of issues such as peace, security and sustainable development. And experts stress that the role women have to play in addressing these issues cannot be over-emphasised. “Of the six United Nations organs, it […]

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Mary Wanja, a farmer at Ngangarithi, Kenya, using water from a stream to water her produce. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) indicates that the face of farming is still very much female comprising at least 45 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. In parts of Africa and Asia, women’s representation is much higher contributing at least 60 percent of the labour force. Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

By Miriam Gathigah
NAIROBI, Sep 21 2018 (IPS)

The world’s most important meeting is underway in New York, providing yet another opportunity for world leaders to discuss a wide array of issues such as peace, security and sustainable development. And experts stress that the role women have to play in addressing these issues cannot be over-emphasised.

“Of the six United Nations organs, it is only at the General Assembly where member states have equal representation with each nation having one vote, so issues discussed at the forum tend to be very critical and central to global development,” explains Grace Gakii, an independent consultant on gender issues in East Africa.

The 73rd session of the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) is being held in New York, United States, starting on Sept. 18th and running through to October.

“There are expectations that the high level meeting will also provide a platform to address issues of gender equality and women empowerment,”Gakii tells IPS.

The meeting comes amidst heighten efforts by the U.N. towards gender parity among its staff across all levels of its employment structure as well as through its work. A number of U.N. entities are already showing impressive progress towards a more gender balanced workforce in the period spanning 2007 to 2017.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) has particularly been lauded for progress made towards gender parity within its workforce.

“We have no doubt that gender equality can have a transformative as well as multiplier effect on sustainable development, climate resilience, peace building, and drive economic growth,” Maria Helena Semedo, FAO deputy director general, Climate and Natural Resources, tells IPS.

Since the organisation’s director general Jose Graziano da Silva took office in 2011, it has not been business as usual as gender issues are taking centre stage.

“FAO works to support women as agents of change to help harness this untapped potential. We have been striving to recruit the best possible talent to help meet our gender parity objectives,” Semedo affirms.

A U.N. system wide action plan on gender parity within this organisation indicates that: “As of the close of 2017, 41 percent of all international posts were held by women, the organisation’s highest representation of women in 10 years.” Moreover, when it comes to junior positions within the organisation, FAO has achieved gender parity.

“These trends point to an organisation that is keen on pushing for gender equality, equity and essentially women empowerment in its structures. Such robust efforts to engender its workforce will without a doubt impact greatly on the work that FAO does with rural communities,” Gakii explains.

Against this backdrop, according to the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (U.N. Women), the entire U.N. system is not far behind.

One year into secretary-general António Guterres’ strategy to improve gender parity within its system, for the first time in the history of the U.N. there is now gender parity in top leadership.

“We will continue working to translate our success at having more women in senior staff positions. We also strive to have a friendly work environment for both male and female staff, with zero tolerance to sexual and power harassment in line with the secretary-general’s direction,” Semedo says.

Gender expert Wilfred Subbo says that in achieving gender parity, equality and equity within its own system, the U.N. is also able to set the standards for “rural communities and economies whose lives are impacted on a daily basis by policies and strategies set by the global humanitarian body.”

Subbo is an associate professor at the Institute of Anthropology, Gender and African Studies, University of Nairobi.

Nonetheless, there are concerns that overall progress towards gender parity within FAO has been fairly slow. In the last decade, the representation of women has increased by only 12 percentage points.

That notwithstanding, experts are optimistic that as FAO continues its robust push for a more equitable society, this will have a more significant impact on food security, agriculture and rural developmentparticularly as climate change continues to impact on the world’s ability to feed its people.

FAO’s State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2018 report states that national agricultural and trade policies will need readjusting for the global market place to become a “pillar of food security and a tool for climate change adaptation.”

The report further details the extent to which climate change will impact on the ability of many world regions to produce food as well as influencing trends in international agricultural trade.

“Today, agriculture and food systems face an unprecedented array of challenges and our most recent numbers show that hunger is on the rise with the greatest vulnerability being amongst rural women and girls,” says Semedo.

Associate Professor Subbo is emphatic that without readjusting labour market structures for better representation of women, it will be impossible to comprehensively address the most pressing global needs.

He says that labour market structures are inherently skewed in favour of men, making it difficult for women to influence policy and decision-making processes.

“There is a need for a global momentum to speak to gender issues and especially the role, place and representation of women in the labour force because women are important pillars of the economy,” Subbo tells IPS.

He says that the fact there are now more women working in many sectors of the economy has served to mask an uncomfortable truth. “You will find these women at the bottom of the career ladder, they are the labourers in farms but absent in the boardroom,” he says.

Take for instance the agricultural sector, FAO indicates that the face of farming is still very much female comprising at least 45 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries.

In parts of Africa and Asia, women’s representation is much higher contributing at least 60 percent of the labour force.

The numbers are even higher in countries such as India where 79 percent of the female rural workforce is in agriculture.

“Even though a significant majority of the labour force in the agricultural sector is largely female constituted, women hold only 14 percent of the managerial positions,” Gakii expounds.

She says that as the world grapples with food insecurity, it is worrisome that women are also at the periphery of services that are crucial to the productivity and sustainability of rural economies. According to FAO, only an estimated five percent of women have access to agricultural extension services.

This is despite the significant role that the agricultural extension officers play in bringing advances in technology and better farming practices closer to farmers.

With fewer women in managerial and other such influential positions, compared to men, women receive fewer and smaller loans.

According to FAO, women in forestry, fishing and agriculture receive a paltry seven percent of the total agricultural investment.

Alice Wahome is an elected member of parliament in Kandara Constituency, Murang’a County, Kenya. She is the first woman to be elected to parliament in the county, and tells IPS that there is an urgent need to engender leadership across institutions and in key pillars of the economy.

“Promoting leadership that understands gender issues, the intricacies of gender and development does improve the participation of women at all levels of the workforce,” she observes. More importantly, “their participation accelerates development at all levels,” Wahome says.

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Recognising the Debilitating Nature Conflict Has on Food Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/157707/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=157707 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/157707/#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 09:00:54 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157707 Nyalen Kuong and her daughters fled to safety after an attack on their village in South Sudan in which Kuong’s husband and two sons where killed and the family’s cattle lost. Kuong, her daughters and other families from their village fled to islands surrounded by swamp land. There, she had little to eat. And soon […]

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For many people affected by conflict, agriculture is their only means of survival, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Sep 21 2018 (IPS)

Nyalen Kuong and her daughters fled to safety after an attack on their village in South Sudan in which Kuong’s husband and two sons where killed and the family’s cattle lost. Kuong, her daughters and other families from their village fled to islands surrounded by swamp land. There, she had little to eat. And soon began suffering from diarrhoea, brought on by acute malnutrition.

Eventually she was taken to a hospital camp where she was treated and was placed on an intravenous feeding drip. This is Kuong’s story as told by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). When she recovered she was given fishing equipment by FAO, which she now uses to supply her own food.

South Sudan is Africa’s newest state, but it has been mired in civil conflict since December 2013. Some 2.8 million people, a majority of whom depend on livestock for their livelihoods, are now facing acute food and nutrition insecurity, according to FAO.

The debilitating nature of conflict

Kuong’s experiences continue to be replicated in conflict zones around the world. Conflicts cost livelihoods and drive hunger and malnutrition, some of the most pressing development challenges today.

In May 2018, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2417 (2018), explicitly acknowledging the link between conflict and hunger and calling on all partners to protect civilians as well as their means to produce and access food.

Hunger has been on the rise for three years in a row, the U.N. found in a new report published this September. The global body says 821 million people are now hungry and over 150 million children stunted, putting the goal of hunger eradication at risk.

FAO is using its mandate to end hunger and malnutrition and to cultivate peace. This will ultimately enable food and nutritional security, which are linked to the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Agenda 2030.

“Agenda 2030 clearly links sustainable development and peace and calls for improved collaboration on conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution and recovery,” Enrique Yeves, director of communications at FAO, told IPS. “Sustaining peace encompasses activities aimed at preventing outbreak and recurrence of conflict.”

Yeves emphasised that interventions in support of food security, nutrition and agricultural livelihoods for conflict prevention and sustaining peace, are fundamentally important as they address not only the symptoms but also the root causes of conflict.

As the world marks the International Day of Peace on Friday, Sept. 21, the impact of conflict on humanity is a call to build a peaceful world. Sustainable Development Goal #16 underscores promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

“It is time all nations and all people live up to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognises the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, in a message ahead of the International Day of Peace. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Food after the fight

For many people affected by conflict, agriculture is their only means of survival, according to FAO.

The U.N. body says agriculture accounts for two-thirds of employment and one-third of GDP in countries in protracted crises. Since 2000, 48 percent of civil conflicts have been in Africa where access to rural land underpins the livelihoods of many. In 27 out of 30 interstate conflicts in Africa, land issues have played a significant role.

In 2018, FAO partnered with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to facilitate peaceful livestock movement between Kenyan and Ugandan cross-border areas.

In 2017, FAO signed a USD 8.7 million agreement with Colombia’s Rural Development Agency to help boost agricultural competitiveness and restore rural areas affected by armed conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the government of Colombia.
FAO believes promoting food security and livelihoods can help address some of the conflict drivers.

“In conflict and post-conflict situations the humanitarian agenda takes the place of states that have failed, including welfare issues such as food, but also to some extent security functions in refugee camps. For example, thus the driving forces for it become global rather than local, with all the problems that it will entail,” David Moore, a researcher and political economist at the University of Johannesburg, told IPS.

Moore noted that conflicts are complications that a simplistic “helping hand” cannot resolve — but where there are local actors influencing and acting with global agencies, like FAO, some issues can be addressed and perhaps alleviated.

Strengthening government and private sector engagement for food and peace

Recognising that food security can support peace building, the FAO-Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance for Food Security and Peace was established by the director general of FAO Jose Graziano da Silva and currently there are 10 Nobel Peace Laureates as members, said Yeves.

He added that the aim of the Alliance is not only to raise awareness and champion the links between food security and peace building, but also highlight the leadership of FAO in agricultural and food security policies and actions that promote peace, rural development and food security.

The Alliance members include Muhammad Yunus, Oscar Arias Sánchez, Tawakkol Karman, Betty Williams, Juan Manuel Santos, Frederik Willem de Klerk, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Jose Ramos-Horta and Mairead Maguire.

This year, on Sept. 24, the Alliance is inducting a new member from Africa during the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, a U.N. General Assembly high-level plenary on global peace

Graça Machel, humanitarian and widow of former South African president Mandela, will be named an honorary member of the Alliance this month in recognition of her late husband’s struggle for freedom and peace.

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Freezing Inside UAE’s High Rise Buildings While Temperatures Soar Outsidehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/freezing-inside-uaes-high-rise-buildings-temperatures-soar-outside/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=freezing-inside-uaes-high-rise-buildings-temperatures-soar-outside http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/freezing-inside-uaes-high-rise-buildings-temperatures-soar-outside/#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2018 13:43:52 +0000 Amna Khaishgi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157691 “Look at these tall, beautiful buildings. I have worked as a mason during the construction and was one of those who laid [the brickwork] brick by brick,” says Mohammed Akhtar* who has been working as mason for over a decade in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Akhtar has seen the evolution of Dubai’s skyline over […]

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The United Arab Emirates is also paying the price of rapid economic development in terms of climate change. Air-conditioning has proved to be a major challenge to climate change mitigation and because of the rise in temperatures in Dubai, most new buildings have air-conditioning. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Amna Khaishgi
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Sep 20 2018 (IPS)

“Look at these tall, beautiful buildings. I have worked as a mason during the construction and was one of those who laid [the brickwork] brick by brick,” says Mohammed Akhtar* who has been working as mason for over a decade in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Akhtar has seen the evolution of Dubai’s skyline over time. “It has been an overwhelming journey.”  When asked what has changed in the last 10 years, Akhtar smiles and says the weather.

“Temperatures outside have been increasing so fast that it drains our energy quickly. We cannot fight with nature. But at least we could play our role in protecting the environment,” the 45-year old Pakistani tells IPS. For him, sitting under the shade of a tree during his work break is the best form of relaxation.

While the rise in temperatures is certainly a concern, this Gulf state has a high level of awareness and government response when it comes to climate change mitigation.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) has referred to the UAE as the most responsible country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) when it comes to green growth, and as one of the best-performing countries across the globe.

“The kind of initiatives the UAE is taking is very encouraging and we expect things will improve with the passage of time,” GGGI Director General Dr. Frank Rijsberman tells IPS. The institute has a mandate to support emerging and developing countries develop rigorous green growth economic development strategies and works with both the public and private sector.

Rijsberman gives credit to the country’s leadership, who embraced green growth and sustainability much earlier and faster than many countries in the world.

Rijsberman adds also that the UAE was quick to realise the challenges of water scarcity and installed desalination plants at a time when other countries were only planning, theirs. A GCC report shows that Kuwait was the first country in the region to construct a desalination plant in 1957, with the UAE constructing its first plant two decades later.

Rijsberman, however, says that a lot remains to be done.

“Right now, the challenge is how to run a plant with energy efficiency. Now is the time to move green energy options to run these huge plants, which are a major source of water supplying to the country,” says Rijsberman.

Like many countries, the UAE is also paying the price of rapid economic development in terms of climate change.

“Rapid economic development and population growth in the UAE has led to the challenges like greenhouse gas emissions, extreme weather conditions, water scarcity and habitat destruction. All these issues are interlinked,” Rijsberman tells IPS.

According to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment; direct impacts of extreme weather events, as well as slow-onset phenomena such as sea level rise, could disrupt the daily functioning of transport and infrastructure, impact the value of real estate, affect environmental assets, and damage the tourism industry.

“The effects of climate change are likely to be felt most severely in coastal zones, where marine habitats will suffer from rising water temperatures and salinity, whereas infrastructure will be tested by storm surges and sea level rise. Other risks include weakened food security and health damages from extreme weather events,” the report further says.

The UAE’s National Climate Change Plan 2017-2050, which was released early this year, notes that climate change impacts increase national vulnerability and, if left unmanaged, will affect the growth potential of the country.

“Potential impacts of climate change on the UAE include extreme heat, storm surge, sea level rise, water stress, dust and sand storms, and desertification. Even small variations in weather patterns could significantly affect the country’s economic, environmental, and social well-being,” the report states.

According to the report, the most vulnerable areas to climate change in the UAE include water, coastal, marine, and dry land ecosystems; buildings and infrastructures; agriculture and food security; and public health.

“Based on the analysis of past and present anthropogenic drivers, future projections using climate models suggest an increase in the UAE’s annual average temperature of around 1°C by 2020, and 1.5-2°C by 2040.

“The effects of climate change are likely to be felt most severely in coastal zones, where marine habitats will suffer from rising water temperatures and salinity, whereas infrastructure will be tested by storm surges and sea level rise. Other risks include weakened food security and health damages from extreme weather events.”

In addition, climate change could have implications on the UAE’s development objectives. “Direct impacts of extreme weather events, as well as slow-onset phenomena such as sea level rise, could disrupt the daily functioning of transport and infrastructure, impact the value of real estate, affect environmental assets, and damage the tourism industry,” the report further says.

But plans are already in place. “They have seen the storm coming and they are preparing themselves to fight it,” says Rijsberman.

However, there are many challenges that remain to be tackled.

According to the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the country  has a relatively low share, less than 0.5 percent, of global emissions. For this reason, the voluntary adoption of measures to control and limit domestic GHG emissions would have a negligible impact in solving the global problem of climate change.

However, the country’s capital, Abu Dhabi, has very high per capita CO2 emissions, 39.1 tonnes in 2012 an increase of 4.4 percent compared to 37.44 tonnes in 2010more than triple the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) average of 10.08 tonnes.

The main contributors to CO2 emissions in 2012 were the production of public electricity and water desalination (33 percent), oil and gas extraction and processing activities (25 percent), transport (20 percent) and industry (12 percent).

Rijsberman was in Dubai to launch a joint initiative with the World Green Economy Organisation (WGEO). Both organisations have signed a partnership agreement to fast track green investment opportunities to develop bankable smart green city projects across the world.

“The UAE has been a leader in green growth. It is not only investing within the country but also helping other states to promote green cities,” Rijsberman says.

Lack of awareness and insufficient resources are also hindering the UAE’s green growth momentum.

Khawaja Hasan has been working as an environmentalist with both public and private sectors in the UAE for about a decade and tells IPS that while government is serious about promoting green growth initiatives across the board there are several challenges that slow down implementation.

“The private sector suffers with lack of awareness, lack of technology and above all cost are major issues that [hinders] the green growth.

“They [private sector] believe in short term goals. They don’t want to invest extra to benefit long term. Moreover there is no major direct monetary incentives from the government side to acquire and implement green approach.”

He also says that a lack of affordable green technology is also a major factor for mid level and small companies.

Green growth is not a luxury. It is a necessity, says Rijsberman.  He urged governments, including the UAE, to develop policy and introduce incentives that reach the grassroots. “If the green policy and initiatives are not reaching the people then it is not going anywhere.”

For instance, Rijsberman says air-conditioning, is a major challenge to climate change mitigation.

“It is directly related to how the buildings are constructed. If we contract close boxes without any air ventilation, air-conditioning or artificial cooling is inevitable. However, if we work on building style and work on structural changes, dependency on air-conditioning would decrease.

“Today, the situation in Dubai is, inside the building, we are shivering with the lowest temperature and outside, our local environment temperature is becoming unbearable due to the hot air that millions of air-conditioning are throwing out in the environment. The whole cycle becomes artificial and imbalance,” he said.

Though Akhtar is doing his little bit to address the balance.

“If we are building beautiful air-conditioned buildings, we should also plant trees too,” says Akhtar who, each year on his daughter’s birthday, plants a tree in his residential compound in Dubai. “This is my gift to this city who has given me an opportunity to earn decent money for my family back in Pakistan.”

*Not his real name.

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

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Coral reef in Mexico. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS

By Andrew Norton
LONDON, Sep 20 2018 (IPS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Excerpt:

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

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Indigenous Peoples Link Their Development to Clean Energieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/indigenous-peoples-link-development-clean-energies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indigenous-peoples-link-development-clean-energies http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/indigenous-peoples-link-development-clean-energies/#respond Thu, 20 Sep 2018 00:27:51 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157687 Achuar indigenous communities in Ecuador are turning to the sun to generate electricity for their homes and transport themselves in canoes with solar panels along the rivers of their territory in the Amazon rainforest, just one illustration of how indigenous people are seeking clean energies as a partner for sustainable development. “We want to generate […]

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United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Philippines (3rd left), calls for the full participation of indigenous communities in clean energy projects during the forum Our Village in San Francisco, California. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Philippines (3rd left), calls for the full participation of indigenous communities in clean energy projects during the forum Our Village in San Francisco, California. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

By Emilio Godoy
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA , Sep 20 2018 (IPS)

Achuar indigenous communities in Ecuador are turning to the sun to generate electricity for their homes and transport themselves in canoes with solar panels along the rivers of their territory in the Amazon rainforest, just one illustration of how indigenous people are seeking clean energies as a partner for sustainable development.

“We want to generate a community economy based on sustainability,” Domingo Peas, an Achuar leader, told IPS. Peas is also an advisor to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, which groups 28 indigenous organisations and 11 native groups from that South American country.

The first project dates back to the last decade, when the Achuar people began to install solar panels in Sharamentsa, a village of 120 people located on the banks of the Pastaza River. Currently they are operating 40 photovoltaic panels, at a cost of 300 dollars per unit, contributed by private donations and foundations."Communities have to be at the centre to decide on and design projects that help combat poverty, because they allow electricity without depending on the power grid, and they strengthen the defense of the territory and benefit the people. It's about guaranteeing rights and defining development processes." -- Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

The villagers use electricity to light up their homes and pump water to a 6,000-litre tank.

“There is a better quality of services for families. Our goal is to create another energy model that is respectful of our people and our territories,” Peas said.

The Achuar took the next step in 2012, when they started the Kara Solar electric canoe motor project. Kara means “dream” in the Achuar language.

The first boat with solar panels on its roof, with a capacity to carry 20 people and built at a cost of 50,000 dollars, began operating in 2017 and is based in the Achuar community of Kapawi.

The second canoe, with a cost of 35,000 dollars, based in Sharamentsa – which means “the place of scarlet macaws” in Achuar – began ferrying people in July.

The investment came partly from private donations and the rest from the IDEAS prize for Energy Innovation, established by the Inter-American Development Bank, which the community received in 2015, endowed with 127,000 dollars.

The Achuar people’s solar-powered transport network connects nine of their communities along 67 km of the Pastaza river – which forms part of the border between Ecuador and Peru – and the Capahuari river. The approximately 21,000 members of the Achuar community live along the banks of these two rivers.

“It was an indigenous idea adapted to the manufacture of canoes. They use them to transport people and products, like peanuts, cinnamon, yucca and plantains (cooking bananas),” in an area where rivers are the highways connecting their settlements, said Peas.

The demand for clean energy in indigenous and local communities and success stories such as the Achuar’s were presented during the Global Climate Action Summit, convened by the government of the U.S. state of California.

A solar panel exhibit in San Francisco, California, during the Global Climate Action Summit, which showed the expansion of solar and wind energy and micro hydroelectric dams to provide electricity to small communities. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

A solar panel exhibit in San Francisco, California, during the Global Climate Action Summit, which showed the expansion of solar and wind energy and micro hydroelectric dams to provide electricity to small communities. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The event, held on Sept. 13-14 in San Francisco, was an early celebration of the third anniversary of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, reached in the French capital in December 2015.

Native delegates also participated in the alternative forum “Our Village: Climate Action by the People,” on Sept. 11-14, presented by the U.S. non-governmental organisations If Not US Then Who and Hip Hop Caucus.

Right Energy Partnership

The Indigenous Peoples' Major Group for Sustainable Development (IPMG), made up of 50 organisations from 33 countries, launched the Right Energy Partnership in July. In Latin America, organisations from Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and five regional and global networks are taking part.

The consortium seeks to ensure that alternative projects are aligned with respect for and protection of human rights and provide access by at least 50 million indigenous people to renewable energy by 2030 that is developed and managed in a manner consistent with their self-determination needs and development aspirations.

This would be achieved by ensuring the protection of rights to prevent adverse impacts of renewable energy initiatives on ancestral territories, strengthen communities with sustainable development, and fortify the exchange of knowledge and collaboration between indigenous peoples and other actors.

The Alliance decided to conduct a pilot phase between 2018 and 2020 in 10 countries. The first countries included were Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua, and Australia, the United States and New Zealand could also join, as they have indigenous groups that already operate renewable ventures and have success stories.

In addition to Ecuador, innovative experiences have also emerged from indigenous communities in countries such as Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Guatemala, Malaysia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and the United States, according to the forum.

For example, in Bolivia there is an alliance between the local government of Yocalla, in the southern department of Potosí, and the non-governmental organisation Luces Nuevas aimed at providing electricity from renewable sources to poor families.

In Yocalla, a municipality of 10,000 people, mainly members of the Pukina indigenous community, “755 families live in rural areas with limited electricity; the national power grid has not yet reached those places,” project consultant Yara Montenegro told IPS.

Thanks to the programme, which began in March, 30 poor families have received solar panels connected to lithium batteries, produced at the La Palca pilot plant in Potosí, which store the fluid.

Each system costs 400 dollars, of which the families contribute half and the organisation and the government the other half. The families can connect two lamps, charge a cell phone and listen to the radio, replacing the use of firewood, candles and conventional batteries.

The development of clean sources plays a decisive role in achieving one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Goal seven aims to establish “affordable and non-polluting energy” – a goal that also has an impact on the achievement of at least another 11 SDGs, which the international community set for itself in 2015 for the next 15 years, within the framework of the United Nations.

In addition, the success of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4All), the programme to be implemented during the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024, which aims to guarantee universal access to modern energy services, and to double the global rate of energy efficiency upgrades and the share of renewables in the global energy mix, depends on that progress.

But most of the groups promoting an energy transition do not include native people, points out the May report “Renewable Energy and Indigenous Peoples. Background Paper to the Right Energy Partnership,” prepared by the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group for Sustainable Development (IPMG).

That group launched a Right Energy Partnership in July, which seeks to fill that gap.

For Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Kankanaey Igorot people, who is the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, energy represents “a problem and a solution” for indigenous people, she told IPS at the alternative forum in San Francisco.

“The leaders have fought against hydroelectric dams and I have also seen projects in the hands of indigenous peoples,” she said.

Because of this, “the communities have to be at the centre to decide on and design projects that help combat poverty, because they allow electricity without depending on the power grid, and they strengthen the defense of the territory and benefit the people,” she said.

“It’s about guaranteeing rights and defining development processes,” she summed up.

Examples of projects that can be replicated and expanded, as called for by the U.N special rapporteur, are provided by communities such as Sharamentsa in Ecuador and Yocalla in Bolivia.

Sharamentsa operates a 12 kW battery bank that can create a microgrid. “A power supply centre is planned that allows the generation of value-added products, such as plant processing,” Peas said.

In Yocalla, the plan is to equip some 169 families with systems in December and then try to extend it to all of Potosí. But Montenegro pointed out that alliances are needed so that the beneficiaries can pay less. “In 2019 we will analyse the impact, if the families are satisfied with it, if they are comfortable,” she said.

This article was produced with support from the Climate and Land Use Alliance.

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Levelling the Playing Field for Persons with Disabilities in the United Stateshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/levelling-playing-field-persons-disabilities-individuals-united-states/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=levelling-playing-field-persons-disabilities-individuals-united-states http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/levelling-playing-field-persons-disabilities-individuals-united-states/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 12:10:55 +0000 Emily Thampoe http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157676 This article is part of a series of stories on disability inclusion.

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According to the United Nations “sport can help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with disability because it can transform community attitudes about persons with disabilities by highlighting their skills and reducing the tendency to see the disability instead of the person.” Courtesy: United Nations

By Emily Thampoe
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 19 2018 (IPS)

When it was time for Joe Lupinacci to graduate from his high school in Stamford, Connecticut, he knew he wanted to go to college. While other students were deciding which college to apply to, the choice required more thought and research on Lupinacci and his parents’ part. Lupinacci, who has Down Syndrome, needed a college that would meet his needs.

“I wanted to go to college and be like my older brother and have the college experience. I wanted to meet other people like me and learn how to be more independent,” the now 22-year-old tells IPS via email.

While it is common in the United States for public school districts to have special education programmes that offer educational support to disabled individuals, many universities only meet the minimum requirements of the country’s Disabilities Act. But there are currently at least 50 universities that go further and offer programmes and/or resources for students with disabilities.“I turned from a unfocused player who would skate around the rink touching every pane of glass to a player who got into the game and played like a man. Daredevils has helped me gain friendship." -- former New Jersey Daredevils player, Ryan Griffin.

The College Experience Programme (CEP) at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York is one of those programmes.

The CEP is a two-year residential, non-credit certificate programme hosted in partnership with Living Resources, a local organisation that helps people living with disabilities. While the programme is not a traditional one—it does not end in students earning a bachelor’s or associate’s degree—it allows students to focus on a career area that interests them. It also teaches students valuable skills that they can apply to their life, in parallel to the educational classes they take.

Lupinacci and his family learned of it through their own research and when CEP staff visited his high school’s college fair. After visiting the College of Saint Rose on several occasions, he and his family found it a great fit.

Colleen Dergosits, the coordinator of student life and admissions for the programme, tells IPS via email that its objective is to, “give students with developmental disabilities opportunities similar to their siblings and high-school peers.”

“Life skills are not taught in traditional college experience, these are often the skills people without disabilities take for granted in knowing. For those with a disability, when life skills are not naturally developed, it can hold back a person from being able to transition into a natural college atmosphere away from their family members or furthermore an independent life,” Dergosits says.

The CEP provides finance classes that help students understand how to make purchases in an effective way, how to split a bill between friends, and the importance of paying bills on time.

For Lupinacci, who entered the programme in 2015 and graduated in 2017, the CEP has given him skills and so much more.

“After going through the programme I made good friends. I learned to cook, clean and make decisions on my own,” he says. He also gained a new-found sense of independence.

With the programme’s “community involvement” component, students learn how to navigate their neighbourhood and attend off campus activities, and how to save money for those activities. These are all skills that many students on the programme may not have been exposed to before.

Learning through experience is imperative. Dergosits says that the CEP’s vocational courses are “invaluable.” “When the foundation of employment is broken down and taught, then supervised in a real world setting, our students are better prepared to hold employment on their own post-graduation,” she says. Students can learn what the workforce is like through interning and/or working at local businesses with assistance from an on-site job coach.

Dergosits and the rest of the staff have seen progress from the growing number of students they have worked with since the programme’s beginnings in 2005.

Students who previously kept to themselves and were reliant on familial support, have developed. They now have friends, can do household chores, travel independently and even have part-time jobs.

Lupinacci says he ended up going out quite often with his friends without adult supervision. “It was fun planning and going out with my friends with no adults. I went to many campus and off site sporting events that were really fun,” he shares.

Recreation is Key

While equal educational opportunities are important in the lives of disabled people, balance is also imperative.

Steve Ritter, a coach for the New Jersey Daredevils, a special needs ice hockey team for players of all ages, believes in the power of sports for disabled people.

“Sports helps them with social skills, which is lacking in this community. We make sure when we travel to places to play games that there is a place where they can get together and hang out,” he tells IPS.

According to a United Nations publication entitled Disability and Sports, “Sport can help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with disability because it can transform community attitudes about persons with disabilities by highlighting their skills and reducing the tendency to see the disability instead of the person.”

The team practices pretty much every Saturday during the year and also plays matches with other teams from all over the east coast. They also make an effort to have outside opportunities for the players to bond and create long-lasting friendships.

Ryan Griffin first joined the Daredevils in 2001 after trying several options to stimulate his mind. He was diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum when he was three and a half years old, and feels he has benefited from his involvement with the team.

“I turned from a unfocused player who would skate around the rink touching every pane of glass to a player who got into the game and played like a man. Daredevils has helped me gain friendship.

“I’ve learned about sportsmanship too, it’s not just about winning. Once I got to know all my teammates, we quickly bonded together as friends and we always will be there for each other like family,” Griffin, who is now 23, shares with IPS via email.

Griffin feels as though the experience he has had with the team has given him valuable life skills.

“Most importantly, Daredevils has taught me leadership. As team captain, I learned that leaders, like captains, should always lead by example. That means, trying to stay as positive as possible, even when things are not going the way they should be,” Griffin says.

In a world that has excluded disabled people from partaking in basic human needs such as education, the workforce, and being a part of a community, it is clear that programmes that encourage mental and social growth can be important in the life of a disabled person.

So while the CEP in Albany and the New Jersey Daredevils in New Jersey are both different localised experiences, they are examples of what communities should be doing in order to promote the inclusion and development of people with disabilities.

The post Levelling the Playing Field for Persons with Disabilities in the United States appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories on disability inclusion.

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UN Expects More Upheavals as Trump’s Foreign Policy Runs Wildhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-expects-upheavals-trumps-foreign-policy-runs-wild/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-expects-upheavals-trumps-foreign-policy-runs-wild http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-expects-upheavals-trumps-foreign-policy-runs-wild/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 10:22:26 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157674 The unpredictable Donald Trump, described by some as a human wrecking ball, will be walking down his own path of self-inflicted destruction when he visits the United Nations next week. The volatile American president’s unorthodox and reckless foreign policy has already reverberated throughout the United Nations: a $300 million reduction in funding to the UN […]

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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 Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 19 2018 (IPS)

The unpredictable Donald Trump, described by some as a human wrecking ball, will be walking down his own path of self-inflicted destruction when he visits the United Nations next week.

The volatile American president’s unorthodox and reckless foreign policy has already reverberated throughout the United Nations: a $300 million reduction in funding to the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) aiding Palestinians and a $69 million cut in funding, since last year, for the UN Population Agency (UNFPA), advancing reproductive health.

And there is widespread speculation that the United States will also initiate a General Assembly resolution later this year to reduce its assessed contributions to the world body – currently at 22 percent of the annual budget.

But that resolution may be adopted by the 193-member General Assembly if the US resorts to strong-arm tactics — as US Ambassador Nikki Haley once threatened to “take down names” and cut American aid to countries that voted for a resolution condemning US recognition of Jerusalem as the new Israeli capital.

Making his second visit to the United Nations on September 25 to address the 73rd session of the General Assembly and later to preside over a Security Council meeting, Trump is known to hold the UN in contempt ever since he called for the renegotiation of the 2015 Climate Change agreement which has been signed by 195 countries and ratified by 180.

In May, Trump also withdrew from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)– while all other signatories, including France, UK, Russia and China, (four of the five permanent members of the Security Council), plus Germany and the European Union (EU), refused to follow his destructive path.

And he once denounced the UN as just another “social club” – a remark made through sheer ignorance than a well-thought-out diplomatic pronouncement.

The world body is expecting more upheavals from an erratic political leader who has kept the international community guessing – not excluding the United Nations.

Norman Solomon, Executive Director of the Washington-based Institute for Public Accuracy, told IPS: “The world is too large, too diverse and too wondrous to have the foremost world body held hostage by the United States government. Trump’s jingoistic arrogance has dragged powerful discourse to new lows at the United Nations”.

The madness of Donald Trump, he pointed out, is shocking on a daily basis, but his administration is an extreme manifestation of what the UN has all too often tolerated in previous times, in more “moderate” forms from Washington.

“The time has come — the time is overdue — for the United Nations to clearly distinguish its operational missions from destructive agendas of the U.S. government,” said Solomon, Co-Founder and Coordinator of the online activist group RootsAction.org, which has 1.4 million active online members.

Meanwhile, as part of his contempt for the international trading system, Trump has threatened to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva as he continues to break trade agreements and impose unilateral tariffs.

Still, he has his adherents out there in Washington DC.

Stephen Moore, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, has proposed that Trump should receive the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics, since the much-coveted Nobel Peace Prize is far beyond his reach.

Writing in Investor’s Business Daily last week, Moore said Trump’s economic achievements have been overshadowed by reports regarding his erratic and “dangerous” behavior.

As his foreign policy runs wild, Trump also broke political ranks with the rest of the world when he decided to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in open violation of a Security Council resolution calling for the warring parties to decide on the future of the disputed city.

Trump triggered a global backlash last year when he singled out Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” eliciting protests from the 55-member African Union (AU).

Trump has also come under fire for his insulting statements that “all Haitians have AIDS” and Nigerians who visit the US “would never go back to their huts.”

But running notoriously true to form, he has reversed himself again and again — and denied making any of these statements, despite credible evidence.

Mouin Rabbani, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington DC told IPS that speculating on what issues President Trump will address at the United Nations, and how he will conduct himself, is a difficult task.

“Virtually the only thing that can be said with certainty is that he will once again put on a display of breathtaking vulgarity, will spew falsehoods with abandon (in many cases, it must be said, without having a clue that he is doing so), and will for these reasons be celebrated for unprecedented acts of heroism by his American and Israeli supporters,” he added

If Trump sticks to the script drafted by his handlers, which he may or may not do, the United States is expected to focus on its attempts to isolate Iran, he noted.

“It’s an interesting choice, given that the JCPOA is an international treaty that has been ratified by the UN Security Council, that Iran has repeatedly been judged to be in compliance with its JCPOA obligations, and that the United States in unilaterally renouncing its obligations under this treaty stands in open, willful violation of both international law and its obligations to the world body,” he pointed out.

Last week National Security Adviser John Bolton told the Federalist Society in Washington DC the Trump administration will push hard against any investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of US citizens (read: American soldiers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan) or allies (read: Israel accused of war crimes by the Palestinians) from “unjust prosecution by an illegitimate court.”

Meanwhile, Haley has already held out a threat on US funding for the UN when she said “We will remember it (the voting against the US) when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution (22 percent of the regular budget) to the United Nations”.

Solomon told IPS the U.S. government’s contempt for international law, humanitarian priorities and the United Nations as an institution has reached new overt heights during the Trump presidency.

“The destructive arrogance of Washington’s current policies, represented at the UN by Ambassador Nikki Haley, must be condemned and opposed.”

But governments should do more than directly push back against the dangerous militarism and implicit racism of the current U.S. administration. Members of the UN should also assess — and fundamentally change — the trajectory of the world body’s subservience to the U.S. government and its long-term consequences he noted.

During the last few decades, while several different individuals have been in the White House, the U.S. government has engaged in de facto bribery, blackmail and other devious methods to manipulate member states — sometimes using very heavy-handed tactics to induce members of the Security Council to endorse or at least not oppose the USA’s aggressive military actions and ongoing wars, said Solomon.

Most permanent and rotating members of the Security Council have too often served as silent partners, rubber stamps or outright complicit assistants to the U.S. government’s flagrant, destabilizing and deadly violations of international law.

Yet the undue efforts to go along with Washington’s policies during the last several decades have disfigured the noble ideals of the United Nations — all too often twisting them into rationalizations for enabling the United States to claim the UN’s acquiescence, he declared.

Rabbani told IPS “Perhaps more interesting than Trump’s ramblings at the General Assembly will be his presiding over a session of the UNSC, over which the US holds the presidency this month.”

Watching Trump preside over a UN Security Council session, which includes an obligation to respect its procedures etc. will be a sight to behold. It’s entirely possible that he will open the session with an offer to remodel the building on the basis of one of his special discounts, and request that his fellow UNSC members adopt a resolution to dismiss Special Counsel Robert Mueller, said Rabbani.

If he does stick to script, and insists on pursuing the Iran agenda, one can think of a number of UNSC members that will provide pointed responses to the US position, and these may include US allies as well.

There appears to be a growing realisation that the US agenda is not limited to individual objectives such as the destruction of the JCPOA or ensuring permanent Israeli supremacy over the Palestinian people, but rather has a core objective the dismantling of international institutions, particularly those concerned with international law, and replacing these with naked power, primarily US and Israeli, as the arbiter of international affairs.

This agenda, he said, also helps further explain recent funding decisions taken by Washington vis-a-vis UN institutions such as UNRWA, though there are clear ideological factors at play as well.

“If Trump does come in for serious criticism at the UN, and particularly the UNSC, we should expect Washington to take further measures to seek to marginalise, de-fund, and render impotent the world body and its various agencies.”

“What we recently witnessed with respect to UNRWA and the ICC may prove to be just a precursor to what is coming,” warned Rabbani.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

The post UN Expects More Upheavals as Trump’s Foreign Policy Runs Wild appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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