Archive | Water

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End Climate Change Dictatorship

Posted on 08 December 2011 by admin

Kofi Annan says lack of funds must not hold back the fight against climate change. Credit: Zuki Zimela/IPS

By Busani Bafana

Durban, Dec. 7 — The global financial crunch is not a reason to avoid climate-friendly investments that will help Africa’s agriculture grow says former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan.

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High stakes, low chance of success for vulnerable states

Posted on 08 December 2011 by admin

By Joshua Kyalimpa

Credit: Naimul Haq/IPS

Entire societies will be lost forever if we delay reaching a climate change agreement in Durban, warns Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of the Coastal Association for Social Transformation Trust (COAST).

“Let us not be witness to that unfortunate happening. Extreme events beyond everybody’s expectation are now observed more and more frequently and we know the consequence of that,” Chowdhury said.

Governments of low-lying island states such as the Maldives, the Bahamas, or the Pacific nation of Kiribati say their very physical existence is threatened by sea level rise of one metre – anticipated to take place by 2100.

Chowdhury’s home country, Bangladesh, is also caught in the crosshairs of global warming – rising temperatures and sea levels, changing weather patterns increasing catastrophic flooding from both swollen rivers and storm surges from intensifying monsoons will hit this low-lying, agriculture-dependent country full in the face.

A map produced by the United Nations Environment Programme shows that an area of this South Asian state that is home to 15 million people will be entirely submerged by a one-metre rise in sea levels. Long before then, increasing numbers of floods will erode riverbanks, and destroy homes, farms, roads and other infrastructure while taking longer to recede, hampering agriculture. Lingering floodwater will test public health systems wrestling with waterborne diseases.

The fears of Bangladesh and other low-lying states are an urgent reminder as the 17th Conference of Parties remains unlikely to agree on even a minimal programme of emissions reductions by developed countries – historically the worst polluters – or financial assistance for vulnerable developing nations.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon poured cold water on the talks Tuesday Dec. 6 when he told delegates that a global, legally-binding deal on climate change could well be off the agenda for now. He blamed grave economic troubles in many countries for overshadowing the talks, which are now in their second week but little tangible progress before they conclude on Dec. 10.

South African Bishop Geoff Davies head of the Anglican Church compared rich countries’ behaviour in Durban to apartheid, saying wealthy nations were trying to keep power and wealth for themselves. “Decision makers need to put the needs of people and the planet before profits.”

The parties remain sharply divided. Coastal states, small island nations and the Africa group are pushing for a second commitment by developed countries to reduce emissions to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. The U.S. and Canada say any new commitment should be delayed until after 2020. These two governments are also rejecting a legally-binding global agreement. Japan at one point threatened to pull out altogether.

The European Union has taken up a position somewhere in the middle, proposing a second commitment period to start somewhere around 2015. The EU also says this is on condition that other polluters – such as fast-growing China – are brought on board.

“We have committed under Kyoto and we have actually over achieved in the first commitment period,” said Connie Hedegaard, the European Commissioner for Climate Action. “But Europe only accounts for 11 percent of global emissions and that is why we are saying two things. We are ready to agree a second commitment period even though the family of countries who are ready to do so is shrinking; however we need reassurance that if we lay down a bridge to the future, then others will follow.”

The Congolese chair of the Africa Group, Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, says it’s hard to understand why the developed countries are behaving as they are.

“They says they want rules on climate change, but they don’t like the Kyoto Protocol. It’s hard to comprehend. If you want the mango, then you have to like the mango tree also,” he said. “If you want the carbon markets to continue, you must have robust transparent rules to continue – you have to keep the mango tree (binding emissions reduction agreements).”

He said the Africa Group is looking to the rich countries which have enjoyed a certain level of development at the cost of everyone’s atmosphere to now show leadership on climate change.

“They have shown us economic leadership, they have shown us political leadership and sometimes even military leadership, so let’s see them show us climate leadership.”

The pessimsism expressed by Secretary General Ban and COAST’s Chowdhury hangs over the conference venue, but some – like Paul Mafabi, a negotiator from Uganda – say it was already foregone conclusion that a deal would not be struck because of the economic crisis gripping the biggest offenders.

It’s perhaps worth remembering that small island and developing states are threatened not just by economic crisis, but by devastating and permanent disaster. And the real baseline demand of small island and developing states – measures to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and avoid devastating changes in these vulnerable states – is not even on the table.

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SADC says they will continue to push water issues

Posted on 08 December 2011 by admin

Credit: Yanethe Gamboa/IPS

Joshua Kyalimpa Interviews JOAO SAMUEL CAHOLO, Deputy Executive Secretary, Southern African Development Community (SADC)

DURBAN, Dec — The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has devised a plan to mainstream water resources management. On the sidelines of the U.N. climate change conference taking place in Durban, there have been efforts to establish water as an agenda item in its own right in climate change negotiations.

Water experts say this will lead to greater focus on developing policy, and attract more resources into the water sector through adaptation programmes.

Q: SADC has been part of efforts to get water into the United Nations on the agenda of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – thus far without success.

A: Questions of climate change are matters of global responsibility, so we shall continue with the issue. There is the Rio+20 conference next year,  there is also COP 18 next year: we should continue to discuss within our constituencies and plan for how the issues of water can be brought to the larger agenda of climate change.

Q: What is SADC’s next step?
A: We already have political consensus, enshrined in the SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses, so the political commitment in SADC is already there. The next step is for us to establish real institutions to address the issues at the national level and also develop transboundary  water resources.

Q: But how are you going to achieve this when water is not mainstreamed? Where will you get the financial resources to have develop water resources?

A: For us, money is not actually the issue. It’s a question of a commitment to implement what we have agreed upon, because money can be found in different ways. It can come from various international sources, but also it can come from our own treasuries and SADC has best practices in this regard.

Q: What are you doing to raise the general awareness of water issues in the region?

A: As SADC, we have the protocol which recognises the need for transboundary water resources to be managed jointly. That program is being implemented. I don’t want to say that SADC is singling out just one issue with water, but we are confident it will be accorded due attention in future negotiations.

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CAMBIO CLIMÁTICO: El agua es lo primero

Posted on 06 December 2011 by admin

La falta de acceso al agua requiere una solución urgente en África austral. Crédito: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Por Joshua Kyalimpa

DURBAN, Sudáfrica, 6 dic (IPS) Cobran impulso los esfuerzos para que el agua se incluya como capítulo con peso propio en las negociaciones internacionales sobre el cambio climático que se desarrollan hasta este viernes 9 en Durban, Sudáfrica.

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Growing Calls for Water to be Prioritised

Posted on 05 December 2011 by admin

Access to water is an urgent issue here in the Southern Africa region. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

By Joshua Kyalimpa

DURBAN, South Africa, Dec 5 (IPS) – Efforts to establish water as an agenda item in its own right in climate change negotiations are gaining momentum in Durban, South Africa. Water experts say doing this will lead to a greater focus on developing policy, and attract more resources into the water sector through adaptation programmes.

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Time for a New Agricultural Revolution

Posted on 04 December 2011 by admin

Busani Bafana interviews to KANAYO F. NWANZE, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

DURBAN, South Africa, Dec 4 (IPS) – The combined effects of ballooning populations, poor productivity and threatened water resources present fresh pressures on agriculture to deliver food, money and livelihoods in Africa.

The food system needs urgent reform in the face of climate change which accelerating the speed of change on the farms and on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

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Marching for 100% Change

Posted on 03 December 2011 by admin

By Kristin Palitza
DURBAN, South Africa, Dec 3 (IPS) – Chanting loudly, thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets to the venue of the 17th United Nations Climate Change Summit to demand that their voices be heard for “immediate and drastic” carbon emission reductions to save the planet.

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Sour Seas, Shrinking Stocks

Posted on 03 December 2011 by admin

By Stephen Leahy

DURBAN, South Africa, Dec 3 (IPS) – The world’s oceans are becoming hot, sour and breathless – threatening a vital source of food for a billion people mainly in the developing world experts warned today at a special Oceans Day event at the UN climate negotiation.

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Kashmiri Farmers Left High and Dry

Posted on 30 November 2011 by admin

Kashmir's rice paddies are giving way to horticulture for water shortages. Credit:Athar Parvaiz/IPS

By Athar Parvaiz *

SRINAGAR, Nov 30, 20112011 (IPS)  Sammad Sheikh of Tangchekh village in north Kashmir cannot understand why the rice fields that his family cultivated for generations are drying up.

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Water: A Victim of Climate Change

Posted on 30 November 2011 by admin

David Lessole (left) with Phera Ramoeli

By Busani Bafana

DURBAN, South Africa, Nov 30 (IPS) — The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) wants water to be tabled as a standalone item on climate change negotiations – describing it as too important to leave on the periphery.

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