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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

    • South Sudan treason charges dropped April 24, 2014
      South Sudan withdraws charges against four top politicians accused of the alleged coup plot that triggered the civil war.
    • Kenyan officials wrangle over status April 24, 2014
      Kenyan MPs propose making it a criminal offence to address an official incorrectly, the latest move in a status struggle with newly created governors.
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    • Nigeria rapist to be stoned to death April 24, 2014
      An Islamic court in northern Nigeria sentences a man of 63 to death by stoning for raping a girl of 10 and infecting her with HIV.
    • Lupita Nyong'o named most beautiful April 24, 2014
      Kenyan Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o, 31, is named the world's most beautiful person for 2014 by the US People magazine.
    • Deadly car bomb strikes Nairobi April 23, 2014
      Four people, two of them police, are killed in the Kenyan capital Nairobi by a car bomb outside a police station.
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      A senior Egyptian police officer has been killed by a bomb blast in the capital, Cairo, officials say.
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      South Africa's public broadcaster says it refused to broadcast an advert from the controversial politician Julius Malema, saying it incited violence.
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      A woman, originally from South Africa, is arrested after three children are found dead at a house in south London.
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      A car bomb has exploded outside a police station in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, killing four people.
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      The White House has strongly condemned the massacre of civilians in South Sudan calling it a betrayal of the people by their leaders.
    • VIDEO: Grim journey through 'new Rwanda' April 22, 2014
      The United Nations says the on-going conflict in South Sudan has a disturbing echo of events in Rwanda 20 years ago.
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    • Netanyahu: Abbas must end Hamas pact April 24, 2014
      Israeli PM Netanyahu tells the BBC Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas must abandon his pact with Hamas if he wants peace talks to resume.
    • Mother charged with three murders April 24, 2014
      A mother is charged with murdering three of her children who were found dead at their home in south-west London.
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      A convicted paedophile abused children at a private school in London where he taught, its chair of governors confirms.
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      Firefighters in England and Wales are to stage strikes on 2, 3 and 4 May over a long-running pensions row, the Fire Brigades Union says.
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      Overall crime in England and Wales falls by 15% in 2013, an official survey shows - but there are signs, according to police figures, of rises in certain categories.
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      Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone denies charges of bribery at the start of his trial in Munich and says he will fight to clear his name.
    • Cyber gang leader jailed for scam April 24, 2014
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    • BBC suspends its CBI membership April 24, 2014
      The BBC announces it is to suspend its membership of the employers' organisation the CBI during the Scottish independence referendum campaign.
    • Treats in moderation make kids happy April 24, 2014
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    • Warhol works found on Amiga disks April 24, 2014
      A dozen previously unknown works created by Andy Warhol have been recovered from 30-year-old Amiga disks.
    • Ramires to miss rest of league season April 24, 2014
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    • Rangers great Jardine dies aged 65 April 24, 2014
      Former Rangers, Hearts and Scotland defender Sandy Jardine dies aged 65 following a battle with cancer.
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      Scotland will need to beat their closest neighbours if Glasgow is to be a Euro 2020 host city, says SFA chief Stewart Regan.
    • Labour to cut ties with Co-op Bank April 24, 2014
      The Labour Party is looking to sever its links with the troubled Co-op Bank, bringing to an end one of the oldest political partnerships in the UK.
  • RSS Reuters: Politics

    • Judge strikes down NY limits on donations to 'super PACs' April 24, 2014
      NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday reluctantly struck down New York's limits on donations to independent political action committees as unconstitutional, potentially ushering in a new era of "super PACs" in state campaigns.
    • Michelle Obama changes Kansas speech date after students protest April 24, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - First lady Michelle Obama has switched her plans to address a high school commencement ceremony in Topeka, Kansas, in May after students protested that her presence would limit the number of family members they could invite to the ceremony.
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      WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate committee is set to vote on April 29 on three nominees to the Federal Reserve's board of governors, the panel announced on Thursday in a step toward bulking up the depleted U.S. central bank.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers should back a bill renewing the U.S. Export-Import Bank's charter and stop playing "political games" that will only hurt American exports and jobs, the bank's president said on Thursday.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Banking Committee appears likely to back a bill to wind down government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to sources familiar with talks on the legislation.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Caroline Kennedy, the current U.S. ambassador to Japan, says she would support Hillary Clinton if the former secretary of state seeks the presidency in 2016, and she hopes Clinton decides to run.
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      TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama assured ally Japan on Thursday that Washington was committed to its defense, including of tiny isles at the heart of a row with China, but denied he had drawn any new "red line" and urged peaceful dialogue over the islands.
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      (Reuters) - Mississippi will ban abortions after more than 20 weeks of pregnancy from July, joining other conservative U.S. states that have placed restrictions on the procedure.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of them have been locked up for a dozen years. Some are suspected fighters from Yemen, Russia or Pakistan, arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Several have been linked to al Qaeda.
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      NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former lawyer with the American Bankers Association is being considered by the White House as a possible nominee to the board of the Federal Reserve, according to sources familiar with the efforts
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      NEW YORK (Reuters) - The board of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on Wednesday delayed a scheduled vote on whether to provide $1.2 billion in loan guarantees to World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, the latest holdup for the project.
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      (Reuters) - The U.S. Democratic Governors' Association on Wednesday sued the state of Connecticut, saying its laws on political spending are unconstitutionally broad and limit the ability of political groups to buy independent ads backing candidates.
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      ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a broad expansion of gun carry rights into law on Wednesday, allowing legal gun owners to take weapons into bars, churches and government buildings under certain conditions.
    • California lawmakers, bruised by scandal, turn to ethics training April 23, 2014
      SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California lawmakers, their reputation tarnished by fraud and corruption scandals, on Wednesday took a break from normal business to attend ethics training, the latest step by the state Senate to repair its image as elections loom.
    • U.S. Justice Department announces clemency review of drug offenders April 23, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department laid out new clemency guidelines on Wednesday that are expected to make thousands of drug offenders eligible for a reduction in the sentences they are currently serving.
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      TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States put last-minute pressure on Japan to compromise in tough trade talks on Wednesday, shortly before President Barack Obama was to arrive for a state visit.
    • California GOP hopeful wants free college for science, math students April 23, 2014
      BERKELEY, California (Reuters) - California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neel Kashkari called for free college tuition for students pursuing math and science degrees, part of an education reform plan released Tuesday that would also model public schools after charter schools.
  • RSS CNN.com – Africa

    • Luxury shoes made in Ghana April 15, 2014
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      African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
    • How medics saved lives at Westgate April 9, 2014
      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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      She started her business with just £100, lugging her beauty bag from door to door, but some 25 years later Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
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      Zain Verjee visits Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park -- the home of half of the world's endangered mountain gorilla population.
    • Savannah from the sky March 13, 2014
      It's almost impossible for a photographer to find fresh visual perspectives these days. Brooklyn-based Zack Seckler had to travel to a different continent and strap into an ultra-light aircraft to find one. His Botswana series presents the country from between 50 and 500 feet, providing a unique and captivating view of the savannah.
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      No one knows where 77 abducted girls in Nigeria are -- and surprising still, no one's particularly shocked.
    • Slum dweller means business April 22, 2014
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    • Human viruses killing last gorillas? April 22, 2014
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      The Center for African Family Studies in Nairobi has teamed up with Kenyan artist Michael Soi to create eye-catching condom wrappers to promote safe sex and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among young people.
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We have to take action now to sustain life in the coming years

Posted by African Press International on April 6, 2012

CLIMATE CHANGE: Understanding Rio+20

We have to take action now to sustain life in the coming years

JOHANNESBURG,  – A Nobel laureate, a Swedish environmentalist’s idea, the “doughnut” concept, Scandinavia’s sense of social capital, measuring the quality of life, and valuing the oceans are just some of the things trending in the run-up to the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development due to be held on 20-22 June 2012.

Rio+20 will look at how economies have grown at the expense of natural resources and human capital since the last Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, when the concept of “sustainable development” gained currency.

The idea of growth meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” has not gained much traction since the 1992 conference – largely because countries continued to equate development with economic growth, and sustainable development languished as a fringe environmental concern, says a UN-commissioned study

Twenty years later, “sustainable development remains a generally agreed concept, rather than a day-to-day, on-the-ground, practical reality,” says a report by the UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. 

Since 1992, alarm bells on several interconnected factors with a far-reaching impact on growth, resources and the quality of life – accelerated man-made climate change, population growth, increasing numbers of hungry people, rapidly depleting and more expensive fossil fuels, and a decline in food production – have been ringing louder.

“Achieving sustainability requires us to transform the global economy. Tinkering on the margins will not do the job,” said the UN Panel’s report.

Optimists in the scientific and aid community hope Rio+20 will develop from an opportunity to reflect into a collective effort to plot the world’s future growth path.

IRIN aims to make the conference more relevant and accessible by examining some of the ideas circulating ahead of it.

1. Elinor Ostrom: Fast emerging as the moral and academic compass of the conference, Ostrom’s work, which won her the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2009, shows that growth combined with the sustainable use of natural resources is achievable. Ostrom looked at certain rural communities in Asia, Africa and Europe which have for centuries successfully managed in a sustainable way their common resources – grazing land, water and forests.

''When the Scandinavian countries had to set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they did not consider the markets… but went ahead because they value the well-being of humans and environment…''

The communities developed while preventing problems such as overgrazing, misuse of forests or over-consumption of water. The fact that Ostrom took a multidisciplinary approach (rooted in economics, environment and social capital, successfully combining the three pillars of sustainable development), makes her the expert everyone wants to hear from. She was the chief scientific adviser to the recent Planet Under Pressure conference – an attempt by the scientific community to set the agenda for Rio+20.

2. Planetary Boundaries and Future Earth: The concept of Planetary Boundaries proposed in 2009 by Johan Rockstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and 28 scientists, posits that there are nine critical Earth-system processes and associated thresholds that we need to respect and keep within, in order to protect against the risk of irreversible or even catastrophic environmental change on a continental or global scale.

Doing so would create a safe operating space for humanity. According to the concept’s authors, three of the nine suggested thresholds have already been crossed (climate change, biodiversity and the nitrogen cycle). The threshold for the phosphorus cycle (linked, within the concept, to the nitrogen cycle) has also been crossed, according to a scientific paper in 2011. 

The status of the concept grew after being mentioned in the UN Panel report. The Boundaries concept has inspired the “nexus approach” between food, water and energy, which was also noted by the UN panel. “All three [food, water and energy] need to be fully integrated, not treated separately if we are to deal with the global food security crisis,” said the report.

Rockstrom, last week announced the launch in Rio of Future Earth, a 10-year collaborative initiative which will provide the knowledge to help societies meet their sustainable development goals. The International Council for Science, the Belmont Forum (a high-level group of donors who fund climate research), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN University, and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are all part of the initiative.

Tom Mitchell, head of climate change at the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI), was a bit skeptical about how “10 years of science inquiry” would help. He said countries needed solutions now – embedded in governments and designed to cater for national requirements.

3. The doughnut: In February 2012, Kate Raworth, a senior researcher with Oxfam, pointed out that human growth was glaringly absent from Rockstrom’s concept. She combined social boundaries (such as access to water, health services, food, jobs, energy and education for all) within the planetary boundaries – highlighting the need for an environmentally safe space which needed to be compatible with poverty eradication and rights for all. Between the planetary ceiling and the social foundation lay an area – shaped like a doughnut – which is a “safe and just space for humanity to thrive in”, her paper said. 

Raworth said well-designed policies can promote both poverty eradication and environmental sustainability. She told IRIN the objective was to be able to take care of everyone’s minimum needs, while re-defining the meaning of prosperity, which is equated with material wealth and associated with over-consumption (e.g. food, vehicles). “Governments need to look beyond taking care of people’s material needs and focus on quality of life, qualities of social relationships.”

The concept has picked up a lot of momentum.

“The concept of Planetary Boundaries is almost pure science,” noted Andrew Scott, researcher with ODI, while the “doughnut” concept was grounded in human reality and the need to agree on a minimum standard of living, whilst guarding against over-consumption. This calls for the need to review UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were not very ambitious to begin with, he said. “Instead of calling for the eradication of poverty it [the MDGs] settled for the halving of poverty by 2015.”

Felix Dodds, eminent author and head of the Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future, also enthused about the “doughnut proposal” in the Planet Under Pressure conference, and suggested the world should strive to turn everyone into a member of the middle-class.

4. Sustainable agriculture: After years of lobbying for an agriculture system which would respect the biosystem and at the same time increase the production of quality food to keep the numbers of malnourished down, scientists feel they are making headway. The proposed draft outcome document of the Rio+20 conference makes note of their concerns. But is that good enough – will that force a change and make sustainable agriculture a part of mainstream policy in countries?

Kenyan scientist Judi Wakhungu, a member of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, says attitudes are changing on the ground: Sustainable agriculture is now being taught in universities in developing countries; donors particularly in Scandinavian countries are more willing to fund such initiatives tailored by developing country governments; and at government levels, sectors such as water, energy and agriculture have begun to talk to each other

Christopher Barrett, who teaches economics and agriculture at Cornell University in the USA, said: “The central issue is high-level political commitment to enacting the necessary policies.” He said the “lofty rhetoric” of the L’Aquila G-8 summit, or earlier summits such as Gleneagles, have “not been matched by significant new investments or policy innovations by the world’s major economies”. Progress towards sustainable agriculture was “incremental and dwarfed by the fiscal and employment challenges faced by the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries,” he added, and we should “not hold our breath for any great breakthrough” at Rio+20.

5. Social capital versus market-based approaches: Academically, social capital is a concept which places value on social relations and the role of cooperation to get collective results. The concept is making waves among development experts and the scientific community in the Rio+20 context, particularly as it forces societies to reflect on their value systems.

“It [social capital] is too technical a word,” says Oxfam’s Raworth, but essentially the concept is about valuing quality of life and interpersonal relations more than material wealth. Brazilian scientist Carlos Nobre, a member of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, explained: “It is a concept followed by Scandinavian countries – where human well-being is more important than the market value of a particular resource.


Photo: Shayne Robinson/Greenpeace
Multilateral processes to make life on earth sustainable such as the UN talks on climate change have been moving at a snail’s pace

“For instance when the Scandinavian countries had to set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they did not consider the markets and industries but went ahead because they value the well-being of humans and environment more than anything else.”

But the reality is that most countries value markets more than human and environmental well-being, say experts, so a value has to be attributed to a natural resources to make people take care of it. As UNEP head Achim Steiner says, “we have to place ecology in economics.”

“We need to create markets around natural resources such as provision of environmental services,” said ODI’s Mitchell. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change did that with trees and carbon, but the process has not got very far.

Both Raworth and Nobre said that to achieve real change, attitudes to wealth needed to be changed, but this could only happen from the bottom up. “Market-based mechanisms to control and exploit the use of our natural resources should be seen as a means to get to a state of well-being and not as the goal,” said Nobre.

Richard Norgaard, one of the founders of ecological economics, said at the Planet Under Pressure conference that instead of markets dictating and shaping our economies, “we need to ask what kind of economy we want to live in and then design incentives for the markets.”

6. Measuring wellness: Putting a value on the quantity of natural resources that had to be exploited to achieve certain outcomes could help in terms of sustainability, argued Pablo Muñoz, an economist working on the Inclusive Wealth Report (IWR) project, a joint initiative of UN Univeristy-International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Climate Change (IHDP) and UNEP, aiming to measure, among other forms of wealth, the Natural Capital of countries. The report will be released at Rio+20.

“A country can exhaust all its natural resources while posting positive GDP [Gross Domestic Product] growth,” said Muñoz. The world needs “an indicator that estimates the wealth of nations – natural, human and manufactured and ideally even the social and ecological constituents of human well-being,” he added.

Some findings of the reports were released at the Planet Under Pressure conference.

Between 1990 and 2008, the wealth of Brazil and India in terms of per capita GDP rose 34 percent and 120 percent respectively. Natural capital, the sum of a country’s assets, from forests to fossil fuels and minerals, declined by 46 percent in Brazil and 31percent in India, according the new indicator. Brazil’s “Inclusive Wealth” rose by 3 percent and India’s rose by 9 percent over that time. But do not expect countries to start using the new indicator any time soon. “It took years for countries to come round to using GDP – so it will be a few years yet,” said Muñoz.

7.Valuing the oceans: Attempts to put a value on the exploitation of natural resources are ongoing globally. A new book by the Stockholm Environment Institute calculates the impact of climate change on the economic value of the oceans. It says climate change (in the last 200 years the oceans have absorbed 25-30 percent of the global accumulated emissions of carbon dioxide) alone could reduce the economic value of the oceans by up to US$2 trillion a year by 2100. 

jk/cb
source www.irinnews.org

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One Response to “We have to take action now to sustain life in the coming years”

  1. This is all such nonsense, every bit of it, all it amounts to is redistribution of wealth. Sustainable developement is taken from an old Russian communist manifesto, thats probably why the UN love it so. I believe that each country is respoonsible for their own sustainability, their own water and no one should take anything from another country that doesn’t belong to them such as working peoples wages or;/and taxes to distribute to people who dont’ work. There has been no leadership in Africa since i was a child and I’m a grandmother, they have no leadership and let people come in from outside and rape their country as they are doing now near Kenya, our troops are there now. all for oil and gold. The UN does very little to remedy this situation. The Un does not feed the poor although we give them millions of dollars a year, and so do other countries, why would we give them that much money is beyond me, all they do lately is start trouble. Hopefully we can be out of gloabalization by next year, the European Union is already falling apart, Portugal is planning on leaving next. This sort of thing doesn’t work and it should have been stopped in the beginning,

    People have been accepting Monsanto food all over the globe,Peru, Brazil etc. all have taken the plunge and it is a bad choice the food iis not sustainable and you are forced to buy seeds from Monasanto, you can not dry the seeds and use them the next year as farmers have done for decades, this is garbage food designed to kill off 3/4′s fo the population , some of the corn was used to keep men sterile , it is just a bad thing and once you plant it the ground is forever destroyed after five to 10 years, how can all of that be sustainable? . As for the climate change, that is something that is debatable, for every scientist that says there is climate change there is five that says there isn’t , the meeting in Rio was cancelled a few years ago because of wikileaks expose on the lies about climate change. Whatever you do with the food supply is your business but if it is monsanto food it is not healthy

    I find the more I hear from economists and scientists the more obvious it becomes that everyone leaning on those subjects usually has an ulterior motive, usually money and how to get it and yes, it’s called redistribution of wealth..The USA gave at the Obama Office.

    Like this

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