Thursday, May 24, 2012

ECA, World Bank and AU team up to tackle climate change risks in Africa

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), World Bank and African Union Commission, have joined forces to look for ways of strengthening regional capacities to improve the continent’s readiness for climate risks and enhance the resilience of its development to impacts of climate change as a whole.
The three started off with a three-day workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Wednesday, May 23, 2012 with two components, namely; Climate Vulnerability of Africa’s Infrastructure: A Strategic Regional Approach; and Africa Climate Risk Management and Green Growth.
Organised by the World Bank in collaboration with the African Union Commission and ECA’s African Climate Policy Centre, the workshop has brought together some 60 participants representing Regional Economic Communities, River Basin organisations, Power Pools and a broad range of stakeholders.
Addressing the opening session yesterday morning, Mr. Josué Dioné, Director of the Food Security and Sustainable Development Division at ECA, called on participants to ensure that the two components of the workshop are strengthened with specific details and that an effective partnership is established for following up on the outcomes of the encounter.
Also speaking at the opening session, Mr. Cheikh Dakate, energy expert at the African Union Commission welcomed the workshop as a right step in the direction charted by the Commission to help Member States better prepare against the impacts of climate change.
At the opening session, one of two experts from the World Bank leading the technical discussions of the workshop, Mr. Nagaraja Rao Harshadeep, Senior Environmental Specialist, Africa Region, presented the workshop overview, including the objectives, structure and agenda.
The other, Raffaello Cervigni, Lead Environmental Economist Regional Coordinator, Climate Change Sustainable Development Sector, Department of Environment and Natural Resources for Africa Region and Peter Droogers, consultant at FutureWater, made an introduction to a study on Infrastructure and Climate Change, entitled: Addressing the Climate Vulnerability of Africa’s Infrastructure: A Strategic Regional Approach.
According to an ECA Press Release Numbered 76/2012, announcing the workshop, the analysis builds on the data platform already established under the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD), but with significant enhancements to assess climate risks and infrastructure investment viability with respect to future uncertainty in climate outcomes in Africa.

It states further, that the study on infrastructure and climate change builds on the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD, 2010), which was developed by a partnership including AUC, NEPAD, RECs, AfDB, DFID, PPIAF, AFD, EC, KFW and the World Bank.
The press release issued by the ECA Information and Communication Service, said the study resulted in a comprehensive analysis of the continent’s infrastructure development agenda, including estimates of the financing required to achieve relevant Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other standards of service.
To the ECA, the proposed study on climate change would add an explicit climate dimension to AICD, so that it could become possible to quantify the impacts of climate change on the level and composition of spending needs for network infrastructure in the water, power pool, and transport sectors in Africa, and also help to identify approaches to evaluating specific infrastructure investments in the face of climate uncertainty.
The Economic Commission announced that in addition to the study, a proposed Climate Change Risk Management and Green Growth Project (CCRM/GG) is expected to improve the readiness of regional and national entities in Africa to effectively manage climate risks.
Partners, it says, are hopeful that the project would provide an integrative vehicle for capacity-building and investment readiness to enable African nations and regional entities to effectively utilise evolving climate financing for climate resilience and low-carbon growth, to provide both climate and development benefits.
Meanwhile, a good number of regional agencies working on climate-related fields, regional training institutions, the Government of Japan, the Global Fund for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), and other Development Partners are supporting the workshop.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Governments urged to invest in resilience, local control over natural resources

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has challenged governments the world over, to invest in resilience, strengthen local control over natural resources, and apply realistic values to the environment and human wellbeing.

Making the call yesterday, May 22, 2012, IIED, an independent, non-profit research institute working in the field of sustainable development, stated that such investment will enable societies to be steered onto a more secure path.

The call was contained in an eight-page briefing paper titled “A three-point action plan for a fair, sustainable world” published by IIED’s director, Camilla Toulmin, ahead of the Rio+20 conference in Brazil next month, when world leaders will meet to agree ways to tackle the environment and development challenges facing humanity.

In the paper, the Environment and Development institute specifically recommends action in three areas, namely Local Control, Investing in Resilience and Realistic Valuation.

Highlighting on local control, IIED said its recommendation is based on incontrovertible evidence that local control of natural assets is the best way to ensure strong investment in and sustainable use of forests, water, soils and other resources, in ways that create jobs, profits and secure livelihoods in both rural and urban areas.

“When governments recognise the rights and organisations of local communities, they encourage long-term decision-making, and sustainable management of key assets. It’s also a better option for outside investors, since returns need to be balanced to generate long term stable outcomes,” Toulmin says in the paper.

Concerning investment in resilience, the paper indicated that because environmental, economic and social shocks are becoming more common and include climatic extremes, volatile food and fuel prices, and financial instability, governments can build resilience to such shocks with policies that prioritise long-term adaptive capacity, more diverse economic activities, and climate-resilient growth.

According to Camilla Toulmin, “Decentralised energy supplies, new approaches to urban density, inclusive business models, and greater accountability in global institutions, are among the building blocks of resilience to the shocks that tend to hit the poorest and most vulnerable communities hardest.”

Touching on realistic valuation, the paper states that today, true environmental costs and benefits do not appear on balance sheets, while GDP is used to measure development, despite knowing that it does not reflect human wellbeing and can mask the unsustainable aspects of growth.

In response to that, IIED’s director and author of the paper, maintains; “We need to change the way we measure progress and address the market failures that today’s false environmental accounting allows to endure,” adding, “The first and most urgent steps are a significant and rising price on carbon, and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.”

The paper further shows how the June meeting in Rio, which will be the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit – is an opportunity for leaders to agree change in the three areas.

Stressing on the importance of the paper, Toulmin said; “The environmental, social and financial crises that face us are interconnected, and so are their solutions,” disclosing, “After four decades of research on the links between the environment and development, IIED has identified three clear policy shifts that are realistic, achievable and effective ways to reshape our future and create a fair, greener and more secure world.”

IIED is scheduled to present the paper at Fair Ideas, a two-day conference it is hosting in Rio on 16-17 June, 2012, which will have other speakers such as: Isabella Teixeira, Ida Auken, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Lidia Brito, Kevin Urama, Johan Rockstrom, Andrew Mushita, Bihunirwa Medius, Eduardo Braga, Achim Steiner, Rene Castro, Pavan Sukhdev, Ashok Khosla, Camilo Capiberibe, Christian Friis-Bach, Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Fabio Feldmann, Julia Marton-LeFevre, Judith Rodin and Jan McAlpine.

The briefing was prepared in consultation with IIED’s strategy team and includes contributions from a wide range of IIED researchers and other staff.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Civil Society plays key role in Climate Change policymaking - Report


A new report launched today, has affirmed that although international climate negotiations are crawling at a snail pace, civil society has indeed become influential and plays key roles in pushing for new laws, programmes, policies or strategies on climate change.
According to the report -  Southern voices on climate policy choices: civil society advocacy on climate change released in Bonn, Germany, civil society has also become instrumental in holding governments to account on their commitments; in identifying the lack of joined-up government responses to climate change; and in ensuring that national policy making does not forget the poor and vulnerable.
Made public at the UN climate talks in Bonn by a coalition of more than 20 civil society networks in developing countries, with support from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and CARE through the Climate Capacity Consortium, the report provides an analysis of the tools and tactics advocacy groups use to influence policy responses to climate change.
It also highlights the importance to civil society networks of engaging with the media to reach the general public and key decision-makers, and of having good relations with governments to influence policy making and planning.
In Zimbabwe, for example, the Climate Change Working Group has successfully advocated for a new national climate change strategy, while as a result of advocacy activities by the Cook Islands Climate Action Network, a climate change unit has been established within the office of the Prime Minister, to ensure that the issue falls within the portfolio of the highest government officials.
The report also describes how civil society advocacy efforts have influenced international processes, donors and multilateral organisations such as the World Bank, and in some cases the private sector.
Commenting on the new report, the editor, Dr. Hannah Reid of IIED, said “Many of even the world's poorest countries now have active civil society coalitions that work on climate change, and they are increasingly influential.”
“These coalitions can play an important role as bridges between vulnerable communities and those with the power to enact policies that can protect people from the impacts of climate change. This report will help these coalitions learn from each other as many operate in isolation,” she added.
For his part, William Chadza from the Civil Society Network on Climate Change in Malawi said: “It is interesting for us to see how colleagues in countries as distant as Vietnam work with vulnerable communities as they adapt to climate change and strive to ensure their government can address these people’s concerns.”
He added that “While some governments in industrialised nations seem to ignore climate change, this report shows how in the global Southern civil society organisations are working hard to promote solutions and climate justice for those affected.”
All is however not rosy, as the report as well describes some of the challenges experienced by the coalitions, such as the lack of skills and resources needed to meet their advocacy objectives. The report further reveals that where relations between government and civil society are weak, civil society involvement in key policy making arenas has not been adequate.
The report includes contributions from more than 20 climate networks and their member organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific, which work together in the Southern Voices on Climate Change programme funded by the Government of Denmark through the Climate Capacity Consortium, comprised of four Danish NGOs, Climate Action Network International and IIED, with CARE Denmark as the lead agency.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Africa Water Week: WaterAid pushes for over 100 million

An old man drinking his fill from a stream in Ghana 

International aid organisation, WaterAid, has called on governments attending the ongoing 4th Africa Water Week meeting in Cairo, Egypt, to as a matter of urgency work towards providing water and sanitation,  for  over 100 more African within the next two years.
Specifically, WaterAid has asked African Governments to act to provide safe drinking water to 42.8 million people and adequate sanitation to 59.9 million over the next two years.
According to WaterAid, which is core convenor for the sub-theme of ‘Meeting water and sanitation targets’ at the Africa Water Week meeting taking place from 14th to 19th May, their call is informed by the recent estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 600 million people lack access to adequate sanitation, while 335 million people lack access to clean, safe water.
Also, over three quarters of a million children (750,000) in Africa are said to die every year due to diarrhoeal diseases caused, in the vast majority of cases, by a lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
Speaking to the issue, Nelson Gomonda, WaterAid’s Pan-Africa Programme Manager stated: “African governments risk their credibility if they do not seize the opportunity to tackle this crisis by significantly increasing access to water and sanitation in their countries.  With thousands of African children dying every day, governments should honour previous promises to increase their spending on sanitation.”
WaterAid is supporting Africa Water Week which has brought together policy makers from across Africa, as an opportunity for sharing valuable skills, experiences, and best practice around achieving access to water and sanitation for all.
Commitments previously made by African government include those made most recently by 30 African nations at the Sanitation and Water for All meeting in April in Washington DC, plus the 2007 eThekwini Declaration (where governments agreed to budget 0.5% of their GDP on sanitation), and Sharm El-Sheikh in 2008 (on accelerating water and sanitation goals). 
Currently though, only one African government, Sao Tome and Principe, has met the eThekwini Declaration target.
WaterAid successfully pushed for similar targets on increasing access to these essential services at the High Level Meeting of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership in Washington D.C. in April. 
At the HLM, nearly 30 African Countries and many other governments from around the globe agreed to strive to implement baseline commitments to increase access to water by 5% and sanitation by 7% in their countries over the next two years.
However, despite global progress, sub-Saharan Africa is not due to meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target on water until 2032 (17 years too late) and not due to reach universal access until 2075. 
Further, the region is not due to reach its sanitation MDG by 2175 (160 years too late) and not due to reach universal access until 2360, says WaterAid.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Development Programme estimates that the shortfall in water and sanitation services cost sub-Saharan African countries around 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) each year ($55.6 billion in 2010), more than the amount provided in development aid to the entire continent ($47.9 billion in 2010).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Egypt to host 4th Africa Water Week

Hon. Bee Molewa, AMCOW President

Come Monday, May 14, 2012, City Stars in the Egyptian capital Cairo, will welcome water ministers from all over Africa, civil society organisations and parliamentarians among others, as delegates to the 4th Africa Water Week conference themed “Water for Growth in Africa ... AMCOW’s Journey at 10”.

Incidentally, the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW), lead organisers of the conference, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary when the conference kick starts Monday and ends Friday May 18, hence the theme for the conference.

Also playing lead roles in the conference which seeks to put water high on the political agenda in Africa, just weeks after the 6th World Water Forum, held in Marseille, France from 11- 18 March will be the Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation, Egypt, Prof. Hesham Kandil, the government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Africa Union Commission (AUC).

In a welcome address to delegates who will be thronging the conference venue, President of AMCOW Hon. Bee Molewa, said “I am proud that we have chosen this theme which puts water at the centre of our development efforts. Clean water and safe sanitation have been recognised as key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets on health, education and poverty eradication.”

She opined that the effective utilisation of the water resources as well as efficient and harmonious management of Africa’s trans-boundary waters will lead to greater food security, better harnessing of the continent’s energy sources, creation of a diversified transportation means including effective means of intra and inter socio-economic and political integration, peace and security, factors germane for more robust sustainable development.

“The 4th Africa Water Week also comes at an opportune time when AMCOW is commemorating 10 years of its existence. This gives us chance to take stock of the AMCOW journey in the past years and more importantly, reflect on our future,” she said.

Expressing her satisfaction that the conference is coming on the heels of the World Water Forum held in March where Africa declared its resolve to take solutions, decisions and actions forward, Hon. Molewa said “The conference therefore provides a platform for Africa and our friends at global level to turn focus on addressing challenges faced in the water resources management and also to accelerate progress in attaining the MDG targets on water and sanitation as we head for the bigger picture, achieving the 2025 Africa Water Vision.”

Calling on all Africans to act on issues concerning water, the AMCOW President said “I believe the 4th Africa Water Week positions Africa and our esteemed partners to act, especially this time when we only have three years, to demonstrate our resolve to achieve MDG targets and also in line with Africa Water Vision 2025.”

“Now is Africa’s time to use water to wash away poverty and underdevelopment from the impoverished faces of the children of Africa. Now is the time to use water as a catalyst for the emancipation and the empowerment of women in Africa. Now is indeed the time to use water as a tool to accelerate the social and economic development of Africa,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, convenors of the technical sessions according to the organisers, will be the African Development Bank (AfDB), OWAS, and Climate Programme,  African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW), African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW), African Union Commission (AUC), Africa Utility Regulators (AFUR) and the African Water Association (AfWA).
Others are the European Water Initiative – Africa Working Group (EUWI-AWG), Gates Foundation, Global Water Partnership (GWP), Infrastructure Consortium for Africa- Water platform (ICA), Ministry of Water & Irrigation, Egypt (MWRI), UN Water Africa representing the United Nations system and USAID - Further Advancing the Blue Revolution Initiative (FABRI).
The rest are WaterAid, Water and Sanitation for Africa (WSA), World Bank Water and Sanitation Programme, Africa and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

United Nations spends US$ 32bn to address natural resources-related conflicts


A new report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), titled Greening the Blue Helmets: Environment, Natural Resources and UN Peacekeeping Operations, discloses that peacekeeping operations to address conflicts fuelled by natural resources, have cost the system about US$ 32 billion.

Most of the natural resources-related conflicts have also occurred in Africa, where the UN has conducted 13 different missions, the report states further.

Publishing this as one of the key findings of a two-year analysis on how peacekeeping missions around the world affect, and are affected by natural resources and the broader environment, the UNEP states; “Peacekeeping operations with a link to natural resources have occurred most frequently in Africa, where 13 missions have been conducted to address conflicts fuelled by natural resources, at an estimated cost of US$32 billion.”

The desk research report released Tuesday May 1, 2012, indicates further that while the Security Council has incrementally improved the scope of the mandates given to peacekeeping missions in addressing natural resources, successful implementation continues to be hampered by factors such as a lack of technical and financial capacity at the mission, host-government interference and the illegal actions of private sector actors or armed groups.

It however states that even though only 54% of peace agreements reached between 1989 and 2004 contained provisions on natural resources, all of the major peace agreements concluded between 2005 to 2010 included such provisions, adding “Peacekeeping operations may need to build new capacities and partnerships to support the implementation of these provisions.”

According to the UNEP, natural resources can also provide opportunities for emergency employment and the establishment of sustainable livelihoods for former combatants, divulging that on the average, over half of ex-combatants return to agriculture-based livelihoods, while in some cases up to 80% require focused attention on land tenure and water access issues.

The report also establishes that although examples of good environmental practice have emerged across all of the main sectors of the peacekeeping infrastructure and the existing Department of Field Support/Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DFS/DPKO) Environmental Policy provides a robust platform for progress, its implementation in the field has been limited, due to the lack of a universal system for compliance monitoring, dedicated human resources and general awareness of issues addressed by the policy.

Findings of the research also include uncertainty in the duration of peacekeeping missions as one of the main barriers to them adopting more resource-efficient technologies, although comparative data revealed that the capital investment for some renewable energy sources – when coupled with energy-efficient building design and technologies – could be recovered in one-to-five years. 

Furthermore, simple behavioural changes such as switching-off equipment or small adjustments to room temperature settings, as well as the use of Car Log systems, the research found, have resulted in a 15% reduction of energy consumption at the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

The report states that in the context of annual fuel expenditure of US$638 million across all missions in 2009, this reduction would represent a potential annual saving of US$95.7 million. 

Apart from the findings, the “Greening the Blue Helmets: Environment, Natural Resources and UN Peacekeeping Operations” report makes some key recommendations as follows:

·        Effective implementation of the DFS/DPKO Environmental Policy should be ensured through the development of universal compliance monitoring mechanisms, appropriate staffing and training. It should take into account the size and geographic location of a peacekeeping camp, local climatic and disaster risks, security conditions, anticipated energy, water and waste demands, and the capacities of respective mission personnel throughout all stages of a mission’s life-cycle.

·        Where natural resources have fuelled or financed conflict, peacekeeping missions should be given a more systematic mandate to support national authorities in restoring the administration of natural resources, enforcing national laws, monitoring sanctions and supporting the prosecution of violations.

·        The UN Security Council should be systematically informed of the linkages between natural resources and conflict in countries where it is considering authorising a peacekeeping mission.  Where sanctions regimes are in place or being considered, briefings could include ways for the peacekeeping mission to support or cooperate with expert panels, as well as ways to help build the capacity of national authorities to monitor and enforce sanctions.

·        Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programmes delivered by peacekeeping missions and development partners should systematically consider emergency employment and livelihoods recovery based on the sustainable use of natural resources.

·        An expert panel on natural resources and fragile States should be established by the appropriate UN mechanism with a mandate to review and document good practice in various aspects of natural resource management in fragile States.

The UNEP report is in two parts, with the first part reviewing the environmental management of peacekeeping operations, showcasing good practices and identifying the main constraints slowing the systematic adoption of the DFS/DPKO Environmental Policy, including resource-efficient practices, technologies and behaviours.

Part two on the other hand examines the role of peacekeeping operations in stabilising countries where conflicts have been financed by natural resources or driven by grievances over their use, as well as the ways that missions can capitalise on the peace building potential of natural resources, through employment and livelihoods, economic recovery, confidence-building and reconciliation.

UNEP’s analysis was conducted to inform the scope of future peacekeeping mandates together with the development of new peacekeeping policies and practices addressing natural resource governance in post-conflict countries.

The report, which contains actionable policy recommendations for improving the environmental performance of peacekeeping operations, also capitalises on the peace building potential of natural resources while minimising their possible contribution to conflict relapse and insecurity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

UN Peacekeepers receive thumbs up for greening the environment

UNIFIL Soldiers on Parade

A new desk research report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),  at the beginning of the month of May, has lauded United Nations peacekeepers for progress they have chalked in reducing their environmental impact.
The report on a two-year analysis of how peacekeeping missions around the world affect, and are affected by natural resources and the broader environment titled Greening the Blue Helmets: Environment, Natural Resources and UN Peacekeeping Operations, particularly praises the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), for having made the most progress in introducing environmental practices, with initiatives ranging from the use of electric cars at the mission's headquarters in Naqoura, to energy efficient power generation and the establishment of a community-led recycling plant for plastic bottles, cans and glass.
“The case of UNIFIL illustrates what all our peacekeeping missions are now trying to achieve,” remarked the Acting Head of the Department of Field Support (DFS), Anthony Banbury on the news.
For his part, the Under-Secretary-General and Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Hervé Ladsous, stated; “Greening the Blue is not just our motto, it is also our commitment to ensuring that peacekeepers have a lasting and positive impact in countries where they are deployed”.
To UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, however, addressing the ownership, control and management of natural resources is what is crucial to maintaining security and restoring the economy in post-conflict countries.
“There has been little progress in systematically considering and documenting how natural resources can support, advance or undermine the aims of a peacekeeping mission so this report is the first attempt to understand the links and identify good practices and gaps,” Mr Steiner said.
The report also discusses natural resources as drivers of conflict, and recommends that where diamonds, gold, oil and other resources are factors in a conflict, peacekeeping missions should be given a more systematic mandate to support national authorities in restoring the administration of natural resources, monitoring sanctions and prosecuting violations.
In addition to highlighting the utmost importance of reducing the environmental impact of UN Peacekeeping operations, the new report states that the implementation of good practice in this area also has additional benefits, including increased financial savings for missions, and improved safety and security for local communities as well as UN Peacekeeping staff.
It also notes that through the adoption of a 2009 Environmental Policy, UN Peacekeeping has a robust platform for progress in reducing its environmental impact.
The 16 missions currently led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and supported by the Department of Field Support (DFS) constitute the largest environmental footprint in the UN system.
Greening the Blue Helmets: Environment, Natural Resources and UN Peacekeeping Operations is the result of ongoing collaboration between UNEP, DPKO and DFS, to increase the consideration given to natural resources and environmental issues in UN Peacekeeping efforts and is based on desk research, field visits and consultations with DFS and DPKO, including 10 peacekeeping missions.

Ghana rehabilitates 40 percent of irrigation schemes for more effective water use and productivity

The Government of Ghana says that as a result of pursuing Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) strategies since 1992, it has been able to rehabilitate 40 percent of irrigation schemes for more effective water use and productivity.
For her part, Chad indicates it has been able to increase water supply from 15 percent in 1990 to 50 percent in 2011, while Tunisia says during the period it has been able to build 110 wastewater treatment plants.
Other countries that have chalked some successes after implementing IWRM, according to a survey conducted by the United Nations, are Estonia which maintains introducing water charges and pollution taxes contributed to improved water efficiency and a reduction of pollution load into the Baltic Sea, Costa Rica which says 50 percent of revenues gained from water charges are now re-invested in water resource management and Guatemala, which discloses that hydropower generation capacity almost doubled between 1982 and 2011.
The survey, which was co-ordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on behalf of UN-Water, shows that the introduction of IWRM on a national level varies greatly across the globe – from early planning stages to concrete implementation of new laws and policies.
“Yet many countries – particularly those in developing regions – signalled a need for increased capacity-building, investment and infrastructure development in order to fully implement integrated water resources management,” says the UNEP.
On countries’ perceptions of key issues, it states that the water-related issues cited most often as ‘high’ or ‘highest priority’ by governments, are infrastructure development and financing (79 percent of all countries) and financing for water resources management (78 percent).
Climate change on the other hand is cited as a high priority for action in a majority of countries (70 percent overall), while 76 percent of countries considered that the threat to water resources from climate change has increased since 1992.
But the survey also highlights important differences between developed and developing countries in terms of water-related priorities, according to the UNEP.
Meanwhile, the survey used the Human Development Index to categorise countries in four groups: low HDI, medium HDI, high HDI and very high HDI, indicating that ensuring adequate water supply for agriculture is a high priority for many low HDI countries, while the preservation of freshwater ecosystems (‘water for environment’) is a priority mainly for very high HDI countries.
The survey, out of which a report has been produced -  The UN-Water Status Report on the Application of Integrated Approaches to Water Resource Management and will be launched at the Rio+20 Conference on 19 June during the ‘Water Day’, includes a number of suggested targets and recommendations, which are designed to inform decision-makers at Rio+20.
Based on an assessment of the findings from the survey, these are that, by 2015, each country should develop specific targets and timeframes for preparing and implementing a programme of action and financing strategy for IWRM.
Also, that by 2015, a global reporting mechanism on national water resources management should be established to ensure a more rigorous reporting system on progress with IWRM, and improve the availability of information and  more effort is needed to increase levels of financing and to improve the institutional framework for water resources management – especially focusing on low HDI countries.
The UN-Water assessment was based on two surveys: a questionnaire-based survey among all UN Member States (Level 1 survey) and an interview-based survey in 30 representative countries (Level 2 survey), while 134 countries responded to the Level 1 survey, representing 70 percent of UN Member States and fairly even distribution among geographical regions and HDI groups.

France to host international conference on Migratory Waterbirds


The French city of La Rochelle will from May 14 to 18, 2012 play host to the 5th Meeting of the Parties (MOP 5) to the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), a statement released simultaneously in Bonn, Germany; Paris, France and Nairobi, Kenya has said.
 According to the statement, more than 200 representatives, Government officials, NGOs and relevant experts are expected to come together to discuss urgent conservation responses needed to address the many threats facing migratory waterbirds in the African-Eurasian region today.
The intergovernmental meeting, which is directly preceded by an annual World Migratory Bird Day, which will take place on 12-13 May 2012, will be held under the theme: "Migratory waterbirds and people – sharing wetlands".
Topics on the agenda of the meeting, according to  the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat and the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing who are organising the 5-day event, include: Impacts of power lines, extractive industries, renewable energy developments, agrochemicals, alien species and climate change on migratory waterbirds, the importance of waterbird monitoring, promotion of twinning schemes and strengthening the implementation of AEWA, particularly in Africa.
AEWA is an international treaty administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds such as pelicans, cranes, storks, terns and flamingos and their habitats throughout their range.

Specifically, the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago.
AEWA was developed under the framework of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP and brings together countries and the wider international conservation community in an effort to establish coordinated conservation and management of migratory waterbirds throughout their entire migratory range.
The Meeting of the Parties (MOP) is the decision-making organ of the Agreement and establishes as well as keeps under review the financial regulations, adopts the budget for each financial period and reviews the implementation of the treaty.
In particular, it may review and assess the conservation status of migratory waterbird species and the progress made towards their conservation, the statement says.

On the other hand, World Migratory Bird Day is a global awareness campaign held annually to promote the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats worldwide.
Initiated by AEWA and CMS, it has been celebrated around the world each year since 2006 and to mark World Migratory Bird Day this year, over 150 events in close to 60 countries have already been registered.

Ensuring Sustainable Water Resources Management: UN assesses 130 countries

In its effort to improve the sustainable management of water resources, the United Nations (UN) has conducted a survey of 130 of its member countries to assess progress made towards the implementation of internationally-agreed approaches to the management and use of water, known as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
According to the UN, IWRM is a way forward for efficient, equitable and sustainable development and management of the world's limited water resources, which was backed by UN Member States at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, as part of an overall action plan on sustainable development (known as Agenda 21).
A joint statement from the United Nations Environment Programme and UN-Water, announcing the survey and its outcome, said amid increasing and conflicting demands on the world’s water supply, IWRM integrates domestic, agricultural, industrial and environmental needs into water planning, rather than considering each demand in isolation.
It says the latest survey is intended to inform decision-making at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012 which comes 20 years after the Earth Summit, adding that world governments will once again convene in Rio de Janeiro to take decisions on how to ensure sustainable development for the 21st century.
The survey, which was co-ordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on behalf of UN-Water (the UN inter-agency co-ordination mechanism for freshwater issues), asked governments for their feedback on governance, infrastructure, financing, and other areas relating to water management, to gauge how successful countries have been in moving towards IWRM.
According to the press statement, overall, 90 percent of countries surveyed reported a range of positive impacts from integrated approaches to water management, following national reforms.
“Over 80 percent of countries have reformed their water laws in the past twenty years as a response to growing pressures on water resources from expanding populations, urbanisation and climate change. In many cases, such water reforms have produced significant impacts on development, including improvements to drinking water access, human health and water efficiency in agriculture,” the statement said.
It however maintains that at the same time, global progress has been slower where irrigation, rainwater harvesting and investment in freshwater ecosystem services are concerned.
Commenting on the findings of the survey, the UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said “The sustainable management and use of water – due to its vital role in food security, energy or supporting valuable ecosystem services – underpins the transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient green economy.”
He stated further that “As well as highlighting challenges, this new survey also shows important successes regarding integrated water resources management, where a more sustainable approach to water has resulted in tangible benefits for communities and the environment,” adding, “At Rio+20, governments will have the opportunity to build on these innovations and chart the way forward for sustainable development, where the water needs of a global population set to rise to 9 billion by 2050, can be met in an equitable way.”
Other key findings of the survey are that water-related risks and the competition for water resources are perceived by a majority of countries to have increased over the past 20 years and domestic water supply is ranked by most countries as the highest priority for water resources management.
Also, that the majority of countries reported an increasing trend in financing for water resources development, although obstacles to implementing reforms remain, while progress on water efficiency is lagging behind other water management reforms, with less than 50 percent of national reforms addressing water efficiency.
The UN survey shows the major environmental changes that have taken place between 1992, when IWRM was firstly widely backed by governments, and today – and how water resources are managed in the face of such challenges.
For instance, the world’s population increased from 5.3 billion in 1992 to just over 7 billion this month, with impacts being felt most strongly in developing countries, which has been accompanied by increased rural-to-urban migration and high refugee movements due to climatic and socio-political disasters.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Community-based resource management can help adaptation to climate change - Researchers


Researchers have found that Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) methods of conservation can inform strategies for communities to become more resilient to climate challenges such as droughts, floods, extreme temperatures and changes to rainfall patterns.
A report published by the International Institute for Environmental Development (IIED) this week, says this revolutionary approach to conservation and development pioneered in southern Africa, provides vital lessons that can help communities worldwide adapt to climate change.
The eight key lessons identified by researchers on CBNRM for community based adaptation, are that blending strategies for sustainable livelihoods and resource management can make communities more resilient and able to adapt to climate shocks, and that local capacity can decide whether communities can overcome climate threats.
Others are that incentives must be direct and visible, sustainable household cash incomes will enhance a community’s capacity to adapt, community adaptation projects should build on traditional institutions – not just create new ones, while institutions for community based adaptation should include all relevant stakeholders.
The rest are that traditional leadership can be an important symbol for community ownership, while trust matters between communities and their leaders, and between leaders and project teams are vital.
According to IIED, CBNRM is based on an incentive-driven notion that assumes that communities will manage their natural resources better, and in ways that also result in poverty reduction, if they are in control of those resources and derive direct economic benefits from them.
This approach to conservation and development, the institute says, has enabled communities to cope with a range of stresses.
IIED also states that four key elements form the foundations of CBNRM, which are; sustainable use, devolution of management decisions from government to local institutions, collective control and legal rights over resources, and economic incentives that enhance the value of resources to communities that conserve them.
Researcher Muyeye Chambwera who together with colleagues studied examples of Community-Based Natural Resource Management over the past three decades to enable communities control and benefit from local wildlife, forests, water and other resources, maintains that “CBNRM has been a success when it has created processes and institutions that devolve power from central government, create tangible benefits for communities and allow the people themselves to take charge of their own development.”
Chambwera states further, that “These factors will all be critical to the success of communities as they strive to adapt to climate change.”
He adds that “To succeed, long-term adaptation to climate change will depend on locally-based and proven approaches rather than top-down interventions that are driven by central governments or outside aid agencies, and which depend on external resources.” “That’s where CBNRM can provide useful models for community-based adaptation. In fact both systems can work hand-in-hand and strengthen each other,” Chambwera stresses.
After three decades of experience, CBNRM is now operating at local, national and regional levels, but the IIED report says for community based adaptation to climate change to become as well established at such scales, it will need financial incentives, enabling policies, research, communication and people who will champion the approach.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Toolkit published to help businesses sustain forests, limit climate change


The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), has published a toolkit for establishments and individuals wishing to assist small enterprises in the forestry sector fulfil their potential to reduce poverty and manage natural resources in a sustainable way.
According to the institute, the guidance is for international donors, non-governmental organisations and national government agencies and extension workers who work to support small and medium forest enterprises.
A press release from IIED says the toolkit can be used to diagnose and solve challenges in the sector such as: How to connect small enterprises to markets, to each other and to policy processes; How to create and secure funding for alliances of supportive institutions and How to support enterprises to develop products, improve the efficiency of value chains, prepare credible business and financial investment plans and ensure sustainability.
Divulging what informed the toolkit, lead author Duncan Macqueen, who heads IIED’s forestry team, said it is because “Small forest businesses are critical to the future of forest and forest peoples. They provide more than half of all jobs in the forestry sector worldwide and account for 80-90 per cent of companies in the sector,” adding, “Support that enables these small enterprises to manage forests sustainably is critical to efforts to reduce poverty, limit climate change and tackle illegal logging.”
The toolkit includes 16 modules of step-by-step guidance, followed by practical tips based on the personal experiences of the authors and includes 60 case studies that describe attempts to use the tools during a two-year testing period in 12 countries.
According to IIED, in China, it was used to apply an Ethiopian ‘health check’ methodology to strengthen newly formed forest sector cooperatives, while in Burkina Faso, it was used to improve market information flows throughout the value chain for forest products such as shea butter, honey, nuts and fruit.
The institute also discloses that in Nepal, it was used for product development, where community forest users groups were linked to community owned enterprises producing charcoal briquettes.
It says in that attempt companies were approached to design stoves that fitted the briquettes and the link was then made with the Himalayan Naturals retailer with 50+ outlets in Kathmandu to sell them, which business was a huge success.
“We have developed this toolkit in response to the priorities of members of Forest Connect – an informal alliance of individuals and institutions in more than 50 countries who are committed to ending the isolation of small forest enterprises,” said Macqueen.
She added that “Small forest enterprises need support because they have a crucial role to play in sustainable development at the local level,” and that “They generate profits that accrue locally, create jobs and empower entrepreneurship. And they strengthen local social networks to help secure resource rights in ways that can reduce poverty, encourage environmental accountability and help to tackle climate change.”
This toolkit was produced with support from the World Bank-hosted Programme on Forests (PROFOR) – with additional support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the FAO-hosted National Forest Programme Facility (NFP-Facility), the United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA).
Meanwhile, the views within this toolkit are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of PROFOR, FAO, the NFP-Facility, DFID, SDC or DANIDA.

GJA 2010 Award Winners

GJA 2010 Award Winners
Dzifa, Emelia and Gertrude

GJA 2011 Award Winners

GJA 2011 Award Winners
GWJN's 2011 GJA Award-Winning Team

New WASH-JN Executives

New WASH-JN Executives
They are from left - Edmund, Ghana, Aminata: Guinea, Alain: Benin, Paule: Senegal and Ousman: Niger

Celebrating Award

Celebrating Award
The benefits of Award Winning!

Hard Work Pays!

Hard Work Pays!
In a pose with my plaque