Inter Press ServiceNorth America – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Fri, 18 Jan 2019 20:26:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 A Salty Dilemmahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/a-salty-dilemma/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-salty-dilemma http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/a-salty-dilemma/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2019 11:57:16 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159655 As the threat of water scarcity increasingly grows, many have turned to the Earth’s plentiful oceans for a solution. However, this has created a new risk threatening public and environmental health: brine. In a new study, the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment, and Health (UNU-INWEH) assessed the state of desalination around the world […]

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A desalination plant. Across 177 countries, there are now 16,000 desalination plants, many of which are concentrated in the Middle East and North Africa where water scarcity is already a reality.As desalination plants continue to pop up, so does a hypersaline, chemical by-product known as brine. Credit: RoPlant

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 16 2019 (IPS)

As the threat of water scarcity increasingly grows, many have turned to the Earth’s plentiful oceans for a solution. However, this has created a new risk threatening public and environmental health: brine.

In a new study, the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment, and Health (UNU-INWEH) assessed the state of desalination around the world as countries increasingly convert sea water into freshwater for its citizens.

“There is an increasing level of water scarcity across the globe, but there are hot spots of water scarcity like those in the Middle East and parts of Africa. They really need an additional supply of water that they can use to meet the requirements of their population,” one of the report’s authors Manzoor Qadir told IPS.

Across 177 countries, there are now 16,000 desalination plants, many of which are concentrated in the Middle East and North Africa where water scarcity is already a reality.

As desalination plants continue to pop up, so does a hypersaline, chemical by-product known as brine.

In fact, for every litre of freshwater a plant produces, 1.5 litres of brine is produced, a figure that is 50 percent more than previously estimated.

Globally, desalination plants produce enough brine in one year to cover all of Florida in one foot of the waste.

“Historically what we used to see was the equal volumes of brine versus desalinated water—that is not true…there is more brine produced than desalinated water. It really needs efficient management,” Qadir said.

Countries are increasingly turning to the oceans as a solution to water scarcity. Pictured here is Sri Lanka’s southern coast near Hikkaduwa town. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

The study, which is the first to quantify brine production across the world, found that just four countries are responsible for 55 percent of global brine: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar.

Almost 80 percent of brine is produced in plants near the ocean and are often discharged back into the ocean, posing major risks to ocean life and marine ecosystems.

According to the UNU-INWEH report, untreated brine increases both the temperature and salt concentration of sea water. Together, these conditions decreases the water’s oxygen levels, impacting sea organisms and the food chain.

The desalination process also uses toxic chemicals such as copper and chlorine, polluting oceans when released.

As desalination plants are predicted to increase in number, the assessment highlighted the need for improved brine management strategies to avoid further and future environmental damage.

The report’s authors pointed to the various economic opportunities to use brine including in the irrigation of salt tolerant crops,  electricity generation, and even aquaculture.

“Using saline drainage water offers potential commercial, social and environmental gains.  Reject brine has been used for aquaculture, with increases in fish biomass of 300 percent achieved,” Qadir said.

“”There is a need to translate such research and convert an environmental problem into an economic opportunity,” he added.

But first and foremost, countries need to minimise the volume of brine produced including the adoption of more efficient modern technologies, Qadir noted.

“[Middle Eastern countries] especially need to take concrete action just to make sure that there is an environmentally feasible management of brine,” he told IPS, while also acknowledging the importance of desalination.

UNU-INWEH found that eight countries including the Maldives, Singapore, Antigua and Barbuda and Qatar can meet all their water needs through desalination. And it is predicted that more and more countries will rely on such plants for their water needs.

“We need to raise the importance of global water scarcity and the key contributions of desalinated water, but at the same time we should not just ignore the other part of desalinated technology which is brine production,” Qadir concluded.

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Q&A: ‘There’s a Lot More Climate Finance Available than People Think’http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/qa-theres-lot-climate-finance-available-people-think/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-theres-lot-climate-finance-available-people-think http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/qa-theres-lot-climate-finance-available-people-think/#respond Fri, 11 Jan 2019 18:07:00 +0000 Yazeed Kamaldien http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159590 IPS Correspondent Yazeed Kamaldien speaks to DR. FRANK RIJSBERMAN, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) about accessing finance for climate mitigation.

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Communities in rural Papua New Guinea install their own cost effective and energy efficient solar panels. GGGI says that governments should rather invest in renewable energy. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

By Yazeed Kamaldien
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Jan 11 2019 (IPS)

While growth in the green economy looks promising, government regulation and a business-as-usual approach are among the hurdles inhibiting cleaner energy production.

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), believes shifts are needed to realise more projects. And he believes funding is available.

“We have teams in more than 30 countries. We work on policy barriers and help develop bankable projects. In the last two years we have helped our member countries mobilise at least one billion dollars in green and climate finance,” Rijsberman told IPS. GGGI is a treaty-based international organisation that assists countries develop a green growth model.

Rijsberman was among panelists discussing ‘Unlocking Finance for Sustainability’ at the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) Ministerial Conference being held in Cape Town, South Africa from Jan. 10 to 11. It gathered government leaders, businesses and environmentalists to focus on the challenge to “reduce inequalities, protect the environment and grow the economy”.

The conference focused on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted three years ago.

“It is time now to take these global goals and turn them into real changes in the lives of people and nations. It’s time for action,” stated the conference agenda.

“We can restructure our economic and financial systems to transform them into drivers of sustainability and social inclusion; the two prerequisites for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and targets of the Paris Agreement on climate change,” it continued.

At the December United Nations’ Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland, where ministers from around the world negotiated on how best to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, which outlines commitments to mitigate climate change, accessing finance was a topical issue. IPS reported from the  that the African team of negotiators had been concerned about who would carry the burden of financing the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

PAGE gathered around 500 innovators and leaders from governments, civil society, private sector, development organisations, media and the general public. The idea was to showcase “the experiences and creativity of first-movers…and engage in an open debate about what it is going to take to for us to have a ‘just transition’ to economics and societies that are more inclusive, stable and sustainable.”

Rijsberman offered his insights gained from working in different countries on accessing financing for green projects.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), says the largest amounts of money available is with the private sector and institutional development such as pension funds. This, he says, can be accessed for climate change mitigation. Credit: Yazeed Kamaldien/IPS

Inter Press Service (IPS): Where is this money that you mention for green projects?

Frank Rijsberman (FR): There’s a lot more finance available than people think. There tends to be an over focus on development money but the largest amounts of money is with the private sector and institutional development such as pension funds. We need to get the private sector off the sidelines and to invest in renewable energy.

IPS: And how can that be done?

FR: They need to realise that green investments are attractive. If you want to do socially important projects then renewable energy is it. It has become the cheapest, most attractive form of energy.

IPS: What about the role that governments play in this? They are the regulators that sometimes inhibit the private sector.

FR: Sometimes we sit in the room with the private sector and ask them what stops them from investing and they say it’s regulation and policies. We have to find a more welcoming environment.

We talk to governments and they talk about a study they did three years ago and tell us renewable energy is expensive. But we tell them prices have come down. All that governments know is how to build fossil fuel power plants. Fossil fuel project developers are still in their contact lists. The banks know what to do. They need to look at an energy mix.

IPS: So what is it about government policies that hinder moves to renewable energy?

FR: Some governments have laws that they use to disconnect companies from power if they put solar on their rooftops. Other countries, like Finland, still have old polices that are bad and that are still on the books. It is also difficult politically when the government subsidises fuel and not renewable energy. Governments need to remove policy barriers.

We are in the middle of such a rapid transition but if you sit in a country where governments don’t see that it’s difficult.

Coal and oil is more certain [to produce power] but for countries that need to import that, where prices are uncertain, it’s a lot more certain to use the sun and wind if you have this in your country.

IPS: How is the prospect for renewable energy looking in the developing world?

FR: If you are using only coal-fired power plants then you will sit with a stranded asset. Countries that already have a lot of investment in fossil fuels will find the change to renewable energy painful.

In Africa, most countries don’t have this. In some countries only 20 percent of people have energy access. These countries can invest in green energy and they can avoid making bad investments and can leapfrog into renewables.

They don’t have to look like Asia where they have rapidly developed economies and sit with coal-fired power stations that pollute their cities.

There is a real opportunity to avoid the problems that other countries have.

IPS: What about developing country examples of renewable energy that worked?

FR: Just two years ago when the Indian government wanted to a build a power plant they found the prices of large-scale solar panels less than coal-fired power plants. They scrapped all their plans. They are looking at solar power projects.

But there is still a lot of inertia. People are still continuing to invest in fossil fuels. We are trying to show governments through information and projects that this is feasible. We want to show how it can reduce risk.

We are working on projects. In Fiji the government gives a subsidy to low-income houses for electricity. We have proposed a project where the government puts solar panels on the roof and uses the same subsidy to finance this. It’s about using that money for sustainability.

Low-income houses have TVs and mobile phones. Making a package for people that puts solar on their roof is better. They can charge their mobile phones and [solar] also connects to their fridge and TV. Social movements have done this in some countries.

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Excerpt:

IPS Correspondent Yazeed Kamaldien speaks to DR. FRANK RIJSBERMAN, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) about accessing finance for climate mitigation.

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Walking Miles In Their Shoeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/walking-miles-shoes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=walking-miles-shoes http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/walking-miles-shoes/#respond Thu, 10 Jan 2019 09:42:23 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159574 In light of the millions of refugees escaping persecution in search of a safer, more prosperous future, a new campaign aims to raise awareness of the difficult journeys such populations take around the world. Launched by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety raises awareness of the long, precarious journeys […]

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A Rohingya couple, Mohammad Faisal and his wife Hajera, pose for a photo with their child at their camp at Teknaf Nature's Park, Bangladesh. Some refugees had to walk 60 miles on foot to reach the safety of Bangladesh Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 10 2019 (IPS)

In light of the millions of refugees escaping persecution in search of a safer, more prosperous future, a new campaign aims to raise awareness of the difficult journeys such populations take around the world.

Launched by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety raises awareness of the long, precarious journeys that many refugees take and calls on the public to amp up support.

“Every day, we are inspired by the acts of kindness from people who are doing their very best to improve life for refugees: the activists, the communities hosting refugees, businesses, donors, volunteers,’” said UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T. Clements.

“This campaign will encourage people to support refugees through something they are already doing – walking, cycling, running,” she added.

According to UNHCR, people who are forced to flee travel approximately 2 billion km every year to reach the first point of safety.

In 2016, South Sudanese refugees travelled over 400 miles to reach Kenya while Rohingya refugees in Myanmar travelled up to 50 miles in search of safety in Bangladesh.

Later aided by the U.N. agency, Alin Nisa and her family were forced to flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh after an armed group attacked the village and abducted community members.

Crossing mountains and rivers, Nisa carried her two young children while her husband carried his mother who could not walk.

They travelled 60 miles on foot, finally reaching the Kutupalong refugee settlement in Bangladesh.

Similarly, Zeenab and her family fled Syria after their home was destroyed and travelled over 90 miles to Jordan’s za’atari refugee camp.

“We’re grateful. Winter here is difficult, but it’s still better than Syria,” she told UNHCR.

And how better to understand refugees’ plight than actually walking in their shoes and covering the same distance?

Clements highlighted the importance of remembering refugees’ very real and dangerous journeys, especially as misconceptions continue to be spread about them.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed similar sentiments upon the adoption of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) in December, stating: “There are many falsehoods about the world’s migrants. But we must not succumb to fear or false narratives. We must move from myth to reality.”

Such narratives have been most apparent in the United States which has seemingly shut the door on refugees.

The Trump administration first implemented a 120-day refugee ban, followed by a ban on refugees from “high-risk” countries including South Sudan and Syria.

In January 2017, the U.S. government cut the refugee quota by more than half, which led to only 22,000 refugees being resettled in the country in 2018, the lowest rate since 1980.

Most recently, the administration has deployed troops at the U.S.’ southern border in an effort to prevent refugees and migrants who have travelled across Central America from entering the country or seeking asylum.

Anti-refugee rhetoric has also been on the rise in Europe, including Belgium which has seen violent riots against the country’s participation in the GCM.

People across 27 countries will take part in the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign, and UNHCR hopes to raise over 15 million dollars to support refugees with registration, food, water, shelter, and healthcare.

UNHCR’s funding requirements for 2019 amount to a record 8.5 billion dollars and has thus far received 926 million dollars in pledges.

Though the GCM is a stepping stone towards awareness and action, there is still much left to do.

U.N. Special Representative for International Migration Louise Arbour expressed such views in her closing remarks at the GCM conference, stating: “To the millions who have left their homeland, either recently or a long time ago, most of them in full compliance with the law, we have much more to offer: whether an opportunity to return home, after years abroad, taking back with them their skills and the fruits of their labour, or whether an increased chance to see their children having a better future in a country that they will be proud to call their home.”

Globally, over 68 million have been forcibly displaced. Of this, 25 million are refugees, a figure that has increased by almost 3 million within just one year.

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Recorded Increase in Human Trafficking, Women and Girls Targetedhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/recorded-increase-human-trafficking-women-girls-targeted/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=recorded-increase-human-trafficking-women-girls-targeted http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/recorded-increase-human-trafficking-women-girls-targeted/#respond Wed, 09 Jan 2019 08:03:42 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159551 Human trafficking is on the rise and it is more “horrific” than ever, a United Nations agency found. In a new report examining patterns in human trafficking, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that the global trend has increased steadily since 2010 around the world. “Human trafficking has taken on horrific dimensions […]

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Children from rural areas and disempowered homes are ideal targets for trafficking in India and elsewhere. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 9 2019 (IPS)

Human trafficking is on the rise and it is more “horrific” than ever, a United Nations agency found.

In a new report examining patterns in human trafficking, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that the global trend has increased steadily since 2010 around the world.

“Human trafficking has taken on horrific dimensions as armed groups and terrorists use it to spread fear and gain victims to offer as incentives to recruit new fighters,” said UNODC’s Executive Director Yury Fedotov.

Asia and the Americas saw the largest increase in identified victims but the report notes that this may also reflect an improved capacity to identify and report data on trafficking.

Women and girls are especially vulnerable, making up 70 percent of detected victims worldwide. While they are mainly adult women, girls are increasingly targeted by traffickers.

According to the 2018 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, girls account for 23 percent of all trafficking victims, up from 21 percent in 2014 and 10 percent in 2004.

UNODC also highlighted that conflict has increased the vulnerability of such populations to trafficking as armed groups were found to use the practice to finance activities or increase troops.   

Activist and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad was among thousands of Yazidi women and girls who was abducted from her village and sold into sexual slavery by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, a tactic used in order to boost recruitment and reward soldiers. 

Murad recently received the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, dedicating it to survivors of sexual violence and genocide.

“Survivors deserve a safe and secure pathway home or safe passage elsewhere. We must support efforts to focus on humanity, and overcome political and cultural divisions. We must not only imagine a better future for women, children and persecuted minorities, we must work consistently to make it happen – prioritising humanity, not war,” she said.

“The fact remains that the only prize in the world that can restore our dignity is justice and the prosecution of criminals,” Murad added.

Sexual exploitation continues to be the main purpose for trafficking, account for almost 60 percent, while forced labor accounts for approximately 34 percent of all identified cases.

Three-quarters of all female victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation globally.

The report also found for the first time that the majority of trafficked victims are trafficked within their own countries of citizenship.

The share of identified domestic victims has more than doubled from 27 percent in 2010 to 58 percent in 2016.

This may be due to improved border controls at borders preventing cross-border trafficking as well as a greater awareness of the different forms of trafficking, the report notes.

However, convictions have only recently started to grow and in many countries, conviction rates still remain worryingly low.

In Europe, conviction rates have dropped from 988 traffickers convicted in 2011 to 742 people in 2016.

During that same time period, the number of detected victims increased from 4,248 to 4,429.

There also continue to be gaps in knowledge and information, particularly in certain parts of Africa, Middle East, and East Asia which still lack sufficient capacity to record and share data on human trafficking.

“This report shows that we need to step up technical assistance and strengthen cooperation, to support all countries to protect victims and bring criminals to justice, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” Fedotov said at the report’s launch.

Adopted in 2015, the landmark SDGs include ambitious targets including the SDG target 16.2 which calls on member states to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children.

SDG indicator 16.2.2 asks member states to measure the number of victims of human trafficking per 100,000 population and disaggregated by sex, age, and form of exploitation, reflecting the importance of improving data recording, collection, and dissemination.

“The international community needs to…stop human trafficking in conflict situations and in all our societies where this terrible crime continues to operate in the shadows,” Fedotov said.

“I urge the international community to heed Nadia [Murad]’s call for justice,” he added.

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Sprouting Mangroves Restore Hopes in Coastal Myanmarhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/sprouting-mangroves-restore-hopes-coastal-myanmar/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sprouting-mangroves-restore-hopes-coastal-myanmar http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/sprouting-mangroves-restore-hopes-coastal-myanmar/#respond Fri, 04 Jan 2019 11:19:28 +0000 Stella Paul http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159479 Htay Aung is having a moment. The 63-year-old retired professor of Marine Science sits at the foot of a Buddha statue atop a hill on Shwe Thaung Yan sub township, in Myanmar’s Ayyerwady region, almost in meditation. Below him, a vast thicket of mangrove glistens in the gold of a setting sun. For Aung, this stretch of […]

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Young planters stand guard by mangrove forest in Shwe Thaung Yan sub township in Ayyerwady region of Myanmar. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

By Stella Paul
SHWE THAUNG YAN, Myanmar, Jan 4 2019 (IPS)

Htay Aung is having a moment. The 63-year-old retired professor of Marine Science sits at the foot of a Buddha statue atop a hill on Shwe Thaung Yan sub township, in Myanmar’s Ayyerwady region, almost in meditation. Below him, a vast thicket of mangrove glistens in the gold of a setting sun. For Aung, this stretch of mangroves—known as the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park—is a symbol of joy, hope and all things good.

“We gave three years of hard work in planting these trees. Now they are growing tall. Soon, they will be the biggest assets of our people,” he says, pointing at the forest and the tiny dot of houses that appear in the horizon.

The restored mangrove forest in Shwe Thaung Yan sub township in Ayyerwady region of Myanmar. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Mangroves in Myanmar
This mangrove forest is spread across an area of 2,557 square kilometres (km)—almost the size of Luxembourg.

However, in most places, the density is wafer thin thanks to rampant clearing of the mangroves for space to breed shrimps and for firewood etc. According to a recent study by Pierre Taillerdat, Massimo Lupascu and Daniel Friess, Myanmar loses about 21 square km of its mangrove forests each year.

Shwe Thaung Yan, about 185 km north west of Yangon, once had a severely degraded forest where 75 percent of its mangroves had been destroyed.

Then the story changed.

In 2015, just before the rains came, a motley crowd of a few hundred men, women and youths from the fishing villages, wearing shinny plastic gumboots and carrying sling sacks filled with mangrove saplings, gathered along the muddy swamp in Myagi—one of the three villages under Shwe Thaung Yan.

For several hours a day, they planted the saplings in the muddy soil made fertile and nutrient rich by regular tides.
By October of that year, they had planted over 700,000 trees on three square km of land.

Since then, the plantation drive has taken place each year. By the end of October 2018, the community planted six million trees in three villages of under Shew Thaung Yan, covering 9 square km of land—an area over four times bigger than the city of Monaco.

Leading the planters from the front, besides Aung were U BoNi and Aung Aung Myint, experts in mangrove research and costal ecosystems restoration. The three are currently associated with Worldview International Foundation (WIF)—a Norwegian charity co-founded by Arne Fjortoft, a former journalist turned politician and a renowned environmentalist.

“We used the satellite images, studied the images meticulously and created a map that shows the exact patches in the mangrove forest that had gone bare. We shared this information with the villagers. We also marked the areas and divided the planters in several groups and assigned each group a certain area,” BoNi tells IPS.

Before the plantation started, WIF entered into an active partnership with Myanmar’s Ministry of Environmental Conservation and two of the country’s leading educational institutions, Myeik and Pathein universities. The land area for planting mangroves—over 7 square km in all—was provided by Pathein University, which is also involved in studying marine science along the coast of Shwe Thaung Yan.

Worldview International Foundation (WIF) signboard by a mangrove forest in Shwe Thaung Yan sub township in Ayyerwady region of Myanmar. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Mitigating Climate Change
Mangroves make up only 0.7 percent of the world’s forests, but they have the potential to store about 2.5 times as much CO2 as humans produce globally each year. A 2017 study estimated that the total amount of carbon held in the world’s mangroves was around 4.2 billion tonnes. If this whole amount were released as CO2, it would be equivalent to the annual emissions of China and the United States put together.

Another study said that Myanmar’s mangroves — which is 3 percent of global mangrove forests, shows “huge (blue carbon) potential if conservation can prevent further emissions from their loss and encourage future carbon sequestration through restoration.” So, blue carbon mitigation at the national scale “is well aligned with the Paris Agreement and associated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for some nations,” the study says.

Cameron Keith Richards, professor at Southern Cross University, Australia, visited Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park in 2016 to evaluate the mangrove restoration and its blue carbon stock. In his validation report, which helped the project qualify for selling its carbon stocks, Richards summarised the project saying that it was “reasonably assumed to represent an overall 4.3 million tons of C02 within a 20-year lifecycle of the current trees and additional trees to be planted in the project.”

The mangrove project has opened ways for alternative livelihoods and skill-building opportunities for the community. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Community Development
Shew Thaung Yan is primarily a fishing sub township where catching and selling of fish remain the source of sustenance for its nearly 11,000-strong community.

However, the mangrove project has opened ways for alternative livelihoods and skill-building opportunities for the community: during the monsoon when there is little or no fishing in the sea, the community members earn wages by planting mangrove saplings in the forests around them.

Women of the village have also started a clam farming collective–a first for the community. The collective which presently has 55 members, is running from a site that was earlier used as a nursery for growing mangrove saplings. The women visit the mangrove forest where they collect clams and bring it back to the farm where each of them have a 6 to 10 ft enclosure that are regularly flooded by the tidal waves. The clams have been “sowed’ into the slushy farm soil, where they will thrive and grow fat, feeding on the nutrients brought by the tides.

This is a zero-investment livelihood initiative that promises local women a good earning opportunity, explains Shwe Sandar Oo, the coordinator of the farming project. “The land is free, the clams are free and we have already connected them to buyers,” she tells IPS. The buyers, she says, are hoteliers in Chaung Tha, a beach town popular among domestic and foreign tourists. Big, fleshy clams are high in demand among the tourists and usually fetch half a dollar each.

Clam farmer Thein Thein Sein is full of happiness as she looks upon her zero-investment clam farm in Myagi village of Shwe Thaung Yan sub township in Ayyerwady region of Myanmar. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Thein Thein Nwe, one of the clam farmers says that it’s the zero-investment that drew her to the collective. Earlier this year, Nwe’s eldest daughter dropped out of school at grade 10, after she failed to pass her grade 10 tests. With the income she earns from her clam farm, the 42-year-old fisherwoman now hopes to send her daughter to a private coach, so she could retake the tests.

Many in the village of Maygi have received clean cookstoves and solar lamps provided by WIF. The village has a media centre where school-going children of the village are learning various skills including basic computer operations, photography and embroidery. Run by WIF, the centre offers scholarship girl students who are promising but too poor to afford tuition fees.

Way to the Future
As 2019 begins, the planters in Shwe Thaung Yan are gearing up to plant two billion trees–their biggest plantation drive to date. Once finished, restoration drive of Shwe Thaung Yan would be complete and the restored forest would store 300 million tonnes of CO2, Uboni says. “After this, we are going to Yangon Division and also the delta division. So, in the new year, we will go to Bago and Mon state to plant mangrove,” he announces.

Aung, on the other hand, is more focused on the underwater marine life, especially conserving the seagrass and the coral bed both of which are available in the sea around Shwe Thaung Yan.

“The seagrass can stock much more blue carbon than the land trees or mangrove. It is also what feeds Dugong or sea cow—a critically endangered sea mammal. So, with the help of WIF and Pathein University, we now aim is to build a marine sanctuary around Shwe Thaung Yan,” he says.

The idea has received the approval of Daw Si Si Hla Bu, the rector of Pathein University. “I want to see our university making significant contribution to coastal ecosystem restoration,” Hla Bu tells IPS.

Arne Fjortoft tells IPS that the funding for the proposed marine sanctuary could be raised from selling off the carbon stock of mangrove forests. For Fjortoft, however, the mangrove restoration, vocational trainings, clam farming and marine life conservation are all part of a big, single picture: “The final goal here is to help bring sustainable development for 12 million people of the country’s coastal communities. And that’s the future we are hoping to see.”

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Promotion of Arabic language and culture is key to harnessing unity in diversity, says Chairman of the Geneva Centrehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/promotion-arabic-language-culture-key-harnessing-unity-diversity-says-chairman-geneva-centre/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=promotion-arabic-language-culture-key-harnessing-unity-diversity-says-chairman-geneva-centre http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/promotion-arabic-language-culture-key-harnessing-unity-diversity-says-chairman-geneva-centre/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 18:49:25 +0000 Geneva Centre http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159321 On the occasion of the 2018 World Arabic Language Day, the Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue Dr. Hanif Al Qassim stated that the increased use of Arabic language worldwide will enhance intercultural understanding between Arabs and non-Arabs. Dr. Al Qassim noted that the Arabic language is spoken in […]

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By Geneva Centre
GENEVA, Dec 18 2018 (Geneva Centre)

On the occasion of the 2018 World Arabic Language Day, the Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue Dr. Hanif Al Qassim stated that the increased use of Arabic language worldwide will enhance intercultural understanding between Arabs and non-Arabs.

Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim

Dr. Al Qassim noted that the Arabic language is spoken in more than 25 countries and is the mother tongue of approximately 400 million people in different regions of the world. It is also recognised as one of the six official languages of the United Nations thus belonging to the common heritage of humankind.

In this connection, the Geneva Centre’s Chairman highlighted that Arabic literary scripts during the Islamic medieval age contributed greatly to the social, cultural and civic evolution of today’s modern societies. It established – he noted – “bridges of communications among nations and cultures along the Silk Road and greatly contributed to enrich human civilization.”

Although the Geneva Centre’s Chairman emphasized the important role of Arabic as a transmitter of knowledge and science, he noted that the rise of anti-Arab sentiments in some societies contribute to the stigmatization of people of Arab origin. The spread of the Arabic language could thus serve as a basis to address the worrying trend of a toxic discourse against the Other that is gaining ground in some societies. Dr. Al Qassim said:

The promotion of the Arabic language and culture is key to enhancing cultural diversity and uniting spirits and minds in calling forth a more peaceful world. It could serve as a timely opportunity to reverse and roll-back the spread of hatred, bigotry, racism and the fear of the Other that often target people of Arabic origin.”

The Geneva Centre’s Chairman concluded his statement by appealing for increased cross-cultural dialogue between societies and peoples worldwide:

At time when the fear of the stranger has become the norm in some societies, rejoicing in the Other and celebrating diversity are needed more than ever to address the root-causes of intolerance worldwide. We therefore need to intensify dialogue between and within societies, civilizations and cultures. We need to learn more about one another so as to break down the walls of ignorance and prejudice that have insulated societies. The promotion of the Arabic language and culture is key to harnessing unity in diversity.”

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Global Anti-Human Trafficking Coalitionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 18:27:12 +0000 Vladimir Bozovic http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159316 Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Child labourers rescued in Delhi waiting to be sent back to their villages. Credit: Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

By Vladimir Bozovic
BELGRADE, Serbia, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

Entire human history is one great struggle for freedom. To many, slavery is a synonym for something in the past, for transatlantic slave trade, but, unfortunately, slavery still exists in many different forms.

Records show that over twenty seven million men, women and children still live today in conditions that characterized social form of the slave ownership. They are trapped in forced labor and debt bondage, in domicile work and forced marriages, or they are being exploited by the human traffickers. We can easily speak of slavery as of great tragedy, and the fact that in this day and age still exists, is a downfall of human kind.

Modern slavery is a challenge for every democratic country. Suffering is the same as in the past, but methods are more sophisticated and perfidious, and most of those who suffer are the ones that should be protected the most – poor and socially excluded groups, who often live on the margins of our society, and young women and children. This is not an imaginary problem, it does not happen only to someone else and somewhere else; rather, it is a real threat and anyone can fall victim to.

The very first challenge in fight against slavery must be a cognizance: we must confess a bitter truth that slavery has been weakened, but still exists. Human trafficking is one of the growing forms of transnational crime, characterized by high profit and low risk, and it is followed by a grave statistics. It is crime of economic nature, and most efficiently organized, and we are currently fighting it on inconsistent and fragmented way. That is the dark side of globalization.

The issue of modern slavery is globally recognized by the UN in its millennium goals. Goal 8 is dedicated to increasing labor productivity, reducing the unemployment rate, especially for young people, improving access to financial services and benefits, fight against modern slavery and child labor. So many activities around this particular global goal prove that we don’t live anymore in a selfish world where we don’t consider other nations and their problems. No, the world of todays opens up to the misery of others, and everybody everywhere has to be good, for us to feel good. Employed, productive populations, sustainable economic growth, decent jobs with equal opportunities for fair salaries, safe working environments, social protection, these are all values that will ensure the progress of the entire world, and the whole world will benefit from the creativity, business and innovation of the free people.

Plenty has been done in delivering the Goal 8. UN reports that the average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita worldwide increased, the number of children from 5 to 17 years of age who are working has declined, access to financial services through automated teller machines increased… Plenty has been done, but also plenty has to be done. Child labor remains a serious concern with more than half of child laborers participate in dangerous work and 59% of them work in the agricultural sector; labor productivity has slowed down, the global unemployment rate hasn’t changed from 2016, with women more likely to be unemployed than men across all age groups. Youth were almost three times as likely as adults to be unemployed… It is clear that efforts provide results, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

There was a time we thought that the slavery is forever beaten, only to come back to us in new forms and shapes. That is why the solution must be fresh and brave. The only final answer to this problem is for every country, every government, every agency to work together, to unite and create an Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition that will engage entire society in fight against this crime, and combine all our efforts in protecting our citizens. It should be understood that eradicating the human trafficking is not solely a mission for the police or law enforcement agencies, this is a fight at all levels of society. We should campaign through media with the message that will define the problem, and develop the clear strategy that will unite countries and governments, churches and religious organizations, NGOs, youth, academic communities, media and all other important representatives of the society in one efficient and effective action with clear mechanisms of measuring the results. Everything should be designed in the way that those results are realistic and visible to the present victims, and to provide prevention and protection for potential victims. Time has clearly shown us, that this is one thing we can’t beat alone, nationally, rather, it’s a nick of time to do it globally.

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Excerpt:

Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Conserving Canada’s Diverse Marine Lifehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/conserving-canadas-diverse-marine-life/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=conserving-canadas-diverse-marine-life http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/conserving-canadas-diverse-marine-life/#respond Wed, 05 Dec 2018 19:47:33 +0000 Stephen Leahy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159050 Despite the deep, cold waters, newly discovered undersea mountains off Canada’s west coast are home to a rich diversity of life. “When we reached a seamount (undersea mountain), it was often like we were entering a forest, only of red tree corals and vase-shaped glass sponges,” said Robert Rangeley, Science Director, Oceana Canada.  “These areas […]

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Seamounts are filled with a diversity of ocean life including anemones, feather stars, octopuses, lobsters and rockfishes. Credit: Ocean Exploration Trust, Northeast Pacific Seamount Expedition Partners

By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Dec 5 2018 (IPS)

Despite the deep, cold waters, newly discovered undersea mountains off Canada’s west coast are home to a rich diversity of life.

“When we reached a seamount (undersea mountain), it was often like we were entering a forest, only of red tree corals and vase-shaped glass sponges,” said Robert Rangeley, Science Director, Oceana Canada.  “These areas were filled with a diversity of other animals including anemones, feather stars, octopuses, lobsters and rockfishes,” said Rangely who led the expedition in July.

Oceana, a marine conservation organisation, along with the Haida Nation, an indigenous people, the Federal government department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Ocean Networks Canada were partners in the first in-depth investigation of the recently designated Offshore Pacific Area of Interest. This is a 140,000 square kilometre region 100 to 200 kilometres west of Vancouver Island in the province of British Columbia.

The waters in this region are also home to the vast majority of Canada’s known hydrothermal vents, deep-sea hot springs at the bottom of the sea floor.  As seawater meets the Earth’s molten magma it gets superheated and rises up through holes or vents in the sea floor carrying with it minerals leached from the crustal rock below forming bizarre chimney-like structures. These vents are home to strange forms of life that thrive in a toxic chemical soup where temperatures can reach 350 degrees C.

The expedition spent 16 days on the water and discovered six new seamounts with ancient and fragile coral forests and potentially new species. Even scientists who have visited seamounts on other parts of the world were blown away by the abundance and diversity of life found Rangely told IPS.

The expedition team also found lost fishing gear on some of the seamounts. This gear entangles marine life and destroys fragile and slow growing corals and sponges. Seamounts are often targeted by fishing vessels because they attract an abundance of fish. The damage wasn’t from bottom-trawling vessels that scrape along the seafloor but from long-line fishing. The Cobb seamount just outside of Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has been destroyed by fishing he said.

Canada is working to create a new marine protected area (MPA) for most of the 140,000 sq km Offshore Pacific Area of Interest. Credit: Ocean Exploration Trust, Northeast Pacific Seamount Expedition Partners

Seamounts need protection to provide refuge for marine life and Oceana wants to see all of Canada’s seamounts closed to bottom contact fishing Rangely said. Fishing can still continue away from seamounts, and will benefit from the closures. When seamounts are protected from fishing or resource extraction, it increases the quantities of fish outside the area in what’s known as a ‘spillover effect’.

Canada is working to create a new marine protected area (MPA) for most of the 140,000 sq km Offshore Pacific Area of Interest. Half the region would be closed to fishing to protect seamounts and hydrothermal vents. The new MPA may be officially in place in 2020 to help Canada get close to its United Nations Convention of Biodiversity commitment of protecting 10 percent of its marine and coastal areas by 2020. Canada had protected less than one percent by 2017. However, the current government is rapidly ramping up the number of protected areas but conservationists say these protections are too weak and allow fishing or resource extraction.

For example a near 50,000 square kilometre marine refuge east of Newfoundland on Canada’s Atlantic coast is off limits to fishing was just opened to allow drilling for oil and gas.

Canada is also scrambling to manage its fish stocks that have seen years of steady decline. Just a third of the nearly 200 stocks are considered healthy, according to a 2018 audit report by Oceana. Canada is a major fish and seafood exporter, with exports reaching C$6.9 billion in 2017.

After a decade of deep cutbacks by a previous government, Canada’s fisheries department under the Trudeau government is struggling to catch up. Most of the 26 critically endangered stocks do not have rebuilding plans in place the Oceana report found.

Last week the Canadian government announced $107.4 million over five years for rebuilding and assessments of fish stocks across Canada.

In a statement Oceana Canada’s Executive Director, Josh Laughren called this a critical investment addressing the urgent challenge of rebuilding depleted fisheries and rebuilding abundance.

  • The first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and was co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Participants from 150 countries around the world gathered to learn how to build a blue economy.

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The Sustainable Polar Bear Tour that Also Educates Tourists on Environmental Impacthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/sustainable-polar-bear-tour-also-educates-tourists-environmental-impact/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sustainable-polar-bear-tour-also-educates-tourists-environmental-impact http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/sustainable-polar-bear-tour-also-educates-tourists-environmental-impact/#respond Mon, 26 Nov 2018 08:23:58 +0000 Stephen Leahy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158853 It’s almost always cold in Churchill, Manitoba, a remote coastal community on Hudson Bay in Canada’s subarctic region. Today, a month before winter officially begins, it’s -25 degrees C with a fierce wind coming off Hudson Bay which is thick with slabs of ice. Situated in the middle of Canada, it’s the world’s largest saltwater […]

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A Tundra Buggy with tourists watch a polar bear in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Much of the area around Churchill is under protection as a national park and tourism company Frontiers North Adventures has limited their growth to minimise impacts. Credit: Stephen Leahy/IPS

By Stephen Leahy
CHURCHILL, Canada , Nov 26 2018 (IPS)

It’s almost always cold in Churchill, Manitoba, a remote coastal community on Hudson Bay in Canada’s subarctic region. Today, a month before winter officially begins, it’s -25 degrees C with a fierce wind coming off Hudson Bay which is thick with slabs of ice. Situated in the middle of Canada, it’s the world’s largest saltwater bay. And even though frozen solid eight months of the year, the bay sustains the nearly 800 residents of Churchill which is known as the “Polar Bear Capital” of the world.

Tourism and ecotourism are the major contributors to the local economy, with the polar bear season being the largest. The cold waters of Hudson Bay bring polar bears into the area in October and November, while the mouth of Churchill River brings thousands of five-metre-long, pure white Belgua whales in June and July. Summer also brings birdwatchers to the treeless tundra region. In winter people from all over the world brave the bitter cold to view the spectacular aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights.

Living with polar bears isn’t easy. They’re fierce predators, double the size of  the largest lions or tigers, and always hungry when on land where they find little food. Seals are their main food source but the bears can only catch them when the bay is frozen. Fifty years ago any bear near Churchill would be shot on sight. Their numbers fell dramatically and conservation measures were put in place. Although there are no roads to Churchill, it is less than three hours by plane from Winnipeg, Manitoba’s international airport, making it relatively easy to see polar bears in the wild.

In the late 1970s a tourism operator built Tundra Buggies, school-bus-sized, four-wheel-drive vehicles with two-metre high wheels to navigate the roadless tundra while safely allowing tourists to see polar bears in their natural habitat.

“We don’t call our business ecotourism,” says John Gunter, President and CEO of Frontiers North Adventures, the main tourism operator in Churchill with 14 Tundra Buggies. “I’m not sure what ecotourism really means in practice,” Gunter told IPS. However Frontiers North is committed to sustainable tourism and has followed the Canadian Business for Social Responsibility guidelines for ten years. They issued their first sustainability report in 2016 based on the Global Reporting  Initiative.

The company plans to release a new sustainability report in 2019. “It takes time to do this kind of reporting and some things are really hard to measure,” Gunter said. While some of Frontier’s customers are keen to know about the company’s practices, the report is mainly for employees and the local community he said.

Much of the area around Churchill is under protection as a national park and Frontiers has limited the companies’ growth to minimise impacts. Polar bears need sea ice to survive, however global warming has dramatically reduced the amount of sea ice in the Arctic. To reduce its carbon footprint, the company makes sure flights in and out of Churchill and their Tundra Buggies are as full as possible. The company launched a recycling program that the local authorities  now run and eliminated use of plastic water bottles. Frontiers North buys from local suppliers and employs as many Canadian and local-to-the-north guides as possible. They also support Churchill’s Junior Canadian Ranger Program that offers young people in isolated communities opportunities to build their outdoor and traditional skills.

“Our guests come for the polar bears but they end up learning about our community, the indigenous culture, environmental issues affecting the region,” he said.

“Frontiers are a tremendous partner in our conservation and education efforts,” said Kt Miller, of  Polar Bears International (PBI), a world-renowned non-profit organization dedicated solely to the conservation and protection of wild polar bears, and the sea ice they depend on. The company has provided the permanent use of a Tundra Buggy for PBI’s research and education programs. Those programs include webchats with polar bear scientists from the buggy and live web cameras of polar bears that anyone with an internet connection can access.

“We want to share the experience of seeing a polar bear in their natural setting with everyone,” Miller said. In summer PBI is involved in research on belgua whales and there is an underwater web camera on their boat which is very popular.

Bear safety is an important part of Churchill culture says David Allcorn, an expedition leader who has worked throughout the Arctic. The bears often wander near or into town looking for food but instead of shooting them, residents call a 24-hour “Bear Alert” hotline. Conservation officials respond to drive the bears away.  If they persist, they are live-trapped and put in the a holding facility known locally as ‘Polar Bear Jail’. When Hudson Bay is frozen, the bears are released.

No one is allowed to feed the bears, and any garbage is either locked up or collected quickly.  We can’t let bears associate humans with food explained Allcorn. When a tourist tossed a sandwich out of Tundra Buggy to lure a bear closer for a better photograph, he and everyone else on the tour were immediately taken back to town, he recalled. The man was then put on the first plane out of Churchill.

  • The first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference is currently taking place in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and is being co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Over 13,000 participants from around the world have gathered to learn how to build a blue economy.

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Global, Inclusive Partnerships Essential for the Future Sustainability of our Oceans and Seashttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/global-inclusive-partnerships-essential-future-sustainability-oceans-seas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-inclusive-partnerships-essential-future-sustainability-oceans-seas http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/global-inclusive-partnerships-essential-future-sustainability-oceans-seas/#respond Sat, 24 Nov 2018 08:40:44 +0000 Lisa Stadelbauer http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158838 Lisa Stadelbauer is the High Commissioner-designate of Canada to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda; the Ambassador-designate to Somalia, Burundi; and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nairobi. She is a career diplomat with over 25 years in the Canadian Foreign Service.

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Djibouti, situated at the Horn of Africa, has an increasing network of ocean ports. The blue economy is about the shipping industry, which is essential to trade; tourism and recreation. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By Lisa Stadelbauer
NAIROBI, Nov 24 2018 (IPS)

Throughout history, oceans, seas, lakes and rivers have provided life and livelihoods to people around the world. Today, they are a multi-trillion-dollar global economy supporting hundreds of millions of people and helping drive economic growth in all corners of the world.

But the true potential of the blue economy has not been fully captured.

In Canada, we understand the importance of water. Not only does Canada have the largest coastline in the world, we border three oceans and hold 20 percent of the world’s freshwater resources. Our waters also drive a marine economy which supports roughly 350,000 jobs and contributes close to 35 billion Canadian dollars to our country’s GDP.

Crucially though, with proper stewardship, those waters have also come to play a key role in not just creating good jobs and expanding industry, but in promoting and supporting inclusivity.  As innovative projects in Canada have shown, we can preserve the marine environment and improve livelihoods at the same time. Indigenous communities have a special relationship with our waters, and their stewardship, cultures and knowledge are helping to keep our lake, river and ocean ecosystems healthy.

Canada made the blue economy a cornerstone of its G7 presidency this year, shepherding the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas, and Resilient Coastal Communities and the Oceans Plastics Charter. We invited countries from outside the G7 – including Kenya – for a dedicated conversation on oceans. Additionally, last week Canada held its first leader to leader engagement with the Pacific Islands Forum where Prime Minister Trudeau demonstrated Canada’s continued commitment to supporting those countries faced with the existential and immediate threat of climate change. We see the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference as a natural extension of our work, and when approached to co-host the conference with Kenya, we had no hesitation in accepting.

Furthermore, this conference will help us continue the important work of meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goals five and fourteen, in particular, emphasise the importance of achieving gender equality, and conserving and sustainably utilising the oceans, seas and marine resources. It is our hope that the conference serves to reinforce our collective implementation of this critical agenda.

We are thrilled that a global conference of this magnitude and importance is taking place in Africa, where the potential for the blue economy is enormous.  Almost three quarters of African countries have a coastline or are themselves islands, and the total continental coastline is over 47,000 km.  When we add the riches of African rivers and lakes, we can understand the impact that a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable blue economy can have on communities.

Lisa Stadelbauer is the High Commissioner-designate of Canada to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda; the Ambassador-designate to Somalia, Burundi; and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nairobi.

When we say “blue economy” we are not only talking about fish. We are also talking about the shipping industry, which is essential to trade; tourism and recreation, which is so important to the Kenyan economy; and energy. The International Energy Agency says ocean renewable energy can potentially supply more than four times current global energy demand. Canada is a leader in harnessing tidal power, and Africa could look to do the same, complementing other exciting work in renewable energy on the continent, such as wind, solar and geo-thermal. 

But it is important to remember that this is not just an African conference, it is a global conference. Oceans and seas know no boundaries and successfully harnessing their potential can only be done with global co-operation. It would be a short-sighted to think otherwise. 

Canada’s contribution of two million dollars will help ensure the meaningful participation of delegates from seventy Small Island Developing States and other developing countries representing governments, academia, and civil society organisations, with a strong focus on women leaders in the sector.   

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference is special in that it is the first conference to bring scientists, innovators, businesses, academics and civil society together with heads of state, ministers and policymakers in one forum around these issues.  It is a chance for people from all over the world to exchange ideas, experiences and the latest scientific advances and innovative solutions to allow us to conserve and sustain the waters that underpin the blue economy as we look at the same time to use them help spread wealth and prosperity. 

There is often a misunderstanding that economic growth and environmental protection must be mutually exclusive. This is far from the case with the blue economy, as innovative projects and initiatives from all parts of the world have shown, and will be showcased at the conference.

Canada also sees this conference as an opportunity to promote a stronger role and voice for women in the blue economy. We cannot expect to reap the benefits of the blue economy if half of the population is left behind. Research shows that 85 percent of workers in the ocean economy in the Global South are women, but very few of them are in senior or leadership positions. We need to make sure that their voices and ideas are heard, and that they are able to access high value jobs, in all sectors of the blue economy.

In 2017, Canada launched its first ever Feminist International Assistance Policy. In short, women and girls are at the heart of Canada’s approach to development. The policy recognises that supporting gender equality is the best way to build a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world.  So, Canada’s vision for the blue economy is one that is transformative and inclusive. Investments in the blue economy should ensure that the benefits of this economic growth are equally distributed, including amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised people.

Meaningful youth employment is critical for the success of our economies, and we think that the blue economy offers real opportunities to create good jobs, and harness the creativity, energy, and innovation of young minds. 

Canada is supporting the Youth Pre-Conference, and a side event at the conference itself focused on Women of the Blue Economy, to broaden and highlight the discussion on inclusion. We also hope that the issue of gender in particular will be raised in all conference panels. 

The blue economy has the potential to support and improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world in both developed and developing countries.  Under good global stewardship, it can also be environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically prosperous for all.

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference is a global first and a chance to lay the foundations for a sustainable, inclusive and prosperous future involving our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers. We must make sure that together we take that opportunity. Now is the time for action

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Excerpt:

Lisa Stadelbauer is the High Commissioner-designate of Canada to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda; the Ambassador-designate to Somalia, Burundi; and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nairobi. She is a career diplomat with over 25 years in the Canadian Foreign Service.

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The Start of an Important Global Conversation on the Blue Economyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/start-important-global-conversation-blue-economy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=start-important-global-conversation-blue-economy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/start-important-global-conversation-blue-economy/#comments Fri, 23 Nov 2018 09:05:57 +0000 Jonathan Wilkinson http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158812 Jonathan Wilkinson is Canada's Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. A Rhodes Scholar, Wilkinson holds Masters Degrees from Oxford University and McGill University.

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Two fisherwomen walk along the seashore in Nemmeli, India. Canada is committed to building a sustainable ocean economy that is inclusive and can prosper for many. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

By Jonathan Wilkinson
OTTAWA, Nov 23 2018 (IPS)

This November, Canada, along with Kenya and Japan, is proud to host the world’s first global conference focused on the world’s ocean economy: the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, designed to follow the G7 meeting, brings together the international community to discuss ocean economic opportunities and ocean sustainability. This is a crucial step in ensuring the benefits of the blue economy and of a healthy ocean today and for future generations. The world needs to focus on preserving and restoring the ocean’s health while seizing the economic opportunities that come from doing so.

Jonathan Wilkinson is Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

The blue economy provides jobs for hundreds of millions of people around the world – and generates trillions of dollars. In Canada alone, 350,000 jobs depend on the ocean and 36 billion dollars of our national GDP is generated by the ocean economy.

It is a critical example that the environment and the economy go hand in hand.

This conference comes at a critical time. Across the world, thousands of tons of fishing gear are lost and discarded in seas and oceans every year, putting marine life in jeopardy and clogging up harbours. Climate change is warming our ocean at faster rates than we had imagined. And the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing market is scooping up millions of kilograms of fish each and every year.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said “the ocean economy is essential to the future well being and prosperity of humankind. It is a key source of food, energy, health, leisure and transport on which millions of people depend”.

As our global population continues to grow, we increasingly understand that we will need to rely on our oceans to provide for our global needs of food, trade and livelihoods. Canada is committed to building a sustainable ocean economy that can prosper for many.

Canada made the ocean a cornerstone of our G7 Presidency. Ocean science and observation; addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; achieving marine conservation targets; addressing ocean plastics including “ghost fishing gear”; restoring and rebuilding fish stocks and marine biodiversity; preventing and controlling invasive species; being prepared for marine emergencies; and improving marine safety are key elements of Canada’s ocean agenda.

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference is the start of an important global conversation. One hundred and fifty countries will be participating. Over 10,000 people are expected to attend. The stakes are high, the time is short.  Global environmental and sustainability challenges needs global solutions. We must work with the United Nations, our G7 partners, our Commonwealth partners, other international organisations, small island developing states, non-governmental and business groups, who want a vibrant blue economy and a healthy ocean.

We look to the Conference to shape the international cooperation and collective actions needed to seize the opportunities and to meet the challenges. Success will show the essential relationship between environmental sustainability and economic growth, and we are committed to success.

As a country that is bordered by three oceans: the Atlantic, the Arctic and the Pacific, and home to the longest coastline in the world – protecting our oceans for future generations and ensuring the sustainability of this marine resource is of critical importance.

To all the Ministers, partners, businesses and delegates at the Conference and beyond, I encourage you to join with us. We need your voice. You have a stake in this. It’s your future. Join us in building a sustainable future that our kids and grand kids can be a proud of. You can make a difference. Follow us in Kenya and beyond.

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Excerpt:

Jonathan Wilkinson is Canada's Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. A Rhodes Scholar, Wilkinson holds Masters Degrees from Oxford University and McGill University.

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The Caribbean Island of Mayreau Could be Split in Two Thanks to Erosionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/caribbean-island-mayreau-split-two-thanks-erosion/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-island-mayreau-split-two-thanks-erosion http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/caribbean-island-mayreau-split-two-thanks-erosion/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2018 14:46:05 +0000 Kenton X. Chance http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158552 As a child growing up in Mayreau four decades ago, Filius “Philman” Ollivierre remembers a 70-foot-wide span of land, with the sea on either side that made the rest of the 1.5-square mile island one with Mount Carbuit.  But now, after years of erosion by the waves, he, and the other 300 or so persons […]

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On the other side of Windward Carenage Bay is Salt Whistle Bay on the Caribbean Sea coast. The world famous beach attracts visitors to the Mayreau, where tourism is a main stay of the economy. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

By Kenton X. Chance
KINGSTOWN, Nov 6 2018 (IPS)

As a child growing up in Mayreau four decades ago, Filius “Philman” Ollivierre remembers a 70-foot-wide span of land, with the sea on either side that made the rest of the 1.5-square mile island one with Mount Carbuit. 

But now, after years of erosion by the waves, he, and the other 300 or so persons living on Mayreau, are confronted with the real possibility that the sea will split their island in two, and destroy its world famous Salt Whistle Bay.

At its widest part, the sliver of land that separates the placid waters of the Caribbean Sea at Salt Whistle Bay from the choppy Atlantic Ocean, on Windward Carenage Bay, is now just about 20 feet.

“There is a rise in the sea level with climate change. You can see that happening, and not just in that area alone,” Ollivierre told IPS of the situation in Mayreau, an island in the southern Grenadines.

The sliver of land near Salt Whistle Bay once had a grove of lush sea grape trees.

“As the sea eroded the land, it washed out the roots and as it washed out the roots, the plant could no longer survive, so they dried up,” Ollivierre said.

Beneath the waves, the destruction is as evident.

“On the ocean bed in that area, it doesn’t have any coral. It is just a mossy bottom. It doesn’t have anything there,” Ollivierre told IPS.

If the land separating both bays were to be totally eroded, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an archipelagic nation, would see its number of islands, islets and cays increase from 32 to 33.

But this could be potentially devastating for Salt Whistle Bay, which Flight Network, Canada’s largest travel agency, ranked 16 out of 1,800 beaches worldwide last November.

A major part of the economy on Mayreau is the sale of t-shirts and beachwear to the tourists that Salt Whistle Bay attracts. If the beach is compromised, the islands might not be as attractive to visitors and its economy would suffer.

“My fear is that if the windward side breaks through onto the other side, it can actually erode that whole area… All of that area is sand and it not so much sand separating both sides so we really have to be careful and take the necessary measures to prevent that from happening,” Ollivierre said.

Ollivierre’s fear is shared by tour operator Captain Wayne Halbich, who has been conducting sea tours among the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for almost three decades.

Halbich has witnessed the impact of rising sea level on Mayreau and he often tells his guests, light-heartedly, that Mayreau has the shortest distance between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

“That was actually a lot wider, and it was covered almost entirely by the sea island grape trees. It is going slowly,” he told IPS.

“This is a serious problem. This is what I always say to people. We are seeing really concrete signs in relation to global warming. It is also from the fact that the reef is dying. The reef cannot produce sand and any sand you lose is not coming back. That is the other story,” he says.

And, unless something is done quickly, one cyclone — which is now more frequent and intense in the Caribbean — could cause the worst to happen in Mayreau.

“If we have a storm this year, it would break away,” Halbick told IPS, as he reiterated his fears that Mayreau could lose its famous Salt Whistle Bay.

The situation in Mayreau has captured the attention the national assembly in the nation’s capital, with Terrance Ollivierre, Member of Parliament, for the Southern Grenadines asking Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves what can be done quickly to remedy the situation.

Gonsalves said that his government has been working with a private sector operator who has the resources and equipment nearby to be able to do some remedial work.

He said there have been a number of suggestions by technical experts, including a quick fix of putting some boulders at the beach at Windward Carenage as a kind of mitigation.

“But much more is required than that and it is going to be a larger project. So, the long and short of it, the fight which we are having on climate change, is a fight which relates to what is happening at Salt Whistle Bay. Rising sea levels, wave action, and then, of course, people moving away a lot of natural barriers, which have been there.

“When we talk about climate change and some people deny it and many of our own people scoff at it and when our people are not sufficiently alert and have not been in respect of the sea grapes and the manchineel, the mangrove, the coconut trees, even sand, we are paying for it.”

The prime minister told lawmakers that some persons have suggested that nothing be done at Mayreau and that the sea would return the land in the natural course of things.

“That’s not a scientific approach. We have a difficulty and we are trying to help.”

The lawmaker who called the situation to the attention of the parliament also agreed that doing nothing is not an option.

He pointed out that some persons had suggested that approach at Big Sand Beach in Union Island, another southern Grenadine island.

Residents are still waiting for the sea to return the sand to the once-famous beach, which has been reduced from 50 feet to less than 10 feet wide.

Among those who are taking action are Orisha Joseph and her team at Sustainable Grenadines Inc., a non-governmental organisation, which over the last year has been restoring the largest mangrove forest and lagoon in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, located in Ashton, Union island.

The work will create breaches in strategic areas of an abandoned marina to create water circulation in the area, which has been almost stagnant for the last 20 years.

As part of the project, the group has planted 500 mangroves trees in Union Island.

“Wherever you have those types of mangroves, you would not have erosion as the roots help to filter silt and it also breaks the energy of the wave, like around 70 percent.

“So you have your first line of defence, which is your seagrass, then your coral reef, then your mangrove. So, by the time you have really strong impact then you have a lot of buffer zones to break down that,” Joseph told IPS.

“All in all, as we go into the blue economy, what we need to do is to see how NGO and climate change organisations could really work with government and let everybody know that we shouldn’t be on opposite side,” she said, adding that government must insist that no construction takes place less than 40 metres away from the coastline.

“Everything in the environment is there for a particular reason and we have to be careful,” Joseph said, adding that coast vegetation prevents soil erosion.

To illustrate, she said there is a vine that grows on the sand on some beaches and people remove them to expose more of the beach.

“But when you remove that which is causing the sand to stay in place, then you are creating a bigger problem. We have this problem where people just go cutting down mangroves because they just want beachfront land and not really understanding that this vegetation is there for a reason,” she told IPS.

 

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Canada Takes a Lead Role Funding Reproductive Health, Women’s Rights & Sustainable Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/canada-takes-lead-role-funding-reproductive-health-womens-rights-sustainable-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=canada-takes-lead-role-funding-reproductive-health-womens-rights-sustainable-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/canada-takes-lead-role-funding-reproductive-health-womens-rights-sustainable-development/#comments Mon, 29 Oct 2018 07:28:13 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158415 Canada, which has been described as one of the world’s most progressive countries, has legitimized gay rights, vociferously advocated gender empowerment, offered strong support for abortion rights – and recently became the world’s first major economy to legalize recreational marijuana. Currently the fifth largest donor to the UN’s development agencies — and holding the Presidency […]

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By Thalif Deen
OTTAWA, Canada, Oct 29 2018 (IPS)

Canada, which has been described as one of the world’s most progressive countries, has legitimized gay rights, vociferously advocated gender empowerment, offered strong support for abortion rights – and recently became the world’s first major economy to legalize recreational marijuana.

Canada’s Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau

Currently the fifth largest donor to the UN’s development agencies — and holding the Presidency of the G7 comprising the world’s leading industrialized nations– it is planning to run for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for 2021-22.

Host to the 7th International Parliamentarians’ Conference (ICPI) on population and development in Ottawa last week—and having hosted the first such meeting in 2002 – Canada has also launched a Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP).

Sandeep Prasad, executive director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, says Canada is repositioning itself as a leader on gender equality, women’s rights and sexual and reproductive rights, which includes FIAP, and hosting the upcoming Women Deliver conference, scheduled to take place in Vancouver in 2019.

“For Canada’s commitment to be truly lasting, continued support is needed for the feminist and human rights advocates working with their decision-makers at all levels of government to establish and protect laws, policies and programs that safeguard these rights,” said Prasad.

Leading the fight for women’s rights, gender empowerment, and sexual and reproductive rights is Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Canadian Minister of International Development, who is also a strong advocate for increased development financing.

In an interview with IPS, she said international events like IPCI can be a strong catalyst for mobilizing people, ideas and resources.

“This is why the IPCI Conference is so important – – it provides a unique opportunity for parliamentarians from around the world to gather together to discuss their role in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action,” she said.

Canada, the minister assured, will continue to be a strong and vocal advocate for the achievement of the goals set by the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), including universal sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

“I am proud to say that, since the launch of our Feminist International Assistance Policy, in June 2017, 93% of our humanitarian assistance includes a SRHR or Women’s empowerment component.”

“We are also very pleased to be hosting the Women Deliver Conference in 2019, which is not only a conference, but a movement to empower women and girls and build a better world,” she added.

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: Canada is currently the 5th largest donor to the UN system. But with the US making drastic cuts — including a reduction of $300 million to UNRWA and $69 million to UNFPA — is there any possibility that Canada, along with other Western donors, would step in to fill this gap?

MINISTER BIBEAU: Canada is committed to providing humanitarian assistance and responding to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.

This is why I was proud to announce, on October 12, 2018, Canada’s support of up to $50 million over two years for Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

This new funding to UNRWA is urgently needed and will help improve the lives and protect the human dignity of millions of Palestinian refugees.

Canada is also a longstanding partner with the the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and among UNFPA’s top 10 bilateral donors. In 2017/18, Canada provided $142 million in International Assistance – helping further to cover UNFPA’s funding gap.

IPS: The developing countries — and specifically the 134 member Group of 77 in its ministerial declaration at the UN last month — complained of a downward trend in official development assistance (ODA) — with increased resources being diverted to refugee funding. Does this also apply to Canada, whose ODA of 0.26 to gross national income (GNI) is below the 0.7 commitment, which has been reached only by six Western donors, including Norway, Luxemburg, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and UK? When does Canada hope to reach the 0.7 target?

MINISTER BIBEAU: Our partners asked the Government of Canada for three things: funding, good policy and leadership; and this is what Canada is providing.

The budget 2018 announced $2 billion in new funds over five years to help implement the Feminist International Assistance Policy and support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as $1.5 billion over five years starting in 2018-19 to help expand the impact of Canada’s international assistance.

Canada is also leading on good policy, which is not measured by the volume of ODA, but by the quality and effectiveness of its assistance and its contributions to policy innovation that can get better results for the poorest and most vulnerable.

Furthermore, as the historic investment in education for women and girls-in-crisis and conflict situations at the G7 leaders’ summit in Quebec demonstrates, Canada is creating momentum around various initiatives and leading other countries and partners to make significant investments, notably in girls and women’s education, in fragile, conflict and crisis contexts.

IPS: As the current G7 president, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presided over a summit in June this year which committed a hefty $3.8 billion Canadian dollars (CAD) to advance education for girls and women in the world’s battle zones. What would be the time span for disbursing these funds? Has it already got off the ground?

MINISTER BIBEAU: Canada was proud to lead the unveiling of a historic $3.8-billion investment in girls’ education at the G7 leaders’ summit in Quebec and to commit to an investment of $400 million over three years.

The announcement marked a fundamental shift toward improving access and reducing barriers to quality education around the world.

We are currently working with the other countries and organizations contributing to this $3.8-billion investment (the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the World Bank) to develop an accountability framework to track and report on it. Parameters such as time span, results and indicators will be included.

Together, we’ll make sure the voices of women and girls are included when decisions are made on education and employment.

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

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Q & A: Why Switching to Renewable Energy Sources is No Longer a Matter of Morality, But of Economicshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/q-switching-renewable-energy-sources-no-longer-matter-morality-economics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=q-switching-renewable-energy-sources-no-longer-matter-morality-economics http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/q-switching-renewable-energy-sources-no-longer-matter-morality-economics/#respond Sun, 30 Sep 2018 10:51:47 +0000 Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157887 When the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was founded eight years ago, the general public thought that renewable energies would never replace oil and coal. Today, the tables have turned. Dr. Frank Rijsberman has been the director general of the institute since 2016, and for him, green growth is no longer a matter of morality, […]

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The Bangui Wind Farm located in the northern Philippines hosts 20 wind turbines with a capacity of 33 megawatts. GGGI works mainly with governments that express an interest in sustainable growth and is supporting the Philippines in mainstreaming green growth into the country’s development planning. Credit: Kara Santos/IPS

By Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 30 2018 (IPS)

When the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was founded eight years ago, the general public thought that renewable energies would never replace oil and coal. Today, the tables have turned.

Dr. Frank Rijsberman has been the director general of the institute since 2016, and for him, green growth is no longer a matter of morality, but of economics. Renewable energies are now cheaper than fossil fuels. They create employment, do not pollute and provide countries with the amount of energy they need. Last week he joined several side events at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

GGGI is an intergovernmental organisation that works with over 60 countries. It seeks commitments among governments and private companies to switch to green growtheconomic growth that takes into account environmental sustainability.

The organisation, based in Seoul, South Korea, works mainly with governments that express an interest in sustainable growth. Its work does not directly depend on changes in administrations.

Under Rijsberman, GGGI has consulted with Colombia on their protection of the Amazon rainforest, the United Arab Emirates on how to diversify its economy, and more recently with New Zealand. Rijsberman is especially proud of the organisation’s work in Ethiopia and Rwanda, with its president Paul Kagame, who he considers a “champion of green growth”.

Rijsberman is not only very knowledgeable, he also calls his job “his passion”. When he describes GGGI’s presence worldwide, he jumps from Australia to Ethiopia, from South Korea to Mexico, and from Norway to the Philippines.

He talks slowly, like a teacher giving his first class, or a father trying to get his point through. And when he talks about GGGI’s achievements, he smiles in the affable way most Dutch people do. His excitement is justified: renewable energies are the present. And public opinion cares. Excerpts of the interview follow:

Director general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman outside the Office of the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning in Thailand Photo Credit: Sinsiri Tiwutanond/IPS

Inter Press Service (IPS): Why has green growth become relevant?

Frank Rijsberman (FR): A variety of countries are already convinced green growth is their only option for pollution and climate reasons. For example in Asia, air pollution is a strong driver of investors in green growth. In Seoul, everybody checks the air condition in the morning, because it is a real issue. We have to decide whether we are going to wear air masks or not. In the West, last summer we saw fires and heat waves. And in Africa, the average farmer is convinced the climate has changed."In the end there are gonna be more jobs with renewables than with coal." -- Director general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman.

I’ve been involved in climate change for a long time, and it used to be something we talked about that would happen in a 100 years. Then for our grandchildren. Then our children and then… it’s today.

Before, ministers of finance used to say they wanted first to develop and then they would care about the climate. Now, they also care about the quality of growth.

IPS: Has that international public opinion changed since United States president Donald Trump’s election?

FR: The truth is that the U.S. government was very influential in making the Paris Agreement exist in the first place. We have to thank them for that. They brought China to the table.

And after Trump was elected, the Chinese government did not back out, because solar and wind have become cheaper than coal. Wind energy prices have dropped by 66 percent and solar by 86 percent. In the last three years, the atmosphere has changed. There is a stronger belief that renewable energies are making a breakthrough.

Apart from the prices, the second big deal is batteries.Generally, you need a grid or a diesel generator to back solar and wind up. But instead of using diesel generators, now we can use batteries that store energy. Battery prices have also gone down by 80 precent. And over the next five years, batteries will be cheaper than the diesel backups. The investment recommendation we make is to buy batteries now, not diesel generators.

IPS: Where have renewable energies impacted the most?

FR: For example, in electricity production, we’ve seen a huge disruption. Most of the investments go to renewable energies. However, electricity is only 20 percent of energy use.

The other 80 percent is transportation and buildings. But I am confident that in some years, electric vehicles will be cheaper than normal fuel cars. These autonomous vehicles could reduce the number of vehicles in cities by three, which would reduce pollution, traffic, and costs.

IPS: The institute must also face challenges when promoting green growth. Is shifting investment patterns its biggest challenge?

FR: Yes. The hardest has been convincing Southeast Asian countries with fast-growing economies. They still invest in coal. Convincing those governments that solar and wind are cheaper remains the biggest challenge.

Sometimes we also find resistance in the utilities, companies that work with fossil fuels. We’ve had one government for which we did a plan for renewable energies, and then they told us they had already signed with fossil fuels. There are also countries where hotels want to put solars on their rooftops, but utilities say: “we will cut you off the grid.”

However, once the government agrees, it can take a short amount of time for them to transition to sustainable energies. In India it took two years. India had coal fired power plants. But as soon as the price of renewables decreased, the coal fired plants went down.

The example of Canberra (Australia) is also enlightening. They decided they wanted to be renewable by 2020. So, they put solars in schools, and they made it accessible so people could also put it on their homes. People got used to it and then they moved to utility-scale renewables.

IPS: Does this resistance in transitioning have to do with the loss of jobs?

FR: In the end there are gonna be more jobs with renewables than with coal. Trump talks about the job losses in coal, but he doesn’t talk about the new jobs with renewables. It’s true they may not be the same people, so you need some formal training. But that is normal. One industry dies and another is born.

IPS: You have been director general for two years, what have you achieved so far?

FR: GGGI has been strong in policy for a number of years. My predecessor saw there was a gap in developing bankable projects, and he started green investment finance services.

In 2017, we mobilised half a billion dollars in green and climate finance for the first time. I increased our goals to mobilise a couple billion dollars in our strategic planning. We raise it by investor commitments. Although our clients are governments, sometimes they can’t find investment themselves for renewable plans. We help find projects, we bring investors to the table, they sign a letter of intent, we hand it to the government and they decide over it.

IPS: And what do you want to accomplish in the next two years?

FR: We want to demonstrate that we can do it. Our goal for 2020 is to raise more than two and a half billion dollars in green and climate finance. And then convince more governments that this is crucial. Not only renewable energy, also waste management, pollution, and green jobs. We want to get more evidence that this works, and scale it to more countries. Our goal is to transform countries’ economies to green growth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAO director general José Graziano da Silva (l), honourary member of the FAO Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance Graça Machel (centre) and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus (r) at the award ceremony in New York. Courtesy: FAO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right Energy Partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recreation is Key

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt:

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

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Worldwide Effects of Asbestos Usehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/worldwide-effects-asbestos-use/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=worldwide-effects-asbestos-use http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/worldwide-effects-asbestos-use/#respond Fri, 14 Sep 2018 14:53:45 +0000 Emily Walsh http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157623 Emily Walsh is the Community Outreach Director with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

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Earlier this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States (EPA) issued a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) on asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that is also a known carcinogen. Asbestos is the only definitive cause of mesothelioma, a cancer which affects the linings of internal organs.

By Emily Walsh
WALLINGFORD, CT, US, Sep 14 2018 (IPS)

Earlier this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States (EPA) issued a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) on asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that is also a known carcinogen. Asbestos is the only definitive cause of mesothelioma, a cancer which affects the linings of internal organs.

What is a Significant New Use Rule?

A SNUR can be required when chemical substances or mixtures are under review for new uses that may cause changes to current policy, or create concerns around environmental health. There are four criteria to determine whether a SNUR is in order. They are volume, type of human or environmental exposure, extent of human or environmental exposure, and method or manner of processing and distribution of the substance.

The rule states, “the Agency has found no information indicating that the following uses are ongoing, and therefore, the following uses are subject to this proposed SNUR,” before going on to list a number of uses that had previously been regulated under the Toxic Substance Control Act because of the health threats posed by asbestos in these capacities.

Though sixty five countries around the world have banned asbestos, heavy hitters like Russia, China, and the United States have not

Any person or corporation wishing to take advantage of the relaxation of asbestos regulations must notify the EPA at least 90 days prior to manufacturing.

After the news of this new rule was released to the American public, news outlets recoiled from the rule, pointing out that by opening up asbestos production to a case-by-case basis, it would create a backlog of EPA notifications and lead to more production of the dangerous mineral.

EPA spokesman James Hewitt told NBC News that this interpretation of the rule was inaccurate.

“Without [the SNUR], the EPA would not have a regulatory basis to restrict manufacturing and processing for the new asbestos uses covered by the rule,” Hewitt said. “The EPA action would prohibit companies from manufacturing, importing, or processing for these new uses of asbestos unless they receive approval from the EPA.”

Of course, without the SNUR, there would be no opening for manufacturing, and therefore no need for a regulatory basis to restrict it. Organizations like the Asbestos Disease and Awareness Organization (ADAO) are pushing for a full scale ban of the material as an amendment to the Toxic Substance Control Act.

It seems that the only way to responsibly use asbestos is to not use it at all.

 

Asbestos Use Worldwide

Though many countries have banned or severely restricted the use of asbestos, it still remains a threat to human and environmental health around the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos in the workplace alone. This mineral can also be found in the home, the environment, or even just walking by a construction site. The WHO also estimated that, “several thousand deaths annually can be attributed to exposure to asbestos in the home.”

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals, divided into six types, all of which are carcinogenic to humans. The mineral is used mainly in construction materials for its valuable properties of insulation, sound absorption, and fire retardancy.

In 2007 the World Health Assembly (WHA) endorsed a worldwide action plan for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases, by way of increased regulation of all forms of asbestos. However, this plan doesn’t give the WHA any actual regulatory power in member states.

This “action plan” may be an effective framework for countries wishing to invest time into asbestos regulation and reduction, but doesn’t attain concrete goals of a worldwide asbestos ban. That often falls to the member states themselves.

Though sixty five countries around the world have banned asbestos, heavy hitters like Russia, China, and the United States have not.

 

Earlier this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States (EPA) issued a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) on asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that is also a known carcinogen. Asbestos is the only definitive cause of mesothelioma, a cancer which affects the linings of internal organs.

 

Why is Asbestos a Problem?

Asbestos remains a problem because of its continued use and horrifying effects. This mineral can cause health problems like asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. All of these are dangerous diseases with far reaching consequences and health repercussions.

Mesothelioma, which takes 2,500 lives per year in the United States alone, is a devastating disease. This cancer has a long latency and then moves quickly and ruthlessly once fully developed. It can take 10 to 50 years for mesothelioma to appear, and only 7-9% of patients live longer than a year from diagnosis.

There are three types of mesothelioma, each occurring in the internal lining of a different part of the body. Pleural mesothelioma takes residence in the lungs and is the most common form of mesothelioma, pericardial lives in the heart’s lining, and peritoneal forms in the abdominal wall.

Typically cancer is measured in percentages of 5-year survival rates, but because of the extremely aggressive nature of mesothelioma, one year percentages are a more apt descriptor. Survival rates for each form of mesothelioma get lower the longer someone has the disease, and vary across pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial, with pericardial being consistently the lowest.

It is estimated that this disease takes up to 43,000 lives annually worldwide. This is a global issue, that should be treated as a serious public health concern.

 

The Canadian Example

Canada can be looked to as an example of how asbestos should be treated and mitigated. As recently as 2011, the country was a major exporter of the material and even headquartered The Chrysotile Institute in Quebec. Chrysotile Asbestos is the most common form of the mineral and is still mined around the world today.

By January of 2018, a full plan to prohibit the sale, use, import and export of the mineral was proposed and sponsored by the federal health and environment departments of the Canadian government.

This pivot from asbestos industry hub to shining example of how to implement a full asbestos ban was precipitated by many factors, which should be studied and replicated around the globe.

The Jeffrey mine, located in the town of Asbestos in Quebec, Canada was once the world’s largest asbestos mine, and was fully functional until 2011. The government in power at that time, the Quebec Liberal Party, had promised a $58 million loan in June of 2012 to reopen the mine.

When the party was defeated in September 2012 by the Parti Québécois, the loan was canceled and the Jeffrey mine, as well as the LAB Chrysotile mine closed down. Without the partisan support and financial support of the government, the asbestos industry was put at a standstill in Canada.

Concern around asbestos in Canada quieted down after the loan was canceled and the mines closed, until 2016 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party along with the Quebec National Assembly announced that a full ban on asbestos would be passed by 2018.

Leading up to the cancellation of the 2012 loan were petitions written by scientists expressing the financial and public health impacts of continued asbestos use and production, as well as citizen and nonprofit campaigns on the issue.

Basing these campaigns on solid scientific evidence drew the attention of the Parti Québécois, who noticed that asbestos regulation would be an advantageous campaign to support, which in turn cut off the financial support the industry so desperately needed.

 

What Can Be Done?

Looking to other countries around the world, lessons can be gained from Canada’s example. The first step in the Canadian change of wind was the attention of citizen and scientific organizations to the issue, which made asbestos reform an attractive political platform.

After citizen support garnered political attention and the political leaders found a way to cut off financial support, the asbestos industry had little to no chance of recovering in Canada. Replicating, or at least drawing lessons from this example, could be valuable for a worldwide asbestos ban.

This September 26th is Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Taking this day to reflect on Canada’s example and educate the public about the threat of asbestos in the home and workplace are vitally important to the eradication of this disease.

 

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Excerpt:

Emily Walsh is the Community Outreach Director with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

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Preservation of the Klamath River – a Life or Death Matter for the Yurok Peoplehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/preservation-klamath-river-life-death-matter-yurok-people/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=preservation-klamath-river-life-death-matter-yurok-people http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/preservation-klamath-river-life-death-matter-yurok-people/#respond Thu, 13 Sep 2018 16:48:29 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157602 Fishermen are scarce in the Klamath River delta, unlike other fishing season, because climate change has driven up water temperatures which kills off the salmon, the flagship species of this region in northern California. The increase in temperatures favours the proliferation of lethal fish diseases and the absence of fish has devastating effects on the […]

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Yurok lawyer Amy Cordalis (L) explains the impacts of climate change on the Klamath River, such as the drop in the number of salmon, a key species in the traditions and economy of this Native American tribe in the western U.S. state of California. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Yurok lawyer Amy Cordalis (L) explains the impacts of climate change on the Klamath River, such as the drop in the number of salmon, a key species in the traditions and economy of this Native American tribe in the western U.S. state of California. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

By Emilio Godoy
KLAMATH, California, USA , Sep 13 2018 (IPS)

Fishermen are scarce in the Klamath River delta, unlike other fishing season, because climate change has driven up water temperatures which kills off the salmon, the flagship species of this region in northern California.

The increase in temperatures favours the proliferation of lethal fish diseases and the absence of fish has devastating effects on the Yurok, the largest group of Native Americans in the state of California, who live in the Klamath River basin.

“The river level is dropping at a time when it shouldn’t. The water warms up in summer and causes diseases in the fish. This changes the rhythm of the community and has social effects,” lawyer Amy Cordalis, a member of the tribe, told IPS during a tour of the watershed.

Cordalis stressed that the community of Klamath, in Del Norte county in northwest California, depends on fishing, which is a fundamental part of their traditions, culture and diet.

The Yurok, a tribe which currently has about 6,000 members, use the river for subsistence, economic, legal, political, religious and commercial purposes.

This tribe, one of more than 560 surviving tribes in the United States, owns and manages 48,526 hectares of land, of which its reserve, established in 1855, covers less than half: 22,743 hectares.

Conserving the forest is vital to the regulation of the temperature and water cycle of the river and to moisture along the Pacific coast.

The Yurok – which means “downriver people” – recall with terror the year 2002, when the water level dropped and at least 50,000 salmon ended up dead from disease, the highest fish mortality in the United States.

The Yurok are working to conserve and restore the Klamath River basin, to which they are spiritually and economically linked. Part of the restoration involves placing logs in the river, such as these ones that have been prepared on its banks, to channel the water and retain sediment and thus recreate the habitat needed by salmon, the species that is key to the Yurok culture. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The Yurok are working to conserve and restore the Klamath River basin, to which they are spiritually and economically connected. Part of the restoration involves placing logs in the river, such as these ones that have been prepared on its banks, to channel the water and retain sediment and thus recreate the habitat needed by salmon, the species that is key to the Yurok culture. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

And in 2015 no snow fell, which affects the flow of water that feeds the river and is fundamental for the fishery because in March of each year the salmon fry come down from the mountain, Cordalis said. This species needs cold water to breed.

The federal government granted the Yurok a fishing quota of 14,500 salmon for 2018, which is low and excludes commercial catch, but is much higher than the quota granted in 2017 – only 650 – due to the crisis of the river flow that significantly reduced the number of salmon.

The migration of fish downriver has also decreased in recent years due to sedimentation of the basins caused by large-scale timber extraction, road construction, loss of lake wood and loss of diversity in the habitat and fishery production potential.

As a result, the number of chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) and Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata) have dropped in the Klamath River, while Coho or silver salmon (O. kisutch) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The Klamath River in California, the natural and spiritual sustenance of the Yurok people, is facing threats due to climate change, such as reduced flow and increased temperatures, which kill salmon, a species that requires cold water for breeding. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The Klamath River in California, the natural and spiritual sustenance of the Yurok people, is facing threats due to climate change, such as reduced flow and increased temperatures, which kill salmon, a species that requires cold water for breeding. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

A reflection of this crisis, in Cordalis’ words, is the ban on commercial fishing for the third consecutive year, with only subsistence fishing allowed.

Faced with this, the Yurok have undertaken efforts for the conservation of the ecosystem and the recovery of damaged areas to encourage the arrival of the salmon.

In 2006, they began placing wood structures in the Terwer Creek watershed as dikes to channel water flow and control sediment.

“We had to convince the lumber company that owned the land, as well as the state and federal authorities. But when they saw that it worked, they didn’t raise any objections. What we are doing is geomorphology, we are planting gardens,” Rocco Fiori, the engineering geologist who is in charge of the restoration, from Fiori Geo Sciences, a consulting firm specialising in this type of work, told IPS.

Tree trunks are placed in the river bed, giving rise to the growth of new trees. They last about 15 years, as they are broken down and begin to rot as a result of contact with the moisture and wind.

But they generate more trees, giving rise to a small ecosystem. They also facilitate the emergence of vegetation on the river ford, explained Fiori, whose consulting firm is working with the Yurok on the restoration.

Salmon is basic to the diet of the Yurok people, who live in northern California. But the catch has fallen drastically due to a lower water flow in the Klamath River and the increase in water temperature. In the picture, a member of the Yurok tribe seasons fish for dinner on the riverbank. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Salmon is basic to the diet of the Yurok people, who live in northern California. But the catch has fallen drastically due to a lower water flow in the Klamath River and the increase in water temperature. In the picture, a member of the Yurok tribe seasons fish for dinner on the riverbank. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Starting in the fall, this strip is flooded every year, which favours the abundance of organic matter for the salmon to feed on, allowing them to grow and thrive in the new habitat.

In addition, four of the six dams along the Klamath River and its six tributaries, built after 1918 to generate electricity, will be dismantled.

The objective is to restore land that was flooded by the dams and to apply measures to mitigate any damage caused by the demolition of the dams, as required by law.

The Copco 1 and 2, Iron Gate and JC Boyle dams will be demolished in January 2021, at a cost of 397 million dollars. The owner of the dams, the PacifiCorp company, will cover at least 200 million of that cost, and the rest will come from the state government.

“The removal of the dams is vital. It’s a key solution for the survival of salmon,” biologist Michael Belchik, of the Yurok Tribe Fisheries Department, who has worked with the tribe for 23 years, told IPS.

The four reservoirs hold between five million and 20 million cubic metres of sediment, and their removal will provide 600 km of suitable habitat for salmon.

It is estimated that salmon production will increase by 80 percent, with benefits for business, recreational fishing and food security for the Yurok. In addition, the dismantling of dams will mitigate the toxic blue-green algae that proliferate in the reservoirs.

Water conservation projects exemplify the mixture of ancestral knowledge and modern science.

For Cordalis, salmon is irreplaceable. “Our job is not to let (a tragedy) happen again. The tribe does what it can to defend itself from problems and draw attention to the issue. We continue to fight for water and the right decisions. Our goal is to restore the river and get the fish to come back,” the lawyer said.

The Yurok shared their achievements and the challenges they face with indigenous delegates from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico and Panama in the run-up to the Global Climate Action Summit, convened by the government of California to celebrate in advance the third anniversary of the Paris Agreement, reached in Paris in 2015. The meeting will take place on Sept. 13-14 in San Francisco, CA.

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

The post Preservation of the Klamath River – a Life or Death Matter for the Yurok People appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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