Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Paris talks: indigenous people and small farmers say rich are setting the agenda | The Guardian (UK)

By John Vidal, The Guardian

Poor communities on the climate change frontline say their voices are not being heard in Paris, and that more powerful groups are setting back their cause

n the climate talks “blue zone”, in the Parisian district of Le Bourget, are the governments, their advisers and lawyers, big business and the financiers. Facebook has a stall, along with UN agencies and scientific bodies.

But the world’s 4 billion small farmers, fishermen and women, indigenous peoples, hunters and gatherers, rural workers, pastoralists, and young people on the frontline of climate change, inhabit the “green zone”, beyond the fence where the decision-makers do not go.

Many of those in the green zone say they are excluded, and feel hurt that they have no seat at the table. The more powerful, richer voices are able to drown out their ideas and even set back their causes at the Paris talks.

“Right now, the talks are a failure. Our voices are not being heard,” said Jorge Furagaro Kuetgaje, climate coordinator for Coica, the Indigenous People of the Amazon Basin.

Furagaro Kuetgaje and a colleague travelled for 10 days to get to Paris, to press for one sentence about indigenous rights to be included in the final text. This week it was expunged by negotiators, reportedly by a bloc of countries led by the US, UK and Norway, which had previously supported them.

“We think that mining and oil companies that are on our territory or that want to be there, they have more power in the negotiations,” Furagaro Kuetgaje said. “So our voice is not heard. Yet we indigenous peoples live in the forests, and we protect nature and biodiversity and reduce climate change.

“For us to continue to conserve the tropical forests … we need to have strong rights to those forests. Death should not be the price we pay for playing our part in preventing the emissions that fuel climate change.” A Global Witness report found that at least 116 environmental activists were murdered in 2014, and 40% of the victims were indigenous.

Around 500 Amazonian Indians, Sami people from the Arctic, Dayaks from Indonesian rainforests devastated by mining, Sioux Indians fighting oil sands development in the Canadian province of Alberta, and Marshall Islanders whose homes and hospitals are inundated by rising water, say they are disappointed that their voices have not been heard.

But since last Friday, when news reached the many groups that all reference to indigenous peoples had been removed, the mood has darkened further, and the sense of betrayal is palpable.

“We came here with solutions. We do not understand why people make decisions for us in this way. Now the Colombian government has signed an agreement with Britain and Germany to avoid deforestation in the Amazon. But no one asked us. We were not consulted. We will lose our autonomy,” said Furagaro Kuetgaje.

Equally disappointed in the way the negotiations are going are representatives of farmers’ organisations and agro-ecologists, who say the agenda in the talks has been to promote the interests of agribusiness.

Via Campesina, an international umbrella organisation of farmers’ groups, has brought people from 30 countries to press the point that smallholder farmers, who are estimated to produce 70% of the world’s food grown for humans, can prevent climate change more effectively than industrial farms can.

Like indigenous leaders, they feel betrayed by the process and fear that the hidden agenda in Paris is to introduce more intensive farming, which will throw smallholders off the land and encourage agribusiness to “grab” African and Asian rural areas to grow biofuels, palm oil and animal feed.

“While our leaders openly welcome multinational companies and their false solutions, we must urgently change the direction where agriculture is headed, to achieve a real positive approach for the climate. Given this, peasant agriculture and agro-ecology are considered economical, favouring both the environment and peasants,” said a spokesman for Via Campesina. “The real solutions to stop greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture and the food system are peasant agriculture and agro-ecology.”

They were backed this week by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the only UN organisation with a remit to work exclusively with small farmers. “If we are going to sustainably improve the livelihoods of the developing world’s smallholder farmers in the context of a changing climate, we need to ensure that their priorities are understood and reflected in policies,” said Ifad’s vice-president, Michel Mordasini.

Ifad’s report, The Policy Advantage, says smallholder farmers “know best the realities they face … and if they are not adequately involved in processes to formulate policy responses, they risk losing out and being sidelined in decisions that directly determine their ability to cope and adapt”. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

WBGU Co-Chair Schellnhuber on Divestment from economic activities which ...

Heads of state or government will address the issue of climate finance at the G20 summit on 15./16. November 2015 in Antalya. In an interview WBGU-Co Chair John Schellnhuber highlights the importance of the divestment movement. Divestment describes the withdrawal of investments (stocks, funds or bonds) from the fossil fuel sector. These assets can then be reinvested in sustainable sectors.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bhutan reaffirms to remain carbon neutral | Kuenselonline

Bhutan has reaffirmed to remain carbon neutral and pursue low emission development to achieve the ambitious global targets of climate change post 2020.

National Environment Commission (NEC) vice chairperson and agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji submitted Bhutan’s commitments or the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat yesterday.

Countries across the globe committed to create a new international climate agreement by the end of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris this December. In preparation, countries agreed to outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement.

National Environment Commission (NEC) officials said the INDC submission indicates the actions the countries will take under a new climate agreement.

These contributions will largely determine whether the world achieves an ambitious 2015 agreement and is put on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future after 2020.

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said, “Bhutan’s INDCs are more than our fair share of efforts to combat climate change.” He called on the global community to provide adequate support in the country’s resolve and efforts to fulfil the commitments.

The minister said Bhutan’s contribution to combat climate change is made with the view that there is no need greater, or more important, than keeping the planet safe.

NEC’s Climate Change division head Thinley Namgyel said, “Bhutan today emits 2.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) against the sequestration by forests, which is about 6.3 million tonnes of CO2.”

“In addition, export of surplus clean hydroelectricity to the region will help to offset emissions up to 22.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025,” he said.

Today, Bhutan offsets 4.4 million tonnes of CO2e through exports of hydroelectricity, while access to clean electricity is almost 100 percent in urban areas and 94 percent in rural areas.

However, challenges remain aplenty.

Although the highest emissions are from the agriculture sector, they have more or less remained constant, but emissions from sectors such as industries and transport are rapidly increasing.

From 2000 to 2013, emissions from the energy sector rose by 191.6 percent to 0.79 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Emissions from the industrial processes increased by 154.3 percent to 0.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and the emissions from waste jumped 247.54 percent to 0.16 million tonnes of CO2e in the same period.

Bhutan’s INDC builds on the declaration to remain carbon neutral made in 2009. The officials said the INDC cover a wide range of sectors and draw on existing legislations, policies and strategies.

Mitigation measures

Some mitigation measures are in place such as sustainable land management practices, improved livestock management, promotion of organic agriculture and promotion of zero emission vehicles.

The 11th Plan has integrated carbon neutral development as part of the national key result areas to guide planning and implementation of development activities within all sectors.

To reduce green house gas emissions, the country identified nine strategies, plans, and actions.

Managing the energy demands promoting energy efficient appliances and integrating low emission strategies in urban and rural settlements through green buildings and sustainable construction methods are some of the strategies identified for mitigation.

The country remains highly vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change because of the fragile mountain ecosystems and economic structure.

“The most vulnerable sectors are water resources, agriculture, forests and biodiversity and hydropower sectors,” the INDC stated. “It’s projected that both the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events would increase with changing climate.”


Besides being a land locked and poor country, the country is threatened by climate change because the population depends highly on agriculture and the significant role of hydropower in its economic development.

Despite following a cautious approach to development by balancing economic development and environment conservation, climate change threatens to derail the gains the country made towards sustainable socio-economic development.

“Therefore, international support is essential to address the adverse impacts of climate change that are already starting to taking place and also to safeguard the gains made towards sustainable development,” the INDC stated.

The country has its National Adaptation Programme of Action in 2006, and updated in 2012, of which few priority actions are being implemented.

For adaptation to adverse impacts, 10 priority adaptation needs are identified.

The INDC also elaborates on how the country would implement each of mitigation and adaption measures. The actions were decided after thorough consultations with NGOs, private sector and government agencies.

The INDC actions would also be integrated in the 12th Plan, as they would take effect after 2020.

“The success of the implementation of the actions in the INDC will depend on the level of financial and technical support received,” the document states.

It states that the country remains committed to addressing climate change and strives towards a legally binding agreement to keep global temperature increase to not more than 1.5 degree Celsius.

NEC officials said there are three likely outcomes from the conference. “It could be a climate change protocol, the strongest in terms of legality, which the least developed and islands countries wants,” Thinley Namgyel said.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

WBGU Co-Chair Dirk Messner on the new Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations recently published the catalogue of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). WBGU-Co Chair Dirk Messner explains in an interview how important it is to take into account the limits of the Earth system in implementing these goals. In detail, the following planetary guard rails should be complied with:

• Limit global warming to 2°C – to avoid irreversible climatic consequences, and limit ocean acidification to 0.2 pH units – to keep the marine environment intact.

• Stop the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services – to protect the natural life-support systems.

• Stop land and soil degradation – in order not to jeopardize global food production.

• Limit the risks posed by long-lived and harmful anthropogenic substances.

• Stop the loss of phosphorus – since this element is the limiting factor in food production.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Global Citizens Day of Action 2015: Who lights the way and what follows afterwards?

By Kimbowa Richard

On 24 September, thousands around the world plan to make a call on leaders to ‘light the way’ to a better future for people and planet. In 2015, World leaders will meet at key summits to set the goals and targets that will affect how we tackle issues like poverty, inequality and climate change for years to come. These include the UN General Assembly due 15th – 28th September 2015 to adopt a new set of Global Goals. 193 world leaders will commit to 17 Global Goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate change. These Goals are to be achieved in all countries and for all people.

Hence, the Global Citizens Day of Action that brings together CSOs under Action2015 movement seeks to mobilize citizens to call upon their leaders to take action on poverty, inequality and climate change as they adopt the new Global Goals this September. This day is in also in line with the UN’s 2015 slogan: ‘Time for Global Action for People and Planet’

Intertwined: Inequality, climate change and poverty

The UN MDG Report (2015) provides starting point on what is pending to address global inequalities that come in various forms across regions and countries. For example millions of the poorest and those disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability, ethnicity or geographic location that are being left behind. Hence, targeted efforts will be needed to reach the most vulnerable people across the globe that face the 3 horrors of poverty, inequality and climate change on a daily basis with little hope of breaking this bondage. For example, poor people’s livelihoods are more directly tied to natural resources, as they often live in the most vulnerable areas. They therefore suffer the most from environmental degradation in form of overexploitation of marine fish stocks, forest degradation, water scarcity due to droughts and flood conditions.

Who to ‘Light the Way’ now and in the long-run?

According to the UN MDG Report (2015), the global mobilization behind the Millennium Development Goals has produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in history. The landmark commitment entered into by world leaders in the year 2000 - to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty”— was translated into a framework of eight goals and, then, into wide-ranging practical steps that have enabled people across the world to improve their lives and their future prospects.

The emerging post-2015 development agenda, including the set of Sustainable Development Goals, strive to reflect lessons from the MDGs, build on successes made and put all countries, together, firmly on track towards a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable world. But then, in light of these lessons, who should take the drivers’ seat to propel the Global Goals? What criteria should be followed in selecting these leaders from the global to local levels?

In the foreword to the UN MDG Report (2015), UN Secretary General – Ban Ki Moon provides some useful clue in this regard, by noting that ‘further progress will require an unswerving political will, and collective, long-term effort’. He further adds that, ‘we need to tackle root causes and do more to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development’.

What follows afterwards?

The challenge is therefore on how to harness and sustain the ‘latent’ political will that has been shown since the start of 2015, evidenced by the high-profile meetings and pronouncements during the G7 Summit in Germany (June – 8, 2015) and the Financing for Development Conference held in Addis Ababa (July 13 – 16, 2015).

The success of the 17 Global goals needs redoubling of efforts to truly achieve this universal and transformative agenda. Having a collective effort means citizens, communities, municipalities, townships, nations, regional and international bodies should be ready to support one another in pursuance of these global goals. Relatedly, long-term effort means investment in knowledge and information sharing, skills development (for example on monitoring of data on the global goals to inform planning in real time in order to ‘count the uncounted so that can we reach the unreached’) and manpower exchange with less or no conditionalities to enable experiential learning and mutual support.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kigali introduces a car-free street | The New Times - Rwanda

One of the busiest streets downtown between Centenary House and the junction that leads to Ecole Belge was declared car-free, putting Kigali closer to its dream of becoming a modern and green city.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Strengthening African CSOs for Improved Natural Resource Governance | Maliasili Initiatives

African organizations working to improve natural resource management have made great gains, but face serious challenges that limit their efforts to grow and sustain their impact. This short video provides an overview of the challenges they face and provides recommendations for addressing these issues.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

UN Security Council hears climate fears of small island states | RTCC

By Ed King,  RTCC

Unusual debate at UN HQ in New York highlights security concerns of world’s most climate vulnerable countries

Leaders of small island states warned the UN Security Council on Thursday their future is under threat from climate change as rising sea levels eat away at their coastlines.

The prime ministers of Samoa and Jamaica joined UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon at the unusual session, which was also addressed by China, Russia, the UK, France and US.

Ban told envoys he hoped debate at Council level would aid negotiations on a UN-backed greenhouse gas cutting deal, due to be finalised in Paris this December.

Recent storms affecting Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands were forcing small islands to redefine the concept of security suggested Maldives foreign secretary Ali Naseer Mohamed.

“Our small size, geographic isolation, and high exposure to impacts like powerful tropical storms and other extremes make it challenging to prepare for a disaster before it strikes,” he said.

Tuvalu’s envoy to the UN Sunema Pie Simati revealed the tiny country had lost four islands since 2000, two of them after Cyclone Pam this year. The nation of 4 atolls and 5 main islands, has over 120 in total.

“That’s how fast our islands can disappear, in the blink of an eye,” she added.

Maldives minister: Warming above 1.5C will overwhelm islands

The UN rates 52 countries as small island developing states, which are dotted across the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans.

Last year the UN’s IPCC climate science panel said sea levels had risen 20cm since 1900. Experts at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say that rate is now increasing.

A previous attempt in 2013 to get the Security Council to debate climate change was rejected by China, India and Russia, who said the UN’s climate convention is the proper place for these debates.

But this year’s New Zealand sponsored discussion received wide support, with 75 countries making statements.

UK ambassador Matthew Rycroft warned of mass migration and economic damage if climate change progressed “unchecked”, with Kiribati already buying lands in Fiji as an exit strategy.

“The risk climate change poses goes beyond our shores and those of small islands,” he said.

“Left unaddressed, climate change could constitute one of the gravest threats to international peace and security for generations.”

Speaking to RTCC before he addressed the Council, Maldives minister Mohamed said the debate was “just the beginning” and expressed hopes it would take a more active role in highlighting climate concerns.

“This is unprecedented at the highest level,” he said. “The international will and intention is there, and we believe that’s a good thing, but it is political support that is required.”

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Video: the Summit of Conscience | Why do I Care

People from many of the world’s religions and wisdoms met in Paris on July 21 for a World Summit of Conscience to answer the question "Why do I care about the planet?” and launch a “Call to Conscience for climate”.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Investing in Disaster Protection | Dukascopy TV (EN)

Globally, disasters caused by natural hazards such as storms, floods and earthquakes take a huge toll in terms of human life, destruction of crops and livelihoods, and economic losses. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) estimates that between 2000 and 2012 some 1.2 million people lost their lives as result of disasters, 2.6 billion people were affected and the cost of the damage was some US$ 1.7 trillion.

Reducing the risk of disasters is a crucial part of sustainable development strategies and nature can play an important role in helping to protect us. IUCN’s Radhika Murti explains how in a new web television series called GreenViews on Dukascopy TV

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Civil Society Sceptical Over “Action Agenda” to Finance Development | IPS News

By Thalif Deen, IPS News

Despite high expectations, the third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) ended on a predictable note: the United Nations proclaimed it a roaring success while most civil society organisations (CSOs) expressed scepticism over the final outcome.

Hours after the conclusion of the conference in the Ethiopian capital, the United Nations trumpeted the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) as a “ground-breaking agreement that provides a foundation for implementing the global sustainable development agenda that world leaders are expected to adopt this September.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sounded optimistic when he said the agreement was a critical step forward in building a sustainable future for all since it provides a global framework for financing sustainable development.

He added, “The results here in Addis Ababa give us the foundation of a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development that will leave no one behind.”

But Dr. Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General of the Johannesburg-based CIVICUS, was blunt: “This week we saw a further sign that we are at the beginning of the end of the post-World War II (WWII) development world order.”

Rich countries seem unable or unwilling to increase official aid flows, which stand at a fraction of what they themselves promised years ago, he said.

“We are disappointed that the FfD process has not yielded new resources to fund the investments needed to end poverty or taken meaningful steps to address problems in the international financial system,” he said at the conclusion of the conference Wednesday.

He added: “The outcome will not deliver the reforms we need in areas like tax, that most in civil society had hoped for and, that are needed to increase the resources available for development.”

Asked about the failed proposal for the creation of a global tax body, ActionAid’s international tax power campaign manager, Martin Hojsik, told IPS: “The decision is an appalling failure and a great blow to the fight against poverty and injustice.”

He said it means that developing countries, which are losing billions of dollars a year to tax dodging, are not being given an equal say in fixing unjust global tax rules.

“This lost money could have gone to the provision of education, healthcare and other poverty-reducing public services. While the multinationals prosper, the poor and marginalised will suffer,” he said. “The fight for a fair global tax system should not and cannot falter.”

In a statement released here, Oxfam International said unresolved rigged tax rules and privatised development are the major drawbacks of the FfD outcome.

However, after such tense negotiations there can be no doubt that developing countries’ determination to call for true global tax reform and tax cooperation has been noted, and cannot go unheeded for long.

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said: “Today, one in seven people live in poverty and Addis was a once in a decade chance to find the resources needed to end this scandal. But the Addis Action Agenda has allowed aid commitments to dry up, and has merely handed over development to the private sector without adequate safeguards.”

She said developing countries held firm in Addis on the need to set up an intergovernmental tax body that would give them an equal say in how the global rules on taxation are designed.

“Instead they are returning home with a weak compromise meaning rigged rules and tax avoidance will continue to rob the world’s poorest people.”

Byanyima said fair taxation is vital in the fight against poverty and inequality.

“Citizens must be able to depend on their own governments to deliver the services they need. But it is just not logical to ask developing countries to raise more of their own resources without also reforming the global tax system that prevents them doing this,” she added.

Eric LeCompte, executive director of the Jubilee USA Network, told IPS “while compromised language on a tax committee was reached, we have the first global agreement that notes the harm of illicit financial flows and calls to stop them by 2030.”

Right now the developing world is losing a trillion dollars a year to corruption and tax evasion, he said, pointing out, “those are resources we need to end poverty.”

In a joint statement released late Wednesday, Global Financial Integrity (GFI), the Africa Progress Panel (APP) and Jubilee USA applauded the global commitment to reduce the massive flow of illicit funds from developing country economies.

For the first time international consensus was reached on the importance of an issue that has been at the forefront of efforts by hundreds of research and development organisations for the last 10 years.

Specifically, the FfD3 Outcome Document requires member states to “redouble efforts to substantially reduce illicit financial flows (IFFs) by 2030, with a view to eventually eliminate them, including by combatting tax evasion and corruption through strengthened national regulation and increased international cooperation.”

Additionally, the final text calls on “appropriate international institutions and regional organizations to publish estimates of IFF volume and composition”

The statement said the ability to measure illicit flows was at the heart of significant disagreement during the FfD3 preparatory negotiations in New York earlier this year with the 132-member Group of 77 developing countries calling for country-level estimates of illicit flow volumes.

In its statement, the United Nations said the Addis Ababa Action Agenda contains more than 100 concrete measures.

It also addresses all sources of finance, and covers cooperation on a range of issues including technology, science, innovation, trade and capacity building.

The Action Agenda builds on the outcomes of two previous Financing for Development conferences, in Monterrey, Mexico, and in Doha, Qatar.

Wu Hongbo, the Secretary-General of the Conference, said, “This historic agreement marks a turning point in international cooperation that will result in the necessary investments for the new and transformative sustainable development agenda that will improve the lives of people everywhere.”

Friday, July 3, 2015

Ecuador Moves From Money to Community to Measure Happiness | teleSUR

By teleSUR

The Ministry of Good Living will define new measures of well-being this month. Ecuador has planned to create new standards to measure well-being, including environment and community, moving away from income and economic growth as conventional markers.

To measure and define ‘Good Living’--or Buen Vivir in Spanish--experts from Latin America and Europe will come together to discuss the details on 2 and 3 July. The measures of happiness to be discussed will be based on three pillars: human beings, the environment, and community.

The new happiness index is based on the indigenous concept of "good living", or Sumak Kawsay in the indigenous Kichwa language. Good Living is protected and promoted under Ecuador’s 2008 Constitution.

According to the Minister of Good Living, Freddy Ehler, the way to measure progress shouldn’t be strictly based on economic income, but rather on what makes people happy and offers them ‘“inner peace.”

Currently international organizations like the United Nations and the OECD measure well-being based on a country’s GDP, purchasing powers and access to basic services.

For José Rosero, executive director of the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC), this is an “orthodox paradigm” linked to capital accumulation and economic growth. “You don’t need to acumulate wealth, but rather produce and consume the necessary amount,” Rosero said.

According to Rosero, Ecuador is also developing another form to measure poverty, which will include multiple aspects like health, education, and quality of life.

The ‘Good Living’ minister stressed that this requires individual change since ‘Sumak Kawsay’ is a personal choice to live in harmony with each other and with nature--not something that can be imposed by government, military, economic or political powers.

The project is inspired by the policy of Bhutan, a small country located close to the Himalayas, whose policy and development model is based on philosophy of gross national happiness (GNH ). This concept based on four pillars: sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development; the preservation and promotion of culture, environmental preservation and good governance .


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

UN climate deal will come too late for Kiribati, says leader | RTCC

By Ed King, RTCC

A proposed UN pact to address climate change will come too late for the population of Kiribati, the president of the tiny Pacific state told the UN General Assembly on Monday.

“No matter how ambitious it is – for us on low lying atoll islands it is already too late,” Anote Tong told an audience including UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon and government officials.

“King tides combined with strong winds wreak havoc among our people… in some parts whole villages have had to relocate.”

Tong said the country had already embarked on a plan to evacuate some of the Kiribati’s 32 atolls, adding: “We don’t have a lot of options.”

But he urged countries to use Kiribati’s plight as inspiration to develop an ambitious deal to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions and avert further consequences from rising temperatures.

“There have been times I have almost lost hope – there’s a limit to how many times you can tell a story people are not listening to,” he said. “We cannot afford to be paralysed into inaction.”

Tong’s intervention came on a day when the world’s top emerging economies warned promises from developed nations to help fund clean energy projects were not being kept.

The BASIC group of India, China, South Africa and Brazil said a 2009 promise to deliver US$100 billion a year by 2020 to poorer countries was well off course.

“There is still a clear expectation and so I hope the developing countries can fulfill their commitment before the Paris meeting,” said China’s climate change envoy Xie Zhenhua, in quotes reported by the Guardian.

Edna Molewa, South Africa’s environment minister, said the goal to deliver $100 billion was “very far” from what was needed.

“It is important therefore that this scaling up happens… there is still a lot of money that is required.”

According to Oxfam, less than $20 billion (£13 bn) a year is flowing from developed country public funds.

Of that, only $2.5-4.5 bn is being used to help countries prepare for future extreme weather events, a level the World Bank has warned is far too low to protect those vulnerable to future impacts.

Developing countries have long stressed that a clear financial package will be central to any agreement in Paris later this year, while the French hosts have made funding one of a proposed pact’s four “pillars”.

The funds are needed to both help countries invest in cleaner forms of energy and avoid long term fossil fuel investments, and also to prepare for future floods, droughts and rising sea levels that scientists say could intensify as a result of climate change.

UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon urged developed countries to work on a “credible” climate financing package in the coming months.

“I count on leaders to exercise political direction… now is when true leadership is needed from the highest level,” he said.

“Heads of state must give clear guidance to negotiators so that they take personal responsibility in Paris.”

Anote Tong says plans for migration advanced with rising sea levels already causing havoc in his country - See more at:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

U.N. Chief Backs New Int’l Decade for Water for Sustainable Development

By Thalif Deen, IPS News

As the United Nations continues its negotiations to both define and refine a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before a summit meeting of world leaders in September, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed support for a new “International Decade for Water for Sustainable Development.”

“It would complement and support the achievement of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals – for water,” he said.

The proposal for a new International Decade, which has to be eventually approved by the 193-member General Assembly, was initiated Tuesday by the president of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, at a ‘Water for Life” high-level international conference in the capital of Dushanbe.

Tajikistan, which has taken a leading role in highlighting the significance of water as a source of life, also sponsored the International Decade of Water For Life (2005-2015) “to raise awareness and galvanize action.”

The proposed new International Decade will be a successor to Water for Life which concludes in December this year.

Ban told delegates water’s place in the SDGs go well beyond access — taking into account critical issues such as integrated water resources management, efficiency of use, water quality, transboundary cooperation, water-related ecosystems, and water-related disasters.

“Water, like other areas of the post-2015 development agenda, is intricately interconnected with other challenges,” he noted.

John Garrett, senior policy analyst of development finance at the London-based WaterAid, told IPS: “We at WaterAid are glad to see U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighting in Tajikistan the human right to water and sanitation, and the enormous need that still exists for these essential services among the world’s poorest and most marginalised populations.”

The new SDGs, he pointed out, represent a once-in-a-generation chance to reach everyone, everywhere with clean water, decent toilets and a way to keep themselves and their surroundings clean.

“A new decade for action on Water for Sustainable Development would continue a much-needed focus on the enormous challenges ahead,” he said.

However, he cautioned, the action should also focus on sanitation and hygiene, because without these, clean water is neither achievable nor sustainable, and neither are the health benefits nor economic progress that results.

Over the years, the United Nations has continued to place water-related issues on its socio-economic agenda: the first-ever International Year of Water Cooperation; World Water Day commemorated every year on Mar. 22; and the annual World Toilet Day on Nov. 19.

Ban said the world achieved the Millennium Development Goal target for safe and sustainable drinking water five years ahead of schedule.

In the course of one generation, 2.3 billion people – one-third of humanity – have gained access to an improved drinking water source.

The United Nations General Assembly declared access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation to be a human right, he pointed out.

Torgny Holmgren, executive director at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), told IPS his organisation welcomes Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s strong support for water as a key ingredient in all efforts towards sustainable development.

It is clear that the global community increasingly realises the challenges caused by growing water stress and unwise water management, he added.

“A dedicated Sustainable Development Goal, explicitly addressing the multifaceted nature of water – as a social issue, an economic issue, an environmental issue, as well as the main cause of disasters on our planet – is an imperative, but by no means sufficient, step towards the world we want.”

It is therefore particularly inspiring, he said, to see Ban’s encouragement for a process beyond the SDGs – “a process that allows and requires the involvement of all sectors and actors, public and private, individuals and organisations to collectively take a giant leap towards a water wise world.”

Garrett of WaterAid told IPS progress in the next decade will be critical and “we welcome efforts to keep these issues in the spotlight”.

The Millennium Development Goals succeeded in halving the number of people in the world without improved water, but left many of those most in need without.

Sanitation is among the most off-track of those goals. “We must refocus efforts in the next decade to ensure no one is left behind.”

Ban said sanitation has also made progress during the Decade, with more than 1.9 billion people gaining access to improved sanitation.

“That is all good news. Yet we also know that even today, in the 21st century, some 2.5 billion people still lack access to adequate sanitation”, while some one billion people still practice open defecation.

Even today, in the 21st century, nearly 1,000 children under the age of five are killed each day by a toxic mix of unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and hygiene, he said.

And inadequate water supply and sanitation cost economies about 260 billion dollars worldwide every year.

Just 10 years from now, 1.8 billion people will live in areas with absolute water scarcity, and two out of three people around the world could live under water-stressed conditions.

“It is little wonder that many global experts have called the ‘water crisis’ one of the greatest global risks that we face,” warned Ban.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Warning that tech fixes for rubbish often go to waste |


Decision-makers dealing with waste management tend to overlook the behavioral, economic and institutional factors around waste creation, according to an award-winning paper.

When confronted with waste problems, municipalities tend to target technical solutions, the paper found. But these are not always the best way to deal with solid waste, it shows. A focus on factors such as education, consumption patterns and sanitation habits could help reduce solid waste creation and littering, the paper says.

Last week the paper’s lead author, Lilliana Abarca-Guerrero, collected the monthly Atlas Award, which highlights papers published by Elsevier that could promote social development.

For the research, Abarca-Guerrero studied solid waste management in 30 cities in 22 developing countries during field visits and workshops with local waste managers.

“Decision-makers are tempted to believe in technology as a magical solution,” she says.

Waste creation is directly linked to economic development, meaning many growing countries have to figure out how to collect and treat increasing amounts of rubbish.

Abarca-Guerrero describes a municipality in the Andes that bought large and expensive compactors to compress plastic waste. But the machines could not be used on hilly roads and could not process the organic material that made up most of the local waste.

In another example, Sri Lankan administrators wanted to buy modern vacuum-cleaner vehicles to clean pavements, but they proved unsuitable for the country’s dusty roads and tracks.

According to Abarca-Guerrero, the companies that sell such machinery should be more transparent about its suitability and maintenance costs. Municipalities should also talk more to local people and NGOs, and educate local residents about waste issues to figure out the best way to manage solid waste, the paper says.

The paper, published in Waste Management, includes a questionnaire that government agencies can use to create a snapshot of their waste management system. This is designed to enable them to prepare a management plan and make better decisions on waste collection and disposal, says Abarca-Guerrero.

“Quick fixes are not the solution,” she says. “Besides technology, educated people, rules and regulations, and the participation of households are needed.”

Agamuthu Pariatamby, a waste researcher at the University of Malaya in Malaysia, agrees the findings should alert decision-makers in developing countries to the dangers of trying to solve waste issues superficially.

“Awareness and attitude are bigger issues, which need proper education and training before bringing in technology,” he says. “Like the examples given, there are similar white elephants in every developing country, where technology alone has failed miserably, causing unnecessary financial loss.”