Monday, June 27, 2011

Lifeline for Africa’s freshwater species


Africa is being given a unique opportunity to conserve its tremendous diversity of freshwater species, which is a critical resource for many of Africa’s poorest people, says a press statement issued in Gland, Switzerland by the International Conservation Union, IUCN last week.

This chance has been offered the African continent, through an online interactive map, released by IUCN for each of the 7,079 river and lake sub-catchments across mainland Africa that reveals information on the distribution, conservation and ecological needs of 4,989 freshwater species, of which 21% are already threatened.

This tool and the accompanying IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ report ‘The Diversity of Life in African Freshwaters: Underwater, Under Threat’ provide vital information to help plan development in ways that minimize or avoid impacts to freshwater species.

As a result of this, decision makers across Africa can now decide to use their water resources sustainably, and avoid paying millions of dollars, as is the case in Europe, to rectify poorly planned wetland development.

Commenting on the unique break for the continent, William Darwall, Manager of the project and of the IUCN Species Programme Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, said “The importance of Africa’s freshwater species goes largely unrecognised. A quarter of the world’s inland fisheries are located on the African continent, and in some countries freshwater animals account for 75% of the protein intake of people,” “Freshwater species often succumb to collateral damage as development proceeds but in many cases this can be avoided through careful planning based on solid information.”

For his part, Paul Skelton, Managing Director, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, stated; “This is a real milestone in the history of African freshwater biodiversity – nothing as good, or like it, is out there at this point in time,”  “The information on freshwater fishes has already proved its worth in a number of conservation planning projects in South Africa, including work on the legal protection of threatened species and the establishment of a national framework of freshwater protected areas.”

Adding her voice, Aimé Nianogo, IUCN Regional Director for Central and Western Africa noted that “This production represents a very important contribution for Africa”. She said, “ In fact I expect African experts to use it as an information and training tool on aquatic species and for planning of the exploitation of fish resources. I also believe that African researchers will help in the periodic update of this list, which is of course not meant to remain idle.”

Several environmental management projects are already using information from this study to monitor the impacts of a hydro-electric dam on the Gambia River; promote a trans-boundary wetland conservation area in the Rusizi Delta; monitor water quality in the Okavango Delta; and integrate freshwater species in management of the Moulouya River catchment in Morocco.

According to the report the number of threatened freshwater species in Africa will increase dramatically if development of water resources is not planned sustainably. Major threats include loss or degradation of habitat to agriculture, and impacts of new infrastructure such as dams for irrigation and hydropower.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (or the IUCN Red List) is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant and animal species and based on an objective system for assessing the risk of extinction of a species, should no conservation action be taken.
Species listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable are collectively described as ‘Threatened’.
The IUCN Red List is not just a register of names and associated threat categories, but a rich compendium of information on the threats to the species, their ecological requirements, where they live, and information on conservation actions that can be used to reduce or prevent extinctions.

Abu Dhabi to host Eye on Earth summit


Abu Dhabi is set to host the first ever Eye on Earth Summit from December 12-15 2011, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), according to a release jointly issued by the UNEP, summit secretariat, the Abu Dhabi Environmental Agency and the Environmental Data Initiative, Abu Dhabi.

The summit, according to the release, will focus on the issue of greater access to environmental and societal data, for which Abu Dhabi has over the past ten years undertaken to develop thought and practice leadership.

Giving a backgrounder to the upcoming summit, the four organizers said despite progress made after Abu Dhabi launched, under the guidance and patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg In 2002, much still remains to be done.

The release said although the AGEDI was designed nine years ago, to help the world’s emerging economies acquire and best use of environmental information, there is still missing, inaccessible or hidden data that cannot contribute to decision-making, but may instead result in flawed judgments with serious consequences.

According to the organizers, Abu Dhabi’s Eye on Earth summit thus aims to find the solutions that will fill those gaps, and by so doing, help the world move towards a more sustainable future, based on informed policy-making.

“Eye on Earth will address this challenge by convening world leaders, the environmental and societal information networking movement and others to identify and celebrate ‘best-impact’; those data initiatives from around the globe delivering greatest benefit,; reach a consensus on the key issues regarding greater data accessibility and encourage stakeholders to collaborate to strengthen existing initiatives and, where necessary, to launch new ones.”

The Summit will be hosted by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), facilitated by the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and held in partnership with UNEP, while an exhibition will showcase the latest developments in environmental information and technology. 

“Across the world, sharing information has always been crucial to good decision-making. Ensuring that environmental and societal data is accessible to all those who need it whether scientists, communities, governments or thought-leaders, is essential to moving the world towards a future founded on informed policy-making. This is especially the case in emerging economies and to ensure sustainable development patterns. I am very proud that EAD will be hosting this summit,” said H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD.

Welcoming the announcement of the Summit, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP said: “In the run-up to the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Eye on Earth presents a timely opportunity to identify practical measures to bridge the environmental knowledge gap and deliver the information and data needed to support a transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient global Green Economy.”

EAD is Abu Dhabi’s environmental regulator and advises the government on environmental policy, while UNEP is the designated authority of the United Nations system in environmental issues at the global and regional level. UNEP’s mission is ‘to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations’.

Energy Commission receives $691,000 grant to reduce fuel shortages


Ghana’s Energy Commission has received a US$ 691,000 grant from the United States Trade and Development Authority (USTDA), to help it deal with the country’s incessant fuel shortages.
Specifically, the grant is to aid the commission conduct a feasibility study into the development of a floating liquefied natural gas storage and regasification unit in Ghana.
It is expected that the project will significantly reduce fuel shortages and supply disruptions plaguing the Ghanaian energy sector, enable Ghana import liquefied natural gas from the international market, maintain a buffer supply, and regasify the fuel at a significant cost savings over liquid fuels.
The project is also expected to improve availability of gas and also reduce harmful emissions, as power plants replace heavy fuel oil with more environmentally friendly gas.
According to a press release issued by United States Embassy in Ghana earlier this week, the $691,000 grant will assist the Energy Commission in determining the cost effectiveness and technical viability of the emplacement of a ship-mounted liquefied natural gas import terminal, storage, and regasification unit.
It said additionally, it will examine the viability of the accompanying infrastructure, such as mooring and pipelines, required to transmit the gas to shore.
Mr. Alfred Ahenkora, Executive Secretary of the Energy Commission, and Ambassador Donald. G. Teitelbaum, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, each signed the grant on Monday, June 13, at the U.S. Embassy in Accra on behalf of their respective countries.
 Commenting on the grant, USTDA Director, Leocadia Zak, stated, “We are very pleased to support a project that is so important to the Ghanaian people and such a high priority for the Government of Ghana, we are excited for the opportunity to involve U.S. businesses in the project.”
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies. It links U.S. businesses to export opportunities by funding project planning activities, pilot projects, and reverse trade missions, while creating sustainable infrastructure and economic growth in partner countries.

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