Friday, October 29, 2010

UNEP, Asian and African Development Banks to invest $500m in clean energy


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility, have launched a Seed Capital Assistance Facility (SCAF) to help stimulate renewable energy and energy efficiency ventures in the developing world.
So far six fund managers have been engaged in Asia and Africa, employing a range of early stage investment strategies, says a press release issued by UNEP Wednesday, which announced the facility.
The six funds engaged so far by SCAF are aiming for a total initial capitalisation of half a billion U.S. dollars, of which $55 million will be for early stage seed investing, discloses the statement, which adds that SCAF will invest $10 million to help get this needed early stage capital and support to clean energy entrepreneurs.
It says in China, SCAF is helping fund manager Conduit Ventures set up a clean energy incubation centre with local partners, such as the Shanghai Science and Technology Investment Corporation, to provide entrepreneurs with business development, technology commercialisation support and seed financing.
In India as well, work is underway with Yes Bank to create a syndicate of financial institutions that will invest seed and follow-on capital in socially and environmentally oriented small and medium-sized enterprises.
Also in India, SCAF is helping IndiaCo, a fund manager listed on the Mumbai stock exchange, set up a new fund targeting the energy efficiency sector. Meanwhile, two regional funds are also in development with SCAF support, which are the Low Carbon Accelerator Asia Fund and the E+Co Asia Fund.
According to the UNEP, in Africa the African Development Bank has added additional funds from its own resources to expand SCAF’s reach on the continent.
“Several projects are under evaluation, with SCAF already engaged with the Evolution One Fund in South Africa to provide seed financing to wind farm developments along the Eastern Cape region,” it says.
Commenting on this development, wind farm developer Mark Tanton said, “SCAF has empowered us to grow our business by providing access to scarce early stage financing and ensuring that meaningful skills transfer takes place within the country, a critical ingredient for the long term growth and sustainability of our business.”
Also remarking on the facility, Linda Zheng of Conduit Ventures said, “SCAF is helping us build a domestic platform for nurturing low carbon technology companies across China. We expect these centres to create globally competitive companies targeting the low carbon economy.”
For his part, Mr. Rana Kapoor, Founder / Managing Director and CEO of Yes Bank, said, “Since inception we have focused on integrating sustainability within our business focus and I truly believe that this opportunity to associate with SCAF will enable us to further deliver value to all our stakeholders in accordance with our Responsible Banking philosophy.”
UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner, however observed that “Entrepreneurs can transform markets, but the environment for entrepreneurship remains weak in many countries, particularly in the energy sector,” adding,. “New ventures often lack business development support and seed financing is hard to secure.”
But according to ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda, “Although the financial markets are now taking low carbon energy sectors like wind power and solar energy quite seriously in the Asian region, there is still reluctance to engage too early.”
UNEP believes though that SCAF will address these issues by helping private equity fund managers provide seed financing and business assistance to early stage clean energy projects and enterprise developments.
Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, on his part said that this facility is helping African entrepreneurs “jump-start new ventures aimed at solving the continent’s energy deficit.” SCAF is bringing vitality to Africa’s high potential renewable energy sector, he said.
In view of the fact that the two biggest challenges that investors face in providing seed capital financing to early stage projects and companies are the higher transaction costs and insufficient returns offered by these small, less mature and more risky ventures, SCAF is designed to address the two issues, offering investment fund managers two types of cost-sharing support for those willing to include a seed investment window within their overall investment strategy.
SCAF’s “enterprise development support” shares costs associated with sourcing deals, enterprise development services and seed scale investment transactions. As part of this arrangement, the fund manager commits to providing enterprise development services to qualified local entrepreneurs to identify and develop a pipeline of early stage clean energy investment opportunities.
The facility also offers “seed capital support” to offset the hurdle of higher perceived risks and lower expected returns when dealing with early stage clean energy project and enterprise developments. SCAF support ranges from10% to 20% of each seed capital investment and is used to cover some of the elevated project development costs that normally are financed by the project developer, such as technical assessments, environmental impact analyses and other aspects of the permitting process.
SCAF is implemented through the United Nations Environment Programme, the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank, with support from the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Foundation. Meanwhile, technical support for SCAF activities is provided by the Nairobi office of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fish catches from the sea to reduce by 2050

A report released Tuesday by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), predicts that by 2050 fish catches will have decreased in nearly all areas.
The report - environmental and economic health of the North West Pacific—present and future, underlines growing concern from pressures such as pollution, over-fishing and climate change.
It says by 2050 most of the top predators will have all but disappeared and the region’s fisheries will be heavily dominated by smaller species lower down the food chain such as Japanese scad—a fish that is on average only 25cm in length.
Other predicted changes include a continued and widespread increase in nitrogen levels, especially in the eastern part of the North West Pacific region.
This is linked with discharges of wastewaters and agricultural runoff from the land and, to an extent, emissions from vehicles and shipping.
A press statement announcing the new report says nitrogen can trigger algal blooms, which in turn can poison fish and other marine creatures as well as contribute to the development of so called ‘dead zones’ - areas of sea with low oxygen concentrations.
The Marine Biodiversity Assessment, on behalf of countries to the North-West Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP), also flags concerns over the rise in alien invasive species, transported to the region from elsewhere often in or on ships, and a rise in extinctions of native marine species.
The report says: “By 2050 invasive species are predicted to increase towards the north (near the polar areas) in the region. Extinctions are predicted to be most prevelant in the marine area between Japan and Korea and the northern area offshore of Russia.”
Why will extinctions happen?
Explaining why extinctions will happen, the statement says “There is already evidence that concentrations of aragonite is falling across the region as C02 concentrations increase - a trend that is set to continue and at ever lower depths unless global greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced.”
It indicates that shell-building marine organisms such as corals and copepods at the base of the food chain which will be affected as a result of rising concentrations of C02 called acidification need minerals like aragonite to make their calcium skeletons.
In his reaction to the report, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “Decoupling growth from rising levels of pollution is the number one challenge facing this generation - this is nowhere more starkly spotlighted than in the current and future health of the world’s sea and oceans”.
“Multi-trillion dollar services, including fisheries, climate-control and ones underpinning industries such as tourism are at risk if impacts on the marine environment continue unchecked and unabated. Governments are rising to the challenge through actions under regional seas programme. This, and 17 other companion reports, underline that ambition and actions now need to match the scale and the urgency of the challenge,” he added.
The NOWPAP report, one of 18 Regional Seas reports released Tuesday at the 10th Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, has been compiled by UNEP to support the governments of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation who are signatories to NOWPAP.
Way Forward
The report makes a series of recommendations in order to boost sustainable development in the region, accelerate a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy and contribute to meeting the poverty-related Millennium Development Goals.
Meanwhile, it is largely envisaged that moving forward on preparing National Programmes of Action (NPAs) for the protecting the environment from land-based activities will be key.
To that end, the Republic of Korea has already completed and submitted its NPA in 2006, while the Russian Federation has one for the Arctic which could be extended,.
In 2007, Japan also enacted an equivalent of the NPA: the Basic Act on Ocean Policy, and established a legal system which regulates land-based activities in order to protect the marine environment, while China has an NPA under preparation.
The United Nations Environment Programme opines that countries should adopt and act on international provisions of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments: one important step towards cutting introductions of alien invasive species.
However, only the Republic of Korea has ratified the treaty although Japan has signaled it is keen to turn the ballast water convention into national law.
The challenge, which is underlined in the report with shipping figures, indicates that since 1990, growth in total shipping traffic in the region has grown from 5 million tons in 1995 to over 20 million tons in 2008. In China alone, it has grown from 2.5 million tons to close to 15 million over the same period.
According to UNEP, extending marine protected areas from the current 87, covering around four million hectares - well managed marine protected areas can for example improve spawning rates and fish stocks, as well as implementing the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
The Code of Conduct, which currently has Japan and the Republic of Korea being the best adherents, covers such issues as regulation and monitoring of fish stocks and fishing gear as well as embodying the precautionary principle for stocks.
At present, around 30 per cent of fish stocks in the region are classed as exploited and around 30 per cent are over exploited. Over 25 per cent are considered collapsed and the rest are classed as ‘rebuilding’.
The UNEP press statement adds too that if climate change is unchecked, surface sea temperatures could rise from around 14 degrees Celsius to over 16 degrees Celsius by 2100, with important implications for coral reefs and other temperature-sensitive marine organisms.
The Northwest Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP) was adopted in 1994 by the four Member States, the People’s Republic of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation as a part of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme. The implementation of NOWPAP is financed mainly by contributions from the Members.
The Northwest Pacific region features coastal and island ecosystems with spectacular marine life and commercially important fishing resources and is also one of the most densely populated parts of the world, resulting in enormous pressures and demands on the environment.
The overall goal of the NOWPAP is the wise use, development and management of the marine and coastal environment for human populations, while securing the region's sustainability for future generations.

Touring 150,000 of World’s Most Spectacular Nature Sites Now Possible From An Armchair

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has joined forces with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to create – an interactive, social media-based website that provides in-depth information on both the leading lights and hidden gems of the conservation world.
In view of this, touring 150,000 of the world’s protected areas from an armchair is now possible with just the click of a mouse.
A press statement from the UNEP says by using the latest satellite images, users can pinpoint individual protected areas – such as national parks or marine reserves - and zoom in for information on endangered species, native plant life or types of terrain.
Released Tuesday, the statement also says that Protected Planet further offers visitors the opportunity to upload photographs of their trips to protected areas, write travelogues of what they saw and experienced for Wikipedia and recommend places of interest nearby -information that can be shared through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
According to the statement issued in Nagoya, Japan jointly with the IUCN, this in turn might inspire others to make the journey, thus bringing much needed income to communities in often poor and sometimes remote areas of the globe.
It adds that the Ecotourism industry is growing fast and currently captures $77 billion of the global tourism market, and that “As concern about global warming increases, more tourists than ever are opting for eco-friendly holidays, including visits to protected areas.” “According to Travel Weekly magazine, sustainable tourism could grow to 25% of the world’s travel market by 2012, taking the value of the sector to approximately $473 billion a year,” the statement quotes.
On his part, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “National parks and protected areas represent one key and successful response to conserving and managing this planet’s nature-based assets. And in a way that can generate revenues and livelihoods for local communities.”
He adds that “Indeed by some estimates, $1-$2 billion of global tourism is linked to the world’s network of around 150,000 protected sites”.
“But the benefits of well-managed tourism are currently uneven with some parks popular magnets for tourists and others hidden gems that are relatively unknown. Protected Planet has the potential to change this by bringing the world’s protected areas into a living room near you. So whether you are a government official or a scientist or a citizen looking for a holiday of a lifetime, click on for a new adventure,” he urged.
Also commenting on the new partnership, Nik Lopoukhine, Chairman of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, said: “National parks and protected areas in many ways support life as we know it on planet Earth. will help identify and communicate the many values of protected areas to the world, including for carbon and freshwater, ensuring that the support base for these areas will be broadened.”
Buttressing the view shared by Achim Steiner, the disparity between popular parks and rarely visited ones is highlighted by the Annapurna Conservation Area in Nepal.
Containing some of the highest peaks in the world, Annapurna is Nepal’s largest protected area whose snow-capped peaks and mountain lakes can be viewed on
Between 2000 and 2004, Annapurna received over 260,000 visitors, generating US$7 million in revenue and a share of the income went towards conservation projects with local partners., launched Tuesday at the 10th Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, offers an ‘Explore the World’ function where users can take an online visit to several protected areas.
Alongside familiar names such as the Serengeti in Tanzania or Yellowstone National Park in the United States, there are thousands of lesser-known sites that attract far fewer visitors.
Citing Monte Cristi National Park in the Dominican Republic as an example of unknown tourist destinations, the statement says that although travel websites describe a remote site off the tourist radar, a quick scan on reveals diverse habitats of mangroves and beaches with abundance of birdlife, including pink-coloured spoonbills, pelicans and the magnificent frigatebird – a species renowned for its scarlet throat pouch that inflates like a balloon during mating season.
“ is about harnessing technology for biodiversity conservation. It showcases the beauty of protected areas and motivates anyone who discovers it to help, from a tourist to a government official”, says Craig Mills, Project Manager of Protected Planet from UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC).
“There is a huge network of people interested in protected areas out there that we haven’t been tapping into, provides the place and the tools for them to get involved and do their part”, he added.
According to the release announcing the UNEP/IUCN collaboration, as well as being an information mine for tourists, will also offer downloadable information on protected areas for governments, scientists and NGOs working on conservation.
It also foresees that online reports from tourists and visitors including sightings of species have the potential to strengthen that work.
Meanwhile, brings together information from all over the internet, including species data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), protected area descriptions from Wikipedia, photos from Panoramio and Flickr and Google maps. The website also expands on the World Database on Protected Areas currently managed by UNEP-WCMC.
It further applies an innovative, ‘Web 2.0’ approach to conservation and will be a powerful tool to help monitor future biodiversity targets.
With half a million photos already on the site, has the potential to supply vast amounts of biodiversity information to the global community and, most importantly, to prove that it has never been easier for one person to make a difference to conservation.

Water Aid, Partners Mark Global Handwashing Day at Kumasi

Participants at The Workshop

The fact that WaterAid Ghana and its partners were attending a mid-year review workshop at Kumasi as the global community marked Handwashing Day on Friday, did not deter them from marking and observing the day themselves.
Even though the national celebration was held at Ho, the Volta Regional capital, the over 40 participants attending the mid-year review workshop created space in their loaded programme to observe the worldwide celebration, which had as its local theme, “Saving Lives Through Handwashing.”
This they did, by donning ‘T’ shirts and caps made to commemorate the day, practicing proper handwashing at critical moments such as meal time and after using the washroom, and also engaging in a mini celebration, by listening to a statement from the representative of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) at the workshop.
In the statement to mark the Day, Mr. Kweku Quansah, a Programme officer of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), explained that the local theme was chosen “because children, especially after five years - close to about 50,000, die as a result of diarrhoea, of which close to 88% are the underlying causes of lack of handwashing by their mothers, by their siblings etc.”
“So the emphasis is on how we can save lives through handwashing with soap,” Mr. Quansah added.
Informing the workshop that the national celebration was ongoing at the same time at the Mfodjo Park in Ho, the EHSD Programme Officer communicated that the national durbar was expected to be addressed by the Vice President John Mahama and also involve a lot of political activities.
He also disclosed to the workshop that simultaneously with the national durbar, there was ongoing, another launch of the Day sponsored by USAID, a United States aid agency and CHF, an organisation concerned with behavioural change, in Accra at the British Council Hall, to enable those who could not take part in the Ho programme still take part in activities marking the day in Ghana.
Mr. Quansah also divulged that other sanitation activities had been planned, such as sanitation advocacy competition activities, explaining, “we want to have what we call the pledge support in global handwashing.”
He elucidated that the pledge support will entail a request of the support of all who attend the national launch to pledge their support for global handwashing in the course of the year, adding that the national celebration also involved a national dialogue for children, which took place in Ho the previous day, October 14.
The programme, he expatiated, brought school children together to express their views on handwashing, saying that radio and television programmes on handwashing will continue this week on some TV and radio stations in the country.
Mr. Quansah also spoke of handwashing stations that will be mounted at markets, lorry stations and other public places across the country, to educate people on the observance of proper handwashing as part of the education drive of his outfit and urged all partners to take part in the activities lined up.

Ghana Cannot Reach Sanitation MDG Target of 54% Despite Major Interventions


Despite the massive gains made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 78% in water coverage, it is unlikely that Ghana can attain its MDG target of 54% in sanitation by 2015.
This is because the country is seriously lagging behind in improved sanitation coverage, which currently stands at 13% according to the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) made up of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
As a matter of fact, whereas according to Ghana’s Water and Sanitation Sector Monitoring Platform (WSMP), summary sheet for 2009, coverage of the use of improved drinking water for 2008 was 83.8%, it was 12.4% for improved sanitation for the same period (Demographic and Health Survey 2008).
The WSMP 2009 report states; “This indicates that, according to the JMP definition for access to improved drinking water, Ghana continues to be on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for use of improved drinking water which is 78%, but the same cannot be said about improved sanitation, which will be difficult to achieve by 2015 at the current rate of use.”
It rather projects that “coverage for 2015 for improved water and sanitation will be 91.5% and 15% respectively, if progress made between 1990 and 2008 remains constant.
Re-echoing this in an exclusive interview with in Kumasi, Friday, Mr. Kweku Quansah, Programme Officer at the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), said with 13% national coverage in sanitation, Ghana is one of the countries with the least coverage in the sub-region of Africa.
Stating that the country needs to move to 54% access to improved sanitation in the next five years (2015), he said “after we have even reached, which we are not too sure, we will still have 46% of Ghanaians who will not have access after the 2015 deadline.”
Affirming that in the unlikely event that Ghana attains a national coverage of 54% in sanitation by 2015 there will still be a large chunk of Ghanaians without access to latrines, he stressed that, that notwithstanding the country cannot afford to fail this time round in upping sanitation coverage, in view of the enormous assistance received from government and development partners for the sector.
“This time round we don’t have any reason to fail; we don’t just have to fail,” he stressed.
Mr. Quansah further stated that “now the international community has realised that Ghana is off track and they are giving us all the necessary support to be able to come back on track in terms of sanitation delivery.”
He said that “now there is increased collaboration between the Government of Ghana and other donors, in terms of technical assistance, in terms of investment, to make sure that Ghana is on track.”
Expatiating on the collaboration, the EHSD programme officer intimated thus: “All around our programming areas, we’ve got a lot of support from UNICEF in terms of capacity building, we’ve got a lot of support from Royal Netherlands Embassy in terms of delivering policies and investment funds and strategic action plans, to be able to really put us on track.”
He also spoke of six development pillars of the current NDC government, one of which is on sanitation, saying that government is so committed that it has supported the sanitation directorate to develop the Ghana compact, which was presented at the High Level Meeting (HLM) in Washington in April this year.
According to Mr. Kweku Quansah, Ghana can also not fail in increasing sanitation coverage, in view of the fact that the Ghana Government has made clear commitments in the compact as to the way forward for sanitation, revised the country’s sanitation policy, developed a National Environmental and Sanitation Strategic Action Plan (NESSAP) and is in the process of finalising the country’s Sanitation Investment Plan.
He stated that all of these “point to the fact that we cannot fail the people because all the political and administrative structures are ripe for us to really move the country forward in terms of sanitation.”
The programme officer added that “on top of this, sanitation has been captured as one of the indicators in the FOAT (Functional Organisational Assessment Tool), which is used in the assessment of districts to give them support in terms of DDF (District Development Fund),” which is part of donor support for the districts.
He also disclosed that Government has now accepted the Polluter Pays Principle policy, which is a system where a lot of funding can be accessed to support sanitation in the country.

Ghana Gov’t Commits US$750 Million to Sanitation for Next Five Years


The Government of Ghana has committed US$150 million annually to the sanitation sector, for the next five years (which adds up to US$750 million), in order to generally address Ghana’s very poor performance in sanitation coverage and specifically improve its current rate of progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for sanitation.
In addition to this amount, US$200 million has been slated for both water and sanitation annually, for the next five years, beginning from 2011.
Stating these during an exclusive interview with in Kumasi on Friday, Mr. Kweku Quansah, a Programme Officer of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), said “It is on record that government is putting in close to $350 million every year, starting from 0.5% of GDP for hygiene behavioural changes.”
He was of the view that with such investment, government has shown a lot of commitment that it is ready to deliver.
Mr. Quansah explained that even though Ghana is close to achieving the MDG target for water, government has had to invest in the water sector, because “the peri-urban cities still have problems – but we also need resources to continue maintaining or improving, otherwise we can easily decline.”
Expatiating further, he said “$200 million is for water and sanitation, $150 million is specifically for sanitation and 0.5% is for behavioural change activities.”
The EHSD officer said the $150 million is geared towards dealing with liquid waste (real sanitation) – the latrines, the hygiene education, the building of septage plants etc., while the 0.5% of GDP is looking at behavioural change activities.
Meanwhile, the commitment of the Government of Ghana (GoG), which is documented in the Ghana SWA (Sanitation and Water for All) Compact launched in April this year, states: “In order to overcome the huge deficit in sanitation coverage and sustain achievements in water, GoG will make allocations consistent with sector investment plans for improving pro-poor and priority services.”
It continues that “Based on initial calculations, GoG commits to increase allocations in budget statements for sanitation and water, and work with Development Partners and the private sector to ensure that allocations : reach US$200m annually towards sanitation and water improvements to meet MDG targets and sustain improvements beyond”
The compact states: “To address the ‘crisis’ situation of indiscriminate discharging of sullage, septage and faecal sludge that affects mostly residents of poor neighbourhoods and into water courses, rivers and beaches, further allocations will be made to mainstream environmental sanitation measures to meet MDG 7.”
“In order to achieve the above, GoG commits to: make additional allocations of US$150m annually towards hygienic treatment and disposal of septage and faecal sludge as well as sullage and storm-water management,” it adds.
Touching on awareness raising for behavioural change, the compact states: “Poor sanitation has been identified as one of the critical challenges facing the sector. The framework for environmental sanitation development which served as a basic building block for developing the National Environmental Sanitation Strategy and Action Plan (NESSAP), identifies awareness raising for behavioural change as a basic means of improving sanitation.”
It concludes that “In order to realise this GoG commits to: make further allocations up to the minimum threshold of 0.5% of GDP to cover capacity building for hygiene education including proper handwashing methods, country-wide outreach of Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and general enhancement of enabling elements.”  

Ghana Embraces CLTS to Improve Sanitation Coverage


In order to arrest its low sanitation coverage woes, Ghana has adopted the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) mode for its rural communities.
With the CLTS method, a community is made to lead in behavioural change through mapping out of defecating routes and engaging in a walk of shame, during which the reality and consequences of their open defecation behaviour is brought to light.
After this, members of the community are educated on the importance of observing proper sanitation practices and assisted technically to build their own latrines with inexpensive materials, so they desist from defecating openly (currently about 22% of Ghanaians practice open defecation – according to the Ghana Water and Sanitation Monitoring Platform (WSMP), “There was a marginal 1.3% decline in open defecation from 24.4% in 2006 to 23.1% in 2008.”)
Disclosing Ghana’s decision to employ the CLTS approach in dealing with the country’s poor sanitation coverage, Mr. Kweku Quansah, a Programme Officer of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD), said a consultant had already been contracted by government with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), known as Simon BB to assist the country roll out a very effective programme.
“Simon BB is a world-class consultant in CLTS and is trying to develop a classic roll out plan for a scale up plan for CLTS in Ghana,” he said in an exclusive interview with in Kumasi on Friday.
Mr. Quansah divulged that Ghana has been able to develop an Open Defecation Free (ODF) guideline and has invited Camal Karl, the initiator of CLTS, “to come and really build the capacity of CLTS facilitators.”
He explained that Dr. Camal Karl is the initiator and originator of Community-Led Total Sanitation approach, and is coming to Ghana by the second week in December to build the capacity of CLTS facilitators in Ghana.
“This is going to be supported by UNICEF and we also have what we call the ODF Community Awards – this year, as part of the World Toilet Day on 19th of November, we are going to give awards to communities which have been able to achieve open defecation free and it is very very crucial to us, because that is one of the issues in Community-Led Total Sanitation,” he intimated.
He stated further that the President of Ghana will also launch the country’s Sanitation Policy on November 16, 2010 and on the same day outdoor the National Environmental and Sanitation Strategic Action Plan.
Still speaking to what government is doing to address the country’s poor sanitation coverage performance, Mr. Quansah revealed; “We are also working on a shared latrine study – we are really asking consultants to look at the issue of shared latrines and on top of that, this year we are going to celebrate the World Toilet Day on 19th of November in Kumasi, Moshi Zongo.”   
He reiterated that the activities already mentioned are some of the activities lined up for the rest of the year, to enable government  keep its commitment to sanitation at all levels – at the national, at the regional and at the district level.
The EHSD programme officer opined that “the districts are supposed to own sanitation, because throughout the decentralisation programme, a lot of powers have been given to the districts to be able to move sanitation forward and they have all the commitments from the presidency, they’ve got all the support from the NGOs and the CSOs to be able to deliver on this.”
He therefore urged them to continue to support sanitation, as healthy people always live in a clean environment.
Affirming that sanitation refers to both rural and urban populations, Mr. Quansah explained that CLTS however, strives well in rural communities “but in urban centres we have what we call enforcing the building code.”
He stated that there are building codes in Ghana that have been in existence since 1948, which requires anyone who puts up a house to include a latrine, adding that if the Assemblies enforce the building code, things will straighten up in the urban areas.
The EHSD officer reminded that it was because of the failure to enforce building codes and bye-laws of the assemblies that sanitation courts have been introduced in the country to deal with obstinate citizens.
He however stated that sanitation officers on the field use a lot of approaches including sensitising people on the need to observer good sanitation practices and offering technical assistance on how to build infrastructure, and that taking people to the law courts is always the last option.
“And I can assure you, only 20% of the people they visit are sent to court as a result of the non-adherence to issues they’ve discussed, so it is not always the first choice, but it is rather the last option,” he said.

Africa Benefits From New Mapping to Curb Climate Change and Boost Biodiversity


Africa, as well as Asia and Latin America, are three continents that are currently benefitting from a new mapping strategy, where a country’s carbon stocks overlap with areas that are rich in wildlife and important for local peoples’ livelihoods, a statement issued by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has disclosed.
According to the statement issued in Nagoya, Japan, the aim is to support international efforts to conserve forests in order to combat climate change, but in a way that delivers other benefits including conservation of economically-important ecosystems linked with water, fertile soils and other crucial services.
Countries in Africa already benefitting from the new mapping system are Nigeria and Tanzania, with D.R. Congo also high on the agenda.
Highlights of the African countries in the new mapping system indicate that the Federal Republic of Nigeria holds 7.5 Gigatonnes (Gt) of land-based carbon. The largest areas of high carbon density are found in the southern parts of the country, mostly along the Niger Delta and in the rainforest regions.
It states that approximately 4% of Nigeria’s total land-based carbon stock is in areas of importance for bird species (Important Bird Areas; IBAs), and more than 8% is found in Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee distribution areas. Significantly, about 15% of Nigeria’s carbon stock is inside existing Protected Areas and 86% of the carbon within IBAs is protected.
As Africa’s primary oil producer, Nigeria has allocated a considerable amount of land for the purposes of oil and exploration. Understanding how this land is distributed relative to carbon stocks can help identify where carbon stocks may come under pressure from oil and gas development in the future. Approximately 13% of Nigeria’s total carbon stock (0.97 Gt) is located in land that has been designated for oil and gas exploration,” the statement says.
On the other hand, Tanzania’s total land-based stock of carbon is estimated to be close to 12 Gt with the Kilimanjaro region, at 359 tonnes per hectare, and the Kagera region at close to 200 tonnes per hectare having the highest density of carbon in their vegetation and soils.
It says Tanzania is rich in biodiversity, with 359 mammal species and 183 species of amphibians, with species range data indicating that many areas potentially rich in mammals and amphibians coincide with areas of high carbon density.
Meanwhile, the country’s Protected Areas network stores around a third of national carbon stocks.  However, nearly a quarter of the country’s carbon is found in areas of high carbon density that are currently outside formal Protected Areas.
One source of pressure on carbon stocks in Tanzania, the statement reveals, is human-caused fires, adding that in 2006-2007 such fires may have affected 180 metric tons of biomass carbon. Of this amount, 30% occurred in high carbon density areas, which are most likely to suffer long-term fire damage to carbon stocks.
The maps, being compiled by a partnership led by the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), are overlaying the carbon held in the vegetation and soils of a country’s terrestrial ecosystems with other key features.
These include population densities; economic activities such as honey and gum production; the location of existing Protected Areas and biodiversity.
Ascribing the reason for the new mapping, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “The aim is to assist governments in setting priorities for carbon investments. In Tanzania for example, several carbon rich parts of the country are in areas where the ranges of almost 70% of the country’s mammal species overlap”.
“The mapping also reveals that almost a quarter of Tanzania’s total carbon stocks are in high carbon density areas that are not formally protected. This is the kind of science and analysis that governments from Ecuador to Cambodia are also now looking at to maximise the benefits of investments in REDD+ and accelerate a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy,” he added.
UNEP-WCMC’s work is being supported through two streams of funding: the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and the UN-REDD Programme.
Maps have already been developed for Cambodia; Jiangxi Province in China; Ecuador; Honduras; apart from Nigeria and Tanzania, while under the UN-REDD Programme, UNEP-WCMC is expecting to do further work for the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia.
The launch of the new mapping system coincides with the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 10th Conference of the Parties Meeting in Nagoya where progress on the 2010 Biodiversity Target committed to by the world’s governments will be reviewed, and other issues, including biodiversity and climate change, will be considered.
The launch of the reports comes in advance of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Cancun, Mexico this November, where moving forward on REDD+ will be high on the agenda.
Also sharing his thoughts on the new maps, Jon Hutton, Director of UNEP-WCMC, said: “Tropical forests host more than two thirds of the world’s terrestrial species, and provide vital ecosystem services that help to maintain people’s livelihoods. With global biodiversity under unprecedented threat, identifying areas that are high in both carbon and biodiversity offers an opportunity to direct scarce financial resources in ways that create win-win situations for climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation.”
Under the UNFCCC, governments are negotiating a mechanism to provide payments for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation plus additional forest “activities” (REDD+), with the aim of halving deforestation by 2020.
It is estimated that currently close to 18% of greenhouse gas emissions—equivalent to around six Gigatonnes (Gt) of C02 - are linked with land use change, mainly through forest loss. In 2004, this amounted to more greenhouse gas emissions than those of the transport sector.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nature’s resources can only eradicate poverty if their value is appreciated

A free book published this week by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Birdlife International and Pavan Sukhdev — leader of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study, has noted that nature’s riches can play a major role in poverty eradication, only if governments and businesses recognise the true economic value of the goods and services the environment provides.
It warns that biodiversity loss is not only an environmental problem but also a fundamental threat to people’s livelihoods, wellbeing and ability to confront the impacts of climate change.
The full colour publication — which is written in clear, engaging language and aimed at policymakers, journalists and the general public — comes on the eve of the world’s biggest international conference on biodiversity, in Nagoya, Japan.
According to Dr Dilys Roe , a senior researcher at IIED, “The ongoing decline of the world’s biological resources, such as rainforests, coral reefs and agricultural biodiversity, threatens to increase poverty and people’s vulnerability to climate change,” and as such, must be tackled together rather than in isolation.
Although the book shows how nature provides humanity with goods and services worth trillions of dollars, it cautions that these benefits are threatened by policies that fail to treat the environment and human wellbeing as two sides of the same coin.
A press statement issued by the IIED to announce the publication said “Biodiversity includes the crops we eat and the insects that pollinate them; the plants we use for both traditional medicines and modern drugs; the bacteria that help create the soil that sustains farming; and the microscopic plankton at the base of food chains that end with fish on our dinner plates. It includes ecosystems such as forests that regulate water supplies and the global climate.”
The statement added that while millions of the world’s poorest people depend heavily on nature for their livelihoods, efforts to use biodiversity to boost incomes often fail because of poor policies and legal frameworks that govern how biological resources are used and by whom.
On his part, David Thomas of BirdLife International stated that “Systems that communities have developed over generations to sustainably manage their natural resources have often been swept aside by policies that favour short-term commercial gains,”.
He submitted further that “By supporting these communities’ long-term stewardship of the land and the sea, policymakers can tackle two urgent global issues, which are extreme poverty and the loss of biodiversity, at the same time.”
The book outlines the economic, scientific and moral arguments for shifting to a new way of managing the Earth’s resources that brings benefits to all in a sustainable way.
It argues that biological resources can lift people out of poverty and help countries to build green economies but says that for this to happen the true value of biodiversity must be included in economic valuations and government policies.
Next week, governments from around the world will gather in Nagoya , Japan for the 10th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. They are set to make key decisions that could determine whether current and future generations will continue to benefit from nature’s riches.
Meanwhile, copies of the book will be made available to delegates at the Nagoya conference, while the book’s authors will also be available to talk about the issues it raises at IIED’s booth (No. 52) on Tuesday 19 October at 13.00 and Wednesday 27 October at 13.00

Friday, October 15, 2010

Greater support needed for effective coverage of biodiversity issues


Media specialists at the International Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED) and Internews Earth Journalism Network, have stated that journalists need more training and greater access to sources and information to be able to effectively report on biodiversity issues.
“Journalists need more training and greater access to sources and information if they are to effectively tell an under-reported story that has profound implications for livelihoods, health and businesses the world over - the silent decline in the planet’s biological resources,” they said.
One of the media specialists who will formally launch their Biodiversity Media Alliance (BMA) during the conference of parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity on 27 October in Nagoya , Japan, Mike Shanahan of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), said “The declining status of the earth’s natural riches threatens to undermine the future prospects of all people but so far this story has gone unreported, and outside of professional circles very few people are even aware of what is at stake.”
According to a statement issued by the IIED, the BMA partners will work together to support journalists in developing countries to report on the world’s biodiversity, what its decline means for humanity, and how it can be tackled.
A second media specialist, Alison Coleman, IUCN Regional Communications Officer, for her part, stated that “Journalists generally consider biodiversity loss to be a less urgent issue than climate change or the economy,” adding that “The media needs to do a better job of explaining its importance to economies, livelihoods and people’s health.”
To her, that will be critical to the achievement of the targets in the new strategic plan that 193 governments are due to adopt in Nagoya later in the month.
The statement indicated that already the alliance has created an online social network — — where hundreds of journalists and biodiversity experts can interact, saying it aims to develop training activities to ensure that journalists can tell the story of biodiversity in ways that are relevant to their audiences.
Adding his voice, James Fahn, executive director of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network said “Media capacity building programmes on climate change have led to a significant increase in public awareness of this issue, but so far donors have not treated biodiversity as enough of a priority.”.
He declared that “When supported, media coverage of biodiversity has had a direct impact on policies – such as when Vietnamese journalists helped protect Tam Dao National Park and uncovered a wildlife smuggling ring.”
Meanwhile, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) new strategic plan, to be adopted in Nagoya , includes 20 targets to be achieved by 2020 or sooner, to limit the loss of biodiversity and ensure that natural resources are used fairly and sustainably.
Shanahan submits further; “Target 1 of the CBD’s new strategy states that, by 2020 at the latest, all people should be aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably,” saying, while “Journalists have a vital role to play in making sure that happens, the Biodiversity Media Alliance aims to help them do that.”

Ghana, Six Others Benefit From UNEP Pilot Partnership On Green Economy


The United Nations Environment programme (UNEP), has began the implementation of a regional pilot partnership in Africa covering seven countries, which are Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa, in advance of the Rio+20 Summit where the Green Economy is one of the two main themes.
According to a UNEP statement announcing this on Wednesday, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP, Mr. Steiner, pointed out that although the ‘world was awash with crises’ and that “It may seem that escalating crises and the often glacial international response means countries, including those on the African continent, are unable to respond,” Africa is not to be blamed for this.
Speaking at sessions on climate change and Green Economy, the UNEP Executive Director added that “Indeed, when you look across this continent, leaders and business, communities and citizens are seizing opportunities to re-define and re-focus their development paths along Green Economic lines.”
“In part this comes out of understandable frustration with the pace of change internationally. And in part because many leaders here have glimpsed a future based on a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient economy in which environmental sustainability is the engine room,” the UN Under Secretary General opined.
Highlighting these transitions with several examples, Mr. Steiner mentioned that in July this year Heads of State meeting under the Economic Community of West African States endorsed an initiative by President Aboulaye Wade of Senegal on significantly expanding solar power in order to boost energy access.
He also said in Kenya where UNEP is headquartered, a new government feed-in tariff has triggered investment in what will be one of the biggest wind farms on the Continent, producing 300 MW of power in the Turkana region.

He further listed the restoration of Kenya’s Mau forest complex, after decades of degradation, which is underway after assessments produced by the government and with support from UNEP, which he indicated, were indicating that the value of that forest to the economy - including tourism, hydro power, agriculture and the tea industry- is perhaps as much as US$1.5 billion a year.

Mr. Steiner disclosed that Ethiopia is also part of this transition, not least through some of its pioneering work in ‘green accounting’ which has been putting monetary values on soil erosion and  deforestation in terms of the impacts on GDP and the tripling of forest cover since the turn of the century.
“Uganda, a country where 85 per cent of the working population is employed in agriculture, has turned to organic production to boost exports and incomes. Farm-gate prices for organic vanilla, ginger and pineapples are higher than for conventional produce,” he divulged.
The UNEP Executive Director continued that since 2004, the number of certified organic farmers in Uganda has grown from 45,000 to over 200,000, the area of land under organic cultivation from 185,000 hectares to close to 300,000 hectares, while organic exports have increased from US$3.7 million in 2003/4, to US$6.3 million in 2004/5, before jumping to US$22.8 million in 2007/8.
Mr. Steiner underlined that a Green Economy was as much about spotlighting the economic absurdities at large in the world as showcasing smart policy decisions, adding that around US$27 billion of fisheries subsidies are fuelling over-fishing and threatening the lives and livelihoods of one billion people who directly rely on fish as protein.
“Why are we investing in the means of capture - over capture - rather than in the recovery of the stock?” Mr. Steiner quizzed.
He said Fossil fuel subsidies totalling some US$500 billion a year, according to research, rarely reaches the poor and benefits the middle classes, fuel companies and equipment makers.

“And which contribute to economic inefficiencies. Greenhouse gas emissions and the perpetuation of fossil fuel dependency or agricultural subsides, including fertilizers and pesticides allied to food wastes, represent one of the biggest market failures globally,” said the UNEP Executive Director.

Earlier Mr. Steiner attended a debate on Environmental Diplomacy, saying it might seem new to some, but that it was as “as old as the Entoto hills, near Addis Ababa”.
He said the difference between the past and the present in which communities and countries often used time-honoured traditions to resolve natural resource disputes, was the sheer scale of humanity’s contemporary footprint allied to the fact that pollution and degradation is now ‘exported’ hundreds and thousands of miles.
“Some of the poorest and most vulnerable can become victims as a result of pollution generated not by them but by others - Environmental Diplomacy is about finding fair and equitable solutions to such realities,” Mr. Steiner said.
“And perhaps more importantly of finding cooperative and forward-looking agreements between over 190 nations for managing-down impacts en route to sustainable development—agreements that recognise the historical responsibilities of some countries and increasingly the rights of generations yet born,” he added.
“Rights to a healthy and productive planet that will allow the next generation to reach its full potential rather than being marginalised or short-changed by an over-exploitative previous one,” said Mr. Steiner.
Delegates agreed that evolving Environmental Diplomacy is becoming an increasingly important and strategic policy platform for international relations and called for a further workshop that engages Africa diplomats at the UN headquarters in New York.
The decision to establish an Africa-wide Green Economy conference has come in response to the Bamako Declaration.
The Declaration, including fostering a Green Economy, was made at the 13th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, the Secretariat which was hosted by UNEP in June this year in Mali.

GJA 2010 Award Winners

GJA 2010 Award Winners
Dzifa, Emelia and Gertrude

GJA 2011 Award Winners

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

New WASH-JN Executives

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

Celebrating Award

Celebrating Award
The benefits of Award Winning!

Hard Work Pays!

Hard Work Pays!
In a pose with my plaque