News Article | May 14, 2017
BEIJING, May 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of China represented by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) have strengthened ties for cooperation on sustainable development with the signing of an Action Plan for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The signing took place during the first official Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation organized by the Chinese Government on 14-15 May, in Beijing. The Action Plan is a follow up to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on BRI signed last September at the margins of the 71st UN General Assembly. Building on the progress made so far, the action plan features key areas in which the cooperation can be taken forward to drive development results. Specifically, the objectives of the Action Plan will be focused on: UNDP hopes that the signing of the 'Action Plan' represents a long-term commitment to ensure the initiative drives impactful sustainable development progress. As UNDP Administrator a.i., Tegegnework Gettu stressed "UNDP strongly believes that the BRI can maximize its positive impact by closely aligning its objectives and outcomes with the implementation of the SDGs. The BRI can act as an accelerator for the SDGs, creating global public benefits and realising clear development objectives. UNDP commends the Government of China for enacting this initiative, and acknowledges the role of China in leading by example and reaffirms its desire to support China in its efforts." At the forum, UNDP also launched the 2017 Global Governance report looking at the potential for aligning BRI strategies and policies with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report entitled `The Belt and Road Initiative - A new means to transformative global governance towards sustainable development', was launched alongside their national counterpart, the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE). "The report stresses the importance of making inclusiveness the core of the Belt and Road Initiative, and aligning the BRI with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Aligning the priorities of the countries with the SDGs can serve as the practical basis for transformative governance" highlighted Zhang Xiaoqiang, CCIEE Vice Chairman. The report explores the implications of the BRI for the sustainable development of partner countries and synergies with the existing global governance system. Providing suggestions for further action, it features China`s role as a bridge builder and highlights the BRI's potential as a game changer in global economic governance towards sustainable development. One of the main findings concludes that the BRI has the potential to be a key driver of economic dynamism and rising prosperity across its regions, however this will largely depend on strategic management from within, by linking the home and host contexts. Entry points for partner countries to engage in the BRI should draw on countries' national SDGs implementation plans. This can enhance the transformative nature of the BRI and reflect each BRI country's ownership and leadership throughout the process, thereby building trust and confidence among states. This implies that the BRI can not only contribute to basic infrastructure, regional development, connectivity and industrialization, but can trigger sustainable transformation of the countries along the Belt and Road with poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and inclusive social development at its core. To download the report please visit: UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in around 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. www.undp.org Get in touch: UNDP on Weibo | Media Contacts | WeChat ID: undpchina
News Article | May 15, 2017
BEIJING, May 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Chinese enterprises can play a critical role in supporting the Belt and Road regions to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, says the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the 2017 Report on the Sustainable Development of Chinese Enterprises Overseas, launched today during the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. This is the second report to review and provide recommendations on the sustainable practices of Chinese companies operating overseas. Produced in cooperation with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC) of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Research Center of State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the State Council, the report provides concrete analysis and recommendations on the potential impact of Chinese enterprises operating in Belt and Road regions and the realization of the 2030 Agenda in host countries. The report was launched during the high-level Belt and Road Forum (BRF) by UNDP Administrator a.i, Tegegnework Gettu. "As the growth engine in most developing and developed countries, the private sector contributes significantly to poverty eradication and creating and aggregate income and wealth by generating and providing affordable goods and services," said Gettu. "UNDP hopes the report can serve as a reference, both in principle and in practice, for Chinese enterprises at home and abroad in facilitating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Belt and Road regions and build a community of shared interests and responsibility which enhances economic, social and environmental value in a sustainable way," he added. The report highlights the linkages between the 2030 Agenda, the Belt and Road Initiative and the actions of Chinese enterprises operating overseas. These include improving infrastructure, upgrading industries, creating jobs, technology transfer and implementing ecological civilization, all areas that Chinese enterprises are already engaged in and are called on to accelerate by both the BRI and the 2030 Agenda. In 2016, China's non-financial outward direct investment (ODI) reached US$170.11 billion, an increase of 44.1% from 2015. Chinese companies invested in 7,961 overseas enterprises in 164 countries and regions. About 2.8 million jobs were created by Chinese enterprises by the end of 2015, including 1.2 million non-Chinese employees. The report surveyed 543 Chinese enterprises doing business in the Belt and Road regions and collected opinions from 38 stakeholder representatives. It also includes 18 case studies of Chinese invested overseas projects that showcase best practices in green and sustainable economic development benefitting local communities and contributing to poverty reduction. Survey results show that Chinese enterprises investing in the Belt and Road countries have already developed relatively high levels of awareness of corporate social responsibility, and have in fact invested in the public welfare of local communities. They have made significant strides in the localization of employment, ensuring equal treatment of local and Chinese employees with regards to pay and training, and in applying local labour, health and safety and environmental regulations. However, survey results also show that there are still improvements to be made by Chinese enterprises, in terms of systematic analysis of social and environmental risks, establishing strategic management systems for sustainable development, strengthening information disclosure and enhancing communications with stakeholders. Overseas Chinese enterprises are increasingly contributing to sustainable development in ways that are mutually beneficial to themselves and to the local community. The vision provided by the BRI as well as support from the Chinese government and other stakeholders are creating an enabling environment for Chinese enterprises to take advantage of profitable business opportunities while also contributing to the sustainable development of countries along the Belt and Road. Please click link to download the report. The video report, produced by Phoenix TV "The Odyssey of Dragon" Programme, will be broadcasted on every Sunday from May 14th to June 4th. UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in around 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. www.undp.org Get in touch: UNDP on Weibo | Media Contacts | WeChat ID: undpchina More resources: Our work | UNDP News
News Article | May 11, 2017
12 May, Bonn, Germany. MITIGATION ACTION THROUGH ARTICLE 6 OF THE PARIS AGREEMENT. This event on the sidelines of the mid-year UN climate talks is being co-hosted by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES). Negotiators on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement form selected countries and experts on carbon markets will discuss what lies ahead for the 24th session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP24). Please note that to access the venue for this event, UNFCCC accreditation is necessary. For more information, please visit the ICTSD website. 15 May, Washington, US, and online. FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN ECONOMY AFTER THE FRENCH ELECTION. This webcast event is being organised by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) and will have two discussion panels comprised of PIIE senior fellows and European experts. The panels will discuss what the 7 May French election results mean for the wider EU economy and outline recommendations for ensuring the EU’s future economic stability. This event is open to the public and will be steamed online. To learn more and watch online, visit the PIIE website. 16 May, Washington, US. NEW GLOBAL AND REGIONAL TRENDS: POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS FOR LATIN AMERICA. This event is being hosted by the Brookings Global- CERES Economic and Social Policy in Latin America Initiative and will feature a panel to discuss the implications of new global and regional trends. This panel will look at specifically at political and macroeconomic trends in the region and their ramifications across various policy areas. To learn more and to resister, please visit the Brookings Institution website. 17 May, Geneva, Switzerland. REFLECTIONS ON PROGRESS. This event is being organised by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and will feature as its guest speaker Kemal Derviş, Vice President and Director for Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution, for a discussion on global growth and inequality. To learn more and to register, please visit the Graduate Institute website. An updated list of forthcoming WTO meetings is posted here. Please bear in mind that dates and times of WTO meetings are often changed, and that the WTO does not always announce the important informal meetings of the different bodies. Unless otherwise indicated, all WTO meetings are held at the WTO, Centre William Rappard, rue de Lausanne 154, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland, and are open to WTO Members and accredited observers only. 17 May: Committee on Trade and Development 17 May: Committee on Trade and Development – Dedicated Session on Small Economies 18 May: Committee on Budget, Finance, and Administration 19 May, Geneva, Switzerland, and online. TALKING DISPUTES |THE RUSSIA – PIGS (EU) DISPUTE. This event is being jointly organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and WTI Advisors (WTIA). This event will focus on the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body ruling in the Russia – Pigs (EU) dispute, presenting the key findings and engaging in a discussion of the legal and policy implications, particularly regarding trade and regulatory cooperation. This event is open to the public and will be livestreamed online as an interactive webcast, with viewers able to submit questions for the panel. To learn more and to register, or to watch online, please visit the ICTSD website. 22 May, Geneva, Switzerland. REFORMING FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES THROUGH THE WTO AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS. This workshop is being organised by Climate Strategies, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). This workshop will feature a panel of representatives from IISD, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), SEI, SWP, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to discuss the varied nature of fossil fuel subsidies and what this means for agreements of different configurations. For more information, please visit the ICTSD website. 31 May – 12 July, online. MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSE: GREENING CONSUMPTION & PRODUCTION. This six-week facilitated course is being offered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) Forum and The Nature Conservancy. Topics for the course will cover green consumption and production including greening key production sectors, sustainable commodity supply chains, and mainstreaming biodiversity into development planning. The course is aimed at policymakers and practitioners working in the area of sustainable consumption and production and is available in English, Spanish, and French. To learn more and to register, please visit the Nature Conservancy website. 5-8 June, Manila, Philippines. ASIA CLEAN ENERGY FORUM 2017. This event is being jointly organised by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Korea Energy Agency. The aim of this forum will be to share best practices in policy, technology, and finance regarding clean energy, energy efficiency, and energy access, with the event having as its theme “The Future is Here: Achieving Universal Access and Climate Targets.” To learn more and to register, please visit the event website. 7-9 June, Geneva, Switzerland. INNOVATE 4 WATER: A MATCHMAKING FORUM FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT BRINGING TOGETHER INNOVATORS, INVESTORS, AND EXPERTS. This two-day forum is being organised by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) GREEN, WaterVent, and WIPO GREEN partner Waterpreneurs. The aim of this forum will be to bring together individuals and organizations working in the water sector and create a space for entrepreneurs in this field to meet collaborators in related areas. To learn more and to register, please visit the WIPO GREEN website.
News Article | July 3, 2015
Islam is a demanding religion, requiring a considerable amount of time and effort on the part of believers to fulfil duties of worship. The core duties are known as the “five pillars of Islam”, the most burdensome of which is the fourth pillar, the injunction to fast during daylight hours (whereby no food, drink, smoking or sexual activity is permitted) during the lunar month of Ramadan, that is, 29 or 30 days. This is necessarily a debilitating requirement, whose health and economic impacts can be significant (children, the ill and elderly are exempted). There is mounting evidence to show that fasting in the month of Ramadan has a negative effect on health which, in turn, can have an adverse impact on productivity and economic output. Naturally, the longer the period of fasting, the greater the effect – this is particularly so when Ramadan falls during the summer months in north European countries, as at present. The duration of the daily fast this year in Britain is about 19 hours. Research by the Dutch academic Reyn van Ewijk points to an array of long-term health problems resulting from Ramadan fasting. For those women who chose to fast during pregnancy, it may cause considerable negative health effects on the offspring, irrespective of the stage of pregnancy in which Ramadan took place. Exposure to fasting before birth is associated with a poorer general health. It also increases a person’s chances of developing symptoms that are indicative of serious health problems, such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes and, among older people who were exposed during certain stages of gestation, may lead to anaemia. Occupational health researchers have highlighted various adverse health consequences from severe dehydration, including headaches, dizziness and nausea. In the Muslim world, one word encapsulates the economic reality of Ramadan: “slowdown” – meaning that less work is done and more slowly. An article in Arab News in July 2013 suggested that productivity declines by as much as 35% to 50% as a result of shorter working hours and the change in lifestyle during the month so that decisions and vital meetings are postponed until it is over. In an extensive survey, economists Felipe Campante and David Yanagizawa-Drott show that Ramadan fasting has a significant negative effect on output growth in Muslim countries. A survey by Dinar Standard, the growth strategy firm, estimates that in the Organisation of Islamic Conference countries the working day is reduced on average by two hours during Ramadan (PDF). If we assume 21 working days in a month, this translates to a loss of 42 working hours. There is no indication that these hours are made up during the rest of the year. If, on average, 1,700 hours are worked during the year, this loss represents a 2.5% reduction in output per year. Productivity declines not only from the physical strain of fasting but from the disruption to the flow and organisation of work. It is reasonable to assume that decline in productivity would further reduce economic output by at least 3% each year, which represents a significant annual recessionary impact of Ramadan. It is revealing that OIC countries have never undertaken extensive research to ascertain the precise impact of Ramadan on their economies. What is more surprising is that international organisations, such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and United Nations Development Programme, have also not carried out this research; perhaps because of its sensitive nature. It is sometimes argued that rather than Ramadan having a deleterious effect, it actually increases subjective well-being among Muslims. But the use of subjective well-being with respect to authoritarian doctrines, including religions, ought to be treated with caution, especially under autocratic regimes. This is especially true for Muslim-majority countries where apostasy and blasphemy are simply intolerable. Given this, adherence to the tenets and rituals of the faith is demanded, and shown approval by the family, wider community, and (it is hoped) the almighty. To do otherwise risks bringing shame and dishonour to the family, clan, and society at large. So, it naturally follows that when asked about fulfilling religious duties, the believers deem this to be a gracious cause for improving well-being even if the duty in question – such as month-long fasting – is demonstrably harmful to the person’s health. Accordingly, the supposed positive subjective well-being effects of Ramadan are a flawed indicator of genuine well-being. Medical science has long made clear that regular intakes of food and drink are a sine qua non for good health and soundness of mind. Given the significant and rising numbers of Muslims living in Britain, it is high time that the issue of the health and economic consequences of Ramadan fasting is given due consideration by national and local governments, businesses and society at large. • Rumy Hasan, a lecturer at the University of Sussex, is writing a book on the impact of religion on growth and development in less developed countries
News Article | May 26, 2017
GUIYANG, China, May 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- 'Smart Cities', driven by big data and cloud computing, can ensure fairness and inclusiveness in city development says the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) in its report "Smart Cities and Social Governance: Guide to Participatory Indicator Development" launched at the Sino-EU Forum for Smart Cities and Social Governance in Guiyang. The Guide documents a year-long project in the Bihai and Huizhan Neighborhoods in Guiyang that engaged communities and expert stakeholders in developing a set of social governance indicators to assist local government in assessing its progress and increasing transparency for citizens in the provision of social services. "This project shows how community voices can be included in public decision-making and at the same time community goals can be tracked and progress assessed by using high-tech platforms. In Guiyang we have piloted a participatory methodology which can be replicated in other neighborhoods and cities in China," noted Patrick Haverman, Deputy Country Director of UNDP China. The guide highlights that 'smart cities' must be oriented towards meeting human needs, collecting and sharing information with high-tech support that contributes to achieving social and environmental sustainability and creating inclusive and liveable cities. "Informatization needs fairness and inclusiveness, and be human-centered" said Zhong Mian, Vice Governor of Guizhou Province at the launch. Local governments need to address increasingly complex challenges and emerging social issues, and implement effective and inclusive city governance with limited resources. Smart city development, driven by big data and cloud computing, has the potential to bring profound changes in the governance of urban society. At its best, it can produce innovative governance and new techniques and ideas for addressing urban problems by facilitating communication between residents and government and by providing better data so officials and other actors can make better, more timely decisions. In Guiyang, indicators such as housing affordability and availability, transportation availability, accessibility of healthcare and education, safety and environmental quality of over 850 communities are being tracked and data is mapped and will be available online for public access. A smart city can contribute to achieving the goal of social and environmental sustainability and creating inclusive and liveable cities, by collecting and sharing information with high-tech support. But 'smart' approaches cannot do this alone. There must also be robust public engagement that ensures that all residents have a voice in the development of their city and in the direction and performance of their government. "This collaboration shows the how multisectoral partnerships can improve city development," said Xu Ning, Chairman of Wing Cloud Big Data. To download the report please visit: www.cn.undp.org/content/china/en/home/publications UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in around 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. www.undp.org Get in touch: UNDP on Weibo | Media Contacts | WeChat ID: undpchina More resources: Our work | UNDP News
News Article | May 4, 2017
Lao PDR is rich in biodiversity, and Lao people make use of agro-biodiversity resources for food, medicine and income on a daily basis. Yet, this resource is under threat from changing agricultural and land use practices, including overexploitation. An agro-biodiversity project is currently underway to ensure that agro-biodiversity is incorporated in national policies and that Lao farmers continue to benefit from the biodiversity present in their farming systems. Technically supported by FAO and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the project has guided policy formulation since 2011. As part of this larger initiative, training has been provided to farmers in Phonxay district in the cultivation of oyster mushrooms. The project started in October 2014 when a mushroom cultivation group was formed and has been receiving technical input from FAO as well as the local technical service centre. Connecting farmers to high-value markets Ms. Vieng, 32, can now proudly say that she is a mushroom farmer. She smiles while showing an oyster mushroom from a bag she learned to prepare after participating in a training on mushroom cultivation together with her group in Huayman, her native village in Phonexay District, Lao PDR. Along with three other village groups, she and seven other villagers from Huayman joined the cultivation group in October 2014. From the onset, they learned how to prepare raw material with guidance from the technical service centre located in the neighbouring village of Nambor. Farmers in the area have a long tradition of collecting wild mushrooms for consumption, but they knew little about how to cultivate them. The newly formed mushroom groups went on a study trip to learn from two other successful mushroom farmers in Luang Prabang. They quickly realized that oyster mushrooms are easily sold in the Luang Prabang markets at a price of 20-25 000 Kip per kg (US$ 2.5 - 3). So when the technical service centre facilitators, in partnership with an expert from the Department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Vientiane, suggested offering training to villagers to cultivate oyster mushrooms, they saw an opportunity. One year has passed since Ms. Vieng joined the group. “As a result of the training our group has produced 1.5 tons of oyster mushrooms and now I spend less time in the surrounding forests looking for food,” she says. The group has sold mushrooms totalling 20 million kip (USD 2 500) of which 60% is deposited in a local bank. Many villagers, like Ms. Vieng, now have an extra income to better support their livelihoods and their children. Although the oyster mushroom is an easy species to cultivate much attention needs to be paid to avoid contamination at every step of the process, from sterilization of bagged raw material and inoculation, to keeping the houses clean. “Huayman village is performing wonderfully because the villagers understood the simple sanitary rules they need to follow like how to maintain optimal humidity through regular watering in the growing house. This has been the key to their success,” says, Ms. Viengkham, expert from the Department of Agriculture. The oyster mushroom cultivation groups in Phonexay District have sparked the interest and motivation of other villagers in the area. Mr. Hounpheng is a farmer who lives in Panma village, around 18 kilometres from the Nambor Technical Service Center. “When I learned about the groups, I asked the organizers to let me join and attend one training session and now I know how to properly cultivate mushrooms,” he says. The mushroom cultivation groups will see their third harvest in 2016 and thereafter they are expected to produce without the need of additional technical assistance. Policies for food security and agricultural development A strong partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has positioned FAO as a trusted partner to support the development of key policies in the country. At the beginning of 2015, FAO collaborated with the World Bank in the formulation of the Government’s strategic action and investment plan to implement the new national rice policy. This intervention included advice on sustainable approaches to food security through increased production and trade and export development.
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 1.21M | Year: 2013
This project aims to better understand the links between ecosystem services (ES) and wellbeing in order to design and implement more effective interventions for poverty alleviation. We do this in the context of coastal, social-ecological systems in two poor African countries; Kenya and Mozambique. Despite recent policy and scientific interest in ES, there remain important knowledge gaps regarding how ecosystems actually contribute to wellbeing, and thus poverty alleviation. Following the ESPA framework, distinguishing ecological processes, final ES, capital inputs, goods and values, this project is concerned with how these elements are interrelated to produce ES benefits, and focuses specifically on how these benefits are distributed to (potentially) benefit the poor, enhancing their wellbeing. We thus address the ESPA goal of understanding and promoting ways in which benefits to the poorest can be increased and more people can meet their basic needs, but we also identify conflicted tradeoffs, i.e. those which result in serious harm to either the ecosystem or poor people and which need urgent attention. Several fundamental questions are currently debated in international scientific and policy fora, relating to four major global trends which are likely to affect abilities of poor people to access ES benefits: (1) devolution of governance power and its impacts on local governance of ecosystems and production of ES, (2) unprecedented rates and scales of environmental change, particularly climate change, which are creating new vulnerabilities, opportunities and constraints, shifting baselines, and demanding radical changes in behaviour to cope, (3) market integration now reaches the most remote corners of the developing world, changing relationships between people and resources and motivations for natural resource management, (4) societal changes, including demographic, population, urbanisation and globalisation of culture, forge new relationships with ES and further decouple people from direct dependency on particular resources. Study sites have been chosen so as to gather empirical evidence to help answer key questions about how these four drivers of change affect abilities of poor people to benefit from ES. We aim for direct impact on the wellbeing of poor inhabitants of the rapidly transforming coastal areas in Mozambique and Kenya, where research will take place, while also providing indirect impact to coastal poor in other developing countries through our international impact strategy. Benefits from research findings will also accrue to multiple stakeholders at various levels. Local government, NGOs and civil society groups - through engagement with project activities, e.g. participation in workshops and exposure to new types of analysis and systems thinking. Donor organizations and development agencies - through research providing evidence to inform strategies to support sector development (e.g. fisheries, coastal planning and tourism development) and methods to understand and evaluate impacts of different development interventions - e.g. through tradeoff analysis and evaluation of the elasticities between ecosystem services and wellbeing. International scientific community - through dissemination of findings via conferences, scientific publications (open access), and from conceptual and theoretical development and new understandings of the multiple linkages between ecosystem services and wellbeing. Regional African scientists will benefit specifically through open courses offered within the scope of the project, and through dissemination of results at regional venues. Our strategies to deliver impact and benefits include (1) identifying windows of opportunity within the context of ongoing coastal development processes to improve flows of benefits from ecosystems services to poor people, and (2) identifying and seeking to actively mitigate conflicted tradeoffs in Kenya and Mozambique.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SSH.2013.7.1-1 | Award Amount: 2.98M | Year: 2014
The project POst-CArbon CIties of TOmorrow foresight for sustainable pathways towards liveable, affordable and prospering cities in a world context (POCACITO) will develop an evidence-based 2050 roadmap for EU post-carbon cities. POCACITO facilitates the transition of EU cities to a forecasted sustainable or post-carbon economic model. The project focuses on towns, cities, megacities, metropolitan areas and urban clusters larger than 1 million people as well as small and medium-sized cities. POCACITOs approach uses participatory scenario development as a mutual learning and living lab environment strategy. The project recognises that post-carbon city transitions should improve urban resilience to fluctuating environmental and socio-economic pressure. Pressure in this context includes long-term changes in urban resident demographics, city and rural migration patterns, and potential city health concerns. Further, POCACITO develops innovative long-term outlooks for European post-carbon cities to address climate adaptation and urban environmental metabolism concerns by using a participatory city case study approach. Case study cities include Barcelona, Copenhagen/Malm, Istanbul, Lisbon, Litomerice, Milan/Turin, Offenburg and Zagreb. These cities will develop qualitative post-carbon visions with local stakeholders. Visions will be chosen based on selected best-practice measures and preliminary city assessments. Accompanying studies will yield a typology of post-carbon cities and a post-carbon city index. A marketplace of ideas will spread best practices from other EU cities and global cities in global emerging nations, allowing an international exchange of urban best practices. Related research will produce case study city roadmaps and an evidence-based 2050 roadmap for post-carbon EU cities within a global context. The projects research supports the sustainable development objective of the Europe 2020 strategy and the Innovation Union flagship initiative.
News Article | February 22, 2017
It is astonishing to many that lakes and rivers account for less than one-third of 1% of global fresh water. Some 95% of unfrozen fresh water resides unsung and underground, dimly visible at the bottom of a well or gushing from a pump. Big cities such as Buenos Aires and entire countries, including Germany, depend hugely on groundwater. About 70% of it goes into irrigation, accounting for more than half of irrigated agriculture — which in turn provides nearly half of the global food basket. In large parts of India, groundwater is egregiously overdrawn. And everywhere, aquifers are poorly measured and managed. As a result, no scientific consensus exists on the details of this vast and vital source of fresh water — although there is consensus on the fact that we face a worldwide problem. In High and Dry, hydrologist William Alley and science writer Rosemary Alley encapsulate the crisis in a description of the US High Plains Aquifer, which spans eight states from South Dakota to Texas. “This virtual ocean of groundwater, which accumulated over thousands of years, is being used up in decades,” they write. In three ways, the book provides a deep and broad understanding of groundwater use and abuse, mostly in the United States but with some international scope. First, it abounds in case studies, many centring on grand, polarizing projects. In the early twentieth century, engineer William Mulholland fomented water wars in California by diverting the Owens River to Los Angeles; that process has ultimately led to groundwater pumping in the Owens Valley. Today, Texas tycoon T. Boone Pickens has tried to sell water from the Ogallala Aquifer to municipalities. In the mid-1980s, Libyan leader Mu'ammer Gaddafi masterminded the Great Man-Made River, a piping system fed by the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, to service the country's dry reaches. India, the Alleys show, swiftly progressed from famine to food exporting beginning in the 1960s. That astonishing development was driven mostly by private pumps (16 million of them as of 2010) using free electricity to pull water from an ever-lower water table. The authors also delve into Australia's Murray–Darling basin, which has been overpumped and overused, largely because of allocations based on volumes in high-water years. And they explore how water politics in apartheid-era South Africa denied non-whites adequate water rights for rural development. These stories are crucial to global understanding of current imbroglios, and they are told with verve. The second achievement of High and Dry is its excellent distillation of aquifer science. There are clear descriptions of how geology and geography affect the depth or movement of water, the relation of aquifers to stream flow and how these stores recharge. Pollution of aquifers by pesticides, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals and arsenic is thoroughly laid out, as is arsenic poisoning, which remains slow and expensive to treat. The Alleys show how artesian wells can push pressurized water into the atmosphere and aquifer depletion can cause subsidence of metres per decade, which plays havoc with railways and sewers. Finally, the book unpicks the tangles that impede groundwater governance. In the United States, the “secret, occult and concealed” nature of the resource, as an 1861 court ruling had it, rendered regulation impossible. US history accordingly reveals a rich tapestry of legal suits, counter suits, interstate conflicts, water theft, treaties, compacts, agreements, accords, lobbying, bullying and temporizing. Yet national water governance is slowly finding ways to measure and manage water use as technology and awareness grow. In the American West there are several, sometimes competing, fundamental water laws. “First in time, first in right” means that, during shortages, the earliest registered licence holders get all of the water specified in their licence. The “law of the biggest pump” means that those who can pump it, own it. Water and water rights can be bought and sold: large Californian cities buy huge water allocations from farmers. Quebec in Canada, where the legal system enshrines the public good over individual rights, has moved more easily towards management. But the Alleys find few unalloyed successes. Under Governor Jerry Brown, California has used the severe droughts of the past decade to create a credible, and broadly supported, groundwater-management agenda. The Murray–Darling region, however, has gone one step forward, one back. In the 2000s, it moved towards a federally managed system based mostly on the public good, but backed off as the rains returned. The Alleys do examine aquifer replenishment. They cover wastewater recycling through tried and true reverse osmosis, and the increasing use of microorganisms and innovative technologies. They look at rainwater collection in ponds, and well replenishment. But there is little detail, particularly on the actual capacity for meeting challenges. More problematic is the book's US-centrism: Arizona occupies 23 pages, India just 11. Measurements are not primarily metric, which demands translation. And the sub-Saharan sections, concentrating on the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are thin — although they do at least pick up on a fundamental problem. NGOs, engineers and aid programmes come, drill a well and leave. Eventually, the well empties. The well could empty for millions more. The United Nations Development Programme notes that, in 2011, more than 40 countries experienced water stress; of those, 10 have nearly depleted their renewable freshwater supply. By 2050, one in four people globally may be hit by periodic shortages. The near future could see refugee numbers swell, to include more people without water. Yet High and Dry, like so many books on the environment, is stronger on issues than fixes. More mapping, more statistical detail and a tougher editor might have helped to contextualize and clarify the riches of this book.