Category Archives: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Great Green Wall Brings Hope, Greener Pastures to Africa’s Sahel

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Issa Sikiti da Silva for the Inter Press Service (reprinted by permission)

Hope, smiles and new vitality seem to be returning slowly but surely in various parts of the Sahel region, where the mighty Sahara Desert has all but ‘eaten’ and degraded huge parts of landscapes, destroying livelihoods and subjecting many communities to extreme poverty.

The unexpected relief has come from the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI), an eight-billion-dollar project launched by the African Union (AU) with the blessing of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the backing of organizations such as the World Bank, the European Union and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


The icon of GGW shows the path of the Great Green Wall. Credit: greatgreenwall.org

(Editor’s note: The Great Green Wall was initiated by Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Mathai as described in a CPNN article in 2011.)

The Sahara, an area of 3.5 million square miles, is the largest ‘hot’ desert in the world and home to some 70 species of mammals, 90 species of resident birds and 100 species of reptiles, according to DesertUSA.
 
Restoring landscapes

The GGW aims to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes and transform millions of lives in one of the world’s poorest regions. This will be done by, among others, planting a wall of trees in more than 20 countries – westward from Gambia to eastward in Djibouti – over 7,600 km long and 15 km wide across the continent.

The countries include Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Senegal. There is also Algeria, Egypt, Gambia, Eritrea, Somalia, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo and Benin.

Popularity

Elvis Paul Nfor Tangem, AU’s GGWSSI coordinator, told IPS that the project was doing well, gaining popularity and generating many other ideas as the implementation gains momentum.

Tangem also said that the AU had begun working with the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Namibian government for the extension of the GGWSSI concept to the dry lands of the Southern Africa region.

Namibia, which borders South Africa, is located between the Namib and Kalahari deserts. Namib, from which the country draws its name, is believed to be the world’s oldest desert.
 
Largest project ever

If the GGW is indeed extended to Southern Africa, it will take the number of countries drawn to the project to over 20, making it one of the world’s largest projects ever.

Fundraising for beneficiaries countries is being done through bilateral negotiations, as well as through national investments, the AU said.

International partners including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Sahara and Sahel Observatory (SSO), among others, are also playing a critical role to ensure that the project is being successfully implemented, and upon its completion by 2030 will become the world’s largest living structure and a new Wonder of the World.

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Question for this article:

When you cultivate plants, do you cultivate peace?

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Food security

The GGW is set to create thousands of jobs for those who live along its path and boost food security and resilience to climate change in the Sahel, one of the driest parts of the world, where the FAO said an estimated 29.2 million people are food insecure.

The project founders said that by 2030 the ambition is to restore 100 million hectares of currently degraded land and sequester 250 million tons of carbon.

Asked if the project is being implementing one country after the other, Elvis replied: “The implementation of the initiative is first and famous country-based, meaning all the countries are undertaking implementation at their levels.

“However, the common factor among all the countries is the fact that their activities are based on the Harmonized Regional Strategy and their National Action Plans (NAP). We are supporting the production of the NAP in Cameroon and Ghana and also working on the SADC region.”

Returning home?

In Senegal, a total of 75 direct jobs and 1,800 indirect jobs, including in the nurseries sector and multipurpose gardens, have already been created through the GGW in the last six years, according to official statistics.

Also in Senegal, where desertification has slashed 34% of its area, the GGW has since ‘recovered’ just over 40,000 hectares out of the 817,500 hectares planned for the project.

This is good news for people like Ibrahima Ba and his family who left their homeland to move to Dakar in the quest of greener pastures.

Now, he is contemplating a return home. “I’m planning to go back towards the end of the year to rebuild my shattered life. The Sahara hasn’t done anybody any favor by taking away our livelihood,” Ba, a livestock farmer Peul from northern Senegal, told IPS.

An estimated 300,000 people live in the three provinces crossed by the GGW in Senegal.
 
Participatory approach

However, Marine Gauthier, an environmental expert for the Rights and Resources’ Initiative, (RRI) said a participatory approach was needed if the project was to be implemented successfully.

“In a conflictual region, where people depend on the land for their survival and where there are numerous transhumance activities from herders peoples (Peuls) potentially impacted by the project, a careful participatory approach is needed,” Gauthier said.

“Conflicts have already arisen a couple of years ago with Peuls (herders practicing transhumance, whose travels were to be restrained by the project). Just like any other environmental protection project, its capacity to engage with local communities, to make them first beneficiaries of the project, is the key to its success on the long term.

“Participatory mapping is a very successful tool that has been used within other projects and that could be of great help in defining and establishing the Great Green Wall,” Gauthier said.

Furthermore, Gauthier said empowering communities would be very interesting at the scale of the Great Green Wall. “It would take a lot of efforts, consultations, financial and human resources. It is however the only way to ensure that this project, which people are talking about for more than 10 years now, reaches its goal.

“Because when the communities are empowered and when their rights on the land are secured, it benefits directly to the environment and to preserving this land from more damage.”

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Leading from the Front: Zambia Launches Plant a Million Trees Initiative

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Friday Phiri for the Inter Press Service (reprinted by permission)

As global climate experts meet in Bonn this week [May 3] to discuss how to take climate action forward, Zambia counts itself amongst the leaders as President Edgar Lungu officially launches the Plant a Million (PAM) trees Initiative.

In fact, the initiative is even more ambitious than its name implies, and aims at planting at least two billion trees by 2021. According to President Lungu, the initiative is in line with the country’s Seventh National Development Plan whose aim is to diversify the economy from copper dependency.


President Edgar Chagwa Lungu planting a tree while Minister of Lands and Natural Resources looks on. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

President Lungu says the initiative, which targets young people through schools, colleges and universities, will be used as a vehicle for mindset change among Zambians to begin to value the importance of planting trees as a tool for economic diversification.

“This initiative marks the beginning of growing money through trees and government stands ready to support it and ensure that it succeeds,” he said during the launch at Kapasa Makasa University in Muchinga Province, Northern Zambia.

In line with the country’s commitments to international treaties, especially the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change, President Lungu said government envisages not only creating a tree-based economy, but also mitigating climate change through the initiative.

He is particularly concerned with the country’s alarming deforestation rate of 276,021 hectares per year, making Zambia one of the most deforested countries in Africa.

“The Plant A Million initiative will significantly contribute to reducing deforestation which has earned Zambia a bad name of being one of the most deforested countries in Africa as a result of uncontrolled harvesting of trees,” he said.

The Zambian president added that he was impressed with the youth involvement model through schools, colleges and universities, saying it will help push the agenda of mindset change because “when our learners appreciate the importance of trees, it will in turn create a positive impact in families and the communities at large.”

Speaking earlier, Higher Education Minister Nkandu Luo said her Ministry would use the initiative to redefine the education system from exam-based to real-world practices.

“Over the years, the thinking in our school system has been that education is passing exams but we are redefining this thinking, so that people know that education is total transformation of a human being, and this programme is one of the ways to do it,” she said.

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Question for this article:

When you cultivate plants, do you cultivate peace?

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As one of the brains behind the initiative, Professor Luo said that Zambia was aiming to break the world record of planting the most trees, which is currently held by India. Last year, Volunteers in India planted more than 66 million trees in just 12 hours in a record-breaking environmental drive.

About 1.5 million people were involved in the huge campaign, in which saplings were placed along the Narmada river in the state of Madhya Pradesh throughout Sunday.

India committed under the Paris Agreement to increasing its forests by five million hectares before 2030 to combat climate change.

“We are aiming to beat the world record, to go above 66 million trees done by India. We aim to plant at least a billion trees by 2019, and another billion plus by 2021; and I am positive that with universities’ involvement, it is doable,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata is optimistic that the initiative will not only add value to people’s livelihoods through income from the sale of fruit and other forest products, but also contribute to the country’s ambitious mitigation targets as set in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

“As you may be aware, tree planting plays an important role in addressing impacts of climate change, and mitigating effects of climate change. In this regard, the Zambia Plant A Million initiative is also responding to national efforts of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

Zambia has undertaken, and is still implementing, several tree planting and preservation projects across the country. Central to such initiatives has been the goodwill of the country’s first president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, who was a pioneer of tree planting during his time in office.

And according to Emmanuel Chibesakunda, PAM initiator and project manager, the initiative wants to build on this foresight and activism of the 94-year-old freedom fighter and founding father of the nation.

“I am pleased to announce this morning that Dr. Kenneth Kaunda has kindly agreed to be the goodwill ambassador for this initiative,” announced Chibesakunda amid thunderous applause from those who gathered to witness the ceremony in a district which is also home to Dr. Kaunda. “Dr. Kaunda did not only lead our country into independence, but also pioneered tree planting in Zambia.”

Chibesakunda shared his inspiration for the initiative, which he said was from his father who taught him that talent was like a seed which needed to be planted in the right soil to germinate into beautiful fruit. This led to his passion for trees, and especially the involvement of children and young people.

“My father told me that we all have talents, but what matters is where we plant them,” he told the gathering. “And my desire for this project is that we plant the knowledge in the young generation, let us put the future into their hands.”

So far, tree nurseries have been set up at 12 schools in Lusaka, and the project expects to reach 720 schools in the next two years in 60 districts across the country.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

What’s the G7’s ‘Charlevoix Blueprint’ all about?

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions

While much of the focus at the G7 summit in Québec was on the antics of Donald Trump, the meeting actually produced something of a breakthrough for climate adaptation by coastal communities.

US President Donald Trump’s unconventional behaviour at the meeting of Group of Seven leading industrial powers dominated  most media coverage  of the summit. The US leader arrived late, left early, absented himself from the formal discussions on climate change, promoted fossil fuels instead, and then refused to sign the G7 final official communiqué due to its reaffirmation of the Paris Agreement.

Meanwhile, some real breakthroughs on international commitments to climate adaptation, coastal communities and issues at the crossroads of oceans, plastic pollution and global warming, were achieved during the high-level gathering hosted this year by Canada in Charlevoix, just northeast of Québec City.

The other G7 leaders came together to endorse the “Charlevoix Blueprint:” a new strategy for enhancing ocean and coastal “resilience,” a term that is increasingly used within the climate community to mean going beyond adaptation to global warming, but to maintain function in a way that improves on what went before.

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Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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Specifically, the Blueprint aims to develop better climate adaptation planning, emergency preparedness and recovery. The signatories are to identify policy gaps, vulnerabilities, and share expertise. In response to disasters, the Blueprint nations are to develop coastal management strategies that enable communities to “build back better,” with provisions to reconstruct both physical infrastructure and natural systems.

Where it can be done, nations are to favour “nature-based solutions” such as protection of wetlands, mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs. These represent natural habitats that protect communities  against the impacts of storms and waves. Such strategies also represent what is coming to be called “low carbon resilience”—those actions or behaviours that are adaptive to climate change and mitigate it at the same time. These natural habitats prevent flooding and erosion, but because they can be carbon sinks, they also work to limit the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

]The Blueprint signatories also want to support such strategies amongst least developed countries, in particular the small island developing states (SIDS), including the efforts to develop early warning systems for extreme weather events. Canada for its part announced $162 million in this regard, focusing on the expansion of climate-risk insurance for Caribbean SIDS and coastal clean energy systems.

The Blueprint included an Ocean Plastics Charter, committing signatories to limiting plastic pollution. This was signed by five of the G7 member states but not Japan. Recent research  mapping the origin of plastic waste aggregating in the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch concluded  that the majority comes from abandoned fishing nets and fishing gear, primarily from Asian nations. Scientists reckon as much as 20 percent is debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

The G7 are also to launch an initiative to deploy Earth observation technologies to improve coastal zone management and support disaster risk prevention. G7 energy, environment and oceans ministers are due to meet in Halifax in the fall to develop concrete new actions in this area.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

UN Launches First-Ever Global Plastics Report on World Environment Day

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Olivia Rosane for Ecowatch

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day, the world’s largest environmental celebration which takes place June 5, is “Beat Plastic  Pollution.” In honor of the occasion, UN Environment released the first ever “state of plastics” report, tracking government action against plastic waste, a UN Environment press release  reported.

The report, titled “Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability,” found that more than 60 countries have introduced bans or levies on single-use plastics, and that bans and levies are one of the most effective ways to reduce the use of disposable plastic items.

President and CEO of WWF-Canada, David Miller, said: “WWF-Canada has worked for “The assessment shows that action can be painless and profitable—with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution,” head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said in the report’s foreword. “Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it.”

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Question for this article:

If we can connect up the planet through Internet, can’t we agree to preserve the planet?

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The report summed up the extent of the plastic pollution crisis: Only 9 percent of all plastics ever produced have been recycled, while 12 percent have been incinerated and a full 79 percent have ended up in landfills, dumps, or the environment. Plastic bags  are especially a concern and, with Styrofoam, have been the leading subject of plastic product bans. They have been found blocking waterways and worsening natural disasters, blocking sewers and providing a breeding site for disease-carrying insects, and blocking the stomachs and airways of animals like the whale that died  in Thailand this weekend after consuming more than 80 of them.

Fifty percent of the countries that have implemented bans or levies did not have sufficient data to assess the environmental impact of the policies; of the other 50 percent, 30 percent of the bans significantly reduced the use of plastic bags within a year and 20 percent had little impact, either due to poor enforcement or lack of alternatives.

One success story was Morocco, where 421 tonnes of bags were seized after a ban and replaced almost entirely by fabrics. A failed case was Botswana, where a levy on retailers was issued but not enforced, the BBC reported.

The report also recommended that bans and levies be joined by positive measures such as improving waste management, moving towards a circular plastic production and consumption model and providing financial incentives for businesses and customers to develop and use alternative materials.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the report with Solheim in New Delhi Tuesday. India  is this year’s host country for World Environment Day, which was established by the UN in 1972 and first celebrated in 1974.

China Pu’er Sun River National Park dedicated as IIPT Peace Park

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from the International Institute for Peace Tourism

The IIPT Global Peace Parks Project was launched this past week with the dedication of Pu’er Sun River National Park as an IIPT International Peace Park in collaboration with the China Chamber of Tourism. Dignitaries participating in the ceremony included Madame Wang Ping, Founding Chairman, China Chamber of Tourism (Photo on the left); Mr. Peter Wong Man Kong, Executive Chairman, China Chamber of Tourism; Mr. Yu Jinfang,Co-founder and Developer of Pu’er Sun River National Park; Mrs. May Jinfang, Co-founder and Developer; Mr. Carlos Vogeler, Executive Director, UN World Tourism Organization; Mr. Xu Jing, Regional Director for Asia and Pacific, UN World Tourism Organization; Hon. Gede Ardika, former Minister, Culture and Tourism, Indonesia; Helen Marano, Government and Industry Affairs Director, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC); Louis D’Amore, IIPT Founder and President and various city officials of Pu’er City.


Members of China Chamber of Tourism following the unveiling of the stone plaque
click on photo to enlarge

China Chamber of Tourism Chairman, Peter Wong stated: “Pu’er Sun River National Park is the perfect site for the first IIPT International Peace Park in China as it is a national model of the “wild beauty of nature” covering an area of 216 square kilometers with a wide variety of plants and 812 species of wildlife. In is also a model of people in harmony with nature showcasing the local culture of the diverse ethnic people of the region.”

In his Peace Park dedication address, IIPT Founder and President Louis D’Amore said: “It is truly an honor to be here with you today as we dedicate this IIPT International Peace Park – the first in China, just a few days before the UN International Day of Peace, September 21 – and in support of UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 which calls for peaceful – inclusive and just societies. As we dedicate this park, we also begin what I am sure will be an important and fruitful relationship between the China Chamber of Tourism and the International Institute for Peace through Tourism; a relationship that will bring more peace parks in China and contribute towards the vision of tourism becoming the world’s first global peace industry – and the belief that every traveler is potentially an ambassador for peace.”

The Pu’er Sun River National Park focuses on the theme “wild beauty of nature” in combination with the local culture and the harmony of humans with nature. By operating profit-making projects within the Park, it is able to effectively provide sustainable protection for precious and unique natural and cultural resources. The Pu’er Sun River National Park also serves as a Forest Ecological System Science Education Base; Flora and Fauna Rescue Base; and Global Tourist Attraction for visitors to experience nature and the Pu’er Culture.

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Question related to this article:

How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

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The IIPT Global Peace Parks project has a goal of 2,000 Peace Parks circling the earth by 11 November 2018 – the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I. The four year commemoration of the World War I Centenary, with its theme of “No More War” – has been supported by IIPT since its launch in 2014.

IIPT is proud to have United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) as a partner in its global campaign. UCLG is the united voice and world advocate of democratic local self-government with a global network of cities, local and regional governments representing 70% of the world population. UCLG goals include contributing to the achievement of the SDG’s, Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and New Urban Agenda for Sustainable Urban Development.

The Global Peace Parks Project builds on the success of IIPT’s 1992 “Peace Parks across Canada” Project commemorating Canada’s 125th birthday as a nation. IIPT conceived and implemented “Peace Parks across Canada” which resulted in 350 Peace Parks being dedicated by cities and towns from St. John’s, Newfoundland on the shores of the Atlantic, across five time zones to Victoria, British Colombia on the shores of the Pacific.
The Peace Parks were all dedicated on October 8, 1992 as a National Peace Keeping Monument was being unveiled in Ottawa and 5,000 Peacekeepers passing in review. Each park was dedicated with a ‘bosco sacro’ – a peace grove of 12 trees, symbolic of Canada’s 10 Provinces and 2 Territories, as a link to one another, and a symbol of hope for the future. Of the more than 25,000 Canada 125 Projects, Peace Parks across Canada was said to be the most significant.

IIPT International Peace Parks have since been dedicated as a legacy of each IIPT International Conferences and Global Summits. Notable IIPT International Peace Parks include Bethany Beyond the Jordan, site of Christ’s baptism as a legacy of the Amman Summit, 2000; Victoria Falls, as a legacy of the IIPT 5th African Conference, 2011, subsequently re-dedicated as the featured event on Opening Day of the UNWTO 20th General Assembly 2013, co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe; and Medellin, Colombia, dedicated on Opening Day of the UNWTO 21st General Assembly. Photo is Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, first President of Zambia and UNWTO Secretary General, Dr. Taleb Rifai, planting the first of six olive trees during the re-dedication of the IIPT International Peace Park, Opening Day of the UNWTO 20th General Assembly.

About China Chamber of Tourism

The China Chamber of Tourism was formed in 2002 to include all sectors of the travel and tourism industry and related industries throughout China. It is based on a concept of “Pan Tourism” with the belief that tourism as a bond could connect and lead industries to develop co-operatively. Its core beliefs are “tourism is peace” and that world tourism calls for world peace; tourism is culture and the improvement of life quality. China Chamber of Tourism has achieved fruitful co-operation with UNWTO, WTTC, PATA – and now IIPT – enhancing the co-operation and exchange of Chinese and tourism enterprises of other nation

Solar Leads Record Renewables Investment

.. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ..

An article Jeremy Hodges for Renewable Energy World

Solar investments eclipsed all other forms of electricity generation in 2017 as China’s green boom accelerated. Investors worldwide plowed a record $161 billion into solar energy last year, more than half the investment in all renewables apart from large hydroelectric projects, according to a report jointly published by the United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Total investment in renewables rose 2 percent to $280 billion.


In its bid to no longer be seen as the world’s worst polluter, China invested $127 billion in renewable energy last year. More than two-thirds of that was for 53 GW of solar energy, enough capacity to power more than 38 million homes.

Renewables made up a record 61 percent of net power generation capacity added worldwide in 2017. Actual output from clean energy sources accounted for just 12 percent of electricity production, illustrating the gap that needs to be bridged before clean energy can overtake fossil fuels.

“The world added more solar capacity than coal, gas, and nuclear plants combined,” said Nils Stieglitz, president of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, which contributed to the report. “This shows where we are heading, although the fact that renewables altogether are still far from providing the majority of electricity means that we still have a long way to go.”

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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The costs of solar and wind energy have shrunk dramatically in recent years, making the economic case to transition away from carbon-intensive energy sources all the more compelling. Even though coal and gas are still the cheapest sources of electricity, that’s likely to change as soon as 2023, according to BNEF.

China, Australia and Sweden saw the largest increase in investment, which declined for markets that have historically led the way for renewables. U.K. investment fell by 65 percent while Germany’s slipped by more than a third.

Global emissions rose to a record last year in the first annual increase since 2014.

Other figures from the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report include:

* In 2017, $103 billion was invested in new fossil fuel generators while $42 billion went into new nuclear reactors, and $45 billion to large hydro dams

* Renewable energy investment in the U.S. was $40.5 billion, down 6 percent

* Developing economies accounted for a record 63 percent of global investment in renewable energy in 2017, up from 54 percent in 2016

* Europe’s share of world investment fell to just 15 percent in 2017, the lowest recorded since the data series began in 2004

* Renewable energy prevented the emission of 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2017

(Thank you to the Good News Agency for calling our attention to this article.

Earth Day 2018 Events Popping Up Worldwide

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Earth Day

Earth Day Network, the organization that coordinates Earth Day events worldwide, today [April 20] released a highlights list of Earth Day events that are taking place from Karnataka in India to Seattle in the United States of America.

“Every organization from the Smithsonian to the government of Quebec and local organizations in Rome are holding meaningful events that encompass the Earth Day spirit – global reach, local action,” said Kathleen Roger, President of Earth Day Network.

Here are just a sample of events for Earth Day 2018 that show the breath and the depth of involvement on Earth Day of government, organizations, businesses and individuals:

Earth Day The Gambia 2018, coordinated mainly by volunteers, will bring in the town of Bansang, 100 public officials, experts, teachers, extension workers, community leaders, students and citizens together to learn and develop action plans to improve waste management practices. A rally at the Bakoteh Dumpsite and a beach cleanup at Serekunda Beach are part of the program. 

On Earth Day, Sunday April 22, 2018 the Earth Day Global Broadcast will air globally on PeaceChannel.com, in collaboration with Earth Day Network. Actor and environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. and Rachel Carson-Begley will host. 

From the 21st through the 25th of April in the Villa Borghese (Rome, Italy) an event will take place organized by Earth Day Italia and the Focolare Movement. The event will include five days of music, sport, culture and activities dedicated to the protection of the planet. The 2018 event will focus in particular on the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through 5 talk shows dedicated to the 5Ps of sustainability: People, Planet, Prosperity, Partnership, Peace.

Sappraiwan Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand has committed to planting 300 trees on this Earth Day.  They are partnering with the Phitsanulok Province Government to give 300 trees to the community on Earth Day and help them plant the trees. Residents may choose to plant the tree at their home or at the Sanctuary.

Tokyo, Japan joins the world in celebrating Earth Day with an array of events coordinated under the Green Room Festival that attracts thousands of people.  NGO’s and other charities are spreading the word. The events include beach clean ups, music presentation, arts exhibits and yoga classes. 

Earth Day Network has relaunched its Billion Acts of Green campaign in China for Earth Day 2018 with the theme of ‘End Plastic Pollution’. Events will the held with the participation of schools, college student associations, museums and local nonprofits to educate and activate people to prevent plastic pollution from affecting human’s health and littering our environment. As of now there are 37 events registered in 22 cities in China and they are expecting at least 20,000 participates.

The US Army Corps of Engineers has 37,000 personnel involved in Earth Day. The USACE is comprised of nine divisions and 45 districts covering the entire United States and more than 91 foreign countries. 

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Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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A “No-Plastic” pop-up event will take place in Karnataka State in India. The event will bring together organizations that are champions of environmental sustainability in fields including electric vehicles, solar power, and zero-waste living. The event will include workshops led by these leaders who will talk about their journey in low pollution living and equip the audience with methods through which they can start their own journeys.

Now live for Earth Day, the #StirCrazy campaign aims to eradicate plastic stirrers from the world by 2020.  It combines chains (coffee and food stores and suppliers) and the public and government including Romania and UK. 

The Native American Student Association at Mississippi Southern State University will be holding an Earth Day Fair on April 20, with tabling and live music in front of the Billingsly Student Union in Hattiesburg, MS, USA.

The Great American Clean Up will take place in Palm Beach, FL, USA to encourage citizens to get involved with efforts to remove waste from the environment and drastically improve their communities. 

The Bi-State Watershed Cleanup is an annual event taking place along the Hackensack River Watershed to clean waste and debris from the waterbodies in both New York and New Jersey, USA. The Park Ridge Green Team received the 2013 State of NJ Clean Water Award and the 2015 Collaboration Award from Sustainable Jersey. 

A zero-waste recycling expo will take place on Earth Day in Colchester, UK. Its goals are to inspire and promote the repair, reuse, and recycling of all materials to a wider audience. 

In an event titled Earth Day – A Day on Environmental Protection for the Benefit of All, in London, UK on the 22nd of April, there will be an event including world renowned speaking topics related to the preservation of our planet, global/local issues like sustainability, and plastics pollution. There will also be a panel discussion, short films, and stalls promoting local green businesses, and fun activities for all ages. 

Earth Day by the Bay will take place in San Francisco, California, USA and around the greater Bay Area. The planned event is a family friendly, sustainable and educational expo celebrating Earth Day! 

Earth Day at the Finnish Embassy co-sponsored by Earth Network, “A Dialogue on Ending Plastic Pollution – Opportunities for the Public and Private Sectors,” will take place on Monday, April 23 in Washington, DC, USA.
The National Museum of Natural History in Santiago, Chile has invited citizens to participate on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 April to celebrate Earth Day with talks on biodiversity conservation, extension and trees. 

Earth Day, New York University, and the government of Quebec event April 20 in New York, USA co-sponsored by Earth Day Network will explore ways to stem plastic pollution, especially from plastic bags.

Bullitt Foundation Earth Day 2018 – Denis Hayes, the original coordinator of Earth Day 1970 and Chair Emeritus of Earth Day Network as well as President and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation in Seattle, USA, held an Earth Day event on April 17.  

The Sierra Club has released its list of things people can do on Earth Day.

ABOUT EARTH DAY NETWORK

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN), the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, works with tens of thousands of partners in 192 countries to build environmental democracy and to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. For more information, visit  www.earthday.org

Snapshots of March for Science Signs Across the Globe

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A photo essay by Kimberly M. S. Cartier from Eos: Science policy and funding (abbreviated)

For the second year in a row, people across the United States and on all seven continents held rallies in support of science. Speakers and marchers at more than 230 events around the world advocated for increasing diversity in science, defending science from funding cuts and government interference, and promoting science literacy and trust.

Saturday’s March for Science events [April 14] may have drawn smaller crowds than last year, but the participants were as enthusiastic as ever about the advancement of science. Here are some of our favorite posters that captured the spirit of these marches.


Demonstrators holding signs at the 2018 March for Science in Washington, D. C. Credit: Peter Weiss


@WIRED Science Siyu Feng, a PhD student in biology at UCSF, is one of many participants at San Francisco’s #MarchforScience today.


Marchers in New York City, this time with a math pun. @jonathanrlarkin. Happened to stumble across the #marchforscience2018 today. Loved this sign.


Signs from Philadelphia, Pa. @guertin. So excited to have @PSUBrandywine students supporting science at @PHLScienceAct #RallyforScience! #STEMstudents #MarchForScience #Philly


In Los Angeles, Calif., a protester brings on the biology. @jaimecor_94 It’s @march4sciencela time y’all! #MarchForScience #MarchForScienceLA


Marchers in San Antonio, Texas, with a touch of magic. @MaremaAnne @ScienceMarchSA #MarchforScienceSA18

One protester in Colorado, calling out federal science agencies that have been known to censor information.@alibranscombe Baby’s first march in Colorado #MarchForScience2018

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Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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And in Sacramento, Calif., one demonstrator turned her attention to scientific misconduct on the international stage. Her sign translates to “No to the adjustment of science in Argentina.” @NeCesiTo1TiemP0 Make Science Great Again ! #marchforscience2018 #Sacramento

In Abuja, Nigeria, scientists and advocates marched to promote public trust in science and to emphasize that scientific advancement benefits the entire population. @ScienceAlly Standing up for science — Abuja, Nigeria. @OFABnigeria @Nigerians4GMO #marchforscience2018

Marchers of all ages in Narrandera in New South Wales, Australia, with signs saying “Science, not silence,” “Heads in books, not heads in sand,” and “Science…the spectrum of awesome.” @FionaMagic Narrandera has now been added as an official #MarchForScience location!

One marcher in London simultaneously raised awareness of rising sea levels and promoted gender diversity in science.@jfabrombacher #MarchForScience

Demonstrators at an event in Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. @SPINSciPolicy Powered by science and strengthened by diversity! Speaking up for science at the #marchforscience2018 @ScienceMarchYVR today with fellow supporters!

In Quezon City in the Philippines advocates held signs proclaiming “Climate justice” and “March for science, march for the people.” In Blantyre, Malawi, supporters’ signs read “Science not silence” and “Mad scientist.” And in Chennai, India, activists marched with placards urging “Science unites! Stand up for science!” and “Defend science and scientific outlook.”@luckytran Happy #MarchforScience day! One of my favorite parts of waking up today is seeing so many photos of communities standing up for science, equity, & justice all around the world. See you in the streets! #KeepMarching

Meanwhile in Antarctica, the team of climate scientists at Neumayer Station III proclaimed, in the translated words of Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, “Knowledge and recognition are the joy and the right of humanity.”@AWI_Media
Message of support from Antarctica: overwinterer at the Neumayer Station support the #MarchForScience @ScienceMarchDC

Latin American mayors meet in Costa Rica for development goals

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from La Vanguardia (translated by CPNN and reprinted without commercial ends)

Mayors of Ibero-America will meet this Thursday and Friday [April 18-19] in Costa Rica to celebrate the XVIII General Assembly of the Union of Capital Cities (UCCI) seeking to advance in the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The organization will define its strategy for the 2018-2020 biennium in order to determine how its members can continue to advance in the local implementation of the SDGs.

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(Click here for the Spanish version)

Question related to this article:

Can cities take the lead for sustainable development?

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A total of 23 international delegations from capital cities will attend the event in San José, including the mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena.

According to the organizers, initiatives linked to institutional strengthening, social development, local economic development, sustainable urban development, culture and communication will be addressed, as well as cross-cutting issues such as gender, environmental sustainability, culture of peace, innovation and human rights.

One of the main priorities for the coming period is the incorporation of culture as a strategic area in the organization, since the cultural dimension is fundamental to achieve more just, supportive and sustainable societies.

The Assembly will also present a management report (2016-2018) and an economic balance and will propose the definition of a strategic framework to achieve the effective implementation of the SDGs in Ibero-American cities.

The General Assembly of the UCCI meets every two years and that of 2018 is the second to be held after the cycle change that the organization approved in 2016.

The mayor of San José, Johnny Araya, will participate in the meeting; as well as the mayor of San Salvador, Nayib Bukele; the mayor of Panama City, José Blandón; the mayor of La Paz, Luis Revilla; and the mayor of Montevideo, Daniel Martínez, among others.

The opening ceremony will be attended by the president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, and the head of the Ibero-American General Secretariat, Rebeca Grynspan.

International Solar Alliance – A Symbol of Hope and Cooperation

.. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ..

An article by Dr Ravi P Bhatia from Transcend Media Service

Renewable energy is being tapped and promoted in many parts of the world to meet the challenges of environmental pollution, global warming and climate change. One of the main factors behind the environmental challenge is the factor of our dependence on coal powered energy production that is highly polluting and is causing various types of adverse effects including on the health of human beings.


These issues were discussed in great detail in the UN Convention of Climate Change held in Paris in December 2014 and commitments made by several countries including the major ones – USA, China, India, France Germany, Japan and others about taking measures to not increase the global warming beyond 1.5 degree Celsius by the end of the century. This would necessitate both financial commitments as well as by adopting technological measures such as stressing increased production and utilization of renewable energy.

As is well known by now, renewable energy does not have these adverse effects and hence it is being promoted worldwide. Of course tapping the renewable sources and putting them in practice have their own distinct difficulties but they do not cause the pollution that is so damaging. Renewable energy is produced mainly from the sun (solar energy), wind power, tidal waves. Great emphasis is being laid on harnessing the sun’s energy through the use of solar cells that convert sun’s rays into electricity.

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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Unfortunately, USA appears to be backing out from its commitments on climate change made in Paris as well as the following year in Marrakesh. The responsibility of mitigating the effects of climate change is falling primarily on India, France and China. In order to meet the challenges of global warming and climate change, India had proposed an alliance of countries called the International Solar Alliance (ISA) two years back, with support of France and several countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The first meeting of ISA is being held in New Delhi from 11 March with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the French President Emmanuel Macron co-chairing the inaugural meeting. Speaking on the occasion Mr. Modi referred to the wisdom of India’s ancient Vedas that had clearly stressed the importance of our Sun for sustaining life – human, animal and plant, on the Earth. This was manifested in India’s respect for the Sun in various epics and its Mantras. He stressed that “We have to look at the balanced and all-encompassing philosophy of the Vedas to meet the challenge of climate change. We have to take urgent steps towards this objective.” The French President also spoke about the significance of solar power and renewable energy to meet the global challenge and committed both financial and technological support for this noble venture.

It was stressed by both the leaders that with these commitments and the active support of the 32 countries that have ratified the framework agreement of the Alliance, the target of about 175 GW of energy from renewable sources could be met by the end of 2022. Of this, solar and wind energies would contribute 100 and 60 GW respectively.

Many participating countries also spoke in favor of renewable energy and promised that they would also take appropriate steps, however small they may be to promote renewable energy in their countries. They also sought financial and technological support which France and India agreed to provide.

The inaugural meeting of the Solar Alliance gives us hope that the challenges of environmental pollution, global warming and climate change are being recognized and addressed by many countries. This meeting also encourages the coming together of different nations — developed and developing, to meet common challenges through goodwill and cooperation.