Development and Social Issues in Africa

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Opportunity of Paris: Accelerating Transformation for Climate Action

By Brenda Zulu

Governments are meeting in Paris to reach a new climate change agreement that aims to keep global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) – the level beyond which there will be irreversible impacts.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear that the longer we delay in tackling climate change, the higher the risks and costs. The next couple of decades are critical.

Halting the growth in global emissions and putting them on a downward path so as to prevent climate disruption is possible, but necessitates a transformation of the global economy that not only addresses climate change, but also powers new growth.

We are at a defining moment for the future of our planet and its peoples,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.  “Urgent action is needed to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions, invest in adaptation and build resilience to the growing impacts of our rapidly warming world.”

Shifting to a low-carbon and resilient trajectory will require coordinated, integrated solutions to catalyze transformation of three key economic systems: energy—how we power our homes, offices and industry, and move goods and people from one place to another; cities—how we live; and food production—how and where we produce food, and what we eat,” Ishii continued.

The twenty-first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place from 30 November to 11 December 2015.    It is expected to be a turning point, which sends a loud and clear signal to citizens, markets and the private sector that the transformation of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial, and already underway.

Based on our quarter century of experience and a wide network of partners, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is well-placed to support this transformation,” said Ishii.

The GEF’s commitment to address climate change issues is unequivocal.   In 2013-14, it committed a total US$1.4 billion for adaptation and mitigation action.  By the end of the current funding cycle in June 2018, it’s estimated that the GEF will be making about US$3 billion available to developing countries to help address climate change, with the potential of $US25 billion to be leveraged from other sources.

As a financial mechanism of the UNFCCC, the GEF is supporting developing countries’ shift towards a low-emission development path.  Besides its ongoing support to countries in their UNFCCC obligations (such as national communications and biennial update reports), the GEF has also provided financial support to 46 countries as they prepared their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, and stands ready to help make these “investment plans” operational.

In Paris, the GEF will also be actively supporting the 12 action tracks of the so-called Lima Paris Action Agenda to showcase coalitions, partnerships and integrated approaches for action on the ground in areas such as buildings, forests, transport and private finance.

Rooted in our role as a financing mechanism of the UNFCCC and other key international agreements, the GEF’s resources help catalyze action and direct larger-scale financing flows toward low-carbon and resilient investments,” said Ishii.  “We support partnerships at local, national and regional levels around integrated solutions in areas like energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable cities, land degradation, deforestation, food security and resilience.”

Governments, the private sector and civil society are taking action on climate change because it is in their interest to do so.  Ahead of Paris, almost all countries, as well as states, cities, business and investors, have come forward with the most comprehensive set of pledges and plans ever seen to reduce emissions and bolster resilience. 

Paris is a huge opportunity to demonstrate political ambition and action on climate change.  But, what happens after is as, if not more, important.

The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals recognize that the health of the global commons is essential for a thriving world,” said Ishii. “A strong climate agreement backed by action on the ground will help us achieve the SDGs. But with the underlying drivers of degradation still at play, our efforts must only intensify.”


Key Questions & Answers on Climate Change Based on Science

Author: Liliana Hisas, Executive Director, Universal Ecological Fund (U.S.) 

Reviewed by Niklas Höhne, PhD, New Climate Institute (Germany)

Up this point, why has so little been accomplished on climate change?

The simple answer is that climate science is complex and has been poorly explained to policy and decision makers and the public. Thus, there has been a major communication gap between the urgency of climate change and the perception of the problem.

The problem is two-sided:
There has been political resistance to change, mainly because with the new Paris Agreement on climate change all countries will have to take action to combat and adapt to climate change. For the last two decades, only a few developed countries have been required to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions that cause climate change. 

The urgency of the problem has been massively misunderstood. Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the premier scientific body, are highly scientific, written in technical language and extremely difficult to comprehend. Policymakers don't read these reports in their entirety, but rather the Synthesis Report, which summarizes the main conclusions of three voluminous reports. Because the Synthesis Report is a summary, it only partially includes the comprehensive assessment of climate science. Thus, some have not fully understood what the options presented imply.  

From following the negotiations on the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, we have uncovered that many of the negotiators are confused or uninformed on the science and the current situation. The result: the policies and changes that must be made will fall far short and climate change will accelerate.  

Can you simply explain the climate change problem? 

The climate is changing because the Earth's global temperature is increasing. Global temperature is increasing mainly because of the way energy (electricity, natural gas and fuel) is produced and used. About 85 percent of the total energy in the world is obtained by burning fossil fuels -coal, gas and oil, accounting for 29, 21 and 31 percent respectively.  

The burning of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide (CO2), which accounts for 65 percent of total annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Other activities, such as deforestation, forest fires and land use changes generate 11 percent of CO2 emissions. As a result, CO2 totals 76 percent of all GHG emissions. 

The problem: about half of the CO2 generated every day ends up in the atmosphere where it remains for more than 1,000 years. It is these CO2 emissions that concentrate in the atmosphere, along with those from methane, nitrous oxide and other GHGs, which are causing global temperature to increase, which is driving the climate to change. 

The other half of CO2 emitted is absorbed by trees, plants and the oceans. 

Is climate change accelerating?

Yes and much faster than anticipated.  

Climate change is the changes in temperature, rain and wind (or the elements of weather) over a long period of time. In 2015, some changes have already been experienced as weather events, such as 50 percent of the average rainfall for an entire month recorded in a couple of hours in Calgary, Canada; a doubling of the average rainfall for an entire month in Calcutta, India; 22 flooding incidents in just 90 minutes in London, United Kingdom; a 15 percent decrease of the monthly average rain in Nagpur, India; unprecedented droughts in Brazil, South Africa, Portugal and Spain; a doubling of the number of wildfires in British Columbia, Canada and California and Alaska in the United States. 

Some impacts of climate change are positive, while others are negative. 

For example, about 70 percent of food production in the world depends on rain. Thus, changes in rain patterns will impact food production. Some of the impacts of climate change, such more frequent and intense droughts, will hinder the production of main food staples and drive food prices to increase. As a result, food security will be at risk. 

The negative impacts of climate change will further threaten livelihoods and lives of millions. 

Is a 2ºC increase in global temperature dangerous?

A 2ºC increase in global temperature was considered as the 'upper limit beyond which the risks of grave damage to ecosystems are expected to increase rapidly.' This means that the impacts of climate change will be more abrupt as global temperature increases. 

By 2012, global temperature has increased by 0.85ºC from pre-industrial times, causing numerous impacts around the world. Some examples of the already observed impacts of a 0.85ºC temperature increase:
Extreme precipitation has increased in frequency and intensity.
A robust drying trend has been observed for already drought-prone regions.

Extreme heat events are occurring more frequently.

Since the Climate Change Convention was adopted in 1992, climate-related events have doubled in number. 

An increase in global temperature of 2ºC implies an additional doubling the number of these impacts of climate change. 

Some of the negative impacts of climate change are now unavoidable. 

When will global temperature reach 2ºC? 

There is a 95 percent probability of reaching 2ºC above pre-industrial times by the 2040s, under all four possible representations of the future (or scenarios) analyzed by the IPCC. This is due to the rapid increase in GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. For example, GHG concentrations increased from 375 parts per million (ppm) CO2-eq (CO2-eq or unit to measure all GHGs combined) in 2005 to 430 ppm CO2-eq in 2011, a 12 percent increase in only six years. 

In the future, according to Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided, a report prepared for The World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, if emission reduction pledges are not met and current trends continue, 'there is an increasing probability of reaching 4°C global mean warming by the last quarter of this century' (or in the next 60 years). 

Isn't climate change going to happen only by the end of the century?

No. It is happening now. 

The end of the century is the timeframe used by scientists to analyze changes in the climate, because changes in climate are assessed over a long period of time (usually, 30 years). This does not mean that the global temperature will increase by the end of the century; however, it is what some policy makers and the general public misunderstood. 

Climate scientists used a target of GHG concentrations of 450 ppm CO2-eq by the end of the century to assess emission reductions required to hold global temperature below 2ºC. They also analyzed what would happen if no explicit actions are taken to reduce GHG emissions -which seems to be the trend until the Paris Agreement is adopted. They concluded that the target of 450 ppm CO2-eq could be exceeded between 2020 and 2030. However, it is impossible to project precisely when such a level will be exceeded because it depends on policies and actions taken by countries, not on science.

Is GHG concentration a better target for the climate change negotiations in Paris?

The 2°C has been adopted as the policy target by all countries.  

Climate scientists also use other targets to assess the options required to tackle climate change, such as the level of GHG concentrations.

The 'stabilization of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system' is also the ultimate objective of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

What is the current level of global GHG emissions and what should it be?

In 2010, global GHG emissions reached 49 Gt CO2-eq; and increased by 10 percent to 54 Gt CO2-eq in 2014. 

The emission level consistent with holding temperature below 2°C should be 42 Gt CO2-eq by 2030 (or a 15 percent reduction from 2010 levels), and 22 Gt CO2-eq by 2050 (or a further 48 percent reduction from 2030 levels). 

These figures are consistent with a 55 percent emission reduction (or the average between 40 and 70 percent) by 2050 from 2010 levels concluded by the IPCC. 

What are Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)? 

As part of the negotiations towards the Paris Agreement, all countries were invited to submit Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). 

The INDCs include an overall GHG emission reduction target and describe how each country intends to contribute to tackling climate change through plans and strategies to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to the changing climate. 

These pledges may also include the financial support needed by some countries to implement actions outlined. These INDCs, thus, are considered 'conditional', as opposed to others made on an 'unconditional' basis. 

The timeframe for the implementation of the INDCs is 2020-2030. 

Are the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) adequate?

No. Climate scientists at the UN Environment Programme and the Climate Action Tracker have done preliminary analysis of the INDCs submitted up to October 2015, from 146 countries representing 85-88 percent of global GHG emissions in 2012. Their conclusions are in line with the Climate Change Convention Secretariat analysis of the INDCs. 

If the submitted INDCs are fully implemented by countries between 2020 and 2030, global GHG emissions could increase by about 17 percent from 2010 levels in 2030 (reaching 56 Gt CO2-eq) instead of being reduced by 15 percent (to reach 42 Gt CO2-eq). The increase in GHG emission levels by 2030 is not consistent with holding global temperature below 2ºC.

In addition to inadequate emission reduction targets, there are also inadequate policies to implement those targets. 

Climate scientists concluded that there is a significant gap between current policies and the pledges submitted by countries in the INDCs. Thus, global emissions under currently implemented policies are projected to be higher than the already inadequate INDC levels. 

Are developed countries the greatest GHG emitters?

Not anymore. Middle income counties have taken the lead in the share of global GHG emissions, contributing 56 percent of global GHG emissions in 2014. Since these countries are considered developing countries by the 1992 Climate Change Convention, they have not been required to limit their GHG emissions. In 1990, middle income countries contributed only 40 percent of global GHG emissions. 

For example, China, currently the world's largest emitter of GHGs, is considered a developing country for the 1992 Climate Change Convention but as an upper middle income country for other international organizations. 

High income countries emitted 48 percent of global GHG emissions in 1990, but contributed 36 percent in 2014. 

Low income countries also decreased their share of emissions, from nine percent in 1990 to six percent in 2014. 

The Paris Agreement is expected to set a target for global GHG emissions reductions by all countries -not only developed countries -since all counties contribute to GHG global emissions. 

Are these middle income countries that are huge emitters working on the problem?

Yes, but not enough. Some middle income countries are using their status as developing countries in the Climate Change Convention as an excuse to delay action and continue emitting. One of the reasons argued is that they also have the right to develop and that they should be able to do so in the same way developed countries did -by burning fossil fuels. 

Some middle income countries are making pledges to reduce emissions, assuming that climate finance is available. 

Most countries have adopted a wait-and-see strategy. While pledges have been announced (known as the Cancun pledges), countries are holding back implementation based on other countries doing the same. That is exactly what triggered the necessity for the Paris Agreement where all countries are expected to participate in emission reductions. 

However, the differentiation of countries is still blocking the Paris Agreement negotiations since middle income countries are still advocating to retain their status as developing countries, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

As a result of these deadlocked discussions and conditions, in the five years since 2010, GHG emissions increased 10 percent. 

Is the deliberate removal of CO2 from the atmosphere at large scale realistic? 

Some options analyzed by climate scientists use intentional measures and technologies for the deliberate removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. These 'negative emissions' technologies rely on carbon capture and storage (CCS): large-scale industrial plants that capture and store CO2 by injecting it in geological reservoirs more than 800 meters below the surface. These CCS plants are currently extremely expensive and pose significant risks, such as leakage of CO2 to water, soil or back into the atmosphere. 

Two options were analyzed by the IPCC. One is bioenergy with CCS: instead of burning fossil fuels, energy is produced by burning biomass -fuelwood, and agricultural residues, such as sugar cane, rice husks, and corn, among others. Through CCS, the resulting CO2 emissions from biomass burning are captured before reaching the atmosphere. The additional risks of this option include competition for food, land and water to grow the necessary biomass to produce bioenergy sustainably, which can negatively impact livelihoods. The other option is CCS to capture CO2 from carbon-fueled power plants, refineries, cement plants and steel mills.

How many carbon capture and storage plants will be needed to hold temperature increase below 2ºC? 

The International Energy Agency concluded that, to hold temperature increase below 2ºC, an average of more than 1,000 CCS plants would need to be built and in full operation between 2015 and 2050 to capture 3.5 Gt CO2 a year (or a cumulative 120 Gt CO2). This annual average of 3.5 Gt CO2 is comparable to one third of the current global removal of CO2 by the ocean (absorbing about 9 Gt CO2) or a similar share by terrestrial carbon sinks (trees and plants, currently removing about 10 Gt CO2). 

However, these negative emission technologies are unproven and have not been tested at large-scale. Also, there are no large-scale bioenergy with CCS plants in the world. The 16 CCS plants in operation or under construction will capture less than 0.1 percent of total CO2 emissions a year by 2015.

Additionally, due to past emissions climate warming will continue for at least decades after CO2 removal methods and technologies are applied. 

Why did scientists consider carbon capture and storage technologies? 

Because IPCC scientists had to provide policymakers with the option that would meet the 2ºC policy target. The use of negative emission technologies was needed to compensate for delayed action to reduce emissions by countries. 

Among the hundreds of very sophisticated computer models analyzed by IPCC scientists for their assessments, many models were able to hold temperature increase below 2°C only by relying on massive negative emission technologies. 

Further delaying action to reduce emissions means higher costs and risks, such as much higher rates of global emission reductions and greater dependence on using all available mitigation technologies in the medium-term; greater reliance on negative emissions; and greater risks of economic disruption; and higher adaptation challenges and costs.

I heard that the cost of fighting climate change will be $100 billion a year by 2020. Where will the money come from? 

Developed countries committed to mobilizing jointly $100 billion a year by 2020 from public and private donors. 

The $100 billion will originate from various sources, including donor countries, the private sector, multilateral development banks (such as The World Bank, the European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, etc., which also include contributions from middle income countries) and bilateral climate-related official development assistance. 

The Green Climate Fund is one of the mechanisms for climate finance. Since its establishment in 2011, it has raised $10.2 billion. 

Will the private sector have a role in climate finance?

Yes. The private sector will play a critical role in climate finance. Investments from the private sector are estimated to double the contributions from donor countries and multilateral development banks, which could result in up to $155 billion in climate finance by 2020.

The private sector, however, is waiting for clear policy and decisions from the Paris Agreement to plan and guide their actions and investments. 

Are there other sources of climate finance?

Yes. Subsidies to fossil fuels totaled $550 billion in 2013. This amount is more than four-times the value of subsidies to renewable energy and more than four times the amount invested globally in improving energy efficiency. 

The $550 billion in fossil fuel subsidies are currently available in national budgets, mostly in middle income countries. 

Shifting these subsidies away from fossil fuels could liberate national financial resources for climate finance, which in turn will attract additional public and private funds and investments. 

Will a transition to 100 percent clean energy solve climate change? 

Addressing climate change will only be possible if energy is used much more efficiently than today and in a different way. For example:
100 percent electricity generation from renewables,
Shifting to electrification in transport and industry.
Using biofuels only where really necessary.
Energy efficiency to the most extent possible. 

Clean or renewable energy only refers to electricity generation, which will address about 20 percent of the global problem -or about 70 percent of GHG emissions from the energy sector (from extraction and conversion to distribution). 

Currently, the global share of non-fossil fuel electricity generation is 30 percent -16 percent from hydropower, 5 percent from renewables and 11 percent from nuclear power. The IPCC concluded that it should be 90 percent by 2050.

A transition to 100 percent renewable electricity generation will not address how electricity is used, how cars are fueled, how new buildings are built, or even how food is produced. The IPCC made a comprehensive analysis by sector to identify measures and policies to be implemented in the next 2-3 decades towards a complete transformation of the world as we know it today. These were the sectors analyzed: industry, transport, buildings and urban planning, and agriculture, forestry and land use. 

Although a tripling of the share of renewables for electricity generation can be achieved, a significant share of fossil fuels will still be required to meet the expected doubling in energy demand due to population growth by 2050. 

Why is it necessary to implement measures in all sectors? 

Policies and measures will have to be implemented in all sectors by 2050 because world population is estimated to increase by 40 percent -from 7 billion in 2010 to almost 10 billion by 2050. 

Population growth will, in turn, double the demand for energy in 2050 and also increase the demand for food, clean water, and other basic human needs.

Further delaying stringent measures to combat and adapt to climate change will only mean higher costs -in more expensive measures to reduce emissions and implement adaptation measures; and most importantly, in higher risks to livelihoods and ultimately, lives due to the increased impacts of the changing climate. 


* * *

Niklas Höhne, PhD is a founding partner of the New Climate Institute, based in Cologne Germany. Since 1995, Dr. Höhne led numerous studies related to the international climate change negotiations and national climate policies. Dr. Höhne is lead author for the IPCC Fourth and Fifth Assessment Report for the chapter on climate policies and international cooperation. He is also lead author of the UNEP Emissions Gap reports 2010 to 2015. In 2009, he created the Climate Action Tracker -a coalition of four research organizations tracking commitments and actions of countries on climate change. He holds a PhD from the University of Utrecht; and is a Special Professor on mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. 

Liliana Hisas is the executive director of the Universal Ecological Fund, US office of Fundacion Ecologica Universal, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a non-profit organization seeking to increase awareness that encourages actions through researching, analyzing, producing and disseminating information. She led various civil society advocacy and capacity development campaigns on global environmental policies and climate change since 1992. She authored various publications on sustainable development and climate change. She holds a Master of Arts degree in journalism from the Universidad del Salvador in Argentina.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spotlighting prevention, “Orange the World” kicks off global efforts to end violence against women and girls

By Brenda Zulu


Over 450 ‘orange events’ planned in more than 70 countries including lighting of the Niagara Falls, Council of Europe building, India Gate, and the ruins of Petra in Jordan

New York — From parades to soccer matches, school debates, and the lighting up of hundreds of iconic monuments, starting tomorrow a United Nations call to “Orange the World” will galvanize global action calling for an end to violence against women and girls, which affects one in three worldwide.

Unifying the large-scale social mobilization and global events will be the use of the colour orange, which has come to symbolize a bright and optimistic future free from violence against women and girls. The call to action is part of the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, led by UN Women. It will be carried out during the civil society-driven16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which run from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Womenuntil 10 December, Human Rights Day. This year’s ‘Orange the World” initiative will focus on the theme of preventing violence against women and girls, in the specific context of the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which includes targets on ending violence against women and girls.

Coinciding with the 16 days of Activism, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will undertake visits to three continents highlighting the urgent need for efforts to address the pandemic of violence at all levels—from global to the local—as well as across all sections of society, during high-profile events in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Spain and Turkey.  

The official commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November in New York will also see the launch of a landmark “UN Framework to Underpin Action to Prevent Violence against Women,” jointly developed by a number of UN entities including UN Women, ILO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA and WHO.

“Violence against women and girls remains one of the most serious – and the most tolerated - human rights violations. It is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and discrimination. Its continued presence is one of the clearest markers of societies out of balance and we are determined to change that”, said UN Under- Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “The focus must now be on prevention, and although there is no single solution to such a complex problem, there is growing evidence of the range of actions that can stop violence before it happens. This comprehensive approach forms the core of the new framework developed by UN Women and our partner agencies.”

There has been some progress over the last few decades; today 125 countries have laws against sexual harassment and 119 against domestic violence, but only 52 countries on marital rape. Despite efforts, violence against women and girls continues in every country, with women being beaten in their homes, harassed on the streets and bullied on the Internet. Preventing and ending violence means tackling its root cause, gender inequality. In 2014, the WHO called it a ‘global epidemic’ and a public health crisis, given its impact on one in three women experiencing physical or sexual violence at some point in her life—mostly by an intimate partner, and sometimes rising to affect a staggering 70 per cent of women in certain countries. Among all women who were the victims of homicide in 2012, nearly half died at the hands of a partner or family member. An estimated 133 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation/cutting. Adult women account for almost half of all human trafficking victims detected globally.

With the recent adoption by world leaders of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), a bold new global development agenda in September 2015, a critical juncture was reached in global recognition that violence against women and girls is a serious but preventable problem. The gender equality goal, Goal 5 of the SDGs, aims to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls. It recognizes violence against women as an obstacle to fully achieving the development agenda and will provide comprehensive indicators on what we should do to address that goal. It focuses also on the provision of services to address sexual and reproductive rights. At the historic Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment event on 27 September 2015, many of the  70 world leaders who took the stage named ending violence against women and girls as a priority for action, demonstrating not only the size and universality of the problem, but also the recognition of Heads of Government/State of this pandemic of violence being a major obstacle to fully achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Around the world

Globally, during the fortnight under the “Orange the world” call, over 450 events are planned in more than 70 countries throughout the 16 days. They include the lighting of major monuments, and numerous activities involving civil society such as dialogue sessions with faith-based leaders, film screenings, theatre and dance performances, rallies, marches, marathons and digital activism via social media platforms. Events will include the orange lighting of major landmarks including: the Niagara Falls (Canada/USA), the European Commission building (Belgium) and Council of Europe building (France), the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen (Denmark), the archeological ruins at Petra (Jordan), and the Palais de Justice (Democratic Republic of the Congo).

In Africa, among a series of powerful initiatives, South Africa will light its Nelson Mandela Bridge, while youth rallies will take place across Mozambique. Among many events in Central and South America, a film festival, themed as “Step it Up to End Violence against Women and Girls” will be held in Trinidad and Tobago. Quito, Ecuador, is hosting an Orange marathon and in Guatemala there will be a kite-flying procession, with messages promoting freedom from violence for women and girls. In the Asia-Pacific region, a collaboration with Humans of Pakistan will launch “16 women, 16 Stories”, a powerful social media campaign using images and stories of local women. The UNiTE Festival, held in conjunction with the Lahore College Women University in Pakistan is expecting 10,000 girls from eight universities to attend. India will see the lighting of its India Gate as well as the display of ending violence against women messaging on panel boards in two high-traffic lines of the Delhi metro. Cambodia will host an 8.4-km orange marathon, while Timor-Leste is organizing an arts festival. In Europe, Albanian police officers will be patrolling the streets in orange and in the Arab States region, the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan will be the venue for a walking women’s marathon, among other activities.

Furthermore, as part of the mobilization by partners, influential media outlets and journalists have been urged to show personal commitment to the cause by symbolically using orange in their studios or in their attire, while urging their audiences to take action to end violence against women and girls.


The official commemoration of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women will take place in New York City in the ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, UN Headquarters on Wednesday 25 November from 10 a.m. – 12 noon, attended by ambassadors, senior UN officials, civil society activists and artistes. More information at:

Events on UN premises are open only to UN-accredited media. More information at:

Photos from the events will be available at:

Join the conversation on social media: Follow @SayNO_UNiTE and share your messages using the hashtags #orangetheworld and #16days (#16días in Spanish and #16jours in French). You can also upload your activities to this Facebook event page.

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What I Expect From the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris


By Ban Ki-moon

For the nearly nine years that I have been Secretary-General, I have travelled the world to the front-lines of climate change, and I have spoken repeatedly with world leaders, business people and citizens about the need for an urgent global response  


Why do I care so much about this issue?  


First, like any grandfather, I want my grandchildren to enjoy the beauty and bounty of a healthy planet.  And like any human being, it grieves me to see that floods, droughts and fires are getting worse, that island nations will disappear and uncounted species will become extinct. 


As His Holiness Pope Francis and other faith leaders have reminded us, we have a moral responsibility to act in solidarity with the poor and most vulnerable who have done least to cause climate change and will suffer first and worst from its effects.


Second, as the head of the United Nations, I have prioritized climate change because no country can meet this challenge alone.  Climate change carries no passport; emissions released anywhere contribute to the problem everywhere.  It is a threat to lives and livelihoods everywhere.  Economic stability and the security of nations are under threat.  Only through the United Nations can we respond collectively to this quintessentially global issue.   


The negotiation process has been slow and cumbersome. But we are seeing results.  In response to the UN’s call, more than 166 countries, which collectively account for more than 90 per cent of emissions, have now submitted national climate plans with targets.  If successfully implemented, these national plans bend the emissions curve down to a projected global temperature rise of approximately 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.


This is significant progress.  But it is still not enough. The challenge now is to move much further and faster to reduce global emissions so we can keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.  At the same time, we must support countries to adapt to the inevitable consequences that are already upon us.


The sooner we act, the greater the benefits for all: increased stability and security; stronger, moresustainable economic growthenhanced resilience to shocks; cleaner air and water; improved health. 


We will not get there overnight.  The climate change conference in Paris is not the end point.  It must mark the floor, not the ceiling of our ambition.  It must be the turning point towards a low-emission, climate-resilient future.


Around the world, momentum is building.  Cities, businesses and investors, faith leaders and citizens are acting to reduce emissions and build resilience.  The responsibility now rests with Governments to conclude a meaningful, binding agreement in Paris that provides clear rules of the road for strengthening global ambition.  For this, negotiators need clear guidance from the top.


I believe this is forthcoming.  The leaders of the G20, who met earlier this month in Antalya, Turkey, showed strong commitment to climate action.  And more than 120 Heads of State and Government have confirmed their participation in Paris, despite heightened security concerns in the wake of the terrorist attacks.


I see four essential elements for Paris to be a success: durability, flexibility, solidarity and credibility. 


First, durability.  Paris must provide a long-term vision consistent with a below 2 degrees trajectory, and send a clear signal to markets that the low-carbon transformation of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial and already under way.  


Second, the agreement must provide flexibility so it does not need to be continually renegotiatedIt must be able to accommodate changes in the global economy and strike a balance between the leadership role of developed countries and the increasing responsibilities of developing countries.  


Third, the agreement must demonstrate solidarity, including through financing and technology transfer for developing countries.  Developed countries must keep their pledge to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 for adaptation and mitigation alike. 


Fourth, an agreement must demonstrate credibility in responding to rapidly escalating climate impacts.  It must include regular five year cycles for governments to assess and strengthen their national climate plans in line with what science demands.  Paris must also include transparent and robust mechanisms for measuring, monitoring and reporting progress.


The UN stands fully ready to support countries in implementing such an agreement. 


A meaningful climate agreement in Paris will build a better today – and tomorrow.  It will help us end poverty. Clean our air and protect our oceans. Improve public health.  Create new jobs and catalyze green innovations.  It will accelerate progress towards all of the Sustainable Development Goals. That is why I care so deeply about climate change.  


My message to world leaders is clear: success in Paris depends on you.  Now is the time for common sense, compromise and consensus.  It is time to look beyond national horizons and to put the common interest first.  The people of the world – and generations to come – count on you to have the vision and courage to seize this historic moment.



The writer is Secretary-General of the United Nations




Wednesday, July 25, 2012

President Sata Mourns Ghanaian Leader

His Excellency Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata, President of the Republic of Zambia, has sent a message of condolences to the Ghanaian people over the death of President John Evans Atta Mills.

In a letter to His Excellency, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, the new President of the Republic of Ghana, President Sata expressed shock at the death of President Mills.

“It is with sadness that I have learnt of the death of His Excellency, President John Evans Atta Mills whose untimely demise is a great loss not only for the people of Ghana, but for the African continent as a whole,” President Sata stated.

“On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Zambia and indeed on my own behalf, I express our deepest condolences to you, the bereaved Family, the Government and the people of the Republic of Ghana.”

The Head of State stated that the late Ghanaian President would be deeply missed.

“President Mills will be remembered as an advocate of democracy and good governance in Ghana, West Africa and the African continent at large; a leader who championed political maturity and economic growth in his country which has seen increased investment opportunities in Ghana.  Our brother will be sorely missed by all who knew him for the ideals that he firmly stood for, having dedicated his life to selfless service of the Ghanaian people up to the time of his death,” the President stated.

“During the period of your national mourning, we commiserate with you and join you in spirit, prayerful reflection, and beseech the Almighty to grant the bereaved family and the entire Ghanaian nation his abundant mercy, solace and fortitude to bear the burden of this great loss. May the soul of President Mills rest in eternal peace.”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Madam Kaseba promote health-says Chieftainess Mungule

By Brenda Zulu
Chieftainess Mungulu has appealed to the first lady Christine Kaseba to promote health. She said the issue of Tobacco was the heart of the community as people who smoke and those affected by it live in the community.
In her opening address at the Tobacco law awareness workshop for Civil Society Organisations today at the Sanctuary lodge, in Chibombo District, Chieftainess  Mungule, said tobacco was harmful.
Speaking on behalf of Chieftainess  Mungule, Headman Mukwaya said that tobacco was harmful and that it brings problems to people’s lives.
She said doctors have advised a lot of people to stop smoking and that there is a difference today because of people infected with HIV.
She observed that those   youths who continue smoking despite listening to elders are infected and that the ones who suffer are mothers and fathers,
At 78 years old, Chieftainess Mungule recalled that when she was young, elders always advised the young not to smoke.
She urged young ones to listen to elders observing that nowadays young ones were smoking. She recalled that as youths of her time they listened to elders.
Chieftainess  Mungule observed that tobacco was a crop that should be stopped to be grown in Zambia. She said tobacco growing was not encouraged in her chiefdom Mungule.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Impact on trade Liberisation and Privatisation in Zambia

By Brenda Zulu
Despite the copper price being at peak at the London Stock Exchange the profits in the mining sector have not trickled down to the ordinary Zambia citizen.

In an interview with the Civil Society Trade Network of Zambia (CSTNZ) Linda Banji Kalima said based despite the Mines and Mineral Act specifying that mineral royalties should be at 3% for those holding large scale mining licenses, the rate negotiated by most mining companies was 0.6% of the gross revenue of the mineral produced in the mining area.

She said according to the report “For whom the wind falls “ the agreement allows companies to avoid paying a good deal of corporate tax by carrying forward assets for period of between 15 and 20 years. She added that massive unemployment and retardation of local manufacturers have been the order of the day due to domination of not only foreign investors but also South African investors.

She explained that between 1997 and 2000, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) was split into seven different units and sold off. The units were initially bought up by seven multinational mining companies, including Anglo- American which chose to exercise its pre-emptive rights, taking on 65% of KCM, a package which included the right and expectation to develop the massive new Konkola Deep Mining Project (KDMP).

Kalima said the Anglo America only waited until 2002 for the copper price to rebound before deciding that it was not going to and there was not as much money to be made in the short term from the KDMP as they had hoped. Anglo, along with other minority investors in KCM- the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) and World Bank’s International Financing Corporation (IFC) completely pulled out of Zambia, handing the mine back to state ownership and in the process, threatening to bring a halt to production at the country’s biggest asset.

Kalima explained that Zambia’s industrial sector has undergone a major shift since the government instituted the structure adjustment programmes in the early 1990’s. The copper mining sector was not spared. Copper mining industry has played a major role in infrastructural development especially on the Copperbelt province. The Zambian Copper Mining industry has gone through three major phases. From their establishment to 1969, the mines were in the private hands under the control of Roan Selection Trust (RST) and Anglo-American corporation (AAC). In the period after 1969, the mine were first nationalized and then merged to form ZCCM. Although ZCCM was a state enterprise, Anglo-American through its subsidiary Zambia Copper Investment (ZCI) continued to hold 27% of the shares and a pre-emptive right to buy back share that the government offered in ZCCM at a later date before they were offered to anyone.

It was however clear that through advocacy on Development agreement was done by CSO and resulted in the Mining Bill of 2008. The development agreements had been kept secret 1990’s to 2006 agreements now availed to the public and accessible.

Kalima said there is no tax holiday campaign as result 2008, tax on all mining companies have been revamped.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gender at a glace - Zambia

By Brenda Zulu

Millenium Development Goal (MDG) number 3 ensures the promotion of gender equality and empowerment women. In March 2000, the Government of the Republic of Zambia adopted the National Gender Policy which serves as the blue print for gender and development activities. The Policy has put in place measures to address the critical areas of concern as outlined in the Dakar and Beijing Platforms for Action.
The 2007 Civil Society MDG report shows that Zambian Government is currently pursuing means of ensuring that the Performance Appraisal System takes into account gender to ensure that all officers in the public service are accountable in gender and development activities. To this effect, Government has embarked on the process of reviewing the job descriptions of Gender Focal Points.
The Director, Head of Planning Department in the Ministry or Government Department has been the designated Gender Focal Point with the job description reflecting key result areas and principle accountabilities on gender mainstreaming. This is to ensure that gender mainstreaming functions are performed effectively on a continuous basis without creating additional posts in the public services.
The Government has embarked on the process of engendering the national budget by training all gender focal points in line ministries and other government departments. The training focused on the incorporation of activities in the Strategic Plan of Action (SPA) in their respective annual budgets. Government, in collaboration with National Institute Public Administration, has developed a capacity build programme for gender focal points and their respective sub-committees in order to develop their gender analytical skills. It is hoped that this training will eventually lead to improved gender analysis of government policies and programmes.
There are, however, some challenges in implementing the SPA. Though Government adopted the National Gender Policy, it was silent on the affirmative action and implementation of women empowerment principles which could have developed benchmarks against which to measure the country’s progress in terms of gender mainstreaming. To this effect, Government has directed all ministries and parastatals to ensure that their annual national and sector budgets should take into account the activities outlined in the SPA.
Gender disaggregated data is essential but currently absent or very limited in Zambia. In this regard, Government has embarked on the process of mobilising resources for collection of gender disaggregated data in sector ministries for easy monitoring and evaluation of gender equality programmes. The collection of gender disaggregated data will facilitate the formulation of appropriate policy interventions in line ministries.
There is weak institutional mechanism for implementation of the National Gender Policy as result of lack of appropriate legislation. To this effect, there is need for appropriate legislation which will give clear guidelines for institutional arrangements for implementation of the National Gender Policy. The appropriate legislation will enhance the co-ordination and accountability mechanisms currently in place.
The Government has embarked on the process of developing capacity building programmes which will develop technical capacities for mainstreaming gender in all government policies, programmes and plans. The capacity building programme should also attempt to address institutional weaknesses in gender mainstreaming.
There is a high turn-over of Gender Focal Points in line ministries and government departments due to promotion, transfers, replacements and other reasons. This has affected continuity in terms of implementing the gender and development programmes. In order to redress this problem, Government has embarked on the process establishing Gender Sub-Committees in all line ministries, provincial and district administration in order to address the observed gaps in gender mainstreaming which has been a result of the non-institutionalisation of Gender Focal Points. In regard, the Gender Sub-committee will act as the link between the Gender in Development Division (GIDD) and the various institutions in order to enhance gender mainstreaming in various institutions.
Strategic Plan of Action for the National Gender Policy
Subsequent to the adoption of the National Gender Policy, Government approved and adopted the Strategic Plan of Action (SPA) for the implementation of the National Gender Policy in January 2004. The Strategic Plan of Action which covers the period from 2004 to 2008 is aimed at operationalising government’s vision on gender. The SPA is a tool for operationalising the National Gender Policy and is aimed at achieving full and equal participation and benefit of both females and males in the socio-economic and political development of Zambia.
The SPA intends to achieve government vision on gender by mainstreaming gender into macro and sectoral policies and programmes such as the Public Service Reform Programme (PSRP), Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), the Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) and the new FNDP including economic policy instruments like the Medium Term Economic Framework (MTEF) and the national budget.
The SPA takes into account global and regional instruments and development programmes such as the Beijing Platform for Action (BPA), Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Southern African Development Community (SADC), Gender Declaration and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) Gender Policy. The SPA further takes into account the opportunities and challenges brought about by among others the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and African Union (AU).
Implementation Mechanisms for the SPA

Government has, through the adoption of the National Gender Policy (NGP) and it’s implementation plan, the Strategic Plan of Action (SPA), committed itself to addressing gender issues and concerns at all levels of national development. The National Gender Machinery for Zambia; GIDD at Cabinet Office is responsible for co-ordinating, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the National Gender Policy and the SPA. The role of GIDD in the implementation of the SPA is therefore to provide leadership in the co-ordination of gender and development programmes and activities of all stakeholders in Zambia

All line ministries, provincial and district administration, other organs of government, the private sector, religious groupings and NGOs will implement specific and relevant policy measures and interventions of the SPA.
The consistent adverse experience felt disproportionately by females in the education, employment and health sectors culminates in a situation in parliament where despite some improvements in 1991, only 6 % of the members of parliament were female.According to a report by Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR) on the cost of meeting MDGs in Zambia (2005) the total cost for gender interventions is estimated at US$22.9 million in 2005 rising marginally to US$ 30.1 million in 2015.


Africa Social Forum (ASF) Gender Focal Point Sara Longwe observes that despite the many efforts for improvements it has been found that most of the gender programmes lack in depth analysis and adequate resources. Measures to alleviate and reduce poverty have not fully addressed differential impact of poverty on men and women. Gender differentials have persisted at all levels of these programmes, suggesting that social and cultural factors, which play a stronger role, are not taken into account during the design and implementation of the programmes.

The lacks of gender specific targeting programs influence women and men’s life and opportunities. They may not be male biased designs, but could well be male biased by omission of a gender disaggregated data required for such assessment and the lack of recognition of women’s role and skills in poverty reduction programmes. At the same time, there has been lack of effective co-ordination among various institutions involved in poverty alleviation, leading to reduced impact on the intended target group.


Zambian government is committed to promoting women’s participation in decision-making at all levels to promote sustainable development. Zambia recognises that full participation of women and men in development is cardinal to achieving sustainable development. This recognition is founded in the empirical realisation that restricted participation of women in socio-economic activities has had a negative impact.
Government is therefore committed to making deliberate efforts to facilitate the removal of existing gender imbalances.

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Reparations of debt in Zambia

By Brenda Zulu
Reparations of debt in Zambia have not improved the lives of Zambians as many still have problems in accessing basic services.

Services such as health, education, clean water and shelter are still a problem of many Zambians as before repapration of debt it was thought to have been a problem because of the strain put on the government by debt servicing. Poverty is also an issue with women being the most affected as many of them are unemployed.

Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number eight talks about to develop global partnership for development. One of the targets is to deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long run.
The 2007 MDG Civil Society Zambia report explains that in 2002 to 2004, the debt service ratio had increased but remained constant in Zambia. Things changed when Zambia attained the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) completion point in 2005.

Zambia had its US$7.2 billion external debt slashed to about $500 million, as a reward for sticking with economic reforms under the HIPC initiative by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

However, recently the Government announced that the country’s external debt stood at $643 million since the HIPC completion point in April 2005 and that the Government has contracted eight loans totaling US$110.21 million.

The Government stated that negotiations for these project loans had started before the attainment of the completion point. This includes debts contracted earlier, but which were not part of the debt relief as they were outside the cut-off dates of December 2003 and December 2004.

It should be noted that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been against the government taking non-concessional loans that carry normal interest rates and conditions. CSOs prefer concessional borrowing which offers poor countries more generous terms.

“This free-riding borrowing is very unhealthy, where a country begins to borrow just after receiving debt relief. Government is risking the country’s ability to have a sustainable debt, and we stand a high probability of falling back into unsustainable debt, especially if the contracted loans are from non-concessional sources. It is a threat to Zambia’s future debt solution. Years of high levels of debt servicing meant Zambia could afford minimal social expenditure, but with debt relief the government promised investment in priority areas like education and health as part of a poverty alleviation plan,” said Muyatwa Sitali of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections

Meanwhile, the government stated that it would continue to borrow.

We shall borrow “for right reasons, to promote development… we don’t qualify for low-interest loans from the International Development Agency (the World Bank’s lending arm), as we are no longer regarded as highly indebted poor country, therefore we have to borrow, but we shall only be contracting concessional loans, as opposed to non-concessional loans,” stated Finance Minister Ng’ande Magande.

Although 15 percent of the 2007 national budget has been allocated to education, and 10 percent to health, critics said little would be invested because much of the budget was donor driven.

Most of the money from China was being spent on developing infrastructure like road networks and providing power in rural areas.

“Social funding was still minimal because more priority and resources are allocated to maintaining non-social issues like State House and supporting international trips than promoting social protect, and money continues to be misapplied. Even if there is allocation of funds or savings from debt relief, very little trickles down to the poor people. The whole country suffers when funds are misapplied because we still have to pay, even if there is nothing to show for what the loan was used, at expense of improving hospitals, education and our roads,” said Saviour Mwambwa, from the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR).

The Auditor General’s reports are famously known to contain numerous reports of misuse, miss-allocation and theft of public funds. A recent report by Auditor-General said misapplication of public funds was rampant in Zambia, and about $1 million in HIPC funds was unaccounted for by the Ministry of Community Development in 2005 alone.

Where is Zambia coming from?
It is important to put the scenario for poverty reduction in proper perspective.
In the case of Zambia, the interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) was submitted to the Bretton Woods institutions in July 2000 and the full PRSP was submitted in March 2002, approved and launched in June 2002 to cover the period 2002 to 2004. On the part of the Zambian government, the goal of reaching the completion point by December 2004 to achieve debt relief was the most important activity.
The completion point was however reached only in April 2005, extending the anxiety of debt relief and therefore becoming the dominant development discourse in Zambia between 2002 and 2005. Zambian CSOs set up Civil Society for Poverty Reduction, an NGO specifically meant to allow Zambian CSOs participate in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of poverty reduction strategies.
The significance of the HIPC process is underscored by Zambia’s own reality: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report states that at the time of independence in 1964, Zambia was a middle income country with a per capita income of US$ 1,500. Since then it has experienced one of the most dramatic declines into the category of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) with a per capita income of US$ 380 (2003) as compared to Canada’s US$ 23,930 (2003).
Zambia ranks 177 out of the 190 countries covered by the United Nations Human Development Indicators. 73% of the population lives below the poverty datum line and it is estimated that 20% of the adult population is living with HIV/AIDS virus. Zambia declined into a heavily indebted country with a debt stock of US$ 7.2 billion and an estimated scheduled debt service repayment of US$ 600 million; well beyond its export means and therefore requiring significant debt relief which earlier debt relief mechanisms had been unable to address.
Being a severely indebted low income country with a per capita income of US$ 350 and a per capita debt of US$ 220 in 1999 Zambia had no choice but go through the HIPC process in order to secure the necessary debt relief. At decision point in late 2000, Zambia looked forward to a debt stock reduction of US$ 3.8 billion from a debt stock of US$ 7.2 billion and a reduction in debt service from roughly US$ 600 million to US$ 165 million at completion point. With much struggle, which included policy slippages, Zambia finally reached the HIPC Completion Point in April 2005 securing bilateral debt relief promised at the time of the decision point.
The Gleneagles G8 Summit of June 2005 brought further hope as the IMF announced in December 2005 that Zambia would be granted debt relief through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) reducing the overall Zambian Debt Stock to US$ 500 million and therefore an overall annual savings of US$ 500 million. The importance of the PRSP in relation to debt relief was realized by the Zambian government. It maintained the required fiscal discipline especially during 2004.

In terms of content, the Zambian PRSP, covering the period 2000 to 2004 drew up programme of action to redress the evident poverty which had deepened to cover 73% of the population by 1998 as noted above. The main purpose of the PRSP was to promote sustainable economic growth and to improve social services and infrastructure. The PRSP identified HIV/AIDS, Gender and the environment as crosscutting issues and good governance and improved public sector management as providing an enabling environment for implementation of the PRSP. There were clear intervention strategies in various sectors for achievement of PRSP objective of poverty reduction.

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