Wednesday, 14 December 2011

2ND THEME FOR RIO+20 CONFERENCE 2012 THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

By: Youth Image Solutions and Global Justice Zambia

Youth perspective, Zambia should highlight the broader context of sustained and sustainable development, giving full consideration to each of the three pillars: economic, social, and environmental. It is necessary to take a long-term view, develop a strategic approach, and involve all levels of government, youth and elements of civil society.

Thus, governments need to invest in science and innovation, enhance resilience and human capacity, take country ownership of domestic sustainable development, promote frameworks and incentives for sustainable economic activities, promote transparency and inclusiveness, set ambitious yet realistic targets, and measure progress towards those goals.

Sustainable development should not be just the purview of environment ministers; all domestic sectors must be involved in sustainable development activities because it is attention to the three pillars together that will produce long-term results. This depends on government priorities, domestic governance in all sectors, and domestic coordination. It must also take place at all levels for it is at the state, regional and local levels that many of the decisions will be taken that determine the sustainability of development activities.

Moving forward, the will and priorities of individual governments will be essential. Government must recognize, however, that they cannot create political will by creating new multilateral institutions. Nor do new institutions guarantee greater efficiencies. What is essential is a commitment by governments to a sustainable future, in which a strengthened and streamlined institutional framework supports our sustainable development efforts.

Government efforts to improve governance should focus on enhancing implementation, support improved efficiency and effectiveness of international organizations working on sustainable development component.  They must also go beyond environment and seek more effective coordination in the UN for efforts addressing all three pillars of sustainable development.

We strongly encourage integrating the three pillars in national development efforts including the mainstreaming a sustainable development approach into economic and sectoral planning. Public participation in decision-making, and transparency and open communication regarding development activities, governance mechanisms, and reporting  at all levels are essential.

We believe that the ability of our national governments, academic institutions, and stakeholders, to measure progress is paramount. In that context we support a dialogue on how we can improve our abilities to evaluate the impact of policies and programs and report on results. We should incorporate relevant analysis from other institutions, assure that the information delivered to policymakers is fact-based and grounded in sound science.

We look forward to continued discussions, to hearing others’ thoughts, and to introducing our ideas as preparations for the 2012 Conference continue.

NOTE: 

Youth Image Solutions (YIS) is a youth registered non-governmental organization in Zambia, whose mandate is to ensure that safe environment is a basic fundamental human right and that individual youths and the general Zambian population have the right to access quality and accurate information on climate change to enable them adapt and mitigate and respond to disasters effectively in affected areas locally and internationally.

Global Justice Zambia (GJZ) seek to mobilize a movement of young people and students in Zambia in partnership with other youth internationally, to promote global justice and responsibility through transformative education, leadership development, informed advocacy, better policies and environmental governance.


2015 DEALINE FOR ACHIEVING MDGs - LINKING ENVIRONMENT TO ECONOMY

By: Maggie .M. Mwape
Only a few years away from the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the fight against poverty is at the centre of national and international development discussions. The global food and economic crises that peaked in 2008 have only increased the urgency. Indeed, the world saw a renewed focus on chronic poverty and specifically MDG 1, which is to reduce chronic poverty and hunger by half by the target date of 2015.

In the words of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,

'Eradicating extreme poverty continues to be one of the main challenges of our time, and is a major concern of the international community. The Millennium Development Goals set time bound targets, by which progress in reducing income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter and exclusion while promoting gender equality, health, education and environmental sustainability can be measured'.

However, the success of both national and international plans should be anchored by a precise characterization and measurement of poverty. Since policy choices are strongly influenced by the definition of a problem, accurate definition and measurement of poverty is critical for the design and implementation of specific poverty-reducing actions. Essentially, a better definition and more precise measurement of poverty is an integral and indispensable part of any approach to poverty reduction.

In Zambia, poverty estimates have been made on the basis of the cost of a “minimum food basket”. The Prices and Incomes Commission (PIC) and the National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC) composed this minimum food basket in 1992, based on nutritional needs for an average family of six, consisting of two adults and four children with ages ranged between one and twelve years. 

In Zambia, poverty has been recognized as the biggest challenge facing the economy, and the government launched a Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSP) in 2002. This strategy accompanied other commitments such as achieving the MDGs, as well as adhering to many other declarations that Zambia is signatory to, for instance, the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture. However, these efforts are not unprecedented. To respond to the situation of destitute households, the government has been implementing social protection programmes such as the Public Welfare Assistance Scheme (PWAS), which targets the poorest in communities.

In the overall work to increase agricultural production in Zambia, the Food Security Pack stands out as the most promising and effective government initiative to build capacity of low-capacity but viable farmers. It is recognized as a major entry point for poverty reduction in rural areas. In implementing the FSP, the Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM) targets many of the most poor and food-insecure farmers across the country: those not only tilling less than one acre, but also facing a serious vulnerability such as a child heading the household. Due to unaffordable inputs and poor agricultural knowledge, such smallholder farmers typically fail to produce more than a few bags of maize in a season, leaving them desperate for food aid to survive the year (Petrauskis, 2007).

Reference: Interrogating Urban Poverty Lines – the Case of Zambia - Miniva Chibuye (2011)

HUMAN SECURITY IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

By: Maggie .M. Mwape
Climate shocks also erode long-term opportunities for human development, undermining productivity and eroding human capabilities. No single climate shock can be attributed to climate change. However, climate change is racketing up the risks and vulnerabilities facing the poor. It is placing further stress on already over-stretched coping mechanisms and trapping people in downward spirals of deprivation.

There is growing recognition among scientists, practitioners, and policy-makers that climate change will increase the frequency and magnitude of extreme hydro meteorological events with potentially devastating economic and social impacts at the local and regional levels. Disasters are increasing in impacts and scope, not due to hazards alone, but because of the combined effects of large-scale environmental, economic, social, demographic, and technological changes.

Climate change and the potential for increased disasters related to extreme events also raise critical concerns for long-term human security. Human security, broadly defined, includes the means to secure basic rights, needs, and livelihoods, and to pursue opportunities for human fulfilment and development. The promotion of human security is also closely linked to a “positive vision” of society that is encapsulated in notions such as well-being, quality of life, and human flourishing. This positive vision has been elaborated through the capabilities approach, which emphasizes the freedom of people to choose among different ways of living, and to pursue opportunities to achieve outcomes that they value.

A number of recent studies have assessed the relationship between climate change and human security, demonstrating that the linkages are often both complex and context dependent. For example, negative impacts of climate change on food security over the medium- and long-term are likely to create greater emergency food aid needs in the future. Among the most widely-discussed humanitarian and human security issues surrounding climate change are the possibilities of mass migration and/or violent conflict as the result of biophysical or ecological disruptions associated with climate change.

Climate change and migration
Concerning migration, disasters linked to both extreme events and more gradual changes often lead to displaced people, refugees, relocated communities, and temporary or permanent migration. The relationship between climate risk and displacement is a complex one and there are a myriad of factors that affect displacements and migration.

Climate change and conflict
The magnitude of environmental changes expected to result from even 2°C of warming above pre-industrial levels may cause significant negative social outcomes in certain social systems in particular low income and resource-dependent societies. In recent years there has been considerable attention to the relationship between climate change and violent conflicts.

Reference: UNDP 2007/2008 REPORT

Monday, 12 December 2011

UNFCCC PRESS RELEASE - DURBAN , 11 DECEMBER 2011


Durban conference delivers breakthrough in international community’s response to climate change
 
(Durban, 11 December 2011) - Countries meeting in Durban, South Africa, have delivered a breakthrough on the future of the international community’s response to climate change, whilst recognizing the urgent need to raise their collective level of ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep the average global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius.

“We have taken crucial steps forward for the common good and the global citizenry today. I believe that what we have achieved in Durban will play a central role in saving tomorrow, today,” said Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and President of the Durban UN Climate Change Conference (COP17/CMP7).

“I salute the countries who made this agreement. They have all laid aside some cherished objectives of their own to meet a common purpose - a long-term solution to climate change. I sincerely thank the South African
Presidency who steered through a long and intense conference to a historic agreement that has met all major issues,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In Durban, governments decided to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, but not later than 2015. Work will begin on this immediately under a new group called the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.

Governments, including 38 industrialised countries, agreed a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol from January 1, 2013. To achieve rapid clarity, Parties to this second period will turn their economy-wide targets into quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives and submit them for review by May 1, 2012.

“This is highly significant because the Kyoto Protocol’s accounting rules, mechanisms and markets all remain in action as effective tools to leverage global climate action and as models to inform future agreements,” Ms.
Figueres said.

A significantly advanced framework for the reporting of emission reductions for both developed and developing countries was also agreed, taking into consideration the common but differentiated responsibilities  of different countries.

In addition to charting the way forward on reducing greenhouse gases in the global context, governments meeting in South Africa agreed the full implementation of the package to support developing nations, agreed last year in Cancun, Mexico.

“This means that urgent support for the developing world, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt to climate change, will also be launched on time,” said Ms Figueres.

The package includes the Green Climate Fund, an Adaptation Committee designed to improve the coordination of adaptation actions on a global scale, and a Technology Mechanism, which are to become fully operational in 2012 (see below for details).

Whilst pledging to make progress in a number of areas, governments acknowledged the urgent concern that the current sum of pledges to cut emissions both from developed and developing countries is not high enough
to keep the global average temperature rise below two degrees Celsius.

They therefore decided that the UN Climate Change process shall increase ambition to act and will be led by the climate science in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and the global Review from 2013-2015.

“While it is clear that these deadlines must be met, countries, citizens and businesses who have been behind the rising global wave of climate action can now push ahead confidently, knowing that Durban has lit up a broader highway to a low-emission, climate resilient future,” said the UNFCCC Executive Secretary.

The next major UNFCCC Climate Change Conference, COP 18/ CMP 8, is to take place 26 November to 7 December 2012 in Qatar, in close cooperation with the Republic of Korea.

Details of key decisions that emerged from COP17 in Durban

Green Climate Fund

•       Countries have already started to pledge to contribute to start-up costs of the fund, meaning it can be made ready in 2012, and at the same time    can help developing countries get ready to access the fund, boosting their efforts to establish their own clean energy futures and adapt to existing climate change.

•       A Standing Committee is to keep an overview of climate finance in the context of the UNFCCC and to assist the Conference of the Parties. It will comprise 20 members, represented equally between the developed and developing world.

•       A focused work programme on long-term finance was agreed, which will contribute to the scaling up of climate change finance going forward and will analyse options for the mobilisation of resources from a variety of sources.

Adaptation

•       The  Adaptation Committee, composed of 16 members, will report to the COP on its efforts to improve the coordination of adaptation actions at a global scale.

•       The adaptive capacities above all of the poorest and most vulnerable countries are to be strengthened. National Adaptation Plans will allow developing countries to assess and reduce their vulnerability to climate
change.

•       The most vulnerable are to receive better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events related to climate change.

Technology

•       The Technology Mechanism will become fully operational in 2012.

•       The full terms of reference for the operational arm of the Mechanism - the Climate Technology Centre and Network - are agreed, along with a clear procedure to select the host. The UNFCCC secretariat will issue a call for proposals for hosts on 16 January 2012.

Support of developing country action

•       Governments agreed a registry to record developing country mitigation actions that seek financial support and to match these with support. The registry will be a flexible, dynamic, web-based platform.

Other key decisions

•       A forum and work programme on unintended consequences of climate change actions and policies were established.

•       Under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, governments adopted procedures to allow carbon-capture and storage projects.These guidelines will be reviewed every five years to ensure environmental integrity.

•       Governments agreed to develop a new market-based mechanism to assist developed countries in meeting part of their targets or commitments under the Convention. Details of this will be taken forward in 2012.

About the UNFCCC

With 195 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 193 of the UNFCCC Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

COP17 DELEGATES BRIEFED ON THE RIO+20 PREPARATIONS

By: Maggie .M. Mwape
7 December 2011: The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) Secretariat and Brazilian Government organized a "Briefing on Rio+20 Preparations" on the sidelines of the Durban Climate Change Conference.
Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General
Moderator Nikhil Seth, DESA, opened the session and welcomed participants, including the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, to the meeting. Sha Zukang, UNCSD Secretary General, noted that submissions to the compilation draft had addressed a variety of issues, including: combating poverty; advancing food security and sustainable agriculture; improving energy access; developing sustainable cities; managing oceans; improving resilience and disaster preparedness; protecting forests, mountains; improving land management; and sanitation. André Corrêa do Lago, Brazil, said the Rio+20 Conference offers a once in a generation opportunity to address long-term issues.

Dorah Nteo, Chief Director of Coordination and Information Management, Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa, related challenges from hosting the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), in Johannesburg, such as: agreement on nature and structure of outcome; methods for consultation with member countries; implementation of envisaged outcomes; and importance of pre-summit diplomacy. José Solla, Deputy National Secretary of the Brazilian Organizing Committee, Brazil, discussed issues related to logistical planning for Rio+20, and said Brazil is committed to hosting a green event with accessibility and connectivity.

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development represents an important opportunity for the international community to advance sustainable and inclusive economic development. The green economy offers a path to sustainable development and poverty eradication with the potential for new jobs, business opportunities and community development all proceeding in a sustainable and environmentally sound manner.
 I wish to see  the Zambian Government, UN, United Nations Environmental Program , Civil society Organisations, International Donors , private sectors and faith based institutions involve the young people in the preparatory activities towards Rio+20 and sponsore a number of them to be part of the Delegation to the United Nations Rio+20 Conference 2012 in Brazil. The conference which has two themes: Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; The institutional framework for sustainable development will provide a timely process by which the international community, can address our common objectives and common goals for a green economy.

HUMAN VULNERABILITY TO ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

By: Maggie .M. Mwape 

Vulnerability represents the interface between exposure to the physical threats, human well-being an the capacity of people and communities to cope with those threats. Threats may arise from a combination of social and physical processes. Human vulnerability thus integrates many environmental concerns. Since everyone is vulnerable to environmental threats, in some way, the issue cuts across rich and poor, urban and rural, North and South, and may undermine the entire sustainable development process in developing countries.

Reducing vulnerability requires identifying points of intervention in the causal chain between the emergence of a hazard and the human consequences. Many natural phenomena pose threats, including extreme events such as floods, drought, fire, storms, tsunami, landslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and insect swarms. Human activities have added to the list, with threats from explosions, chemical and radioactive contamination, and other technological matters.


Although everyone is vulnerable to environmental impacts of some kind, the ability of people and societies to adapt and cope with change is very varied. Developing countries, particularly the least developed, have less capacity to adapt to change and are more vulnerable to environmental threats and global change, just as they are more vulnerable to other stresses. This condition is most extreme among the poorest people (IPCC 2001) and disadvantaged groups such as women and children.

The coping capacity of human society is a combination of all the natural and social characteristics and resources available in a particular location that are used to reduce the impacts of hazards (IATFDR 2001). These include factors such as wealth, technology, education, information, skills, infrastructure, access to resources and management capabilities.

Some groups are more exposed than others to particular environmental risks. Urban populations are exposed to high levels of contaminant and particulate pollution in the air. Slum dwellers often lack the minimum protective infrastructure, employees may be exposed to particular hazards in the work place, and the uninformed may simply not know about the threats that surround them. A wide range of social and economic factors have direct and indirect bearing on human vulnerability to environmental change, including poverty and inequality, and the availability of natural resources.

The mosaics of vulnerability seemso complex as to cast doubt on attempts to describe patterns and estimate trends at the global or even the regional scale. General or gradual economic decline can affect vulnerable groups disproportionately,