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PEMBA, Zambia (PAMACC News) - Grace Moonga harvested 115 by 50 Kg bags of maize last season. And it was enough for family food consumption and sale for income generation to support her second year University student son.

But she is afraid that this year’s farming season is turning out negative—a prolonged dry spell affecting her 3-hectare maize field.

“Just look at this crop,” lamentsMoonga, pointing at her severely wilted crop. “It has been 22 days since it last rained here. This is a serious disaster for a widow like me whose only source of income is farming, I don’t even know what will become of my son at the University.”

Since 2007 when her husband died, Moonga has been supporting her six children through smallholder farming. So far, her firstborn son has completed his teaching course, while the university student was only in primary five when his father died.

However, dependency on rainfall is increasingly becoming a risky business for smallholder farmers as erratic rainfall punctuated with prolonged dry spells has become the norm rather than an exception. For instance, the 2015/16 farming season was characterized by the El Nino induced drought. While 2016/17 season restored some hope with normal to above normal rainfall, the 2017/18 season is turning out negative—a prolonged dry spell which according to the Zambia Meteorological Department, has caused substantial moisture deficits and an increased likelihood for adverse crop production.

According to Zambia Meteorological Department, the prolonged dry spell being experienced over Lusaka, Southern, Western and Southern parts of Central and Eastern Provinces have been largely due to atmospheric systems – the consecutive occurrence of deep low-pressure systems and tropical cyclones over the Mozambique channel and the Indian ocean.

Unfortunately, the forecast up to March 2018 remains negative as abnormal dryness has strengthened and expanded, placing additional moisture stress on crops, especially at critical stages of growth.

Nevertheless, good as this forecast may be, it largely remains generic and scientific for smallholder farmers to easily interpret. It is for this reason that climate change development actors have been advocating for improved climate information and other climate-resilient services such as insurance for smallholder farmers.

In Zambia, one such institution working in this area is the World Food Programme (WFP). Under its R4—Rural Resilience Initiative, WFP has installed automated and manual weather stations in selected project areas to facilitate improved meteorological information for smallholder farmers.

Mosco Hamalambo is a trained rain gauge attendant at Sibajene village, one of the 20 manual rain gauge stations dotted around Pemba district. He believes the weather stations have improved farmers’ knowledge especially on the time to plant.

“With this facility, we now have readily available information when we should plant our crops,” Hamalambo told PAMACC News. “Even as we are experiencing this dry spell, we have the information on how much rainfall we have received and how poorly distributed it has been.”

Hamalambosays such information is helpful for comparison with satellite data on which weather index insurance is based—another component of the R4 project where farmers are enrolled for a possible pay-out if they do not receive required amounts of rainfall in a set and agreed window of the farming season.

In terms of amounts of rainfall, 400 mm of rainfall received in the area is enough for optimum production of maize according to Stanley Ndhlovu,

WFP Zambia R4 Coordinator. However, “the challenge has been distribution, it has been very erratic.”It is however not yet clear whether the index would trigger for a pay-out. Close to 4000 farmers are enrolled on the R4 project weather index insurance scheme. 
In the meantime, Grace Moonga is hoping and praying for some heavy downpour as she still believes something could be salvaged from her wilted crop—thanks to Conservation Agriculture (CA) which she practices. Under CA, minimum tillage and mulching practices help to retain moisture for crops to withstand prolonged dry spells.

Considering the elongated dry spell experienced, Moonga knows that what could be salvaged would still not be enough, hence placing her last hope in weather insurance. “From what we were taught about how this insurance works, I am hopeful that we might receive a pay-out this year,” she says enthusiastically.

PAMACC News

UNEA-3's Opening plenary UNEA-3's Opening plenary Over 4,000 stakeholders today (December 4) converged on the green terrains of the UN office in Nairobi, Kenya to witness the opening ceremony of the 3rd United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA3).

This year’s edition of the assembly, which is the highest –level decision-making body on the environment, aspires to consider new policies, innovations and financing capable of steering the world “Towards a Pollution-Free Planet.”

The UNEA-3 brings together governments, entrepreneurs, and activists who will share ideas and commit to taking positive action against the menace of pollution. UNEA-3 aims to deliver a number of tangible commitments to end the pollution of air, land, waterways, and oceans, and to safely manage chemicals and waste, including a negotiated long-term programme of action against pollution that is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The High-Level Segment of UNEA-3, which will take place from 5-6 December, is also expected to endorse a political declaration on pollution, aimed at outlining policy measures for, inter alia: addressing pollution to protect human health while protecting the developmental aspirations of current and future generations.

The ministerial segment will debut the interactive ‘Leadership Dialogues,’ aimed at providing participants with an opportunity for high-level engagement and discussion on how to achieve a pollution-free planet. Other UNEA-3 outcomes will include voluntary commitments by governments, private sector entities and civil society organizations to address pollution, and the ‘#BeatPollution Pledge,’ a collection of individual commitments to clean up the planet.

Discussions at UNEA-3 will draw on a background report by the UNEP Executive Director, titled ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet.’ The Report explores the latest evidence, as well as responses and gaps in addressing pollution challenges, and outlines opportunities that the 2030 Agenda presents to accelerate action on tackling pollution.

Welcoming delegates to the assembly, Prof. Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, declared that the assembly’s focus on beating pollution is very timely as pollution increases with every effort to provide services to our citizens.

“It is time, the world addressed this challenge without delay and agree on a common goal as a pollution-free planet cannot be achieved without working together,” she said. The environment is our responsibility; it is the source of our well-being. The fate of our world depends on the quality of the care we give it,” Prof Wakhungu added.

“Our collective goal must be to embrace ways to reduce pollution drastically,” said Dr. Edgar Gutiérrez, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica and the President of the 2017 assembly. “Only through stronger collective action, beginning in Nairobi this week, can we start cleaning up the planet globally and save countless lives.”

New report on the environment

According to a new UN Environment report, everyone on earth is affected by pollution. The report entitled “Executive Director’s Report: Towards a Pollution-Free Planet” is the meeting’s basis for defining the problems and laying out new action areas.

The report’s recommendations – political leadership and partnerships at all levels, action on the worst pollution, lifestyle changes, low-carbon tech investments, and advocacy – are based on analysis of pollution in all its forms, including air, land, freshwater, marine, chemical and waste pollution.

Overall, environmental degradation causes nearly one in four of all deaths worldwide, or 12.6 million people a year, and the widespread destruction of key ecosystems. Over a dozen resolutions are on the table at the assembly, including new approaches to tackle air pollution, which is the single biggest environmental killer, claiming 6.5 million lives each year.

Over 80% of cities operate below UN health standards on air quality. The report reveals that exposure to lead in paint, which causes brain damage to 600,000 children annually, and water and soil pollution are also key focus areas.

Also, over 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is released into the environment without treatment, poisoning the fields where we grow our food and the lakes and rivers that provide drinking water to 300 million people. According to the recently published report by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, welfare losses due to pollution are estimated at over US$4.6 trillion each year, equivalent to 6.2 percent of global economic output.

“Given the grim statistics on how we are poisoning ourselves and our planet, bold decisions from the UN Environment Assembly are critical,” said head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim. “That is as true for threats like pollution as it is for climate change and the many other environmental threats we face.”

Corroborating the report, Ibrahim Jibril, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment in his statement at the plenary averred that “pollution affects the air, soil, rivers, seas, and health of Nigerians in an adverse way even though the actual cost has not been determined. Trans-boundary pollution, according to Jibril, “accounts for 28% of disease burdens in Africa.” The UNEA-3 will run from 4-6 December.

BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - The 2017 UN Climate Change Conference opens on Monday, with the aim of launching nations towards the next level of ambition needed to tackle global warming and put the world on a safer and more prosperous development path.

The Conference, coming just two years after the landmark adoption of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, will also further fuel momentum among cities, states, regions, territories, business and civil society in support of national climate action plans, the internationally-agreed temperature goal and the wider objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

However, representatives from the African Civil Society Organisations under the umbrella of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) have called on all the parties to commit beyond their current level of emission targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to tackle the devastating climate change.

"All parties must pursue a low carbon development pathway to achieve the desired results," said Mithika Mwenda, the Secretary General - PACJA.

Extreme Weather Brings Fresh Urgency

Presided over by Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji and the first small island developing state to hold this role, the conference comes against a backdrop of extreme weather events that have devastated the lives of millions of people in places like Asia, the Americas and the Caribbean.

“The human suffering caused by intensifying hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, floods and threats to food security caused by climate change means there is no time to waste,” said Mr Bainimarama, who takes over as President of the COP23 conference from Morocco during the opening.

“We must preserve the global consensus for decisive action enshrined in the Paris Agreement and aim for the most ambitious part of that target – to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above that of the pre-industrial age,” he said.

“Wherever we live, we are all vulnerable and need to act. Fiji is helping build a Grand Coalition for decisive, coordinated action by governments at every level, by civil society, the private sector and all citizens on earth. That’s why we installed an ocean-going Fijian “drua” canoe in the entrance here to remind everyone of the need to fill its sail with collective determination to make COP23 a success and confront the biggest challenge humanity has faced,” he said.

COP23 in Bonn will respond to that call with new progress and initiatives in the two critical and inter-linked areas of action:

•    Governments working to increase climate action under the terms of the Paris Agreement and the UN Climate Change Convention

•    Showcasing, fostering and launching new and expanding global climate action initiatives by all actors with a view towards better coordination that aligns efforts in more efficient, effective and transformative ways.

Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, said: “COP23 in Bonn will show to the world the two faces of climate change—firstly positive, resolute, inspiring momentum by so many governments and a growing array of cities and states to business, civil society leaders and UN agencies aligning to the Paris Agreement’s aims and goals”.

“Secondly, the reality check. The thermometer of risk is rising; the pulse of the planet is racing; people are hurting; the window of opportunity is closing and we must go Further and Faster Together to lift ambition and action to the next defining level, “she said.

Anticipated Highlights of COP23

The conference is itself a welcome mirror of international cooperation and coordination.  

COP23 is organized by Bonn-based UN Climate Change, presided over by Fiji and organizationally and logistically supported by the Government of Germany, the region of North-Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Bonn.

Speakers reflect the broad spectrum of action. Those already confirmed include Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, Arnold Schwarzenegger, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, California Governor Jerry Brown, UN Special

Envoy Michael Bloomberg, Astronaut Thomas Pesquet, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and Solar Impulse Explorer Bertrand Piccard.

Close to 20 country leaders are expected to attend, including President Emmanuel Macron of France and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Various transformative initiatives are anticipated including one from the UN on health and small islands; a platform to support engagement with Indigenous Peoples; a wide-ranging Gender Action Plan and the ramping up of a global risk transfer project that aims to deliver affordable insurance cover to an extra 400 million poor and vulnerable people.

Urgent Action to Stay Away from Tipping Points

The Paris Agreement is underpinned by national climate action plans known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) whose ambition needs to be collectively advanced over time to get on track to the Agreement’s temperature goal.

The Agreement’s goal is to keep the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees C and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees C.
Faster, immediate action is urgent because recorded pledges and efforts so far still have the world on track towards a 3C degree rise, maybe higher.

This risks the loss of the Greenland ice sheet, more sea level rise, significant damage to massive natural systems like the Amazon and the predictability of ocean circulation systems.

Currently, temperatures have already risen by around one degree Celsius over pre-industrial times.

This story was first published by PAMACC on its website

GENEVA,  Switzerland (PAMACC News) – Governments and non-state actors need to deliver an urgent increase in ambition to ensure the Paris Agreement goals can still be met, according to a new UN assessment.

The eighth edition of UN Environment’s Emissions Gap report, released ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, finds that national pledges only bring a third of the reduction in emissions required by 2030 to meet climate targets, with private sector and sub-national action not increasing at a rate that would help close this worrying gap.

The Paris Agreement looks to limit global warming to under C, with a more ambitious goal of 1.5°C also on the table. Meeting these targets would reduce the likelihood of severe climate impacts that could damage human health, livelihoods, and economies across the globe.

As things stand, even full implementation of current unconditional and conditional Nationally Determined Contributions makes a temperature increase of at least 3°C by 2100 very likely – meaning that governments need to deliver much stronger pledges when they are revised in 2020.

Should the United States follow through with its stated intention to leave the Paris Agreement in 2020, the picture could become even bleaker.

The report does, however, lay out practical ways to slash emissions through rapidly expanding mitigation action based on existing options in the agriculture, buildings, energy, forestry, industry and transport sectors. 

Strong action on other climate forcers – such as hydrofluorocarbons, through the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and other short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon– could also make a real contribution.

“One year after the Paris Agreement entered into force, we still find ourselves in a situation where we are not doing nearly enough to save hundreds of millions of people from a miserable future,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. 

“This is unacceptable. If we invest in the right technologies, ensuring that the private sector is involved, we can still meet the promise we made to our children to protect their future.But we have to get on the case now.”

CO2 emissions have remained stable since 2014, driven in part by renewable energy, notably in China and India. This has raised hopes that emissions have peaked, as they must by 2020 to remain on a successful climate trajectory. However, the report warns that other greenhouse gases, such as methane, are still rising, and a global economic growth spurt could easily put CO2emissions back on an upward trajectory.

The report finds that current Paris pledges make 2030 emissions likely to reach11 to 13.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) above the level needed to stay on the least-cost path to meeting the 2oCtarget. One gigatonne is roughly equivalent to one year of transport emissions in the European Union (including aviation).

The emissions gap in the case of the 1.5oC target is 16 to 19 GtCO2e, higher than previous estimates as new studies have become available.

“The Paris Agreement boosted climate action, but momentum is clearly faltering,” said Dr. Edgar E. Gutiérrez-Espeleta, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, and President of the 2017 UN Environment Assembly. “We face a stark choice: up our ambition, or suffer the consequences.”

Investing in technology key to success

To avoid overshooting the Paris goals, governments (including by updating their Paris pledges), the private sector, cities and others need to urgently pursue actions that will bring deeper and more-rapid cuts. 

The report lays out ways to do so, particularly in agriculture, buildings, energy, forestry, industry, and transport. Technology investments in these sectors – at an investment cost of under $100 per tonne of CO2 avoided, often much lower – could save up to 36 GtCO2e per year by 2030. 

Much of the potential across the sectors comes from investment solar and wind energy, efficient appliances, efficient passenger cars, afforestation and stopping deforestation. Focusing only on recommended actions in these areas – which have modest or net-negative costs – could cut up to 22 GtCO2e in 2030.

These savings alone would put the world well on track to hitting the 2°C target and unlock the possibility of reaching the aspirational 1.5°C target.

Non-state action and other initiatives 

Actions pledged by non-state and sub-national bodies (such as cities and the private sector) could reduce the 2030 emissions gap by a few GtCO2e, even accounting for overlap with Nationally Determined Contributions. The world’s 100 largest emitting publicly traded companies, for example, account for around a quarter of global greenhouse emissions, demonstrating huge room for increased ambition.

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol aims to phase out the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons – chemicals primarily used in air conditioning, refrigeration and foam insulation. If successfully implemented, it kicks-in too late to impact the 2030 gap but can make a real contribution to reaching the longer-term temperature goals.

By mid-century, reductions in short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon and methane, could help reduce impacts that are based on cumulative heat uptake and help to ensure a steady and lower temperature trajectory towards the long-term Paris goals.

Also, while the G20 is collectively on track to meet its Cancun climate pledges for 2020, these pledges do not create a sufficiently ambitious starting point to meet the Paris goals (see attached analysis of Cancun pledges). Although 2020 is just around the corner, G20 nations can still carry out actions that lead to short-term reductions and open the way for more changes over the following decade.

Avoiding new coal-fired power plants and accelerated phasing out of existing plants – ensuring careful handling of issues such as employment, investor interests and grid stability – would help.There are an estimated 6,683 operating coal-fired power plants in the world, with a combined capacity of 1,964 GW.  If these plants are operated until the end of their lifetime and not retrofitted with Carbon Capture and Storage, they would emit an accumulated 190 Gt of CO2.

In early 2017, an additional 273 GW of coal-fired capacity was under construction and 570 GW in pre-construction. These new plants could lead to additional accumulated emissions of approximately 150 Gt CO2. Ten countries make up approximately 85% of the entire coal pipeline: China, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea.

The report also looks at CO2 removal from the atmosphere – through afforestation, reforestation, forest management, restoration of degraded lands and soil carbon enhancement – as an option for action.

Additionally, a new report released by the 1 Gigaton Coalition on the same day shows that partner-supported renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in developing countries can cut1.4 GtCO2e by 2020 – provided the international community meets its promise to mobilize US$100 billion per year to help developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions.

“As renewable energy and energy efficiency bring other benefits – including better human health and jobs – I urge the international community to deliver on the funding they promised to support developing nations in their climate action,” said Ms Ine Eriksen Søreide, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Partner-supported renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and policies are vital for global decarbonization, as they provide key resources and create enabling environments in critical regions.”

The 1 Gigaton Coalition is supported by UN Environment and the Norwegian Government. 

The benefits of a low-carbon society on global pollution – by, for example, cutting the millions of air pollution-related deaths each year – are also clearly illustrated in Towards a pollution-free planet, a report by the UN Environment Executive Director that will be presented at the upcoming United Nations Environment Assembly. The report lays out an ambitious framework to tackle pollution, including through political leadership, moving to sustainable consumption and production and investing big in sustainable development.

 

This article first appeared on the PAMACC Website.

The Pan African Media Alliance on Climate Change (PAMACC) is an initiative facilitated by PACJA aimed at motivating and encouraging journalists to consistently engage in climate change and environmental reporting. PAMACC is one of Africa’s associations of environment journalists whose aim is to support journalists to improve their reporting on climate change.

ABUJA, NIGERIA (PAMACC News) - As the UN General Assembly convenes in New York, the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group calls on heads of state and government to reaffirm their pledge to tackle climate change by committing to fair and concrete climate solutions that will protect all people and the planet. The theme of this year's UN General Assembly debate - 'Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet' - is a timely and vital reminder of the importance of safeguarding a liveable world for ourselves and future generations. 
 
Mr. Gebru Jember Endalew, Chair of the LDC Group, said: "the urgent need for serious climate action has never been clearer. Over the past months we have seen devastating events exacerbated by climate change, from deadly hurricanes and flooding, to wildfires and heatwaves. No corner of our planet is safe from climate impacts. Global temperatures have already risen 1.1°C and the frequency and severity of these events will only worsen with further warming."
 
"Collective commitments by the global community to date are woefully inadequate in the face of our shared challenge of climate change. Current pledges under the Paris Agreement put the world on course for 3.5°C of warming by the end of the century. This is a death sentence for many communities across the world, particularly in poor and vulnerable countries. Humanity cannot afford to delay."
 
"There is a widening gulf between the climate finance that is provided and mobilised and the reality of finance received and needed. Without adequate climate finance and support to developing countries, mainly LDCs and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are left without a lifeline. Many trillions of dollars are required to implement the Paris Agreement."
 
"The LDCs are committed to being at the frontline of the clean energy revolution. The LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative will deliver sustainable climate action and lift communities out of poverty. If we are truly to set the planet on a safe course, all countries, and particularly those who contribute the most to climate change, must follow suit. Renewable energy has the power to place us on a path to a cleaner, fairer and more prosperous world for all."
 
"Spread across Africa, southern Asia, the Pacific and Caribbean, the 47 LDCs all face immense challenges in adapting to climate change and addressing the loss and damage it unleashes. LDCs are taking ambitious domestic action to lead by example, and call on the rest of the world to do the same in line with their capability to respond and responsibility for the problem. State, city and business leaders from around the world have just met in New York for climate week, and the LDC Group urges leaders at the UN General Assembly to carry the conversation forward and inspire real action from all nations across the globe."

This story first appeared on the PAMACC website

ABUJA, Nigeria (PAMACC News) - Ms Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, says Nigeria is steadfastly committed to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Orelope-Adefulire stated this at Nigeria’s side event at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly tagged: `Localising SDGs Through Partnership Innovation and Resource Mobilisation’.

The presidential aide enumerated several progress made by the various arms and tiers of the Nigerian Government to the attainment of the global goals by 2030.

The SDGs, otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The successor programme to the Millennium Development Goals, has a set of 17 global goals with 169 targets, which implementation commenced on Jan. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2030.

Orelope-Adefulire said: “In order to strengthen the institutional mechanism for SDGs implementation, the Presidential Council on SDGs was recently inaugurated with President Muhammadu Buhari as the Chairman.

“This signifies unwavering commitment at the highest level of Government to the Global Goals.

“The Presidential Council will provide direction and support the overall implementation of the SDGs Agenda.

“To deepen stakeholder engagement, Nigeria has already established standing committees at both the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly to provide an oversight function for SDGs implementation.

“The Private Sector Advisory Group on SDGs, as well as the Donors' Partnership Forum on SDGs, has since commenced work after their inauguration.

“Synergies are also being built with sub-national Governments to ensure that global policy translates to action at the grassroots.
“Similar partnerships are being envisaged for other groups within the Nigerian development space in order to leverage resources and mobilize the critical mass needed for the successful implementation of the SDGs”.

She said Nigeria’s affirmation of the SDGs Declaration was backed with action as government provided the leadership required to ensure the agenda delivers the intended impact without leaving anyone behind.

According to her, the SDGs align with Nigeria’s development priorities, having been integrated into its planning and budgeting frameworks through its “robust mainstreaming” into Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

“Nigeria has defined a clear path to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda as succinctly underscored in the MDGs End-Point Report, the Country Transition Strategy on SDGs and its Implementation Plan.

“Nigeria has made significant strides in meeting data requirements needed to benchmark progress by mapping existing SDGs data and by establishing baseline statistics for more than 126 SDGs Indicators.

“In view of the magnitude of the resources needed for success, Nigeria is expanding the fiscal space for SDGs implementation.
“This is by conducting a Needs Assessment and Costing exercise in order to provide evidence for effective resourcing of the 2030 Agenda,” she said.

Orelope-Adefulire said as the world marked the second anniversary of the SDGs, it has now become urgent to scale up implementation efforts for success.

The presidential aide stated that there was no effort too great to spare in the drive to attain the SDGs.
She warned that failure to achieve the SDGs had dire consequences for the current generation and for those yet unborn.

“We are thus the generation at the threshold of history saddled with the responsibility of bringing about the change that will alter our development trajectory for the benefit of people and planet.”

This article first appeared on the PAMACC Website

By Atayi Babs

ABUJA, Nigeria (PAMACC News) - Following suggestions that Donald Trump could only consider remaining a signatory of the Paris Agreement if new terms were reached, President of France, Emmanuel Macron has declared that the landmark Paris climate deal will not be renegotiated.

The French President's comments came during his address to the UN General Assembly amidst renewed hopes that the world's second largest polluter would remain tied to the accord's carbon emission targets.

Macron also told his audience at the United Nations General Assembly that "the door will be open" for the United States to return to the agreement if it so wishes.

"This agreement will not be renegotiated." "We will not retreat" he added.

Macron noted that the international community had so far fallen short of successfully addressing major threats such as climate change. Now more than ever before, we need common efforts to tackle environmental challenges and other global issues, Macron said, including war and terrorism.

"We can only address those challenges through multilateralism, not through survival of the fittest."

Macron also hit back at US President Donald Trump on Tuesday by staunchly defending the Iran nuclear deal at the UN General Assembly, speaking soon after Trump called the deal an "embarrassment to the United States".

“Renouncing it would be a grave error, not respecting it would be irresponsible, because it is a good accord that is essential to peace at a time where the risk of an infernal conflagration cannot be excluded,” Macron said.

The French president added that he had made his position clear to both Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when he met with them on Monday.

This article first appeared on the PAMACC website.

By Ann Wangalachi

Today, food security and nutrition matters are once again taking center stage in African development dialogue. The dialogue is yielding real commitment from public and business leaders; backed by financial pledges. This week alone, during the seventh edition of the African Green Revolution Forum, $ 280 million has been pledged to contribute to transforming Africa’s agriculture across 11 countries.

This week too, saw the recognition of efforts by two women — both pioneers in their chosen paths and contributions to transforming Africa’s rural areas by working on matters of nutrition and raising the productivity of key food crops. The two — Prof. Ruth Oniang’o and Maimouna Coulibaly — jointly won the Africa Food Prize 2017. The prize includes $100,000 and an ornate handcrafted glass trophy.

Both spent many years and at times their own resources to create enterprises that benefit rural farmers, most of whom are women. They have shown that it is not enough to give women access to improved farm inputs but it is also important to empower them with knowledge on how to produce more food, of good quality. To empower them to feed their families and villages.

I first met Prof. Oniang’o (‘Prof.’) nearly 20 years ago, and remember being struck by how different she was from my long-held mental image of what a food science and nutrition professor looked like and worked on. I imagined that they worked in labs, churning out new scientific discoveries, formulae, and processes that would contribute to food science and nutrition theory. 

This was debunked soon after I joined her non-profit — then Rural Outreach Program — and traveled with her to the program sites in rural Kenya. What I saw there amazed me: Prof. was turning textbook knowledge into pragmatic interventions that could be understood and adopted by the village women to improve nutrition outcomes of their families. As she later told me, this was ‘action research’. In the week that I spent in the villages in Butere, in Kenya’s western region, I saw this research translated into action firsthand.

Mothers were growing and feeding their families nutrient-packed green leafy vegetables, gifting each other a young heifer to boost family milk supplies, and learning how to ‘feed’ the soil on which they depended good food too. Prof. taught them that the soil and plants needed to be nourished for their good health, just as people and animals did. This was through promoting various soil health management practices such as crop rotation, mulching and intercropping of complementary crops (such as legumes and cereals) to balance out the nutrient consumption-depletion cycles. The desire to bring this knowledge and the benefits of these practices to the village women drove Prof. to knock relentlessly on doors of development partners and global non-profits to support this work.

In another part of the village, concrete structures were constructed to protect springs of water which were the community’s lifeline. Village-based extension agents traveled by motorcycle to bridge the gaps in access to extension services; supplying much-needed services and supplies such as artificial insemination, agronomic information, and veterinary supplies. 

The village women were also trained in how to save the money they made from selling surplus milk through ‘table banking’. Prof. also pushed for a more nuanced understanding of ‘gender’: that of men and women working together for the good of the community — thereby promoting the wholesome buy-in of these interventions. The interventions were interconnected and intuitive: adapted to fit in with local cultural norms and practices. As we visited each homestead, we were proudly served a balanced meal of indigenous green leafy vegetables, a glass of fresh cow’s milk and ugali (a stiff porridge made of maize flour). Once considered ‘poor man’s food’, these vegetables had once again taken their pride of place. At the time, I remember getting the feeling that I was witnessing something truly great and probably had the potential to work across Africa.

This week, as I interacted with Prof. and congratulated her on her Africa Prize win, she reminded me that her life’s work was to uplift village women across Africa. She dedicated this win to them and vowed to continue using whatever platforms available — boardrooms, classrooms, conferences — to tirelessly and passionately champion their cause. Congratulations Prof. on this win!

Anne Wangalachi manages Strategic Insights Academy and advises organizations on corporate communications and agribusiness strategy. She has been quoted in the Washington Post, and was the first production editor of AJFAND — a scientific journal founded by Prof. Ruth Oniang’o.

The article first appeared on medium.com

ADDIS ABABAm Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - Promoting a robust infrastructure growth in Africa will be a key driver to the continent’s development agenda, experts say.

According to James Murombedzi, coordinator, African Climate Centre, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the solution pathways to the success of Africa’s development agenda lies in infrastructure development to permit for the full exploitation of the rich resource potential the continent is endowed with.

In a paper presented under the theme “China-Africa Linkages in the Agricultural Sector and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities” in Addis Ababa, Murombedzi said that poor infrastructure development was a huge setback to agriculture growth, thus a constraint to the fight against rural poverty.

“There is need to push for infrastructure development in Africa. Investments in infrastructure are key drivers to the African rural development agenda,” he noted.

UN records show that Africa’s infrastructure financing needs are estimated at $135 billion per year. But currently, only around $77 billion is being funded, leaving a financing gap of almost $60 billion.

Close to 50% of the current financing is from governments and other public sources, with much of the rest made up by loans and grants from development partners, Murombedzi told media representatives in Addis Ababa.

 Investments, he notes, are required in order to increase the productivity of agriculture, irrigation, energy, transportation, and marketing.

“However, such investments should empower, not dispossess smallholder farmers and the vulnerable communities,” he cautioned.

Thus the need to partner with other development actors to better drive the Agenda 2063 and help Africa meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

“China and Africa can develop strong partnerships to promote these infrastructure development agenda,” he said.

Opening the ceremony of the Media Workshop on “Reporting Africa-China Engagements, Agriculture Developments, Climate Change, Industrialization, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063”,Chen Xufeng Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Mission to AU, said China was ready to accompany Africa in efforts towards bridging the infrastructure deficient gap.

“China has today become Africa's largest development partner, main investor, and engineering contractor. China-Africa cooperation faces new historic opportunities geared at accompanying efforts towards development especially in the area of infrastructure” Chen Xufeng said.

China he assured was firmly committed to promoting cooperation with the African continent through a common, intensive, green, secure and open development and supporting Africa’s efforts to address the main bottlenecks, namely lack of quality infrastructure, professional and skilled personnel and financial resources.

“China is ready to help Africa resolve three fundamental issues of employment, food, and health by developing a self-sustainable system of industrialization, food security, and disease prevention and control system, he noted.

China it was announced has completed a number of mega infrastructure projects including the Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway, the Nairobi-Mombasa Railway in Kenya, and the Abuja-Kaduna Rail in Nigeria. Rapid progress has also been made in production capacity cooperation in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and the Republic of Congo as a pilot and pioneering countries and a dozen of priority partners for production capacity cooperation. There is also the construction of special economic zones and industrial parks in Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda, Republic of Congo and Egypt with encouraging results, creating a large number of jobs for the local community, the ambassador said.

The workshop in Ethiopia accordingly was organized for Africa and Chinese journalists by Oxfam International’s Africa –China Dialogue Platform, ACDP and the Wits Africa Reporting Project.

The workshop focused on the crucial sectors of agriculture, climate change, and industrialization, SDGs and Agenda 2063.

Oxfam authorities pointed to the fact that agriculture and climate change have direct effects on food security in Africa while industrialization is at the center of Africa/China promulgations.

“ Industrialization is seen as an antidote to the high levels of poverty in Africa, which is manifest in frequent cases of famine,” says Apollos Nwafor, Pan African Director, Oxfam International.

According to the coordinator Africa-China reporting project, Barry Van Wyk, the project is to enable and support journalists to tell the stories of how the lives and experiences of people and communities of Africa are being changed and impacted by the comprehensive phenomenon of Africa’s engagement and interaction with China.

This story was first published on the PAMACC Website

ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire (PAMACC News) Eleven African countries are set to benefit from multi-million dollar Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA), which has been launched alongside the 2017 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF). 

PIATA is an innovative and transformative partnership and financing vehicle to drive inclusive agriculture transformation across the continent.

Three development partners, which include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have jointly pledged up to U.S. $280 million to catalyse and sustain inclusive agricultural transformation in Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.

This is aimed at increasing incomes and improving food security of 30 million smallholder farmers. 

"We are pleased to be part of PIATA. We see it as an opportunity to leverage even more from the partners and their huge networks, for greater impact,” said Mr. Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office during the launch of the initiative.

“We are looking forward to deploying the technologies that we have helped develop over the years, together with our shared knowledge and grant support, to work with our esteemed partners. Together we hope to catalyze Africa’s pursuit for prosperity through agriculture,” he told delegates at the AGRF in Abidjan.

The PIATA is an important collaboration between donors that aligns behind the Malabo agenda agreed to by African Heads of State and Government in 2014. It signals an enduring commitment to Africa’s transformation agenda. PIATA is but one of various means by which each of the partners are supporting African countries to deliver on agricultural transformation; its partners continue to provide support through avenues including direct support to continental agencies, government bodies and in-country partners. The partnership will allow partners to align and complement existing efforts, making new investments in developing input systems, value chains, and policy where they will have the most impact. 

According to the 2017 Africa Agriculture Status Report, Africa needs an agricultural revolution that is distinct and that links millions of small farms to agribusinesses, creating extended food supply chains, jobs and economic opportunities for large segments of the population.  Agriculture is still the best bet for inclusive African economic growth and poverty reduction.

Experts believe that such a transformation will require greater political, policy, and financing commitments from across the public and private sectors. It will also require new partnership models like PIATA, which is hailed as an outstanding example of how partners can collaborating with African countries' visions and systems to deliver on their own transformation, in line with their national economic development strategies.

 Mr. Rodger Voorhies, the Executive Director of the Global Growth and Opportunity Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, “We’ve seen significant progress when countries recognize the critical importance of agriculture to their economic development and help catalyze agricultural transformation with targeted investments, evidence-based policies, and strong national plans. PIATA is an exciting platform that can help countries take the lead in driving agricultural transformation. Our investment reflects our desire to help countries develop high-quality plans linked to national and continental accountability frameworks.” 

 It was also observed that delivering on Africa’s potential requires both the public and private sectors to engage in new ways and strengthen collaboration. The role of the private sector and non-state actors in agriculture development and in support of formulation of country agriculture plans is critical for sustainable growth.

 This was emphasized by Mr. Sean Jones, the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Food Security, USAID. “PIATA offers a new way of doing business across the many public and private actors working to ensure food security and economic growth as called for in country-owned visions and the goals laid out in the Malabo Declaration. Agriculture is at its core a private sector enterprise, and one of the best bets for job creation and inclusive growth when the right policies and investments allow the private sector to flourish. This partnership offers an innovative mechanism to unlock this investment and realize many of the targets laid out in the Global Food Security Strategy approved by our Congress.”

 The PIATA launch comes at a critical time in the continent’s agriculture history. Most African countries have undertaken a rigorous review of the sector, developing and adopting a new generation of sector development plans that prepare them to do business. Continentally, the African Union is coordinating the biennial review of the progress made towards the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) goals, which will be presented in the first Biennial Review Report, along with a scorecard for the Heads of State to guide them in the sector’s transformation. 

Welcoming the new partnership, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), expressed her belief that the initiative would contribute significantly to accelerating Africa’s path to prosperity by growing inclusive economies and jobs through agriculture.

 “We have witnessed significant progress in our agricultural transformation over the past decade, with countries that have prioritized the sector recording notable drops in poverty levels, improved food security and inclusive economic growth. PIATA will be critical in bringing key players together to support governments in their push to fully unlock the potential of Africa’s smallholder farming and agribusiness as the surest drivers of job creation and the continent’s inclusive economic transformation,” she said.

 AGRA is the primary implementing institution of the partnership under the institution’s new strategy for the continent and plan agreed with priority countries.

This story was first published on the PAMACC Website

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