As part of the celebration of the International Day of Peace, celebrated this year under the theme: “Climate Action, Action for Peace”, the National Coordination of the Panafrican Youth Network for the Culture of Peace (PAYNCoP GABON) took part last Friday, September 20th, in the plastic waste collection operation, organized by the United Nations system in Gabon.
Bautrin Ekouma, PAYNCoP National Coordinator Gabon and other volunteers during the activity
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Indeed, aware that the global climate emergency threatens the security and stability of peoples around the world, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guteres, invited the “citizens of the world” to take measures and take concrete action to protect the environment. Following this call, PAYNCoP Gabon joined the United Nations system for a plastic bottle collection operation.
Led by Mr. Keita Ohashi, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Population Fund in Gabon (UNFPA), the volunteers crisscrossed the crossroads “behind the prison” through “the three quarters” up to the beach of the National High School Léon Mba. Approximately, more than 2000 plastic bottles have been collected and will be handed over to a young entrepreneur for recycling.
In his words of circumstance, Mr. Francis James, the UNDP Resident Coordinator Gabon encouraged young people to take ownership of climate change issues because it is the future of youth that is threatened.
This operation also registered the participation of other associations including the Citizens Movement for Good Governance in Gabon (MCB2G), the alliance for climate justice, Gabon section (PACJA GABON), Youth Students for Peace (YSP), the Federation for Universal Peace (UPF), PlasMandji and many others
On Sept. 20, students and adults will rally across the globe, demanding immediate action on climate change. Here’s where you can join them.
Greta Thunberg leads the Fridays for Future Rally.
The planet is in a pretty bad way. The Arctic has been burning and fires still rage in the Amazon rainforest. Iceland recently held a funeral for a 700-year-old glacier killed by climate change. One million species are threatened with extinction and some have already been lost. We are living through a crisis — and the kids are absolutely not alright with where our planet is headed. Over the coming week, students and adults will join together in global strikes to demand action on climate change.
If you want to know the what, when and where of the September Global Climate Strikes, we have you covered.
When Greta Thunberg, a Swedish school student, sat in front of the Swedish parliament building with her hand-painted “Skolstrejk för klimatet” sign, she kick-started a worldwide movement. It wasn’t the first time school kids had walked out of school to demand change, but Thunberg’s one-person strike on the steps of parliament drew global attention. On Fridays leading up to the 2018 Swedish election, she’d miss class to protest, sign in hand.
Thunberg has become the face of the new movement, inspiring students across the world to leave school and demand action on climate change. In March, students took to the streets in over 2,000 cities asking adults to take responsibility for the climate crisis. Smaller strikes occurred in May, June and August.
The next series of strikes are set to be the biggest yet and will see students and adults walk out of their schools and workplaces to “demand an end to the age of fossil fuels.”
On Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, thousands of climate strikes will take place in cities across the world. Thunberg herself will be attending the climate strike in New York City on Sept. 20, but no matter where you are across the world, a climate strike is likely within your vicinity.
Where can I join a strike?
A massive number of strikes are registered on the Global Climate Strike website, so that’s a great place to start if you’re seeking a nearby climate strike to attend.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Nur-Sultan Akimat (city administration) will organise the eighth UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism under the Smart Cities, Smart Destinations theme in the Kazakh capital Oct. 9-12. The summit will contribute to the UN New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The summit will bring together representatives from national tourism administrations, city authorities and related stakeholders to exchange expertise and set a shared vision to advance urban tourism. Participants will discuss sustainability, accessibility, innovations and inclusion of tourism in the urban agenda contributing to the progress of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The gathering will focus specifically on Goal 11, which is to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
“According to the UN, in 2015, 54 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas and, by 2030, this share is expected to reach 60 percent. Along with other key pillars, tourism constitutes a central component in the economy, social life and the geography of many cities in the world and is, thus, a key element in urban development policies… Tourism is intrinsically linked to how a city develops itself and provides more and better living conditions to its residents and visitors,” reported the summit’s website emphasising the importance of the chosen topic.
The summit will focus on how developing smart cities can address urban challenges. The participants will discuss sustainability, accessibility, urban management, innovation and technology, stressing the importance of including tourism in the wider city agenda as a contributor to inclusive, resilient and sustainable urban development.
During the summit’s first day, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) will give a masterclass on trends in the convention industry, focusing on topics such as how to be a successful destination for meetings and organise sustainable meetings.
The second day will start with an opening ceremony including Nur-Sultan Akim (Mayor) Altai Kulginov, Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and other higher officials. The participants will adopt the Smart Cities, Smart Destinations Declaration. This will be followed by the mayors’ meeting, where “mayors from around the world will share insights on how to translate a smart city into a smart destination,” and other panel sessions and on the topic.
The summit’s last day will be dedicated to innovative and technological solutions in tourism, the role of public and private partnerships in technologies to develop the sphere and urban destinations’ accessibility through “increased awareness of the opportunities it brings and the emergence of new innovative solutions.”
The decision to have the event in Nur-Sultan was made at the seventh UNWTO Global Summit in Seoul last year. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and the then Nur-Sultan Akim (Mayor) Bakhyt Sultanov signed April 5 an agreement at the UNWTO Mayors Forum for Sustainable Urban Tourism in Lisbon, where the akim presented information about Nur-Sultan’s infrastructure.
The UNWTO is responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism around the world. It promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to advance knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. The organisation has 158 member countries, six associate members and more than 500 affiliate members.
The UNWTO Global Summit is designed to encourage new approaches to tourism and its impact on urban destinations. Previously, the event took place in Seoul (2018), Kuala Lumpur (2017), Luxor (2016), Marrakesh (2015), Barcelona (2014), Moscow (2013) and Istanbul (2012).
The African Union (AU) came into existence after a restructuring of its predecessor – the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). It was created to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent.
While the AU has a clear mandate to deepen the process of economic and political integration on the continent, its predecessor was run on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states. This lessened its ability to resolve member states’ internal disputes.
However, the OAU did originate some of the standards that are at the foundation of the AU’s conflict resolution approach. One such standard is contained in the Lome Declaration which criminalises unconstitutional changes of government.
The AU now has a wider legal mandate for internal conflict resolution than its predecessor. This mandate is set out in its Constitutive Act and in its Peace and Security Council Protocol. But, the implementation of this mandate is still a work in progress.
But the AU has in recent days been rightly praised for using its regional laws to broker an agreement between the Sudanese military and the country’s civilian movement. The agreement comes after months of conflict that followed the ouster of Sudan’s despotic ruler Omar al-Bashir.
After al-Bashir was deposed, the military attempted to assume leadership of the country. It attacked protesters who were demanding that authority be transferred to a civilian administration. The attacks led to deaths and injuries.
The agreement, which was brokered with the help of Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime minister, set out key conditions, including the following:
The establishment of a joint military and civilian sovereign council, which will govern the country for three years before elections are held.
Shared leadership of the council. A military leader will lead for 21 months followed by a civilian leader for 18 months.
A bill of rights and freedoms for all Sudanese citizens.
The AU’s involvement has proven the usefulness of its regional laws in resolving internal disputes in member States. So how did it reach this point, and what lessons have been learned from its work in Sudan?
The military takeover that followed al-Bashir’s removal from power amounted to an “unconstitutional change of government” which is prohibited by Article 4 of the AU’s Constitutive Act.
Following the official denouncement, the AU’s Peace and Security Council adopted a decision stating that the actions of the Sudanese military amounted to an unconstitutional change of government. The Council is central to the AU’s legal framework. It was set up to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts. Its April 2019 decision also reiterated the need for a civilian-led and consensual transition and demanded that the military hand over power within 15 days.
Failure to hand over power should have led to the automatic suspension of Sudan from the activities of the AU as provided by the Council’s protocol. However, an extension of three months was subsequently agreed to allow for further negotiations.
In my view, the decision to grant the extension was problematic because it undermined the “automatic” nature of the suspension and allowed the military to continue attacks on civilians without repercussions. Due to lack of progress and escalating violence, the Council eventually suspended Sudan in June.
During the three-month notice period, the AU continued to engage with the key parties in the conflict. This happened even as the military continued attacks on protesters. Finally in July, the AU/Ethiopia mediation team convinced both parties to resume talks. This led to the signing of a constitutional declaration.
In the end, the AU’s mediation was successful. But during the drawn out negotiations over a hundred people were killed and hundreds more injured. This begs the question: what could the AU have done differently?
While it is laudable that the AU’s intervention in the Sudanese political crisis resulted in an agreement, there are lessons that should be learnt.
The most important lesson is regarding the implementation of the provision for suspension. The 15-day ultimatum that was originally given for the restoration of civilian rule is consistent with previous practice by the AU’s Peace and Security Council.
The threat of imminent suspension could have incentivised the military to act more speedily towards a resolution within a shorter time frame. It could have prevented or reduced the violence that ensued in the following months.
In addition, the AU and its Council need to develop a concrete strategy for dealing with continuing violence in the course of negotiations. The Constitutive Act gives these bodies the power to directly intervene in member states where there is serious threat to legitimate order and a need to restore peace and stability. The means and method of implementation of this power is left to the AU under the law, but could include the deployment of peacekeeping forces.
I would argue that the Sudan crisis warranted direct intervention.
This is not to downplay the crucial role that the AU and the Council played in helping to resolve the Sudan political crisis. Indeed, the role played by the regional body underscores the importance of its legal order and institutions in conflict resolution in Africa.
Its success in this respect will instil confidence among member states. It will also bolster the AU’s image as an effective and efficient organisation on the international stage.
Two dozen prominent scientists from around the world have asked the UN to make environmental damage in conflict zones a war crime. The scientists published their open letter in the journal Nature.
crustmania / CC BY 2.0
The letter, titled “Stop Military Conflicts from Trashing the Environment,” asks the United Nations’ International Law Commission to adopt a Fifth Geneva Convention when it meets later this month. The UN group is scheduled to hold a meeting with the aim of building on the 28 principles it has already drafted to protect the environment and lands sacred to indigenous people, according to The Guardian.
Damage to protected areas during a military skirmish should be considered a war crime on par with violations of human rights, the scientists say. If the UN adopts their suggestions, the principles would include measures to hold governments accountable for the damage done by their militaries, as well as legislation to curb the international arms trade.
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“We call on governments to incorporate explicit safeguards for biodiversity, and to use the commission’s recommendations to finally deliver a Fifth Geneva Convention to uphold environmental protection during such confrontations,” the letter reads.
Currently, the four existing Geneva Conventions and their three additional protocols are globally recognized standards enshrined into international law. It dictates humane treatment for wounded troops in the field, soldiers shipwrecked at sea, prisoners of war, and civilians during armed conflicts. Violating the treaties amounts to a war crime, as Common Dreams reported.
“Despite calls for a fifth convention two decades ago, military conflict continues to destroy megafauna, push species to extinction, and poison water resources,” the letter reads. “The uncontrolled circulation of arms exacerbates the situation, for instance by driving unsustainable hunting of wildlife.”
Sarah M. Durant of the Zoological Society of London and José C. Brito of the University of Porto in Portugal drafted the letter. The 22 other signatories, mostly from Africa and Europe, are affiliated with organizations and institutions in Egypt, France, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Libya, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and the United States.
“The brutal toll of war on the natural world is well documented, destroying the livelihoods of vulnerable communities and driving many species, already under intense pressure, towards extinction,” said Durant, as the The Guardian reported. “We hope governments around the world will enshrine these protections into international law. This would not only help safeguard threatened species, but would also support rural communities, both during and post-conflict, whose livelihoods are long-term casualties of environmental destruction.”
(Thank you to Leo Sandy for sending this article to CPNN.)
On May 6, 2019, in its report on biodiversity, the IPBES [Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services] alerted us about the short-term threat of extinction of nearly 1 million animal and plant species. Agricultural and livestock farming are partly responsible for this disaster, while agroecology and peasant agriculture represent an urgent alternative to preserve biodiversity.
In 2017, we warned of the worrying erosion of agricultural biodiversity: 75% of edible varieties have disappeared in 100 years (FAO). The bulk of human nutrition is based on only 12 plant species and 14 animal species! In the past 10 years, at least one domestic animal breed has disappeared each month (and its genetic characteristics with it), and 20% of the world’s cattle, goats, swine, equine and poultry breeds are at risk of extinction. At cause: the promotion of a productivist agriculture with high capital investment and synthetic inputs, looking for very high yields in the short term. Agroecology under peasant farming conditions is a solution: it relies on agricultural biodiversity, values it while protecting it, and in doing so contributes to the maintenance of biodiversity as a whole.
Agricultural biodiversity is a part of biodiversity that, through agricultural production, contributes to the food of populations as well as the preservation of ecosystems. It is particularly important for maintaining the productivity and resilience of cropping and farming systems in precarious and vulnerable environments. It is this great diversity of plant species and animal breeds adapted to the local environment that guarantees the survival of many peasants from Africa, Asia or Latin America on their farms and pastures, even in difficult climatic conditions and on fragile soils.
In countries of the southern hemisphere, initiatives have multiplied in recent years to upgrade local species and sustainably preserve agricultural biodiversity. These initiatives, often developed at the family farm level, have highlighted the close relationship between food security and biodiversity.
Two projects that preserve agricultural biodiversity
In the north of Haiti, small producers are processing quality cocoa, made from old varieties, criollo and trinitario, typical of the Caribbean. Renowned for their finesse and powerful aromas, these beans are mainly intended for high-end chocolate, like the criollo which represents only 5% of world production, and is therefore a sought-after variety. Although chocolatiers are highly demanding, these beans have so far been poorly valued on the world market. Why ? Because these Haitian beans were not fermented, a primordial step that releases the “precursors” of aromas. AVSF has therefore trained producers of FECCANO farmers’ cooperatives in the fermentation techniques of these ancient varieties. Several fermentation, collection and packaging centers were installed for the producers of the 8 cooperatives. A cocoa that is today highly paid on the organic, fair and quality markets in Europe, for the benefit of both producers and biodiversity: grown in the heart of woodland gardens in association with many shade and fruit trees and other crops , cocoa plays an important role not only in food security, but also in maintaining fertility and biodiversity in general.
Throughout West Africa, peasant farming is characterized by the diversity of livestock breeds that it values. These breeds have exceptional adaptive capacities that have earned their durability, as well as resistance to certain parasitic diseases, such as trypanosomiasis, transmitted by tsetse fly and endemic throughout the region. Nowadays, this sustainability is threatened by the disturbing erosion of the diversity of local breeds, increasingly squeezed by introduced breeds for their higher productivity in milk and meat.
In Senegal, AVSF is supporting breeders’ organizations to improve the value of endemic ruminant livestock (the Ndama breed for example) and to demonstrate its competitiveness both in the markets and for the resilience of populations in the face of climatic or economic shocks. This breed is of small size, with good fecundity. Its speed of growth and its satisfactory qualities confer to it undeniable butchery qualities. This valorization is done through the organization of competitions, exhibitions and fairs specific to these species and races.
Through its numerous projects, AVSF has been working with farmers in the South for 40 years to preserve and reclaim agricultural and animal biodiversity and thus ensure their food security and that of the urban populations they feed.
H.E. Eliza Reid, First Lady of Iceland, was the Guest of Honour at the 4th edition of the Celebrating Her awards on 7th March at ITB Berlin [ Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair] where five inspiring women were presented awards by H.E. Eliza Reid, Dr. Taleb Rifai – former Secretary General UNWTO and Chairman IIPT International Advisory Board, Rika Jean-Francois – CSR Commissioner for ITB Berlin, Kiran Yadav – VP IIPT India and Ajay Prakash – President IIPT India. The event was conducted by Anita Mendiratta – author, tourism thought leader and Special Advisor to the Secretary General of UNWTO [United Nations World Tourism Organization].
The Celebrating Her award winners for 2019 are:
* H.E. Rania al Mashat – Minister of Tourism for Egypt for Tourism Policy and Leadership
* H.E Elena Kountoura – Minister of Tourism for Greece for Tourism Strategy and Resilience
* Helen Marano – Founder & President, Maranao Perspectives for Building Global Alliances that promote Tourism as a Force for Good
* Mechtild Maurer – General Director, ECPAT Germany for promoting Socially Responsible Tourism & the Prevention of Exploitation of Children
* Jane Madden – Managing Partner, Global Sustainability & Social Impact, FINN Partners for Sustainability and promoting Corporate Social Responsibility
Speaking of the awards, Ajay Prakash – President IIPT India said, ”the Awards are being held on the eve of International Women’s Day but our champions need to be felicitated every day of the year and each one of our award winners today is a champion. Gender equality, which is a critical part of the United Nations SDGs, is intrinsic to IIPT’s global aims and objectives and integral to fostering peace. It is also our intention, through these awards to create a network of powerful women across the world in the tourism sphere who could work with each other and serve as role models and mentors while representing IIPT as our Global Ambassadors of Peace and sustainable development. The IIPT India ‘Celebrating Her’ Awards, has at its heart this principle – the prioritisation of women as champions of the power of global tourism to uplift lives and livelihoods.”
In her opening address the First Lady of Iceland H.E. Eliza Reid congratulated all the winners, commended IIPT and ITB for their initiative in instituting the Awards and said that today there are considerable energies in the tourism industry to create a more sustainable, peaceful and prosperous industry and thereby help in creating a more sustainable, peaceful and prosperous world.
In his address, Dr. Rifai lauded the consistency and steadfastness of IIPT India in holding the awards every year since, he said, it is abundantly clear that humanity cannot achieve peace, development and sustainability by ignoring half the world’s population. He concluded by saying the awards were a very timely and necessary initiative and that Celebrating Her in essence was Celebrating Us.
Anita Mendiratta introduced the award winners through personal stories and anecdotes and each was invited to give a short acceptance speech.
Dr. Rania al Mashat stated that tourism was not a profession, but a passion. She accepted the award on behalf of “all Egyptian women” and expressed the hope that soon every Egyptian household would have at least one person working in the tourism industry so that the benefits could flow to all citizens.
Elena Kountoura commented on the “driving force of tourism” and its power to generate employment and improve living standards. Greece, she said, had come through many years of economic crisis and was expecting 35 million visitors this year. While thanking IIPT for the award she wryly remarked that the awards seemed to have been organised mostly by men.
Jane Madden said she had always been a champion of women and was grateful to receive an award in recognition of her work. She stated that travel had given her the opportunity to learn about other places and cultures and to educate herself and others.
Mechtild Maurer spoke of the need to sensitise everyone in the industry to the issue of the exploitation of women and children. She spoke of the need to engage with the youth, including in human rights groups, bring them to the issue and to create new leaders.
Helen Marano could not be present to receive her award but sent in a warm and personal video message expressing her happiness at being one of the recipients of a “Celebrating Her” award. She also said that the award would spur her enthusiasm. Dr. Taleb Rifai accepted the award on her behalf.
In his Vote of Thanks, Kiran Yadav – VP IIPT India congratulated all the winners, thanked the partners, especially ITB Berlin and the media partners and a special note of thanks to Anita Mendiratta who had always supported IIPT in every way.
APPEAL – 130 scientists working in the field of climate and environment have announced their support for the youth climate strike on Friday (May 24th). Among them Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Robert Vautard, or Jean Jouzel.
On Friday, May 24th, when young people from around the world once again take to the streets to warn about climate change, they will be able to count on the support of 130 scientists who announced their support of the youth climate strike. The movement warns about “the urgency of climate change” and the non-compliance with the commitments, citing the case of France.
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“We, scientists in the field of climate and the environment, stand in solidarity with middle school students and students who are mobilized. How can not be worried about the future of the world?” The scientists include climatologists Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Robert Vautard, Jean Jouzel, Gilles Ramstein, the paleoclimatologist Elsa Cortijo and other researchers at the Pierre Simon Laplace Institute (ISPL), research in environmental sciences.
“For nearly 30 years, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and many scientific studies have sounded the alert on the urgeny of climate change (…), but nothing has changed”, they say. “In our country where the Paris Agreement was signed, which is highly symbolic, the commitments taken are not respected “, they continue .
“We support the mobilization of the younger generations, who will face tomorrow a world made more difficult by today’s inertia,” say the scientists, who say they are “available to provide (their) expertise and their knowledge to this mobilization”. On Thursday, the site youthforclimate.fr listed calls for the strike in more than 2,260 cities in 90 countries , including about a hundred cities in France.
In France, more than 85 associations and unions have joined the call to mobilize this Friday. For employees who can not join the strike, the collective “Citizens for the climate” suggests going to work with an armband to support the strikers or to speaking to the employer about global warming and the decline of biodiversity. More walks or bike rides are planned in 80 cities, mainly in France, although not in Paris.
A group of professors from Campus Maria Zambrano of the University of Valladolid in Segovia have written the ‘Declaration for the Survival of the Planet’ in which they commit themselves to “coherently defend policies of ecological and social sustainability”. Its objective is to promote social debate and citizen awareness to “avoid the progressive deterioration of the planet”.
The professor Agustín García Matilla is one of the first signatories. / N. LL.
The promoters and first signatories of the manifesto, among which is the professor of Communication of the University of Valladolid, Agustín García Matilla, do not seek the support of the institutions, but the greatest number of adhesions by individual professors and professionals of the world of science, culture and communication. Considering the upcoming elections, the professors want to remind all political parties of issues that transcend any electoral contest and that present dilemmas that affect the survival of the planet, “says García Matilla.
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Problems and challenges
“Global warming, the economic imbalances that increase inequality and excessive profit; the migratory crises that are caused by wars; hunger and misery, caused by them; the hijacking of politics by leaders who have forgotten their public service obligation; the use of religions as instruments for the annulment of autonomous and critical thinking and, at times, used for the promotion of fanaticism; the lack of equality between men and women, these are just some of the problems that have contributed to the present crisis. We have arrived at a decisive moment to avoid an irreversible deterioration of the planet, “says the manifesto.
The creators of the manifesto demand a political approach “for people” conceived as “service to the common good” and presided over by “a humanism that makes the culture of peace the main aspiration of those who inhabit this world”. In addition, the first seven signatories – Marta Laguna, Mari Cruz Alvarado, Rocío Collado, Susana de Andrés, Alfonso Gutiérrez, Luis Torrego and Agustín García Matilla – demand the fulfillment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a starting point for a universal political consensus.
“The Planet’s survival depends upon education, science and culture, and hence we must act now to help mobilize the whole of Humanity”. This is the phrase that begins the manifesto. Its creators seek a majority support and a common voice to guarantee the same opportunities for men and women, identical opportunities for people with different abilities; as well as decent salaries and decent pensions.
The manifesto concludes:”We appeal to all the governments and politicians of the world to commit to the signing of a Pact for the Survival of the Planet. Changes must be carried out without delay, interrupting the cycles of accelerated destruction, putting an end tos speeches of fear and the justification of the escalation of arms. Nonviolence, the culture of peace and the aspiration to a Universal Justice, are the demands that need to be put forward from education, science and culture.”