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Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean

Road sign warns of flooding in Wachapreague, Virginia on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Photo by Aileen Devlin / Virginia Sea Grant) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Road sign warns of flooding in Wachapreague, Virginia on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Photo by Aileen Devlin / Virginia Sea Grant) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

ISPRA, Italy, August 14, 2018 (Maximpact.com  News) – Famous Hawaiian swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku always warned, “Never turn your back on the ocean.” He wanted people to watch out for the physical dangers of being hit by a wave from behind, and he wanted humankind to show respect for the ocean – a warning that today is more urgent than ever.

The findings of two Joint Research Centre (JRC) studies released on Monday show that without increased investment in coastal adaptation, the annual damage caused by coastal floods in Europe could increase from €1.25 billion today to between €93 billion and €961 billion by the end of the century.

One in three citizens of the European Union lives within 50 kilometers (30 miles) of the coast. Due to an increase in extreme sea levels driven by global warming, coastal floods could impact up to 3.65 million people every year in Europe by 2100, compared to around 102,000 people affected today.

In the JRC studies scientists project both how global extreme sea levels will change during the present century, and also how rising seas combined with socioeconomic change will affect future losses from coastal flooding.

Sea levels are rising, and the trajectory is expected to continue beyond the year 2100, even if greenhouse gas emissions are stabilized right now. Most scientists expect the sea to rise by at least one meter (39 inches) during this century, and many believe sea levels may even rise three meters by 2100, in view of new evidence on ice-cliff instability of the Antarctic.

Antarctica alone has the potential to contribute more than a meter of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 meters by 2500, if emissions continue unabated, finds a 2016 study by Robert DeConto of the University of Massachusetts’ Department of Geosciences, and David Pollard of Penn State University’s Earth and Environmental Systems Institute.

DeConto and Pollard warn that atmospheric warming will become the dominant driver of ice loss, and prolonged ocean warming will delay ocean recovery for “thousands of years.”

With continued ocean and atmospheric warming, sea levels are likely to rise for many centuries at rates higher than that of the current century, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Flood damage to the city of Ōfunato, Iwate Prefecture, Japan caused by the 2011 tsunami that caused a meltdown at the coastal nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. July 2011, (Photo by George Olcott) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Flood damage to the city of Ōfunato, Iwate Prefecture, Japan caused by the 2011 tsunami that caused a meltdown at the coastal nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. July 2011, (Photo by George Olcott) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Global warming is expected to drive increasing extreme sea levels and flood risk along all the world’s coastlines. This year sea levels continue their upward movement, rising about three inches higher than levels measured in 1993.

Higher sea levels mean that deadly and destructive storm surges push farther inland than they once did, causing more frequent flooding.

In cities, rising seas threaten infrastructure underpinning local jobs and regional industries. Roads, bridges, subways, water supplies, oil and gas wells, power plants, sewage treatment plants, landfills – virtually all human infrastructure – is at risk from sea level rise, NOAA warns.

European scientists are issuing equally urgent warnings of “unprecedented flood risk unless timely adaptation measures are taken.”

The JRC researchers considered two scenarios – one where moderate policy efforts are made to mitigate climate change and a business as usual situation.

They concluded that in order for Europe to keep future coastal flood losses constant relative to the size of the economy, defense structures need to be installed or reinforced to withstand increases in extreme sea levels ranging from 0.5 to 2.5 meters (1.64 to 8.2 feet).

The researchers identified climate change as the main driver of the projected rise in costs from coastal flooding. This is a change from the current situation globally, where increasing risk has been driven by socioeconomic development.

In the United States, almost 40 percent of the population lives in high-population-density coastal areas, where sea level plays a role in flooding, shoreline erosion, and hazards from storms.

Globally, eight of the world’s 10 largest cities are near a coast, according to the United Nations Atlas of the Oceans . These are the cities most at risk of sea level rise. They are: Tokyo, Japan; Mumbai, India; New York City, USA; Shanghai, China; Lagos, Nigeria; Los Angeles, USA; Calcutta, India; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A flood inundates St. Marks Square in Venice, Italy, October 10, 2017 (Photo by Konstantinos Tamvakis)

A flood inundates St. Marks Square in Venice, Italy, October 10, 2017 (Photo by Konstantinos Tamvakis)

The frequency and severity of coastal flooding throughout the world will increase rapidly and eventually double in frequency over the coming decades even with only moderate amounts of sea level rise, according to a 2017 study in “Scientific Reports” from scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Hawaii.

The study, led by Sean Vitousek, a engineering professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, projects increases in flooding for Pacific islands, parts of Southeast Asia and coastlines along India, Africa and South America in the years and decades ahead, before spreading to engulf nearly the entire tropical region.

Alarming projections by Climate Central, a U.S.-based climate change science and advocacy group, show that approximately one million South Africans live in areas that will be inundated by rising seas as the climate warms, unless carbon emissions are cut steeply by the year 2100.

A World Bank study  published in March identified coastal areas with low elevation, and assessed the consequences of continued sea-level rise for 84 developing countries, using satellite maps of the world overlaid with data on population growth.

Including 12 Southeast Asian nations: Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, D.P.R Korea, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – the World Bank study found that the impact of sea-level rise will be particularly severe for this region.

A one-meter rise may displace some 37 million people, the World Bank concluded. The number of vulnerable people would increase to 60 million with a two-meter rise. A three-meter rise can impact 90 million people, nearly equivalent to the population of Vietnam, the fourth most populated country in East Asia.

China and Indonesia are the two countries most vulnerable to permanent inundation.

In March, China’s oceanic authority called for measures to cope with rising sea levels.

A report released by the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said that the average sea level along China’s coast in 2017 was 58 mm (2.28 inches) higher than the average level between 1993 and 2011.

Over the past six years, the sea level along China’s coast has remained high compared with the previous 24 years.

The situation is the result of climate change and global warming, which have increased the temperature of China’s coastal regions and the ocean, according to the SOA report.

Rising sea levels will increase the area inundated by sea water, aggravate marine disasters, and harm the ecosystem, Chen Zhi, an SOA official, told the state-run Xinhua news agency in March.

The report said China’s ability to prevent and respond to disasters should be improved. The layout of coastal cities and infrastructure planning should take the rising sea levels into account, and emergency shelters and warehouses for disaster relief supplies should be located a safe distance from high-risk areas.

The SOA report advises that China’s coastal cities should verify the flood protection ability and upgrade design standards for important infrastructure projects in the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, and the northern coastal area of Bohai, near Beijing.

The report calls for protecting ecological resources, including coastal mangroves and wetlands.

The management of coastal water resources must be strengthened, the SOA advised, saying that the overexploitation of groundwater and land subsidence in coastal regions should be controlled in order to reduce harm from salt tides, sea water encroachment, and soil salinization.

China’s State Oceanic Administration report proposes pushing forward international cooperation in global marine governance, such as observation and prediction, risk assessment, and the response to rising sea levels.

One response that promotes safety, as Duke Kahanamoku said, “Never turn your back on the ocean.”

Featured Image: Wave breaks on the coast of Ireland, September 29, 2013 (Photo by John Twohig) Creative Commons license via Flickr



EU Extends Multi-Billion Euro Support to Migrants

By Sunny Lewis

BRUSSELS, Belgium, July 17, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – While the United States attempts to limit migration through punitive action at its southern border, the European Union is taking the opposite approach to the flood of migrants from Africa and neighboring countries seeking sanctuary.

Internally displaced Nigerians at an IOM displacement camp in Bama in Borno State, Nigeria, 2017 (Photo by Julia Burpee / UN Migration Agency (IOM)) Posted for media use

Internally displaced Nigerians at an IOM displacement camp in Bama in Borno State, Nigeria, 2017 (Photo by Julia Burpee / UN Migration Agency (IOM)) Posted for media use

The EU’s External Investment Plan’s first projects in Africa and the Neighbourhood, approved July 10, aim to promote inclusive growth, job creation and sustainable development in Africa and in this way to tackle some of the root causes of “irregular” migration.

The pace of migration attempts appears to be slowing this year. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Migration Agency, reports that through July 15 this year, 50,872 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea. That total compares to 109,746 at this time last year, and 241,859 at this time in 2016.

But many people are still dying en route. The IOM reports that 1,443 migrants have died so far this year fleeing intolerable situations in their home countries.

IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported Monday that 447 migrants, who left aboard a wooden fishing boat July 11 from the Libyan port of Zuwara, arrived in Pozzalo, Sicily, southern Italy on Sunday. The group was rescued Saturday morning by a ship of the law enforcement agency Italian Guardia di Finanza and another from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex.

Di Giacomo said they had to wait in the harbor over 24 hours before being authorized to disembark, although the migrants arrived in “severe” health conditions due to terrible detentions experienced in Libya’s informal detention centers.

Migrants arriving at the port of Pozzalo told IOM staff that four travelling companions died last Friday. Witnesses said all were on board the wooden fishing boat, without water or food, when they spotted another vessel, still not identified. Driven by despair, about 30 people jumped into the water trying to reach the ship, which was much too far away. Four drowned, all of Somali origin, including one 17-year-old boy.

To make life in Africa safe and bearable enough to deter such desperate migration, the EU gave its green light to a package of financial guarantee programs worth around €800 million on July 10. This is expected to leverage an estimated €8-9 billion in public and private investment in Africa and the Neighbourhood.

Add this to the €1.6 billion mobilized for blending operations – the mixing of public grants and loans – which is expected to mobilize up to €14.6 billion, and this investment translates into over €22 billion to support sustainable development and decent job creation in Africa.

Overall, the EU’s External Investment Plan (EIP), is expected to leverage €44 billion of investments by 2020 through an EU contribution worth €4.1 billion.

“This plan is about building a new present for many people and for their countries, it is about changing lives, now and for good,” said High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini of Italy.

What Will These Investments Support?

The EU has identified five areas of intervention where the External Investment Plan can have the highest impact for sustainable development. The first four are covered by the guarantee programs approved on July 10 by the Strategic Board of the European Fund for Sustainable Development.

They are:

  • financing for small businesses, including ones involved in agriculture
  • sustainable cities
  • sustainable energy and connectivity and
  • access to the internet and digital services.

The Commission will review proposals in the field of agri-business in autumn 2018.

One of the new programs will benefit people who have trouble borrowing money at affordable rates, such as internally displaced people, refugees or returnees, women and young people aged 18-30.

With €75 million EU input and managed by FMO, the Dutch development bank, the NASIRA Risk-Sharing Facility is expected to generate a total investment of €750 million to €1 billion.

Linda Broekhuizen, Chief Investment Officer at FMO, said, “The support of the EU and Dutch government for this new risk-sharing facility NASIRA is a major step forward to ensure that financing reaches the young, migrant and female entrepreneurs that are potentially great job creators in countries where employment is much needed now and in the future.”

Another new program, InclusiFI, will enable over 25,000 small businesses to access mobile accounts and long-term credit, to support the financial inclusion driven by diasporas, migrants’ families and people who have recently returned to their country of origin, in Sub-Saharan Africa and the EU Neighbourhood.

Lead InclusiFI financial institutions are the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation; Compañía Española de Financiación del Desarrollo, a joint state-private company also in Spain; and the Italian investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti.

A program to help offset some of the risks that local banks perceive in financing solar power will help bring solar power kits to thousands of homes in Sub-Saharan Africa. With an input of €50 million from the EU and led by the African Development Bank, this guarantee tool will support access to clean electricity to an estimated 3.5 million people in the Sahel region.

A digital transformation platform and a broadband investment program will support rural access to broadband in the EU’s southern and eastern neighboring countries, with an EU input of €70 million and managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

This program is expected to bring fast broadband to up to 600,000 homes in rural areas of 17 southern and eastern neighboring countries: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, and Ukraine.

Finally, the initiative Boosting Investment in Renewable Energy, will receive an EU input of €100 million, and will be managed by the Association of European Development Finance Institutions and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

By supporting investments in renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa and EU neighboring countries, this program is expected to:

  • Cut carbon emissions by an estimated two to three million tonnes per year
  • Create an additional 1.5 – 2 Gigawatts of renewable energy
  • Increase power production from renewable energy sources to 4,500-6000 GWh/year.

The EU also welcomed the first major contribution from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of around €53 million. This is expected to attract further investment to incentivize research and innovation in e-health in less developed and fragile environments.

Mogherini said, “The EU’s External Investment Plan has already started to bring real benefits to the people in our partner countries. These guarantee programs for sustainable investment give now access to affordable loans to people who have been forced to flee their country and those who have recently returned home to rebuild their lives, to start small businesses or to have access to new technologies.”

Later this year, the European Commission is expected sign the first EIP guarantee agreements with partner financial institutions that will then use the guarantees to finance new development projects and attract more private investments.

Financial institutions should start to roll out projects in early 2019.

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said on July 11, “We want to see the new EU guarantees that we have announced yesterday translate into concrete, innovative and sustainable projects on the ground, making a real change for the people.”

“More prosperity in the EU’s immediate neighborhood is not only good for our European economies and businesses,” said Hahn. “It is a long-term investment in the stability and security of our partners in the neighborhood and for Europe.”

Featured Images: Displaced Somali woman wears a Little Sun solar lamp, June 2017, Ethiopia (Photo by Rikka Tupaz / UN Migration Agency (IOM)) Posted for media use


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Caption: Internally displaced Nigerians at an IOM displacement camp in Bama in Borno State, Nigeria, 2017 (Photo by Julia Burpee / UN Migration Agency (IOM)) Posted for media use

http://medialib.iom.int/galleries/176/iom-dg-swing-visits-northeast-nigeria

Photo 3: FatherAutisticBoy.jpg

Caption: Norair, an internally displaced person in the Ukranian city of Zhytomyr, holds his autistic son. “I would like to try a bakery business, to bake traditional Armenian bread,” he says. “If people get some assistance, they can manage.” 2015 (Photo by Varvara Zhluktenko / IOM) Posted for media use

http://medialib.iom.int/galleries/72/joining-hands

Increasing Resilience, Improving Quality of Life

barkafoundation

How an NGO, BARKA, increases resilience, improves quality of life, and empowers people in Burkina Faso. NGOs do make a difference.

Burkina Faso, West Africa, February 7, 2018 – Maximpact Training Network would like to present one of its trainees in Grant Proposal Writing, and show how BARKA Foundation is improving people’s and communities’ lives.

BARKA is affiliated with the United Nations and has Special Consultative Status with the UN’s Economic and Social Affairs Division (ECOSOC). It is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization established in 2006 in the United States. In 2009, they registered as a local country-based organization in Burkina Faso.

BARKA’s international development work is focused solely in Burkina Faso, West Africa. BARKA Foundation currently works with 9 village communities in the Eastern Region of Burkina Faso. Our approach is community-led and long-term. We continue to walk along side villagers long after a project is completed, which often leads to other much needed services in related areas. For example, in 2016, BARKA began developing a sustainable agriculture project with two villages where it had previously drilled a well. The water from those wells will be used to irrigate the new gardens during the long dry season and combat both malnutrition and the devastating effects of climate change.

The NGO has recently completed its largest project to date to improve access to water in 4 villages, introduce and improve sanitations in 4 rural primary schools and raise awareness of basic hygiene principals at the community level in 5 villages.

Burkina Faso

Barka’s areas of focus are:

  • Water: providing access to clean water, improving sanitation and hygiene education for schools and communities
  • Women: empowering women and girls with various projects and  programs
  • Agroecology: helping local farmers combat climate change through agroecology and sustainable agriculture
  • Reciprocity: BARKA serves as a bridge between individuals, schools and communities of Burkina Faso and the United States to facilitate greater understanding, cultural exchange and the co-creation of a culture of peace.

Barka Impact

For more information on BARKA Foundation visit www.barkafoundation.org to make a tax-deductible donation

Donate in-kind services: technology, accounting services, web services, design, marketing.


Featured image: ‘A girl carries water home on a bike’ image from BARKA foundation website – Monitoring and Evaluation. 

ImproveYourBusinesswritingskills_campaign

How do NGOs change people’s lives? Read Joyce Mary’s heartening story

 

Hear other people’s stories…

Maximpact presents War on Want – an NGO celebrating this year its 56th anniversary of working with poor communities in Africa.

By Eithne McNulty Overseas, Officer for War On Want Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland, December 27, 2017 (WOWNI) War On Want Northern Ireland (WOWNI) is a small, independent International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) based in Belfast Northern Ireland. WOWNI implements programmes in Uganda and Malawi focusing on supporting local groups of farmers to reduce poverty and promote equitable and sustainable development through building their capacity to produce more food to feed their  families and have a surplus to take to market. Fostering entrepreneurship and building income generation are important aspect of how the organization works and special care is taken to target the most vulnerable of the poor such as orphans, women, elderly, child headed households and  people living with HIV/Aids. Care for the environment is central to WOWNI’s work ethic as is gender equality.

Joyce Mary’s story is a heartening one. It shows how a little help can go a long way when there are people as enterprising and entrepreneurial as she. And the vast majority of people in poor communities in Africa have this amazing ability to be business people in their own right. Joyce Mary talks about her “business dream coming through” with the help she got from WOWNI. She now has her chicken rearing farm! She talks too about the training she received on business development and agricultural technologies. WOWNI hears this said all the time.

Training is such a key element of the success of the projects (visit Maximpact Advisory for training services).

Joyce Mary references borrowing from her local Village Savings and Loans Scheme (VSLA) – a kind of credit union set up and managed by local people. VSLAs are a lifeline to people and form part of every intervention WOWNI designs with local people. VSLAs provide a safe savings scheme locally, they provide borrowing facilities for business set up and importantly, they become a lifeline when a ‘rainy day’ hits. Ironically, a ‘rainy day’ in the East African context more typically means drought!. This leads to failed crops as does other disasters such as floods and pest invasion like the army worms which are sweeping Sub Saharan Africa at the moment and destroying poor peoples’ livelihoods. So, the challenges are many. Fortunately, the resilience and talent Joyce Mary exudes, as do so many other of the poor, sees communities through the tough times. Ironically too, when you visit these communities what you meet is not despondency and desolation – not at all. It is always song, dance, ceremony and celebration. Always a smile and a welcome.

WOWNI has a deep belief in the capabilities and capacity of local communities in the developing world. They  know best how to respond to the needs and challenges they face; how to lift themselves out of the poverty that surrounds them. Their challenges and obstacles are manifold;  the structural nature of poverty; did you know that the developed/rich world takes more in  taxes from the developing world than it gives to it in aid?. Other major challenges include climate change, lack of resources, education, jobs, land, gender inequality. Because local people and their communities are best placed to plan and implement development projects, WOWNI  operates the ‘partnership approach’, meaning it identifies locally based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and work through them. They become the delivery mechanism for development projects.  They invariably know what’s needed by way of planning, budgeting,  training, raw materials, tracking, monitoring and much more. They get results. WOWNI is simply the conduit between its Northern Irish  donors and its governmental donors, who generously give to the organization, and the farmers groups who, when they receive that assistance, work innovatively, imaginatively, diligently and with unbelievable resourcefulness and resoluteness.

Do you want to help War on Want or have your story to tell? Contact us at info@maximpact.com

Maximpact provides support services to public and private organizations, visit www.Maximpact.com to find out how we can help you, or contact us at info@maximpact.com

 

The Story of Joyce Mary

By Eithne McNulty Overseas Officer for War On Want 

Northern Ireland, EU July 19, 2017 (Guest Contributor) War On Want Northern Ireland (WOWNI) is a small, independent International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) based in Belfast Northern Ireland. This year, 2017, it celebrates 56 years of working with poor communities in Africa. WOWNI implements programmes in Uganda and Malawi focusing on supporting local groups of farmers to reduce poverty and promote equitable and sustainable development through building their capacity to produce more food to feed their  families and have a surplus to take to market. Fostering entrepreneurship and building income generation are important aspect of how the organization works and special care is taken to target the most vulnerable of the poor such as orphans, women, elderly, child headed households and  people living with HIV/Aids. Care for the environment is central to WOWNI’s work ethic as is gender equality.

Joyce Mary’s story is a heartening one. It shows how a little help can go a long way when there are people as enterprising and entrepreneurial as she. And the vast majority of people in poor communities in Africa have this amazing ability to be business people in their own right. Joyce Mary talks about her “business dream coming through” with the help she got from WOWNI. She now has her chicken rearing farm!. She talks too about the training she received  on business development and agricultural technologies. WOWNI hears this said all the time. Training is such a key element of the success of the projects.

Joyce Mary references borrowing from her local Village Savings and Loans Scheme (VSLA) – a kind of credit union set up and managed by local people. VSLAs are a lifeline to people and form part of every intervention WOWNI designs with local people. VSLAs provide a safe savings scheme locally, they provide borrowing facilities for business set up and importantly, they become a lifeline when a ‘rainy day’ hits. Ironically, a ‘rainy day’ in the East African context more typically means drought!. This leads to failed crops as does other disasters such as floods and pest invasion like the army worms which are sweeping Sub Saharan Africa at the moment and destroying poor peoples’ livelihoods. So, the challenges are many. Fortunately, the resilience and talent Joyce Mary exudes, as do so many other of the poor, sees communities through the tough times. Ironically too, when you visit these communities what you meet is not despondency and desolation – not at all. It is always song, dance, ceremony and celebration. Always a smile and a welcome. 

WOWNI has a deep belief in the capabilities and capacity of local communities in the developing world. They  know best how to respond to the needs and challenges they face; how to lift themselves out of the poverty that surrounds them. Their challenges and obstacles are manifold;  the structural nature of poverty; did you know that the developed/rich world takes more in  taxes from the developing world than it gives to it in aid?. Other major challenges include climate change, lack of resources, education, jobs, land, gender inequality. Because local people and their communities are best placed to plan and implement development projects, WOWNI  operates the ‘partnership approach’, meaning it identifies locally based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and work through them. They become the delivery mechanism for development projects.  They invariably know what’s needed by way of planning, budgeting,  training, raw materials, tracking, monitoring and much more. They get results. WOWNI is simply the conduit between its Northern Irish  donors and its governmental donors, who generously give to the organization, and the farmers groups who, when they receive that assistance, work innovatively, imaginatively, diligently and with unbelievable resourcefulness and resoluteness. 


Akwi Joyce Mary

Joyce Mary feeding her chickens.

Testimony of Akwi Joyce Mary

“My dream has been to become a prosperous entrepreneur” She said. Akwi Joyce Mary is a 45 year old married woman with six (6) children. She also takes care of 4 grandchildren. Joyce Mary has 6 acres of land and with the support of group oxen they received from WoWNI, she is now able to cultivate all. Joyce Mary relies purely on farming as a source of livelihood.

“Before the Project support, I used to work like a donkey, hiring out my labour in order to get food and little income to support the family. My husband was a well known drunkard in the community; my family could only afford one meal a day during hunger month and we had no hope of educating our children” she narrated.

She further explained that, despite the fact that family had land, they were not utilizing it effective because they had no oxen but however, her life is now much more better, she feels empowered as a woman because her children are going to school, have their own oxen that she bought, have 250 local chickens; she is also an active member in her savings group, has100 plastic chairs that she hires out and her family eats 3 meals a day during hunger months. Her husband now respects and loves her.

Joyce Mary said that, the most significant change she is proud off in the project is the knowledge received through the trainings especially farm planning and farming as a business. This enabled her not only diversify her food production but also enabled her divides gardens to ensure that family grows crops for income and food separately. In 2016 she planted 2 acres of groundnuts, one acre for food and the other for income; she was able to earn £349 but also have food at home. The money helps her pay school fees for her children, meet family medical bills as well as household necessities. “Every year now make sure that I have at least 3 acres specifically grown for food and 2 for income” she said with confidence.

Joyce also with her business dream, started rearing 5 local chicken that she bought using the money she borrowed (£24) from her village saving group, chickens have multiplied and she now has 250. She sold 15 chicken was able to buy an ox and two sheep. The chicken not only provides her with daily income but also balance diet inform of eggs, the meat. Besides the chicken, Joyce grows vegetables at her backyard and she able to eat fresh vegetables to supplement her diet.


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Unlocking Investment in Africa’s Sustainable Landscapes

Sharing successful techniques for landscape restoration pays off. (Photo courtesy Global Landscapes Forum) Posted for media use.

Sharing successful techniques for landscape restoration pays off. (Photo courtesy Global Landscapes Forum) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

KIGALI, Rwanda, May 18, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Businesses can realize many benefits by investing in restoration of forests, rivers and freshwater, new research finds. Corporations increasingly recognize that working in landscape partnerships can help them address critical issues beyond their immediate supply chains.

Yet, today, only a quarter of the 428 large, multi-stakeholder landscape partnerships surveyed for the research report include businesses.

The report was presented in Kigali on May 16 at the inaugural Forest and Landscape Investment Forum organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Forum attracted project developers and business leaders from African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, and investors from all over the world to explore a marketplace for effective forest and landscape investment opportunities. Delegates came from

“The importance of promoting a broad spectrum of investments in forests and landscapes in East Africa can’t be underestimated,” said Douglas McGuire, coordinator of the Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism for FAO.

“We can no longer afford to miss out on funding opportunities,” said McGuire. “There is so much talent and enthusiasm out there, and it is our hope that this event will make those important connections between project developers and investors that until now have been missing.”

The research report, “Business for Sustainable Landscapes: An action agenda for sustainable development,” is based on an 18-month consultation with input from more than 40 organizations.

It shows how public-private-civic partnerships for integrated landscape management are emerging to address the difficult problems of natural resource degradation, competition, and conflict.

Innovative financial instruments designed to support landscape investments – new blended finance schemes, impact investment funds, investment screens and standards, and investment strategies in sustainable supply chain programs – are attracting investment, the report shows, but the authors point out that greater participation is needed.

The report was produced by EcoAgriculture Partners, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) <iucn.org>, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, and the Sustainable Food Lab , under the auspices of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative .

It outlines an action agenda with concrete steps that businesses, finance institutions, governments and landscape program leaders can take to strengthen these partnerships and advance a socio-economic transformation based on sustainable production and economic growth.

“Innovative financial instruments designed to support landscape investments are emerging, and they have the potential to help drive nature-based solutions, such as forest landscape restoration and climate-smart supply chains,” says Stewart Maginnis, global director of IUCN, which co-authored the report.

“IUCN’s Regional Forest Landscape Restoration Hub for Eastern and Southern Africa, which was established last year, is an excellent example of how increased coordination at a landscape level can catalyze resources and technical capacity to deliver tangible benefits for communities,” said Maginnis.

The Forest & Landscape Investment Forum was intended to advance efforts to achieve the Bonn Challenge and the AFR100 target of restoring 100 million hectares of degraded land in Africa by 2030.

Ambitious restoration goals will require large investments. A recent analysis by the FAO and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, up to US$49 billion worth of investments are needed every year to achieve this and other restoration goals.

Today, investments in forests and landscapes are being made, but they unevenly distributed. While most are made in Latin America, only one percent are in Africa.

“Although landscapes are still not a natural business environment for most companies, the frontrunners are now starting to grasp the potential, take responsibility beyond their direct interests and seek collaborative solutions to address issues like water scarcity, deforestation or ecosystem services by landscape projects,” says Peter Erik Ywema, director for strategy and engagement, SAI Platform.

The nonprofit SAI Platform is the primary global food and drink value chain initiative for sustainable agriculture, founded in 2002 by the multinational corporations Nestlé, Unilever and Danone. Working at the precompetitive level, the SAI Platform’s more than 90 members share knowledge and best practices to support sustainable mInstream agriculture involving stakeholders throughout the food value chain.

The report’s action agenda suggests that to be most effective, landscape partnerships should:

  • Develop a landscape financing strategy
  • Get creative in blending finance
  • Heat up the incubators
  • Ensure finance reaches the farmers and resource managers
  • Leverage grant funds for enabling investments, for asset investments that do not generate financial returns, and to leverage private finance.
  • Socialize innovations among peer institutions

“Investors can do much more to identify promising integrated landscape investments. Innovative investment models from groups like Commonland, IUCN, The Nature Conservancy’s NatureVest, the Livelihoods Fund, African Wildlife Foundation’s African

Wildlife Capital, and the Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation, are demonstrating ways to link agriculture

and conservation to contribute to landscape goals, incubating and providing finance for them,” the report advises.

Potential investments by local businesses and farmer cooperatives often need to be supported during the development phase to reach the point where they are attractive to debt or equity financiers.

The report points out “an urgent need for major development finance institutions to establish business incubators with public-civic-private funding to provide pre-financing and advisory services to improve business performance/design and consistency with landscape goals.”

These services and funding could be paid back once the business becomes profitable.

“Collaborative landscape approaches align stakeholders in a particular place to resolve complex issues that cannot be successfully resolved by actors working alone,” said Sara Scherr, president of EcoAgriculture Partners and one of the key authors of the report.

“These partnerships reflect growing recognition that long-term business success is tied to healthy communities and ecosystems.”


Featured Image: This Kenyan farmer is happy with his thriving papaya grove, showing what investment can accomplish. (Photo by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)) Creative Commons license via Flickr

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Transforming Africa

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Children in Tanzania wait for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Photo by Derek Hansen) Creative Commons license via Flickr

 By Sunny Lewis

BADEN BADEN, Germany, March 21, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Following a meeting with G20 finance ministers and central bank governors on Sunday in Baden Baden, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced a record US$57 billion in financing for Sub-Saharan African countries over the next three years.

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President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim of the United States (Photo by Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Kim said the fresh infusion of funds will scale up investments and de-risk private sector participation for accelerated growth and development across Sub-Saharan Africa .

This represents an unprecedented opportunity to change the development trajectory of the countries in the region,” he said.

With this commitment,” he said, “we will work with our clients to substantially expand programs in education, basic health services, clean water and sanitation, agriculture, business climate, infrastructure, and institutional reform.

Kim then left to visit Rwanda in the central Sub-Saharan region and Tanzania in the east to emphasize the Bank Group’s support for the entire region.

With a population of just over one billion people, Sub-Saharan Africa is defined as those African countries situated south of the Sahara Desert.

Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa remains strong,” the World Bank stated three years ago, in March 2014. “Almost a third of countries in the region are growing at six percent.

But income inequality is extreme in the Sub-Saharan region. Some of these countries, such as Nigeria and South Africa, are rich in oil or mineral wealth, but many others are desperately poor.

First Priorities: Food and Water

Earlier this month, the World Bank president issued a warning on the “devastating levels of food insecurity” in sub-Saharan Africa and Yemen. “Famine is a stain on our collective conscience,” Kim said. “Millions of lives are at risk and more will die if we do not act quickly and decisively.

We at the World Bank Group stand in solidarity with the people now threatened by famine,” Kim said March 8. “We are mobilizing an immediate response for Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Our first priority is to work with partners to make sure that families have access to food and water.

Much of the newly announced financing, $45 billion, will come from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.

In December, development partners agreed to a record $75 billion for IDA, based on an innovative move to blend donor contributions to IDA with World Bank Group internal resources, and with funds raised through capital markets.

The IDA financing for Africa is targeted to addressing roadblocks that prevent the region from reaching its potential. The scaled-up IDA financing will build on a portfolio of 448 ongoing projects across the continent.

A $1.6 billion financing package is being developed to tackle the impending threat of famine in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Expected IDA outcomes include essential health and nutrition services for up to 400 million people, access to improved water sources for up to 45 million, and 5 GW of renewable energy generating capacity.

Next: Building Resilience

In support of countries’ own development priorities, the scaled-up investments will focus on tackling conflict, fragility, and violence; building resilience to crises including forced displacement, climate change, and pandemics; and reducing gender inequality.

The new financing for Sub-Saharan Africa will include an estimated $8 billion in private sector investments from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a private sector arm of the World Bank Group.

IFC will deepen its engagement in fragile and conflict-affected states and increase climate-related investments.

In addition, there will be $4 billion in financing from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), its non-concessional public sector arm.

IBRD priorities will include health, education, and infrastructure projects such as expanding water distribution and access to power.

Efforts will also promote governance and institution building, as well as jobs and economic transformation.

This financing will help African countries continue to grow, create opportunities for their citizens, and build resilience to shocks and crises,” Kim said.

While much of the estimated $45 billion in IDA financing will be dedicated to country-specific programs, Kim says significant amounts will be available through special “windows” to finance regional initiatives and transformative projects, support refugees and their host communities, and help countries in the aftermath of crises.

This will be complemented by a newly established Private Sector Window, especially important in Africa, where many sound investments go untapped due to lack of capital and perceived risks.

The Private Sector Window will supplement existing instruments to spur sound investments through de-risking, blended finance, and local currency lending.

The priorities for private sector investment will include infrastructure, financial markets, and agribusiness.

Powering Africa, Both On and Off the Grid

In the western sub-Saharan African country of Côte d’Ivoire last week, former UN Secretary-General

Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. Born in Ghana, was the first UN Secretary-General from Sub-Saharan Africa. Annan now heads the Africa Progress Panel, and serves as chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation and chair of The Elders. (Photo courtesy Africa Progress Panel) Posted for media use

Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. Born in Ghana, was the first UN Secretary-General from Sub-Saharan Africa. Annan now heads the Africa Progress Panel, and serves as chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation and chair of The Elders. (Photo courtesy Africa Progress Panel) Posted for media use

Kofi Annan issued a new report, “Lights Power Action: Electrifying Africa” that calls for investment in quickly solving Africa’s energy crisis.

Speaking March 13 at African Development Bank headquarters in Abidjan, Annan said, “Achieving universal access to modern energy is critical to Africa’s transformation.”

Nearly two-thirds of Africans – 620 million people – still do not have access to ‘affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern electricity,‘” said Annan, the energy goal that is central to Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

The core message of “Lights Power Action” emphasizes that grid-connected mega projects such as large dams and power pools are essential to scale up national and regional energy generation and transmission, but they are slow and expensive.

Through the report, Annan is urging governments to increase investment in off-grid and mini-grid solutions, which are cheaper and quicker to install.

What we are advocating is for African governments to harness every available option, in as cost-effective and technologically efficient a manner as possible, so that everyone is included and no one is left behind” said Annan, who chairs the Africa Progress Panel that wrote the report.

Of the 315 million people who will gain access to electricity in Africa’s rural areas by 2040, it is estimated that only 30 percent will be connected to national grids. Most will be powered by off-grid household or mini-grid systems.

Annan told the audience in Abidjan, “As well as leading the way in promoting wider use of off-grid and mini-grid technology, African governments must continue to work hard to transform national energy grids that are often unreliable and financially fragile.

Many energy utilities are mismanaged and inefficient. A lack of accountability and transparency in their governance also nurtures corruption,” he warned.

Electricity theft at staggering scale is often the result of this malpractice; rolling black-outs are the result of mismanagement,” said Annan. “All continue to feed a deep sense of frustration among citizens.”

It’s not just energy mismanagement, Annan explained. “Poor energy governance reflects the wider governance deficit that threatens to derail development efforts in a number of countries.

Governments need to intensify their efforts to put in place regulatory environments that give the energy sector incentives to deliver on its transformative potential,” he said.

Africa’s leadership, in both public and private sectors, need to “champion the energy for all agenda,” Annan urged.

The private sector, African and non-African,” said the former secretary-general, “should be encouraged to enter energy generation, transmission and distribution markets, deepen linkages throughout the value chain, and build the investment partnerships that can drive growth and create jobs.

He is not saying countries should immediately stop using fossil fuels and switch to renewables. The cost of transitioning to renewables may be prohibitively high in the short term, especially for countries that use their sizable endowments of coal and other fossil fuels to generate energy.

The report advocates that African governments harness every available energy option, so that no one is left behind. Said Annan, “Each country needs to decide on the most cost-effective, technologically efficient energy mix that works best for its own needs.

As widespread adoption of mobile phone technology has already helped Africa leapfrog over conventional technology and improve financial and social inclusion, Annan predicts that “innovation will bring millions of Africans into the energy loop,” setting the stage for improved quality of life.

The ultimate goal should be to interlink Africa’s numerous and fragmented power initiatives to create a single pan-African power grid,” he said in Abidjan.

We know what is needed to reduce and ultimately eliminate Africa’s energy deficit,” declared Annan. “Now we must focus on implementation. The time for excuses is over. It’s time for action.


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Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Glitters in the Sun

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The International Renewable Energy Agency exhibit at the World Future Energy Summit 2017, a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, January 16, 2017 (Photo courtesy IRENA) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

By Sunny Lewis

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, January 19, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – The oil-rich Middle East’s largest gathering on sustainability is happening this week, featuring the rock star business and opinion leaders who are shaping the present and future clean energy world.

An estimated 35,600 people representing 170 countries are attending Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) under sunny skies, including 80 government ministers, 382 exhibiting companies, and more than 200 high-level speakers.

As a global platform for addressing the interconnected challenges of clean energy, water and sustainable development, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week has developed lasting partnerships with many of the world’s most admired experts and opinion formers on sustainability issues,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, chief executive officer of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company and the host of ADSW.

ADSW 2017 explores the theme “Practical Steps Towards a Sustainable Future” from January 12-21 with presentations, discussions and workshops on clean energy, water and waste.

From the podium, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto said, “Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is a testament to the commitment of the United Arab Emirates to sustainable development and a new diversified, low carbon economy. Similar to how Mexico is leading the way as a developing country, the UAE was in fact the first country in the Middle East to set renewable energy targets at a time when there was widespread doubt about renewable energy’s viability and value.

Workshops are considering strategies to drive investment, implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate, and the challenges of adapting existing infrastructure to the new market reality of small-scale, distributed power.

Another critical new market reality was detailed by Michael Liebreich, founder and chairman of the Advisory Board, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and Board member, Transport for London.

Developing countries are overtaking the wealthiest economies in attracting clean energy investment, with the Middle East & North Africa playing a growing role,” said Liebreich, citing research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The global profile of ADSW is valuable in bringing emerging market opportunities to a wider stage,” he said, “thereby enabling greater cooperation between developed and developing economies.”

All kinds of clean energy investments are being forged in Abu Dhabi this week. “The clean energy sector has moved from the margins into the mainstream as a dynamic, commercially viable growth market,” Al Ramahi said.

The UAE Ministry of Energy, SKM Air-Conditioning and the Masdar Institute Wednesday signed an agreement to develop advanced energy-efficient building chillers specific to the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

If adopted nation-wide, the new efficient chillers could provide the UAE with national energy savings of over 20 percent while lowering life-cycle cooling plant costs. Currently 50 percent of the UAE’s electricity consumption goes towards cooling energy requirements, which can rise to as high as 75 percent during peak-day electricity use in the summer.

On another front, the United Arab Emirates announced a landmark new US$50 million grant fund for renewable energy projects in Caribbean island countries. 

Launched by Reem Al Hashimy, minister of state for international cooperation, the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund is one of the largest-ever single investments in the region’s clean energy sector. It represents a significant deepening of bilateral relationships between the UAE and Caribbean countries.

Grant funding is provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs managing the initiative and Masdar leading implementation.

The announcement, which brings UAE development assistance for renewable energy to almost US$1 billion since 2013, was made on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, as part of the annual General Assembly meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

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International Renewable Energy Agency Director-General Adnan Z. Amin at the World Future Energy Summit 2017, a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (Photo courtesy IRENA) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin anticipates great success ahead for renewable energy. “Renewables are gaining ground by nearly every measure,” he said. “Accelerating the pace of the energy transition and expanding its scope beyond the power sector will not only reduce carbon emissions, it will improve lives, create jobs, achieve development goals, and ensure a cleaner and more prosperous future.

Introducing the third and latest annual issue of IRENA’s report, “REthinking Energy,” Amin said that the falling costs of renewable energy, driven by innovations in technology and policy, is behind the rapid spread of renewables and an accompanying host of socioeconomic benefits.

As we advance deeper into a new energy paradigm, we need to pick-up the pace of our decarbonization efforts. Policies and regulations continue to remain crucial to this end and to develop the renewables market,” explained Amin. “We are seeing more and more countries hold auctions to deploy renewables, and as variable and distributed sources of renewables take-on a greater role, regulators have implemented changes to enable grid integration at scale.”

Heating and cooling, and the potential of renewables for transport, are areas where future efforts are needed,” Amin said.

REthinking Energy,” provides insights on the innovations, policy and finance driving further investment in sustainable energy system, finding that:

  • Renewable energy auctions are gaining popularity in both developed and developing countries, generating record-breaking low energy prices;
  • Demand for battery storage is increasing rapidly and playing a larger part in integrating variable renewables;
  • New capital-market instruments are helping increase available finance by offering new groups of investors access to investment opportunities;
  • Institutional investors are moving into renewable energy as it offers stable returns over the long term;
  • New business models promise new ways to finance renewable energy.

Of the clean energy technologies, the report finds that solar photovoltaics will grow the fastest in terms of capacity and output, and new ways to store electricity will be a game changer for growing variable renewable energy generation.

IRENA estimates that battery storage for electricity could increase from less than 1 GW today to 250 GW by 2030.

Cost-effective off-grid renewables already provide electricity to an estimated 90 million people worldwide. “REthinking Energy” describes how off-grid solutions can provide modern energy to hundreds of millions more people to help the world achieve its sustainable development goals.

Achieving universal electricity access by 2030, will require us to boost global power generation – nearly 60 percent of that will have to come from stand-alone and mini-grid solutions,” said Amin. “Meeting this aim with off-grid renewables depends on the right combination of policies, financing, technology and institutional capacity.

At the World Future Energy Summit 2017, a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week that aims to build the business case for renewable energy, India’s solar power industry is showcasing an unprecedented range of investment opportunities, after the Indian government’s announcement of its plans to add an additional 175 GW of renewable energy to the nation’s electricity supply by 2022.

The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy plans to install 100 GW of solar power, including utility-scale and rooftop solar. The remaining capacity will include 60 GW of utility-scale wind energy, 5 GW of small hydro, and 10 GW of bioenergy.

Private sector investors are showing new interest in Saudi Arabia’s solar energy market, after the nation’s leadership included plans to add 9.5 GW of renewables to the energy supply as part of Saudi Vision 2030, a strategy announced last April.

The Vision 2030 strategy sets 9.5 GW as an “initial target” to help build the Saudi renewables sector, noting that energy consumption will triple in the next 14 years. The Saudi government confirms that it aims to achieve that target by 2023, a rapid increase from the nation’s 25 MW of installed renewable energy capacity at the end of 2015.

Saudi Arabia’s plans are supported by a comprehensive restructuring of government departments responsible for energy. Vision 2030 calls for a complete review of the country’s legal and regulatory framework to allow the private sector to buy and invest in the renewable energy sector.

The projects that will flow from Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy plan create a landmark opportunity for technology manufacturers, developers and investors in solar energy, setting out a very real, very achievable ambition,” said Roberto de Diego Arozamena, CEO of Abdul Latif Jameel Energy, the largest GCC-based solar photovoltaic developer and one of the largest in the world.

A highlight of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week took place on Monday with the awarding of this year’s Zayed Future Energy Prize to nine pioneers in renewable energy and sustainability.

Founded in 2008, the Zayed Future Energy Prize has lit up the world for more than 289 million people through the actions of its international community of winners.

This year’s Zayed Future Energy Prize winners:

Li Junfeng, director general of China’s National Center of Climate Strategy Research, won the Lifetime Achievement award for his commitment to the adoption of renewable energy in China.

General Electric won the Large Corporation award for leadership in the wind and solar energy markets. GE’s wind business alone has commissioned 41.3 GW of total generating capacity and installed more than 30,000 wind turbines to date.

Sonnen, the German smart home and commercial energy storage system manufacturer, was awarded the prize in the Small and Medium Enterprise category for leadership in providing battery storage solutions.

In the Non-Profit Organization category, UK-based Practical Action was recognized for its work in providing deprived communities with clean energy in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Joining them were the winners in the Global High Schools category, five schools spanning five regions of the globe: Starehe Girls’ Center, Kenya for the Africa region; Green School Bali, Indonesia for the Asia region; Bolivia’s Unidad Educativa Sagrado Corazón 4 for the Americas; Belvedere College in Ireland for Europe; and Huonville High School, Tasmania, Australia for the Oceania region.

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State, took great satisfaction in announcing the winners. “The Zayed Future Energy Prize continues to honor the legacy of sustainability advocated by the UAE’s late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” he said. “With each awards ceremony, the UAE leadership accelerates the pursuit of innovation, reinforces the significance of sustainability at the top of the global agenda, and gives opportunities and far-reaching benefits to communities around the world.

Since the start of the Zayed Future Energy Prize awards, over 25 million people in Africa and Asia have been provided with access to modern, clean energy, off-setting more than one billion tons of carbon emissions, and ensuring that 17 million school age children can study at night using innovative solar-powered utilities.

Chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former president of the Republic of Iceland, said, “Through the sustainable actions of its winners, the Zayed Future Energy Prize is a model example for how far the world has come in the last nine years. It is extraordinary that, through the impact of each winner and the lives they continue to improve, we now see a growing strength in being able to deliver a sustainable future.


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Private Transport Sector Embraces Climate Action

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Young people at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco will live with the consequences of the decisions made there. (Photo by UNFCCC) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

MARRAKECH, Morocco, November 15, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Sustainable transport leaders from the private sector met at the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22) on Saturday for the Global Climate Action event on Transport to move the world towards a cooler future.

They discussed how progress made on 15 initiatives covering all transport modes and more than 100 countries demonstrates that tackling emissions from transport is both possible and cost effective.

The transport sector has made a great start, leading by example and spearheading the development of the broader Global Climate Action Agenda,” said Ségolène Royal, France’s Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, responsible for International Climate Relations.

The 15 non-state actor transport initiatives whose progress are being reported in Marrakech have such a scope and scale that they are well on the way to triggering a broad transformation of the transport sector, as required to deliver on the Paris Agreement,” said Royal.

Prepared for the Marrakech conference, a report on the 15 Global Climate Action Agenda Transport Initiatives was released earlier this month.

The 15 initiatives are:

1. Airport Carbon Accreditation: Airport Carbon Accreditation, developed and launched by Airports Council International (ACI) Europe in 2009, is the only global carbon management standard for airports. The initiative aims to increase airport accreditations in all regions with a commitment for 50 carbon neutral airports in Europe by 2030.

 2. Aviation’s Climate Action Takes Off: Collaborative climate action across the air transport sector aims to control growth of international aviation CO2 emissions through measures that include a goal of carbon-neutral growth through a global market-based mechanism.

 A landmark agreement, adopted at the last International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly in October 2016, makes the aviation industry the first sector to adopt a global market-based measure to address climate change.

3. The C40 Clean Bus Declaration, led by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, aims to decarbonize urban mass transport.

Participating cities will incorporate over 160,000 buses in their fleets by 2020 and have committed to switching 42,000 buses to low emission. Greenhouse gas savings will be almost 900,000 tons a year, with a potential overall savings of 2.8 million tons each year if the cities switch their entire bus fleets.

To date, 26 cities around the world have signed the Clean Bus Declaration, demonstrating strong global demand.

4. Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GEFI) aims to double the average fuel economy of new light duty vehicles globally by 2030, and all vehicles by 2050.

For COP21 last year in Paris, GFEI launched “100 for 50 by 50,” a campaign to encourage new countries to commit to GFEI’s fuel economy improvement goals by developing and adopting national fuel economy policies, and to dedicate time and resources to supporting GFEI’s work. At COP21 GFEI announced funding for 40 new countries joining their work, with more expressing interest.

5. Global Green Freight Action Plan: Reducing the climate and health impacts of goods transport. The three main objectives are: 1) To align and enhance existing green freight programs; 2) To develop and support new green freight programs globally; and 3) To incorporate black carbon reductions into green freight programs.

Steering group partners include Canada, United States, International Council on Clean Transportation, Clean Air Asia, Smart Freight Centre, and the World Bank. The initiative has received support from 24 countries, 28 nongovernmental organizations, and four private sector companies.

6. ITS for Climate: Using Intelligent Transportation Systems to work towards a low carbon, resilient world and to limit global warming below the 2-degree target and contribute to adaptation to climate change in large cities and isolated territories.

7. Low Carbon Road and Road Transport Initiative: Led by the World Road Association (PIARC), with its 121 government members, the initiative is committed to reducing the carbon footprint of road construction, maintenance and operation through technological innovation, green tendering and contracting. Will develop road networks in line with electric propulsion, autonomous cars, road-vehicle and vehicle-vehicle interactions, and enhancing intermodal cooperation.

8. MobiliseYourCity: 100 cities engaged in sustainable urban mobility planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in urban transport in developing countries. This initiative was unveiled during the World Climate and Territories Summit that took place in July in Lyon, France.

9. Navigating a Changing Climate: Think Climate, a multi-stakeholder coalition of 10 associations with interests in waterborne transport infrastructure, is committed to promoting a shift to low carbon inland and maritime navigation infrastructure.

10. The UIC Low Carbon Sustainable Rail Transport Challenge: This challenge sets out ambitious but achievable targets for improvement of rail sector energy efficiency, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and a more sustainable balance between transport modes.

Implementation of the Challenge will result in 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from train operations by 2030, and a 75 percent reduction by 2050, as well as a 50 percent reduction in energy consumption from train operations by 2030, and a 60 percent reduction by 2050.

11. UITP Declaration on Climate Change Leadership: UITP, the International Association of Public Transport, brings 350 future commitments and actions from 110 public transport undertakings in 80 cities. UITP’s goal is to double the market share of public transport by 2025, which would prevent half a billion tons of CO2 equivalent in 2025.

12. Urban Electric Mobility Initiative: The UEMI aims to boost the share of electric vehicles in urban transport and integrate electric mobility into a wider concept of sustainable urban transport that achieves a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas by 2030.

The UEMI is an active partnership that aims to track international action on electric mobility and to initiate local action. Current partners include: UN-Habitat, Wuppertal Institute, the International Energy Agency, Michelin, Clean Air Asia and the European Commission.

13. World Cycling Alliance and European Cyclists’ Federation have committed to increase the modal share of cycling worldwide and to double cycling in Europe by 2020. The commitment is supported by ECF and WCA, representing about 100 civil society organizations worldwide.

14. Worldwide Taxis4SmartCities: This initiative aims to accelerate the introduction of low emission vehicles in taxis fleets by 2020 and 2030 and promote sustainability. Nineteen companies representing more than 120,000 vehicles have committed to date.

15. ZEV Alliance: The International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance (ZEV Alliance) is a collaboration of governments acting together to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles – electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles.

British Columbia, California, Connecticut, Germany, Maryland, Massachusetts, the Netherlands, New York, Norway, Oregon, Québec, Rhode Island, United Kingdom, Vermont have signed up to the ZEV Alliance.

Scaled-up actions taken by the Global Climate Action Agenda Transport initiatives since COP21 in December 2015 include:

  • The Global Fuel Economy Initiative is supporting an additional 40 countries to realize the financial and CO2 benefits of improved vehicle fuel economy.
  • The Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme now has 173 certified airports worldwide, including 26 carbon neutral airports; and 36 percent of air passengers now travel through an Airport Carbon Accredited airport.
  • The MobiliseYourCity initiative secured 35 million euro in funding over the last 12 months and is making use of COP22 to announce the start of developing Sustainable Urban Mobility plans in Morocco and Cameroon.

As the COP22 host country, Morocco is taking a leading role in reducing transport emissions. Morocco’s Transport Minister Mohamed Boussaid said Morocco is launching the new African Association for Sustainable Road Transport at COP22.

For a growing region like Africa which is heavily impacted by climate change we need affordable and locally appropriate transport solutions that support economic and social development, provide access to mobility, and create local value,” said Boussaid.

Through the “we want to share experience and catalyse the development of resilient and intelligent highway infrastructure and the deployment of e-mobility in Morocco and beyond,” said Boussaid.

Transport is already responsible for one fourth of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. under a business as usual scenario, transport emissions can be expected to grow from 7.7 Gt to around 15Gt by 2050.

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Nissan Leaf electric taxi charging at a Petrobras station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2013 (Photo by mariordo59) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

This is a global problem. For 45 percent of countries, transport is the largest source of energy related emissions, for the rest it is the second largest source.

But discussions at COP22 indicate that tackling emissions from transport is possible and cost effective, sustainable solutions are available.

“Transport initiatives by non-state actors are key for a successful implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by over 160 countries on the occasion of COP21 in Paris,” said Dr. Hakima El Haite, Minister of Environment and Climate Champion, Morocco.

“The transport initiatives, by creating a new reality on the ground, increase popular understanding and support for climate action which, in turn, drives up governments’ ambition to tackle climate change.”

To find out more about the 15 initiatives, please read: Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA) Transport Initiatives: Stock-take on action on the Implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and contribution towards the 2030 Global Goals on Sustainable Development Report


 

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Funding Key to Africa’s Clean Water Solutions

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Woman collects drinking water from a stream in Uganda, June 2015 (Photo by CAFOD) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

DAR es SALAAM, Tanzania, August 1, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Determination to find lasting solutions to Africa’a age-old water and sanitation problems characterized the mood of delegates to the 6th Africa Water Week conference in Dar es Salam last week.

Organized by African Ministers’ Council on Water in collaboration with the African Union Commission and other development partners, the meeting saw political commitments at the highest level to collectively seek solutions to Africa’s many water and sanitation challenges.

From July 18 through 22 government officials, scientists and civil society actors mapped pathways to success for Africa’s effort to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 – the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Clean water is essential for life, human dignity, and the health of people and of the planet, the United Nations has declared many times, calling the human right to water and sanitation “foundational to the realization and enjoyment of all other human rights.”

In September 2015, all UN Member States committed themselves to ensuring access to safe drinking water and sanitation in Goal 6 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, known as Sustainable Development Goal 6.

At the 6th Africa Water Week, 30 African water ministers and high-level delegations from 53 African nations adopted a plan aimed at achieving Goal 6 – sustainable and universal access to safe water and sanitation throughout Africa.

Adoption of the plan, “The Dar es Salaam Roadmap for achieving the N’gor Commitments on Water Security and Sanitation in Africa,” was the high point of the conference.

In her remarks, Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu focused on finding the funds to accomplish this gigantic task.

She urged delegates to “tackle present and future challenges by diversifying our sources of water and be innovative in financing mechanisms taking into account the huge funding requirements for the sector, and the urgency of mobilizing funds to put the right infrastructure and skilled manpower to develop and manage the sector more efficiently.”

Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission, called on Member States to step up efforts to realize the African Agenda 2063 on the “Africa we want” because water is key to reducing poverty in Africa.

There is need for us to put in place sound policies, legal and regulatory frameworks to support investments from various sources in water, sanitation and hygiene and also promote gender equality and women empowerment,” Tumusiime said.

Nigeria’s Water Resources Minister Suleiman Adamu told reporters at the conference, “We are working to ensure that all Nigerians have access to potable water by 2030 through urban water sector reform programme.

The continent’s most populous country, Nigeria is located on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. The government is tasked with providing clean water for its 184 million people.

Adamu said Nigeria was not able to meet its target under the Millennium Development Goals, the precursor to the Sustainable Development Goals, due to sole reliance on the government’s budget.

 Adamu emphasized the need for a change in the public’s attitude toward public utilities, saying “Nigeria must begin to see the importance of paying for water consumed.”

He said the ministry has created a data bank and census covering water supply and sanitation for all water infrastructures in the country to prepare for a renewed effort to reach all Nigerians with clean water.

 Nigeria will soon begin the National Programme on Partnerships for Extending Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, aimed at meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 6 of universal access to water.

 But there are disagreements among African countries over water. The longstanding dispute between Tanzania and Malawi about Lake Nyasa, in which an agreement for a project on the shared water resource has lasted over 40 years without a deal, for example, and the grand mega power project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has stalled for over 40 years.

Still, there are examples of benefits through cooperation. Speaking to members of the Pan African Media Alliance for Climate Change (PACJA),  John Rao Nyoro, executive director for the Nile Basin Initiative, said that the Nile Basin Sustainability Framework is now benefiting all the 10 riparian states along the Nile.

While it is not a legal framework, the NBSF, which is a suite of policies, strategies, and guidance documents, functions as a guide to national policy and planning process development and seeks to build consensus among countries that share the resource,” Nyaoro told the journalists.

The Dar es Salaam Roadmap recognizes the role of innovative financing and budgetary prioritization for the water sector, sanitation and monitoring.

 Water ministers at the 6th Africa Water Week agreed that by increasing transparency and accountability in the sector, governments across the continent can account for financial contributions.

They decided to focus on complementing existing initiatives while avoiding overlap and redundancy, and they pledged to ensure a participatory environment for civil society and citizens in policy formulation, sector planning and monitoring.

Other aspects of the ministers’ plan of action for the continent’s water resources include provision of drinking water, improved sanitation, hygiene, effective and efficient management of wastewater, transboundary water resources, and strengthening Africa’s capacity to respond to climate change.

 But the challenges are enormous. As the conference was underway, for instance, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) launched a relief program to feed families affected by the severe drought in Malawi.

The El Nino-related drought, the worst drought in more than 30 years, has led to food shortages in much of southern Africa, and more than 18 million people across the region are in need of food aid.

On Tuesday, the 15-country Southern African Development Community (SADC) declared a regional disaster and launched an appeal for US$2.4 billion to support the humanitarian needs and disaster response recovery of the millions affected by the drought caused by the Eastern Pacific ocean warming event known as El-Niño.

Botswana’s President Lt. General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, who serves as the SADC chair, said, “The 2016 regional food security and vulnerability assessments indicate that the number of food insecure people in the region is about 40 million, which is about 14 percent of SADC’s total population.

Responding to the appeal, the United States pledged US$300 million, while the United Kingdom pledged £72 million and the European Union pledged €60 million towards humanitarian assistance.

There is a strong effort this year to integrate water issues with climate issues and find mutual solutions for Africa.

Earlier this month, ahead of COP 22, the UN’s annual climate summit, taking place this year in Marrakesh, Morocco, 650 decision makers, researchers, technical experts, financiers and civil society members from 40 countries attended the Water Security for Climate Justice conference in Rabat.

There ministers from 22 African countries issued a statement on the importance of implementing and funding water initiatives in Africa. To be presented in Marrakesh, the “Water for Africa,” declaration noted the opportunities presented by the momentum toward integrating water and sanitation with the climate negotiations.

Underlining the urgency and necessity of acting on resilience and adaptation in the water and sanitation sectors, the ministers called for integrating water and climate, prioritizing water in adaptation discussions, adopting priority action plans for water and the SDGs in Africa, enhancing access to finance for water projects from climate funds, and encouraging civil society involvement.


A woman in Benin drinks clean water following implementation of the Community Driven Development project, September 2010 (Photo by Arne Hoel / World Bank) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Gates Funds Climate-Smart Rice Development

RicePlanterIndonesia

By Sunny Lewis

LOS BANOS, Philippines, January 6, 2015 (Maximpact.com News) – Climate change-ready rice seeds of several varieties have reached millions of farmers in Asia and Africa under a forward-looking program known as Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia, or STRASA.

Developed by the Los Baños-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the program distributes new rice varieties tolerant of stresses such as the droughts and floods, salinity, and toxicity, to millions of farmers coping with these stresses.

STRASA began at the end of 2007 with IRRI in collaboration with AfricaRice. Conceived as a 10-year project with a vision to deliver the improved varieties to at least 18 million farmers on the two continents, the first two phases of the project have been funded with about US$20 million each.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the third phase of the IRRI-led project with US$32.77 million through 2017.

Rice is the most important human food crop in the world, directly feeding more people than any other crop. In 2012, nearly half of world’s population, more than three billion people, relied on rice every day.

Rice is produced in a wide range of locations and under a variety of climatic conditions, from the wettest areas in the world to the driest deserts. Thousands of rice varieties are cultivated on every continent except Antarctica.

But as the climate changes, more varieties are being developed to help farmers produce their crops regardless of droughts that shrivel the rice plants and floods that rot them.

About three years into the STRASA program, in May 2011, Bill Gates described how he sees the revolution in rice production.

“What’s going on right now in Africa and South Asia is not a collection of anecdotes about improvements to a few people’s lives,” Gates said. “This is the early stage of sweeping change for farming families in the poorest parts of the world. It’s an historic chance to help people and countries move from dependency to self-sufficiency – and fulfill the highest promise of foreign aid.”

STRASA in Africa

Gary Atlin, senior program officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told the 3rd Africa Rice Congress held in October 2013 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, “The best adaptation to climate change is a breeding and seed system that rapidly develops, deploys, and then replaces varieties so that farmers will always have access to varieties adapted to their current conditions.”

This strategy is at the heart of STRASA, which helps smallholder farmers who are vulnerable to flooding, drought, extreme temperatures, and soil problems, such as high salt and iron toxicity, that reduce yields.

Some of these stresses are forecast to become more frequent and intense with climate change.

Climate change is already having a negative impact on Africa through extreme temperatures, frequent flooding and droughts, and increased salinity according to Baboucarr Manneh, irrigated-rice breeder at Africa Rice Center and coordinator of the African component of the STRASA project.

More than 30 stress-tolerant rice varieties have already been released in nine African countries with support from the STRASA project, said Dr. Manneh.

“One of the key impact points for STRASA will be the quantity of seed produced and disseminated to farmers,” said Dr. Manneh. “As seed production continues to be a major bottleneck in Africa, the main thrust of our recent STRASA meeting was to help countries develop seed road maps.”

Sometimes, various stresses, such as salinity, cold, submergence, and iron toxicity, can occur at the same time.

“That’s why the third phase of the STRASA project will focus on breeding for multiple stress tolerance,” Dr. Manneh explained.

STRASA in India

“Use flood- and drought-tolerant rice to get maximum profit from your small landholdings in the stress-prone areas of Bihar,” said Radha Mohan Singh, Union minister for agriculture and farmers welfare, to a gathering of more than 1,000 farmers at the foundation ceremony of the National Integrated Agriculture Research Centre in Motihari, Bihar, India last August.

Minister Singh told the farmers of how scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research took him to a pond planted with a new flood-tolerant rice variety that was fully submerged in water for 15 days. “I immediately asked them, ‘Why this much water? Wouldn’t the rice rot?’”

But the crop variety that survived 15 days of submergence had “very good yield,” the scientists said.

These flood-tolerant seeds now are available for farmers in Motihari. Trials of a drought-tolerant rice variety are also being conducted in several Motihari villages.

“Following the Minister’s speech, the IRRI booth received a rush of inquiries from farmers,” said Dr. Sudhanshu Singh, International Rice Research Institute scientist and rainfed-lowland agronomist for South Asia, who represented the Institute during the foundation ceremony and exhibit.

About 10 million of the poorest and most disadvantaged rice farmers have been given access to climate-smart rice varieties.

“Swarna-Sub1 changed my life,” said Trilochan Parida, a farmer at the Dekheta Village of Puri in Odisha, India.

Floods ravage Parida’s rice field every year. Flooding of four days or more usually means a loss of the crop as well as of any expected income. But in 2008, Parida saw his rice rise back to life after having been submerged for two weeks.

Swarna-Sub1 is a flood-tolerant rice variety developed by the Philippines-based IRRI. It was bred from a popular Indian variety, Swarna, which has been upgraded with SUB1, the gene for flood tolerance.

“Under the past phases of the project, 16 climate-smart rice varieties tolerant of flood, drought, and salinity were released in various countries in South Asia. About 14 such varieties were released in sub-Saharan Africa. Several more are in the process of being released,” said Abdelbagi Ismail, IRRI scientist and STRASA project leader.

In addition to improving varieties and distributing seeds, the STRASA project also trains farmers and scientists in producing good-quality seeds. Through the project’s capacity-building component, 74,000 farmers, including 19,400 women farmers, underwent training in seed production.

3,000 Rice Genomes Sequenced

Now a scientific advance has made even more progress possible.

A remarkable 3,000 rice genome sequences were made publicly available on World Hunger Day May 29, 2014.

This work is the completion of stage one of the 3000 Rice Genomes Project, a collaborative, international research program that has sequenced 3,024 rice varieties from 89 countries.

The collaboration is made up of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

IRRI Director General Dr. Robert Zeigler said, “Access to 3,000 genomes of rice sequence data will tremendously accelerate the ability of breeding programs to overcome key hurdles mankind faces in the near future.”

“This collaborative project,” said Zeigler, “will add an immense amount of knowledge to rice genetics, and enable detailed analysis by the global research community to ultimately benefit the poorest farmers who grow rice under the most difficult conditions.”

The 3000 Rice Genomes Project is part of an ongoing effort to provide resources for poverty-stricken farmers in Africa and Asia, aiming to reach at least 20 million rice farmers in 16 target countries – eight in Asia and eight in Africa.

Dr. Jun Wang, director of the Beijing Genomics Institute, said, “The population boom and worsening climate crisis have presented big challenges on global food shortage and safety. BGI is dedicated to applying genomics technologies to make a fast, controllable and highly efficient molecular breeding model possible.”

“This opens a new way to carry out agricultural breeding. With the joined forces with CAAS, IRRI and Gates Foundation, we have made a step forward in big-data-based crop research and digitalized breeding,” said Dr. Wang. “We believe every step will get us closer to the ultimate goal of improving the wellbeing of human race.”


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

 

Editors note: Dr. Jun Wang is no longer the director of the Beijing Genomics Institute, although he was at the comment quoted. Dr. Jun Wang is now a scientist and research group leader with BGI.

Head image: A farmer planting rice in Pangkep, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, 2014 (Photo by Tri Saputro / Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) under creative commons license.
Featured image: Sample seeds from among the 127,000 rice varieties and accessions stored in the International Rice Genebank at the International Rice Research Institute.​​ (Photo courtesy IRRI)