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Oliver Griffith: Protecting Africa’s forests through REDD+

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Oliver Griffith, is a former US Diplomat and World Bank Group (Image: Oliver Griffith)

Deforestation and forest degradation are the second leading causes of global warming, responsible for about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The recent COP-26 recognized this with a pledge to stop deforestation by 2030. But how will we get there?

Can we in the North tell developing countries not to cut down their forests because we need them as carbon sinks to slow down climate change? Not without some form of compensation. They’re desperate for economic growth and have a right to use their resources. 

European countries cut down their trees centuries ago for the same reasons. And the US now emits over 15 metric tons of CO2 per capita, almost eight times as much as the average sub-Saharan country. The same people who lecture developing countries are the ones who drive SUVs. And consume the soy-fed beef and palm oil that contribute to deforestation. We need a reality check.

Why not just buy all those rainforests and turn them into national parks to preserve them as the world’s lungs? Not a bad idea, and it’s worked in some places, but what if there are people living in the forests and contributing to their demise? Population pressure, subsistence farming, and fuel wood and charcoal making account for about half of tropical forest loss, while commercial agriculture, logging, and more recently climate disasters, account for the rest. So, the obvious solution is to lessen these activities.

Since at least half of deforestation is linked to rich world consumption patterns, an important step is to change these. There are encouraging signs, but the growing middle classes in developing countries want to live well too. And how can we tell a family just escaping poverty that they shouldn’t have modern conveniences or eat beef? Changing habits and the economic models that sustain them won’t be easy.

Tackling deforestation on the ground is an indispensable adjunct. It should involve giving indigenous inhabitants title to the lands they have sustainably used for centuries. Creating family planning programs to ease demographic pressure, and finding sustainable livelihoods for forest dwellers. And governments must cut subsidies for unsustainable forest activities and improve environmental laws and forest management.

Since the primary drivers of deforestation are economic, we must find economic solutions, making the trees more valuable standing than cutting down. Among the most effective and far reaching is the United Nations’ REDD+ program. It Reduces Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation by selling carbon credits based on verified emission reductions in forests. The proceeds are used to help the forest communities find more sustainable livelihoods and improve their standards of living. By harnessing market-based economic mechanisms for an economic problem. It may have the greatest chance of success among the many initiatives with the same goals.

A crucial component is gaining influence in the decision-making process for land use, which is challenging in the countries where most tropical forests are located. It requires international encouragement, such as through COP-26, and local policy reforms. At the same time we need quick action on the ground where deforestation is happening.

The results so far are encouraging. Studies of REDD+ projects worldwide have found that they reduce deforestation while improving the lives of forest dwellers. Moreover, REDD+ has increased the awareness and commitment of governments and the private sector on the importance of forest preservation. Pinpointed commercial agriculture as a driver of deforestation, and provided a platform to secure land rights. It’s not a magic bullet and must be combined with activism against polluting companies in the global North, but it’s a good start.

Oliver Griffith recently visited two REDD+ projects run by Wildlife Works, a private conservation company. The Kasigau Corridor Project in Kenya, which was the first REDD+ project to be verified by the two main REDD+ standards (VCS, CCBA) in 2011, and the ERA-Congo Project in Mai Ndombe province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). What impressed me was not just the slowing down of deforestation. But the positive socio-economic effects of the substantial funds flowing into these poor regions from the sale of carbon credits. 

In the Kasigau Corridor area, wherever you turn there are community projects, from schools and clinics to handicrafts cooperatives, water tanks, pumps, and farming cooperatives. In fact, Wildlife Works facilities are far more visible than those of the local or national governments.

In Mai Ndombe the impact is even more dramatic. The 180,000 residents in the isolated forest communities in the 300,000-hectare project area lack just about everything – health care, education, electricity, running water, and adequate nutrition. Once again, the community-based Wildlife Works projects are popping up everywhere, and are already reaching over 50,000 people, taking the place of underfunded state services. That this is happening in the DRC, and with relatively efficient support from the government, is even more remarkable.

Time will tell if such projects are sustainable in the long term. It would be better if developing governments took on these tasks themselves, and rich countries finally fulfilled their promises to drastically cut emissions. However, this is wishful thinking so, given the urgency of deforestation, we need viable alternatives such as REDD+.

 

Article By: Oliver Griffith, a former US Diplomat and World Bank Group (IFC) official with 35 years in foreign affairs. Much of it devoted to Africa and economic affairs. 

 

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NGOs - SDGs

Epson Egypt puts sustainability goals into action following COP-27

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Epson has highlighted that the company is committed to becoming carbon negative and underground resource-free by 2050, as outlined in Epson’s Environmental Vision 2050.  Globally, Epson is investing more than €770 million in sustainable innovation and developing new technology to reduce environmental impact.

With the principle that innovation enriches lives and helps create a better world, Epson has partnered with five educational institutions in Egypt including Face for Children in Need, Nahdet el Mansouria, Educate Me Foundation, Man Ahyaha, and Alwan Wa Awtar, providing them with a range of 100 eco-friendly ink tank printers in total. This initiative enables teachers to create tailored lesson plans and worksheets, allows children to take home a range of learning printed material, and reduces energy consumption through Epson’s Heat-Free technology.  During COP-27, Epson finalised an additional donation of printers to Misr Elkheir Foundation to support further learning opportunities for students in need.

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The education donations are in line with Epson’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, specifically number four – quality education – which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Epson recently conducted research amongst decision-makers in Egypt which found that 50% of survey respondents anticipate their printing needs will increase in 2023 and 62% stating that printing will become more important in the new year. Specifically in the education sector, 94% of participants said that it is essential for teachers to have access to a printer, making Epson’s recent donations to schools in Egypt even more timely.

Demonstrating the growing importance of sustainability for organisations in Egypt, 63% of survey respondents said that sustainability is a key part of their investment in new technology. More than half of respondents want to invest in energy efficient technology, while 71% believe that controlling the energy consumption of technology will become a key issue in the next 12 months. 

Commenting on the survey findings following COP-27, Neil Colquhoun, Epson’s Vice President, CISMETA, said, “Epson’s participation at COP-27 underscored the progress that Egypt is making toward sustainability and its importance to the nation and region.  This trend was highlighted in Epson’s research, which shows a growing appetite for energy efficient, cost effective and easy-to-use technology solutions.  As part of our mission to improve lives in communities we serve, a number of educational institutions across Egypt and their students have enhanced access to learning materials through Epson’s donation of EcoTank catridge free printers – an initiative that will continue to expand.”

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Musonda Chikwanda: Driving the Girl Up-United Nations Foundation in Africa

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Musonda Chikwanda Regional Manager, Africa – Girl Up-United Nations Foundation

Girl Up is a girl-centered leadership development initiative, focusing on equity for girls and women in spaces where they are unheard or underrepresented. It believes when girls and women are in positions of influence, they work to create a more just and equitable world for everyone. Girl Up operates a global network of regional affiliates reaching 150,000 girls in 130 countries. The initiative delivers evidence-based leadership development training through its girl-led Clubs, programs, and events. 

As members of a global movement, girls are a force for social good connected to a Community of their peers who are advocating for policy change and advancing gender justice. Founded in 2010 and hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Girl Up welcomes girls and youth of all gender identities to start a Club and join its movement to advance gender justice worldwide. Together, they are expanding girls’ skills, rights, and opportunities to lead, and changing the face of leadership for generations to come. 

Musonda Chikwanda serves as Regional Manager for Africa with the United Nation Foundation under the Girl Up initiative. As Regional Manager for Africa, she coordinates and organizes adolescent girls’ programs in Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM), advocacy and gender equality lead by adolescents’ girls to help bridge the gap in access to education and stimulate/engage girls to take up careers in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Musonda also mentors and provides training on leadership to youths from different African countries. 

Leadership Development 

Girl Up guides members along their journey from leader to changemaker with specialized programming in organizing, advocacy, fundraising, and communications. Its evidence-based Leadership Course includes interactive modules centered on a three-pronged leadership framework. That is, Leader of Self, Leader of Peers, and Leaders of Change. They’re motivating a generation of leaders to raise their voices in their schools and communities. Advocate to local and national decision-makers, and work together to advance gender equality for girls and women.

The Girl Up Team

An Authentic Platform 

Girl Up is committed to hearing and amplifying the voices of girls across our channels and platforms. Its online Community is both a place for members to share their perspectives and a place for them to connect to a wider global community of peers. Both in person and online, Girl Up fosters a positive community that bridges cultural divides to advance important dialogues on social issues happening around the world. 

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Issues in Focus

Girl Up is committed to advancing gender justice across issue areas that intersect with gender equality. All of which share a focus of giving girls and women equal rights, access, agency, and opportunities. 

  • Gender Equality.
  • Sports for a Purpose.
  • STEM for Social Good.
  • Girls’ Education.
  • Gender-Based Violence.
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice.

Girl Up works to build and maintain a constituency dedicated to improving the lives of all girls around the world. Girl Up envisions an empowered and powerful generation of young women leaders who promote and defend gender equality in their own communities and around the world.

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Crtve DEVELOPMENT launches WE!ARE to promote climate change awareness in Africa

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Crtve DEVELOPMENT CEO, Dr. Okito Wedi (Photo: Supplied).

In addition to making profits, it has become a necessity for businesses and organisations to embrace a consistent, policy-driven culture of giving back to the community where they do business. The reason is that a policy-driven socially responsible endeavour is a sustainable and socially responsible endeavour. Businesses that have this corporate mindset are the ones that eventually provide solutions that truly meet the needs of the community they serve, even when they are profit-driven.

As a platform that showcases African businesses, innovations, and entrepreneurs, Business Africa Online (BAO) is excited to witness yet another novel and beneficial platform where businesses, NGOs, funders, and organisations are standing side by side with talents and creatives in the arts and entertainment to ensure they find expression and use those expressions to deliver the needed solution to pressing issues that affect communities in Africa, and in this case, climate change. 

The Crtve Development (CD) WE!ARE climate justice campaign is an initiative that is long overdue because the solutions that have been proposed for climate change have mainly taken into account people living in places like Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and we need local solutions to local climate change problems.

Dr. Okito Wedi, Founder and CEO of Crtve DEVELOPMENT, stated: “Through the WE!ARE campaign, we want to harness the power of art and creativity to change the narrative on climate change and development in Africa and bridge the gap between communities who will most be affected and policymakers who will determine our climate future.”

CD, together with other trusted partners, has rolled out the WE!ARE campaign to socialise the disproportionate effects of climate change on vulnerable communities on the African continent. Using creativity, the campaign will discover and amplify young people’s unique experiences and demands to surmount the challenges of climate change through climate justice.

Climate justice emphasizes the fact that Africa contributes the least to global warming, yet Africans are the most affected by climate change. As a result, those with the least capacity to cope and adapt to the impacts of climate change face the biggest threat. Climate justice aims to redress this inequality by fairly sharing the problem of climate change as well as the responsibility of dealing with it equitably, with all countries around the world. As a result, the launch of the WE!ARE campaign allows for a conversation about structure, system, and policy to take centre stage between African creatives and the corporate world about how they approach the challenge of climate change.

Collaboration between African creatives and the business community is no longer born from just mere excitement or the need to latch on to trends, but a deliberate and long-term agenda of every business and organization in Africa. This is a major win that BAO is excited about and we celebrate CD for leading the ingenious path that will benefit all because climate change affects everyone in the ecosystem.

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In the coming days, weeks, and months, BAO looks forward to more businesses, organizations, and funders partnering with CD on this project to amplify the great work that is being done. It is a fact that one of the most effective ways of driving sustainable change through creativity is for the corporate world to provide the frameworks, systems, policies, assets, and seed funding needed to sustain the process.

Another big win for the WE!ARE movement is that it will help to improve the proper valuation in corporate policies for the growing social and economic value of creativity and innovation in Africa. Creatives will truly be regarded as using their talents to campaign for real solutions to challenges in Africa, and not just for leisurely endeavours. 

From our vantage point, we wholeheartedly celebrate the immense work and achievements of Crtve Development (CD) and its strategic partners, including the Climate Emergency Collaboration Group, Danish Government, Ford Foundation and the World Resources Institute (WRI) on this worthy cause they have embarked on. We hope that as a result of this work, the subject of climate change will no longer be treated as secondary or alien, but as an issue that all hands must be on deck to address with the collaboration of the corporate world, NGOs, funders, and the creative communities in Africa.

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