Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Next Steps to 'The Future We Want'

By Wu Hongbo (United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs)

One year ago, the world's leaders met in Rio de Janeiro, together with fifty thousand concerned individuals and representatives that hailed from major groups of society including business and academia. These leaders, in an outcome entitled "The Future We Want," agreed to pursue the necessary steps to advance the world towards a more sustainable future.

The Rio+20 conference was a milestone on the long road to sustainable development. It cemented support for the agreements reached at the 1992 Earth Summit and renewed the commitment of leaders to put their countries on a path towards improving people's lives today while preserving the planet for future generations. It was a bright moment of international cooperation at a time of profound national and global challenges. Leaders agreed to develop a new set of sustainable development goals, building upon the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the UN launched 13 years ago and that have been so instrumental in the fight against poverty.

The MDGs have been a powerful galvanizing force for efforts - from the global to the local level - to reduce poverty, provide basic health and education, and promote gender equality.

Yet there is enormous potential to do more in the remaining time before we reach the deadline of 2015. And even if we were to reach all the MDGs, we know there is still far more to do in order to eradicate extreme poverty and address climate change and other growing environmental threats .

At Rio last year, governments recognized that future goals in the post-2015 era must be equal to the complex challenges facing the world today, and in coming decades. They recognized that if we are to irreversibly eradicate poverty and ensure social progress, we must build new economies that can decisively move people out of poverty, withstand shocks and adapt to the growing impacts of climate change. Without action now, climate change and other environmental threats have the real potential to set back social and economic progress for future generations.

Member States of the United Nations are now deliberating on the goals that can propel a new sustainable development agenda, and will present a proposal to the General Assembly in 2014. A rich ferment of ideas is brewing in academia, major groups of society and governments, with recent proposals from high-level reports, including that of the Secretary-General's panel of eminent persons and of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, as well as the suggestions of thousands of people. It is expected that sustainable development goals will be set that are transformative, universal and equitable, with sustainable development at their core.

The new goals will guide all economies - developed and developing alike - on more sustainable development paths. That is why Rio+20 agreed that the goals should be universal and applicable to all countries. Sustainable development is not only about promoting economic and social well-being while protecting the environment, it is about working together, across the globe, to responsibly manage the earth's life support systems and ecosystems.

This is a collective undertaking that requires all countries to cooperate to secure our common future. It also requires the engagement of all actors, particularly business and industry and other major groups of society, in developing and deploying many of the technologies that will be needed. Voluntary commitments and partnerships, such as the 1,382 already registered at and since Rio+20 that are worth over $600 billion, will be key to realizing a more sustainable world.

Indeed, many countries have the know-how. And many have already begun to pioneer new ways of organizing their economies with more sustainable energy and transport systems. A number are also investing heavily in renewable energy technologies and low-carbon public transport.

Yet, considering the scale of the economic transformations that are needed, we will have to develop and disseminate technology that is better, clean and affordable on a far grander scale. Let's be clear. The best brains are needed, wherever they live.

If the positive legacy of Rio + 20 is to be realized, the international community will need to rally around an ambitious set of sustainable development goals in 2015, and agree concretely on how we will work together to achieve them.

The future we are aiming at is one where poverty is history and where all human beings can achieve the full development of their potential and live lives of dignity, while consuming and producing within the limits of the planet. Such a world is within our reach. This is the future we want.

Next Steps to 'The Future We Want'

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wellbeing of the poor has deteriorated over past 15 years, says Cafod

By Mark Tran, The guardian.com

The wellbeing of many poor people has deteriorated over the past 15 years as a result of factors beyond their control such as environmental degradation, rapid changes in crop prices and economic crises, says a report from the Catholic aid agency Cafod.

Often, the worst situations of poverty are caused by a combination of old and new factors, according to the report, Setting the post-2015 development compass: voices from the ground, which is part of the organisation's Compass 2015 research project.

Some issues have existed for decades: land inheritance practices, customary duty of care disproportionately burdening women and exploitative tenancy agreements. Others are new: changing family compositions because of HIV, increasing frequency of droughts and rapid fluctuations in international commodity prices.

"One factor present in nearly every story is that of gender inequality, which intersects with other issues to create new forms of social exclusion," said the report, which is based on the views of 1,420 people in 56 communities in Bolivia, Philippines, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Part of the global Participate initiative to bring the perspectives of the poorest into the post-2015 debate, when the millennium development goals (MDGs) expire, Compass 2015 aims to identify the priorities and aspirations of poor or marginalised people. Underlying themes are a secure livelihood and living without fear. Participants also put a strong emphasis on their own ability to live well, looking at the government and others as partners in their efforts.

"Some of the issues focused on in the MDGs have seen real improvements, from reducing the number of people living on very low incomes to increasing people's access to medicines for HIV," Neva Frecheville, Cafod's post-MDGs policy analyst, said. "But what this research reveals above all is that poverty is hugely complex and controlled by myriad forces. The interconnectedness of the world through globalisation means the poorest and most marginalised face negative pressures from all quarters making it harder and harder to sustain a livelihood."

Health and education are the two most important services discussed by participants in the research. Though participants acknowledge improvements in provision, they keep returning to issues of quality of services and economic barriers such as fees and hidden costs.

In Uganda, rural communities described large, overcrowded classes without teachers, furniture and teaching materials. They argued that without enough trained teachers, packing students into an ill-equipped classroom wastes their time. In rural areas, people living in poverty make considerable efforts to send their children to school rather than work in the fields, and expect this investment to be worthwhile.

Being secure and prepared emerged as a priority among participants, who emphasised the great loss caused by natural disasters and conflicts. Even when small in scale, disasters and conflicts can destroy years of progress and undermine wellbeing for years to come.

In September, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, will present a report from the high-level panel chaired by David Cameron, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president, to the UN general assembly.

The report says the world must go beyond the MDGs, as they did not focus enough on reaching the very poorest and most excluded people, and set out a road map for eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

"The high-level panel report gave us a huge amount to build on," Frecheville said. "But it didn't really integrate the environment and it could have pushed further on economic inequality, because without tackling extreme disparity between groups, it is only half of the job."

Friday, July 26, 2013

Small island states dismiss doubts over 2015 UN climate deal

By Ed King, RTCC

Small island state leaders have reacted with alarm at suggestions that some leading economies want to delay binding emission pledges until after 2015.

A recent meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) that involves the USA, China and EU among others ended with a summary revealing that some participants feel that concluding a global emissions deal in 2015 might not be feasible.

But in a statement emailed to RTCC, the chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Ambassador Marlene Moses emphatically rejects this suggestion, saying it would breach previous agreements.

“At the 2011 UN climate conference in Durban the international community made two commitments central to tackling climate change for present and future generations: first, that we would ramp up efforts to cut the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the crisis in the short-term and, second, that we would sign a comprehensive and legally binding climate treaty in 2015,” she wrote.

“We all have an obligation to do everything we can to meet this imperative goal, beginning by taking immediate action to lower emissions at home, and working to raise expectations that the 2015 conference in Paris will be a success.

“We are still confident that it is possible to accomplish both goals and stand willing to work with all countries to ensure we do.”

In Durban, the EU, AOSIS and Least Developed Countries group forced through the 2015 deadline under pressure from China, Brazil, the USA and India, whom RTCC understands wanted a more relaxed schedule.

Scientists believe global emissions have to peak this decade if the world is to avoid warming of beyond 2C, levels they say could trigger a series of dangerous ‘tipping points’, such as the melting of the permafrost.

Yesterday’s 2013 Energy Outlook report from the US Government underlined the ambitious scale of emission cuts required if the 2C target is to be avoided.

Legal outcome

Responding to a set of emailed questions from RTCC, UK climate minister Greg Barker, who attended the MEF talks, stressed the core elements of a UN emissions deal currently under discussion remain unchanged.

“The new agreement in 2015 should be rules-based, legally binding, and applicable to all,” he said.

“If we are to meet the objective of the Convention and achieve our agreed below 2°C goal, it is imperative that all countries work together to mitigate our emissions.”

Barker, who has attended the last three UN climate summits, also said fears the USA is seeking to undermine the binding nature of an emissions deal by pushing a looser ‘pledge and review’ formula are unfounded.

“We have seen nothing from the US to imply the Agreement will not be rules-based and legally binding and we don’t understand what is meant by a reference to the US’s ‘pledge and review’ proposal in the context of the legally binding nature of the agreement and whether there is a contradiction,” he said.

“If it’s a reference to the US Submission to the UNFCCC in March, much of that was about the process for establishing and agreeing commitments that will be in the Agreement in 2015, not the legally binding nature of that Agreement. In fact, it contained a number of similarities to the step wise approach the EU proposed in its Submission to the UNFCCC in May.”

Barker added he expects progress on a climate compensation or ‘loss and damage’ mechanism to be made at UN climate summit in Warsaw this coming November.

Kerry plea

Separately, the Marshall Islands President Christopher J. Loeak has written an open letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, calling on him to turn President Obama’s words on climate ambition “into action”.

Last month unusually high tides briefly swamped the Marshall Islands capital Majuro, leading the government to welcome a US emergency response team with the words “welcome to climate change”.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Loeak invited Kerry to the Pacific Islands Forum in September, highlighting the “risks and threats posed by climate change” that both countries face.

“To focus discussions, we have decided on the theme ‘Marshalling the Pacific Response to the Climate Challenge.’

“This reflects our belief that, with the countries of the Pacific Rim accounting for more than 60 percent of global emissions and rising, the real fight against climate change must begin here. In June, President Obama asked if the U.S. would have the courage to act before it is too late.

“If the U.S. is serious about rolling up its sleeves and renewing its global leadership on climate change, you will pivot to the Pacific and join us in Majuro.”

Small island states dismiss doubts over 2015 UN climate
 deal

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mobile phone runs on urine power - Bristol Robotics Laboratory

Scientists working at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, which is a collaboration between the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and the University of Bristol, have developed a novel way of charging mobile phones using urine as the power source to generate electricity.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Algae biofuels deemed unsuitable for developing nations

By SciDevNet

Significant uncertainties about the development of algae biofuels and a lack of research and development capabilities make this potential energy source an unsuitable option for developing countries, according to researchers from the UN University in Japan.

The favourable growing temperatures and vast areas of undeveloped land found in the tropics have led to speculation that this technology could offer sustainable energy and an economic boost to the developing world.

But a study published in Energy Policy this month (6 July) suggests that developing nations lack the scientific know-how to turn such biofuels into reality.

Biofuels made from crops such as maize and palm are an established renewable energy source, but have been criticised for taking up farmland and contributing to climate change.

Recent interest has therefore been focused on biofuels that require no arable land as they are made from microscopic algae grown in water.

Now, researchers have analysed literature on algae biofuels, highlighting uncertainties and concerns relating to energy production levels and the technology's commercial viability.

These concerns include the need for large-scale production for it to become economical, and high plant and infrastructure costs. They also include scientific uncertainties surrounding variables including how the choice of algae species, their growth rate and growing environment affects energy production. Many such variables are estimated and can then lead to over-optimistic projections, the study says.

Then, by analysing the quantity of journal publications and patents around the world, the researchers were able to assess developing countries' research capacity for algae biofuels.

"As far as things look now, algae biofuel production is not the best option for developing countries because they don't have the capacity even to do the research," the study's lead author and research fellow, Ademola Adenle, tells SciDev.Net.

While the United States and Europe produced 70 per cent of all related research publications between 1974-2010, Africa and South America were only responsible for two per cent each, despite their favourable locations for growing algae, the paper says.

This indicates that many developing nations are insufficiently involved in the development of this potentially useful technology, it adds.

Adenle argues that several technical and institutional challenges must also be overcome before the algae biofuel industry can take off in developing countries.

He says that developing countries need to develop research capacity and legal frameworks to support the introduction of patented technology, following the approach of emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India.

While emerging nations such as China and India still produced a fairly low proportion of global publications related to algae biofuels considering their population size — at three and five per cent respectively — they did better than countries in Africa.

Adenle says these emerging economies at least have some sort of capacity and institutions in place to build their R&D in this area.

"We can't compare African countries with emerging economies such as India, Brazil and China that are more advanced, because their regulatory frameworks are equivalent to those of developed countries," he says.

The main challenge for African countries is to improve their institutions, Adenle says. "For any developing country to develop their own algae biofuel, they have to take a similar approach to that of Brazil, India and China, by investing in institutional capacity such as training and education," he says.

"Having a proper policy to support the introduction of new technologies is fundamental to the development of the industry. If developing countries don't prioritise this, then it makes it very difficult for the country, international organisations and companies to harmonise their agendas and work together."

Dheepak Maharajh, a senior scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa, praises the study's assessment and highlights the need for further research to make algae biofuel viable.

"The crude oil industry evolved over 100 years to produce various higher-value products that make it profitable," he tells SciDev.Net.

"A similar approach is needed for algae biofuel where we extract its maximum value. Governments therefore need to continue to invest in research and take a long-term outlook for return on investment."

Algae biofuels deemed unsuitable for developing nations

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Spanish town goes green by turning sewage into clean energy | Reuters

A Spanish resort town with sprawling golf courses and tree-lined beaches has added another green site to its attractions: the world's first plant to convert sewage into clean energy.

The facility in Chiclana de la Frontera on the southwest tip of Spain uses wastewater and sunlight to produce algae-based biofuel as part of a 12 million euro ($15.7 million) project to pursue alternative energies and reduce reliance on foreign oil.

The use of algae for biomass, once touted by U.S. President Barack Obama as the fuel of the future, has been written off by some critics who say the large quantities of energy, water and chemicals needed to produce it makes the process unsustainable.
 
The project in Chiclana, called All-gas to sound like "algas" or seaweed in Spanish, seeks to prove otherwise, becoming the first municipal wastewater plant using cultivated algae as a source for biofuel.
 
While industries such as breweries or paper mills have produced biogas from wastewater for their own energy needs, All-gas is the first to grow algae from sewage in a systematic way to produce a net export of bioenergy, including vehicle biofuel.
 
"Nobody has done the transformation from wastewater to biofuel, which is a sustainable approach," said All-gas project leader Frank Rogalla, standing outside a trailer-laboratory set up beside an algae pond at the waste treatment site in Chiclana.
 
Carbon dioxide is used to produce algae biomass, and the green sludge is transformed into gas, a clean biofuel commonly used in buses or garbage trucks because it is less polluting.

All-gas' owner Aqualia is the world's third largest private water company. It is owned by loss-making Spanish infrastructure firm FCC which is betting on its environmental services business to relieve pain from a domestic construction downturn.

While energy efficiency projects have gained pace in other European countries, Spain has been held back by a yawning budget gap that was at the centre of concerns the country would need an international bailout last year.

The All-gas project is three-fifths financed by the European Union FP7 program to determine the effectiveness of the methane produced from algae-derived biomass in cars and trucks.

TOILETS TO TANKS

The Chiclana plant, still in a pilot phase and 200 square meters in size, harvested its first crop of algae last month and expects to fuel its first car by December.

All-gas expects it to be fully up and running by 2015, when it aims for 3,000 kg of algae on 10 hectares of land, roughly 10 football fields, to generate annual biofuel production worth 100,000 euros - that's enough biofuel to run about 200 cars or 10 city garbage trucks a year.

Spain is battling a record 27 percent unemployment rate, with the south worst affected, and cash-strapped consumers have struggled under the weight of wage cuts and tax hikes over the past two years aimed at reining in the public deficit.

Chiclana, which relies on tourism and salt-processing fields for its livelihood, was chosen for the site because of its ample sunlight and a long stretch of land that runs along oceanside salt fields where algae can be easily grown in man-made ponds.

All-gas says its sewage plant is over 2 million euros cheaper to set up and run than a conventional sewage plant.

But whether the project is able to fuel cars on a large scale will depend on the amount and quality of bioethanol it can eventually produce, and at what cost.

Researchers so far have concluded that it may take years before algal biofuels are economically viable, though they may eventually be able to replace some portion of petroleum.

The All-gas model has drawn interest from other efficiency-minded municipalities in southern Spain with populations between 20,000 and 100,000 and with enough land to develop the algal ponds, said Rogalla, who has identified at least 300 small towns where such projects could work.

Aqualia has also had contact with Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and a French company over the possibility of building and operating similar water treatment plants under a concession.

Rogalla is optimistic.

"The opportunity is such that 40 million people, roughly the population of Spain, would be able to power 200,000 vehicles from just flushing their toilet!" he said.

Spanish town goes green by turning sewage into clean energy | Reuters

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

allAfrica.com: Africa: Science Is Key to Locally Adapting the Post-2015 Agenda

By Aida Opoku-Mensah
The recent UN high-level panel report on the post-2015 development agenda alludes to the potential of science, technology and innovation (ST&I) in development.

In fact, the document makes an explicit point about technology transfer: "The innovation, diffusion and transfer of technology is critical to realizing true transformation. Whether in information, transportation, communications or life-saving medicines, new technologies can help countries leapfrog to new levels of sustainable development". 

This is the crux of the matter. Governments will need to make massive investments in these sectors for ST&I to play a part in implementing this new global agenda.

But investments will need to be backed up by stronger alliances and serious efforts to adapt the new development objectives to national realities.

National context

Although the post-2015 framework is set to be global in nature, the high-level panel has called for goals, targets and indicators based on countries' own context and priorities. For the developing world, particularly Africa, adopting and adapting the framework cannot be done without due consideration of the level of ST&I input required to adapt the framework.

As a start, each country will need a national consultative process involving key stakeholders, including scientists, to begin giving this global framework a national character. This could result in several derivative frameworks but the consultative processes should lead to a global roadmap precisely setting out the how of implementation.

The African common position on the post-2015 development agenda - developed by the African Union Commission, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and the UN Development Programme and finalised in March - specifically identified ST&I as an urgent priority for Africa. 

It is during the development of the national roadmaps that an assessment of ST&I resources required for implementation should accompany plans for goals and targets. National roadmaps need to include such 'ST&I-readiness' that will provide the basis for measuring the effectiveness of rollout and implementation.

How this would work in practice, for Africa, could be the focus of a committee of heads of state and government on the post-2015 development agenda, which was established at the African Union Commission summit in May.

Resource management

Why focus on ST&I? Take the overarching goal of using resources wisely, as set out in the high-level panel report. Achieving this requires better management of resources and, ultimately, better use of technology.

In Africa, the lack of transparency in how natural resources are managed has undermined countries' development progress. Raw materials found on African soil, such as oil and gold, are mainly processed by countries outside the continent - with minimal benefit for African countries themselves.

In at least some cases, resource wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few Africans instead of going towards modernisation efforts for the public good, such as funding much-needed infrastructure or structurally transforming the economy to create jobs.

While good management of natural resources can generate funding for ST&I, the reverse is also true - that ST&I is needed for good management of natural resources, particularly in creating more valuable products through the processing of raw materials.

For instance, valuable products, such as furniture, could be manufactured from logged wood, and revenue from natural resources such as oil and gas could fund local scientists' work on greener energy.

Recently, Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta, talked of the country needing a framework to nurture and commercialise inventions, innovations and their end products at both national and county levels.

Local innovation will need to be harnessed too - here, the Innovation Prize for Africa springs to mind, which supports African innovation and inventions in various fields.

Regardless of scale, across Africa, the industrial-manufacturing pipeline begins and ends with optimal use of ST&I. Investments in education, and research and innovation - backed by the appropriate industrial policies - are needed to promote structural transformation, industrialisation and manufacturing to generate employment for the continent's growing youth population.

"Every country that has experienced sustained high growth has done so through absorbing knowledge, technology and ideas from the rest of the world, and adapting them to local conditions", the report reiterates. "What matters is not just having technology, but understanding how to use it well and locally".

Science alliances

But the report goes further than that - it calls for a "global technology breakthrough", citing as an example the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy.

Through this collaboration, the US and Indian governments, as well as the private sector, have set up the US-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center. The overall initiative has already generated US$1.7 billion in public and private resources for clean energy projects in India.

Africa must form similar strategic technological and scientific alliances, in particular with the private sector, to better harness its resources to ensure a natural resource value chain that includes the discovery, extraction and management of associated benefits, such as creating agribusinesses from agriculture.

To transform economies and promote sustainable development, the application of ST&I is imperative. Similarly, using resources wisely requires cooperation, better management and ultimately better use of technology.

allAfrica.com: Africa: Science Is Key to Locally Adapting the Post-2015 Agenda

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The use of wastewater in agriculture: The nagging dilemma


Next time you pass by a surface run-off, stream or polluted river with its heavy load of human, domestic, industrial and municipal waste, instead of covering your nose to ward off the stench you will do well to observe the kind of wastes in those waters, because a sizeable portion (20% global average) of what you eat come from plants irrigated with such wastewater – especially if you live in an urban area.

With an increasing global population, the ever-increasing demand for food and water has continued to place an increasing strain on the limited available freshwater resources. Although, over 70% of earth’s surface is water-covered, less than 3% is freshwater and two-thirds of this freshwater is locked up in glaciers and snow-cover. Furthermore, there are competing uses for this available freshwater; while drinking, sanitation, agriculture, and recreation feature high on the list; globally, agriculture takes about 70% of all freshwater withdrawals.

Thus, this increasing scarcity has led many resource-poor farmers, especially the urban and peri-urban farmers, to resort to the re-use of drainage water, effluents, and polluted streams and rivers for irrigating of their crops. The water from these sources is called wastewater.

Wastewater refers to water that has been polluted by of mixing with waste, industrial, agricultural, domestic or municipal drainage. It could be used directly when drainage water from the aforesaid sources is channeled to water a farm; or indirectly when untreated wastewater or drainage is discharged into rivers, streams or canals that supply irrigation water to farms.

The use of wastewater in agriculture is gaining tremendous popularity because of its wide range of benefits. Its agronomic, economic and environmental benefits cannot be overstated. These benefits include water conservation, provision of reliable water supply during dry seasons and periods of drought, and preservation/prevention of downstream rivers (and communities) from contamination with municipal and industrial drainages/wastewater and their environmental and health impacts.

Irrigation with wastewater increases available water supply and releases better quality water supplies for alternative uses (e.g. drinking and sanitation). In addition to these, its fertilizer value of is important. According to an FAO report in 1992, “a typical wastewater effluent from domestic source could supply all the nitrogen and much of the phosphorus and potassium that are normally required for agricultural crop production.”

This recycling of urban waste/nutrients helps in reducing farmers’ need to invest in chemical fertilizers which often have chronic negative impacts on the soil and water downstream. Consequently, many farmers using wastewater increase their income and are better able to support themselves and their families. Also, urban dwellers (especially the poor) have better access to fresher and cheaper farm produce. In all, wastewater use promotes urban food security.

However, unregulated use of wastewater poses risks to human (and environmental) health. This is because the composition of wastewater differs from one source to another. Wastewater may contain pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and protozoa; parasites such as helminthes; inorganic salts, toxic chemicals (or pesticides) and heavy metals in combination with its plant nutrients. Therefore, use of wastewater in farms could enrich soils with heavy metals which may bioaccumulates in plants to concentrations that may pose health and ecological risks, and can also contaminate farm produce with harmful microbes which transmit infectious diseases.

Examples of this abound over decades, including the “itai-itai disease” in Japan (1912-1946) caused by eating rice highly contaminated with cadmium. The rice paddies were irrigated with wastewater discharged from upstream zinc mines and many of the victims died of kidney failure and bone-softening. The fish in the river downstream also died as result of the heavy pollution of the surrounding water and soil – a situation that was not completely remedied until 2012. Another example in Japan is the “Minamata disease” caused by the heavy metal, mercury, in industrial wastewater which ended up in local fishery and caused both human and animal deaths between 1932 and 1968.

More recent happenings include a 1970 cholera outbreak in Jerusalem traced to the consumption of wastewater-irrigated vegetables, typhoid infections in the 1970s and 1980s and cholera outbreak in the early 1990s in Santiago, Chile also linked to the consumption of wastewater-irrigated salad crops; and the Mwea Rice irrigation project in Kenya where wastewater use was linked with a significant increase in schistosomiasis infection and death.

In many African countries, wastewater use is largely unregulated and often condoned by officials because of its benefits. Spore agricultural magazine (No 157) reported that, despite the health risks associated with untreated wastewater, “accessing raw wastewater through breaking mains and other means is a common practice in Dakar, while in Nairobi, thousands of families use the polluted Nairobi River to water their allotments”. It stated further that a study in Ghana reported “that typical microbiological and pesticide contamination levels of vegetables in Ghanaian markets pose a threat to human health.” In Nigeria the situation is not different, as a quick survey prior to a personal research work last year showed that wastewater is indiscriminately used by farmers (Oyo state) – especially the vegetable farmers.

Yet, experiences have shown that in spite of the multifarious benefits of wastewater use there is need for strict regulation of its use for public-health reasons. Already, many developed countries have strict wastewater guidelines and African countries will do well to adapt such guidelines for local use or enforce them for public health reasons wherever there are existing laws.

In conclusion, while the appeal of wastewater use will not go away because of its numerous benefits, the onus is on public officials to balance the benefits against the risks and draw a line through strict regulations in order to safeguard public health while reaping the benefits of wastewater use.

The use of wastewater in agriculture: The nagging dilemma

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Relevance of an Inspirational Water Goal in the Post-2015 Development Agenda for East Africa’s Lake Victoria Basin

By Kimbowa Richard, Regional Coordinator (East African Sustainability Watch Network c/o Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development)

The potential for a new “water in development” narrative that will promote water as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is under intense discussion as part of the Post -2015 development process. In this regard a number of global, regional and national meetings involving different actors are putting their cases and consolidating positions in their respective favor

For example, an expert Consultation on Water SDGs, organized by the UN Office of Sustainable Development (UNOSD), June 2013, in Incheon, Republic of Korea, recognized the importance of: monitoring and reporting systems to assess progress and adjust policy and practice with regard to water issues; finding new sources of financing beyond official development aid; and integrating water with other sectoral goals as well as ensuring that the three dimensions of sustainable development are integrated within a water goal. It also expressed a preference for a stand-alone water goal that will be linked with other goals and sectors. The consultation concluded with a call for the post-2015 water agenda to emphasize poverty eradication linkages.

One such meeting as a side event; Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: How to achieve an aspirational water SDG?” on July 3, 2013 in the Palais des Nations, Geneva organized by UN Economic Commission for Europe and UN- Water. Having made contributions to the vibrant post -2015 water consultations on line, it was an enriching moment to attend a physical meeting to share and learn more about the role of water, issues and stakeholder positions to date after the release of the Report of the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 development agenda. The side event was in form of a panel chaired by Federico Propezi (UN-Water) and panelists from World Health Organization; Ministry of Environment, Romania; Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea – Italy; and Aquafed

Though I came in sometime after the event had taken off due to long-queue arising from the security checks at the UN entrance, I was able to find some panelists make their presentations and above all the plenary discussion. Two thrilling and forward-looking (Government and Private sector) presentations are worth sharing here: The Swiss position paper on Water and the AquaFed’s paper: ‘Post-2015 Global goals. Towards a wastewater sub goal of the goal on water (options for indicators, targets and sub-goal)

Swiss Position: Water as a standalone Goal

Francois Munger (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) presented a summary of the Swiss position paper on water that is underscored by the need to address water security as one of the highest priorities of the Post-2015 development agenda, and that water must feature prominently as standalone goal with measurable targets and indicators in support of life, well being, economic development and the environment.

Water security in this regard refers to human security and vital needs: health, safe sufficient and affordable drinking water; adequate sanitation; hygiene; protecting ecosystems; water for food security, energy and economic growth; wastewater management and reuse.

This (progressive) position paper outlines the need to ensure (global) water security and universal access to sanitation, drinking water and hygiene. The rationale is that despite being situated within the goal of environmental sustainability, the targets for water and sanitation in the current MDG framework did not address the link to the broader water agenda.

Due to the significant disparities and inequalities as for instance between and within regions, between urban and rural areas and between rich and poor section of the population, the Swiss position emphasizes that to realize the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, achieving universal access to Water Supply and Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) must be one of the sub goals in the post-2015 development agenda.

The Swiss paper also calls for Sustainable Water Resources Management to be included in a future SDG on water ensuring that limited freshwater resources are managed so at to satisfy human needs and serve economic growth while respecting requirements and ensure their services. This is driven by the fact that with more than 250 major watercourses crossing international political boundaries, development and sustainable long lasting implementation of treaties and frameworks to manage them becomes crucial for national, regional and international peace and security. This is due to the increasing demands for water for agriculture to feed the world’s growing population, industrial use, and meet energy needs with consequent higher production of waste water.

On wastewater management and water quality, there is a pressing need to improve global freshwater quality by addressing water pollution and making better use of wastewater. The Swiss position recommends that this should be the third important element in a future SDG on water

Aquafed paper: food for thought on wastewater as a resource.

AquaFed’s paper presented by Gerard Payen, as food for thought aimed at shaping the emerging sub goal on wastewater and the potential related ‘indicators and targets’. It is intended to stimulate discussion on the ways through which progress on wastewater management could be stimulated by the post-2015 global Goal. Pollution discharged to the aquatic environment comes mainly from urban wastewater, industrial facilities, animal breeding and agricultural inputs, who should be taken on coherently without giving priority to any of them.

The focus on wastewater links up well with the Swiss position above and takes the discussion forward. This paper notes that in the face of growing demands on finite water resources, it is necessary to consider wastewater as an additional resource. The paper further notes a major gap – there is no common objective on wastewater at the UN level and national policies may not be consistent with each other. This gap was recognized politically at the 2012 World Water Forum in France and in the Rio + 20 outcome document they have stressed ‘the need to adopt measures to significantly reduce water pollution and increase water quality, significantly improve wastewater treatment and water efficiency’.

In view of the need to limit the number of selected targets for the post-2015 goals, Aquafed proposes 3 coherent, inter-related building blocks: identifying indicators that are measurable and therefore enable the progress towards the target to be assessed(to be a major advance in the area of wastewater management); for each indicator, indentifying a target that could be achieved realistically in the timeframe(unknown as yet) of the future global programme; and formulating an aspirational wastewater component of the water goal that is convincing for decision-makers and the general public and for which achieving the proposed targets would be a major contribution.

Aquafed proposes that the target should be drafted around the sub-themes: preventing pollution, reducing impacts (wastewater collection and treatment) and reusing water. Though formulations have been proposed, there is fear of conceptual misunderstanding arising due to professional, geographical and other differences that will need to be carefully handled.

Usefulness of a Water goal for the Lake Victoria basin in East Africa

Many rivers and streams draining into Lake Victoria and the near-shore areas are heavily polluted, particularly by: (a) raw and partially treated municipal and industrial effluents; (b) contaminated urban surface runoff; (c) unsanitary conditions of the shoreline settlements; and (d) pollutants carried in eroded sediments, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, synthetic pyrethroids, and organophosphates (World Bank, 2009).

These pollutants bring into the Lake coliforms of fecal origin; oxygen-demanding organic substances; heavy metals, such as chromium, lead and mercury; and pesticide residues. The increased inflow of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, has resulted in changing the Lake chemical and bio-physical characteristics, increased eutrophication, nutrients balance problems, health problems to riparian communities, and proliferation o f water hyacinth. For example, Winam Gulf (Kenya), Murchison Bay (Uganda), and Mwanza Gulf (Tanzania) are highly eutrophied "hotspot" areas (World Bank, 2009).

Hence, despite the major towns and cities in this Lake Victoria basin being in the neighbourhood of one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world, access to clean water remains a major challenge. In all the major towns (Mwanza, Bukoba, Musoma, Kampala, Jinja, Masaka, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kendu) on the shores of Lake Victoria water supply remains far below the demand levels. Similarly, the hinter land towns such as Mbarara, Ntungamo and Kisii also experience water access problems (EAC/LVBC, 2007).

Furthermore, water and sanitation analyses in the majority of these cities and towns is such that; Water supply for domestic and industrial use is far below the demand levels; on the average, only about 40% the urban Basin population is served with clean water supply as at 2006; Most of the water supply and sewerage infrastructure is old consisting of very old and outdated equipment; the conventional waste-water treatment systems have, generally, collapsed. For example, release of raw sewage is common in water ways that connect to Lake Victoria is still common (EAC/LVBC, 2007).

Therefore, the water goal would raise the profile of the need to manage it efficiently and effectively amongst the competing needs, in a region with one of the fastest population growth rates in the world. In particular, the focus on wastewater is urgent given that there are no commensurate measures to control and monitor wastewater, and hence information to set in motion an incentive mechanism for households, industries and urban areas to minimize it.

In addition, the water goal will be a further rallying point to strengthen ongoing harmonization of institutions, policies, processes and standards with regard to sustainable development for Lake Victoria, in addition to securing ‘practical’ implementation for one of the key outcomes from Rio+20 Conference.

Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR): A good news story for a defo...



Tony Rinaudo presents this good news story for a deforested and degraded world - it's all about Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), something that can be implemented relatively quickly with a low budget and have a great impact. FMNR has big implications for income generation, Disaster Risk Reduction, reducing proness to famine, conflict reduction, land and forest restoration, food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation... amongst other things.



Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9DpptI4QGY

Friday, July 12, 2013

Global Rio+20 Follow-up Conference calls for a culture of ‘long-termism’ to secure threatened environment and future generations


By Kimbowa Richard, Regional Coordinator (East African Sustainability Watch Network c/o Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development)

Last week I attended a global conference in Geneva on Implementing Intergenerational Equity: Bringing Future Perspectives to the Status Quo, July 2013 Conference Synopsis. It was organized by the UN Environment Programme and the World Future Council that was attended by leading philosophers, academics, lawyers, human rights specialists, civil society organization representatives, senior UN officials, practitioners and youth representatives from around the world, with delegates from some Geneva based Missions

The Conference was designed to consider why intergenerational equity has not been better reflected across our institutions and practices, and how to improve this. It considered what new mechanisms or tools, based upon existing best practice could more effectively take into account future generations.

The relevance of this Conference relates to the lack of discussion and relevant long-term planning in terms of  institutions and processes in East Africa, that can secure future generations as observed in the run up to the Rio + 20 Conference. This Conference was a right moment for our ongoing work (as the East African Sustainability Watch) to have the Lake Victoria Basin Commission Bill (under discussion by the East African Legislative Assembly since 2007) to embrace ‘long-termism’ rather than project / ‘short –termism’ in its planned mandate, given the inherent regional and global challenges to sustainable development arising from this approach coupled with a need to get the Rio + 20 outcome going, in East Africa.

What is intergenerational equity?

Intergenerational equity is a concept that says that humans 'hold the natural and cultural environment of the Earth in common both with other members of the present generation and with other generations, past and future' (Weiss, 1990). It means that we inherit the Earth from previous generations and have an obligation to pass it on in reasonable condition to future generations.

The idea behind not reducing the ability of future generations to meet their needs is that, although future generations might gain from economic progress, those gains might be more than offset by environmental deterioration. Most people would acknowledge a moral obligation to future generations, particularly as people who are not yet born can have no say in decisions taken today that may affect them.

There are two different ways of looking at the need to ensure that future generations can supply their needs. One is to view the environment in terms of the natural resources or natural capital that is available for wealth creation, and to say that future generations should have the same ability to create wealth as we have. Therefore, future generations will be adequately compensated for any loss of environmental amenity by having alternative sources of wealth creation. This is referred to as 'weak sustainability'.

According to the World Future Council, currently, cycles of both business and governance are primarily focused on the short-term, be it quarterly results or terms in office. This therefore raised the question of how can we look beyond these toward the longer-term. In addition the vast majority of our rules are built around the flawed narrative of unlimited natural resources and ever-increasing material production.

Furthermore, core policy formulation, economic thinking and motivations remain consistently detached from broader sustainability concerns and often remains stubbornly centred around single issue silos.

The World Future Council further notes that ‘the continued approach of single issue thinking presents a false dichotomy and counterproductive interpretations of tradeoffs, while poor means and mechanisms allow little accountability, access and monitoring of decisions made and of their implementation. Meanwhile....citizens and civil society appear disconnected and disempowered from the core of policy making, left without a voice or legitimate means to present their concerns’.

Global Response: Lipservice?

References to future generations have been made in countless international treaties, conventions and national constitutions. Yet intergenerational equity, or the ability to better take into account the concerns of future generations in our current practices and policies is a poorly understood concept and as a consequence rarely applied or implemented.

Climate change has raised some attention to the long term view, and in particular the Stern Review argued from a conventional welfare economics perspective that the costs of inaction on climate change would far outweigh the costs of mitigation. Yet particular unhelpful myths remain, for example that this concept is a luxury we can ill afford given more pressing concerns. The perceived tension between the needs of the present generation over the future denies the premise that improving the prosperity of the lives of all, to bring dignity and sufficiency today is a pertinent precondition to protecting the opportunities of future generations.

For example, during the Rio + 20 process, while the World Future Council promoted this where the proposal for a High-level Representative for Sustainable Development and Future Generations remained in the negotiation text until the final hours. Instead, the Rio + 20 outcome document (paragraph 86) ‘invites’ the UN Secretary General to write a report on intergenerational solidarity and future generations which will be published later on this year. A process to contribute to this is already underway, seeking views from different actors, while a live facebook chat is planned July 15, 2013

Safeguarding future generations: Any options?

According to the World Future Council, for sustained human and environmental wellbeing, Ombudspersons for Future Generations have shown to introduce a long term perspective into political institutions and policy making, linking citizens with governments, working as a catalyst for sustainable development implementation and acting as principal, active advocate for common interests of present and future generations.

The role essentially seeks to balance the short term nature of political and budgetary cycles and the silo thinking of narrow, linear departmental remits by bringing long-term solutions and an interconnected perspective into decision making processes. They can provide high level, independent, policy expertise and advocacy on the themes of intergenerational justice, using integrated analyses to highlight for example how many of the apparent short-term economic costs should be factored as vital investments for future risk prevention. Public participation remains a core principle of sustainable development and yet needs to be strengthened. Young people are underrepresented and future generations almost entirely omitted in domestic and international decision-making processes.

Poverty reduction key to invest in future generations

Coming ahead of the UN Secretary General’s Report to be presented in August to the General Assembly in August 2013, the imperative for action was emphasized throughout the Conference. Two obligations were emerged: the first is to leave the natural and human environment in at least as good condition as it was received and the second, to end poverty.

‘We are reaching critical moments, the 20th century was a century of lost opportunity, the 21st century is our last opportunity. The human and ecological worlds are suffering from our misguided actions: the damage to the natural world shows how far we have lost our connection to and relation with the environment around us’, according to the Conference synopsis released July 10, 2013

The Synopsis further notes that tackling poverty remains central to consideration for future generations. ‘We cannot expect impoverished people to be able to care for future generations - it is simply impossible to invest in the future when the present is a fight for survival. It remains an obligation to maintain the robustness of the human environment as a key to addressing issues in the anthropocene. Improving the lives of current generations is therefore pertinent for generations to come, not just environmentally but socially and economically’.

The Conference noted that humanity is plundering the birth right of future generations, yet we do not have a mechanism or methodology to prevent this and emphasized the need to recognize the effects of what we do on future generations and assess our political acts through an intergenerational lens. We need to create values of responsibility and foster such values and empathy in current generations and develop ourselves into a ‘morally mature culture’. This embodies the principle of trusteeship; the principle of duty towards our children and future generations.

In terms of response, the conference observed that people are more likely to respond to a hopeful, optimistic message rather than a situation of fear, doom, gloom and sacrifice. This is a cyclical approach rather than a process of physically handing something over – thus removing entirely the unhelpful ‘them versus us’ concept. Perhaps more should be done to emphasize that sustainable development benefits current and future generations and the environment. However none of these three actors are mutually exclusive.

Uncertainty – that the future generations’ values and needs will be massively different to ours is always put forward as an excuse for inaction. The Conference noted that this should not be the case, as we can safely assume that future generations will have the same basic needs as us, while we have no basis to suppose that they will be able to fall back on a dramatically impoverished nature and on lack of vital resources.

A case for a specific institution/function and representation for future generations

The Conference emphasized a need for a specific institution/function and representation for future generations. However, since it is simply not possible for future generations to represent themselves, institutions/organizations that in an epistemic manner can put themselves in the position of future generations and work on an adequate representation of those rights and interests. Furthermore, this function can play a fundamental role in genuinely integrating the elements of sustainable development – it is not happening without intervention and it can no longer be a bolt on or a tick box exercise. Especially given the right to a healthy environment is the key fundament under the three dimensions of sustainable development.

An official, tasked with representing and advocating for future generations was regarded as essential to promote this agenda. There were significant debates on the nature and mandate of a representative for future generations, internationally, nationally, regionally, locally (all levels were regarded as important).

In this regard, it was widely recognised that the institution/organisation/representative would require a well-defined, broad and effective mandate set out under a specific treaty or law. They would be independent, transparent, democratically legitimate, with access to information, open to external assessment and proficient. Overtime the office would become a service for integrated policy making and expertise in wellbeing.

Spokesperson for the future at all levels?

According to the Conference synopsis, the above role is very different to a spokesperson for youth. Those who fight for this institution realise the formalistic debates on the rights of future generations, or their interests or needs. Naturally this is a debate that follows the establishment of the institution. The breadth of the role was emphasised by many, to reach beyond the environment, to ensure social justice and economic framing.

At the national level, the advantage of statutory recognition, to ensure permanence to this institution, to survive political changes was raised. Could the representative convene truth and reconciliation commissions charged with changing the behaviour of current generations and make peace with future generations? A right of appearance before the court of law is appropriate at the national level, but must also be able to get a decree in their favour.

If introduced at the UN, this function offers compelling direction and impetus to national, local, regional governments to introduce counterparts, and encourages vertical alignment, helping to drive implementation from international to local levels. Establishing a network of recognised representatives would help to build visibility and profile and co-ordination on efforts to build a long term view.

Several remarks touched upon the semantics, or terminology of the role providing subtle differences: a guardian could act as a proxy (and perhaps best encapsulates the concept of trusteeship), an ombudsperson would be an advocate of the rights of future generations (and has rich institutional history of over 200 years).

Rolling out the task?

A number of tools and tasks for this role were identified, including, undertaking an audit or mapping of the commons, cultural heritage and natural environment, with a legacy analysis of how we hand it over to future generations and compiling the notion of the common heritage from the mosaic of the different states’ national heritage.

The use of indicators were recognized as excellent tools to measure or set thresholds on the work and substance. A certification standard could also be developed, to help provide legal recognition and ensure the quality and accountability of the mandate and mission, also helping to add greater visibility to their role. Culture and education should also be emphasized through this role: long-termism needs to become a cultural norm and this concept should be taught from a young age.

Read more about the outcomes from the Global conference on Implementing Intergenerational Equity: Bringing Future Perspectives to the Status Quo, July 2013 Conference Synopsis from here

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Changhua County turns pig waste into green gold

By Eco-Business.com

Pig slurry has traditionally been a major environmental concern for locals, but the problem can be solved by recycling the waste into clean water, organic fertilizer and biogas for power generation, Changhua County Government said June 25.

“Pig slurry can be turned into green gold,” Changhua County Magistrate Cho Po-yuan said at the launch of the Dongluo treatment plant. “This is the first facility fully funded by a local government to help pig farmers reduce costs and save efforts in handling the waste.”

Changhua has the country’s third highest number of hogs, and around 90 percent of pig raisers are small or medium operations of below 5,000 hogs. Without sufficient funds to build their own treatment facilities, they used to discharge the waste directly into the Dongluo River, creating a serious environmental problem plaguing the locals.

To find the solutions, Cho led a fact-finding mission to Europe in 2011, and subsequently cooperated with Taipei-based National Taiwan University and the Taiwan International Institute for Water Education in creating a treatment facility to turn the waste into useful resources.

Henk van Shaik, chairman of the U.N.- affiliated Co-operative Program on Water and Climate, who came to examine progress on the project, praised the cause prompting the local government to implement the plan. “Changhua will become even more beautiful,” he said.

Located next to the Dongluo River, the processing plant separates the pig slurry into solid, liquid and gaseous components. After treatment, the solid waste becomes organic fertilizer for use on farms, the biogas is stored for electricity generation to power the plant and nearby public facilities, and the liquid is filtered and purified to produce water pure enough for use in irrigation or cleaning.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

African leaders determined to end hunger by 2025

By Liz Ford The Guardian (UK) in Addis Ababa

Ministers at African Union meeting pledge to boost productivity and address malnutrition, but fail to set targets or commit funds

African leaders pledged on Monday to reprioritise agriculture in their national policies and increase state spending to end hunger across the continent by 2025.

At the conclusion of a meeting at the African Union in Addis Ababa, ministers agreed to take a more holistic approach to tackling hunger. They committed to working with the private sector, farmers' groups, civil society and academia to increase productivity, while also addressing the underlying causes of malnutrition.

Despite strong economic growth across many parts of Africa over the past 10 years, nearly a quarter of the population – about 240 million people – are undernourished, of whom more than 40% are children under five.

Ministers promised to accelerate efforts to meet the targets of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which emerged from the Maputo agreement in 2003. The programme committed African governments to spend 10% of national budgets on agriculture and increase productivity by 6%. Over the past decade, only 10 countries have achieved these goals.

Leaders also pledged to give women access to more land and credit – 70% of Africa's agriculture workforce is female – and make the sector more attractive to young people by increasing the use of technology. The final declaration did not set out any concrete targets or cash commitments, and it will therefore fall to delegates at next year's agriculture-focused AU summit to put flesh on the bones.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the AU commission, rejected suggestions that the declaration is just another document to be shelved alongside countless others. "What is important is the political commitment to end hunger, that we should make it our state policies and make sure the poor are taken care of," she said.

"Africa is a very different place now from the Africa that was [two decades ago] … We've spent these past days discussing these matters because we are committed to doing something about it [hunger]. We will implement, and we are already implementing, these things. We are not starting from scratch. This is just to escalate [progress] because we are troubled that people on the continent are still undernourished and don't get enough food. We are determined to deal with it. Rest assured this will not just be another piece of paper."

Asked how African governments can increase funding for agriculture when a large chunk of their money comes from international donors with their own ideas about how it should be spent, Dlamini-Zuma expressed confidence that donors will be supportive.

"What we are saying is when donors give us [money] they should be linked to what our priorities are and, if a country wants to end hunger, donors must also accept that their budgets will be used to end hunger. I do hope there is no donor that can say, 'No, I would like people to be hungry'."

She added that African countries, few of which trade beyond their own borders, need to increase their trading partners. Brazil and China were mentioned as important trading partners.

At the two-day conference, Toward African renaissance: renewed partnership for a unified approach to end hunger in Africa by 2025 – convened by the FAO, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, and the Lula Institute – ministers shared their approaches to tackling hunger domestically.

Delegates heard from former Brazil president Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva about the Fome Zero (zero hunger) programme, introduced during his two terms in office. Through job creation, targeted support for farmers, an increased minimum wage and a cash transfer programme, Brazil managed to achieve significant economic growth and poverty reduction within eight years.

Lula told the conference that the Brazilian experience could be adapted to suit the needs of African countries. But the crucial thing, he said, is the commitment of politicians to see through their vision to end hunger. He urged for the needs of the poor to be embedded across all government policy.

"If the state does not take care of these people, the national budgets will be fully directed to the organised sectors of the society. Therefore, the government needs to earmark a part of the budget for the poor. If this is not done, the problem of hunger will not be solved today, or by 2025, or never."

The Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, said: "There is an enormous window of opportunity to eradicate hunger in Africa. Africa cannot afford to lose this opportune moment."

Civil society and other interest groups will try to ensure African leaders live up to the rhetoric of the past two days.

Alangeh Romanus Che, from Cameroon, chairman of the CAAPD non-state actors co-ordination task team, attended the event to represent farmers' groups. He said: "There are so many declarations and memorandums that exist, signed by heads of state. But the issue will be implementation. It's ridiculous to find that 10 years after Maputo, only 10 countries have met their 10% budgets [for agriculture] … We need to hold people to account."

Within two hours of the final declaration, Che and the co-ordination team were discussing how best to inform organisations in their countries what had been adopted, so they can hold leaders to account.

African leaders determined to end hunger by 2025

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Guidebook to the Green Economy Issue 4: A guide to international green economy initiatives

By: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)



In this Issue 4 of A Guidebook to the Green Economy, the focus turns to the various international initiatives that are supporting countries and stakeholders to implement the green economy worldwide by providing a range of services including information exchange, data management, capacity building, finance, and technology services. In doing so, it provides a resource guide to the various existing international green economy platforms, partnerships, programs, funds and other initiatives.

The guidebook also aims to map out many of the key actors involved in implementing and supporting the various green economy initiatives, the key services that they provide to countries, and the geographical reach of these initiatives which are now spreading the green economy across the globe.

The intent is to provide useful information to practitioners, countries and stakeholders which may assist with coordination and coherence and help countries to find the support that they need. As with the previous guidebooks, the review focuses on green economy and the related concepts of green growth and low-carbon development.

A Guidebook to the Green Economy Issue 4: A guide to international green economy initiatives