Tuesday, November 29, 2011

African Youth Call for More Justice in Climate Change Negotiations


Young African delegates gathering in Johannesburg, South Africa, have called on leaders of the World to deliver an outcome that would ensure climate, ecological, economical and gender justice at the 17th Climate Change Conference in Durban.
The youth from all sub regions in Africa who met Monday at a three-day landmark summit to discuss and consolidate their position on issues bothering on climate change, acknowledged that climate change impacts threaten Africa’s food security, health, lands, seeds, rights, natural resources and livelihoods.
Stating that it also presents imminent discrimination and violence against women and other vulnerable groups through forced migrations, loss of natural resources, and therefore the basis for their survival, the youth also called on their leaders to set the conditions that will be mutually beneficial for the creation of green and decent jobs, and allow them to take advantage of the broad spectrum of green jobs.
The youth specifically discussed how they could influence policies that ensure that consumers are more carbon conscious and embrace more sustainable lifestyles; opportunities for green job creation; how to make worthwhile energy efficient choices; and the power of social networking, to mobilising communities and awaken world leaders towards more effective sustainable development options.
In a statement at the end of their deliberation, the African Youth recognised that their unemployment predicament can be tackled by a green economy, which can generate more and better jobs that would contribute to an acceleration of sustainable development. 
The statement, which builds on the Bandung Declaration adopted at the UNEP Tunza International Children and Youth Conference that was held from 27 September to 1 October 2011 in Indonesia, further recognised that education is the cornerstone of human existence, and that as capacity building at all levels is of key importance, the capacity of young people should be built accordingly, so that they can play their part in auditing and implementing policies that are related to sustainable development.
The Statement of the African Youth, which also builds on  the Inaugural Generation Earth Youth Summit on Climate Change, which took place in Johannesburg in October 2011, lays out their commitment to lobby their governments to make climate change issues and Rio+20 Earth Summit a top priority.
The youth say they are also committed to adopt more sustainable lifestyles to reduce their ecological footprints, educate their communities and raise awareness about sustainable production and consumption and contribute to the global, regional and national discussions on sustainable development.
A press release jointly issued by Tunza, UNEP and Bayer and the Environmental Affairs Department of South Africa, announced that the Africa Youth Statement will be presented to the African Ministers of Environment at their consultative meeting, which will be held from 4-5 December 2011 in Durban, under the auspices of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), with the recommendation to ensure that the concerns of Africa’s youth are brought at the highest level of climate change debates.
According to the release, the principal challenge affecting the youth is unemployment and under-employment, despite the fact that their professional skills and qualifications are on the rise.
It adds that Africa’s youth remains the continent’s most important resource and have the potential to play a major and effective part in overcoming the many challenges that are slowing down Sustainable development in Africa.
However, it states that in order to tap into this potential, the youth must be informed and empowered so that they can participate in decision-making and implementation of those decisions and must also be empowered to protect, preserve and sustain the ecosystems whose services power life on earth.
“Even as they are empowered, young people must learn to spot and seize opportunities, particularly those that are to be found in the green economy”.
Commenting on the African Youth’s statement, Mounkaila Goumandakoye, Regional Director of UNEP in Africa, said: “There is still a long and challenging way to go if we want to live up to the values and principles of sustainable development and make them a reality. Taking one step beyond the deadlocks which we face in many areas, we will need to learn how to listen to each other, to integrate views and interests to come to practical solutions. We are delighted that African youth can clearly identify these challenges and propose strategic and collaborative action that address their individual, local, national and continental plight and help Africa walk purposely through the sustainable development path. ”
Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the consequences of global warming are likely to be more severe in Africa, even though the World Meteorological Organisation recently reaffirmed that African countries are already suffering major levels of warming and effects in terms of drought and other extreme weather events.

Greater participation for Africa at Climate Change conference


Contrary to what has pertained in all previous 16 climate change conferences held so far, Africa is playing a lead role in the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) climate change conference currently ongoing in Durban, South Africa.
Although it is not certain if Africa has been given greater visibility this time round because it is hosting the annual event, the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), a statement issued November 28, 2011, says, will lead as many as six of the eight thematic roundtable discussions within the Africa Pavilion at COP17.
An Africa Day has also been scheduled for 8 December 2011, the eve of the close of COP 17, to raise the profile of African climate change and development issues and demonstrate African ownership of its agenda on climate change and development.
According to the statement, the event will be marked by high-level dialogues, thematic discussions and informal meetings.
The ‘Africa Day’ will thus be a substantive event that creates an enabling environment for a proactive and positive discourse and debate that seeks to advance the development agenda of the continent in the context of climate change and follows the stated role of the various actors: “Informed policies and practices in Africa that take full account of climate change risks and opportunities at all levels”.
Commenting on Africa’s lead role in as many as six thematic round tables, Mr. Youba Sokona, Coordinator of ECA’s newly established African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), said the series of roundtables and side-events that will address a range of climate change and development issues pertinent to Africa, will significantly enhance the place of ECA as a key player on climate change issues in Africa.
Mr. Sokona, who represents ECA on the joint AUC/ECA/AfDB COP17 Steering Committee and also chairs the technical subcommittee, praised the decision to organise eight roundtable discussions and an Africa Day event, observing that the activities will mark a significant shift from the way Africa has often participated at different COPs.
Speaking to the Information and Communication Service of ECA on the eve of the inaugural session of COP17, he said “It is very significant that the ECA took the lead in the design of both the concept of the African Pavilion, the Africa Day event and especially the scheduling of roundtable discussions which run from 1-8 December, 2011,” adding,   “The Commission will surely come away with its image confirmed as a leading think-tank on climate change in Africa.”
“But most all, ACPC’s participation in the planning of the Pavilion and these roundtables will help test how outputs from the just-ended Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA) could be implemented at country-level in Africa, in that more policymakers will join the debate in Durban”, Mr. Sokona explained.
He said “The roundtables will also provide prime opportunities for policy makers, practitioners and researchers to deepen their understanding of how to integrate climate change issues into development strategies, exchange successful approaches and practical examples, and provide an opportunity for future cooperation around each of the thematic areas.”
According to the statement from the Information and Communication Services of ECA in Durban, the roundtables will bring together senior representatives from national governments, the private sector, civil society organisations, research institutions, as well as from international development agencies, with each panelist bringing experience and know-how to the discussion by addressing specific questions that apply to their particular area of expertise. 
Themes to be discussed include Climate change adaptation in Africa; REDD+, forests and development across Africa; Climate change information and water resources for Africa; Agriculture and food security across Africa; Low carbon development and energy access for Africa; and Climate change vulnerability and disaster risk management.
Each roundtable will last for two hours and will begin with opening remarks by the chair. To set the general context for discussions, each panel member will be asked to discuss and share his/her perspectives (in less than 10 minutes) on a given question that corresponds with his/her expertise and experience, according to the organisers. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Zoomlion, Standard Bank support first CDM project in Ghana


Zoomlion Ghana Limited and Standard Bank have submitted documentation for the registration of the first Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project in Ghana.
The CDM is a waste treatment project, which is expected to be completed before the end of 2011, and is the first state of the art composting and recycling plant to be built in Ghana.
Known as the Accra Compost and Recycling Plant, it is expected to provide integrated processing and management of solid and liquid waste, including domestic waste, hospital waste, industrial waste and e-waste.
Announcing this in a statement yesterday November 25, 2011, Zoomlion disclosed that when completed, the plant will be run on an eight-hour shift and will be able to process 300 tonnes of waste daily.
The plant is also expected to produce organic fertiliser that will be used for agricultural and horticultural purposes and recover metals and plastics for recycling.
Explaining what informed the project, the two collaborators said “Growing urbanisation in Ghana has led to an increasing number of landfill dump sites, which is both unsustainable and raises serious health concerns in the country. The waste treatment plant, and any further plants that are developed, will eventually eliminate the need for landfill dump sites in the country.”
According to the statement, the Accra Compost and Recycling Plant will generate carbon credits, which Standard Bank has agreed to off-take.
Commenting on the project,  Muyi Kazim, of the carbon trading team at Standard Bank Group said; “We are committed to working with companies across Africa and beyond on CDM projects. We have worked closely with Zoomlion, Stanbic Bank, and Ecosure, the consultants, to assist in the registration of the waste management project, which is a landmark of CDM projects in Ghana.
For his part, Mr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong, the CEO of Zoomlion said; “Scarcity of land coupled with environmental challenges for disposal sites in Ghana have made it imperative for a more sustainable and environmentally acceptable means of managing waste to be found.”
“The Accra Compost and Recycling Plant will combat this problem and create products that can be re-used by businesses and the community, whilst also creating thousands of jobs in and around Accra,” he added.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

African governments signing away water rights for decades


A paper published today, November 24, 2011 by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), warns that African governments are signing away water rights for decades, with insufficient regard for how this will affect millions of local users, including fishing, farming and pastoralist communities.
Specifically, IIED’s researchers caution that governments risk signing away water rights in ways that harm the future prospects of their citizens, especially fishermen and pastoralists, who rely on the same water as the investors.
According to the paper, the water rights often feature in the growing number of large land deals that governments are signing with investors, as many of these areas require irrigation to be viable.
Such deals have already raised concerns for being rushed, secretive and one-sided, while many fail to deliver real benefits and can even create new social and environmental problems, a statement announcing the IIED paper says.
Giving specifics, the paper reveals that some investors in Mali and Sudan have been given unrestricted access to as much water as they need.
It states further that although the Gibe III dam in Ethiopia will enable irrigation on 150,000 of land the Ethiopian government has allocated to investors, studies suggest this project would lower the level of Kenya’s Lake Turkana – on which half a million Kenyans depend, by eight metres by 2024.
According to Lorenzo Cotul, co-author of the paper, “Companies that acquire land for irrigated farming will want secure water rights, but long-term contractual commitments can jeopardise water access for local farmers.”
He says “This affects not only the people who have customarily used the land that is being leased, but also distant downstream users who can be hundreds of kilometres away and even across an international border.”
To Jamie Skinner, the paper’s lead author and a principal researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development however, “The ‘global water crisis’ is a crisis of water management, not of water quantity,” and that “Good water management in the face of climate change is only possible if it is clear who the water belongs to, who holds rights to its use and when allocations to all users  are made in a transparent way.”

World at risk from ozone depletion by new fridges, air conditioners, unless...


A modern refrigerator

The world now stands at risk of further depleting the ozone layer through the use of new fridges, air conditioners, fire-fighting equipment, insulation foams and others, as it still struggles with its fight against climate change.
This is because, the chemicals, collectively known as Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are becoming popular as replacements for the older group – Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) phased-out to protect the ozone layer - the earth’s high flying shield that filters out dangerous levels of the sun’s ultra violet rays, have also been found to be powerful greenhouse gases.
A report launched Monday, November 21, 2011 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), projects that by year 2050 HFCs could be responsible for emissions equivalent to 3.5 to 8.8 Gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2eq), which is comparable to total current annual emissions from transport, estimated at around 6-7 Gt annually.
Commenting on the new report’s finding, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said although the more than 20 year-old international effort to save the ozone layer ranks among the most successful examples of cooperation and collaboration among nations with the phasing out globally in 2010 of the original chemicals known as CFCs, there appears to be a new challenge.
“A new challenge is rapidly emerging as countries move ahead on HCFCs and that is HFCs. While these ‘replacements for the replacement’ chemicals cause near zero damage to the ozone layer, they are powerful greenhouse gases in their own right,” he said.
Achim Steiner however said “The good news is that alternatives exist alongside technological solutions according to this international study, and while assessing the absolute benefits from switching needs further scientific refinement, there is enough compelling evidence to begin moving away from the most powerful HFCs today.”
The new report—HFCs: A Critical Link in Protecting Climate and the Ozone Layer, is the first of three reports to be launched this week in Bali, Indonesia, at the 23rd Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol by UNEP, in the run up to the UN Climate Convention meeting in Durban, South Africa.
A range of alternatives recommended by the report that could ensure that the impact of HFCs remains small and equal to today’s impacts, include  alternative methods and processes, which range from improved building design that reduces or avoids the need for air conditioners to fibre, rather than foam insulation materials.
It also suggests the use of Non-HFC substances, stating that there are already commercially available alternatives that range from ammonia to dimethyl ether for use in foams, refrigeration and fire protection systems.
Other ways of combating the developing phenomenon, the report says, is by using climate-friendly HFCs, adding, “some HFCs have shorter life-times in the atmosphere of months rather than years. Some of these are being introduced such as HFC 1234ze in foams and HFC-1234yf for mobile air-conditioners.”
The report points out too, that with further technical developments backed by standards, investment incentives and training for technicians and workers, the introduction of alternatives to climate-damaging HFCs could be accelerated and fast-tracked.
UNEP’s new report states though, that the contribution of HFCs to climate forcing is currently less than one per cent of all greenhouse gases.
It however warns that the levels of HFCs are rising as they replace HCFCs such as HFC 134a, the most popular type, which has increased in the atmosphere by about 10 per cent per year since 2006.
Though phased out, used old CFC fridges are still common in Ghana
Further, the report projects the consumption of HFCs to exceed the peak consumption levels in the 1980s of the old, now fully phased-out CFCs, due to rising demand in emerging economies and a global population now above seven billion.
According to the UNEP study, although the phase-out and phase-down of CFCs and HCFCs since the late 1980s has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by around 8 Gt C02eq annually and reduced damage to the ozone layer,  without action, the increasing use of HFCs could add annual greenhouse gas emissions of between 3.5 and 8.8 Gt C02 eq by 2050, and thus undo the large climate benefits scored by the phase out of CFCs and HCFCs since the late 1980s.
HFCs are, along with CO2, methane and other gases, controlled under the UN’s Framework Convention for Combating Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, while  measures to protect the ozone layer are carried out under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
UNEP’s Executive Director thus opines; “Cooperative action between these treaties may be the key to fast action on HFCs, assisting to maintain momentum on recovering the ozone layer while simultaneously reducing risks of accelerated climate change.”
The second report, Bridging the Gap: An Assessment, which outlines the gap between the commitments and pledges of countries versus where emissions need to be by around 2020 in order to keep a global temperature rise under 2 Degrees Celsius was launched on 23 November 23, 2011, in London, in collaboration with international climate modelling centres.
A report that outlines a package of 16 measures which could reduce global warming, avoid millions of premature deaths and reduce global crop yield losses by tackling black carbon, methane and ground-level ozone - substances known as short-term climate forcers, will also be launched on Friday November 25, 2011 by UNEP in collaboration with researchers.

Local communities in West Africa to get more benefits from dams


A section of Ghana's Akosombo Dam

A study into how large dams in West Africa have affected local people has identified ways to share the benefits of future dams more equitably and create development opportunities for communities.
The study, published Wednesday November 23, 2011 by the Global Water Initiative, which is supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, shows that large dams could bring greater benefits to local populations.
According to the study, people’s reasons for dissatisfaction include insufficient and poorly planned compensation for losses suffered as a result of the dam’s construction and later impacts, as well as difficulties in taking advantage of the benefits the dams offered – such as a lack of programmes that enabled communities to take advantage of the new potential for fishing, or having access to the electricity generated.
The study also unearthed an absence of clear and agreed rules for resource management or a clash between national laws and local customary practices, and especially who has what rights to what land.
To these challenges, the study identified five approaches that can overcome them, such as the involvement of local people in the benefits the dam creates and in all decisions about its construction, investment, compensation, relocations, etc.
It also recommends replacement of compensation policies that reproduce previous living conditions with ones that enable local people to adapt to the changes the dam will bring, and to benefit from them and development of local production systems, by ensuring access to land and resources in ways that are compatible with both national law and customary practices.
According to the study, the establishment also, of  local regulations in agreement with local stakeholders to enable fair and sustainable use of resources and the support of local people’s access to the dam’s benefits by establishing preferential local access to benefits such as irrigation and electricity and by creating a local development fund that is financed by the dam’s economic activity, are approaches that can give dam communities more leverage.
Commenting on the findings of the study, Aliou Faye of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which collaborated with the Global Water Initiative said “When countries build large dams, the goal of national development has often overridden the potential for local or regional development — and local people are often left dissatisfied.”
For his part, Jamie Skinner, a principal researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development and co-author of the report added: “Efforts to ensure that local communities benefit need not clash with national development objectives, nor do they need to be very expensive, saying, “Developers need to work with local people, and not see them mainly as an obstacle to national progress.”
To conduct the study, the Global Water Initiative (GWI), in collaboration with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), analysed the impacts of six large dams built in the late 1970s and late 1990s in Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso, and held stakeholder workshops in each country to discuss their findings.
The study focused on the Niandouba and Confluent dams in Senegal, the Sélingué dam in Mali, and the Bagré, Kompienga and Moussodougou dams in Burkina Faso.
Global Water Initiative (GWI), supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, addresses the challenge of providing long term access to clean water and sanitation, as well as protecting and managing ecosystem services and watersheds, for the poorest and most vulnerable people dependant on those services.
The Regional GWI consortium for West Africa includes the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Catholic Relief Services (CRS); CARE International; SOS Sahel (UK); and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
Meanwhile, in October 2011 the Niger Basin Authority adopted a social and environmental Annex to the Water Charter that lays the foundations for improved social and environmental planning in the vast  basin of this 4,180 km river that flows through nine countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria).
It obliges states to assess environmental impacts, consult local people, and adopt progressive tools, such as formal written agreement from people displaced by dams, in a bid to improve social and environmental outcomes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waste management in Ghana gets major boost


A line up of part of the 700 waste trucks
Waste management in Ghana received a major shot Monday, when Zoomlion, a well known name in Ghana’s waste management industry, in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) unveiled 700 new waste trucks and other machinery.
The fleet of trucks estimated to cost millions of Ghana Cedis, will aid the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), as well as private waste management contractors and individuals to carry out their operations.
Adding to this, another set of trucks at the cost of US$11million sourced from the Exim Bank of India is expected to be distributed to 21 MMDAs by the close of December this year.                                                                     
Stating the rationale for the collaboration, the initiators said it is to enable the MMDAs deliver higher quality waste management services in their respective areas and intended to provide a logistical resource base, which other private waste management operators can fall on to beef up their equipment holdings and enhance their operational capacities.
Furthermore, the move is intended to incorporate unorthodox waste pre-collectors (truck pushers) into mainstream operation, by helping them to acquire affordable and appropriate waste collection equipment on very flexible terms.
Ghana currently generates beyond 11,000 tons of waste per day and the introduction of the 700 new trucks and other equipment is expected to further change the face of the waste management industry significantly.
Unveiling the new trucks, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, commended Zoomlion for the role it played in securing the new trucks for the MMDAs.
He encouraged all truck pushers to get rid of the unorthodox way of collecting waste and get on board with the new scheme to enhance their operations.
To ensure an environment devoid of filth during the Christmas festivities, Mr. Ampofo called for a national clean-up exercise in the month of December for which a date is yet to be fixed.
The Minister said his outfit would soon come out with a programme to recognise best institutions and individuals championing the cause of environmental cleanliness in the country.
“The award is aimed at bringing competition into the system,” noted Mr. Ampofo.
Commenting on the new trucks, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zoomlion Ghana Limited, Joseph Siaw Agyapong, lauded the efforts of all players in the waste management industry for their role played in the fight against the country’s waste and environmental sanitation problems.
He noted however, that despite the gains achieved, “there is still a shortfall in the collection rate, as a significant portion of waste generated in Accra on daily basis is left uncollected.” Mr. Agyapong therefore called for all hands to be on deck towards ensuring a cleaner environment.
“The time has come for all stakeholders of the sanitation sector, in whatever capacity we find ourselves – policy makers, researchers, operations among many others to face our problems head on and strive to pull the nation out of the doldrums for better life and accelerated development,” he added.
Speaking on behalf of the MMDAs, the Mayor of Accra, Dr. Alfred Okoh Vanderpuiye, expressed his profound gratitude to the MLGRD and Zoomlion Ghana Limited, for their leadership role in addressing the challenges confronting the MMDAs.
“I have always looked forward to the day when the MMDAs will be resourced to enable them carry out their activities effectively. We will rise up to the effective use of the equipment given us to ensure that our environment becomes the best,” Mr. Vanderpuiye said.
He emphasised the need for the MMDAs to register all residences within their jurisdiction to enable them work effectively. “If we fail, the intent of the equipment will not be realised,” he added.

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