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DR Congo President Tshisekedi compares Rwanda counterpart Kagame to Hitler

BBC Africa - Sat, 12/09/2023 - 19:59
Félix Tshisekedi accuses his counterpart in neighbouring Rwanda of wanting to expand.
Categories: Africa

COP28: One Health Steps Delight Many, Others Show Cautious Optimism

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Sat, 12/09/2023 - 19:32

A mask seller in an Indian food market in Kerala during a recent zoonotic disease outbreak. COP28 is the first climate negotiation where the majority of the countries have agreed to declare their commitment to prevent the worsening health impacts of climate change. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

By Stella Paul
DUBAI, Dec 9 2023 (IPS)

One Health activist, Kelly Dent, has been attending UNFCCC COPs since 2009, when it was held in Copenhagen. From there, it has been a 15-year-long journey to Dubai, but Dent is finally having a reason to feel good: for the first time, the majority of the countries have come together to formally declare their commitment to prevent the worsening health impacts of climate change.

“After 14 years of working for this (inclusion of One Health in the climate change negotiations), it is finally there in the health declaration, so we are very happy. It is mentioned clearly—says what it is and uses the exact term; there is no ambiguity,” says Dent, who is the Global Director of External Engagement at World Animal Protection, one of the 14 organizations that issued a statement of endorsement soon after the health declaration was issued in Dubai on December 3.

The Health Declaration

The three-page document called “COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health” says that the parties will facilitate collaboration on human, animal, environmental, and climate health challenges. Implementing a One Health approach would include addressing environmental determinants of health, stepping up research on the connections between environmental and climatic factors and antimicrobial resistance, and finding zoonotic spillovers early to stop, prepare for, and respond to future pandemics.

While the declaration is not legally binding, it serves as a voluntary call to action outside the formal process of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). So far, 124 countries have signed it.

According to Dent, this health declaration should be viewed alongside the “Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action,” another landmark declaration made at COP28 on December 4. This is also the first-ever leaders’ level declaration on food systems and climate at a COP, and it highlights the unique and crucial role that food systems play in either driving or mitigating climate change—as well as adapting to its impacts.

Put together, the two declarations widen the scope of addressing and tackling environmental, human, and animal health, all of which are interrelated.  “Even a couple of years ago, there was nothing on One Health or climate and health connections in the COPs. And now we have not one but two declarations on this. So, this is definitely a great start,” Dent says.

Nathalie Beasnel, a surgical nurse and health philanthropist from Chad. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Perspective of a Developing Oil-Producing Country

Nathalie Beasnel is a surgical nurse from Chad, a nation in sub-Saharan Africa with alarmingly high levels of air pollution due to industrial emissions, such as the production of oil and gas.

According to Energy Intelligence – a global energy information company, in the first quarter of 2023, Chad’s crude oil production was 141,700 barrels per day. Of this, the country only uses a marginal portion—slightly over 2 thousand barrels; the rest is used by consumers outside of the country. The total revenue from the oil is estimated to be over USD 1.13 billion.

Ironically, Chad ranks 190 out of 191 countries on the UN Human Development Index which makes it among the poorest countries in the world. 42% of the country’s population lives below the national poverty line.

In addition, air pollution has emerged as one of the biggest health crises in Chad. The current PM2.5 concentration in Chad is 4.9 times higher than the WHO 24-hour air quality guidelines, according to live data gathered by, the global air quality monitoring tool.

Beasnel, who provides specific and basic medical supplies to hospitals in the rural areas of Senegal, Chad, and South Africa through her charity Health4Peace, receives dozens of requests every quarter from pregnant women to help them go abroad to give birth in a “clean air environment.”

Beasnel feels that the health declaration has hopes for communities facing health challenges induced by climate change and fossil fuel burning in poorer countries like Chad; they can expect some concrete action and support, especially since the announcement of a total of 1 billion USD in financing for climate and health. The billion-dollar funding comes from an array of existing and new funders, including the Green Climate Fund, Asian Development Bank, Global Fund, and Rockefeller Foundation.

“This is a portal. We know that USD 1 billion has already been raised, specifically by the health sector. Now I want to see where this 1 billion goes. For example, we have sudden floods, droughts, farm failures, and air pollution. However, we now need to see the mechanism of the flow of this fund—whether it is through leadership, whether it is through people, or whether it is through the people who are directly affected,” she says.

Coming up Next: One Health Guidelines From the Quadripartite

Last year in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, four UN agencies (quadripartite)—WHO, UNEP, FAO, and WOAH—collectively drew a Joint Plan of Action (JPA) to advocate for and support the implementation of One Health at all levels and across sectors to tackle interconnected health risks and protect the health of all species.

Since then, the quadripartite has taken several steps to advance the adoption of the One Health approach, which include, among others, a workshop on environmental determinants of health and the One Health Assembly.

At COP28, the quadripartite has developed an implementation guide to provide the countries with step-by-step guidance on how to adopt and adapt the OH JPA at the national level. Scheduled to be launched on December 10, 2023, the guideline is expected to focus on how to adopt a multidisciplinary and inclusive principle. According to Cristina Romanelli, Programme Officer & Biodiversity, Climate and Health Focal Point, World Health Organization, this is one of the most exciting developments that we can expect during the remaining days of COP28.

“Now that we understand what a holistic, multilayered One Health framing means, how does that apply in terms of implementation? So, what will happen on December 10 is the launch of the plan for this implementation,” Romanelli says.

Some Words of Caution

Meanwhile, One Health advocates are urging people to make note of some omissions in the health declaration that could affect its successful adoption and implementation. One of these is factory farming of animals, which significantly raises the chances of trauma and sickness in animals and contributes to at least 11% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is a powerful agriculture lobby that doesn’t allow any changes. We have to challenge this dominant lobby and their business model and expose the harm they are causing. The governments also need to take responsibility, rid away subsidies in industrial agriculture, and support protein diversification,” says Dent.

Dent cites the example of Germany, which, in November, allocated 38 million euros to support the production of alternative (plant-based) proteins.

The German government’s decision follows similar steps taken by the Netherlands, which has already invested 60 million euros to develop an ecosystem for cultivated meat and precision fermentation. Denmark (168 million euros) France (65 million euros) and the UK are other European countries that have announced investing in developing plant-based, alternative proteins.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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Categories: Africa

DR Congo election 2023: What you need to know

BBC Africa - Sat, 12/09/2023 - 19:08
Some 40 million people will vote in a country the size of Western Europe, home to vast mineral resources.
Categories: Africa

Turkey issues arrest warrant for Somali president's son over fatal traffic crash

BBC Africa - Sat, 12/09/2023 - 16:26
Turkey wants to arrest Mohammed Hassan Cheikh Mohamud after a motorcycle courier died in a traffic accident.
Categories: Africa

Nigeria takes major step towards once again producing refined oil

BBC Africa - Sat, 12/09/2023 - 13:09
A refinery that could make Nigeria self-sufficient in fuel receives its first delivery of crude oil.
Categories: Africa

Zimbabwe by-elections: Polls open in controversial vote

BBC Africa - Sat, 12/09/2023 - 12:03
The polls in a handful of constituencies could give the government a constitution-changing majority.
Categories: Africa

COP28: Sowing Seeds of Change in Fertile Hearts and Minds

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Sat, 12/09/2023 - 05:08

Changing the climate means getting everyone involved. Credit: Earth Child Institute

By Umar Manzoor Shah
DUBAI, Dec 9 2023 (IPS)

In the heart of Earth Child Institute’s mission to nurture the future stewards of our planet, the story of Eric Hansel unfolds as a testament to the transformative power of educating children on environmental responsibility. Hailing from Pennsylvania, USA, Hansel’s journey took a poignant turn when his career as a respiratory therapist plunged him into the harsh realities of a trauma unit, witnessing families losing their children to various diseases. It was during these challenging moments that Hansel resolved to be part of a movement that aimed to instill eco-consciousness in the hearts of the young.

Now, at COP 28, representing the Earth Child Institute, Hansel passionately shares the impact of their initiatives. The Earth Child Institute, founded by Donno Godman at the UN two decades ago, boasts observer status at the United Nations. Their unwavering mission is to mold children into climate leaders through educational programs that span 25 countries, 15 of which are in Africa.

The organization employs a hands-on approach, sending trainers to develop curriculum and work closely with teachers in schools. The programs encompass diverse topics such as clean drinking water, sanitation, and the critical role of planting trees in safeguarding coastlines. The trainers remain on-site until the initial implementation, ensuring a seamless transition to the school system. The Earth Child Institute further supports these initiatives through a grant program, providing essential financial aid to sustain and expand the programs.

Eric Hansel represents the Earth Child Institute at COP28. Credit: Umar Manzoor Shah/IPS

“The crux of their approach lies in recognizing the unique power children hold in driving change. When educated about environmental issues, children become advocates within their families, spreading awareness and influencing behavioral shifts,” says Hansel, emphasizing the effectiveness of teaching kids about planting trees to protect coastlines, a message that resonates differently with the young compared to adults preoccupied with immediate concerns like putting food on the table.

The organization’s reach extends far beyond urban landscapes, covering hundreds of schools in rural areas across the globe. Their ambition is to collaborate with ministries of education in various countries to streamline program implementation and amplify their impact. Through partnerships with organizations like Brazil’s Global Action Classroom program (GAC), Nigeria’s HACEY, and collaborations with local schools and ministries, Earth Child Institute tailors its approach to the unique needs of each region.

In Brazil, the GAC program facilitates connections among kids and young people to discuss environmental issues, bridging gaps between urban and rural communities. In Nigeria, a collaborative effort between HACEY, local schools, and the Ministry of Environment focuses on water, sanitation, and hygiene education. Ghana sees the Earth Child Institute working in tandem with the Ministry of Education, the Forestry Department, and local institutions to emphasize environmental education and tree planting.

Even in regions like Qatar and the Seychelles, where the challenges may be unique due to their geographical and geopolitical contexts, Earth Child Institute adapts its strategies. In Qatar, youth leaders collaborate with local schools in Doha to identify school teams for participation, while in the Seychelles, partnerships with the Ministry of Environment tackle climate change in an endangered small island state.

“However, the real magic happens when these programs resonate with the children. The lifelong relationships forged with schools and the lasting commitment to sustainability that grows over time. When children comprehend the direct impact of practices like proper handwashing on their health, they become the torchbearers of this knowledge within their families, setting in motion a ripple effect that extends far beyond the classroom. Indeed, the seeds of change are best planted in the fertile hearts and minds of the next generation,” Hansel told IPS.

According to the UNICEF report, the number of children potentially exposed to climate risks and their effects is alarming. Currently, over half a billion children are living in areas with extremely high levels of flood occurrence, and nearly 160 million live in areas of high or extremely high drought severity. Most of them live in some of the world’s poorest countries, with the least capacity to manage these environmental risks.

It adds that overlaying maps of projected temperature changes with projected child population data indicates that, under a business-as-usual scenario, by 2050, 1.45 billion children are projected to live in zones where the maximum average surface temperature will change by greater than 2ºC.

Under a moderately ambitious action scenario, this number is projected to drop to around 750 million children. Under a highly ambitious action scenario, the number would drop to 150 million children.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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Categories: Africa

Greening Education: Education Paying Highest Cost for Ongoing Climate Crisis

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Sat, 12/09/2023 - 04:59

ECW's Executive Director, Yasmine Sherif, addressed delegates over the urgent need to fast-track solutions for crisis-impacted children during the RewirEd Summit plenary session. Credit: Joyce Chimbi/IPS

By Joyce Chimbi
DUBAI, Dec 9 2023 (IPS)

It is a global catastrophe of astounding proportions that millions of children are on the run today, forcibly displaced from their homes. As conflict and climate change increasingly become the most pressing challenges facing the world now, the number of displaced children has doubled in the last decade alone, reaching a record high of 43.3 million children.

Yasmine Sherif, Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), says that conflict- and climate-change-affected children are the least likely to enroll in or stay in school and are therefore the furthest left behind when it comes to fulfilling their basic human right to quality education. Many of these children are in the poorest and most vulnerable nations. ECW is the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

Stressing that the needs are enormous and responses must be immediate before the unfolding education crisis becomes irreversible, Sherif emphasized the need to build climate-resilient education systems as an adaptation measure, including climate change-proof education infrastructure that will ensure learning continuity.

“More than 62 million children—nearly one-third of the 224 million crisis-affected children worldwide in need of educational support—are also affected by grave climate-induced disasters. We have issued an urgent appeal for US$150 million in new funding to respond to the climate crisis. We must act now with speed, for in the face of human suffering and the destruction of our planet, patience is not a virtue,” she said.

Awut Deng Acuil, South Sudan’s Minister of General Education and Instruction, brought the situation there more into focus during an ECW side event on the designated day for education. It was the first time in the history of the COP Summits to have an entire day dedicated to the education agenda, reflecting the strong interconnection between the climate crisis and the global education crisis.

An estimated 70 percent of school-aged South Sudanese children have never set foot in a classroom, and only 10 percent of those who enroll complete primary education. This is one of the worst completion rates globally. As South Sudan faced multiple challenges over many years, a girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than to complete primary education.

“There are parts of South Sudan that are completely flooded. I have never seen water that comes and never recedes. You hardly see any land. A week ago, I visited Unity State to assess the impact of climate shocks, and I saw many displaced families. At least 40 percent of schools are flooded and have remained closed since 2021. Before the pandemic, we had 2.3 million children in school; today, we have 2.1 million children out of school. For those still in school, the ratio is 120 students per teacher,” she said.

“To get to school in these areas, children and teachers walk along dikes—barriers built to hold back water—and despite the risks, they are running out of options. Some of the schools are inaccessible for rehabilitation. For those that can be rehabilitated, we use boats to transport rehabilitation material.”

But as the country was picking up its pieces through a peace agreement that has provided stability and normalcy, climate-induced disasters have exacerbated barriers between children and education, rolling back time by derailing access to education.

Sherif said ECW and South Sudan’s education ministry will not recoil from the imposing challenges and have a strong partnership to push the education agenda forward, appealing for additional donors to meet a funding gap of USD 25 million to fully implement the ECW-supported Multi-Year Resilience Programme in the country. She added that the needs are increasing as the conflict in Sudan pushes children out of their homes and into South Sudan.

“Since 2020, we have supported partners in improving access to quality, inclusive education for children and adolescents and increasing retention rates in South Sudan. ECW’s funding focuses on the most vulnerable ones, including girls, internally displaced children, and children with disabilities. Interventions range from covering school fees, reaching students remotely, training education personnel, and implementing child protection pathways in schools. This holistic education must be urgently scaled up to reach all crisis-impacted children,” Sherif emphasized.

Ole Thonke, Undersecretary for Development Policy, Government of Denmark, reiterated Denmark’s commitment to resolve the climate, conflict, and education crises, as they are all different sides of the same coin. The country has announced a new additional USD 6 million pledge to ECW to support the delivery of quality education to vulnerable children and youth at the forefront of the interconnected crises of climate change and conflict, with a particular focus on girls and adolescent girls.

In pastoral communities such as Kenya and the larger Horn of Africa belt, girls are particularly at risk. As the climate crisis threatens to paralyze pastoral economies, families who have lost their livestock are increasingly marrying off their young girls. Current education systems are not equipped to handle the spiraling effects of the climate crisis. In fact, delegates heard that education systems as they are currently structured can only harness 35 percent of the value, talent, and potential nestled within each child—the gift of undiscovered human brilliance.

The side event was held within the context of the RewirEd Summit, which focuses on rewiring learning for green skills, green jobs, and the green economy and ensuring that acquired skills match the needs of current markets and the world’s most pressing needs.

“Since the first RewirEd Summit, we have worked very hard to follow through on the commitment we made to elevate the role of education as the most powerful and valuable opportunity for human development. We needed to bring education to the heart of all these challenges and leverage its potential to offer solutions. We are here because of one of the greatest challenges of our time: if we do nothing about climate change, it will affect the entire future of our planet,” said Dr Tariq Al Gurg, CEO and Vice Chairman of Dubai Cares.

Dubai Cares hosted the second RewirEd Summit to encourage dialogue and action to put education at the forefront of the climate agenda. The one-day summit brought together ministers, high-profile speakers, and panelists from UN agencies, climate actors, international NGOs, academia, marginalized communities, indigenous populations, teachers, and youth, as well as representatives from the public and private sectors from around the world.

“It cannot be business as usual; as long as we keep education confined within outdated, unambitious, and broken systems, we will continue to be in a vicious cycle where for every step forward we take, another pandemic, climate disaster, or conflict will set us back again, if not even further away from our goals to help people as well as the planet. The only way forward is to recognize that the pathway to meaningful progress towards 2030 and beyond must be through positioning education at the core of every single Sustainable Development Goal,” said Reem Al Hashemi, UAE’s Minister of State for International Cooperation.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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Categories: Africa

South Africa's Tyla sparks culture war over racial identity

BBC Africa - Sat, 12/09/2023 - 02:28
The term "coloured" is a slur in the US, but for millions of South Africans it is part of their identity.
Categories: Africa

Renewable Commitments at COP28 Pose Stiffer Energy Challenges for Latin America

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Fri, 12/08/2023 - 23:05

The so-called "Green Zone" at COP28, which brings together pavilions of non-governmental organizations and companies that are not officially accredited by the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, features a clean energy area showcasing progress made on the ground, at the climate summit in Dubai. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy / IPS

By Emilio Godoy
DUBAI, Dec 8 2023 (IPS)

One of the world’s largest solar power plants, the Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Park, captures solar rays in the south of this United Arab Emirates city, with an installed capacity of 1,527 megawatts (Mw) to supply electricity to some 300,000 homes in the Arab nation’s economic capital.

However, it is difficult to find solar panels on the many buildings that populate this city of nearly three million inhabitants, host to the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – an unlikely venue for a climate summit at a site built on oil industry wealth and at the same time highly vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis."Financing is the number one priority. The transition must be fully funded, with access to affordable long-term funds. Technology transfer is vital. Renewables are the most recognized and affordable solution for climate mitigation and adaptation." -- Rana Adib

But it is not unusual considering that this Gulf country, made up of seven emirates, is one of the world’s largest producers of oil and gas, which it is trying to compensate for by hosting the annual climate summit, which began on Nov. 30 and is due to conclude on Tuesday, Dec. 12, with the Dubai Declaration.

That is why the Dec. 2 launch of the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, endorsed by 123 countries and consisting of tripling by 2030 the alternative installed capacity to 11 terawatts (11 trillion watts) and doubling the energy efficiency rate to four percent per year, along with other announcements, comes as a surprise in a scenario designed by and for crude oil.

Governments, international organizations and companies have already pledged five billion dollars for the development of renewable energy in the coming years at the Expo City Dubiai, the summit venue.

For Latin America, a region that has made progress in the transition to alternative energy, although with varying levels of success depending on the country, these voluntary goals involve financial, regulatory, social and technological challenges to make real progress in that direction.

Peri Días, communications manager for Latin America of the non-governmental organization, said the existence of a declaration on renewables at COP28 is essential for the phasing out of fossil fuels, the burning of which is the main cause of global warming.

“It is fundamental that the energy transition be fair, include affected communities and the most vulnerable. We have to ask ourselves why generate more electricity and for whom. What we see today is a complementary growth that does not replace fossil fuels, it is not what we need,” the activist told IPS in the summit’s Green Zone, which hosts civil society in its various expressions.

The Jebel Ali power plant, the world’s largest gas-fired power plant, includes a seawater desalination plant to supply water to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The plant is visible on the outskirts of the city, where the climate summit is being held in the Expo City this December. A reminder that renewable energy is still far from replacing fossil fuels, the main cause of global warming. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy / IPS

In the Latin American region, Brazil has emerged as the undisputed leader, developing an installed capacity of 196,379 MW, 53 percent of which comes from hydroelectric plants, 13 percent from wind energy and 5 percent from solar power.

In Chile, solar energy contributes 24 percent of energy, wind 13 percent and hydroelectric 21 percent, although thermoelectric plants still account for 36.9 percent.

Despite the lag since 2018 due to the current government’s outright support for hydrocarbons, which has halted the transition to low-carbon energy sources, Mexico is next in line, with 7000 Mw of solar power capacity and 7312 Mw of wind power, although its energy mix still depends 70 percent on fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, in Argentina, 73 percent of renewable energy comes from wind, 15 percent from the sun, 6 percent from bioenergy and 5 percent from mini-hydroelectric plants.

The Climatescope 2023 report, produced by the private consulting firm BloombergNEF, found that Brazil, Chile and Colombia are the most attractive countries in the region for investment in renewables, while Mexico is one of the least attractive.


While it is true that most Latin American nations have set renewable generation targets, they also face hurdles to reaching them. Around the world, this segment suffers from high interest rates for financing, a bottleneck in the manufacture of wind turbines that affects producers, and slow delivery of environmental permits.

Ricardo Baitelo, project manager of the non-governmental Brazilian Institute of Energy and Environment, said the maintenance of policies plays a central role in the evolution of renewables, which require higher generation speed, integration in the electric grid and the reduction of energy losses by moving them from one point to another.

“In recent years, Brazil has intensified the regimentation of renewables, expansion has been steady, but planning is important. And it is necessary to improve processes and build infrastructure, which costs more money,” he told IPS.

The deployment of renewable energies involves concerns about respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and communities, water use, deforestation risks and the impacts of mining for elements such as copper, tin, cobalt, graphite and lithium.

Several reports warn of both the demand for these materials and the consequences.

An electric vehicle recharges at a hotel in northeast Dubai, the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates and host of COP28. In this city built on oil wealth, the Dubai climate summit includes messages of promotion and commitment to renewable energies. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy / IPS

The demand for copper and nickel would grow by two to three times to meet the needs of electric vehicles and clean electricity grids by 2050. The extraction of minerals, such as graphite, lithium and cobalt, could rise by 500 percent by 2050 to meet the requirements of energy technologies, according to the World Bank Group.

Chile and Mexico produce copper; Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, lithium; and Brazil, iron – all of which are necessary for the energy transition, which is not innocuous because it leaves environmental legacies, such as mining waste or water use and pollution.

In this regard, Rana Adib, executive secretary of the non-governmental Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), said the evolution of renewables depends on the conditions of each nation.

The declaration “must clearly include routes for implementation and for a just and equitable transition. Financing is the number one priority. The transition must be fully funded, with access to affordable long-term funds. Technology transfer is vital. Renewables are the most recognized and affordable solution for climate mitigation and adaptation,” she told IPS.

The Dubai commitment implies a greater effort than Latin American countries had in mind.

By 2031, renewables are to account for 48 percent of primary energy and 84 percent of electricity generation, which means wind and solar would double in Brazil.

Argentina, meanwhile, plans to add 2,600 gigawatts (Gw) of renewables by 2030 and Chile has set targets of 25 percent renewable generation by 2025, 80 percent by 2035 and 100 percent by 2050.

Under its 2015 Energy Transition Law, Mexico is to generate 35 percent clean energy by 2024 and 43 percent by 2030, although these goals are in doubt due to stagnant supply of renewables.

Jorge Villarreal, climate policy director of the non-governmental Mexico Climate Initiative, said Dubai’s commitment is feasible, but argued that there must be a radical change in the country’s energy policy.

“It is not oriented towards renewables. On the contrary, we have invested in gas. Permits (for renewable plants) are at a standstill. Mexico has the potential to expand the penetration of renewables. That is where new investment in energy should be directed,” he told IPS.

Mexico committed at COP27, held in Egypt a year ago, to add 30 Gw of renewable energy and hydropower by 2030, although there is still no clear pathway towards that goal.

While governments, NGOs and academia make their calculations, it is not yet certain that the commitment made on day 2 at Expo City Dubai will translate into a clear message in the final COP28 declaration.

Categories: Africa

South African woman jailed for 50 years for $28m theft

BBC Africa - Fri, 12/08/2023 - 18:15
Hildegard Steenkamp stole huge amounts from the healthcare company she worked at for over 13 years.
Categories: Africa

Rwanda: How the country views the UK's asylum deal

BBC Africa - Fri, 12/08/2023 - 17:56
Rwanda has facilities ready to host asylum seekers but some there are not sure it is a good idea.
Categories: Africa

For Africans, the Climate Debate Around the Role of Livestock Misses the Mark

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Fri, 12/08/2023 - 14:36

Traders take cattle to market in winter rain along the road to Woliso, Ethiopia. Credit: Apollo Habtamu

By Huyam Salih and Appolinaire Djikeng
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 2023 (IPS)

Africa is contending with a climate crisis it did not create without sufficient recognition for the unique rights and needs of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population. Not only is the continent least responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, having historically produced just a tiny fraction, but it is also disproportionately impacted by the consequences of emissions generated elsewhere.

And when climate disasters such as cyclones in Mozambique and Malawi, or droughts in the Horn of Africa strike, the subsequent humanitarian response diverts vital funds that could have otherwise supported public health, education and food security.

Such extreme events take an enormous toll on Africa’s primary industries, including crop and animal agriculture, with the livestock sector alone losing $2 billion from the ongoing drought.

It would therefore be preposterous to hold any of these sectors directly to account for curbing climate change – let alone one that provides food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions amidst growing climate risks.

Yet this is precisely the scenario that unfolds when the global climate debate around the role of livestock results in calls for blanket reductions of herd numbers and wholesale dietary shifts away from meat.

Broad campaigns for a transition away from animal agriculture and towards plant-based diets without qualifying regional differences overlook the severe levels of undernutrition in parts of the world caused by inadequate intake of animal-source foods. This risks creating the impression that Africans, who consume as little as seven kilograms of meat a year, must give up vital yet underconsumed sources of protein and micronutrients to mitigate emissions mostly generated elsewhere.

It is critical that regional and even national distinctions are made when making the case for dietary and production changes. Meat consumption and production practices vary enormously around the world. Where meat is over-consumed and produced unsustainably, we recognise this needs to change – not only to bring down emissions but to improve health standards.

But applying this argument globally misses the livestock sector’s outsized and fundamental role in the development of low-income countries, including those across Africa. And this blind spot is made all the more unjust by the fact that those in the Global North have both driven up global emissions and failed to meet commitments to Africa for climate-related development finance.

Livestock keeping offers African countries a gateway to the food security and economic growth enjoyed elsewhere while also enabling the climate adaptation made necessary largely by the actions of others. Investing more climate funding to support Africans farmers and animals adapt to new extremes is an enormous opportunity for a climate-resilient economy. And it is also a matter of climate justice.

Unlike many other parts of the world, Africa is facing exponentially more mouths to feed in the decades ahead just as climate change makes farming harder and riskier than ever.

By 2050, a quarter of the global population will be African, while the region already suffers from the highest prevalence of hunger and malnutrition in the world. From 2021 to 2022, an additional 11 million Africans faced hunger, with 57 million more slipping into food insecurity since the Covid-19 outbreak began.

For many Africans, meat, milk and eggs are a precious and infrequent addition to our diets, providing a dense supply of nutrients and energy that are not as readily available from other foods or supplements.

Africa’s rising population is also an increasingly youthful population, and the majority of young people in sub-Saharan Africa already work in agriculture and in rural areas. Livestock will remain fundamental to Africa’s economic development, contributing up to 80 per cent of agricultural GDP.

As the sector adapts to new demands and circumstances, it also has the opportunity to develop differently to the livestock sector in industrialised countries. At present, half of Africa’s meat and milk is produced by pastoralists, whose animals roam and graze, providing valuable services for natural ecosystems and biodiversity.

However, changes in drought cycles are resulting in shortages of animal feed and fodder, which leads to food and economic insecurity, instability and even conflict among rural communities.

Solutions already exist in Africa that allow rural communities to continue to benefit from raising livestock in spite of climate extremes. These include more climate resilient indigenous cattle breeds and varieties of livestock forages, better climate information services, training and services for farmers and more sophisticated infrastructure and markets. Moreover, these innovations also help to make African livestock systems more efficient, meaning less loss and waste, and lower levels of emissions.

But the continent urgently needs more climate finance to help the entire livestock sector access these new developments. Africa needs to be able to realise the full potential of its livestock sector as a driver for development, and this has been recognised by the African Union in its Agenda 2063 as well as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Livestock Development Strategy for Africa (LiDeSA).

For the most part, the continent does not contend with the same overconsumption, industrialisation and carbon footprints that drive the agenda in the Global North. Because of this, the opportunities that livestock present for Africa should be fully recognised – and fully funded.

Dr. Huyam Salih, Director of African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR)
Professor Appolinaire Djikeng, Director General, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

IPS UN Bureau


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Categories: Africa

UK paid Rwanda an extra £100m for asylum deal

BBC Africa - Fri, 12/08/2023 - 11:04
It means the UK has spent £240m on the scheme, despite no asylum seekers being sent to the African nation.
Categories: Africa

Why Climate Justice and Global Financial Reform Are Inseparable

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Fri, 12/08/2023 - 10:12

Activists Digo Bikas Institute at COP28 demand reparations rather than loans for loss and damage. Experts believe while the agreements on Loss and Damage Fund on the first day of the conference there is a long road ahead. Credit: COP28/Mahmoud Khaled

By Alison Kentish
DUBAI & DOMINICA, Dec 8 2023 (IPS)

An award-winning international development expert and a climate justice expert have called for a rethink of the global financial system that would bring reparatory justice to small, climate-vulnerable nations while offering concessionary development financing to the countries most in need of assistance.

Hannah Ryder, the Chief Executive Officer of international development consultancy Development Reimagined, and Yamide Dagnet, Director of Climate Justice at the Open Society Foundations, for a side event on the margins of the Dubai Climate Talks on December 7.

The discussion was part of Climate+, a conversation series organised by independent news organisation Devex, and presented a frank analysis of progress towards climate justice, the current state of the global financial system, and why the two issues are inseparable.

“We have been in the multilateral and climate finance space where we have been beating around the bush on a range of issues, and that has delivered the outcomes that we are talking about today. It has exacerbated inequalities even if there’s good intention behind it,” Ryder, a trained economist, said.

“Simple example. You are a low-income country, expecting to become a middle-income country. When you apply for World Bank financing, as soon as you get past that threshold, you suddenly have to pay more interest. You don’t have any incentive to declare that you are middle-income. It is a very odd situation. You can understand why that was logical in the past, but if you are designing it for today’s problems, that is a system that doesn’t work.”

Ryder says there are many middle-income countries with an urgent, unmet need for concessional financing.

“My country, Kenya, is just about middle-income; we have to work really hard to get USD 300 million for one project, but we need at least (USD) 4 billion a year to reach the development goals that give every citizen access to proper education and health.”

Dagnet says the most vulnerable countries, those least responsible for but disproportionately impacted by climate change, have recognised that their demands for climate justice and financial reform are more impactful in unison.

“We are here at COP, and the reason why COP matters is because the multilateral forum is really where vulnerable nations have a seat at the table, and they do that by coming together. We are invested in empowering such a coalition. One of them is the V20, a group of finance ministers that started with 20 countries and is now at 68, representing 1.5 billion of the world population. They have been pushing the boundaries and moving the discussion on financing because of that empowerment.”

A former climate negotiator, Dagnet, says the OSF has been supporting decision-makers from vulnerable countries to attend financing events and assisting in areas like understanding communication, capacity-building, and analysis for developing solutions.

“Eight years after the Paris Agreement, we need to objectively say: ‘This is where we are, but this is not where we need to be, and this is what we need to do to get there,” she said.

The development aid and climate justice experts say the landmark announcement of the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund on Day One of COP28 is a long-fought victory, but agree that there is a long road ahead.

“It’s an obvious win so early on in the climate talks,” said Ryder. “I was one of those people who worked on that USD 100 billion commitment, which was a great win in 2009/2010, and it was an innovation, but that hasn’t delivered. Since we’ve had that experiment, let’s learn from it. What we need are financial mechanisms that are predictable and are not linked to immediate or random government decisions on issues like financial transaction taxes. That’s what the work should be over the next year.”

Dagnet says a lot of questions remain.

“There is going to be a lot of discussion next year to ensure sources of funding and how systematic it will be. What will be the role of insurance companies? The polluter space principle? How are we going to make sure that windfall profits by those who are responsible for where we are, like fossil fuel companies and other intensive sectors like aviation and maritime (contribute to climate change funding)? Who is to ensure it goes to where it is needed? Transparency and accountability will also matter,” she said.

So far, pledges to the Loss and Damage Fund total over USD 400 million.

The United Nations estimates that USD 387 billion will be needed annually until 2030 to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

“At this point, we are in a mature enough world, and we are trying to look after our children and future. Let’s take responsibility. Let’s call it reparations. Let’s call it loss and damage. Let’s work with countries that need to build the capacity to speak to their domestic audiences on how to explain what reparations are. If we keep on beating around the bush, we’re not going to make much progress,” says Ryder.

For Dagnet, the goal is a financial system that acknowledges and addresses the burden placed on vulnerable countries and provides concessionary assistance to the countries that need it most.

“Call it global solidarity. Call it due reparations and debt. What matters is that we cannot hide. We need to face the fact that we need to mobilize and address historical missteps,” she says.

The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, has been on a global crusade to restructure the global financial architecture through the Bridgetown Initiative. Named after Barbados’ capital, it calls for an overhaul of development finance that would address issues like inequality and help climate-vulnerable nations build resilience and respond to climate change.

Many argue that it is a reform over 80 years in the making and that it is inextricably linked to justice for the world’s most vulnerable countries.

Economists like Ryder say the current system is just not designed to give the kind of scale to redistribute finance and ensure that money goes to the places where it’s necessary.

“We need to think of the global financial system not as it is but also as what it could be if designed from scratch. That is the benchmark.
IPS UN Bureau Report


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Categories: Africa

Harmful Industry Blowing Smoke on Human Rights

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Fri, 12/08/2023 - 08:29

Credit: World Bank

By Mary Assunta and Irene Reyes
BANGKOK, Thailand, Dec 8 2023 (IPS)

As the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ( on Human Rights Day December 10), we turn the spotlight on a glaring contradiction the world is experiencing from a harmful industry. Despite causing 8 million annual deaths and a myriad of diseases, the tobacco industry has enjoyed six decades of the legal right to manufacture and sell its harmful products.

This travesty to human rights remains unaddressed with no admission of liability, compensation for victims, or withdrawal of the product.

Instead, the tobacco industry has thwarted and undermined government efforts to protect public health, intimidated governments with legal challenges, used exaggerated data to persuade policy makers that tobacco is a good investment, and funded charity during crisis to polish its tarnished image.

The tobacco business and human rights are diametrically opposed. To protect public health, the UN global treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) has set standards to regulate the industry and reduce tobacco use globally.

Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC empowers governments to shield their tobacco control policies from being derailed and undermined by the tobacco industry and its representatives. Governments can address conflicts of interest issues and keep the industry at arm’s length.

In 2017, the UN Global Compact removed the tobacco companies from its list in recognition of the harm caused by tobacco and hence deserving distinct treatment.

Despite the strong action from the UN system, the tobacco industry has remained defiant. To spruce up its image, it is even mischievously associating itself with human rights. Reports from Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco claim to “respect” human rights, and BAT released a report on human rights and modern slavery.

Unfortunately, many governments have not utilised Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC which provides clear guidance to avoid conflicts of interest and unnecessary interactions with the tobacco industry.

The 2023 Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index, a survey of 90 countries, has reported widespread unnecessary interactions between the government and the tobacco industry, opening the door for conflicts of interest through potential partnerships and collaborations. These interactions occurred even in countries that prohibit such engagements.

The Global Index is a civil society report on how well governments are protecting their health policies from tobacco industry interference according to the recommendations in Article 5.3 Guidelines and ranks countries accordingly
(Figure 1).

Figure 1: Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2023: Country Rankings

Some governments have taken action, but still face meddling from the industry. For example when they limit interactions with the tobacco industry, they often face challenges from industry-funded front groups, as seen in Uganda and Brazil. Usually, governments are unaware of their industry links because they have not implemented transparency measures.

The Global Index found that transparency and accountability are lacking globally, with most countries failing to implement rules for disclosure of industry ties. Most countries do not have rules for disclosure of meetings with the tobacco industry, a register of lobbyists from the tobacco industry, or policies to require the tobacco industry to disclose information on its marketing and lobbying.

In Asia, none of the 19 countries surveyed have a registry disclosing affiliations, or individuals linked to or operating on the tobacco industry’s behalf.

Since the harms of smoking are well established, the tobacco industry is now rebranding itself as a “responsible and caring industry” by marketing supposedly less harmful products, while simultaneously undermining government efforts to combat the tobacco epidemic and protect future generations.

Vaping (use of e-cigarettes) was even presented as ‘a human rights issue’ at an industry-sponsored event claiming it should be made affordable for smokers in poor countries. In Argentina, Malaysia, Philippines and Pakistan, industry front groups participated in discussions on the regulation of e-cigarettes and HTPs to convince governments to embrace these products.

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance warns of the alarming increase in vaping, particularly among the youths. Countries that allow sales of e-cigarettes such as Canada, Indonesia, New Zealand, Philippines and the UK, have all seen rapid and high uptake by youths because enforcement is a challenge, as traders continue to market to minors, offering products in appealing designs and thousands of flavors and making them easily accessible online.

In 2022, the Philippines passed legislation on e-cigarettes that lowered the purchase age, allowed flavors and online advertising, contributing to the alarming rise of vaping among Filipino adolescents. The ease of access through online shopping platforms, lacking age verification, exacerbates the problem.

Malaysia recently passed a new omnibus tobacco control law, seen as weaker than originally proposed, and some policy makers have pointed a finger at Big Tobacco’s influence particularly in removing a forward-thinking generational endgame clause.

By yielding to industry influence, Malaysia has missed an opportunity to prevent future generations from becoming victims of the tobacco epidemic.

Malaysia ranked 78 out of 90 countries in the Global Index and their scores have been deteriorating over the years by allowing the tobacco industry in policy development and engaging in unnecessary interactions with the industry.

Governments alone hold the power to determine the health standards for their citizens and decide how to protect the current and future generations. Every instance of a government yielding to tobacco industry lobbying, represent a step backward in ensuring health and fundamental human rights of their people.

Mary Assunta is the Head of Global Research and Advocacy at Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control; Irene Reyes is the Tobacco Industry Denormalization Manager at Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance

IPS UN Bureau


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Categories: Africa

Zimbabwe's CCC crisis: Farce turning to tragedy for the opposition

BBC Africa - Fri, 12/08/2023 - 03:51
The CCC faces by-elections after an "imposter" expels its MPs - to the delight of the ruling party.
Categories: Africa

Africa's week in pictures: 1-7 December 2023

BBC Africa - Fri, 12/08/2023 - 03:49
A selection of the best photos from across the African continent this week.
Categories: Africa

COP28 Hits: Key Wins as Africa-Focused Pledges, Deals Announced

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Fri, 12/08/2023 - 03:46

Climate-induced disasters continue to have severe economic and social impacts on vulnerable countries in Africa. The Loss and Damage Fund is expected to boost recovery efforts. Credit: Joyce Chimbi/IPS

By Joyce Chimbi
DUBAI, Dec 8 2023 (IPS)

A record-breaking drought is unfolding in the Horn of Africa, where millions of people are trapped in the world’s worst acute food insecurity emergency. Food insecurity and malnutrition in West and Central Africa are on track to reach a 10-year high as coastal countries edge even closer to the debilitating effects of climate change.

“Growing up in Mombasa, Kenya, we could not imagine a time when catching fish for food in the big Indian Ocean would be a problem. But the destruction of mangroves has destroyed the fish industry. Fish hide in the roots of the mangroves to breed. The country used to have at least two major food baskets—in the Central and Rift Valley regions—but today, Kenya is queuing for food relief,” Moses Murina, a smallholder farmer in Burnt Forest town, Kenya, told IPS during the COP28 Summit.

“We are hearing of mothers boiling what we call male arrowroots, a crop that looks like an arrowroot but is really not food because it cannot be boiled or eaten, for it remains hard no matter how long you boil it in hot water. Others are boiling stones to trick their small children into thinking food is cooking on the fireplace and give desperate mothers some relief from hungry, crying children. How unfortunate that this is happening today when we have the best brains and strongest arms to put food on the table.”

COP28 has mobilized over USD83 billion in the first five days, setting the pace for a new era in climate action. The ground-breaking first ever declarations on food systems transformation are particularly crucial for Africa’s peasant farmers—134 world leaders signed up to the landmark agriculture, food, and climate action declaration, with an overall 140 countries endorsing it.

The ‘COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action’ is expected to be a lifeline for millions of smallholder farmers on the African continent, putting food on the table for households around the world.

COP28 funding as of December 7, 2023. Source: COP28; Credit: Joyce Chimbi and Cecilia Russell/IPS

All 134 signatory countries to the declaration are home to over 5.7 billion people and almost 500 million farmers, produce 70 percent of the food eaten globally, and are responsible for 76 percent of all emissions from global food systems, or 25 percent of total emissions globally.

“The Declaration addresses both global emissions and protecting the lives and livelihoods of farmers who live on the frontlines of climate change. There is no path to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and keeping 1.5C within reach that does not urgently address the interactions between food systems, agriculture, and climate,” said Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and COP28 Food Systems Lead.

But this is not the only big win for Africa. The Loss and Damage Fund issue was expeditiously addressed on day one of COP28; a historic agreement was reached to operationalize and capitalize funding for Loss and Damage, supporting those on the front lines of the climate crisis with USD 726 million already pledged to date.

African and global institutions, together with the governments of Germany, France, and Japan and philanthropies, have already pledged over USD 175 million to the Alliance for Green Infrastructure in Africa (AGIA). The landmark initial pledge will help to rapidly scale up financing for transformative climate-aligned infrastructure projects across the continent.

The new pledges will also advance AGIA towards the USD 500 million needed for early-stage project preparation and development blended capital—USD 40 million of the capital was provided by the African Development Bank.

Importantly, the African Development Bank Group has presented its planned USD1 billion facility to provide insurance to more than 40 million farmers across the continent against the severe impacts of climate change. An estimated 97 percent of farmers in Africa do not have agricultural insurance, as their best bet is to plant and pray.

The IFAD report shows there are an estimated 33 million smallholder farms in Africa, and the farmers that live on them contribute up to 70 percent of the food supply. In sub-Saharan Africa, growth from agriculture can be as much as 11 times more effective at reducing extreme poverty than any other sector.

The United Nations has designated 46 economies as Least Developed Countries (LDCs), entitling them to preferential market access, aid, special technical assistance, and capacity-building on technology, among other concessions. A majority, 33 of the 46 countries, are in Africa. The USD 129.3 million announced toward the Least Developed Countries Fund is expected to be life-transforming for affected African countries.

Gender, women, and climate issues are high on the COP agenda this year, with an entire day dedicated to unpacking gender and climate-related relations and other related socio-economic pressing problems such as conflict. There is progress for African women as USD 2.8 million in new money goes to gender, USD 30 million to clean cooking, USD 1.2 billion to relief, recovery, and peace, and USD $467 million to local climate action.

It is expected that this time round will be different and that these deals and pledges will help in strengthening Africa’s food systems, building resilience to climate change, reducing global emissions and therefore reducing climate-induced disasters in Africa, boosting women’s empowerment, and improving health and livelihoods in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


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Categories: Africa

Seychelles blast site like a war zone, says President Ramkalawan

BBC Africa - Thu, 12/07/2023 - 16:44
People have been ordered to stay home after a blast in an industrial zone causes major destruction.
Categories: Africa


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