Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Getting to zero, 1 December 2011 - World AIDS Day

Last year theme for the World Aids Day dealt with "Universal Universal Access and Human Rights":
Understanding HIV and AIDS from a human rights perspective can be difficult. Human rights are often misunderstood - and can sometimes be seen as abstract ideals - with not much practical relevance for real people. Therefore, the slogans emphasized the importance to ensure medical treatment and respect and avoidance of any sort of discrimination:

I am accepted.
I am safe.
I am getting treatment.
I am well.
I am living my rights.
Everyone deserves to live their rights.
Right to Live.
Right to Health.

Access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support is a critical part of human rights. the 2011 theme "Getting to zero" was chosen with the idea to strengthen the results of the last year awareness campaign.

2011 Political Declaration: Targets and elimination commitments
  • Reducing sexual transmission
  • Preventing HIV among drug users
  • Eliminate new HIV infection among children
  • Accessing treatment
  • Avoiding TB deaths
  • Close the resource gapEliminate gender inequalities
  • Lifting travel restrictions
  • Eliminate travel restrictions
  • Strengthen HIV integration

Sunday, 27 November 2011

25 November 2011 - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

On 17 December 1999 By resolution 54/134 the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem on that day. Women's activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).

Mirabal sisters

On 20 December 1993 the General Assembly, by resolution 48/104, adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.
The World's Women reports
Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women 2002

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Global Development News - A co-joint report by UNDESA and UNCITRAL gives information on current world economy and prospects on development issues

The document provides an overview of recent global economic trends and short-term prospects for the world economy and of some key global economic policy and development issues. One of its purposes is to serve as a point of reference for discussions on economic, social and related issues taking place in various United Nations entities during the year.

The report outlines that after a year of fragile and uneven recovery, global economic growth started to decelerate on a broad front in mid-2010 and this slower growth is expected to continue into 2011 and 2012. The United Nations baseline forecast for the growth of world gross product (WGP) is 3.1 per cent for 2011 and 3.5 per cent for 2012, which is below the 3.6 per cent estimated for 2010 and the pre-crisis pace of global growth. Actually, the current financial crisis faced by developed economies burden with government debts continues to drag the global recovery and pose risks for the world economic stability in the coming years.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Environmental Governance Project in the Philippines aims at strengthening the capacity of local authorities to face illegal logging and overfishing

The Environmental Governance Project 2 tries to address three main environmental threats faced by the Philippines emphasizing the role of good governance to address:
  • Illegal logging
  • Overfishing and
  • Mass production of waste with limited recycling 
Department of Interior
 Local Government
The project is was developed by the United States Agency for International Development - USAID in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), various leagues of local government units (LGUs), DENR/Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Department of Interior and Local Government, for strengthening LGUs capacity to respond to these challenges through localized but strategic actions (see EcoGov 2 Project Results Framework) that aim to:

Reduce overfishing and the use of destructive fishing practices;
Reduce illegal logging and conversion of natural forests; and
Improve the management of solid wastes and wastewater.

More information at:
Collection of Laws - Chan Robles Law Firm
Philippine Forest and Wildlife Law Enforcement - USAID report
Website of the Philippine Environmental Governance 2 Project
Executive Order No.23 of the President of the Philippines
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Loya Jirga, the Traditional Grand Assembly of Afghanistan will start tomorrow 16 November 2011

More than 2,000 people including influential Afghan figures from across the country, current parliamentarians and some former MPs, members of provincial councils of the country's 34 provinces, representatives of civil society organizations, members of private sector and traders as well as special people will convene to the assembly in the Polytechnic University of Kabul.

The Polytechnic hosted the event  also in 2002. Some religious scholars, influential tribal elders, representatives of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Iran, the United States and European countries and some members of disabled people will also participate to the Jirga. The Assembly will discuss the proposed strategic partnership agreement with the United States and other issues, including the reconciliation and peace process. The US and Afghanistan have been negotiating for nine months on a strategic agreement to outline what American military, political and economic presence will remain in Afghanistan once most foreign combat troops leave in late 2014. Some aspects of the planned agreement, such as base rights for US forces, are highly controversial. 

Pictures from the 2002 Assembly

Monday, 14 November 2011

Access to relevant information is key point for small-scale farmers in developing countries. the case of Zambia, Ethiopia and Kenya

UN Conference
Trade & Development
The 2011 edition of the information economy report published by UNCTAD presents three interesting cases of initiative undergoing in Zambia, Ethiopia
and Kenya where the support of ICT applications  is helping small-scale farmers to move from subsistence to commercial agriculture. The access to information regarding  the right crop to choose, the volumes of cultivation, the storage and processing issues are helping local farmers to better spend their money and better earn from their work

Zambia - The market information service of Zambia National Farmers Union
The ZNFU4455 was launched in 2006 by the government of Zambia. The service covers 180 traders and their offers for 15 commodities. To ind the best available price, producers and traders send an SMS to 4455 containing the irst four letters of the commodity and the relevant district or province.
They immediately receive a text message with the best prices and with codes designating the potential buyers. After selecting a bid, the farmer sends a second SMS with the buyer’s code. The farmer then receives a text message containing the buyer’s name and phone number. Finally, the farmer phones the buyer directly and starts trading. Each message costs about $0.15. The service is easy to understand and use, and it provides information upon request rather than pushing content onto farmers.

Ethiopia - The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) was launched in 2008. Through the use of ICTs, it is contributing to making agricultural practices in the country more productive. The ECX is seeking to create
an integrated agricultural information system, using ICTs to disseminate data and information to farmers
across the country and to establish a database with up-to-date world market prices on commodities. This
ICT-based marketplace serves the entire value chain: farmers, traders, processors, exporters and consumers.
Agricultural markets in Ethiopia have been characterized by high transaction costs and risks. With only a
third of output reaching the market, commodity buyers and sellers have traditionally only traded with people they know. Trade took place on the basis of visual inspection, as there was no way of assuring product quality or quantity. This drove up market costs as well as consumer prices. Small-scale farmers, who account for 95 per cent of Ethiopia’s agricultural output, came to the market with little information, and were at the mercy of merchants in the markets they knew, poorly equipped to negotiate prices or reduce their risk. The new exchange, which is a partnership of market actors, the Members of the Exchange and the Government of Ethiopia, automated the system from beginning to end, from warehousing to clearing and settlement of payments to the delivery of commodities. By bringing integrity, security and eficiency to the
market, the exchange has become visible throughout the supply chain, resulting in real-time price transmission, improvements in the quality of exports, and better returns for farmers. During its first 1,000 days,
ECX traded over a billion dollars worth of commodities, including four million bags of goods handled and
delivered. It processed 69,000 transactions involving 450 ECX members.

Kenya - The DrumNet and Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange(KACE) projects are two market information services in Kenya that operate in overlapping areas but differ in terms of geographic coverage. The DrumNet project was launched in 2003, with the primary objective of shortening the value chain of targeted commodities and improving farmers’ revenues. It aimed to replace numerous intermediaries by using a mobile phone-based platform to provide market information to the project’s partners.
The KACE project was first launched in 1996 as a commodity exchange with an auction floor located in Nairobi. Its goal was to provide a forum to bring sellers (farmers) and buyers together, and thereby to eliminate the many intermediaries and reduce the transaction costs. The commodities traded included staple and non-staple food crops, livestock, livestock products and cash crops. In 1998, KACE launched a website through which subscribing buyers and sellers could place bids for commodities. 
The company also initiated a mobile phone-based information-provision programme with nationwide coverage. By means of this service, sellers (farmers) and buyers have been able to obtain commodity prices in different markets by sending an SMS to KACE at a cost of K Sh 5 (about $0.05). Furthermore, KACE runs a nationwide radio programme which allows buyers and sellers to offer bids for commodities during the broadcast.
To read more about the 2011 Information Economy Report you can download the electronic version by clicking on the frontpage below.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Emerging economies setting up the scene for a new international trade - The case of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

US President Barack Obama will travel to Honolulu this weekend for the Leaders’ Meeting of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation bloc. The fact that the president hopes to advance a trade deal that could shape the future of U.S. commercial relations overall, and with fast-growing Asia in particular shows how emerging economies are re-shaping international commerce.
While the traditional partner economies in Europe are suffering for the financial crisis pushed by the government debts. The creation of the single free-trade community with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam would give to the United States the chance to pivot from austerity politics to economic revival. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would lower tariffs and other trade barriers among the nine countries. The U.S. hopes the promise of open access will entice Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and others to join and eventually extend the free-trade zone throughout the Pacific Rim.
TPP is important because the U.S. this year exported more to Pacific Rim countries than to Europe, according to the Commerce Department. As Bloomberg News has pointed out, U.S. companies sell more to South Korea than to France, and more to Taiwan than Italy. Last year, exports to the region supported 850,000 U.S. jobs. APEC comprises 40 percent of the global population and the economies of the member countries are growing faster than the world average generating together the 56 percent of global GDP in 2010.
The new commercial routes of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Economic development in Latin America shouldn't prevail on the protection of its unique environment

While the United States and various European Union Member States suffer the financial crisis related to the management of the government debts, some Latin American countries are registering good growth rates.
Unfortunately, new projects are menacing the uniqueness of national and regional ecosystems in the continent.

World Economic Growth  - CIA Factbook 2011
The construction of infrastructures like highways and bridges threaten the environment stability. In a previous post I talked about the new projects that could menace the ecosystem in the Gran Cacho region. A similar situation is undergoing in the Pantanal. The Pantanal is a huge wilderness region of swamps, lagoons, ponds and marshes. These wetlands are fed by the seasonal flooding of the river Paraguai and its many tributaries located in southwestern Brazil and portions of eastern Bolivia and northern Paraguay. The Pantanal and its diverse environment and eco-regions attract visitors who come for the scenery and wildlife. the plan to develop the Hidrovía Paraná-Paraguay project which would transform the "Paraguay-Paraná-Uruguay-La Plata river system into a 3,400-kilometer long shipping canal." risk to dismantle the fragile stability of the local ecosystem.
The question for the nations of the Pantanal is how to balance the inevitable growth of the region with the need to conserve and protect the environment. The creation of the small Parque Nacional do Pantanal Matogrossense is a step in the right direction, but more help is needed from the private sector in creating natural preserves on privately owned lands, and from neighboring countries.Some of the other threats to the Pantanal and its environment are illegal fishing and overfishing, poaching and illegal traffic in wildlife species, water contamination, soil erosion and sedimentation of the river systems.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Science towards green societies: equity, inclusiveness, participation

UNESCO established in the General Conference of 2001 with Resolution 31C/ 20 the World Science Day for Peace and Development as annual event to be celebrated each year on November 10 to renew the national, as well as the international commitment to science for peace and development and to stress the responsible use of science for the benefit of society. The World Science Day for Peace and Development also aims at raising public awareness of the importance of science and to bridge the gap between science and societies. The idea to celebrate this annual event is based on the commitment made at the UNESCO-ICSU World Conference on Science (Budapest 1999).

Official Poster of the 2011 World Science Day for
Peace and Development Edition
The theme of 2011’s World Science Day for Peace and Development is entitled “Towards green societies: equity, inclusiveness, participation”. The 2011 Celebration of World Science Day is organized within the context of the Rio+20 Summit.

The Rio+20 Summit will take place in Brazil on 4-6 June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.

More to read:
From Green Economies to Green Societies. UNESCO's vision for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Partnership of Sub Saharan countries to develop green wall in Sahel to face desertification and climate change

Drylands of the world

In previous posts I have talked about the successful adoption of traditional farming techniques to face desertification in the Sahel region (Zai farming). However positive experiences at local level need to be supported by joint initiatives at national and international level for durable sustainability.

The Great Green Wall for Sahara and Sahel project to combat desertification, improve food security and climate change adaptation (29/09/2011) in Sub Saharan Africa is a new international programme aiming at scaling up the positive results of local projects. This African Union project  to address desertification, land degradation and drought in the Sahara and Sahel, was launched in Addis Ababa on 26 September 2011.
A first contribution of 1.75 million € by the by European Union  will then be followed by more substantial funding in the coming years.

The project will develop activities in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Mauritania, Nigeria, the Gambia, Senegal and the Sudan. Other partner countries include Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Mali and Niger which are being supported through a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) provided by the FAO, which is also the implementing agency for the EU funded project.

The two day meeting, held in occasion of the launch, was attended by all 13 project focus countries representatives and stakeholders, namely: African Union Commission, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, representative of the Regional Economic Communities (ECOWAS), the pan-African Agency for the Great Green Wall, CILSS, Pan-African Farmers Organisation (PAFO), the African Forest Forum (AFF), the Global Mechanism (GM) of the UNCCD, the European Union Delegation to the African Union, the FAO and the World Bank. The meeting was officially opened by the Ethiopian State Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Ato Sileshi Getahun.
Discussion to clarify the roles of countries and partners in the project’s implementation, including ensuring the involvement of the pan-African Great Green Wall Agency in the project and offering an avenue for strengthening collaboration between the agency and the African Union Commission also took place. The work plan for the next 2 years was examined and approved, including planning of the second Africa dry lands week in 2012.
Background information:

The GGWSSI is not only a tree planting initiative, but it is based on an integrated approach for improved livelihoods, with the purpose to tackle the detrimental social, economic and environmental impact of land degradation and desertification in the Sahara and Sahel region, in particular by supporting local community's efforts in sustainable management and use of natural resources (land, water and vegetation).
The project is developed in the framework of the Africa-EU strategic partnership (under theme 6-Climate change). It will focus on capacity development for the planning and implementation of best practices at local level and international levels, establishing a networking platform for knowledge sharing and technology transfer, developing a harmonized strategy for the Great Green Wall initiative and setting up a platform for partnership and resource mobilization.

More information at:
Africa-EU Strategic Partnership
AU-EU Study on The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative
europa africa net