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PRESS RELEASE:- Commonwealth countries may soon be the benefit from a process called “regenerative development.”
Recently, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland welcomed high commissioners and climate change innovators to a Commonwealth-facilitated conference in London, calling on all to work together on technologies and approaches that have the potential to reverse climate change.
In her opening remarks, the Secretary-General noted that climate change can wreak havoc on ecosystems and societies. Some of the Commonwealth’s small island developing states face obliteration because of rising sea levels. In other countries, climate change is causing famine, migration and desertification.
Secretary-General Scotland pointed out that time and time again in Commonwealth countries including Dominica, Fiji, and more recently Mozambique, climate-related disasters had undone decades of development gains.
“The magnitude of the threat from climate change especially to those whose endowment or stage of development renders them more vulnerable and less resilient makes it necessary to shift from mere adaptation and mitigation, towards approaches capable of transforming climate change into a window of opportunity.”
Regenerative development is one such approach.
Mary Robinson, the president of the climate justice activist group—the Mary Robinson Foundation—stated that it was time that the narrative on climate change differed.
“We do need a new narrative on climate change and it’s a narrative based on solutions. The idea of regenerative development to tackle climate change makes much sense because we need to get carbon out of the atmosphere as much as possible.”
Regenerative development seeks to reverse the degeneration of ecosystems caused by human activities.
Credit: Government of Saint Lucia
The Commonwealth is bringing together global experts to thrash out new ideas for not just reducing climate change but actually reversing its effects by mimicking success stories in nature.
At a two-day gathering on Friday and Saturday at the 52-country organisation’s headquarters in London, a diverse band of experts in fields such as biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration traded ideas for practical schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth.
Rather than a series of presentations, the conference instead saw experts from around the world huddle in groups to brainstorm.
“Some of our island states in the Pacific and the Caribbean will be hit first and potentially disappear, therefore climate change has been an issue of real importance to the Commonwealth,” Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland told AFP.
– Termite mound buildings –
Examples were shared of concrete absorbing carbon, ecologically destroyed landscapes flourishing again through getting carbon back into the soil, and getting more productive agriculture through mimicking the ecosystems of wild, untended land.
There were discussions on buildings designed like termite mounds that ventilate themselves with cool air, or making ships’ hulls like shark skin.
Also mooted were vertical axis wind turbines arranged in school-of-fish formation so the ones behind gain momentum from the vortices, creating far more wind power than regular wind farms.
“It’s stunning, but this is not inventing anything new. Life’s been at it for 3.8 billion years,” biomimicry expert Janine Benyus told AFP.
“We’re talking about bringing carbon home — rebalancing the problem of too much carbon in the air and not enough in the soil,” she added, stepping out of a workshop.
With its diverse membership covering a quarter of the world’s countries, action within the Commonwealth often paves the way for wider global agreements.
The climate change accords reached at its biennial summit in Malta last December were instrumental in the Paris COP21 UN climate conference deal struck later that month, which agreed to cap global warming at less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
– ‘Practical, practical, practical’ –
Scotland will take forward ideas and outcomes from the London workshop to the COP22 summit in Marrakesh in November.
“We’re setting off the starter pistol for this race,” the secretary-general said.
“The Commonwealth is seeking to be the platform through which ideas can be transferred.
However, in the arena of climate change, many intriguing proposals get ditched on the grounds of cost, practicality or fears that they could end up inflicting environmental damage.
“We’re looking at how we can share real solutions and help each other to get there faster,” said Scotland.
“We’re saying ‘practical, practical, practical’. If it works, it’s affordable, implementable and makes the difference, then we need people to understand they can believe in it.”
Some sessions focused on so-called big picture ideas, looking at Earth as a complete system.
Delegates discussed how carbon can be used as a resource, in which returning it to the ground can bring about lasting soil fertility and jobs and thereby political stability.
“Life creates conditions conducive to life. It’s about creating new virtuous circles rather than vicious ones,” said Daniel Wahl, who designs regenerative cultures.
“If we do a good job, we can find the funding because the will is there,” he told AFP.
“The time of ‘them and us’ thinking is past. The people who were against each other now have to come together.
“People are dying today from the effects of climate change. To them, it’s not an intellectual debate any more.”
Credit: Daily Mail Online
Caribbean leaders appear to be giving serious consideration to making a proposal requesting the gradual write-off of billions of dollars in external debt.
The issue was raised by Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena at a high-level meeting this morning that preceded yesterday’s official opening of the 36th regular meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM.
She pointed out that 40 per cent of the Caribbean’s US$46 billion debt is to multinational agencies, with 14 per cent being bilateral.
Of that amount, she said, US$30 billion was accumulated between 1990 and 2014 as a result of natural disasters.
She described the situation facing regional states are serious, explaining that five Caribbean countries are among the most indebted in the world.
Bárcena said the problems are compounded by the vulnerabilities of Caribbean economies that are already facing a decline in foreign direct investment.
“Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis are the top five in the Caribbean,” she said. “Nobody talks about them. We all hear about Belize. Of course it represents one per cent of the global debt so we are not a systematic problem.”
The ECLAC official said “the time is ripe” for CARICOM states, along with the Caribbean Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to hammer out an agreement on a proposal for debt relief.
“The debt service payments should go to a resilience fund that can probably be managed by the Caribbean Development Bank. The resilience fund should be used . . . for infrastructure adaptation, sea defence.
“Another fund that should be very important is . . . an external micro economic fund. That fund is for external shocks. Who should support that external micro economic fund is the larger economies of Latin America, the Brazil and Columbia,” she said.
In his intervention, President of the Caribbean Development Bank Dr. Warren Smith said Caribbean leaders need to show they are serious about change by making hard decisions.
“Even as we make a case for that debt relief we need to demonstrate to those with whom we are negotiating that we are prepared to take the tough decisions to do the right thing,” he told the meeting.
“We need to change the structure of our economies. We can’t continue to do what we have done in the past and expect different results.”
The discussion was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States Luis Almagro Lemes, and Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma, among other officials.
Credit: Caribbean 360