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The French response to the Corona Crisis: semi-presidentialism par excellence

GDI Briefing - 19. Januar 2038 - 4:14

This blog post analyses the response of the French government to the Coronavirus pandemic. The piece highlights how the semi-presidential system in France facilitates centralized decisions to manage the crisis. From a political-institutional perspective, it is considered that there were no major challenges to the use of unilateral powers by the Executive to address the health crisis, although the de-confinement phase and socio-economic consequences opens the possibility for more conflictual and opposing reactions. At first, approvals of the president and prime minister raised, but the strict confinement and the reopening measures can be challenging in one of the European countries with the highest number of deaths, where massive street protests, incarnated by the Yellow vests movement, have recently shaken the political scene.

Kategorien: english

New ECOSOC President aims to maximize ‘reach, relevance and impact’

UN ECOSOC - 23. Juli 2021 - 19:05
The role of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in promoting development has become “even more critical” as a way of guiding and informing the COVID-19 pandemic response worldwide, Collen Vixen Kelapile said on Friday, speaking for the first time as the UN body’s president. 
Kategorien: english

What India’s COVID-19 crisis means for Africa

Brookings - 23. Juli 2021 - 0:05

By Jamie MacLeod, Vera Songwe, Stephen Karingi, Hopestone Chavula, Jean Paul Boketsu Bofili, Sokunpanha You, Veerawin Su

By May 9, 2021 India accounted for 57 percent of new COVID-19 cases anywhere in the world.

This phenomenon rippled through the interconnected economies of the world, including those in Africa. Indeed, India has risen over the past decade to become Africa’s thirdmost-important trading partner, after the European Union and China. In fact, the African market is precariously dependent on Indian suppliers for certain products, notably pharmaceuticals and rice. This is especially the case of East Africa, in which 35 percent of pharmaceutical imports come from India, and 20 percent of rice.

As India’s second COVID-19 wave raged, a concern for African countries has been the potential for economic and trade-related spillovers channeled through these trade sensitivities. There is a precedent. At the start of the pandemic, in April 2020, Indian rice traders were forced to suspend exports amid disruptions to transport links, and maritime shipping and production bottlenecks caused by lockdown restrictions imposed to suppress the spread of the virus. In a United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) survey of African businesses across the continent in July 2020, companies reported switching suppliers as a result of sourcing disruptions, with 56 percent finding equivalent products and favouring national and regional suppliers.

Fortunately, the supply-side disruptions seen in early 2020 have not substantively materialized, but the recent soaring numbers in India have complicated things for the continent. Indeed, India is more than your average country in the face of a health pandemic and is also quite notably the “vaccine factory of the world.” In being forced to redirect COVID-19 vaccine exports domestically to fight its current outbreak, India is estimated to have left COVAX with a shortfall of 190 million doses by just the end of June.

Though countries across the world are also facing the vulnerabilities of having been too dependent on Indian vaccine supplies, it is developing and least-developed countries that are most dependent on COVAX and have already fallen behind in vaccination rates. According to WHO Africa, while the world—as of mid-June—had administered 29 doses per 100 people, African countries had managed just 1.5 doses per 100 people. (Note that this Africa figure excludes Morocco, which is an outlier on the continent as a large economy with an exceptionally high vaccination rate.) A scenario is emerging in which well-vaccinated rich countries like Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom begin reopening their economies while African and other developing countries face persisting lockdown restrictions and stifled economic recoveries.

The Indian outbreak exacerbates this uneven recovery scenario. Of the vaccine doses received in Africa as of mid-May, by the time Indian supply disruptions had begun, almost one-half were from COVAX, with bilaterally negotiated supplies accounting for most of the remainder and AVATT deliveries expected in significant quantities only in the third quarter of 2021. In turn, in the three rounds of COVAX allocations the vast majority of doses (237 million) have been of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, almost all of which were made by the Serum Institute India. Only 15.4 million have been Pfizer-BioNTech, produced in a number of other sites outside India. The need to redirect Indian vaccines is estimated to have left COVAX with a shortfall of 190 million doses.

With vaccine exports from India banned until at least October, supply shortages in the COVAX initiative are likely to substantively delay the African vaccine drive and, in turn, any end to the pandemic on the continent.

Fortunately, Africa is not helpless. Over the short-to-medium term it will be important for African countries to consider diversifying vaccine supplies. Strategies might include raising the number of approved vaccines in supply portfolios and diversifying acquisition channels, contracted manufacturers, and the geographical mix of suppliers. The 870 million vaccine doses pledged to COVAX by the G-7 at their meeting in June is a welcome start.

Over the medium to long term, African countries must increasingly look to local manufacturing of vaccines. With momentum shifting behind a World Trade Organization waiver on intellectual property rights protections for vaccines, African countries may have opportunities for expanding and ramping up vaccine production on the continent. Doing so may help African countries to fight the COVID-19 pandemic with additional vaccine supplies, once this capacity comes online, but it could also  prepare capacity for other future and ongoing health challenges beyond COVID-19. In fact, progress is already underway: The Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, with support from a number of donors, is constructing a facility that aims to produce 25 million doses monthly by the end of 2022.

The collective impact on African economies

The effects of trade spillovers, disrupted vaccine supplies, and the emergence of a new highly transmissible variant have been incorporated into an updated version of the UNECA macroeconomic model to assess the impact of the Indian second wave on the aggregate African economy. The situation is rapidly developing, and such estimates are best considered initial approximations among considerable uncertainty.

Initial UNECA estimates show that the outbreak of the delta COVID-19 variant in India is forecast to reduce Africa’s GDP growth by 0.5 percentage points in 2021 and a further 0.1 percent in 2022. These drops amount to approximately $13.5 billion in lost economic output in 2021 alone. Delayed recovery in labor markets and external demand due to the surging COVID-19 cases (with resulting persistent lockdowns) are the key drivers that will drag down economic activity. The pandemic outbreak will also reduce labor supply and labor participation rates as governments tighten restrictions. Rising unemployment, declining incomes, and growing poverty induced by the new wave further necessitate accelerated vaccination to reduce the impact of the Indian wave on the African continent.

New courses out of crisis?

As the “vaccine factory of the world,” India’s need to refocus vaccines toward its own COVID-19 crisis has greatly exacerbated the challenges of vaccine access in Africa. In the words of  Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization, “We have now seen that over-centralization of vaccine production capacity is incompatible with equitable access in a crisis situation” and that “regional production hubs, in tandem with open supply chains, offer a more promising path to preparedness for future health crisis.”

This is exactly the course of action African governments must see through to improve vaccination rates across the continent and bring forward an end to the crisis. The Indian second COVID-19 wave has reaffirmed the agreement of the African Union Heads of State at the Africa CDC’s vaccine-manufacturing summit on the need for “establishing a sustainable vaccine development and manufacturing ecosystem in Africa.”

      
Kategorien: english

Decoupling economic growth from emissions in the Middle East and North Africa

Brookings - 22. Juli 2021 - 23:23

By Martin Philipp Heger, Lukas Vashold

Economic growth plays a critical role in raising living standards and enabling human progress. However, economic growth needs to decouple from negative environmental consequences, as these, in turn, degrade the very foundations of human development. One example of a negative environmental consequence is airborne emissions that lead to climate change and air pollution. To meet any emissions reduction target, the minimum requirement is that economic growth decouples from emissions growth. Hence, at best, emissions would be reduced from year to year, at a steady pace, even if the economy grows—a process called absolute decoupling. At second-best, the growth rate of the economy would outpace the growth rate of emissions—a process called relative decoupling.

No decoupling of emissions from economic growth in MENA

The Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) is the only region in the world where greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not decoupling from income growth. The decoupling processes can be visualized as is done in Figure 1 for a world average as well as for Europe and Central Asia (ECA) and MENA. It plots the growth of gross national income (GNI, blue line) and carbon emissions (red line), both in per capita terms, from 1990 to 2018 for an average resident of the world, ECA, and MENA. Globally (left panel of Figure 1), relative decoupling was achieved with average incomes rising faster than per capita carbon emissions, even though emissions were still increasing over this period. In ECA (middle panel of Figure 1), absolute decoupling was achieved, with average carbon emissions per capita decreasing by around 30 percent compared to their 1990 levels. In a forthcoming report,“Blue Skies, Blue Seas in the Middle East and North Africa,” we show that North America also achieved absolute decoupling, while other regions of the world (including East Asia and Pacific, South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean) managed to decouple income growth from carbon emissions relatively. In stark contrast, MENA (right panel of Figure 1) is the only region, in which growth of CO2 emissions per capita has outpaced the growth of average incomes, making it the only region that hasn’t decoupled in some form.

Figure 1. MENA, unlike other regions, is not decoupling income growth from carbon emissions

Source: World Bank staff based on data from United Nations Development Program and Global Carbon Project.
Note: Figure shows growth rates of gross national income per capita and carbon emissions per capita in percentage points since 1990.

MENA is an assortment of heterogenous countries: Some actually did manage to decouple, while most others did not. When zooming in on the individual country level, it becomes clear that while MENA as a region was not able to decouple income growth from carbon emissions growth, some countries in the region were. Figure 2 shows that while Iran, Oman, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia were not decoupling, other countries such as Tunisia, Lebanon, and Djibouti have achieved relative decoupling. Bahrain and Jordan were even absolutely decoupling (although only slightly).

Figure 2. Some MENA countries have managed to decouple carbon emissions from income growth

Source: World Bank staff based on data from United Nations Development Program and Global Carbon Project.

Air pollution emissions are decoupling in MENA from economic growth, although this is the world region where this decoupling is taking place at the slowest rate in international comparison (see Figure 3). The pattern is similar for air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide (NOx), which stems from road transport and industries but also agriculture, and sulfur dioxide (SO2), which stems mainly from burning fossil fuels by vehicles but also from energy production. Figure 3 plots differential growth rates for incomes and the respective air pollutant and while MENA has been able to relatively decouple NOx and SO2 emissions from income growth, it was the slowest region doing so. There has been an acceleration of this decoupling trend in recent years due to advances in industrial and agricultural processes; for example in Iran, NOx emissions from the agricultural sector have been reduced strongly by less intensive use of fertilizers, while the switch toward gas for energy production away from heavy oils and desulfurization of flue gas has helped reduce SO2 emissions. In Egypt, industrial NOx emissions decreased beginning in 2010, partly due to advances such as the switch from burning heavy fuel oil (so-called mazout) to using compressed natural gas in brick factories, and due to incentivization of resource efficiency and end-of-pipe technologies. Morocco has also seen positive developments regarding its SO2 emissions, which is attributable to the enforcement of strict sulfur limits in gasoline and diesel in the past years. Nonetheless, slow overall decoupling of these air pollutants puts MENA again at the back in a regional comparison.

Figure 3. MENA region is slowest in decoupling NOx and SO2 emissions

Source: World Bank staff based on data from United Nations Development Program, Hoesly et al. (2018) and World Resources Institute.
Note: Figures show differential between growth rates of gross national income per capita and the emission of the respective air pollutant per capita. Growth rates are calculated in comparison to 1990 levels and the differences in growth rates were computed (and expressed in percentage points).

This blog showed that MENA was the only region to not decouple income growth and carbon emissions growth and the least successful in decoupling income growth from air pollutant growth. But what are the reasons for these failures and what can be done about it? Stay tuned for a follow-up blog in which we will discuss why there has not been decoupling in MENA and how to kick-start decoupling, and review some of the main messages coming out of the regional flagship report “Blue Skies, Blue Seas in the Middle East and North Africa.”

      
Kategorien: english

The PathoCERT Project Launches Communities of Practice in Europe and South Korea

SCP-Centre - 22. Juli 2021 - 12:15

Outbreaks of waterborne diseases often occur after severe events, such as massive rain- or snowfalls. They can affect communities within a short time-span but may leave behind long-lasting harmful effects. Therefore, a central question is: how can we enhance the responsive capacities of first responders and strengthen the resilience of local communities during waterborne pathogen contamination events? Our project PathoCERT finds out that multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration are among the key instruments.

Connecting local and national actors to identify challenges and opportunities and to explore pathways, including technical and social innovative solutions, are prerequisites  for improving our preparedness in the occurrence of emergency situations.

To enable such collaboratives processes and exchanges, the PathoCERT (Pathogen Contamination Emergency Response Technologies) project has successfully launched its six Communities of Practice (CoPs). Five European cities: Limassol (Cyprus), Granada (Spain), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Thessaloniki (Greece), Sofia (Bulgaria), plus Seoul (South Korea) have recently concluded the first series of their CoPs meetings.

These events have seen the participation of a variety of actors. Around 80 stakeholders representing local civil defence departments, civil protection agencies, police and fire services, public health services, local and municipal authorities, water utilities, and red cross, have been engaged during this first round of the CoP meetings.

Central to all Community of Practices is to identify existing challenges faced by first responders as well as opportunities with respect to the regulations and operating procedures for a better management of water contamination events. Moreover, tailor-made technologies in connection to the emergency scenarios that each pilot city is usually confronted with will also be co-developed within the CoP. These initial outcomes will pave the way for the upcoming CoPs meetings, including hands-on pilot testing of PathoCERT novel technologies, guidelines, platforms and processes.

The European funded (H2020) PathoCERT project aims to increase the ability of first responders to rapidly detect waterborne pathogens and ensure collaboration and coordination between the different actors during emergency events. To achieve this, PathoCERT brings together a consortium of 23 partners including universities, research organisations, NGOs, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large enterprises, first responders, and water utility operators from Europe (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden) and South Korea. Together they will research, develop and evaluate specialised technologies, tools, and procedures, to handle emergencies and investigate events that involve waterborne pathogens contamination situations.

For further information, please contact Francesca Grossi.

Photo by Jonathan Ford on Unsplash

 

Der Beitrag The PathoCERT Project Launches Communities of Practice in Europe and South Korea erschien zuerst auf CSCP gGmbH.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Changing research practices in times of Covid – Insights from an international fishbowl

EADI Debating Development Research - 22. Juli 2021 - 9:38
By Basile Boulay | EADI/ISS Blog Series The closing plenary of the 2021 EADI ISS conference opened the floor to all participants, encouraging them to reflect on their changing research practices in times of Covid through a virtual fishbowl format. How has the pandemic changed our research practice? How do losses and gains balance out? What …
Kategorien: english, Ticker

‘Digital rights’ key to inclusive post-pandemic recovery

UNSDN - 21. Juli 2021 - 22:03

Upholding human rights online must be part of global efforts to recover better following the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of UN independent experts said. 

They stressed that “digital rights” must be a top priority as countries rebuild civic space both during and after the crisis. “Despite the instrumental role of the internet and digital technologies, which have provided new avenues for the exercise of public freedoms and access to health and related information and care in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic, States continue to leverage these technologies to muzzle dissent, surveil, and quash online and offline collective action and the tech companies have done too little to avert such abuse of human rights,” they said

Address serious threats 

The human rights experts were concerned that these patterns of abuse will continue after the pandemic, further worsening inequalities worldwide. 

Their statement, issued ahead of next week’s RightsCon summit on human rights in the digital age, calls for collective action “to embrace the fast-pace expansion of digital space and technological solutions that are safe, inclusive and rights-based.” 

Post-pandemic recovery efforts must address serious threats contributing to the closing of civic space and suppression of free speech and media freedom, they said, such as internet shutdowns during peaceful protests. 

Other threats include digital divides and barriers to accessing basic human rights and services, as well as attacks on independent and diverse media, “algorithmic discrimination”, targeted surveillance, and online threats against human rights defenders. 

‘Digital inequalities’ deepen 

They pointed out that the pandemic has especially heightened “digital inequalities and discrimination” against people of African descent, minority groups, communities facing religious and ethnic discrimination, and women and girls. 

The UN experts said governments, as well as the tech sector, must take additional action so that their efforts reach people who are at greatest risk of being disproportionately affected.  

Underscoring that “we must leave no one behind – online or offline”, they recommended that platforms must be inclusive through engaging people on the ground and stepping up investment in the world’s least developed countries. 

At the same time, States must also maintain their obligation to promote and protect human rights. For example, initiatives to regulate online spaces should be “grounded in human rights standards”. 

Activists at risk 

The experts also called on companies to stop supplying governments with spyware tools, facial recognition applications, and other technologies that reinforce risks for activists and civil society representatives exercising their legitimate right to voice concerns and defend human rights. 

When States of Emergency Collide: COVID-19, Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Data Flows will be among the topics they will be discussing at RightsCon, which runs from 7-11 June. 

The nine experts who issued the statement monitor issues such as human rights while countering terrorism, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. 

They were appointed by the UN Human Rights Council and are not UN staff members, nor do they receive a salary from the Organization.

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

New WHO guidance aims to stamp out rights violations in mental health services

UNSDN - 21. Juli 2021 - 22:01

New guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), published on Thursday, calls for providing mental health care that respects human rights and focuses on recovery. 

Globally, mental health care mainly continues to be provided in psychiatric hospitals, and rights abuses and coercive practices remain all too common, according to the UN agency. 

‘A more holistic approach’ 

The guidance recommends that mental health provision should be located in the community and include support for daily living, such as facilitating access to accommodation, as well as education and employment services. 

“This comprehensive new guidance provides a strong argument for a much faster transition from mental health services that use coercion and focus almost exclusively on the use of medication to manage symptoms of mental health conditions, to a more holistic approach that takes into account the specific circumstances and wishes of the individual and offers a variety of approaches for treatment and support,” said Dr. Michelle Funk of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, who led the development of the guidance. 

Severe abuses continue 

WHO estimated that governments currently spend less than two per cent of their overall health budgets on mental health.  This expenditure is mainly allocated to psychiatric hospitals, except in high-income countries where the figure is around 43 per cent. 

The guidance promotes services that are person-centred and grounded in a human rights-based approach, as recommended under WHO’s Mental Health Action Plan 2020-2030, endorsed last month. 

WHO pointed out that although countries have increasingly sought to reform their laws, policies and services regarding mental health care, following adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006, few have made progress in meeting the changes required by international human rights standards. 

Severe human rights abuses and coercive practices are still far too common across countries, the agency said. Examples include forced admission and forced treatment, as well as manual, physical and chemical restraint, unsanitary living conditions, and physical and verbal abuse. 

Good practices showcased 

The new guidance outlines what is required in areas such as mental health law, service delivery, financing and workforce development so that mental health services comply with the disability rights treaty. 

It contains examples of community-based mental health services from countries such as Brazil, India, Kenya, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom which have demonstrated good practices, for example in non-coercion, community inclusion and respecting people’s right to make decisions about their treatment and life. 

The services highlighted include crisis support, mental health services provided within general hospitals, outreach services, supported living approaches and support provided by peer groups.  Cost comparisons indicate that they provide good outcomes and are preferred by users.  They also can be provided at comparable cost to mainstream health services. 

“Transformation of mental health service provision must, however, be accompanied by significant changes in the social sector”, said Gerard Quinn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  

“Until that happens, the discrimination that prevents people with mental health conditions from leading full and productive lives will continue.”

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

Turning to sustainable global business: 5 things to know about the circular economy

UNSDN - 21. Juli 2021 - 21:47

Due to the ever-increasing demands of the global economy, the resources of the planet are being used up at an alarming rate and waste and pollution are growing fast. The idea of a more sustainable “circular economy” is gaining traction, but what does this concept mean, and can it help save the planet?

1) Business as usual, the path to catastrophe

Unless we make some major adjustments to the way the planet is run, many observers believe that business as usual puts us on a path to catastrophe.

Around 90 per cent of global biodiversity loss and water stress (when the demand for water is greater than the available amount), and a significant proportion of the harmful emissions that are driving climate change, is caused by the way we use and process natural resources.

Over the past three decades, the amount of raw materials extracted from the earth, worldwide, has more than doubled. At the current rate of extraction, we’re on course to double the amount again, by 2060.

According to the International Resource Panel, a group of independent expert scientists brought together by the UN to examine the issue, this puts us in line for a three to six degree temperature increase, which would be deadly for much life on Earth. UNDP MongoliaFemale entrepreneurs in Mongolia are creating household goods from discarded plastic.

2) A circular economy means a fundamental change of direction

Whilst there is no universally agreed definition of a circular economy, the 2019 United Nations Environment Assembly, the UN’s flagship environment conference, described it as a model in which products and materials are “designed in such a way that they can be reused, remanufactured, recycled or recovered and thus maintained in the economy for as long as possible”.

In this scenario, fewer resources would be needed, less waste would be produced and, perhaps most importantly, the greenhouse gas emissions which are driving the climate crisis, would be prevented or reduced.

This goes much further than simply recycling: for the circular economy to happen,  the dominant economic model of “planned obsolescence” (buying, discarding and replacing products on a frequent basis) would have to be upended, businesses and consumers would need to value raw materials, from glass to metal to plastics and fibres, as resources to be valued, and products as things to be maintained and repaired, before they are replaced.UNDP/Sumaya AghaA landfill in Jordan where plastics are sorted and recycled into new products.

3) Turn trash into cash

Increasingly, in both the developed and the developing world, consumers are embracing the ideas behind the circular economy, and companies are realising that they can make money from it. “Making our economies circular offers a lifeline to decarbonise our economies”, says Olga Algayerova, the head of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, (UNECE), “and could lead to the creation of 1.8 million net jobs by 2040”.

In the US, for example, a demand for affordable, high-quality furniture, in a country where some 15 million tonnes of discarded furniture ends up in landfill every year, was the spur for the creation of Kaiyo, an online marketplace that makes it easier for furniture to be repaired and reused. The company is growing fast, and is part of a trend in the country towards a more effective use of resources, such as the car-sharing app Zipcar, and Rent the Runway, a rental service for designer clothing.

In Africa, there are many projects, large and small, which incorporate the principles of the circular economy by using existing resources in the most efficient way possible. One standout initiative is Gjenge Makers in Kenya. The company sells bricks for the construction industry, made entirely from waste. The young founder, Nzambi Matee, who has been awarded a UN Champion of the Earth award, says that she is literally turning trash into cash. The biggest problem she faces is how to keep up with demand: every day Gjenge Makers recycles some 500 kilos of waste, and can produces up to 1,500 plastic bricks every day.Unsplash/Becca McHaffieBuying second-hand clothes helps reduce waste and keeps clothing out of landfills.

4) Governments are beginning to step up

But, for the transition to take hold, governments need to be involved. Recently, major commitments have been made in some of the countries and regions responsible for significant resources use and waste. 
The US Government’s American Jobs Plan, for example, includes measures to retrofit energy-efficient homes, electrify the federal fleet of vehicles, including postal vans, and ending carbon pollution from power generation by 2035.

In the European Union, the EU’s new circular economy action plan, adopted in 2020, is one of the building blocks of the ambitious European Green Deal, which aims at making Europe the first climate-neutral continent.

And, in Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa founded the African Circular Economy Alliance, which calls for the widespread adoption of the circular economy on the continent. The Alliance supports African leaders who champion the idea, and creates coalitions to implement pilot projects.Ford/Sam VarnHagenThe US motor company Ford says it will release its first fully electric pick-up truck in 2022.

5) Squaring the circle?

However, there is still a long way to and there is even evidence that the world is going backwards: the 2021 Circularity Gap Report, produced annually by the Circle Economy thinktank, estimates that the global circularity rate (the proportion of recovered materials, as a percentage of overall materials used) stands at only 8.6 per cent, down from 9.1 per cent in 2018

So how can the world be made “rounder”? There are no easy answers, and no silver bullet, but Ms. Algayerova points to strong regulation as a big piece of the puzzle.

“I am proud that for the automotive sector, a UN regulation adopted at UNECE in 2013 requires 85 per cent of new vehicles’ mass to be reusable or recyclable. This binding regulation influences the design of around one quarter of all vehicles sold globally, some 23 million in 2019.”

“It’s a step in the right direction, but these kind of approaches need to be massively scaled up across all sectors”, she adds. “Shifting to the circular economy is good for business, citizens and nature, and must be at the heart of a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

UNESCO report highlights need for greater investment, diversity in science

UNSDN - 21. Juli 2021 - 21:46

Although spending on science has risen worldwide, greater investment is needed in the face of growing crises, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recommended in a new report published on Friday. 

The latest edition of its Science Report, which is published every five years, further reveals that there is still a long way to go before science fully contributes to the goal of achieving a more sustainable future for all people and the planet.  

“Better-endowed science is indispensable. Science must become less unequal, more cooperative and more open. Today’s challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, decline of ocean health and pandemics are all global. This is why we must mobilize scientists and researchers from all over the world,” said Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO Director-General. 

More scientists, significant disparities 

During the period from 2014 to 2018, spending on science worldwide increased by nearly 20 per cent, and the number of scientists rose some 13.7 per cent: a trend that was further boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report. 

But a deeper dive into the data shows significant disparities, as just two countries – the United States and China – accounted for nearly two-thirds of this increase, or roughly 63 per cent. Additionally, four out of five countries fall far behind, investing less than one per cent of their GDP in scientific research. 

The fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have been particularly dynamic, the authors said.  More than 150,000 articles on these topics were published in 2019 alone.   

Research also has surged in lower middle-income countries, rising from just under 13 per cent in 2015, to more than 25 per cent four years later. 

Open access challenge 

However, research in other areas critical to our common global future, such as carbon capture and storage, have received less investment, indicating a long path still lies ahead before science fully contributes to sustainable development.   

Furthermore, although international scientific cooperation has increased over the past five years, open access to research remains a challenge in much of the world, as more than 70 per cent of publications remain largely inaccessible to the majority of researchers. 

The report calls for new models for the circulation and dissemination of scientific knowledge, an issue UNESCO has been working on since 2019. The agency has been preparing a framework for open science ahead of its next General Conference in November, which it hopes will be adopted. 

Shaping tomorrow’s world 

Meanwhile, science needs to become more diverse, according to the report, as just a third of researchers are women. Although parity has been achieved in the life sciences, women account for only 22 per cent of the workforce in AI.  

“We cannot allow the inequalities of society be reproduced, or amplified, by the science of the future”, UNESCO said. 

The report further urges restoration of public confidence in science, reminding that “today’s science contributes to shaping the world of tomorrow, which is why it is essential to prioritize humanity’s common goal of sustainability through ambitious science policy.”

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

The Head of COP 26 Alok Sharma Previews His Agenda For the Major Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland

UN Dispatch - 21. Juli 2021 - 20:07

This November, the United Kingdom will host COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. This will be the most signifiant moment in international climate diplomacy since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Just four months ahead of this monumental climate summit, the president of COP26 Alok Sharma sat down with several media organizations affiliated with Covering Climate Now. UN Dispatch is a member of this collaborative and we are able to republish two key stories, printed below.

 

Rich nations “must consign coal power to history” – UK COP26 president

LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) – Climate change talks this year aimed at keeping global warming in check need to consign coal power to history, the British president of the upcoming United Nations’ conference said on Wednesday.

Britain will host the next U.N. climate conference, called COP26, in November in Glasgow, Scotland.

The meeting aims to spur more ambitious commitments by countries following their pledge under the Paris Agreement in 2015 to keep the global average temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius this century. The measures are aimed at preventing
devastating and extreme weather events such as heatwaves, colder winters, floods and droughts.

“I’ve been very clear that I want COP26 to be the COP where we consign coal power to history,” Alok Sharma, UK president for COP26, told journalists in an interview with Reuters and other partners of the global media consortium Covering Climate Now.

Coal is the most polluting energy source if emissions are not captured and stored underground. While that technology lags, most coal units around the world produce not only carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for global warming, but other pollutants harmful to human health.

The Group of Seven (G7) nations have pledged to scale up technologies and policies that accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity, including ending new government support for coal power by the end of this year, but many countries still finance and plan to build new coal plants.

After catastrophic floods swept across northwest Europe last week and as wildfires continue to rage across southern Oregon in the United States, energy and climate ministers of the Group of 20 rich and emerging nations (G20) will meet this week in Italy to try to increase emissions cuts and climate finance pledges.

“I think the G7 has shown the way forward,” Sharma said, adding that island nations he has visited this year such as in the Caribbean, want the biggest emitters of the G20 to follow suit.

A tracker run by groups including the Overseas Development Institute shows the G20 has committed at least $296 billion for fossil fuel energy support since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and $227 billion for clean energy.

“Many of these countries are already very ambitious in terms of abating climate change. But for it to make a difference in terms of the weather patterns that are hitting (countries), they need the biggest emitters to step forward and that’s the message that I’m going to be delivering at the G20,” he added.

One of the biggest challenges facing the UK COP26 Presidency will be to persuade countries to commit to more ambitious emissions-cut targets and to increase financing for countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Long-held disagreements over the rules which will govern how carbon markets should operate will also need to be overcome. The rules, under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, are regarded by many countries as a way of delivering climate finance.

“I’ve said to ministers that we need to move beyond people restating their long-held positions. I think we have to find a landing zone,” Sharma said.

  —

Tackle climate change with same urgency shown to pandemic, Says Sharma

Tagline: This story originally appeared in The Times of India and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

By Sunil Warrier & Manka Behl

Four months from now, all eyes will be on world leaders slated to meet in Glasgow to discuss measures to combat climate change. The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, is anticipated to be the most important meeting to battle rising temperatures, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, wildfires and other catastrophic events.

Ahead of the international climate talks and the G20 ministerial meet on environment, climate and energy which is scheduled on July 22-23 in Naples, British MP Alok Sharma, who is also the COP26 president, speaks exclusively to TOI and other partners of the global media consortium Covering Climate Now on grappling issues — right from lack of progress on climate finance, limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius, the comeback of the United States in the Paris climate accord and his discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India’s progress.

 

Excerpts from the interview:

 The main polluting nations are yet to meet their goals, both in mitigation and finance. India has been telling the world that it is on track to meet its Paris Agreement goal. As president of COP26, how will you bridge this trust deficit?

 

I agree that trust is a vital commodity in climate negotiation, and it is incumbent on the donor nations to deliver that trust by showing a clear delivery roadmap for the $100 billion a year. Everyone knows that climate change does not recognize borders. And so, my message to every country is: Please come forward with ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets which are then aligned with net zero by the middle of the century. The overarching message that I would like to come out of COP26 is that we have credibly done enough as well to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius (global warming) within reach. I am not saying to developing nations that they must curb their development. The issue is how you do that in a green way.

 

 

Are you happy with the progress made by India?

 

When in India a few months ago, I had very constructive discussions. I also met Prime Minister Modi. And I know that in a climate biodiversity loss, these are issues that he personally cares very deeply about. I have been incredibly impressed by the work that has been done on clean energy transition in India. And obviously India’s goal of setting up 450 gigawatts of renewables by 2030 also points the way to how India will take part in this clean energy transition. My ask of every country is the same.

 

 

Keeping in mind the impact of burning of coal on not just environment and climate change, but also public health, would you advise India now to say a complete no to coal?

 

International investors are increasingly reluctant to invest in coal power. They have understood that they may well end up in some years with stranded assets. And they’re seeing that actually the prices of renewables — solar, offshore wind — have been coming down significantly. I think the market will help drive the movement in terms of the clean energy transition. One of the reasons that in the UK we were able to have such a rapid growth in our offshore wind sector is because we deployed various revenue mechanisms. It meant that the private sector was able to invest and could get a return. And that’s what then led the scaling up of investments.

 

 

Have you interacted with India’s new environment minister Bhupender Yadav? How difficult is it for a new environment minister to come into COP and get a hang of climate change?

 

I tweeted out a congratulations to him when he was appointed. I’m looking forward to him participating in our ministerial meeting. I think he’ll be doing so virtually. In terms of any new portfolio, you need time to get used to it. But, as I understand from Mr Yadav’s profile, he is someone who has a deep understanding of environmental issues.

 

 

What do you take from the pandemic as a lesson to combat climate emergency?

 

We want world leaders to apply the same sense of urgency to the challenge of climate change as they have indeed done to dealing with the global pandemic. Also, in relation to COP26, one of the issues of concern is how delegates from other countries, who would have not been able to get vaccinated by the time of the meet, will travel. So, we have announced that the UK, working with the UN and other partners, will ensure that all accredited delegates who are not able to get a vaccine in their home country will be supported and vaccinated. It’s vitally important that we hold this event physically. At the end of the day, this is a negotiation among almost 200 countries of the world, and that’s why we need to do this physically. We hope to ensure that COP26 is for the delegates as well as for the people of Glasgow.

 

 

Was it a setback that COP could not be held in 2020 due to Covid?

 

There have been positives over the last year since UK accepted COP presidency. The US administration has come back into accepting the Paris Agreement under its President Joe Biden. It means the country is back in the frontline to fight climate change. Yet, despite Covid, climate change didn’t take time off: Last year was the hottest year on record, comparable to 2016 and the last decade was the hottest on record. And that’s why it’s vital that the world comes together in November so that we can reach an agreement and say with credibility that we’ve kept 1.5 alive.

 

 

Have COP events become like a talk show and are governments viewing each other with deep suspicion?

 

I have travelled to 30 countries in recent months and will continue to travel more despite Covid. I will attempt to build trust and a relationship, that’s going to be vital. My four goals from COP26 are: The overarching ambition of keeping 1.5 within reach, financial support from developed nations for developing countries, those with adaptation plans to come forward and closing off really important issues from the Paris rulebook itself.

 

 

What are the other key issues expected to be negotiated at COP26?

 

Even before we reach Glasgow in November, all countries need to thrash out many things. I am hoping to make good progress during the meeting this week. The five key areas of discussion would be adaptation, finance, loss and damage, Article six and 1.5 degrees C. The politicians need to know what is at stake and the need to compromise. This next decade is going to be decisive in determining the future for our planet when it comes to climate and biodiversity. And I always say that for a child born today, their future as far as the future of the planet is concerned will be set before that child completes primary education. It is as dark as that.

 

 

How do countries view climate activism? There are many youths who are in the forefront of protests.

 

As COP president, I take the work done by climate activists very seriously. This is the first COP where we’ve set up a civil society and youth advisory group of people from across the world who worked with my officials on crafting COP. Ahead of the meeting in March, we took advice and views from civil society and youth activists as well. Every visit I do, I try and meet, and hear their views. The reality is that very often climate activists are holding a mirror up to world leaders. And we need that. At COP26, we’re going to have a Youth Agenda Day focused on the views of youth and of issues around education. Italy (COP26 partner) is hosting a climate event in Milan ahead of COP (called pre-COP26 Summit). Around 400 young people from around the world, young climate activists will come together and present their views to ministers.

 

UN climate science scientists have said that the 1.5 degrees Celsius target requires steep global emissions cuts. But there is still some disagreement around whether the target should be 1.5 or 2 degrees.

 

We just need to step back a little bit and look at what it is that the world agreed to in Paris in 2015. World leaders came together and said that we should do everything we could to keep average global temperature rises to below two degrees and closer to 1.5 degrees. And that’s why we talk about the overarching aim of fix for us collectively, to be able to say that we kept 1.5 within reach. Now, the science tells us that we are over one degree average global temperature rises across the world, and we are seeing the impact of that on a daily basis around the world. In Europe, we have seen the very tragic flooding that’s taking place in Germany. Across the world, we are seeing the impacts of climate change and every fraction of a degree makes a difference.

 

 

Climate finance will be one of the key issues in COP26, specifically the $100 billion commitment. While figures cited by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the UK government revealed that the figure totalled to $79 billion, Oxfam has found it to be around $20 billion, taking into consideration the vague accounting and different definitions for where the money is coming from. How is that shortfall going to be made up? Which countries need to pledge more?

 

There are a number of issues when it comes to finance. The first is that we need to deliver on the $100 billion a year. The OECD report has stated that in 2018, we have got to just under $80 billion. All the G7 nations have stepped forward and said that they are going to put more money on the table. While the UK is doubling its climate finance commitment, we have also seen new money on the table from Japan, Germany and Canada. We need all the other donors to step forward with more financing. There are going to be opportunities between now and COP26 for countries to come forward and make those additional announcements. This is something that the developing countries will very much want to see — a solid delivery plan on how we are going to get the $100 billion and by what point over the next two years. For the developing nations, this is a totemic figure which has now become a matter of trust. Also, while the hundred billion is vitally important, what we need to do is to ensure that we are mobilizing trillions from the private sector alongside this commitment. We need to make a route for private investors to be able to invest in developing countries, in climate-resilient infrastructure, clean energy transition and ensuring that they can get a return.

 

 

Is the money being allocated appropriately between mitigation and adaptation?

 

I certainly do not want to see adaptation as the poor cousin of mitigation, which it currently is. So, we do want to see more money being channelled into adaptation. And I think the access to finance is also vitally important.

 

 

You now have a US administration back at the table, a rich partner. Give us a sense of the strategy of trying to extract some money out of that partner to facilitate what we have just been talking about.

 

I am very pleased that we have an administration that is back on the frontline in the fight against climate change. And I think it was particularly telling that one of the first executive orders that the new president, President Biden, signed was on rejoining the Paris agreement. I think this was a real message for the world. The US is back, and the US is going to work alongside other countries in tackling climate change. Of course, there’s been more money that is being put on the table from the US and that’s welcome. What the US does is going to be vitally important. 

 

 

How should one read into UK not giving foreign financial aid?

 

At the UN General Assembly Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that we would be doubling our international climate finance commitment. And in the last week, he has reaffirmed that. We are urging other countries to do the same. The UK remains a global leader overall when it comes to supporting countries around the world — we will be spending around 10 billion pounds this year.

 

 

What do you consider your biggest challenge as president of COP26?

 

I think the biggest challenge is ensuring that we are persuading countries to come forward with ambitious commitments. As I said, we have seen progress. We have gone from 30% of the world covered by net zero target to 70%. We have seen ambitious indices from a range of countries, but we need that from everyone. If you look at some of the most ambitious countries in terms of cutting emissions, in terms of going carbon neutral, those are the countries that are on the frontline of climate change. And we owe it to them, and we owe it to future generations to get this right.

 

The post The Head of COP 26 Alok Sharma Previews His Agenda For the Major Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Liverpool’s historic waterfront removed from World Heritage List

UN ECOSOC - 21. Juli 2021 - 16:06
Historic docklands and buildings in the UK city of Liverpool have been removed from the UN cultural body UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites, it announced on Wednesday.
Kategorien: english

From protest to progress?

OECD - 21. Juli 2021 - 15:30
A long-lasting recovery from COVID-19 cannot be achieved without addressing this discontent, which it defines as collective feelings of frustrated expectations, injustice,
Kategorien: english

How Behavioural Insights Can Support the Shift Toward More Sustainable and Healthier Food Consumption Patterns

SCP-Centre - 21. Juli 2021 - 11:00

What ends up on our dining table has a direct impact on the environment. Growing concerns related to the consumption of high-footprint food urge for more action in promoting healthier and more sustainable consumption patterns. A better understanding of consumer behaviours and choices is pivotal for the success and effectiveness of policies, business innovations, and other interventions in food systems. The VALUMICS report ‘Putting solutions on the table’ provides insights on behaviourally-informed interventions that can have a positive impact.

Traditionally, efforts to shift food purchasing and consumption toward more sustainability have been based on classical persuasion and information-based interventions and strategies. Such efforts have positively contributed to increasing consumers’ awareness. However, beyond that, they have not managed to support a real shift from the Europeans’ carbon-intensive eating patterns.

Challenging longstanding premises of humans as solely rational decision makers, behavioural insights suggest that instead of optimising the information available, consumers often opt for mental shortcuts when making decisions, including food purchasing choices. Having to choose between price, nutritional value, taste, origin or sustainability performance, consumers often simply opt for the easiest choice and base their decision on a few criteria. For example either price, taste or even appearance, and/or are guided by other factors such as habits, social norms or product availability and arrangement. Accordingly, for more effective outcomes, strategies that promote the uptake of sustainable food consumption should be based on and consider the actual behavioural patterns of consumers.

Building on such findings, the VALUMICS report ‘Putting solutions on the table’ provides insights on behaviourally-informed interventions that aim to support the food industry actors, policymakers and governments as well as civil society organisations (CSOs) to promote sustainable food consumption. The report describes how behavioural insights are helpful in driving consumers into sustainable food consumption and highlights practical behavioural interventions that have supported such shifts. These interventions are clustered according to the behavioural approaches they are based on, namely, simplifying the information regarding sustainable food items, improving framing information to enhance the acceptance and implementation of a suggested behaviour, enhancing the physical environment of sustainable food items, changing the default option, making sustainable food consumption the norm, and priming.

For example, a pizza restaurant in Italy managed to reduce food waste at the point of purchase by making takeaway bags of unfinished food the default option, leading to an increased customer demand for the service by 44% two weeks into the experiment. The report highlights this and numerous such interventions based on behaviour insights that have shown positive impact and have the potential to be taken up and upscaled.

The report ‘Putting solutions on the table’ is the second in a series of VALUMICS publications focusing on food consumption analysis. The first report brings together information on the determinants that influence and drive European food consumption patterns. The upcoming reports look at multi-stakeholder recommendations toward more sustainable food consumption, and food retailer interventions to support this shift.

To read more about behavioural insights and interventions that could guide consumers towards more sustainable food purchases, please read the full report here.

For further questions, please contact Cristina Fedato.

Der Beitrag How Behavioural Insights Can Support the Shift Toward More Sustainable and Healthier Food Consumption Patterns erschien zuerst auf CSCP gGmbH.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Failing forward in the EU's common security and defense policy: the integration of EU crisis management

GDI Briefing - 21. Juli 2021 - 10:16

Recent years have witnessed renewed efforts to advance integration in the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), including in the domain of military and civilian capability development. The adoption of a Civilian CSDP Compact (CCC) and the creation of a European Peace Facility (EPF) are prominent examples of recent steps taken towards further integration. Still, despite recent progress, CSDP reforms have often been slow to materialise, lag behind the reform ambitions of key EU foreign policy actors, and fail to address important shortcomings experienced by CSDP. This article addresses why this might be by exploring the evolution of CSDP crisis management through a failing forward approach, which charts the course of integration dynamics, identified by neofunctionalism and liberal intergovernmentalism, through time, revealing its cyclical nature. Our case studies of the EPF and the CCC demonstrate how the long-term integrative dynamics in EU military and civilian crisis management are marked by a cycle of crisis followed by incomplete institutional reforms, policy feedback, experiential learning and subsequent, yet again incomplete, efforts to remedy institutional shortcomings and policy failure.

Kategorien: english

Questioning development: What lies ahead?

EADI Debating Development Research - 21. Juli 2021 - 8:48
By Christiane Kliemann Development Studies requires “an epistemological and ontological change” write Elisabetta Basile and Isa Baud in the introduction to the recent EADI volume “Building Development Studies for a New Millennium”. The planned sequel of the book will take this analysis one step further and explore viable ways to build on both the critique …
Kategorien: english, Ticker

A new social contract for a job-rich recovery

OECD - 20. Juli 2021 - 17:42
The ITUC SDG8 composite indicator below - covering 145 countries corresponding to more than 97% of the world population - is calculated on the basis of four sub-domains related to four dimensions: economic well-being, employment quality, labour vulnerability, and labour rights. The rating ranges between 70-130 and the world average is set to 100.
Kategorien: english

A systematic review on ethical challenges of 'field' research in low-income and middle-income countries: respect, justice and beneficence for research staff?

GDI Briefing - 20. Juli 2021 - 17:15

Primary data collection in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) is associated with a range of ethical complexities. Considerations on how to adequately ensure the well-being of research staff are largely neglected in contemporary ethics discourse. This systematic review aims to identify the ethical challenges that research staff across different hierarchical levels and scientific disciplines face when conducting research in LMICs.

We searched 13 electronic databases and handsearched publications in six selected journals as well as the reference lists of all included studies. No restrictions were applied with respect to the publication date, research design, and target population.

23 151 studies were retrieved, 183 of which met our inclusion criteria. We identified nine different types of ethical challenges that research staff may be exposed to during field research, including (1) role conflicts that can emerge from participants’ help requests and the high level of deprivation found in certain study settings, (2) feelings of guilt and (3) detrimental mental health impacts. Further challenges were (4) sexual harassment (5) safety risks and (6) political repression, particularly in postconflict, disaster-ridden or autocratic study contexts. Additionally, studies reported (7) inadequate working conditions and (8) power imbalances within research teams, while (9) ethics boards were found to be ill equipped to anticipate and address emerging risks, thus increasing the ethical liability of researchers.

This review revealed several complex ethical challenges that research staff may face during data collection. In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 8.8 on ‘safe and secure working environments’ and to protect research staff from harm, amendments must urgently be made to current ethical standards.

Kategorien: english

Adoptez ces 3 équipements pour mieux profiter de votre jardin

UN Food and Hunger - 20. Juli 2021 - 13:11

Vous avez pourvu votre maison d’un beau jardin pour suivre la tendance française ? C’est une très bonne idée ! Mais à quoi bon posséder une pelouse si vous ne pouvez pas en profiter ? Voici 3 équipements pour vous permettre de mieux exploiter ce joli espace vert.

1.      La pergola


En plus de disposer d’un jardin, vous devriez le transformer en un cadre de vie très agréable, pour vous, ainsi que pour vos amis et proches. Pensez donc à adopter un équipement de choix comme la Pergola bois ; c’est l’un des plus beaux parmi les abris de maison que vous allez trouver sur le marché.

La pergola représente un endroit très pratique et fonctionnel, qui peut surtout servir d’espace de détente pour accueillir vos visiteurs. C’est aussi le cadre idéal pour vous prélasser dans votre jardin après une journée de travail éprouvante !

2.     La jardinière sur pied

Voici un autre équipement que vous pouvez acquérir pour mieux profiter de votre espace vert. Dans un jardin, la jardinière sur pied permet aux petites fleurs de magnifier votre pelouse, loin des nuisibles. Un escargot de compétition va par exemple rapidement renoncer à grignoter vos plantations si celles-ci semblent en hauteur.
Mobile, la jardinière sur pied vous offre la possibilité d’optimiser au besoin la surface de votre pelouse. C’est donc l’équipement idéal pour mieux profiter de votre espace vert !

3.      Le Morso Forno

Dans le jardin, vous allez souvent organiser des soirées pizza entre amis ou en tête-à-tête avec votre âme sœur ! Pour réussir ces évènements et offrir à vos invités un instant convivial et agréable, pensez au Morso forno, un équipement multifonctionnel.

Non seulement c’est un barbecue, mais il remplit aussi la fonction de four à pizza/pain et de fumoir. Ce gadget au design épuré et original va très bien trouver sa place dans votre jardin !

The post Adoptez ces 3 équipements pour mieux profiter de votre jardin appeared first on burudi.net.

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