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Africa

South Africa marks 30 years since return from footballing wilderness

BBC Africa - 4 hours 46 min ago
It is 30 years this week since South Africa returned from a ban from global football and played its first international against Cameroon.
Categories: Africa

Egypt arrests organisers of joke 'Helwan Real Batman Battle' event

BBC Africa - 4 hours 52 min ago
Four people who set up a Facebook event to find "the real Batman" are charged with "planning a riot".
Categories: Africa

Indigenous Peoples Must Continue To Challenge Human Rights Violations: PODCAST

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - 6 hours 7 min ago

By Marty Logan
KATHMANDU, Jul 7 2022 (IPS)

Today we are starting a new series focused on human rights. For people working to create a more sustainable and just world – as we are – a human rights based approach makes sense as it starts from the premise that only by recognizing and protecting the dignity inherent in all people can we attain those goals.

Today’s guest, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, has immense experience in human rights. She is the founder and executive director of Tebtebba Foundation, which works to improve the lives of Indigenous peoples in the Philippines, her home country, and beyond. She was the Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples from 2005 To 2010, and UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from 2014 to 2020.

We cover a lot of ground in this episode — from Vicky’s analysis of her time as special rapporteur to recent rhetoric around ‘building back better’, the circular economy and other touted economic reforms, versus the reality on the ground. Indigenous communities are facing growing pressure from both states and the private sector to extract the natural resources that they are trying to protect. This dichotomy between the words and deeds of these powerful actors must be continually exposed and challenged by Indigenous peoples, says Vicky.

Asked whether governments of poorer countries are doing enough to protect human rights, without hesitating Vicky answers no. But she also points out that these countries are themselves pressured by international agreements, brokered largely by rich countries, that leave them with few options but to exploit natural resources.

She also tells me about an exciting project — the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a body of 23 global experts, is creating a General Recommendation on Indigenous women and girls. Among other things, it recognize the individual and collective rights of Indigenous women, the latter including respect for their rights to land, languages and other culture. Vicki says it is the first time that a UN treaty body is developing a recommendation focussed on Indigenous women.

Resources

Tebtebba Foundation

UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigneous Peoples

IPS Coverage About Indigenous Peoples Rights

 

Categories: Africa

Sanctions Are a Boomerang

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - 8 hours 54 min ago

The "bodegones" are Venezuela's new commercial boom. They sell imported products, mostly from the United States despite the sanctions, and have spread into middle and lower-middle class neighborhoods in Caracas and other cities, to attract consumers who receive remittances of foreign currency from the millions of Venezuelans who have migrated in recent years. CREDIT: Humberto Márquez/IPS

By Humberto Márquez
CARACAS, Jul 7 2022 (IPS)

Economic sanctions against countries whose behavior is reproached by the West operate as punishment although they fail in their declared political objectives, and in cases such as Venezuela the contrast is clearly on display in the windows of high-end stores that sell imported goods.

“Experience has shown that sanctions are an instrument that does not achieve the supposed objective, political change, as in the cases of Cuba and now also in Venezuela,” Luis Oliveros, professor of economics at the Metropolitan and Central universities of Venezuela, told IPS.

"There is a club of sanctioned countries, they feed off each other, share information and mechanisms to circumvent sanctions, and they cooperate with each other, such as Russia with China or Iran, or Cuba and Iran with Venezuela, even obtaining support from third party countries such as Turkey." -- Luis Oliveros
Moreover, “there is a club of sanctioned countries, they feed off each other, share information and mechanisms to circumvent sanctions, and they cooperate with each other, such as Russia with China or Iran, or Cuba and Iran with Venezuela, even obtaining support from third party countries such as Turkey,” said Oliveros.

The most commonly used sanctions are bans on exports and imports, financial transactions, obtaining technology, spare parts and weapons, and travel and trade; the freezing of assets; the withdrawal of visas; bans on entering the sanctioning country; the expulsion of undesirable individuals; and the blocking of bank accounts.

Russia became embroiled in a thick web of sanctions since its troops invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, and measures against its products, operations, institutions and authorities, which numbered 2,754 before the conflict, according to the private organization Statista, have now climbed to 10,536 and counting.

Following Russia on that list of punishments of various kinds are Iran, which faces 3,616 sanctions, Syria (2,608), North Korea (2,077), Venezuela (651), Myanmar (510), and Cuba (208).

The major sanctioners are the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel and Switzerland.

In the case of Iran and North Korea, sanctions have mainly punished their nuclear development programs. Pyongyang has not stopped its missile tests and Tehran flips the switch on its nuclear program according to the vagaries of Washington’s international policy.

A pro-government march in Caracas against the sanctions imposed by the United States on civilian and military officials and several public companies, as a measure of pressure against the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The president blames the sanctions for all the country’s problems, which have driven 6.1 million people to migrate since he first took office. CREDIT: VTV

The Russian impact

Like a boomerang, sanctions sometimes hurt their proponents, and in the case of Russia their effects are felt in every corner of the planet.

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned on Jun. 23 that sanctions “are becoming a weapon in the world economy.”

“Economic sanctions deliver bigger global shocks than ever before and are easier to evade,” observed Nicholas Mulder, author of “The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War.”

Mulder, an assistant professor in the history department of Cornell University in the U.S. state of New York, argues that “not since the 1930s has an economy the size of Russia’s been placed under such a wide array of commercial restrictions as those imposed in response to its invasion of Ukraine.” He was referring to measures against Italy and Japan after the invasions of Ethiopia and China.

The difference is that “Russia today is a major exporter of oil, grain, and other key commodities, and the global economy is far more integrated. As a result, today’s sanctions have global economic effects far greater than anything seen before,” says Mulder.

Industrialized economies in Europe and North America have been impacted by energy price hikes, and as sanctions remove Russian raw materials from global supply chains, prices are rising and affecting the cost of imports and the finances of less developed countries, says the author.

In Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, there are fears of increased food insecurity as supplies of grain, cooking oil and fertilizers from Ukraine and Russia have been disrupted and the costs have been driven up.

“The result of these changes is that today’s sanctions can cause graver commercial losses than ever before, but they can also be weakened in new ways through trade diversion and evasion,” Mulder warned in a paper released in June by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Nazanin Armanian, an Iranian political scientist exiled in Spain, argues that “the tactic of shocking the economy of rivals and enemies suffers from two problems: neglecting the risk of radicalization of those who feel humiliated and ignoring the network of connections in a world that is a village.”

She cites the example of Iran, which has found multiple ways to export its oil. That is also the case of Cuba, which has endured and circumvented U.S. sanctions for more than 60 years.

With respect to Cuba, it was then President Barack Obama (2009-2017) who said on Dec. 17, 2014 that “It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.”

The U.S. sanctions against Venezuela do not prevent luxurious commercial establishments in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities from selling U.S. and European products for consumption by a minority with ample access to foreign currency, benefited by the tax exemption on remittances. Meanwhile, four-fifths of the population are immersed in poverty. CREDIT: Humberto Márquez/IPS

The case of Venezuela

It was also Obama who on Mar. 15, 2015 declared in an executive order the government of Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” and that year sanctions were initiated against Venezuelan authorities, companies and public institutions.

Since then, Washington has sanctioned with a range of measures dozens of officials and their families, military commanders, government leaders, businesspersons who negotiate with the government and some one hundred companies, both public and private.

The EU also adopted sanctions, as did Canada and Panama, and U.S. sanctions also affect third country companies that do business with the Venezuelan government.

When the United States stopped buying Venezuelan crude oil and banned the sale of supplies to produce gasoline, Caracas appealed with some success to Iran, which has also sent equipment and personnel to refurbish Venezuela’s rundown refineries.

But the most visible demonstration of the ineffectiveness of the sanctions is that imported products are displayed and sold in hundreds of stores in Caracas and other cities and towns, even if only a minority can afford to buy them regularly.

There has been a proliferation of “bodegones” – up to 800 have been counted in Caracas, a crowded city of 3.5 million people located in a valley surrounded by mountains – the name given to new or quickly refurbished stores to give them a sophisticated appearance and satisfy tastes or the need to acquire imported foodstuffs and other perishable products, after years of widespread shortages.

The bodegones, as well as appliance stores and a handful of high-end restaurants and bars, have been the battering ram of the de facto dollarization that reigns in Venezuela, alongside the disdain for the bolivar as currency and the use of the Brazilian real and the Colombian peso in the border areas with those two countries.

Washington allows the export of food, agricultural, medicinal and hygiene products, while U.S. brands or imitations are imported from Asia, as well as household appliances, telephone and computer equipment and accessories. Wines, liquors and cosmetics arrive without major problems from Europe.

An apparent “bonanza bubble” has arisen, limited to trade and consumption by a minority, fed with income from the State – which sells minerals and other resources with a total lack of transparency -, and with remittances from the millions of Venezuelans who have migrated to escape the crisis over the last eight years.

In that period, poverty has expanded until reaching four-fifths of the country’s 28 million inhabitants and they have also suffered three years of hyperinflation. For this crisis, the government of President Nicolás Maduro tirelessly and systematically blames the sanctions from abroad.

The sanctions “have been an excellent business for the Maduro administration, because not only did it unify its forces based on a common external objective, but it forgot about paying the foreign debt and, under a state of emergency, exports without transparency or accountability, in a black market,” said Oliveros.
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In addition, “a good part of the opposition put all its eggs in the sanctions basket and forgot about doing political work, and that is why the public, after so many years of difficulties, are questioning the results of that strategy,” he added.

In short, “instead of helping to bring about political change, what the sanctions have done is to keep Maduro in power,” said Oliveros.

In the cases of Venezuela and Iran, Washington and its European partners are interested in obtaining gestures of change – in the Venezuelan case, resumption of dialogue with the opposition – that would justify a relaxation of sanctions, which in turn would lead to an increase in oil supplies, now that Russian oil is facing restrictions.

Meanwhile, with respect to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, as well as countries opposed by the West on other continents, sanctions continue to function, in the eyes of public opinion in the countries that impose them, as a sign of political will to punish governments considered enemies, troublemakers or outlaws.

Categories: Africa

Myths Fuel Xenophobic Sentiment in South Africa

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - 9 hours 31 min ago
Around the world, from Syria to Libya, from Bangladesh to Ukraine, millions have become refugees in foreign lands due to war, famine, or political and economic instability in their countries. After South Africa gained freedom in 1994, Africa’s powerhouse became a magnet for migrants from politically and economically unstable African and Asian countries. But in […]
Categories: Africa

UN Predicts 68 Percent of World’s Population will be Living in Urban Areas by 2050

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - 10 hours 23 min ago

A residential building in Nairobi, Kenya. According to UN estimates, by 2050 about 68 per cent of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. Credit: UN-Habitat/Kirsten Milhahn

By Simone Galimberti
KATHMANDU, Nepal, Jul 7 2022 (IPS)

When we think of urbanization we often end up referring to the increasing number of megalopolises that are sprawling around the world.

Yet less thoughts are given on the fact that the future patterns of urbanization will be centered on secondary cities or semi urban spaces, now becoming extensions of these gigantic cities.

It means that the world will continue to urbanize even though the world share of population living in this new urban continuum is forecasted to slow down, reaching 58 per cent in the next fifty years according to data from UN Habitat.

Yet, especially in the developing world, such reduction will still bring in a whopping increase of 76% of the number of cities in low income nations that in practically terms will mean a rise of 2.2 billion residents mostly in Africa and Asia.

These are some of the key findings of the World Cities Report 2022, the flagship publication of UN Habitat that was recently launched in occasion of the 11th World Urban Forum, the biannual event that was held last week in Poland, bringing together top policy makers, experts and activists working in the area of urbanization.

The insights and discussions enabled by these publications and events are indispensable to activate the so called New Urban Agenda, a strategically important though overlooked agenda to rethink sustainability from the perspectives of those living in the cities.

Unfortunately there is still so much to be done here and unsurprisingly there are huge constraints in terms of funding to implement this vision even though more recently, several financial commitments have been done, including a massive boost in resilient infrastructures during the recently held G7.

The international community should be indeed worried and not only in terms of bridging the resource gap for a sustainable urbanization.

Global leaders need to seize the opportunity and reconsider the ways cities are governed.

While it remains paramount to think in terms of the future of the millions of people living in big cities, the trends and patterns are pointing to the urgency of systematically thinking about governing urban spaces in terms of multilevel governance.

It means we need to work on a future system of policy making and decision making that is able to function and deliver beyond a single administrative jurisdiction.

Such a model must be capable to address the needs of the people living within and in the peripheries from three key dimension, spatial, social and economic.

The opportunity here is not only about re-thinking the existing boundaries, merging existing administrative units, creating bigger and more extended centers of power with the tools and resources of governing entire metropolitan regions.

This, in itself, would be a mammoth task because it will eat away power to different, often overlapping and certainly inadequate local bodies of governance now in existence.

The real chance we need to seize is to re-think, holistically, the way local governance works and take action on the general ineffectiveness of local bodies in terms of social inclusion.

Securing stronger and more resilient cities, able to withstand the more frequent shocks and hazards, will require a new social compact, a re-distribution of powers between local governments in charge of urban spaces and the citizenry, especially those left behind.

This latter group is at the core of the recommendations World Cities Report 2022, highlighting how vulnerable citizens must shift from being “passive victims” of current patterns of urbanization to “active urban change agents”.

Such pivot towards the downtrodden can be successful if we go beyond the traditional recipe made only by stronger social policies.

This is a formula that tends to largely be centered around, on the one hand, more sophisticated and generous social protection schemes like universal basic income and, on the other, around health coverage and housing.

These three social areas of interventions, together with quality and affordable education, are extremely important but we need to imagine a new social contract in terms of participation and engagement.

Indeed, according to the so called Urban Resilience Principles, the guiding pillars for a different vision for the future of cities, it is essential to ensure a meaningful participation of the people, especially those disadvantaged, in the planning and governance of any future urban governance system.

“With ever larger cities, the distance between governments and their citizens has increased” explains the World Cities Report 2022 report.

“Effective communication, meaningful participation opportunities and accountability structures built into integrated governance relationships are all necessary responses for addressing the trust equation”.

The document goes even further, calling for new forms of collaborative governance that involve different stakeholders joining the decision making process.

That’s why deliberative democracy, often at the fringes of the political science studies, is now being rediscovered as a possible remedy to the distance between traditional decision makers and citizens.

Obviously there is one particular group that, not only has huge stakes in the future of urban spaces but also can play a vital role to re-animate the debate about more bottom up, participatory forms of democratic decision making: the youths.

Some attempts are being made in this direction.

Over the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting held on the 27th of April to review the progress taken so far in implementing the New Urban Agenda, the Youth 2030 Cities initiative brought together youths from Ecuador, Colombia and Ghana to discuss about their role and their contributions for a better urban future.

The event was a culmination of trainings and discussions in six different countries around the world, an exercise that led to the preparation of “DeclarACTIONS”, roadmaps and at the same time real blueprints for youths driven changes around sustainable urbanization.

These are not just aspirational documents but they contain concrete and practical proposals, result of a long raging series of interventions supported by UN Habitat and the Foundation Botnar.

The Youth 2030 Cities program is an example of how it is possible to enable youth to convene and discuss.

Potentially, it can be seen, as a bold attempt at expanding the decision making process at local level.

The challenge will be on how to shift from pilot mode to an approach that systematically includes all citizens, including the youth, in the policy and decision making processes.

An institution like UN-Habitat has a very important mandate to mainstream participatory processes across the developing and emerging world, enabling new transformative ways for people to be involved and engaged.

System ways partnerships, starting from within the UN System, can harness the potential shown when youths are allowed to discuss and debate.

The dynamics facilitated by Youth 2030 Cities, can truly bring transformative changes but with them, we need bold and farsighted vision from the world leaders.

Let’s not forget that, real change will happen when people, especially the youths, are empowered, not just to be consulted and be able to express their opinion, but when are enabled to take binding decisions.

The fact that also the World Urban Forum 11 saw the same Youth 2030 Cities youth to gather for a global “DeclarAction”, is promising but the road ahead is still indeed very steep.

Simone Galimberti is co-Founder of ENGAGE, a not-for-profit NGO in Nepal. He writes on volunteerism, social inclusion, youth development and regional integration as an engine to improve people’s lives.

IPS UN Bureau

 


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Categories: Africa

South Africa electricity crisis: No power for up to six hours

BBC Africa - 14 hours 57 min ago
In what is described as the biggest ever power crisis, there are blackouts of up to six hours a day.
Categories: Africa

Chagos Islands FA: The team representing a lost homeland, 6,000 miles away

BBC Africa - 16 hours 58 min ago
The Chagos Islands football team are trying to keep the story of their ancestors alive, 6,000 miles from their disputed homeland.
Categories: Africa

Differently-Abled Farmers Integrate Digital Technology, Aim To Set Example For Others

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 18:43
Hidden in Pathumthaini province just outside of Bangkok, 0.24 hectares of land adjacent to Seangsan temple has been turned into an urban vegetable farm managed by members of the Association of the Physically handicapped of Pathumthani. ‘Farm Samart, Khon Sama’ consists of a large open greenhouse that sits at the back of the land. In […]
Categories: Africa

Abuja prison break in Nigeria: More than 400 inmates missing

BBC Africa - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 18:19
The Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected of carrying out the attack in Abuja on Tuesday night.
Categories: Africa

'I could see myself as a tennis mum like Tatjana' - Jabeur

BBC Africa - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 17:50
In her latest BBC Sport column, Wimbledon semi-finalist Ons Jabeur talks about playing her good friend Tatjana Maria in the last four.
Categories: Africa

South Africa's Enyobeni Tavern deaths: Tears for teenagers at mass funeral

BBC Africa - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 17:37
Thousands attend a service in South Africa for 21 children who died mysteriously at a nightclub.
Categories: Africa

Nigeria star Oshoala to miss rest of Wafcon

BBC Africa - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 16:35
Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala will miss the rest of the Women's Africa Cup of Nations with a knee ligament injury.
Categories: Africa

DR Congo: What’s causing the conflict?

BBC Africa - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 16:27
Violence in the eastern part of the DR Congo has escalated in recent months, reporter Joice Etutu explains why.
Categories: Africa

Ghana: Brighton's Tariq Lamptey and Inaki Williams declare for Black Stars

BBC Africa - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 14:18
Brighton defender Tariq Lamptey and Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams are among five players switching their international allegiance to Ghana.
Categories: Africa

Banda out of Wafcon over 'gender eligibility' issues

BBC Africa - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 13:12
Zambia captain Barbra Banda has been ruled out of the Women's Africa Cup of Nations after failing gender eligibility tests.
Categories: Africa

Wafcon hosts Morocco staying grounded - Ayane

BBC Africa - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 12:42
Morocco forward Rosella Ayane says the Women's Africa Cup of Nations hosts will not look too far ahead despite reaching the quarter-finals with a game to spare.
Categories: Africa

Ethiopian migrant recounts horror of trafficking route to Middle East

BBC Africa - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 12:23
An Ethiopian migrant describes the abuse he faced at the hands of traffickers in Somalia and Yemen.
Categories: Africa

Tap Into Indigenous Knowledge To Preserve Our Forests

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 11:51

Sylvie Djacbou, Exchanging with indigenous communities and somes civil societies around the Impact of Cameroon growth and employment strategy through structural projects like Agro-industries on Indigenous communities. @inside their sacred forest, Assok/Mintom, South Region Cameroon

By Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue
YAOUNDÉ, Jul 6 2022 (IPS)

A few years ago, I found myself in the Baka indigenous sacred forest in Assok, in Cameroon in the course of my work in supporting them to preserve their forest against land grabbers. We were building a forest hut using only leaves and the knowledge of our indigenous partners.

I was skeptical when we started. “What about rain,” I thought. But the leaves were placed in a way that the rain simply flowed down the sides. Inside was warm and dry.

Indigenous forest peoples are recognized as the first inhabitants of the forests around the world. For millennia Indigenous People have lived symbiotically with nature – gathering fruits and insects; hunting, and protecting the environment they rely upon.

I’ve seen the power of Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral knowledge and wisdom about forest and biodiversity sustainable management. If we embrace this expertise we will be taking the most cost-effective ways to reduce poverty, preserve biodiversity, halt deforestation and contribute to reducing the harmful effects of climate change

In the Congo Basin, around 50 million Indigenous Peoples depend on forests yet they are the most vulnerable, the most marginalized and the poorest inhabitants of a region that stretches across some five countries including Cameroon, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I have interacted with various indigenous people over the last decade as part of my work as an environmental advocate. In Cameroon, where I live, the Indigenous World 2022 Report estimates Baka, Bagyeli and Bedzang peoples represent 0.4% of the total population while the Mbororo pastoralists make up 12%. These interactions include numerous field visits to their ancestral land where I have admired their solidarity and harmony in living with nature.

Over the generations, Indigenous People have developed their own codes of forest conservation, including preventing overhunting with methods that include rotational hunting and harvesting. For instance, the Baka don’t hunt in sacred sites, at a place where a newborn has been circumcised and nor do they hunt large mammals. They eat only fresh meat so hunt only that which can be consumed.

I am amazed by their extensive knowledge of forest medicinal plants and their uses. Prior to the expropriation of their ancestral land by logging and Agribusiness companies, they hardly went to the hospital. While COVID-19 and deforestation have changed that, we still have much to learn from them. For them, forest conservation is not an isolated, compartmentalized concept but an integrated part of their lives.

Yet their very rich traditional culture-and often their lives are at risk: experts say up to 10 indigenous linguistic identities are at risk of disappearing. Embedded in that language is identity and their cultural knowledge, which will also disappear.

When we mark International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, we can expect politicians to invite them for photo ops and public appearances. But we have to ask what will be done to really prevent them and their language and expertise from disappearing?

I’ve seen the power of Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral knowledge and wisdom about forest and biodiversity sustainable management. If we embrace this expertise we will be taking the most cost-effective ways to reduce poverty, preserve biodiversity, halt deforestation and contribute to reducing the harmful effects of climate change.

Globally, this is a powerful path forward for responding to climate change, improving the environmental, and advancing justice. Indigenous Peoples make up about 6.2% of the world’s population, but they safeguard 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. Their sophisticated knowledge of the natural forest – documented by scientific research worldwide – allows forests and biodiversity to flourish. Their sustainable land use fights climate change and builds resilience to natural disasters and pandemic.

Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue

Among the recommendations made by Indigenous leaders at the last COP 26 global climate conference, was the recognition of the rights and land tenure of Indigenous Peoples’ to land, forest and water and that Indigenous Peoples, as knowledge holders, should be able to participate directly with their own voices in the UN process to ensure that their “rights, cultures, lands and ways of life” be respected. US$1.7 billion was announced during the last COP 26 to help Indigenous and local communities protect the biodiversity of tropical forests that are vital to protecting the planet from climate change, biodiversity loss, and pandemic risk. 

Little has changed on the ground, despite another recent paper further confirming that traditional ways of using and managing biodiversity are grounded in progressive principles of sustainability. In short, indigenous knowledge and management systems represent critical yet frequently untapped resources in global conservation efforts.

Despite this evidence and policy recommendations, it is business as usual where conflict, insecurity, lack of recognition of Indigenous Peoples land rights, expropriation, lack of inclusion and participation in the decision-making process continues.

COP27 will take place in Egypt, an African country, this year. It is my hope that a delegation from the Congo Basin will not only be there but will influence climate change policies and decisions.

Indigenous Forest Peoples cannot assume the burden of global conservation and climate mitigation challenges without our support. 

My question to the global climate leaders and government authorities is this: what has happened to the COP 26 IPLC forest tenure Joint Donor Statement that pledged for support indigenous people’s land tenure rights and guardianship of the world’s forests? 

Business as usual will not save us. If we don’t act to preserve our forest guardians and their knowledge and properly involve them in our conservation effort, we will lose their rich wisdom and knowledge.

Without healthy, thriving forests, we will never see the sustainable future we are aiming for.

 

Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue is a 2022 New Voices Fellow, Co-Founder of Youth in Action (YouAct) and Greenpeace Africa forest Campaigner. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

Categories: Africa

Recovering Edible Food from Waste Provides Environmental and Social Solutions in Argentina

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 09:43

Tomasa Chávez, bundled up against the cold of the southern hemisphere winter, works at the Central Market in Buenos Aires, where she was hired in 2021 to separate edible waste that can be recovered. Until then, she went there daily on her own for 30 years to look for food and other recyclable materials among the waste that has now been given new value. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, Jul 6 2022 (IPS)

For 30 years, Tomasa Chávez visited the Central Market of Buenos Aires and rummaged through the tons of fruits and vegetables that the stallholders discarded, in search of food. Today she continues to do so, but there is a difference: since 2021 she has been one of the workers hired to recover food as part of a formal program launched by the Central Market.

“Before, I used to come almost every day and collect whatever was edible and whatever could be sold in my neighborhood. Food, cardboard, wood… Now I still come to separate edible food, but I work from 7:00 to 15:00 and I get paid some money,” the short, good-natured woman told IPS.

The Central Market of the Argentine capital is a universe that seems vast and unfathomable to those who venture into it for the first time.

Covering 550 hectares in the municipality of La Matanza, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, it is full of life; to describe it merely as a central market that supplies fruits and vegetables to a metropolis of 15 million inhabitants would be an oversimplification.

In the market there are large companies and small businesses, streets, avenues, warehouses, buildings and even areas taken over by homeless people and a rehabilitation center for people with substance abuse problems. In some places people are crowded among crates of fruit and the noise is overwhelming, but there are also large empty areas where everything is quiet.

Nearly 1,000 trucks enter the Central Market every day to pick up fresh food that is sold in the stores of the city and Greater Buenos Aires. Every month, 106,000 tons of fruits and vegetables are sold, according to official data.

There is also a retail market with food of all kinds, attended by thousands of people from all over the city, in search of better prices than in their neighborhoods, in a context of inflation that does not stop growing – it already exceeds 60 percent annually – and which is destroying the buying power of the middle class and the poor.

View of one of the 12 bays where the fruits and vegetables that supply the 15 million inhabitants of the Greater Buenos Aires region are sold wholesale. The activity begins at 2:00 a.m. and every day some 1,000 trucks enter the market and some 10,000 people work there. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

As a reflection of the social situation in Argentina, where even before the COVID-19 pandemic the poverty rate exceeded 40 percent, a common image of the Market has been that of hundreds of people like Chávez rummaging through the waste, looking for something to eat or to sell.

But since August 2021, much of that energy has been poured into the Waste Reduction and Recovery Program, which is based on two main ideas: to use food fit for consumption for social assistance and the rest for the production of compost or organic fertilizer to promote agroecology.

“There was a social and environmental problem that needed to be addressed. Today we have fewer losses, we provide social assistance and create jobs,” Marisol Troya, quality and transparency manager at the Central Market, told IPS.

 

Coping with the crisis

The 12 gigantic bays where fruits and vegetables are sold wholesale are the heart of the Central Market, which employs 800 people and where a total of 10,000 people work every day.

At 2:00 a.m. the activity begins every day in the market with frenetic movement of crates containing local products from all over Argentina and neighboring countries, which are a festival of colors. Each bay has 55 stalls.

Three people look for food in a container of discarded products at the Central Market of Buenos Aires, where more than 100,000 tons of fruits and vegetables are sold every month to supply retail stores in the Argentine capital and its suburbs. With the recovery program, the Market seeks to provide environmental and social solutions. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

 

“The search for food among the Market’s waste was spurred by the economic crisis and the pandemic,” said Marcelo Pascal, a consultant to the management. “We realized very quickly that there was a lot of merchandise in good condition that was discarded for commercial reasons but could be recuperated.

“There were even small stands that used vegetables found in the garbage. A lot of edible products were recovered, but the process was disorderly, so an effort was made to organize it,” he told IPS.

From August 2021 to June 2022, 1,891 tons of food were recovered for social aid, while 3,276 tons have been used to make compost, according to official figures from the Central Market, which is run by a board of directors made up of representatives of the central, provincial and city governments.

“We have reduced by 48 percent the amount of garbage that the Market was sending to landfills for final disposal, which was 50 tons a day,” agronomist Fabián Rainoldi, head of the Waste Reduction Program, told IPS.

Fabián Rainoldi, head of the Waste Reduction and Recovery Program of the Central Market of Buenos Aires, stands in front of one of the mountains of organic waste that are used to produce compost, which serves as fertilizer for agroecological enterprises. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

 

Orderly recovery of edible products

Justo Gregorio Ayala is working in an esplanade next to one of the wholesale bays. In front of him he has a crate of bruised tomatoes, impossible to sell at a store, but many of which are ripe and edible. His task is to separate the edible ones from the waste.

“I live here in the Market, in the Hogar de Cristo San Cayetano, and six months ago I got this job,” Ayala said, referring to the rehab center for addicts that opened in 2020 inside the Market itself.

“There were always a lot of products to recover in the Market, but now we do it better,” added Ayala, who is one of the workers hired for the Program.

He clarified, however, that the scenario varies depending on the temperature. “In summertime, because of the heat, the fruits and vegetables last much less time and the stallholders throw away more products. Now in winter we don’t find so much.”

The workers work in eight of the market’s 12 bays. There are a total of 24 workers, divided into groups of three, who separate the merchandise that the stallholders are asked to leave in the center of the bay.

The recovered goods are loaded onto trucks that are taken to a huge warehouse in the Community Action section of the Market, where they are prepared for use in social aid projects.

Justo Gregorio Ayala is one of the 24 workers who select edible fruits and vegetables discarded by vendors at the Buenos Aires Central Market. Since August last year, almost 19,000 tons of food fit for human consumption have been recovered and have gone to soup kitchens and other kinds of social assistance. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

“We deliver food to 700 soup kitchens, according to a weekly schedule: about 130 per day,” said Martin Romero, head of the Community Action section, where 22 workers perform their duties, as the first vehicles begin to arrive to pick up their cargo.

“We also put together eight-kilo bags, with whatever we have available, which we deliver to 130 families,” he added to IPS.

What is not fit for human consumption ends up in the composting yard, a plot of land covering almost three hectares, where the process of decomposition of organic matter takes about four months.

“The organic waste is mixed with wood chips made from the crates, which absorb water and reduce the leachate that contaminates the soil. The organic compost is donated to agroecological gardens which use it for fertilization and the recovery of degraded soils,” explained Rainoldi.

The goal is a Central Market that makes use of everything and does not send waste to the dump. It’s a long road that has just begun.

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