Inter Press ServiceRegional Categories – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 23 Oct 2018 09:14:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Parliamentarians Promote Youth Investment in Kazakhstanhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/parliamentarians-promote-youth-investment-kazakhstan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=parliamentarians-promote-youth-investment-kazakhstan http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/parliamentarians-promote-youth-investment-kazakhstan/#respond Tue, 23 Oct 2018 06:56:18 +0000 Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158309 Parliamentarians from 36 countries met this weekend in Astana, Kazakhstan, to discuss the future of youth in Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. The gathering called “International Conference on Investing on Youth: Leaving No One Behind” took place on the Oct. 19 to 20, and the goal was to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), […]

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Kazakhstan boys swim in muddy water of Syr Darya river. Parliamentarians from Kazakhstan are advocating for youth employment opportunities, healthcare services, and educational possibilities at a regional, national and global level. Credit: Ninara/CC By 2.0

By Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 23 2018 (IPS)

Parliamentarians from 36 countries met this weekend in Astana, Kazakhstan, to discuss the future of youth in Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. The gathering called “International Conference on Investing on Youth: Leaving No One Behind” took place on the Oct. 19 to 20, and the goal was to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set by the United Nations, with regards to youth.

Keizo Takemi, Member of Parliament (MP) from Japan and chair of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD), told IPS: “We would like to reach a broad consensus among the participants that investment in youth is a core part of the investment of human capital.”

Kazakhstan and the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) have long been concerned with the future of youth in Asian countries. Parliamentarians from the region have turned to this issue, advocating for youth employment opportunities, healthcare services, and educational possibilities at a regional, national and global level.

Given that 60 percent of the world’s youth lives in Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, their concern with youth is justified. According to World Bank data, the majority of young people in these regions is literate, and healthy. Thus, the parliamentarians at Astana focused mainly on three issues: healthcare information and access, civil participation and increased employment opportunities for the youth.

Two hundred participants attended the conference at the Rixos President Astana Hotel. The two-day event was organised by the Parliament of Kazakhstan, the ministry of social development in Kazakhstan and the APDA, funded by the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) through the Japan Trust Fund.

Event’s agenda

Of the 200 participants that attended the conference, 90 were from Kazakhstan and 110 from abroad. Among them, there were parliamentarians, international experts and representatives from U.N agencies, NGOs, academia and the private sector.

The two-day event opened with the remarks of G. I. Issimbayeva, deputy chairperson of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and closed with Takemi and Issimbayeva’s comments.

During the conference, there were four main sessions which included panels. The first three sessions took place on Friday. The first one focused on education and employment, featuring speakers such as Ato Brown, World Bank country manager, and Madina Abylkasymova, from the ministry of labour and social protection of population in Kazakhstan.

The second one talked about health, with speakers like Keizo Takemi and Soyoltuya Bayaraa, from UNFPA. The last session of the day concentrated on youth participation in civil, political and social affairs, with representatives such as Tatyana Lebedeva, Russia’s MP, and Bakhtyar Maken, Republic of Kazakhstan’s MP.

Finally, the fourth session occurred on Saturday, and it dealt with opportunities for youth in globalisation, with Vitalie Vremis U.N. Development Programme as moderator.

Takemi, Chairman at AFPPD, talked at the conference on improving universal access to health information and services for youth. He shared with IPS his thoughts on how health relates to gender. “There are many gender-related issues on investment in youth and in access to healthcare services. We, at AFPPD, have always kept a comprehensive framework on population related issues, including gender empowerment, investment in youth and active ageing,” he said.

UNFPA is another crucial organiser of the meeting. It has supported the region’s parliamentarians in investing in youth, by raising awareness through gatherings. In 2016 UNFPA, AFPPD and APDA launched the “G7: Global Conference of Parliamentarians on Population and Development,” where the participants committed to improve quality of education and health services, employment and gender equality among the youth.

All these issues remain intertwined, explained Takemi. “Each building block is related to each other. Therefore, when we highlight investment in youth, simultaneously we must take into account gender and ageing.”

No one left behind – including the youth

These gatherings aim to advance the SDGs and translate them to the national context. “The SDGs means that no one is left behind. That broad consensus can be the basis on which many MPs bridge national boundaries,” stated Takemi.

Specifically, the “International Conference on Investing on Youth” wanted to increase awareness of the need for a cross-sectoral and inter-ministerial approach to resolve the problems identified by the parliamentarians.

It also aimed to include policies related to the youth in their implementation of the SDGs at a national level. Those policies would vary depending on the country and the overall situation of their youth. With the World Bank’s Human Capital Project, countries can keep track of their youth’s needs. Takemi said: “I really hope the heads of the states recognise where they are through resources of the human capital through the World Bank.”

But one type of policy is not enough. A multilateral approach is needed. Takemi stated: “In order to achieve SDGs by 2030 we should have cross sectoral policy concept. Each goal and target can’t be achieved by isolated players and sectors.” He continued: “Investment in youth, education, vocational training, employment policies should be combined through a cross-sectoral conceptual framework, such as investment in human capital.”

Takemi concluded: “I myself recognise investment in youth should be the core of the investment in human capital.”

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Despite Progress, Over 200 Million Women Still Waiting for Modern Contraceptionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/despite-progress-200-million-women-still-waiting-modern-contraception/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=despite-progress-200-million-women-still-waiting-modern-contraception http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/despite-progress-200-million-women-still-waiting-modern-contraception/#respond Tue, 23 Oct 2018 06:25:14 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158308 The international community will be commemorating two milestones in the history of population and development next year: the 50th anniversary of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the 25th anniversary of a Programme of Action (PoA) adopted at the1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. “Let’s use these important benchmarks to launch […]

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End Child Marriage. Credit: UNFPA

By Thalif Deen
OTTAWA, Canada, Oct 23 2018 (IPS)

The international community will be commemorating two milestones in the history of population and development next year: the 50th anniversary of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the 25th anniversary of a Programme of Action (PoA) adopted at the1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.

“Let’s use these important benchmarks to launch accelerated action – together. Starting here in Ottawa,” UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem told a gathering of over 150 parliamentarians from more than 60 countries who were meeting in the Canadian capital to review the progress made in several key socio-economic issues on the UN agenda, including reproductive health, maternal and infant mortality, family planning, female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, women’s empowerment and gender equality.

She said this is a time to reflect on some fundamental questions.

“Have we done justice to the vision that world leaders articulated nearly 25 years ago in Cairo? What have we achieved? Where is progress lagging? For whom? Why is it that life-saving sexual and reproductive health and rights interventions come into question time and again?,”

She pointed out that the world has made great progress in recent decades, as reflected in impressive declines in maternal deaths and child marriage rates.

Fewer women around the world are dying in pregnancy and childbirth. More women are using modern contraception. More girls are in school.

“Yet, more than 200 million women and girls are still waiting for modern contraception. And every year, there are still nearly 100 million unintended pregnancies,” said Dr Kanem.

And over 300,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth every year while tens of thousands of girls continue to be married off every day—in child marriages. And the global epidemic of violence against women and girls, including the violence of female genital mutilation (FGM) persists, she warned.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Canadian Minister of International Development, who played a key role in hosting the Parliamentarians’ Conference, which concluded October 23, said her country is committed to lead the discussion on gender equality– and welcomes the present conference as a key stepping stone towards hosting the “Women Deliver Conference” in 2019.

“Canada firmly believes that if we want to maximize the impact of our actions and help eradicate poverty, we must passionately defend gender equality and the rights of women and girls so they can participate fully in society,” she added.

To this end, Canada has fully committed itself to mobilizing global support for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls.

Both are key commitments in Canada’s “Feminist International Assistance Policy”.

As a vibrant discussion followed, Martha Lucia Micher, a parliamentarian from Mexico,
drove home the point that “women’s bodies were being politicized”.

Senator Catherine Noone of Ireland said some of those who opposed legalizing abortions in her country offered a convoluted theory that men will resort to more sex if abortion was made legal.

Dr Kanem said it was an outrage that so many women and girls have so few choices.

“Let’s turn outrage into action. Choice can change the world! Let’s expand rights and choices for all. This is key to gender equality and the only way to advance the ICPD and 2030 agendas.”

Meanwhile, UNFPA has its own ambitious aims for the 2030 deadline of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
• Zero unmet need for family planning,
• Zero preventable maternal deaths and
• Zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls (including child marriage and female genital mutilation).

“And our actions towards these three zeros will be grounded in quality population data and evidence.”

“The 2020 census round is an important piece of this puzzle, and we are ramping up our preparations. When everyone is counted, we can identify and reach those still being left behind. That includes millions of women and girls,” she added.

Paying a tribute to parliamentarians, she said: “Your commitment to the principles and goals of the ICPD Programme of Action paves the way for further progress. Your defense of human rights, including reproductive rights; of gender equality; public participation and democratic principles is vital.”

“As parliamentarians, you have the power to transform the voices of your people into concrete action. You have the power to make a real difference. I appeal to you to protect the precious mandate that you share with UNFPA. Our women, girls and young people deserve no less,” she declared.

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Honduran Migrant Caravan Moves Northwards, Defying all Obstacleshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/honduran-migrant-caravan-moves-northwards-defying-obstacles/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=honduran-migrant-caravan-moves-northwards-defying-obstacles http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/honduran-migrant-caravan-moves-northwards-defying-obstacles/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 23:17:39 +0000 Daniela Pastrana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158301 A long chain of people is winding its way along the highways of Chiapas, the southernmost Mexican state. It is moving fast, despite the fact that one-third of its ranks are made up of children, and it has managed to avoid the multiple obstacles that the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and now Mexico, under pressure […]

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In the central park of the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, a camp was improvised, where thousands of migrants stopped to rest and wash before proceeding to the border with the United States, 2,000 kilometres away. People of all ages, entire families and many children are part of the caravan that began its desperate trek on Oct. 13 in Honduras. Credit: Javier García/IPS

In the central park of the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, a camp was improvised, where thousands of migrants stopped to rest and wash before proceeding to the border with the United States, 2,000 kilometres away. People of all ages, entire families and many children are part of the caravan that began its desperate trek on Oct. 13 in Honduras. Credit: Javier García/IPS

By Daniela Pastrana
TAPACHULA, Mexico, Oct 22 2018 (IPS)

A long chain of people is winding its way along the highways of Chiapas, the southernmost Mexican state. It is moving fast, despite the fact that one-third of its ranks are made up of children, and it has managed to avoid the multiple obstacles that the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and now Mexico, under pressure from the United States, have thrown up in a vain effort to stop it.

Every attempt to make it shrink seems to have the opposite effect. And on Monday Oct. 22, some 7,000 Central Americans, most of them Hondurans, kept walking northward, in defiance of U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning to do everything possible to “stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing” the U.S.-Mexico border."This is giving rise to something like a trail of ants, and we don't know where it's going to end…We're going to be seeing mass exoduses much more similar to those we see from Africa to Europe." -- Quique Vidal Olascoaga

The caravan that set out from San Pedro Sula, in northern Honduras, in the early hours of Oct. 13, has put the migration policy of the entire region in check. Trump took it up as the campaign theme for the Nov. 6 mid-term elections, and via Twitter, threatened Honduras with immediate withdrawal of any financial aid.

“People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first and if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away,” Trump tweeted.

The caravan isn’t stopping. In nine days it has travelled a little more than 700 kilometres to reach Tapachula, a city of 300,000 inhabitants, close to the border, which has welcomed the migrants’ arrival with food, beverages and encouraging messages.

Groups of activists and human rights defenders are preparing to meet them in different parts of the country. “This is not a caravan, it’s an exodus,” say migrant advocates.

There is still a long road ahead, however. The migrants still have 2,000 kilometres to go before reaching the nearest Mexican-U.S. border crossing, in an area governed by criminal groups, which have made migrant smuggling one of the country’s most lucrative businesses.

In addition, the Mexican government has threatened to detain them if they leave Chiapas, where local legislation allows them to be in transit with few requirements because it is a border zone.

But none of this has prevented new groups of migrants from arriving every day to join the caravan.

The number of children in the arms of their parents is striking, as they walk kilometre after kilometer, cross rivers and border barriers, or wait for hours in crowded, unsanitary conditions, in suffocating temperatures.

The stories they tell are heartbreaking.

A line of more than five kilometres of migrants walked on Sunday, Oct 21, from Ciudad Hidalgo to Tapachula, 40 kilometers inside the state of Chiapas, in southern Mexico. There are 2,000 kilometres left to the U.S.-Mexico border, along a route that is partly controlled by organised crime groups. Credit: Javier García/IPS

A line of more than five kilometres of migrants walked on Sunday, Oct 21, from Ciudad Hidalgo to Tapachula, 40 kilometers inside the state of Chiapas, in southern Mexico. There are 2,000 kilometres left to the U.S.-Mexico border, along a route that is partly controlled by organised crime groups. Credit: Javier García/IPS

“We don’t have a job, we don’t have medicine, we have nothing in our country, we can’t even afford to eat properly. I want to get to the United States to raise my children,” Ramón Rodríguez, a man from San Pedro Sula who arrived with his whole family to the Guatemalan-Mexican border on Oct. 17, told IPS in tears.

In the last decade, human rights organisations and journalists have documented the massive displacement of Central Americans toward the southern border of Mexico, and have repeatedly warned of a humanitarian crisis that is being ignored.

In 2016, the Global Report on Internal Displacement, published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, devoted a special section to an emerging phenomenon of displacement in Mexico and the countries of the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador).

In May 2017, Médecins Sans Frontières presented the report “Forced to Flee Central America’s Northern Triangle: A Neglected Humanitarian Crisis”, in which it warned of an exodus, caused above all by criminal violence in the region.

The Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, which has organised 14 caravans of mothers of migrants who have disappeared in Mexican territory, has also described the situation in the Northern Triangle as a “humanitarian tragedy”.

The violence, along with precarious labour and economic conditions, skyrocketed a few days ago when the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez announced hikes in the electricity rates.

According to versions given by Hondurans who arrived in Mexico, it was Bartolo Fuentes, a pastor and former legislator who has participated in several caravans in Mexico, who launched the call for a collective march to the United States.

They were to gather in the Great Metropolitan Central bus station in San Pedro Sula. Around one thousand people showed up.

Hundreds of Mexicans mobilised to help Central American migrants, many giving rides in their cars and trucks to members of the caravan, to ease their journey to Tapachula, where other supportive residents provided them with food and beverages. Credit: Javier García/IPS

Hundreds of Mexicans mobilised to help Central American migrants, many giving rides in their cars and trucks to members of the caravan, to ease their journey to Tapachula, where other supportive residents provided them with food and beverages. Credit: Javier García/IPS

“Many of us thought that in a group it was easier and safer, because we know that going through Mexico is dangerous,” a member of the caravan who asked for anonymity told IPS. “Later, messages began to arrive through Whatsapp (the instant messaging network), and people began to organise to flee the country,” he said.

By Oct. 15, another group had organised in Choluteca, in southern Honduras, and yet another in Tegucigalpa.

The Honduran government tried to close the border crossings, but was unable to stop some 3,000 people from leaving the country and crossing Guatemala. The detention and deportation of Pastor Fuentes did not stop them either. On Oct. 17, the caravan arrived in the city of Tecún Umán, on the border with Mexico.

The Mexican government had stepped up security at the border and the caravan was stranded on the bridge that joins the two countries. Desperation set in: on Oct. 19, the migrants crossed the police cordon and were dispersed with tear gas.

Faced with media pressure, the Mexican authorities offered “orderly passage” for groups of 30 to 40 people who were to take the steps to apply for refuge.

But it was actually a ruse, because the migrants were taken to an immigration station where they must stay 45 days, and have no guarantees of the regularisation of their immigration status.

The border bridge became a refugee camp, without humanitarian assistance from either government. The only thing the Guatemalan government provided were buses for those who wanted to “voluntarily” return to their country.

Exhausted, many decided to turn around, the disappointment plain to see on their faces.

However, the bulk of the caravan made the decision to swim or raft across the Suchiate River.

For more than 24 hours, images of thousands of people crossing the river circled the world, while other groups of migrants continued to arrive at the border to join the caravan that today numbers more than 7,000 people, according to human rights groups.

Some activists believe that, because of its size and the form it has taken, this caravan could fundamentally change migratory movements in Central America, with people increasingly turning to a new strategy of migrating in huge groups.

“This is giving rise to something like a trail of ants, and we don’t know where it’s going to end,” Quique Vidal Olascoaga, an activist with the organisation Voces Mesoamericanas, told IPS. “We’re going to be seeing mass exoduses much more similar to those we see from Africa to Europe.”

With reporting by Rodrigo Soberanes and Angeles Mariscal, from various places in the state of Chiapas.

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Supporting Morocco’s Quest to Close USD24 Billion Green Investment Gaphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/supporting-moroccos-quest-close-usd24-billion-green-investment-gap/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=supporting-moroccos-quest-close-usd24-billion-green-investment-gap http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/supporting-moroccos-quest-close-usd24-billion-green-investment-gap/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 14:48:00 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158295 Friday Phiri interviews NICOLE PERKINS, the GGGI country representative in Morocco

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Morocco has in recent years emerged as a continental leader in terms of modelling green growth. Credit:Celso Flores/CC By 2.0

By Friday Phiri
PEMBA, Zambia, Oct 22 2018 (IPS)

Science has increasingly made it clear that the world is on an unsustainable growth model where economic development is occurring at the expense of the environment. The need for a well-balanced approach has therefore become a necessity rather than a luxury.

The green growth model, according to experts, is seen as having the required balanced approach that fosters economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which people’s well-being relies.

While Morocco has in recent years emerged as a continental leader in terms of modelling green growth, the country has an estimated green investment gap of USD24 billion.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), an international treaty-based organisation that assists countries develop a green growth model, is actively supporting initiatives to help the North African country close this gap and transition to a green economy.

IPS had an opportunity to speak to Nicole Perkins, the GGGI country representative in Morocco on the specific aspects of support being offered, and how it relates to the green growth model being spearheaded by GGGI. Excerpts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): The government of Morocco has requested technical support from GGGI to support the transition to a green economy. The design of the project is dedicated to the development of inclusive green territories in order to contribute to Morocco’s goal of a national overall GHG emission reduction target of 42 percent below business-as-usual (BAU) emissions by 2030, and contribute to the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target of closing the green investment gap of USD24 billion in conditional investments. Could you briefly shade more light on this project?

Nicole Perkins (NP): GGGI’s work in Morocco provides technical support to accompany the implementation of the National Sustainable Development Strategy, aimed at promoting a green, inclusive, integrated and sustainable development model at the territorial (regional) level, and the realisation of Morocco’s NDC number 9, which is to develop a model, low-carbon city centred on optimised energy, transport and waste management.

Our support focuses on the development of policies and incentives, identification and design of bankable projects, and assistance in mobilising funding for their implementation, in alignment with the advanced regionalisation process adopted by the Kingdom of Morocco.

On Oct. 23, 2017, GGGI and the Moroccan government signed in Rabat, a Memorandum of Understanding during a workshop they co-organised on the theme: green growth and development of the green territories in Morocco.

In June 2018, GGGI Morocco received two official letters requesting technical support from both the ministry of interior and the secretary of state for transport, for a total of eight measures in the areas of increasing sub-national access to climate finance, and sustainable mobility, which provides a solid focus for the 2019-2020 programme.

Nicole Perkins, the GGGI country representative in Morocco. Courtesy: Nicole Perkins

IPS: The general thematic area of support is green cities and territories. Could you explain in some detail, the concepts of green cities and territories? What are they, and how do they relate to the green growth model? 

NP: For GGGI, green cities are:

• Innovative and smart: This implies cities that provide a unique environment and an opportunity for innovation, through technology, information, communication and good governance – and the synthesis of these.

• Resource-efficient and based on circular economies: Waste-to-resource and circular economy to lower resource footprints. They are transformational and creative: they decouple growth from resource use.

• Climate smart and resilient: In pursuing low-carbon pathways in support of the Paris Agreement, and underpinned by resilient infrastructure, systems and communities.

• Inclusive and pro-poor: Green cities must provide livelihood opportunities beyond BAU. They are pro-poor, ‘connected’, accessible, and provide affordable solutions for all.

• Healthy and liveable: With an improved quality of life, cleaner air and accessible green spaces.

• Prosperous and bankable: Cities that are competitive, create opportunity and are attractive for (new) investment.

Green territories can be geographically defined as a region or province that inclusively encompass both the urban and rural populations. They leverage the characteristics of green cities and ensure healthy linkages between the urban and rural components in terms of access to economic opportunities and sustainable services such as transport, waste, water, energy, education and health.

IPS: Aside from the key strategic outcome of greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, the project aims to achieve, among others, green jobs, sustainable services, air quality, ecosystem services, and enhanced adaptation to climate change. Briefly explain how the project intends to achieve these targeted outcomes?

NP: The programme aims to increase access to climate and green growth finance; strengthen national institutional capacity to develop policy in the transport/mobility sector; accelerate national and sub-national investments in the National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS), NDCs, and Sustainable Development Goals; and improve the enabling environment in the territories in order to catalyse pro-poor, pro-youth, inclusive, and gender-sensitive investments in environmental goods and services. To achieve these outcomes, GGGI in Morocco is focusing on: supporting the design, implementation and operationalisation of a multi-sectoral National Financing Vehicle, its institutional framework, capacity building, and mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation.

This will contribute to the NDC target of closing the green investment gap of USD24 billion in conditional investments and contribute to Morocco’s goal of a national overall GHG emission reduction target of 42 percent below BAU emissions by 2030.

Regarding the transport and mobility sector, GGGI is providing policy advice and project development services to increase access to sustainable transport and mobility, transition to green transport/mobility, and support the implementation of the National Sustainable Mobility Roadmap, contributing to the NDC target of 23 percent energy savings in the transport sector by 2030.

At a sub-national level, GGGI support is to catalyse the development of Morocco’s inclusive green territories and support the Regional Project Execution Agencies in selectively and strategically developing a pipeline of bankable, sustainable, inclusive and scalable projects in order to attract investments into Environmental Goods and Services and transition to a low carbon economy, contributing among others to Morocco’s NSDS target of 23 percent energy savings in the transport sector by 2030; 20 percent recycled materials rate by 2020; 50 percent wastewater reuse rate in inland cities by 2020; 60 percent wastewater treatment rate by 2020.

IPS:  What financing model have you used to raise funds for the project? Is it a wholly public financed project or a mixture? This comes on the back drop that Green cities—the roads, pavements, street lights are all public sector and are owned by governments not the private sector. 

NP: GGGI Morocco has been building ties with in-country priority donors and conducted comprehensive partner and donor consultations on a national level, which provide the foundation for the 2019 – 2020 biennial country programme. Both GGGI and Morocco’s various donors and international financing institution partners have indicated interest in supporting the government of Morocco’s requests for technical support and GGGI’s efforts to assist Morocco in implementing its NSDS territorial approach to transitioning to inclusive green growth. The structuring of project financing, and avenues for partner involvement and contribution is currently in process.

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Excerpt:

Friday Phiri interviews NICOLE PERKINS, the GGGI country representative in Morocco

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Solar Power Lights up the World’s Fastest-Growing Refugee Camphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/solar-power-lights-worlds-fastest-growing-refugee-camp/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=solar-power-lights-worlds-fastest-growing-refugee-camp http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/solar-power-lights-worlds-fastest-growing-refugee-camp/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 12:32:49 +0000 Dr Iftikher Mahmood http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158293 Dr Iftikher Mahmood is Founder and President, HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh

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Credit: HOPE Foundation

By Dr Iftikher Mahmood
DHAKA, Bangladesh, Oct 22 2018 (IPS)

Solar energy has long powered homes, businesses and portable electronics. Now, it’s powering a field hospital in the middle of the world’s fastest-growing refugee camp.

Last month, my organization, the HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh, opened the HOPE Field Hospital for Women in the Kutupalong mega-camp for Rohingya refugees.

Here, the population density is five times above the United Nations’ recommended standard for refugee camps, and there is a dire need for more health services among this vulnerable community.

UN Women estimates that more than half of the refugee population are women and girls—and UNFPA has estimated over 64,000 pregnant women will give birth this year—many of whom have been traumatized and are suffering from injuries caused by fires, brutality, rape, gunshots, and more.

The HOPE Field Hospital for Women is the first to be opened by a Bangladeshi NGO, and the only hospital in the camp that specializes in care for women. But there is another important distinction that we are equally proud of: our field hospital is significantly powered by solar energy, at a scale not seen anywhere else in the camps.

Credit: HOPE Foundation

Solar power is unique in its ability to be brought into remote areas, to be pollution free, and to scale easily. Before the new solar installations, there were numerous times when a lack of power put women and children at risk.

One example is during the recent monsoon season, when our midwives found themselves providing care in the dark after flooding brought power outages. They worked in the conditions they had to, but as you would imagine, they were quite concerned that in the dark they might make a mistake that could harm mother or the baby. But, when a mother goes into labor, you can’t exactly tell a baby to wait for the lights to come back on.

It’s not just monsoons that cause loss of power. The hot, humid conditions in southern Bangladesh are often responsible for disruptions to the electrical service.

This is another reason why it was important to HOPE to make sure that solar energy played a key role in powering our new facility. A generous donation from the family foundation of 8minutenergy Renewables’ CEO, called the Abundant Future Foundation, helped us do just that. Five solar-powered clinics, custom-built by SOLARKIOSK in Germany, now power our field hospital’s most important and power-dependent services.

They’re ensuring that labor and delivery rooms stay well lit, that our sterilization units maintain power and that our medications and vaccinations remain refrigerated at the appropriate temperature. We’ve also incorporated solar into other areas of the hospital power grid, using this technology to fuel our indoor lighting as well as lighting around the perimeter of the hospital.

Credit: HOPE Foundation

Now, our midwives won’t have to worry about delivering in the dark. And babies who need incubators and specialized care will stay safe and warm.

Nearly one million Rohingya refugees have crossed the border to Bangladesh since the Rohingya influx began a little over a year ago.

This is the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crisis. The last thing any aid organization wants to have to worry about is loss of power during an operation or a life-saving intervention.

Solar will be a game-changer for our ability to provide high-quality, uninterrupted care, and there is room for growth in this area. Other organizations have utilized solar power on a smaller scale in the camps. For example, UNFPA has distributed solar-powered LED lights to all of the health facilities in the camps that are open 24/7.

But investment in renewable energy on a larger scale could provide a tremendous payoff in terms of lives saved here in Bangladesh, and in refugee camps around the globe. In Jordan last year, UNHCR opened a solar plant in the Za’atari refugee camp, which supports 80,000 Syrian refugees.

In Kenya, you’ll find Africa’s largest solar-powered borehole, providing clean drinking water for refugees in the Dadaab camp in the country’s arid northern border. Renewable energy is good for the planet and the pocketbook, too, reducing emissions and saving precious dollars that aid organizations can apply toward providing critical services and procuring medicines, materials and staff to help alleviate suffering.

The HOPE Field Hospital for Women is the first facility to apply solar technology at such a scale in the Rohingya camps. Hopefully we’re just the first of many.

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Excerpt:

Dr Iftikher Mahmood is Founder and President, HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh

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DEWA pushes efforts for safe sustainable energy on World Energy Day 2018http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/dewa-pushes-efforts-safe-sustainable-energy-world-energy-day-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dewa-pushes-efforts-safe-sustainable-energy-world-energy-day-2018 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/dewa-pushes-efforts-safe-sustainable-energy-world-energy-day-2018/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 09:08:46 +0000 WAM http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158319 Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is encouraging organisations and individuals in the UAE to use electricity and water responsibly, promote efficiency and sustainability of energy and increase the share of clean and renewable energy. DEWA called for this on World Energy Day, which takes place every 22nd October. This supports the nation’s efforts to […]

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Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is encouraging organisations and individuals in the UAE to use electricity and water responsibly, promote efficiency and sustainability of energy and increase the share of clean and renewable energy. DEWA called for this on World Energy Day, which takes place every 22nd October. This supports the nation’s efforts to protect the environment and natural resources, reduce the carbon footprint, and promote a sustainable green future for generations to come.

By WAM
DUBAI, Oct 22 2018 (WAM)

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is encouraging organisations and individuals in the UAE to use electricity and water responsibly, promote efficiency and sustainability of energy and increase the share of clean and renewable energy.

DEWA called for this on World Energy Day, which takes place every 22nd October. This supports the nation’s efforts to protect the environment and natural resources, reduce the carbon footprint, and promote a sustainable green future for generations to come.

World Energy Day is an initiative that was endorsed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and adopted by 54 countries, in addition to the United Nations, the Arab League, and the African Union Commission during the World Energy Forum 2012 in Dubai.

DEWA organised several activities during World Energy Day to raise awareness about energy issues, promote a culture of sustainability and green economy, and emphasise the importance of energy conservation in mitigating the effects of climate change.

DEWA invites the public to participate in its outreach programme to raise awareness about these issues in the World Energy Day corner at WETEX 2018. DEWA is organising WETEX under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, and President of DEWA. WETEX is organised under the theme ‘At the forefront of sustainability’ at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from 23rd–25th October 2018.

 

WAM/Hazem Hussein/MOHD AAMIR

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Time for Global Collaboration to Address Pressing Issues of Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rightshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/time-global-collaboration-address-pressing-issues-sexual-reproductive-health-rights/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=time-global-collaboration-address-pressing-issues-sexual-reproductive-health-rights http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/time-global-collaboration-address-pressing-issues-sexual-reproductive-health-rights/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 06:03:22 +0000 Dr Hedy Fry http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158285 Dr Hedy Fry, PC MP, is a Trinidadian-Canadian politician and physician. She is currently the longest-serving female Member of Parliament, winning eight consecutive elections in the constituency of Vancouver Centre since the 1993 election, when she defeated incumbent Prime Minister Kim Campbell

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Dr Hedy Fry, PC MP, is a Trinidadian-Canadian politician and physician. She is currently the longest-serving female Member of Parliament, winning eight consecutive elections in the constituency of Vancouver Centre since the 1993 election, when she defeated incumbent Prime Minister Kim Campbell

By Dr Hedy Fry
OTTAWA, Canada, Oct 22 2018 (IPS)

300 Parliamentarians from over 150 nations will meet, in Ottawa, to tackle one of the most serious global challenges facing humanity.

The International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Program of Action (IPCI), October 22-23, is a forum, for all global regions, to generate collective action on issues of population and development, specifically as they relate to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Dr Hedy Fry

As chair of the host Canadian parliamentary association (CAPPD), I am excited at the prospect of not only looking back at the gains we have made since nations pledged action on the 1994 UN Declaration on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights globally, but also to identify where and why we have failed to achieve those goals for women, girls and youth.

Canada is in a strong position, now, in 2018, to play a leadership role in addressing the existing inequalities to SRHR not only worldwide, but in our own backyard.

The Government of Canada has pledged and made good on, our commitment to play an enhanced role in this area, through the Feminist International Assistance Policy. This policy’s commitment to maternal, new born and child health aims to close the still glaring gaps in SRHR for many developing regions.

‎It is backed by an additional investment of $650 million over three years, which will be allocated to meet SRHR needs, globally.

Here at home, there’s also much work that needs to be done. Canada is well aware that our own Indigenous communities still have unequal access to SRHR and basic health infrastructure.‎ We are also aware that Indigenous peoples in the Americas face the same, if not greater challenges.

Also here in Canada, federal and provincial jurisdictional issues can lead to unequal access to abortion, and to Mifepristone, the abortion pill—both of which are legal in Canada.

The National Newspaper, Globe and Mail, has been highlighting these issues and its Atlantic Desk, Jessica Leeder, will be a keynote speaker at IPCI 2018, expanding on these challenges.

The IPCI forum will not only look at solutions to these existing problems but discuss, frankly and openly the new worldwide issues that are looming.

Diverse cultural and religious practices, as well as poverty and minority status, remain a problem where women and youth are denied access to full SRHR. Recent UNICEF statistics indicate that at least 200 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation.

The rise in regional conflicts that now use rape as a “tactic” to subdue minority and “enemy” populations have made women and girls even more vulnerable.

Unprecedented migration of those fleeing conflict, seeking food and sustenance as a result of climate change and poverty has created large populations of displaced persons living in temporary zones with no access to healthcare, where they are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation and sexual trafficking.

For the one million Rohingya now living in Bangladesh refugee camps, the United Nations reported that over 60 births occur each day, while Oxfam Canada released a startling statistic that showed 25 to 50 per cent of maternal deaths in refugee camps are caused by unsafe abortions and related complications.

We’ve also seen an increase of “right wing” political movements that seek to curb access to legal contraception and abortion and the education of youth with regard to sexual health. Additionally, these movements have been known to promote systemic ‎xenophobia denying rights to minorities.

This includes LGBTQ+ communities, which has an impact to increase public health mortality and morbidity rates globally. We must not forget the persistent and growing incidence of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The fact is, there’s no better time than now to take action. Parliamentarians at IPCI 2018 will not only explore these themes, frankly and openly, but will hear from speakers about innovative solutions that are taking place in a variety of regions around the world.

We are uniquely placed to influence change. As stated in the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, paragraph 45 recognizes “the essential role of national parliaments through their enactment of legislation and adoption of budgets and their role in ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of our commitments.”

Parliamentarians can challenge governments that promote xenophobia and harmful policies. We can stand up for human rights and the full access to SRHR for women and youth locally. We can bond with other nations to make concrete change that would benefit all, globally. This is what I hope we can achieve at IPCI 2018.

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Excerpt:

Dr Hedy Fry, PC MP, is a Trinidadian-Canadian politician and physician. She is currently the longest-serving female Member of Parliament, winning eight consecutive elections in the constituency of Vancouver Centre since the 1993 election, when she defeated incumbent Prime Minister Kim Campbell

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Cuban Women, Vulnerable to Climate Change, in the Forefront of the Strugglehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/cuban-women-vulnerable-climate-change-forefront-struggle/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cuban-women-vulnerable-climate-change-forefront-struggle http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/cuban-women-vulnerable-climate-change-forefront-struggle/#respond Sun, 21 Oct 2018 19:44:26 +0000 Patricia Grogg http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158279 When people ask marine biologist Angela Corvea why the symbol of her environmental project Acualina, which has transcended the borders of Cuba, is a little girl, she answers without hesitation: “Because life, care, attachment, the creative force of life lie are contained in the feminine world.” Acualina is a little philosopher dressed in an ancient […]

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A group of women clean a street after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the Havana neighborhood of Vedado in September 2017. Women play a leading role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, a phenomenon to which they are also the most vulnerable. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A group of women clean a street after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the Havana neighborhood of Vedado in September 2017. Women play a leading role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, a phenomenon to which they are also the most vulnerable. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Patricia Grogg
HAVANA, Oct 21 2018 (IPS)

When people ask marine biologist Angela Corvea why the symbol of her environmental project Acualina, which has transcended the borders of Cuba, is a little girl, she answers without hesitation: “Because life, care, attachment, the creative force of life lie are contained in the feminine world.”

Acualina is a little philosopher dressed in an ancient Greek tunic in the colours of the Cuban flag – red, white and blue. She teaches, gives advice, issues warnings and provides guidelines on how to reduce risks to the environment. Her educational message is broadcast on TV and spread through other means, ranging from stickers to books.

This environmental education initiative created by Corvea in the coastal neighbourhod of Náutico, in Playa, a municipality on the northwest side of Havana, just celebrated its 15th anniversary. It is an area plagued by pollution, mainly coming from the mouth of a river, and from an open coast that causes flooding of the sea or the river during extreme climatic events.

“This is my way of developing, on a voluntary basis, organisational capacities to protect the environment, and adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. We developed this experience in many ways,” the 69-year-old expert, who has received international awards for her work on behalf of the environment, told IPS.

Corvea pointed out that in the face of the impacts of global warming, women are not only protagonists, but are also the most vulnerable. “In general, women are overburdened with work and in the face of a disaster, everything is magnified, the care of children and older adults, food and water shortages,” she said.

“The sixth sense that they attribute to us is activated with more power than normal and we have no other choice but to act, in the end we end up more tired than men: they are occupied (busy working) while we are occupied (working) as well as preoccupied (worried about and caring for everyone) – we have a double workload,” concluded the biologist, whose awareness-raising messages are tailored to children but also reach adults.

According to official reports, Cuban women currently make up 46 percent of the state labour force and 17 percent of the non-state sector. At the same time, they make up 58 percent of university graduates, more than 62 percent of university students, and 47 percent of those who work in science.

In politics, nine of the 25 cabinet ministers and 14 of the 31 members of the State Council are women, as are 299 of the 612 deputies of the National Assembly of People’s Power, the local parliament. The Minister of Science, Technology and Environment has been Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya since 2012.

The first head of this ministry, created in 1994, was scientist Rosa Elena Simeón. She was succeeded by José Miguel Miyar Barrueco, Pérez Montoya’s predecessor.

The data point to a steady increase in professional qualifications and in the level of female participation in Cuban society. However, they continue to be more vulnerable to the impact of climate change, which has intensified the force and frequency of hurricanes and exacerbated periods of drought.

Angela Corvea sits in front of the image of Acualina, the educational project she created 15 years ago in Cuba to teach children - and their families - how to reduce environmental risks, including climate risks, in an island nation where the impacts of rising temperatures are very noticeable. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Angela Corvea sits in front of the image of Acualina, the educational project she created 15 years ago in Cuba to teach children – and their families – how to reduce environmental risks, including climate risks, in an island nation where the impacts of rising temperatures are very noticeable. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

The response of men and women to this type of disaster is usually different. “Women generally assume the greatest responsibility during evacuations, packing up necessary personal belongings and water and food, often on their own with the children and the elderly in their care,” journalist Iramis Alonso told IPS.

Alonso, who specialises in scientific and environmental issues, added that women “tend to take longer to get back to work after these events, depending on how quickly support services are restored, such as day care centres. That affects them from the point of view of income more than men.”

“All efforts and conflicts are complicated by disasters, because women in every sense are more vulnerable, both at home and at work, where a machista organisational culture still reigns,” sociologist and academic Reina Fleitas told IPS.

In her opinion, disaster management policy should include a gender perspective, because solutions to the problems they generate have to be related to the different impacts and capacities created by people for recovery.

The researcher regretted that “vulnerability studies do not always include a gender focus, there is resistance to recognising that there is a feminisation of poverty that does not mean an increase in the number of women living in poverty, but rather the intensity of how they live.”

“It is known that the vast majority of Cuban women have double workdays and when a natural disaster occurs their efforts triple,” environmental educator Juan Francisco Santos told IPS.

They are the ones who have to prepare the food for the family, “who have to come up with meals, in many cases working magic to figure out how to cook,” she said.

 Several women walk in the rain towards their homes carrying food, as part of their preparations for the imminent arrival in Cuba of Hurricane Gustav, in 2008, in a Havana neighbourhood. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS


Several women walk in the rain towards their homes carrying food, as part of their preparations for the imminent arrival in Cuba of Hurricane Gustav, in 2008, in a Havana neighbourhood. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

In her view, there are several factors that increase women’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change. In the first place, she mentions the domestic role assumed by the majority of women and, as heads of households, they suffer greater tensions in the face of shortages during extreme events.

Santos said the aging of the population also plays a role, “because most of them are responsible for the care of both the very young and the elderly,” as well as “the lack of understanding of what it means to be a woman, on the part of men and of many women, and society as a whole.”

The educator attributed the “differentiated” responses of men and women to the danger of disasters.to “cultural constructions.”

The male provider, the woman (mother) protector, the man guarding the home, the woman in charge of domestic chores, the man “in the vanguard” and the woman “in the rear,” are the stereotyped roles that still remain widespread, he said.

“Faced with a natural disaster, we will continue to reproduce the world as we conceive it,” warned Santos.

According to the State Plan for Confronting Climate Change, approved by the Council of Ministers on Apr. 25, 2017, officially known as the Life Task, scientific studies confirm that Cuba’s climate is becoming warmer and more extreme.

The average annual temperature has increased by 0.9 degrees Celsius since the middle of the last century.

At the same time, great variability has been observed in storm activity and, since 2001, this Caribbean island nation has suffered the impact of 10 intense hurricanes, “unprecedented in history.”

Since 1960 rainfall patterns have changed and droughts have increased significantly, and the average sea level has risen by 6.77 centimetres to date. Coastal flooding caused by the rise of the sea level and strong waves represent the greatest danger to the natural heritage and buildings along the coast.

Future projections indicate that the average sea level rise could reach 27 centimetres by 2050 and 85 centimetres by 2100, causing the gradual loss of the country’s surface area in low-lying coastal areas, as well as the salinisation of underground aquifers.

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The Right to Choosehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/the-right-to-choose/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-right-to-choose http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/the-right-to-choose/#respond Sun, 21 Oct 2018 17:41:55 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158275 Reproductive choice can transform the world and our goals towards a sustainable society, a new report says. Every year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) examines the state of the world population. In this year’s report, the agency focuses on the power of reproductive choice and the role it can play to promote social and […]

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Manes Feston, flanked by her children, holds her four-month-old son Fedson. He was one of triplets but his siblings died because of a lack of welfare support. High fertility rates can be seen in much of Africa with four or more births per woman. Generally, these countries are poorer with limited access to quality healthcare and contraception. Credit: Travis Lupick/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 21 2018 (IPS)

Reproductive choice can transform the world and our goals towards a sustainable society, a new report says.

Every year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) examines the state of the world population. In this year’s report, the agency focuses on the power of reproductive choice and the role it can play to promote social and economic development.

“Choice can change the world,” UNFPA’s executive director Natalia Kanem said in the report’s foreword.

“It can rapidly improve the well-being of women and girls, transform families, and accelerate global development,” she added.

While progress has been achieved, the international community still has a ways to go, UNFPA’s Washington D.C. director Sarah Craven told IPS.

“There is no country in the world where reproductive rights and choices are enjoyed by all people at all times,” she said.

The State of the World Population 2018 report examines global fertility trends and how they are influenced by choice or the lack thereof.

High fertility rates can be seen in much of Africa with four or more births per woman.

Generally, these countries are poorer with limited access to quality healthcare and contraception.

UNFPA found that over 20 percent of women in the region want to avoid a pregnancy but have an unmet need for family planning.

At the same time, almost 20 million—or 38 percent—of the region’s pregnancies each year are unintended.

Practices such as early marriage, which is associated to an early start to child bearing, is also common.

In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 38 percent of women are married by the age of 18. In Niger, 76 percent of girls marry by the age of 18.

Child marriage, which is accompanied with the end of education and the lack of opportunities for employment and thus reduced earnings in adulthood, denies girls’ decision-making power and their right to choose.

It also hinders progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as the elimination of poverty, achievement of good health and well-being, and access to decent work.

Countries with high fertility have faster population growth, which poses challenges for governments already struggling to make progress on the SDGs and to provide education, healthcare, and employment opportunities.

On the other hand, while there are trends towards lower birth rates as a result of greater access to services, some women are having fewer children due to constraints rather than choice.

“The gap between desired and actual family size suggests that women and men are not fully able to realise their reproductive rights,” the report states.

For instance, the culture of overwork in East Asia has made it difficult for many to have both a career and a family.

In South Korea, almost 20 percent of employed women worked more than 54 hours a week in 2014.

The East Asian nation has a fertility rate of 1.17 births per woman, below the recommended replacement level of 2.1 and the level needed to sustain the current size of the population.

In Japan, which also has concerning fertility levels, the demanding work environment has even led to “karoshi,” or death by overwork.

In 2013, journalist Miwa Sado died of a heart failure and investigators found that she had logged 159 hours of overtime work one month before she died.

In 2015, 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi committed suicide. It emerged that she worked for over 100 hours of overtime at her advertising job and had barely slept in the period leading up to her death.

In an effort to address this problem, both countries have started to put policies in place to restrict work hours.

However, women with children also often face discrimination in the labour market, which can be seen in countries such as South Korea and Japan where mothers predominately hold low-salary positions and have limited career options, resulting in vast gender wage gaps.

With fewer children and young adults, the labour force has been shrinking contributing to weaker economies.

At the same time, as older people account for larger shares of the population, governments face challenges to cover health-care costs and social security systems, further weakening economies.

Among the recommendations in the report is to provide universal access to quality reproductive healthcare, including access to modern contraceptives, make available sexuality education, and achieve gender equality.

“Choice can be a reality everywhere. This is something that governments should prioritise,” Craven told IPS.

In high fertility countries, there is a need for education on reproductive rights and employment opportunities for rural women while low fertility countries should implement family-friendly policies such as child care services and parental leave.

Questions and challenges remain as to how governments should achieve such policies as the debate over reproductive choice in many countries is often grounded in religious beliefs.

In the United States, a new set of proposed rules will expand religious exemptions, allowing employers to deny health care access such as reproductive health coverage and access to contraception.

In Saudi Arabia, child marriage is still widespread and often justified by clerics.

Craven expressed concern over any policy that restricts individuals to access information and services, and highlighted the importance of reproductive choice.

“You will not achieve the SDGs if you don’t also achieve reproductive rights of your citizens,” she said.

Kanem echoed similar sentiments in the foreword of the report, stating: “The way forward is the full realisation of reproductive rights, for every individual and couple, no matter where or how they live, or how much they earn…the real measure of progress is people themselves: especially the well-being of women and girls, their enjoyment of their rights and full equality, and the life choices that they are free to make.”

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UAE, Italy sign MoU to increase business opportunitieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/uae-italy-sign-mou-increase-business-opportunities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uae-italy-sign-mou-increase-business-opportunities http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/uae-italy-sign-mou-increase-business-opportunities/#respond Sun, 21 Oct 2018 10:09:13 +0000 WAM http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158288 Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE Federal export credit company, and SACE, the Italian Export Credit Company (CDP Group), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance business opportunities between the UAE and Italy, as part of the 6th meeting of the UAE-Italy Joint Economic Committee held recently in Rome, Italy. The signing of the […]

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Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE Federal export credit company, and SACE, the Italian Export Credit Company (CDP Group), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance business opportunities between the UAE and Italy, as part of the 6th meeting of the UAE-Italy Joint Economic Committee held recently in Rome, Italy.

By WAM
ABU DHABI, Oct 21 2018 (WAM)

Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE Federal export credit company, and SACE, the Italian Export Credit Company (CDP Group), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance business opportunities between the UAE and Italy, as part of the 6th meeting of the UAE-Italy Joint Economic Committee held recently in Rome, Italy.

The signing of the MoU took place at the Ministry of Economic Development in Italy, in the presence of Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors at ECI; Luigi Di Maio, Italian Minister for Economic Development; and Saed Al Awadhi, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Export and Development Corporation, and Board Member and Chairman of the Executive Committee at ECI.

Under the MoU signed by Massimo Falcioni, CEO of ECI, and Alessandro Decio, CEO of SACE, the two national export credit companies have expressed commitment in strengthening the cooperation between UAE and Italy through the mutual sharing of expertise as well supporting the business relations of both countries.

One of the main highlights of the MoU is the intention to enhance trade between the two countries with focus on Halal industry through Shariah-compliant insurance and finance solutions.

Furthermore, ECI and SACE have agreed to create a dedicated task force and collaborate on seven work areas: insurance, reinsurance and collections initiatives; information sharing; technical training programmes; halal industry and Shariah-compliant insurance and finance solutions; trade promotions (B2B events and workshops); investments; and SME programmes.

CEO of Etihad Credit Insurance said, “Our partnership with SACE plays a strategic and important part in ECI’s role as a major catalyst in supporting UAE’s non-oil exports, trade, investments and strategic sectors development, in line with UAE Vision 2021 agenda. Italy is one of the major trading partners of the UAE in the European Union, while the UAE is also a major trading partner of Italy in the Arab region. Through mutual cooperation in extensive areas, this agreement is set to further cement the growing bilateral trade between the two countries.”

CEO of the Italian Export Credit Company said, “We are honored to cooperate with Etihad Credit Insurance, a key player in the UAE, being fully aware that stronger trade and investment ties between Italy and the UAE are crucial for the future of our respective economies. Our office in Dubai, with a €5-billion (AED21 billion) project pipeline, will play an active part in the Task Force confirming its role of ‘Italian bridge’ in the UAE”.

The trade volumes between two countries have exceeded €6 billion (AED26 billion) in 2017. The UAE ranks number one in the MENA region for Italy’s agriculture and F&B exports while Italy’s imports from the UAE have also been growing.

Other high-potential sectors for joint business exploration include steel and aluminum, ceramics, renewable energy, mechanical, waste management, industrial technologies, infrastructure and construction, jewelry and fashion, and F&B.

 

WAM/Esraa Ismail

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UAE Raising Awareness About the Impact of Climate Changehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/uae-raising-awareness-impact-climate-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uae-raising-awareness-impact-climate-change http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/uae-raising-awareness-impact-climate-change/#respond Fri, 19 Oct 2018 14:24:40 +0000 Rabiya Jaffery http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158262 The Middle East, due to its geographical location, is particularly prone to the impacts of climate change. Longer droughts, more frequent and intense heatwaves, and higher temperatures in the summer are expected to to become increasingly prevalent throughout the Middle East – from Sana’a to Jeddah to Dubai to Tehran. Yet, the lack of awareness […]

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Vegan Society in the United Arab Emirates

By Rabiya Jaffery
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates,, Oct 19 2018 (IPS)

The Middle East, due to its geographical location, is particularly prone to the impacts of climate change.

Longer droughts, more frequent and intense heatwaves, and higher temperatures in the summer are expected to to become increasingly prevalent throughout the Middle East – from Sana’a to Jeddah to Dubai to Tehran.

Yet, the lack of awareness towards the issue, especially on individual levels remains prevalent for the most part.

The United Arab Emirates, however, is now working on incorporating climate change adaptation and mitigation in its national agenda and has also made it part of its vision to increase environmental awareness amongst its public.

In 2016, the UAE renamed it’s Ministry of Environment and Water to the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment, thus officially bringing the management of climate change within the scope of the ministry and includes organizing “awareness campaigns in order to promote the environmental behavior of individuals” to its sustainability agenda.

A 2017 study by the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) revealed that more than 40 per cent of the UAE’s population lack knowledge about climate change, global warming, and how human behavior contributes to environmental harm”.

Fatima Al Ghamdi, is a UAE-based climate activist, who has recently launched an advocacy group that aims to bring a shift towards a more plant-based diet in the Middle East by working on the grassroots levels.

She launched a campaign to encourage plant-based diets in the UAE in early 2017 and is planning to expand her network to the rest of the region next year.

“There is very little conversation here about how tackling meat and dairy consumption is extremely important to curb global warming levels,” said says. “A lot is being done, on awareness and policy-making levels, about deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector – not just in the UAE and the Middle East, but globally.”

Her campaign and advocacy work includes raising awareness in schools and universities about the benefits of reducing meat from daily diets, the impact of the meat industry on the climate, and what individuals can do to eat in more sustainable ways.

“I think there is a reluctance by climate change advocates and policy makers to intrude into people’s lives to the levels where they start telling them what to eat and in what quantities,” she says.

“But there can be comprehensive policies and business approaches that make dietary changes towards more plant-based diets possible and attractive for a large number of people and it’s something essential if we really want to reduce emission levels.”

Curbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change, according to one of the most comprehensive studies on the topic published in October 2018 by the journal, Nature.

In addition, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global livestock industry contributes close to one fifth of greenhouse gas emissions – even more than the combined emissions of all cars, planes, trains, and ships.

“If the top 20 meat and fairy companies in the world were a country, collectively they would be the world’s seventh largest greenhouse gas emitter,” says Daniel F Kenneth, a professor of public health nutrient, based in UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi.

He adds that it is cattle and meat industry that has the most long-reaching impact on the environment – more than one-third of the world’s methane, which is 20 times as damaging as carbon dioxide in terms of global warming, is said to be produced by cattle, including those used for milk.

This is why most environmentalists consider industrial cattle farming a triple threat to Earth’s atmosphere, as animals produce huge amounts of the greenhouse gas methane, coupled with the loss of carbon-absorbing forests that are accommodated into grazing areas, and the immense amounts of water needed to sustain the livestock.

“Cattle ranching and soya production to feed cattle often take place on deforested land, and this deforestation is thought to be one of the most significant way in which meat production contributes to global warming,” says Kenneth. “And the massive amounts of feed and soya needed to feed cattle is far from a sustainable way to use up the world’s scarce cereal grains.”

According to Kenneth, producing 1 kg of beef is estimated to require close to 14,000 litres of water and 7 to 10 kg of feed. In comparison, it takes approximately 1000 litres of water and just 2 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of chicken.

The UAE, despite being considered a “food secure” nation, relies predominantly on food imports, with up to 80% of its food imported from other countries.

“We don’t have much of our own cattle industry but that doesn’t take the burden off us,” says Al Ghamdi. “And large amounts of carbon dioxide are generated by the transportation involved in meat production – it makes more economical and environmental sense to shift to a duet culture where we rely most on foods we have the easiest access to.”

The report published by Nature calls for a “global shift” towards more plant-based diets, slashing food waste, improving farming practices with the aid of technology, better education, industry reform and improved efficiency as ways towards tackling the problem.

“In the Middle East, we used to have diets that focused on rice with lentils and chickpeas. That’s the way we’ve eaten for ages, with just small amounts of meat,” says Al Ghamdi.

“This trend to have extremely meat-focused meals is a new and Western concept but there is nothing in meat that makes it essential – there are other foods, such as legumes and beans, that provide the same protein and iron.”

Nature’s report emphasized that, coupled with a sharp projected rise in global population and global incomes (that would enable more people to eat meat-rich diets) by mid-century, the industry’s already vast impact on the environment could increase by as much as 90 percent, unless an active effort is made to reduce it.

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Women as Liberia’s Guardians of Peacehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-liberias-guardians-peace/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-liberias-guardians-peace http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-liberias-guardians-peace/#respond Fri, 19 Oct 2018 09:54:18 +0000 Franck Kuwonu Africa Renewal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158265 Not long ago, images of child soldiers and the nation of Liberia were wedded in the minds of the international community. The country was struggling to end a horrific civil war, but military efforts were going nowhere. Then the mothers, grandmothers and sisters of Liberia stepped forward and formed the Women of Liberia Mass Action […]

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Liberian women at an empowerment and leadership conference in Monrovia, Liberia. Credit: UNMIL Photo/Christopher Herwig

By Franck Kuwonu, Africa Renewal
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 19 2018 (IPS)

Not long ago, images of child soldiers and the nation of Liberia were wedded in the minds of the international community. The country was struggling to end a horrific civil war, but military efforts were going nowhere.

Then the mothers, grandmothers and sisters of Liberia stepped forward and formed the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace campaign.

They pressured Liberian men to pursue peace or lose physical intimacy with their wives. Wearing all-white clothing, the women of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, gathered at the fish market in the thousands, sitting, praying and singing. Their images were seen around the world.

“The women of Liberia say peace is our goal, peace is what matters, peace is what we need,” was their clear message, stamped on a billboard in the downtown fish market.

“The world once remembered Liberia for child soldiers,” said Leymah Gbowee, a leader of the peace group for which she won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. “They now know our country for the women in white.”

Their efforts, which continued until the nation’s first elections, were successful.

“We felt like the men in our society were really not taking a stand,” recalls Gbowee, who now heads the Women, Peace and Security Program at Columbia University in New York.

“They were either fighters or they were very silent and accepting all of the violence that was being thrown at us as a nation.… So we decided, ‘We’ll do this to propel the silent men into action.’”

The women demanded a meeting with then-president Charles Taylor and got him to agree to attend peace talks with the other leaders of the warring factions brokered by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a subregional grouping.

The women perfected the art of “corridor lobbying,” waiting for negotiators as they entered and exited meeting rooms during breaks. Their action paved the way for negotiations taking place in Ghana, where a delegation of about 200 Liberian women staged a sit-in at the presidential palace and applied pressure for a resolution.

Dressed in white, the women blocked every entry and exit point, including windows, stopping negotiators from leaving the talks without a resolution. Their action, as well as the pressures mounted by ECOWAS leaders, led to the signing of the 2003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

“They would confront then-president [Charles] Taylor, insisting that he must give peace a chance; they travelled all the way to Ghana to confront the leaders of the warring factions as they were negotiating peace, urging them to sign a ceasefire agreement. Although the men of Liberia also played a role, the women were consistent and in the forefront.”

Liberian women’s political activism continued in the aftermath of the Accra peace accord through the period leading to 2005 elections, which brought Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the presidency.

Observers note that through civic education and a voter registration drive carried out by women, Liberians had their voices heard and their votes counted.

Close to 80% of the Liberian women who flooded the polls during the country’s first postwar presidential election voted to usher a woman into power for the first time on a continent that for centuries had been the world’s most patriarchal. Ms. Sirleaf’s election was hailed as historic. “We have shattered the glass ceiling theory,” the then president-elect was quoted as saying.

Addressing jubilant supporters celebrating her victory a few days earlier, she’d urged women to “seize the moment to become active in civil and political affairs.”

President Sirleaf became the first democratically elected president in Africa. All in all, Liberian women have been a force against violence in the country, and their actions contributed to the ending of hostilities after a 14-year civil war. Subsequently there was a shift in focus to peacebuilding.

The women’s continued advocacy, with clear messages to the public, has led to their being considered community watchdogs, while they have also developed the concept of “peace huts,” where women receive leadership and entrepreneurship training.

Additional reporting by Catherine Onekalit in Liberia.

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Don’t “Whitewash” Khashoggi’s Murderhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/dont-whitewash-khashoggis-murder/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dont-whitewash-khashoggis-murder http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/dont-whitewash-khashoggis-murder/#respond Fri, 19 Oct 2018 08:50:18 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158257 In the midst of international outrage over the alleged murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, human rights groups have called for a United Nations investigation into the incident. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders joined efforts to appeal for an independent investigation into the alleged torture […]

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According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 44 journalists have been killed so far in 2018 alone, 27 of whom were murdered. Courtesy: UN Geneva

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 19 2018 (IPS)

In the midst of international outrage over the alleged murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, human rights groups have called for a United Nations investigation into the incident.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders joined efforts to appeal for an independent investigation into the alleged torture and murder of Khashoggi to avoid a “whitewash.”

“This sends an incredibly chilling signal to journalists around the world that their lives don’t matter and that states can have you murdered with impunity,” said CPJ’s Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney at a press conference at the U.N.

“We believe that the only way to ensure that there is no whitewash in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi is that the United Nations take on an independent, transparent and international investigation,” he added.

Human Rights Watch’s U.N. Director Louis Charbonneau echoed similar sentiments, stating: “We need accountability and in order to have accountability, we need credible information and an investigation.”

Originally hailing from Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi was a permanent resident in the United States and worked as a columnist for the Washington Post.

He was last seen visiting a Saudi consulate in Turkey and leaks from Turkish sources have painted a gruesome picture of the incident including the dismemberment of his body.

Audio and visual recordings have also suggested that Saudi officials close to the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman are the perpetrators.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident as journalists continue to be killed around the world for their work.

According to CPJ, 44 journalists have been killed so far in 2018 alone, 27 of whom were murdered.

“This incident didn’t happen in a vacuum. Jamal Khashoggi is not one case that is an anomaly. It happened in a context of an increased crackdown on dissent since June 2017 when the crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman took his position,” said Sherine Tadros, Amnesty International’s head of the New York U.N. office, pointing to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

Since the crown prince took power, the detention of dissidents has increased including human rights defenders such as Samar Badawi, a prominent women’s rights advocate.

The Middle Eastern country is also ranked at third in CPJ’s Most Censored Countries list, just behind North Korea and Eritrea.

Khashoggi’s last column for the Washington Post was aptly on the need for freedom of expression in the Arab world where he stated: “The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events…through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face.”

Mahoney highlighted the need to act against the threats that journalists face.

“We have to fight back on this because if we don’t, that space will continue to be shrink. Countries like Saudi Arabia, which has wealth and influence, will continue to suppress journalism,” he said.

The four human rights groups called on Turkey to ask U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish an independent investigation.

Though both Saudi Arabia and Turkey are conducting their own investigations, many fear the findings will not be credible.

“This is what the U.N. was created for, this is why we need it. We need credibility,” said Charbonneau.

“If in fact it’s true, that the most senior members of the Saudi government were behind the execution and dismemberment of Mr. Khashoggi, then we don’t want the culprits investigating themselves. This is now how we run criminal investigations,” he added.

Despite Turkey’s similarly poor record on protecting journalists, the human rights groups said that it is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s time to step up.

“We want the Turkish Government…to step forward, to use this as an opportunity to move forward into the future and out of the past…to send a message to the world that we want reporting, we want credible information and we will protect journalists,” Charbonneau said.

It wouldn’t be the first time at the U.N. was requested to conduct an investigation.

In 2009, Pakistan requested then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to probe into the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The inquiry found a whitewash of the incident by the country’s authorities.

U.N. officials such as new U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet have also called for an impartial, transparent investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance and death.

“His family and the world deserves to know the truth,” she said.

The organisations urged for quick action, and for other governments to press Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

“It is gathering momentum and we hope that the momentum will be such that Turkey will not be able to say no and will actually have to step forward and do this and the Saudis would be under so much pressure that they will have to cooperate,” Charbonneau said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the two countries and their heads of state on the case and has since pushed to give Saudi Arabia some more time to finalise their investigation before acting.

Before the trip, U.S. president Donald Trump initially lambasted journalists for treating Saudi Arabia as guilty before being proven innocent.

“If we are looking for proving Saudi Arabia’s innocence, we believe that there is no other way—our best shot for a credible investigation, a transparent investigation, and an investigation that wont be politicised is for the U.N. to conduct it and is for Turkey to make this request,” Tadros said.

She additionally appealed to the U.N. Secretary-General to step up and act boldly.

“We cannot live in a world where governments can use chemical weapons against their own citizens and nothing happens. Where a military can ethnically cleanse, torture, and rape an entire community and no one is held into account. Where a journalist in a major city walks into a consulate and is tortured and killed and nothing happens,” Tadros said.

“Every time the U.N. system and particularly the U.N. Secretary-General fails to speak up, he enables another tragedy, another person who is killed, another population that is ethnically cleansed every single time,” she added.

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Africa Remains Resolute Heading to COP 24http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africa-remains-resolute-heading-cop-24/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=africa-remains-resolute-heading-cop-24 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africa-remains-resolute-heading-cop-24/#respond Thu, 18 Oct 2018 13:15:06 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158250 In December 2015, nations of the world took a giant step to combat climate change through the landmark Paris Agreement. But African experts who met in Nairobi, Kenya at last week’s Seventh Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA VII) say the rise of far-right wing and nationalist movements in the West are […]

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The pastoralists of Ethiopia’s Somali region make a living raising cattle, camels and goats in an arid and drought-prone land. They are forced to move constantly in search of pasture and watering holes for their animals. Ahead of COP 24, African experts have identified the need to speak with one unified voice, saying a shift in the geopolitical landscape threatens climate negotiations. Credit: William Lloyd-George/IPS

By Friday Phiri
NAIROBI, Oct 18 2018 (IPS)

In December 2015, nations of the world took a giant step to combat climate change through the landmark Paris Agreement. But African experts who met in Nairobi, Kenya at last week’s Seventh Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA VII) say the rise of far-right wing and nationalist movements in the West are threatening the collapse of the agreement.
The landmark Paris Agreement focuses on accelerating and intensifying actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future, through greenhouse-gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, finance, and technology transfer among others.

And as Parties struggle to complete the implementing measures needed to get the Paris regime up and running, African experts have identified the need to speak with one unified voice, saying a shift in the geopolitical landscape threatens climate negotiations.

“The rise of ‘the inward-looking nationalist right-wing movement and climate deniers’ in the West is a signal of hardening positions in potential inaction by those largely responsible for the world’s climate problems,” Mithika Mwenda, secretary general of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, told the gathering.

Mwenda said civil society organisations were seeking collaboration with governments on the continent and stood ready to offer support as Africa seeks homegrown solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“Our leaders who hold the key for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement should remain candidly focused and resist attempts to scatter the unified African voice to deny Africa a strong bargain in the design of the Paris rulebook,” Mwenda told IPS in an interview.

The 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Katowice, Poland in December, is earmarked as the deadline for the finalisation of the Paris Agreement operational guidelines.

But there are concerns from the African group that there is a deliberate attempt by developed parties to derail the process as the operationalisation of the agreement implies a financial obligation for them to support the adaptation and mitigation action of developing countries.

Since 2015 when the Paris Agreement was reached, the world has seen a shift in the geopolitical landscape, ushering in a climate-sceptic Donald Trump as president of the United States, and several far-right wing nationalist movements gaining power in Europe.

“Two strong groups have joined forces on this issue – the extractive industry, and right-wing nationalists. The combination has taken the current debate to a much more dramatic level than previously, at the same time as our window of opportunity is disappearing,” said Martin Hultman, associate professor in Science, Technology and Environmental studies at Chalmers University of Technology and research leader for the comprehensive project titled ‘Why don’t we take climate change seriously? A study of climate change denial’.

For his part, Trump made good on his campaign promise when he wrote to the UNFCCC secretariat, notifying them of his administration’s intention to withdraw the United States from the treaty, thereby undermining the universality of the Paris Agreement and impairing states’ confidence in climate cooperation.

With this scenario in mind, the discussions at the recently-concluded climate conference in Africa were largely dominated by how the continent could harness homegrown solutions and standing united in the face of shifting climate political dynamics.

In his opening remarks, which he delivered on behalf of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s environment and forestry minister, Keriako Tobiko said climate change was a matter of life and death for Africa.

And this was the reason why leaders needed to speak with a strong unified voice.

“We have all experienced the devastating and unprecedented impacts of climate change on our peoples’ lives and livelihoods as well as our national economies. Africa is the most vulnerable continent despite contributing only about four percent to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but when we go to argue our case we speak in tongues and come back with no deal,” he said.

He said given Africa’s shared ecosystems, it was essential to speak in one voice to safeguard the basis of the continent’s development and seek transformative solutions.

This climate conference was held just days after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius which warned of a catastrophe if immediate action is not taken to halt GHG emissions.

And commenting on the IPCC report, Tobiko reiterated the resolutions of the first Africa Environment Partnership Platform held from Sept. 20 to, under the auspices of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the technical body of the African Union, which emphasised the need to turn environmental challenges into economic solutions through innovation and green investments.

Tobiko said that Kenya would be hosting the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference from Nov. 26 to 28 to promote sustainable investments in oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers.

Just like the Africa Environment Partnership Platform — which recognised “indigenous knowledge and customary governance systems as part of Africa’s rich heritage in addressing environmental issues” — indigenisation was also a trending topic at the CCDA VII.

Under the theme: ‘Policies and actions for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement for resilient economies in Africa’, the conference attracted over 700 participants from member states, climate researchers, academia, civil society organisations and local government leaders, among others.
Experts said that local communities, women and the youth should be engaged in Africa’s efforts to combat the vagaries of climate change.

James Murombedzi, officer-in-charge of the Africa Climate Policy Centre of the U.N. Commission for Africa, said African communities have long practiced many adaptation strategies and viable responses to the changing climate.

However, he said, “there are limits to how well communities can continue to practice adaptive livelihoods in the context of a changing climate”, adding that it was time they were supported by an enabling environment created by government-planned adaptation.

“That is why at CCDA-VII we believe that countries have to start planning for a warmer climate than previously expected so this means we need to review all the different climate actions and proposals to ensure that we can in fact not only survive in a 3 degrees Celsius warmer environment but still be able to meet our sustainable development objectives and our Agenda 2063,” added Murombedzi.

Murombedzi said it was sad that most African governments had continued spending huge sums of money on unplanned adaptations for climate-related disasters.

And these, according Yacob Mulugetta, professor of Energy and Development Policy, University London College, “are the implications of global warming for Africa which is already experiencing massive climate impacts, such as crop production, tourism industries and hydropower generation.”

Mulugetta, one of the lead authors of the IPCC special report, however, noted that “international cooperation is a critical part of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees,” but warned African climate experts to take cognisance of the shifting global geopolitical landscape, which he said is having a significant bearing on climate negotiations.

Meanwhile, the African Development Bank (AfDB), pledged continued support to a climate-resilient development transition in Africa through responsive policies, plans and programmes focusing on building transformed economies and healthy ecosystems.

James Kinyangi of the AfDB said the Bank’s Climate Action Plan for the period 2016 to 2020 was ambitious, as it “explores modalities for achieving adaptation, the adequacy and effectiveness of climate finance, capacity building and technology transfer – all aimed at building skills so that African economies can realise their full potential for adaptation in high technology sectors.”

Under this plan, the bank will nearly triple its annual climate financing to reach USD5 billion a year by 2020.

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Is There a Remittance Trap?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/is-there-a-remittance-trap/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-there-a-remittance-trap http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/is-there-a-remittance-trap/#respond Thu, 18 Oct 2018 10:11:45 +0000 Ralph Chami http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158247 RALPH CHAMI is an assistant director in the IMF’s Institute for Capacity Development, EKKEHARD ERNST is chief of the macroeconomic policy and jobs unit at the International Labour Organization, CONNEL FULLENKAMP is professor of the practice of economics at Duke University, and ANNE OEKING is an economist in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department*.

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But research that digs deeper into the remittance-growth nexus increasingly suggests that remittances change economies in ways that reduce growth and increase dependence on these funds from abroad. In other words, there is increasing evidence of a remittance trap that causes economies to get stuck on a lower-growth, higher-emigration treadmill.

Beirut, Lebanon

By Ralph Chami, Ekkehard Ernst, Connel Fullenkamp, and Anne Oeking
WASHINGTON DC, Oct 18 2018 (IPS)

Workers’ remittances—the money migrants send home to their families—command the attention of economists and policymakers because of their potential to improve the lives of millions of people.

Amounting to over $400 billion in 2017, remittances rank between official development assistance and foreign direct investment in terms of size. Such massive financial flows have important consequences for the economies that receive them, especially when many countries receive flows that are large relative to the size of their exports or even their economies.

Many argue that remittances help economies in two ways. First, because remittances are person-to-person transfers motivated by family ties, these transfers from outside the country help relatives back home afford the necessities of life.

But remittances also have the potential to fuel economic growth, by funding investment in human or physical capital or by financing new businesses.

Economists have worked to measure both of these effects. Many studies confirm that remittances are essential in the battle against poverty, lifting millions of families out of deprivation or bare subsistence.

But at the same time, economic research has failed to find that remittances make a significant contribution to a country’s economic growth (see Chart 1).

The latter result is puzzling, especially given the finding that remittance income helps families consume more. Consumption spending is a driver of short-term economic growth, which in turn should also lead to longer-term growth as industries expand to meet the increased demand.

But research that digs deeper into the remittance-growth nexus increasingly suggests that remittances change economies in ways that reduce growth and increase dependence on these funds from abroad. In other words, there is increasing evidence of a remittance trap that causes economies to get stuck on a lower-growth, higher-emigration treadmill.

Consider the case of Lebanon. For many years, this country has been one of the leading recipients of remittances, in both absolute and relative terms. During the past decade, inflows have averaged over $6 billion a year, equal to 16 percent of GDP. Lebanon received $1,500 a person in 2016, more than any other nation, according to IMF data.

Given the size of these inflows, it should not be surprising that remittances play a key if not leading role in Lebanon’s economy. They constitute an essential part of the country’s social safety net, accounting on average for over 40 percent of the income of the families that receive them.

But research that digs deeper into the remittance-growth nexus increasingly suggests that remittances change economies in ways that reduce growth and increase dependence on these funds from abroad. In other words, there is increasing evidence of a remittance trap that causes economies to get stuck on a lower-growth, higher-emigration treadmill.
They have undoubtedly played a vital stabilizing role in a country that has endured civil war, invasions, and refugee crises in the past several decades. In addition, remittances are a valuable source of foreign exchange, amounting to 50 percent more than the country’s merchandise exports. This has helped Lebanon maintain a stable exchange rate despite high government debt.

While remittances have helped the Lebanese economy absorb shocks, there is no evidence that they have served as an engine of growth. Real per capita GDP in Lebanon grew only 0.32 percent on average annually between 1995 and 2015. Even during 2005–15, it grew at an average annual rate of only 0.79 percent.

Lebanon is not an isolated example. Of the 10 countries that receive the largest remittance inflows relative to their GDP—such as Honduras, Jamaica, the Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, and Tonga—none has per capita GDP growth higher than its regional peers.

And for most of these countries, growth rates are well below their peers. It is important to recognize that each of these countries is dealing with other issues that may also interfere with growth. But remittances appear to be an additional determining factor rather than just a consequence of slow growth. And remittances may even amplify some of the other problems that restrict growth and development.

Returning to the case of Lebanon, the country’s well-educated population could be expected to point to robust growth. Lebanese families, including those who receive remittances, spend much of their income on educating their young people, who score much higher on standardized mathematics tests than their peers in the region.

Lebanon is also home to three of the top 20 universities in the Middle East, and researchers at these universities produce more research than their regional peers. Lebanon’s abundant remittance inflows could provide seed capital to fund business start-ups led by its well-educated citizens.

But statistics show that Lebanon has much less entrepreneurial activity than it should, especially in the high-tech information and communication technology sector. The size of this sector is less than 1 percent of GDP, and Lebanon scores very low on international gauges of this sector’s development.

Studies of the overall spending habits of remittance-receiving households in Lebanon show that less than 2 percent of inflows goes toward starting businesses. Instead, these funds are typically spent on nontraded goods such as restaurant meals and services, and on imports.

Instead of starting new businesses—or even working in established ones—many young Lebanese choose to emigrate. The statistics are stark: up to two-thirds of male and nearly half of female university graduates leave the country. Employers complain of an emigration brain drain that has caused a dearth of highly skilled workers.

This shortage has been identified as a leading obstacle to diversifying Lebanon’s economy away from tourism, construction, and real estate, its traditional sources of growth. For their part, young people who choose to seek their fortune elsewhere cite a lack of attractive employment opportunities at home.

Part of the remittance trap thus appears to be the use of this source of income to prepare young people to emigrate rather than to invest in businesses at home. In other words, countries that receive remittances may come to rely on exporting labor, rather than commodities produced with this labor. In some countries, governments even encourage the development of institutions that specialize in producing skilled labor for export.

But why would this situation develop and persist?

Research into both the household-level and economy-wide effects of remittances on their recipients provides an answer to this question. The impact on individual countries that receive significant remittances—such as Egypt, Mexico, and Pakistan—has been studied, and cross-country analysis of a variety of countries that receive various amounts of remittances (and of those that send rather than receive remittances) has been performed as well. The insights from the academic literature can be combined into a consistent explanation of how and why economies that receive significant remittance inflows may become stuck at low levels of growth.

To begin with, remittances are spent mostly on household consumption, and the demand for all products (nontraded and traded) in an economy increases as remittances grow.

This places upward pressure on prices. The flood of foreign exchange, along with higher prices, makes exports less competitive, with the result that their production declines. Some have referred to this syndrome as Dutch disease (see Chart 2).

The effect of remittances on work incentives makes this problem worse, by increasing the so-called reservation wage—that is, the lowest wage at which a worker would be willing to accept a particular type of job. As remittances increase, workers drop out of the labor force, and the resulting increase in wages puts more upward pressure on prices, further reducing the competitiveness of exports.

Resources then flow away from industries producing tradable products that face international competition toward those that serve the domestic market. The result: a decline in the number of better-paid, high-skill jobs, which are typical in the traded sector, and an increase in low-skill, poorly paid jobs in the nontraded sector.

This shift in the labor market encourages higher- skilled workers to emigrate in search of better-paying jobs. Meanwhile, the cost of living for most families rises along with domestic prices, and the loss in competitiveness means that more products must be imported, hurting economic growth. This in turn increases the incentive for family members to emigrate so that they can send money home to help relatives shoulder the burden of the higher cost of living.

To make matters worse, remittances are often spent on real estate, causing home prices to rise and in some cases stoking property bubbles. This provides a motive to emigrate for young people seeking to earn enough to buy a home. The result of all this is a vicious circle of emigration, economic stagnation, rising cost of living, and more emigration.

Governments could potentially mitigate or break this cycle by taking steps to keep domestic industries competitive. But policies that can accomplish this, such as improving the education system and physical infrastructure, are expensive and take years to implement. And they require strong political will to succeed.

As research has shown, however, remittances have important political economy side effects (see Chart 3). In particular, large inflows allow governments to be less responsive to the needs of society.

The reasoning is simple: families that receive remittances are better insulated from economic shocks and are less motivated to demand change from their governments; government in turn feels less obligated to be accountable to its citizens.

Many politicians welcome the reduced public scrutiny and political pressure that come with remittance inflows. But politicians have other reasons to encourage remittances. To the extent that governments tax consumption—say through value-added taxes—remittances enlarge the tax base. This enables governments to continue spending on things that will win them popular support, which in turn helps politicians win reelection.

Given these benefits, it is little wonder that many governments actively encourage their citizens to emigrate and send money home, even establishing official offices or agencies to promote emigration in some cases.

Remittances make politicians’ job easier, by improving the economic conditions of individual families and making them less likely to complain to the government or scrutinize its activities. Official encouragement of migration and remittances then makes the remittance trap even more difficult to escape.

The absence of clear evidence linking remittances to increased economic growth—and the lack of examples of countries that experienced remittance-led growth—suggests that remittances do indeed interfere with economic growth. The example of Lebanon, moreover, gives a concrete example of how the remittance trap may operate.

And if a remittances trap does exist, then what?

Clearly, given their importance to the well-being of millions of families, remittances should not be discouraged. Is the remittance trap simply the cost societies must bear in exchange for a reduction in poverty? Not necessarily.

Preventing the two downsides of remittances—Dutch disease and weaker governance—could help countries avoid or escape the remittance trap. Improving the competitiveness of industries that face foreign competition is the general prescription for mitigating Dutch disease.

Specific measures include upgrading a country’s physical infrastructure, improving the education system, and reducing the cost of doing business. Governments could also play a more active role in stimulating new business formation, including seed funding or other financial assistance for start-ups. At the same time, remittance-receiving countries must also push for stronger institutions and better governance.

Enhancing economic competitiveness and strengthening governance and social institutions are already considered essential to the inclusive growth agenda. But the remittance trap lends urgency to these goals.

Avoiding this potentially serious pitfall of remittances may actually be the key to unlocking their development potential by removing a previously unrecognized obstacle to inclusive development.

*Opinions expressed in articles and other materials are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect IMF policy.

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Excerpt:

RALPH CHAMI is an assistant director in the IMF’s Institute for Capacity Development, EKKEHARD ERNST is chief of the macroeconomic policy and jobs unit at the International Labour Organization, CONNEL FULLENKAMP is professor of the practice of economics at Duke University, and ANNE OEKING is an economist in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department*.

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Africa Must Increase Spending on Health Care, Education & Modern Contraceptionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africa-must-increase-spending-health-care-education-modern-contraception/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=africa-must-increase-spending-health-care-education-modern-contraception http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africa-must-increase-spending-health-care-education-modern-contraception/#respond Thu, 18 Oct 2018 09:37:32 +0000 Marie Rose Nguini Effa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158241 Marie Rose Nguini Effa is a Member of Parliament (MP), President of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA), Member of National Assembly of Cameroon & Member of the Pan-African Parliament. She is also a delegate to the International Parliamentarians’ Conference in Ottawa next week.

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Marie Rose Nguini Effa is a Member of Parliament (MP), President of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA), Member of National Assembly of Cameroon & Member of the Pan-African Parliament. She is also a delegate to the International Parliamentarians’ Conference in Ottawa next week.

By Marie Rose Nguini Effa
YAOUNDE, Cameroon, Oct 18 2018 (IPS)

One of the main challenges which we are facing across Africa today is the imperative to empower its largest ever young population and to provide them with opportunities to realise their full potential.

Students in a classroom. Credit: UN photo

This calls for crucial and sustainable investments into young people’s needs – their healthcare, their education – and of course, ensuring that they have access to modern contraception to allow them to take charge of their own futures, and also help to stabilise the fertility rate. All of this will contribute to the realization of the African Union Agenda 2063.

Economic progress within the African continent as a whole has the potential to evoke a truly profound positive impact upon our collective achievement of the SDGs. For some this is direct: more economic prosperity would mean better employment opportunities and increased financial stability on an individual level.

It also implies, however, an increased spending into crucial social needs such as healthcare, education and sustainable agriculture which will not only have a knock-on effect upon the physical health and education level of citizens but open up a whole new world of possibility for them.

Once the basic human rights of health and education are met, social progress accelerates dramatically, and this is what we hope to see as African economies continue to develop.

Overall, Cameroon has many challenges when it comes to reproductive health and gender equality. That being said, we are making progress when it comes to spreading awareness of these flaws with the end goal to tackle these issues.

Various laws demonstrate systematic sexism, for instance adultery committed by a woman is criminalised but is only considered punishable when committed by a man if it is “habitual” or takes place in the matrimonial home.

Furthermore, abortion is criminalized, except if the mother’s life is in danger or if pregnancy is the result of rape. And rape is not recognised when committed within a marriage.

An issue which is badly impacting on the health of our young people is drugs. One particular opioid, called tramadol, is resulting is great suffering and ruined lives. Tackling this crisis is complex and requires a coordinated response from many actors, including parliamentarians.

Over the past few years, Cameroon has been grappling with the influx of over a hundred thousand refugees from several neighbouring countries. Although their presence regrettably provoked tensions with the local population, we must strive to look past the divisions created in our society and see each other as one and the same; as equals.

We should all take responsibility over the wellbeing of our neighbours and work together to make more inclusive, stable and healthy societies for all. This absolutely includes paying attention to the health and wellbeing of migrants and refugees, who are often particularly vulnerable.

In 2017, a $310 million humanitarian response plan, backed by the United Nations, was launched to provide life-saving assistance to 1.2 million people in Cameroon’s northern and eastern regions.

Our role as parliamentarians is very important. The voice we have gives us an unmatched responsibility to spread awareness on these vital issues within our political parties, our parliamentary groups and as well as our constituencies and regions.

We must fiercely and persistently encourage our governments to act, as well as to invite our co-citizens to engage with us.

Parliamentarians must lead the conversations on maternal and infant mortality rates, abortion rates and whether to legalise it, early marriages, with good health and wellbeing of citizens at the core of our intentions.

I want us all to unite, sign resolutions and laws and share best practices and ideas amongst our countries, because we are the voice of the voiceless.

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Excerpt:

Marie Rose Nguini Effa is a Member of Parliament (MP), President of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA), Member of National Assembly of Cameroon & Member of the Pan-African Parliament. She is also a delegate to the International Parliamentarians’ Conference in Ottawa next week.

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Romania’s Prime Minister visits ADNOChttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/romanias-prime-minister-visits-adnoc/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=romanias-prime-minister-visits-adnoc http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/romanias-prime-minister-visits-adnoc/#respond Thu, 18 Oct 2018 08:09:34 +0000 WAM http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158258 Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) met, today, with Viorica Dancila, Romania’s first female Prime Minister, at ADNOC, in Abu Dhabi. During the meeting Dr. Al Jaber conveyed the greetings of the UAE leadership to the Romanian leadership and government, emphasising […]

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Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) met, today, with Viorica Dancila, Romania’s first female Prime Minister, at ADNOC, in Abu Dhabi.

By WAM
ABU DHABI, Oct 18 2018 (WAM)

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) met, today, with Viorica Dancila, Romania’s first female Prime Minister, at ADNOC, in Abu Dhabi.

During the meeting Dr. Al Jaber conveyed the greetings of the UAE leadership to the Romanian leadership and government, emphasising the UAE’s keenness to boost bilateral ties. He stressed the need for both parties to take advantage of the opportunities to enhance bilateral trade.

Accompanied by Dr. Al Jaber, Prime Minister Dancila attended a demonstration of ADNOC’s advanced Panorama Digital Command Centre, which is using artificial intelligence, AI, and big data to drive operational efficiencies and performance, by giving real time visibility to information from ADNOC’s full value chain.

Prime Minister Dancila also visited ADNOC’s Thammama sub surface collaboration centre, that is using smart analytics and is adopting AI platforms to solve subsurface challenges and to help unlock more challenging resources and optimise field development plans, as well as reduce drilling time and manage production capacity across ADNOC’s operations.

Later, Dr. Al Jaber hosted a lunch for Romanian Prime Minister, which was also attended by the UAE’s Ambassador to Romania, Ahmed Abdullah Saeed, and Romani’s Ambassador to the UAE, Adrian Macelaru. During the visit, Prime Minister Dancila also met with members of ADNOC’s Future Leaders Programme, which is designed to identify the company’s brightest and best Emirati employees and provide them with the knowledge, skills and experience they will need to ensure ADNOC continues to thrive in the future energy landscape.

Prime Minister Dancila became Romania’s first female Prime Minister on January 28th, 2018. Before entering politics she was an engineer for Petrom SA, the Romanian National Oil Company.

During her visit to ADNOC she expressed her admiration for how ADNOC is harnessing the enabling power of digitalisation and has adopted an innovative partnership approach to drive growth.

Diplomatic relations between the UAE and Romania were formally established in 1989. Romania opened its embassy in Abu Dhabi in 1991 and the UAE Embassy opened its doors in Bucharest in 2004. In April, the UAE-Romania Joint Committee held its first ministerial meeting in Bucharest. The meeting was chaired by Dr Al Jaber.

Bilateral non-oil trade between the UAE and Romania amounted to US$573.8 million in 2016. UAE cumulative investment in Romania from 2003-2017 amounted to US $103 million. Austria’s OMV, which owns 51 percent of PETROM, is part-owned by a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company. OMV has a 20 percent stake in ADNOC’s SARB and Umm Lulu offshore concession area.

 

WAM/MOHD AAMIR/Tariq alfaham

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

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Credit: Institute for Palestine Studies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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For the Survival of the Nile and its Peoplehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/survival-nile-people/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=survival-nile-people http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/survival-nile-people/#respond Wed, 17 Oct 2018 14:25:11 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158229 Running through eleven countries for 6,853 kilometres, the Nile is a lifeline for nearly half a billion people. But the river itself has been a source of tension and even conflict for countries and territories that lie along it and there have been rumours of “possible war for the Nile” for years now. While to […]

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Natural fertility is actually the Nile's biggest legacy for Egyptians. A fisherman fishes for food on the Nile. Credit: Cam McGrath/IPS.

By Maged Srour
ROME, Oct 17 2018 (IPS)

Running through eleven countries for 6,853 kilometres, the Nile is a lifeline for nearly half a billion people. But the river itself has been a source of tension and even conflict for countries and territories that lie along it and there have been rumours of “possible war for the Nile” for years now. While to date there has been no outbreak of irreversible tension, experts say that because of increasing changes in the climate a shared agreement needs to be reached on the redistribution of water soon.

“Right now I do not think there is a concrete and imminent risk of conflict between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, given the internal difficulties and the unstable nearby area [Libya] of the first, the recent secession suffered by the second and the peace agreement achieved by the third with Eritrea,” Maurizio Simoncelli, vice president of the International Research Institute Archivio Disarmo, a think tank based in Rome, told IPS.

“However, it is certain that if a shared agreement is not reached on the redistribution of water in a situation of increasing climatic changes, those areas remain at great risk,” he said.

No one master of the river Nile

All the cities that run along the river exist only because of these waters. For Egypt, this is particularly true: if the Nile wasn’t there, it would be just another part of the Sahara desert.

Egypt has tried to be master of the river for centuries, seeking to ensure exclusive control over its use. Nevertheless, today upstream countries are challenging this dominance, pushing for a greater share of the waters. Egypt and Sudan still regard two treaties from 1929 and 1959 as technically binding, while African upstream nations – after gaining independence – started to challenge these agreements, signed when they were under colonial rule.

The 1959 treaty allocates 75 percent of the river’s waters to Egypt, leaving the remainder to Sudan. Egypt has always justified this hegemonic position on the basis of geographic motivations and economic development, as it is an arid country that could not survive without the Nile’s waters, while upstream countries receive enough rainfall to develop pluvial agriculture without resorting to irrigation.

“From the Egyptian point of view, it is right [to hold this hegemonic position] because it is true, Cairo has no alternative water resources. Without the Nile, Egypt would die,” Matteo Colombo, associate research fellow in the MENA Programme at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) told IPS.

Egypt – according to Colombo – should therefore aim to open regional forums focusing on cooperation in a broad sense.

Cooperation among countries sharing this watercourse is key. For example, Ethiopia could need more water to produce more electricity, which could in turn diminish the amount of flow towards Cairo. Indeed, Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is currently under construction, will be the biggest dam on the African continent and could diminish the amount of water flowing to Egypt.

Water is not the only gift of this river for Egypt. Each year, rainfall in Ethiopia causes the Nile to flood its banks in Egypt. When the Nile flood recedes, the silt – a sediment rich in nutrients and minerals and carried by the river – remains behind, fertilising the soil and creating arable land. Natural fertility is actually the Nile’s biggest legacy for Egyptians.

“The problem for Egypt is that, from a geographical point of view, it does not hold the knife on the side of the handle,” warns Colombo.

“For this reason, Egypt cannot fail to reach an agreement with neighbouring countries. What Cairo could do is to create a sort of ‘regional forum’, a ‘platform’, where the various disputes with neighbouring countries are discussed and perhaps include other topics in the talks,” Colombo added. “If other themes were included, Egypt could have some more voices than Sudan and Ethiopia, while if the discussion remains relegated to the theme of water, the margin of action for Egypt would be limited.”

The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), created in 1999 with the aim to “take care of and jointly use the shared Nile Basin water and related resources”, could be an example of regional multilateralism to resolve disputes but it remains relegated to discussions about water management.

Institutionally, the NBI is not a commission. It is “in transition”, awaiting an agreement on Nile water usage, so it has no legal standing beyond its headquarters agreement with Uganda, where the secretariat is settled.

Due to differences that have not yet been resolved, the NBI has focused on technical, relatively apolitical projects. This ends up weakening the organisation since Egypt sees technical and political tracks as inseparable. Therefore, Cairo suspended its participation in most NBI activities, effectively depleting the organisation’s political weight.

Populations living on the Nile and the impact

If regional agreements on the management of the Nile’s waters seem difficult, what is certain is that local populations’ living along the river have always been impacted by environmental changes.

The Nubian population are among these affected people. The Nubians, an ethnic group originating in southern Egypt and northern Sudan, have lived along the Nile for thousands of years. In 1899, during the construction of the Aswan Low Dam, they were forced to move and relocate to the west bank of the Nile in Aswan. During the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, over 120,000 Nubians were forced to move for a second time.

Their new home proved far from satisfactory: not a single resettlement village was by the river. And to date, the socio-economic and political conditions of the Nubians have not appeared to have improved.

“I think we are passing through one of the worst moments for us Nubians. Every time we tried to claim some rights in the last few years, the government did not want to listen to us and many of our activists were recently arrested,” Mohamed Azmy, president of the General Nubian Union, a movement that actively promotes the right to return of the Nubian community to their ancestral land, told IPS.

Lorri Pottinger of International Rivers told Al Jazeera that Africa’s large dams have not reversed poverty, or dramatically increased electricity rates, or even improved water supply for people living near them.

“What they have done is help create a small industrial economy that tends to be  companies from Europe and elsewhere. And so these benefits are really, really concentrated in a very small elite,” she had said.

The demographic challenge

The reasons why Egypt faces water scarcity are numerous but the exponential increase in population certainly accelerates the critical situation.

The United Nations estimates that unless the current fertility rate of 3.47 changes by 2030, Egypt’s population is expected to grow from the current 97 million to 128 million. This demographic growth has grave implications as it comes at a time of unprecedented challenges in the climate which in turn has worrisome implications for loss of arable land, rising sea levels and depletion of scarce water resources.

Moreover, the demographic increase is having grave consequences on the entire economic system, as there is insufficient infrastructure and not enough jobs for the increasing young population.

Birth control policies could be and should be part of the solution to overcome these challenges. The government has recently launched a campaign named ‘Kefaya etnen’ (‘Two is enough’), through which it is trying to raise the awareness on controlling birth rates and having no more than two children per family. “I think this is a great initiative from the Egyptian government but it definitely needs to permeate the society, and this will not be easy,” said Colombo.

Egypt needs to curb its population and to turn its youth into an asset for its economy, otherwise the waters of the Nile could be insufficient.

Indeed, the importance of the Nile is felt in the blood of all Egyptians. “Walking along the Nile for me is what makes me relaxed and vent when I need it, in the chaos of the city,” Tarek, a resident of Cairo, tells IPS.

And many Egyptians hope that this gift will be with them forever, because it is not just about survival, but about the essence itself of being part of these lands.

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

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

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

Population Growth through 2100. Credit: UN Photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpts from the interview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Parliamentarians to Assess Population & Development Funding 24 Years After Historic Conference appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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