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Cohen A.,International Fund for Agricultural Development | Sullivan C.A.,Southern Cross University of Australia
Ecological Economics | Year: 2010

This paper describes the theoretical foundations and development of a multidimensional, water-focused, thematic indicator of rural poverty: The Water, Economy, Investment and Learning Assessment Indicator (WEILAI). The WEILAI approach was specifically designed for application in rural China, to support poverty alleviation project planning, monitoring and evaluation, as well as targeting and prioritization. WEILAI builds primarily on the basic needs framework of poverty alleviation, and on the methodological structure of the Water Poverty Index, to provide a proxy measure of an area's poverty by assessing eight key poverty sectors, with a strong focus on the components of water-poverty. The WEILAI approach was piloted and implemented in 534 households in China's mountainous southwest. This paper describes the indicator construction, weighting schemes, methodology, field sites, and statistical validation of the results. In addition, we discuss the results, feedback from in-country project staff, and the likely utility of the tool for project planning, monitoring and evaluation support. The paper concludes with a discussion of WEILAI's overall utility and ongoing development. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


News Article | December 14, 2015
Site: www.reuters.com

Participants are seen in silhouette as they look at a screen showing a world map with climate anomalies during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 8, 2015. Since she started out in the 1970s, she has overcome increasingly erratic rainfall by using new technologies and trying out different crops and trees. She even turns her animal manure into biogas, harnessing methane for clean energy. And she doesn't stay quiet about it. She hosts groups of other Kenyan farmers and international researchers on her farm to show them the effectiveness of a mixed crop, livestock and tree farming system in the face of worsening climate pressures. "We try to help ourselves so that climate change will not affect us," she told a discussion about supporting farmers on the sidelines of the recent climate change talks in Paris. It is a strategy that has worked well for her - over the years, she has been able to build a stone house for her family of 11 children, connected to power and water supplies. "Farmers need to get enough crops to sustain their family and reduce poverty, and educate their children," she said. But millions of others are struggling to maintain their yields amid crop damage from severe droughts or flash floods, with no assets in reserve to help them bounce back from a crisis. The International Food Policy Research Institute released a study in Paris showing that climate change is a threat to agricultural growth, affecting productivity, prices and a new global goal to end hunger by 2030. In the Philippines, for instance, climate change is projected to cut per-capita consumption of cereals by 24 percent and fruits and vegetables by 13 percent, increasing the number of people at risk of hunger by 1.4 million in 2030 and 2.5 million by 2050, the institute said. Given that, it is surprising the world "agriculture" does not appear once in the text of the new global agreement to tackle climate change adopted in Paris on Saturday. A key reason for this is that developing nations long resisted including agriculture in the climate negotiations, fearing efforts to feed their people would be compromised by pressure to reduce planet-warming emissions from farms. A 2015 study from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that emissions from agriculture are growing, accounting for around 11 percent of the global total in 2010. The Paris climate agreement refers only indirectly to agriculture, in terms of making sure people have enough to eat. Its non-binding introduction recognizes "the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change". The binding part of the deal states that boosting the world's ability to adapt to those impacts and foster climate resilience and low-emissions development should be done "in a manner that does not threaten food production". Yet, despite the politics that largely excluded agriculture, the FAO welcomed the agreement, noting that for the first time ever, food security features in a global climate change accord. "This is a game changer for the 800 million people still suffering from chronic hunger, and for 80 percent of the world's poor who live in rural areas and earn income - and feed their families - from agriculture," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said in a statement after the deal was reached. "By including food security, the international community fully acknowledges that urgent attention is needed to preserve the well-being and future of those who are on the frontline of climate change threats," he added. Others in the agricultural research community and agencies working with small farmers highlighted the widespread inclusion of agricultural policies in the nearly 190 national action plans submitted to the United Nations as a basis for the climate deal. Analysis by the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) shows agriculture is discussed in 80 percent of those plans, a signal that addressing agriculture in the context of climate change is a priority. Kanayo F. Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said this was a good springboard for approaching top decision makers in developing countries about protecting their farmers from climate change. In a report released in Paris, IFAD said technical interventions - like hardier seeds and accurate weather forecasts - are not enough to help small farmers cope, and must be backed up by national strategies, laws and budgets. One major barrier to helping small-scale farmers adapt to extreme weather and reduce emissions from their activities is insufficient money for research and action on the ground, experts noted. The CCAFS study of national climate plans found the 48 least developed countries alone will need funding of $5 billion per year - $3 billion for adaptation and $2 billion for reducing farm emissions. That sum is much higher than current commitments to climate funds for agriculture, and at least 10 percent more per year than multilateral climate funds spent on agricultural projects in the last decade, it said. "Climate finance needs to include agriculture as a key sector, and support countries to implement the plans they have laid out," said CCAFS director Bruce Campbell.


News Article | December 7, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

A new report launched today by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) confirms the important role that the world’s biodiversity plays in ensuring the future of sustainable agricultural development. “Biodiversity, including agricultural biodiversity, is the very foundation of life on earth and intrinsic to the whole sustainable development agenda,” said Margarita Astralaga, Director of IFAD's Environment and Climate Division. "Our report shows that biodiversity loss is one of the main threats to smallholder farmers and their communities. Without biodiversity, livelihoods are not sustainable and food security and nutrition for the entire planet is precarious.” The Biodiversity Advantage: Global benefits from smallholder actions shows how IFAD-supported projects are working with smallholder farmers to protect biodiversity in five countries, contributing to the well-being of communities as well as to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by helping to eradicate poverty, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agricultural practices. According to Astralaga the knowledge and practices of smallholder farmers represent an untapped repository in global efforts to make agriculture more resilient to climate change. In turn, she said, IFAD-supported projects help unleash that potential by engaging farmers in efforts to make land productive again, to adopt practices that do not erode but enrich the natural resource base, and to search for crops that withstand climate-related challenges. Country examples cited in the report include Iran, where farmers have been working in partnership with national authorities to identify the most appropriate mixtures of seeds through evolutionary plant breeding methods, demonstrating positive impacts on agricultural biodiversity as well as livelihoods for women and men. The report also shows how IFAD is working to protect mangroves in Djibouti and buffer zones in São Tomé, as well as forests in Mexico – a country rich with biodiversity. Highlighting one of the most important messages in the report, Astralaga said, “Reconciling conservation efforts with people’s needs is a major challenge that demands innovation and solutions tailored to local circumstances.” Notes to editors: Interviews - Margarita Astralaga, Director, Environment and Climate Division is available for media interviews. IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided about US$18 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 462 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub. For more information visit http://www.ifad.org


At vast global gatherings like the COP22 UN climate conference, which has just concluded in Marrakech, the seductive grandeur of the occasion frequently strips attention from the people, in faraway places, who climate change threatens the most. But on Wednesday at the COP, during a panel discussion on how agriculture can support the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for zero hunger, Kanayo F. Nwanze brought these forgotten people into the spotlight with an impassioned plea. To achieve food security in a changing climate, we need to focus on the world’s smallscale farmers—who are not only responsible for the bulk of food production in developing countries, but ironically face some of the worst threats to their own food security, Nwanze said. As the president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an organisation that invests in smallscale agriculture in rural environments around the world, Nwanze’s work to highlight the importance of these farmers on the global agriculture scene won him the inaugural Africa Food Prize in 2016. Now, on the heels of the climate conference, what does COP22 mean to Nwanze—who has in the past boldly proclaimed that ‘declarations don’t feed people’? He ponders whether COP can deliver real change, and why smallscale farmers deserve our global attention. At COP22 you called for a greater focus on smallscale producers. Why should the global community be compelled to listen? Where do the poorest and hungriest live? In developing countries. Which areas are the most abundant agriculturally? Rural areas. What is their main activity? Smallscale agriculture. We are looking at about 500 million small farms [worldwide] catering for up to 3 billion people on our planet. So, if you want to achieve zero hunger you must focus: these people are our clients. They are also often neglected and forgotten. What does IFAD want to achieve on the ground? Our mission is to invest in rural people. The reality is that 80% of the food that is consumed in the developing world is produced by smallscale farmers, yet the paradox is that this is where you find hunger and poverty. When you fight a war do you wait for the enemy to come to your doorstep, or do you go to the enemy’s camp? The enemy in this case—hunger, and poverty—runs deepest in rural areas. So how do we fix things there? With rural finance, in order to help them manage risks. You’ve raised the case for smallscalle agriculture as a business. Why is it so important to see it this way? In the last five years we have been saying that agriculture, irrespective of the scale or the size, is a business. Recently the Word Bank has even adopted the language that in the agricultural sector, the largest private sector group are small producers: they invest more into the agricultural landscape than governments and overseas development assistance. It’s very interesting. What’s the role of smallscale farmers in safeguarding land against the effects of climate change? Insofar as smallholder farmers are managers of agricultural landscapes, their choices have widespread impacts on the integrity of ecosystems. Since they’re often located in marginal or degraded landscapes, involving them in adaptation solutions can make a crucial difference in restoring biological diversity, and in some cases bringing these areas under sustainable agricultural production. Many climate smart agricultural practices are taking root too, and these often build on traditional knowledge that’s been enhanced by agricultural research and innovation. Do you expect COP22 will bring about benefits for smallscale agriculture? I believe a conference like the COP has a specific purpose. It generates global awareness. 110 countries have signed onto the Paris agreement so far, and the question everyone is asking now is about implementation. I think that’s the next step, and it has value. But I’m not so sure these large conferences—where we end up with declarations, statements, best commitments—are really going to bring about change. Change begins from within; developing countries forget that fact. As far as I am aware, there is no developing country in existence that transformed itself from a developing to emerging country through development assistance. If you look at developed countries and emerging economies, they all went via the pathway of agriculture and rural transformation to get where they are. A nation that is unable to feed its people cannot expect to leapfrog to the 21st century. So what is the value of development aid in this equation? We need government assistance to help us achieve this. But you have to fit yourself into our plan. Otherwise, you just end up with countries pursuing a hundred different development projects, but in the end not much is achieved. If you want to move someone out of poverty, you want them to be able to sustain their own lives and livelihoods, not depend on aid. What successes have you seen on the ground so far? The best part of my job as president is travelling to see projects that we support. I met a woman in Ethiopia who sent all five children to university herself, through her own vegetable farming. There’s another project in Kenya, where we trained 20,000 livestock producers. Today, 90% of the milk in the Kenyan market comes from two million smallscale livestock breeders. Nairobi’s dairy industry has become a model. What we’re saying at IFAD is that until we address the rural population, we cannot achieve zero hunger by 2030. This is why it’s so important for the world.


News Article | November 11, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

A new report launched today by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) reveals the crucial role the world’s drylands play in buffering the negative impacts of climate change, land degradation and drought. “Drylands are absolutely key to global food security for the whole planet,” said IFAD President, Kanayo F. Nwanze. "Environment friendly and water efficient agriculture for smallholders is key to reducing poverty, boosting smallholder adaptation to climate change and rehabilitating degraded lands. We look to empower more rural farmers to sustainably manage their land, so that while they feed their families for generations to come, they can also get out of poverty.” Present in each continent and covering over 40 per cent of the earth, drylands generally refer to arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, and are home to more than 2 billion people. Drylands also hold up to 44 per cent of the world’s cultivated agricultural systems. The report, The Drylands Advantage: Protecting the environment, empowering people shows how drylands support important ecosystems and a great variety of biodiversity, as well as their vital role in the livelihoods and cultural identity of many smallholders. For example, in Swaziland, IFAD has supported communities to rehabilitate gullied land and introduce sustainable land management practices on 68,000 hectares of land, which can now generate livelihoods for people. In China’s Yanchi county, where drylands are turning to desert, farmers have increased their incomes by 20 per cent as a result of a comprehensive programme to generate alternative and sustainable livelihoods. Without this programme, desertification would likely worsen and the drylands would no longer be farmed at all. IFAD-supported projects are helping smallholders thrive in drylands, as well as contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals under the 2030 Agenda to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.” “Despite their importance, drylands are being degraded with enormous economic consequences,” said the Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division, Margarita Astralaga. “Desertification of drylands could lead to some 50 million people being displaced within the next 10 years.” She added, “By investing in drylands, IFAD is seeing significant human and environmental dividends. Environment-friendly and water-efficient agriculture for smallholders is key to reducing poverty, boosting smallholder adaptation to climate change, as well as rehabilitating degraded lands.” Note to editors: Margarita Astralaga, Director, Environment and Climate Division is available for media interviews.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, former Prime Minister of Togo, has been appointed as the sixth President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized United Nations agency and international financial institution that invests in eradicating rural poverty in developing countries around the world. “I have come from the rural world. I have first-hand knowledge of the harshness of this kind of life,” said Houngbo, who was appointed by IFAD’s member states at the organization’s annual Governing Council meeting. Houngbo takes up the helm at a time when changing government priorities and the more immediate needs of humanitarian crises – like natural disasters, conflict and refugees – threaten to divert funding away from long-term development. With growing global demand for food, increased migration to cities and the impact of climate change, investments in agriculture and rural development will be essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty and hunger. “We have to keep our ambition and at the same time be realistic and pragmatic,” he said. “We have to demonstrate that every dollar invested will have the highest value for money.” Houngbo has more than 30 years of experience in political affairs, international development, diplomacy and financial management. Since 2013 he has served as Deputy Director General of the International Labour Organization, where he has been responsible for external programmes and partnerships. Prior to that, he was Assistant Secretary General, Africa Regional Director and Chief of Staff at the United Nations Development Programme. He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. His candidacy was unanimously endorsed by the governments of the African Union. As someone who was born and raised in rural Togo, Houngbo believes that the inequality in today’s world should never be accepted, and that IFAD has a crucial role to play in bringing opportunities to the poor and excluded. “The privilege of attaining high-quality education helped me develop a strong sense of responsibility towards improving the condition of those who have not had similar opportunities,” he wrote in answer to questions during the nomination process. “I believe that through a dynamic leadership of IFAD, I can contribute to visible change in the hardship-laden lives of the world’s rural poor.” Houngbo was among eight candidates including three women vying for the organization’s top leadership position. He succeeds Kanayo F. Nwanze, who was President for two terms beginning in April 2009. Houngbo will take office on 1 April 2017. IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$18.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 464 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub. Press release No.: IFAD/15/2017


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

In the 15th century papal bulls promoted and provided legal justification for the conquest and theft of indigenous peoples’ lands and resources worldwide - the consequences of which are still being felt today. The right to conquest in one such bull, the Romanus Pontifex, issued in the 1450s when Nicholas V was the Pope, was granted in perpetuity. How times have changed. Last week, over 560 years later, Francis, the first Pope from Latin America, struck a rather different note - for indigenous peoples around the world, for land rights, for better environmental stewardship. He said publicly that indigenous peoples have the right to “prior and informed consent.” In other words, nothing should happen on - or impact - their land, territories and resources unless they agree to it. “I believe that the central issue is how to reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories,” said Francis, according to an English version of his speech released by the Vatican’s press office. “This is especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth,” Francis went on. “In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail, as foreseen in Article 32 of the [UN] Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.” Francis was speaking to numerous indigenous representatives in Rome at the conclusion of the third Indigenous Peoples’ Forum held by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development. The UN’s Declaration - non-legally-binding - was adopted 10 years ago. Article 32 says “states shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.” Francis also told his audience “humanity is committing a grave sin in not caring for the earth”, and urged them to resist new technologies which “destroy the earth, which destroy the environment and the ecological balance, and which end up destroying the wisdom of peoples.” He called on governments to enable indigenous peoples to fully participate in developing “guidelines and projects”, both locally and nationally. Various mainstream media including the BBC, The Independent and the Washington Post interpreted Francis’s speech as a comment, or an apparent comment, on the current Dakota Access Pipeline conflict in the US - almost as if that was the only conflict over indigenous peoples’ land they were aware of. But what about everyone and everywhere else? Such interpretations were swiftly rejected by a Vatican spokesperson, who was reported as saying “there’s no element in his words that would give us a clue to know if he was talking about any specific cases.” So what do some of those who were with Francis that day think of his speech? How significant was it? Myrna Cunningham, a Miskita activist from Nicaragua and former Chairperson of the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, says the Pope was sending several main messages. These included the “need to reconcile the right to development with indigenous peoples’ spiritual and cultural specificities and territories”, and the importance of the UN Declaration and consent which was, she says, “in a way a response to indigenous demands.” “I expected a strong message but his position exceeded my expectations,” Cunningham told the Guardian. “He is truly clear about the struggles of our people and an important voice to make our demands be heard.” Elifuraha Laltaika, from the Association for Law and Advocacy for Pastoralists in Tanzania, says it was a “timely wake-up call to governments.” “[His comments] come at time when, instead of scaling up, governments increasingly violate and look with suspicion at the minimum standards in the UN Declaration,” he told the Guardian. “Without heeding Pope Francis’s call, life would undoubtedly become more miserable for indigenous peoples than ever before. Greed towards extraction of hydrocarbons and minerals will open up additional fault-lines, heightening indigenous peoples’ poverty and inability to deal with impacts of climate change and a myriad of other challenges.” For Alvaro Pop, a Maya Q’eqchi man from Guatemala, Francis’s remarks demonstrate his ongoing commitment to indigenous peoples’ rights. “Indigenous peoples have been the guardians of their resources for centuries,” says Pop, another former Chairperson of the UN’s Permanent Forum. “Free, prior and informed consent is one of the most important issues of the 21st century. The Pope’s comments are truly significant.” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a Kankanaey Igorot woman from the Philippines and now the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, says Francis’s comments illustrate his “understanding of the importance” of implementing the UN Declaration. “His view that a bigger chance of overcoming confrontation and conflict between indigenous peoples and governing authorities can be achieved if prior and informed consent is respected echoes what many indigenous peoples have always stated,” Tauli-Corpuz told the Guardian. Les Malezer, from Australia, describes it as “gratifying” that the Pope took such a “strong stance” on the need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights, and says he took the opportunity to raise with him the “Doctrine of Discovery” - the international legal concept grounded in the 15th century papal bulls. “Each person in our audience had the opportunity to say a very few words to the Pope as he came around the room,” Malezer, from Queensland, told the Guardian. “I asked the Pope to continue to review the Doctrine of Discovery which was followed by many instances of genocide of indigenous peoples and the taking of their lands. Also I requested the Catholic Church seek to raise awareness worldwide of the situation and rights of indigenous peoples.” In asserting indigenous peoples’ right to consent, Francis was echoing - and giving sustenance to - a growing body of international law and jurisprudence binding on governments, and guidelines, principles or operating procedures adopted by some financial institutions, UN agencies and private sector groups. According to a 2013 report by UN-REDD on the international legal basis for what is known as “FPIC” - free, prior and informed consent - “More than 200 States have ratified numerous international and regional treaties and covenants that expressly provide for, or are now interpreted to recognise, a State duty and obligation to obtain FPIC where the circumstances so warrant.”


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Pope Francis poses during a meeting with indigenous people to mark the 40th governing council of the the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at the Vatican February 15, 2017. Osservatore Romano/Handout via REUTERS VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis appeared on Wednesday to back Native Americans seeking to halt part of the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying indigenous cultures have a right to defend "their ancestral relationship to the earth". The Latin American pope, who has often strongly defended indigenous rights since his election in 2013, made his comments on protection of native lands to representative of tribes attending the Indigenous Peoples Forum in Rome. While he did not name the pipeline, he used strong and clear language applicable to the conflict, saying development had to be reconciled with "the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories". For more news videos visit Yahoo View, available now on iOS and Android. Francis spoke two days after a U.S. federal judge denied a request by tribes to halt construction of the final link of the project that sparked months of protests by activists aimed at stopping the 1,170-mile line. Speaking in Spanish, Francis said the need to protect native territories was "especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth". The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes have argued the project would prevent them from practicing religious ceremonies at a lake they say is surrounded by sacred ground. "In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent (of native peoples) should always prevail," the pope said, citing the 1997 U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Thousands of tribe members, environmentalists and others set up camps last year on Army Corps land in the North Dakota plains as protests intensified. In December, the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama denied the last permit needed by Energy Transfer Partners, which is building the $3.8 billion pipeline. But last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted a final easement, after President Donald Trump issued an order to advance the project days after he took office in January. The pope made an indirect criticism last week of another Trump project, a wall along the border with Mexico, saying society should not create "walls but bridges" and ask others to pay for them. Francis, who wrote a major encyclical letter in 2015 on climate change and the environment, told the group that new technologies could be legitimate but had to respect the earth. "Do not allow those which destroy the earth, which destroy the environment and the ecological balance, and which end up destroying the wisdom of peoples," he said. (Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Tom Heneghan)


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Pope Francis poses during a meeting with indigenous people to mark the 40th governing council of the the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at the Vatican February 15, 2017. Osservatore Romano/Handout via REUTERS VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis appeared on Wednesday to back Native Americans seeking to halt part of the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying indigenous cultures have a right to defend "their ancestral relationship to the earth". The Latin American pope, who has often strongly defended indigenous rights since his election in 2013, made his comments on protection of native lands to representative of tribes attending the Indigenous Peoples Forum in Rome. While he did not name the pipeline, he used strong and clear language applicable to the conflict, saying development had to be reconciled with "the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories". For more news videos visit Yahoo View, available now on iOS and Android. Francis spoke two days after a U.S. federal judge denied a request by tribes to halt construction of the final link of the project that sparked months of protests by activists aimed at stopping the 1,170-mile line. Speaking in Spanish, Francis said the need to protect native territories was "especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth". The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes have argued the project would prevent them from practicing religious ceremonies at a lake they say is surrounded by sacred ground. "In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent (of native peoples) should always prevail," the pope said, citing the 1997 U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Thousands of tribe members, environmentalists and others set up camps last year on Army Corps land in the North Dakota plains as protests intensified. In December, the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama denied the last permit needed by Energy Transfer Partners, which is building the $3.8 billion pipeline. But last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted a final easement, after President Donald Trump issued an order to advance the project days after he took office in January. The pope made an indirect criticism last week of another Trump project, a wall along the border with Mexico, saying society should not create "walls but bridges" and ask others to pay for them. Francis, who wrote a major encyclical letter in 2015 on climate change and the environment, told the group that new technologies could be legitimate but had to respect the earth. "Do not allow those which destroy the earth, which destroy the environment and the ecological balance, and which end up destroying the wisdom of peoples," he said. (Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Tom Heneghan)


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A major new research programme will be launched today at the University of East Anglia (UEA) to help improve understanding about how adult learning can address inequalities in the poorest communities of the world. The university has been invited by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to join its prestigious University Network and establish the first UNESCO Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation. Led by Chairholder Anna Robinson-Pant, professor of education at UEA, the international collaboration with researchers in Nepal, Ethiopia and Egypt will focus in particular on women and young adults, investigating how or why adult literacy and learning programmes might better respond to processes of social transformation, including women's empowerment. The Chair programme aims to strengthen the interaction between formal, non-formal and informal learning in research, policy and programmes and will build directly on the expertise of the UEA Literacy and Development Group, which brings together researchers in education and international development from across the university. Today's launch will be opened by UEA Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson, with speakers including James Bridge, chief executive of the UK National Commission for UNESCO. The event will feature presentations by the UEA UNESCO Chair team, Prof Alan Smith (UNESCO Chairholder in Education for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy, University of Ulster), Prof Mary Hamilton (University of Lancaster), Prof Gemma Moss (Institute of Education, University College London), Mari Hartl (International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD) and Mari Yasunaga (UNESCO Paris). Among the topics to be discussed at the launch will be indigenous women and adult literary, as well as a joint IFAD-UNESCO project on learning knowledge and skills for agriculture to improve rural livelihoods. Prof Robinson-Pant led the project, which prompted the initial proposal for a Chair in this area. This UNESCO Chair programme is a partnership with university departments specialising in adult literacy and community learning in Ethiopia (Bahir Dar University), Nepal (Kathmandu University and Tribhuvan University Research Center for Educational Innovation and Development, CERID) and Egypt (Ain Shams University). Prof Robinson-Pant recently visited Nepal to meet with colleagues at Kathmandu University, CERID, the Ministry of Education and key development agencies to discuss possible collaborative research projects around adult literacy and education and community learning. Prof Robinson-Pant said: "We are delighted to launch this programme today. Adult education can become a force for change in the poorest communities of the world and this is a real opportunity to work closely with colleagues in Ethiopia, Egypt and Nepal who share that view. "Our programme of collaborative research and training should also contribute to the 2030 sustainable development agenda, highlighting the central role of adult learning and literacy in areas like health and agricultural development." The chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Beth Taylor, said: "I am delighted to welcome the Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation to the UK's UNESCO Chairs Network. The Chair will join a well-established network of 16 UK UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in diverse subjects ranging from Sustainable Mountain Development to Archaeological Ethics. Being accepted to the Network is in recognition of the University of East Anglia's academic excellence and the contribution of its research to UNESCO's core mission of promoting peace in the minds of men and women. "I hope that the designation will help provide a national and global platform for the Chair's research, and will add value for the university. Recent research by the UK National Commission found that UK Chairs generated an estimated £14.4 million in 2014/15 through their association with UNESCO." The UEA team consists of Prof Robinson-Pant, Prof Nitya Rao, Dr Sheila Aikman, Dr Catherine Jere, Prof Alan Rogers and Dr Spyros Themelis. The expertise of the group includes literacy and women's empowerment, migration and education, the influence of education on social and economic mobility, and cultural and linguistic change in low income countries. The aim of the Chair is to strengthen qualitative research capacity in the field of adult literacy, learning and social transformation through collaborative research and curriculum development activities. It also sets out to develop new initiatives with key policy organisations in this field - particularly the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg - the aim being to promote greater interaction between research and policy in areas such as vocational skill development, health and agriculture. A series of research workshops is proposed as part of the new Chair, as well as an international conference in 2018. The team also hope to work with organisations involved in adult education in Norwich - such as New Routes, an established NGO working with recently settled migrants - to inform some of the international activities.

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