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Guyana emerging as a ‘green state’

granger_un2.jpg

President David Granger of Guyana addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s 71st session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

 

Underscoring the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, the president of Guyana highlighted that his country will continue to pursue a ‘green’ economy and will be a reliable and cooperative partner in international efforts to protect the earth’s environment.

“[Guyana] realizes that the establishment of a ‘green state’ is consistent with building climate resilience while mitigating the effects of climate change,” President David Granger said in his address on Tuesday morning.

“Guyana promises to work towards the [2030] Agenda’s goals (SDGs), particularly, by contributing to limiting increases in global temperatures; and to work towards a ‘green path’ of development that is in accord with the [Paris] Agreement’s nationally-determined commitments,” he added.

Making specific reference to the importance of Goal 13 that calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impact as well as the Paris Agreement’s obligation to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius, the president informed the General Assembly that Guyana is developing a comprehensive emissions reduction programme as part of its responsibility to contribute to global solutions to the threat of climate change.

“However,” he stated, “all our efforts – nationally, regionally and globally – the advancement of development in an environment of peace and stability are being challenged by the territorial ambitions of our neighbour, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” referring to an “external assault on Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The president also hailed the efforts of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his leadership of the organization and, especially, for his commitment to sustainable development that was illustrated in the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, as well as the Paris Agreement.

In conclusion, he stressed the importance of a collective commitment by the international community to collaborate with small states, including Guyana, to pursue a low-carbon, low-emission path to sustainable development and to constraining the rise in global temperature.

Credit: Caribbean News Now!

Green jobs boom: The frontline of the new solar economy

The growth in renewable energy is fuelling new jobs in Asia and Africa. Meet three beneficiaries of the new green economy from Zambia, Pakistan and Kenya

Placing solar panels on roof of house to charge, Longisa, Bomet district, Kenya
Placing portable solar panels on roof of house to charge, Longisa, Bomet district, Kenya Photograph: Corrie Wingate
 While the price of oil is plummeting, taking with it a significant number of jobs, the renewable energy job market is booming. It is estimated that it will grow to 24m jobs worldwide by 2030 – up from 9.2m reported in 2014 – according to analysis by the International Renewable Energy Industry (Irena), which predicts that doubling the proportion of renewables in the global energy mix would increase GDP by up to $1.3tn across the world.

The rise and rise of the solar industry has been the largest driver of growth. In 2014, it accounted for more than 2.5m jobs, largely in operations, maintenance and manufacturing – now increasingly dominated by a jobs boom in Asia.

The industry is providing hope and income to workers – present and future – across the global south.

Sheila Mbilishi, ‘solar-preneur’, Zambia

Although employment in renewable energy is comparatively low across Africa, the sunny continent is where the need and potential for employment is perhaps greatest. A fast-growing economy and population is driving demand for energy, but two-thirds of people in sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to electricity.

Now the renewables revolution is witnessing the rise of a generation of African “solar-preneurs” who are creating small-scale businesses by taking solar energy – in the form of lights, radios and mobile-phone charging facilities – into local communities.

In western Zambia, Sheila Mbilishi is self-employed and sells solar lights to local residents and businesses. The 67-year-old widow and mother of six buys the lights for $5 from the social enterpriseSunnyMoney – part of the UK based charity SolarAid – and sells them on with a 50% profit margin.

“They sell like cupcakes,” says Mbilishi. “There is life in the lights – people got interested in them.” They are popular with pupils who want to study after dark, businesses during electricity blackouts or as a replacement for toxic kerosene lamps in homes.

Since starting the business three years ago, it has provided Mbilishi with a significant source of income, helping her to open a shop and build a two-bedroom flat. “The difference is huge,” she says. “Selling lights has helped me a lot. I have built a house out of the lights. Owning personal ones has helped me too with the current load shedding – electricity is usually off and I am not affected by no light.”

Shehak Sattar, renewable energy student, Moscow

For Shehak Sattar, choosing to study renewable energy was more a social than a personal decision. “I want to practise something different from the mainstream. It is related to the concept of believing in humanity and our survival on earth,” he says.

Shehak Sattar at the ational University of Science and Technology in Moscow

FacebookTwitterPinterest: Shehak Sattar at the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow Photograph: National University of Science and Technology in Moscow

The 27-year-old Pakistani student is now four months into a masters degree in the science and materials of solar energy at the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow, funded by a scholarship. The course is in its first year and has mostly attracted international students – from Afghanistan and Iran to Nigeria and Namibia.

Before coming to Moscow, Sattar worked for NGOs and other agencies in Pakistan, installing and spreading the transmission of solar energy to remote communities and to slums in Islamabad and Lahore. Larger solar projects are now starting to come online in Pakistan, amid ambitions to construct the world’s largest solar farm.

“There has been a general electricity crisis in Pakistan. People are waiting for alternatives to rescue them from this suffering,” he says.

Once he has completed his course, Sattar wants to work at a university in Pakistan “to convert the attention of students to renewable energy sources” by lecturing and researching methods to make solar energy more efficient.

“We have to fight more,” he says. “We have to fight against the people who will be digging for petroleum in the coming 20 years because it will destroy our ecology’s balance.”

Mohamed Abdikadir, solar panel installer, Dadaab, Kenya

The promise of renewable energy in refugee camps could save humanitarian agencies hundreds of millions of dollars and provide job opportunities for thousands of young refugees.

Mohamed Abdikadir, 21, was born in the refugee camp complex at Dadaab in eastern Kenya, where the average family spends $17.20 per month – 24% of their income – on energy. The complex is home to more than 330,000 refugees.

Like most of his neighbours, Abdikadir’s family came to the camp after fleeing the civil war in Somalia more than two decades ago. Both his parents have since died, leaving Abdikadir to provide for his 10 younger siblings. He is now one of 5,000 young people trained to install solar panels as part of a programme in Kenya and Ethiopia organised by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which has recruited local teachers to deliver it.

Solar panels in Dadaab refugee camp
Solar panels in Dadaab refugee camp Photograph: NRC

“It was hard [to learn] at first but I tried my best and now it is easy,” says Abdikadir. After completing a six-month programme a year ago, he gets up at 5am every day to pray before preparing breakfast and collecting the tools for his job in Dadaab’s dry desert landscape. “There is a lot of sun here.Renewable energy is very good in this environment.”

Before he started the programme, Abdikadir earned money by selling water but he could only make enough to provide one meal a day for his family. Now, with the extra income from solar installations – $10 on an average day – his siblings are eating three meals daily, have new clothing and are able to attend a fee-paying school.

“I am the breadwinner of the family,” he says. “[The programme] has really helped me. Before I was idle. It helps with my daily bread, my daily income.”

Abdikadir now wants to expand his education to incorporate other forms of renewable energy. Meanwhile, the NRC recently announced plans to deliver a similar programme on a larger scale for Syrians at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Credit: The Guardian

Is the Caribbean a paradise for renewable energy?

The Caribbean nations have all the incentives and resources to convert to 100% renewable energy. But is it happening?

Beach in Barbados

With plentiful natural resources and expensive fossil fuels, Caribbean countries have a strong incentive to be at the forefront of renewable energy development. Photograph: David Noton Photography/Alamy

What motivated Derek to get into solar power? Was it a desire to be green or combat climate change? “Climate change? I don’t even know what that is,” he says. “I just didn’t want to depend on the power company.” Electricity is expensive in Barbados. Derek bought a solar kit including one panel for $100 (£64).

Derek is a mechanic by trade and is using his system to charge car batteries. He has found a way to integrate his solar system into his business. This is entrepreneurship in its truest sense. A viable business venture for Derek and a chance for wider environmental benefits for the country are the win-wins, but neither of these was the prime driver for Derek. He was essentially a tinkerer with an idea and wanted to try it out in the hope of paying less for power.

Derek's shop

Derek’s shop Photograph: David Ince

If Derek can make it to such a level of self-sufficiency starting from small beginnings, does this mean that individuals and businesses with greater means have gone even further? Well, more Dereks are gradually popping up throughout the Caribbean, but generally the answer is no.

The Caribbean appears to be the ideal location for renewable energy development. Petroleum resources are scarce and renewable resources such as solar, wind and geothermal are plentiful. Energy prices are high as there is no opportunity for economy of scale benefits that large land masses enjoy. Added to that, climate change impacts pose a major threat to the region’s small-island economies that are largely dependent on tourism and agriculture.

Despite this, most Caribbean nations still use imported diesel or oil to generate 90-100% of their energy. So what has been the barrier to using renewables? Many people have pointed to the cost factor. Small economies mean that in most cases countries have difficulty in financing renewable energy projects that require high upfront capital. Also, regulations have been slow in setting clear rules for grid interconnection. These factors have led some international investors and developers to be cautious about entering the Caribbean market.

We can learn from Derek’s example and build on local talent. Indigenous grassroots knowledge paired with the experience and access to capital of larger local and international companies would be a winning combination.

The advantage of building on local interest and indigenous talent can be seen in Jamaica. The late Raymond Wright was trained as a petroleum geologist and was head of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) in the 1970s. His interest in wind energy was piqued while searching for areas with suitable geological characteristics for petroleum development. It soon became evident that Jamaica had a significant wind resource. Over time Wright shifted the focus of his energy development to renewables and PCJ took on a leading role in the establishment of the Wigton Wind Farm, which now generates about 0.1 % of Jamaica’s energy.

Jamaica is keen to build on Wright’s legacy. Expansion of the wind farm is under way and Jamaica plans to increase renewable energy use further, with a goal to reach 20% by 2030, as part of its Vision 2030 policy. There are plans for 20 MW of PV solar to be installed to compliment the wind farm. In addition, Jamaica is offering benefits for any company or individual selling electricity to the grid from a renewable source.

Back in Derek’s home island of Barbados, there is a story of another pioneer, the late Professor Oliver Headley. An organic chemist by training, he became a leading international voice for solar energy development. He got into developing renewable energy in the 1960s after a PhD student colleague challenged him to put the sun that was beating down on them daily to productive use. His pioneering efforts helped propel Barbados to a leader in solar water heater use in the western hemisphere.

There are three solar water heater companies in Barbados and more than half of households have heaters installed, which can be written off against income tax. This policy has been in place since 1974. The story goes that the then prime minister installed a solar water heater on his house and was so impressed with the results that he put the economic incentives in place.

Barbados is keen to expand the success of solar water heaters to solar photovoltaic with the introduction of the “renewable energy rider”. This allows people installing solar photovoltaics to sell their power back to the grid at 1.6 times the usual charge. As a result of this incentive, there are now more than 300 house-top PV systems in the island, and that is expanding. There is every possibility now that we will see more Dereks by 2020 and beyond, Barbados has set itself an ambitious goal of 29% of energy to be produced from renewable sources by 2029.

Wind farm in Curacao

Wind farm in Curacao Photograph: David Ince

A few other Caribbean countries have seen success with renewable energy. The Dutch Caribbean has led the way in terms of wind energy, with Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba all having significant generation capacity. The political connection to the Netherlands has helped with technical expertise and there has been economic support from the Dutch government. Jamaica has been able to build on the know-how of Dutch Caribbean countries in their own wind development.

Nevis, St Lucia and Dominica have all sought to develop geothermal energy projects, which is another source of renewable energy that has potential in the Caribbean. The Organisation of American States and the World Bank have provided capacity and financing support.

It is encouraging to see developments such as these. The groundwork has been laid through efforts of pioneers such as Wright and Headley and there are more grassroots leaders like Derek emerging.

But the efforts of individual champions cannot be successful without policies, legislation and economic incentives, which governments are slowly but surely putting in place. Having these policies on the books without recognising and supporting local businesses or providing an environment through which champions can come to the fore is likely to impede the progress of this spectacularly beautiful but vulnerable region in developing a flourishing green economy.

Some names have been changed.

Join the conversation with the hashtag#EnergyAccess.

Credit: The Guardian

Caribbean focuses on youth unemployment

Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Gladstone.

Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Gladstone.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday that the 9th Meeting of Caribbean Labor Ministers has concluded with a commitment to strengthen social dialogue further both at the national and regional levels.

The ILO also said the meeting in Port-of-Spain, the Trinidad and Tobago capital, ended with renewed impetus to focus on creative solutions to the problem of youth unemployment and the greening of the economy.

The meeting, themed “Decent Work for Sustainable Development,” was attended by 21 delegations headed by 14 ministers with responsibility for labor issues.

The presidents and other representatives of the Caribbean Congress of Labor (CCL) and Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) were also present, along with representatives from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and U.N. Agencies (ECLAC, UNESCO,PAHO/WHO and U.N. RC Office Jamaica), as well as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, attended the meeting and held bilateral meetings with chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Prime Minister of Bahamas Perry Christie; and the Governor-General of the Bahamas, Dame Marguerite Pindling.

The ILO said Caribbean Labour Ministers at the Meeting called for the systemic institutionalization of national social dialogue processes and culture, which embrace policy areas.

They agreed to support the capacity of social partners to ensure that their interventions to tripartite forums and consultations will add substantive value to the processes, the ILO said.

Given the impact of climate change on the world of work, the ministers called for long-term policy development, so that countries are sufficiently resilient to meet the related challenges.

It was agreed that new business opportunities, as well as education and skills-training policies, would be implemented in response to the anticipated impact of climate on the workers, the ILO said.

The ministers called for closer collaboration between the ILO and CARICOM, particularly on youth employment, technical, vocational education and training (TVET), labor market information systems and environmental sustainability.

The ministers said that those countries not-yet signatory to the regional “Free of Child Labor” initiative, should be provided with information to consider becoming a party to it, according to the ILO.

It said that it officially informed the Ministers of Labor about a new regional project with CEC and CCL, with funding from the European Union (EU), aimed at strengthening the capacity of workers’ and employers’ organizations in the framework of the Economic Partnership Agreement.

Delegates examined the state of youth unemployment in the Caribbean region, together with public and private partners and institutions such as the government of the Republic of China, Canada, Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, and the ACS.

In this session, it was proposed that anticipating skills requirements could contribute to reduce skills mismatches, the ILO said.

It was also suggested that colleges and training institutions work closely with social partners in developing work-based learning opportunities, beyond apprenticeships and internship programs and closer to labor market demand.

The ILO said session highlighted the need for strong corporate social responsibilities to link youth to the world of work.

Regional certification to ensure consistency of qualifications and opportunities for free movement of youth, by developing fair and sound immigration policies, were also discussed.

Ryder emphasized the importance of reducing carbon emissions for sustainable economic growth, generating new jobs and skills.

With sessions led by representatives from CCCCC in Belize, and the ILO Green Jobs Program in Geneva, climate change and its impact on the work place was discussed.

With higher temperatures, rises in sea level, and increased hurricane intensity threatening lives, property and livelihoods throughout the region, the need for increased technical and financial support for the development of renewable energy in the Caribbean was raised, the ILO said.

Ryder said that the Caribbean has strong traditions of tripartite social dialogue, and mentioned the good practices and innovative solutions which the Caribbean countries are able to implement and share.

Credit: Caribbean Life News

UNEP ‘Our Planet’ 2015 Focuses on SDGs

world

Credit: UNEP

An integrated, universal approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda is essential, according to the 2015 issue of ‘Our Planet,’ a publication from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner discusses the importance of integration, universality, climate change mitigation, governance and accountability, and financing. He writes that linking the SDGs with climate change mitigation will help countries build energy-efficient, low-carbon infrastructure and achieve sustainable development.

In an article by Tommy Remengesau, Jr., President, Palau, he explains that healthy, productive, resilient oceans are critical to preserving and restoring the balance between humans and nature, and ensuring economic prosperity, food security, health and culture, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Remengesau advocates for a stand-alone SDG on oceans, and says Palau’s national conservation efforts must be “amplified and augmented by work at the international level” in order to make a difference.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights should guide the elaboration of the SDGs, writes Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He stresses that human rights, such as the rights to education, food, health and water, are about empowerment, not charity, and underscores the importance of empowering citizens to be involved in crafting and implementing the SDGs. He adds that “universality applies not just to universal application, but also to universal participation and ownership of the goals.”

UK Environmental Audit Select Committee Chair Joan Walley cautions that reducing the number of SDGs “risks relegating environmental sustainability to a side issue,” and could shatter “the carefully negotiated consensus.” She also argues for communicating the goals to the public, particularly youth.

Other articles address: the European Commission’s (EC) energy and climate framework, which will promote a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy; the UN Environment Assembly’s (UNEA) role in moving towards an integrated, universal approach to the SDGs; the role of central banks in shifting towards inclusive, environmentally sustainable development; a carbon pricing system; national accounting systems and inequalities; and chemicals and hazardous substances, among other issues.

The issue also highlights the Montreal Protocol as an “ozone success” and a model for achieving a green economy and the SDGs, achievements by UNEP’s Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI), and the UNEP Finance Initiative’s work to align the financial system with a low-carbon, carbon resilient green economy. [Publication: Our Planet: Time for Global Action]

Credit: SIDS Policy & Practice

Governments complete preparations for the entry into force of Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing

Credit: Climate Services Partnership Blog

Credit: Climate Services Partnership Blog

Governments have established firm foundations for the operation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing of Genetic Resources, contributing to the momentum towards entry into force and setting the agenda for the first meeting of its governing body, expected to take place in October 2014.

The third meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (ICNP 3) successfully concluded last month in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea.

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity. It provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

Braulio Ferreira De Souza Dias, Executive Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity, said “As the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol approaches, laying the groundwork for a solid and strong foundation has never been more important. This very successful meeting has adopted recommendations that are at the core of this foundation. I want to congratulate Parties to the CBD for their hard work, spirit of compromise, and willingness to move towards entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol. Let us sustain all of this in the lead up to entry into force of the Protocol, and the first meeting of the COP MOP.”

He said, “When the Nagoya Protocol enters into force, it will represent achievement of Aichi Biodiversity Target 16, the first target to be achieved under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. It will also represent an important enabling framework that contributes to the green economy, sustainable development and “creative economy.” It is a central part of global efforts to build a future of life in harmony with nature, the future we want.”

The Nagoya Protocol on ABS was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan and will enter into force 90 days after the fiftieth instrument of ratification. As of today, 29 countries have ratified the Protocol,

Among the most important outcomes of the meeting:

Compliance –At ICNP 3, governments made major progress on issues relating to compliance procedures and mechanisms. This will greatly facilitate the task of the first meeting of the COP-MOP to the Nagoya Protocol to resolve the remaining differences and approve the compliance procedures and mechanisms as required under Article 30 of the Protocol.

Global multilateral benefits-sharing mechanism –A major issue under discussion was the need for and modalities of a global multilateral benefits-sharing mechanism (GMBSM). If and when agreed, the mechanism is intended to address instances of benefit sharing, including the use of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, that occur in transboundary situations or for which it is not possible to grant or obtain prior informed consent. ICNP agreed on a road map that will allow Parties to unravel the complexities of a GMBSM.

Access and Benefit-sharing Clearing House (ABSCH) – During the meeting, the pilot phase of the ABSCH was launched, and training sessions were held. In the formal discussions, governments underscored the critical importance of a fully functional ABSCH for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, and requested that all efforts were made to ensure that the ABSCH is fully functional by the time of entry into force of the NP.

Monitoring and reporting – COP-MOP 1 is expected to invite Parties to submit an interim national report on the implementation of their obligations under the Nagoya Protocol. This report will contribute to the first evaluation of the effectiveness of the Protocol. With a view to facilitate this, ICNP-3 requested the Secretariat to develop a draft format for the submission of the report and to consolidate the information contained in the reports and information published in the ABS-CH.

Capacity building – ICNP3 recommended to the COP-MOP the adoption of a strategic framework to assist developing countries to build capacity to implement the Nagoya Protocol. This framework provides a capacity-building strategy that will be the cornerstone of implementation on the ground and play a pivotal role for making the Nagoya Protocol a reality at national level.

Notes to Editors

  • Information on ICNP 3 is available at: http://www.cbd.int/icnp3/
  • Coverage of the meeting by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin at: http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/icnp3/
  • Ratifications of the Nagoya Protocol to date include: Albania, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso Comoros, Côte D’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mauritius, Mexico, the Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Norway, Panama, Rwanda, the Seychelles, South Africa, the Syrian Arab Republic and Tajikistan
  • For information how to become a Party to the Protocol, see: www.cbd.int/abs/becoming-party/

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 193 Parties, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is a subsidiary agreement to the Convention. It seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 166 countries plus the European Union have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. For more information visit: http://www.cbd.int.

For more information, please contact:

David Ainsworth
+1 514 833 0196
david.ainsworth@cbd.int or

Johan Hedlund on
+1 514 287 6670
johan.hedlund@cbd.int

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