Five years ago, at the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations, world leaders adopted the ambitious Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The Agenda was to be accomplished through the achievement of 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030: eradicating poverty, ending hunger, addressing climate change – just to name a few.
Crises, as the one we saw across the US and Mexico last week originated by Winter Storm Uri, provide ample material for reflection. This is particularly clear from a distant viewpoint and when benefitting from the fact of not being directly affected, as strong emotions and reactions that often bias our judgements are absent.
Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador quietly rocked the agribusiness world with his New Year’s Eve decree to phase out use of the herbicide glyphosate and the cultivation of genetically modified corn. His administration sent an even stronger aftershock two weeks later, clarifying that the government would also phase out GM corn imports in three years and the ban would include not just corn for human consumption but yellow corn destined primarily for livestock. Under NAFTA, the United States has seen a 400% increase in corn exports to Mexico, the vast majority genetically modified yellow dent corn.
Every harvest season, Susan Zinoro, a mango farmer from Mutoko, Zimbabwe, buries half the mangoes she’s grown that season. They have already started rotting either on the tree or have fallen to the ground before harvest. It’s a difficult task for Zinoro because she knows she is throwing away food and income meant for her family.
The forest is the main resource in the Chaco, a vast plain shared by Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. And how to use it sustainably is the most difficult question. Two recently inaugurated power plants fired by forest biomass provide a possible answer, although they are not free of controversy.
17 February - African smallholder farmers have no choice but to adapt to climate change: 2020 was the second hottest year on record, while prolonged droughts and explosive floods are directly threatening the livelihoods of millions. By the 2030s, lack of rainfall and rising temperatures could render 40 percent of Africa’s maize-growing area unsuitable for climate-vulnerable varieties grown by farmers, while maize remains the preferred and affordable staple food for millions of Africans who survive on less than a few dollars of income a day.
On Sunday morning, Feb. 7, as most of the working-class in India’s Himalayan State of Uttarakhand went about their chores, the glacier-fed Rishi Ganga river started rising. Two hours later, swollen with rock debris and snowmelt, its waters rose 53 feet — the height equivalent of a five-storey building.
Raju Pandit Chhetri is one of the most acclaimed climate change policy experts in Nepal and South Asia. As Director of the Prakiriti Resource Centre, an action focused think tank based in Kathmandu, Pandit Cheetri shares his opinion on the latest climate focused policies being undertaken by the Government of Nepal, especially the 2nd Nationally Determined Contribution NDC that was recently submitted by the Government.
The armed conflict in Yemen which has lasted six years, has killed and injured over thousands of civilians
, displaced more than one million people
and given rise to cholera outbreaks, medicine shortages and threats of famine. By the end of 2019, it is estimated that over 233,000
Yemenies have been killed as a result of fighting and the humanitarian crisis. With nearly two-thirds of its population requiring food assistance, Yemen is also experiencing the world's worst food security crisis
. The United Nations
has called the humanitarian crisis in Yemen “the worst in the world”.
“As we enter 2021, education must be at the core of pandemic response and recovery efforts,” says António Gutteres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his interview with Education Cannot Wait (ECW) for this monthly issue, reminding us that “upholding our pledge to leave no one behind starts with education.”
President Joseph Biden of the United states and President Vladimir Putin of Russia vide a telephone talk have agreed to extend the New Start treaty beyond the expiry date of 5th February of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or New-START by another five years. By ageing to do so, President Biden was reversing the decision of his predecessor, President Donald Trump. It is actually the only remaining agreement that curtails US and Russian nuclear forces.
Education Cannot Wait’s interview with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, focused on the crucial role of education in the lives of crisis-affected children and youth, follows below.
ECW: Why is education a priority in emergencies and protracted crises?
: The COVID-19 pandemic has upended societies and created the largest-ever disruption of education systems, affecting more than 1.5 billion students. While remote solutions were rolled out, 1 in 3 children missed out on such opportunities, exposing and exacerbating inequalities and vulnerabilities, especially for those in crisis situations. In such circumstances, education protects girls and boys from sexual violence and exploitation, trafficking, early pregnancy and child marriage, forced recruitment into armed groups and child labour. It also ensures that they continue learning, offering them hope for the future. As we enter 2021, education must be at the core of pandemic response and recovery efforts. Without resolute political commitment by global leaders, as well as additional resources for Education Cannot Wait, and its UN and civil society partners, millions of girls and boys may never return to school. Investing in the education of these vulnerable children and youth is an investment in peace, prosperity and resilience for generations to come – and a priority for the United Nations.[related_articles]
In December 2020, the “El Aromo” solar energy project was approved in coastal Manabí province, Ecuador. Operated by the Spanish company Solarpack, the project is expected to transform national solar output. El Aromo will occupy 2.9km2 of land that was previously cleared to build a multi-billion dollar oil refinery, plans that have since been abandoned. While El Aromo holds symbolic significance, it remains uncertain whether the project will mark a significant step toward more environmentally sustainable energy development in Ecuador.
Mexico is seeking to mitigate water shortages in part of its extensive territory by resorting to seawater, through the expansion of desalination plants. But this solution has exorbitant costs and significant environmental impacts.
Most beginnings are rocky and sometimes the obstacles seem insurmountable, before they are finally overcome. This was certainly the case for the Finca Marta, a farm in Cuba that had to begin by digging a well in search of water and with the hard-scrabble work of clearing an arid, stony and overgrown plot of land.
Looking back upon 2020, we all bear the scars of a devastating year; none so much as girls and boys around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted education for over 1.6 billion children and youth globally and continues to do so. It has also deepened socio-economic inequities and heightened insecurities around the world, further impacting the lives of girls and boys everywhere. Ongoing, protracted conflicts, forced displacement and the worsening climate crisis were no less forgiving.
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) - the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises – was on the ground in Burkina Faso last week with its Director, Yasmine Sherif, to launch a new multi-year programme that aims to provide an education to over 800,000 children and adolescents in crisis-affected areas.
A deadly pandemic to control. An urgent nationwide vaccination programme to roll out. An economic crisis to navigate. Political divisions and distrust deep enough to spark mob violence and terrorism.
A war-mongering president, with his finger on the nuclear trigger--- and who threatened to attack North Korea and Iran-- was unceremoniously drummed out of office on January 20.
Many of us around the world breathed a sigh of relief yesterday (Jan 20) as the ‘nuclear football
’ (the briefcase with nuclear weapons codes and communication links for the President to launch a nuclear attack) was passed from Mr Trump to President Biden, as the new president was inaugurated.
A government-backed coalition of international advisors to the Belt and Road Initiative
(BRI) has recommended that China apply more stringent environmental controls over its overseas investments. If adopted, this would be a major departure from China’s usual approach of deferring to host country rules, many of them inadequate, for regulating its overseas investments.