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Dejana Selenic: The Data Expert

Devex - 18. Dezember 2019 - 13:14
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JUMP – to The Hague

D+C - 18. Dezember 2019 - 12:00
Young researchers from Global South can apply for mentoring programme and then attend EADI/ISS conference

In connection with the EADI/ISS General Conference 2020Solidarity, Peace and Social Justice”, to be held from 29 June to 2 July 2020 at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in the Hague, PhD and early career researchers from the Global South are invited to apply for the JUMP Journal Mentoring Programme. EADI is the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes.

JUMP offers the opportunity to work closely with an experienced scholar from the same field of interest, in order to prepare a paper for submission to the European Journal of Development Research (EJDR) or any other scientific journal. A one-day writing workshop at the conference will kick off the programme. Conference fees, travel and accommodation expenses of the mentees are covered by the programme. The call is open until 20 January 2020.

Ideally, JUMP applicants have submitted an abstract to either one of the conference panels (abstract submission deadline is 6 January 2020), or the 17th ISS Development Dialogue being held alongside the conference. The Development Dialogue is an annual ISS conference, organised by and for PhD researchers and young scholars in development studies. The related call for abstracts is still open until 15 January. Applications independent from these two events are welcome too.  


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ODI's 2019 quiz of the year

ODI - 18. Dezember 2019 - 0:00
Test your knowledge with these 10 questions about our work across 2019 and share your score on social media using #ODIQuiz2019!
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Busting four myths about Universal Health Coverage

ODI - 18. Dezember 2019 - 0:00
While there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach, all countries can move towards Universal Health Coverage – but opinions around it are often misinformed.
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How A Dispute Over Carbon Market Regulations Tripped Up COP25 in Madrid

UN Dispatch - 17. Dezember 2019 - 17:16

Kate Dooley, University of Melbourne

The United Nations’ COP25 climate talks concluded on Sunday morning in Madrid, almost 40 hours overtime. After two weeks of protracted talks meant to address the planetary warming emergency, world leaders spectacularly failed to reach any real outcomes.

The degree to which wealthy nations, including Australia, blocked progress on critical points of debate incensed both observers and country delegates.

These points included robust rules for the global trading of carbon credits, increased commitments for finance to help developing nations tackle climate change, and most importantly, raising ambition to a level consistent with averting catastrophic climate impacts.

Australia’s Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor, far left, with other delegates to the COP 25.

COP25 was a conference of “parties”, or nations, signed up to the Paris Agreement, which takes effect in 2021. I attended the conference as an observer.

Emissions reduction targets of nations signed up to Paris put Earth on track for a 3.2℃ temperature increase this century. However the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says warming must be kept below 1.5℃ to avoid the most devastating climate impacts.

Much was riding on the outcome in Madrid. However, it failed to deliver.


One of the key agenda items was Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, involving international carbon trading between nations.

The previous COP in Poland failed to reach consensus on these trading rules, and after this latest meeting, many contentious issues remained unresolved. These include:

  • how to ensure that an overall reduction in global emissions is achieved and that the rules prevent double counting (or emissions reduction units being counted by both the buying and selling nation)
  • whether a levy would be applied to proceeds from carbon trading to finance adaptation in developing nations
  • the recognition of human and indigenous peoples’ rights, and social and environmental safeguards, given the harms caused by previous carbon trading mechanisms
  • critically for Australia, whether countries could use “carryover” carbon credits from the Kyoto Protocol to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement.
An indigenous woman from Amazon reacts during COP25, which largely failed to deliver.
JUAN CARLOS HIDALGO/EPA The question of Kyoto credits

Australia was pushing to allow use of Kyoto Protocol units, for which it drew scathing criticism from other nations, international media and observers. It plans to meet more than half its Paris target via this accounting loophole.

Brazil, India, South Korea and China also want to carry over credits earned under the Clean Development Mechanism, a trading scheme under Kyoto.

No consensus was reached. The negotiations for rules for carbon markets will now continue at COP26 in Glasgow next year, just weeks out from the Paris Agreement’s start date.

The argument will not be easily resolved. Five of the last seven COP meetings failed to reach a decision on carbon market rules, indicating the extent of international divisions, and calling into question the disproportionate focus on carbon trading, given its limited ability to address climate change.

In Madrid, 31 nations signed up to the San Jose principles, seeking to ensure environmental integrity in carbon markets. Upholding these principles would mean emissions must go down, not up as a result of trading carbon.

Steam rises a German coal-fired power plant. The COP25 failed to make progress on cutting emissions from coal and other sources.

The conference also discussed measures to strengthen the governance and finance arrangements of the Warsaw International Mechanism, a measure designed to compensate poor nations for climate damage.

Little progress was made on mobilising finance from developed nations. The US, which will soon exit the Paris Agreement, played a key role in stymieing progress. It resisted efforts for broad governance arrangements, and pushed for language in the rulebook which would exclude high-emitting nations from liability for the loss and damage experienced by vulnerable countries under climate change.

At Glasgow, all nations under Paris are required to submit new emissions reduction commitments. It was widely expected that the Madrid meeting would strongly urge nations to ensure these targets were more ambitious than the last. Instead, the final text only “reminds” parties to “communicate” their commitments in 2020.

President of COP25, Carolina Schmidt (right), and UN official Ovais Sarmad.
EPA/MAST IRHAM ‘Crime against humanity’

When the COP finally closed on Sunday morning, the meeting had failed to reach consensus on increasing emissions reduction ambition to the level required.

The results are disheartening. The world has let another chance slip by to tackle the climate crisis, and time is fast running out.

The implications of this were perhaps summed up best by the low-lying Pacific island state of Tuvalu, whose representative Ian Fry said of the outcome:

There are millions of people all around the world who are already suffering from the impacts of climate change. Denying this fact could be interpreted by some to be a crime against humanity.

Kate Dooley, Research Fellow, Climate and Energy College, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The post How A Dispute Over Carbon Market Regulations Tripped Up COP25 in Madrid appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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If it works in Zimbabwe, it’ll work anywhere

D+C - 17. Dezember 2019 - 15:47
Innovative online publishers are paving the way to new business models – for instance in Mexico and Zimbabwe

Tania Montalvo runs the independent news website Animal Político in Mexico City. She says, it is important not to depend on a single revenue source. Though access to the main website is free, Animal Político has begun to collect money from its audience. People can become paying “members” for example, and they then get access to important stories a few hours before others do. She reports that this approach is more effective than crowd sourcing, because it makes people feel “that they are part of the project”. In Montalvo’s experience, it is possible to use quality journalism to create a community. She points out that the user experience must be good, not least in the sense of items being easy to read.

To attract more people and generate extra revenues, Animal Político has started additional activities. One example is Animal Gourmet, a website dedicated to food. Moreover, the parent company has begun to produce videos for clients. Two persons are busy producing such “commercial content”, Montalvo reports.

Montalvo discussed her approach at the annual conference of FOME (Forum Media and Development), an informal network of German development agencies involved in media affairs. DW Akademie and Konrad Adenauer Foundation hosted it in November in Bonn. Her panel included Nigel Mugamu from Zimbabwe, who confirmed her message of journalistic independence depending on sufficient – and sufficiently diverse – revenue streams.

Seven years ago, Mugamu set up the online publishing company 263Chat. His team now includes 17 persons, produces news items every day and systematically uses social media such as WhatsApp, twitter and Facebook to spread information. 263Chat is a for-profit organisation, Mugamu points out. As a trained accountant, he is used to processing business figures. He insists that it would not make sense to charge users in a poor country, so he relies on five other revenue streams, including advertising and providing graphics services for clients. Mugamu says his work is “character building”, especially in view of Zimbabwe’s painfully high inflation. He is forced to improvise and discover new ways to make money continuously. The good news is that 263Chat is viable in very difficult circumstances. In his eyes, that proves that independent journalism is feasible elsewhere as well.

Animal Político and 263Chat have several things in common. Most important is probably their emphasis on using the brand to build a community. Mugamu considers it important to engage the audience daily. “The key is to listen,” he says. Unless journalists know what their audience wants, they will be unable to deliver that kind of content.


Animal Politico:


FOME conference documentation

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Competitive squall at the pier

D+C - 17. Dezember 2019 - 15:15
The Autonomous Port of Cotonou, Benin’s economic engine, is facing a major new challenge from neighbouring Nigeria, one of its biggest customers

Benin is one of the world’s poorest countries, but nonetheless has a few economic trump-cards. According to official statistics, the economy has grown steadily in the past four years. Substantial investments have been made in infrastructure. Efforts are also underway to significantly increase cotton and cashew-nuts production, the country’s main cash crops.

As investments in power generation have increased, the incidence of blackouts has fallen. And Cotonou, the country’s economic hub, boasts a seaport. It attracts cargo bound for land-locked neighbours such as Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, as well as for its wealthier neighbour Nigeria. Regional integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is less than perfect, but it helps the port to thrive.

The Autonomous Port of Cotonou is “the lung of the national economy,” according to the World Food Programme’s Logistics Capacity Assessment (LCA), a database of information on the logistics capacity of the world’s ports to handle humanitarian aid deliveries.

The port handles trade with Europe, North and South America and Asia, “making Cotonou a ‘warehouse city’ generating intense trade, handling and logistics activity,” according to the LCA, which adds that Cotonou is the fourth most important port in West Africa.

A glance at the statistics shows the port’s economic significance for Benin. According to the LCA, the port handles 90 % of Benin’s foreign trade and generates more than 60 % of its GDP. It processes an annual freight volume of 12 million tonnes, according to Port of Antwerp International (PAI). This subsidiary of Belgium’s Antwerp Port Authority was chosen to modernise Cotonou in late 2017.

A walk along the port’s docks brings the statistics to life. An astounding variety of goods pours in daily: manufactured foods, bulk agricultural crops, fertilisers, metals and minerals, Chinese fabrics, second-hand clothes, used vehicles and household appliances.

That last category – used vehicles and household appliances – has become a blemish on the port’s reputation. It has become known or even infamous for handling imports of used vehicles and other equipment that would fail technical inspection in developed countries. Large shipments of old, rusting trucks and broken household appliances transit through Benin, heading for inland markets. They may be affordable, but they are of poor quality and environmentally harmful.

The port has its share of problems beyond the image issues associated with its trade in broken vehicles. Logistics companies complain about long waiting times. According to Africa News, the PAI was tasked with improving that record, by reorganising and restructuring the administration, computerising services, disseminating a code of good behaviour and training the staff, among other things. Results remain to be seen.

Competitive jolt

All these challenges pale in comparison with the jolt the port received on 20 August 2019: Nigeria’s federal government imposed a ban on imports over land borders of a wide variety of items, including a range of foods, used clothing and furniture. The ban was reinforced with an order that blocked Nigeria’s Central Bank from providing hard currencies for purchasing banned items.

Until this decree, Nigeria, with its 200 million inhabitants and relatively high purchasing power, had been one of Benin’s – and the Port of Cotonou’s – best customers. Nigeria’s government justified its action by pointing to high rates of smuggling and a general need to crack down on crime.

At the same time, Nigeria made moves to boost its own capacity to handle maritime trade. The government announced plans to build a new deep-sea port in Warri, Delta State, thanks to Chinese investment and is considering two additional facilities to handle maritime trade. The background is that the two seaports in Lagos, West Africa’s commercial hub, face serious congestion. Cotonou’s port has benefited from the Lagos Port Complex at Apapa and the Tin Can Island Port being overburdened.

In the competitive market for port services, the likely upgrade of the Nigerian ports that serve Lagos is bad news for Cotonou. So far, it has received much of the seaborne cargo bound for Nigeria. Capacity constraints in Nigeria were an important reason.

According to John Igué, Benin’s former minister of trade, a long-lasting ban on trade over land borders with Nigeria will only worsen Benin’s economic outlook. The ban could also encourage smugglers to evade the decree, as domestic prices rise in Nigeria in response to scarcity.

The Port of Cotonou’s Belgian managers are evaluating their response to the new competitive challenge. According to press reports, Benin will start implementing a € 450 million modernisation plan at the Port of Cotonou in 2020. The aim is to make the port a more secure and efficient platform for its many trading partners, not just those in Nigeria. In the competitive world of ports, that is the only way forward.

Karim Okanla is a media scholar and freelance author based in Benin.

The World Food Programme’s Logistics Capacity Assessment:

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The way forward

D+C - 17. Dezember 2019 - 10:28
Among rich nations, only the EU is still spelling out meaningful climate ambitions, as became evident in Madrid

The delegations from the USA, Australia and Brazil – three countries ravaged by terrible forest fires this year – were particularly destructive in Madrid, allowing others, including Canada and Japan, to hide behind them. Humanity is headed towards disaster, but we cannot rely on multilateral action to stop or reverse the trend. The UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) has evidently failed. That said, it was better not to take decisions in Madrid than to conclude bad deals that those who deny science might accept.   

The empirical facts are unequivocal. Humanity is heading for disaster. The crisis is escalating faster than predicted.  If emission trends are not reversed dramatically in the next ten years, the climate crisis will spin out of control, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned (see Mojib Latif in Debate section of D+C/E+Z e-Paper 2018/11).

The evidence keeps becoming more conclusive – whether it concerns the state of oceans (see Floreana Miesen in Monitor section of D+C/E+Z e-Paper 2019/11), the erosion of biodiversity (see Theresa Krinninger in Monitor section of D+C/E+Z e-Paper 2019/07 / see Theresa Krinninger in D+C/E+Z print issue 2019/11-12 p. 26) or the impacts of land use (see Katja Dombrowski in Monitor section of D+C/E+Z e-Paper 2019/09 / see Katja Dombrowski in D+C/E+Z print issue 2019/11-12 p. 25). Nonetheless, reckless governments still prioritise fossil fuel interests. Such action is likely to be considered a crime against humanity in the not so distant future.

People are paying attention. In 2019, school kids went on climate strikes all over the world. A new movement called Extinction Rebellion has launched civil-disobedience campaigns internationally. While media attention tends to be on rich countries, people in the poorer parts of the world are very concerned too. "In my country, most people depend on their farms and crops for survival," says Ugandan youth activist Vanessa Nakate. "But with all these droughts and floods, people are left with no hope for the future."

Some policymakers respond to public pressure. In the gloom of the Madrid conference, the EU’s promise of a Green Deal offered a rare ray of hope. It is ambitious and makes sense (see box). Apparently, EU leaders were impressed by the masses of teenagers who were mobilised by Greta Thunberg, their Swedish peer. The new EU promises set an example for what other advanced economies must do.

It would have been even better if the EU had announced the new policy a few months earlier in order to give the climate summit momentum. As it happened, the EU’s heads of state and government only confirmed the new policy shortly before the end of the climate conference. Since the new European Commission only assumed office at the beginning of December, it cannot be blamed for the timing. It is clear however, that implementation of the new policy must now happen fast.

If the EU fulfils its promises, it will be doing the world a big service. People in developing countries need ambitious partners in the rich world. In the past, however, EU rhetoric on climate matters was often better than EU action. That is particularly true in Germany, where the Federal Government is behind its own carbon-reduction schedule and so far has only taken half-hearted measures to accelerate action.

The challenges are huge, not least because the UNFCCC process is in total disarray. The EU must go ahead without guarantees that other prosperous world regions will follow. The situation may be a bit better at the next summit next year which will take place shortly after the US elections. If – a big if – Donald Trump is not re-elected, the dynamics will be different. He would still be in office, but quite obviously a lame duck. The next president would probably be a Democrat who would reverse the decision to quit the Paris Agreement and endorse Green New Deal proposals in the USA. They point in a similar direction as the policy that the EU has just adopted.

It is noteworthy that, in spite of Brexit, Britain’s conservative government aligned with the EU rather than the USA in Madrid. It will host next year’s UNFCCC summit in Glasgow. Britain’s stance is ambiguous: on the one hand, it has promised it will not change its rather progressive climate policy, but on the other, some of its leaders promote the kind of deregulation agenda that typically reduces the scope for environmental protection. The recent elections have boosted the power of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. His majority is now so strong that he can basically do what he wants.

EU leaders have ample reason not to trust Johnson, so negotiations about future EU-UK relations will be difficult. Nonetheless, they would do well to offer a generous climate package. Cooperating on the transition to sustainability is clearly preferable to starting a regulatory race to the bottom.

Market dynamics may actually support such an approach. Yes, it is true that neoliberal market-orthodoxy has often thwarted progressive action in the past. On the other hand, private-sector investors are increasingly becoming climate aware. They have been shying away from coal for some time and are now beginning to back off from oil and gas as well. They know that companies will eventually be held accountable for the damage they do. Most recently, Goldman Sachs has announced it will not finance Arctic drilling.

Central bankers, to some extent, are driving this trend. For good reason, they have begun to consider the macroeconomic risks that result from the climate crisis. In rather depressing times, it may be a good omen that the Bank of England has been a pioneer in this debate and that Christine Lagarde, the new president of the European Central Bank, is now promoting the cause. The European Investment Bank, an EU institution, similarly deserves praise for its recent decision to phase out investments in these fossil energies by the end of 2021. Private-sector investors pay attention to that kind of signalling.

We cannot expect the UNFCCC to solve our climate problems. Trying to prevent the climate catastrophe feels like swimming against the tide. There is no alternative but to keep on fighting. Even if mass protests do not convince every reckless government, they are not futile. Making private-sector investors pay attention to science is important too.  

Saleemul Huq is the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) in Dhaka. He is also a senior fellow at the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development.

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17.12.2019 Minister Müller commenting on the Global Refugee Forum: additional support needed for children in crisis countries

German BMZ - 17. Dezember 2019 - 9:00
On 17 and 18 December 2019, the first Global Refugee Forum for more effective support for refugees and host countries is taking place in Geneva. At the Forum, the German Development Ministry (BMZ) will be announcing new measures to support displaced women and provide better education for refugee children. German Development Minister Gerd Müller commented: "The global refugee situation is still dramatic. Worldwide, there are 71 million displaced people – 2 million more than last year. ...
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