Keeping our promise to the ocean – from commitments to action

In June 2017, 193 Member States of the United Nations gathered at the first-ever Ocean Conference and committed to a set of ambitious measures to start reversing the decline of the ocean’s health.

The Ocean Conference marked a global breakthrough in the sustainable management and conservation of the ocean, bringing the world one step closer to implementing the Sustainable Development Goal 14. The conference resulted in the outcome document, Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action, and close to 1,400 voluntary commitments for concrete action by governments, UN organizations, civil society, academia, the scientific community, and the private sector.

Now comes the time to turn these pledges into reality, to galvanize new partnerships, inspire international cooperation and mobilize resources for ocean action.

In September 2017, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Mr. Peter Thomson as his Special Envoy for the Ocean, aiming at galvanizing concerted efforts to follow up on the outcomes of the UN Ocean Conference in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, maintaining the momentum for action to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Mr. Thomson will lead UN’s advocacy and public outreach efforts inside and outside of the UN system, ensuring that the positive outcomes of the Ocean Conference, including the voluntary commitments, are fully analyzed and implemented.  He will also work with civil society, the scientific community, the private sector, and other relevant stakeholders, to coalesce and encourage their activities in support of the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

To support the implementation of the voluntary commitments, Mr. Peter Thomson, in collaboration with UN DESA, will be supporting Communities of Ocean Action among all stakeholders to spur further action and maintain the momentum generated by the first-ever UN Ocean Conference held in June 2017.  As a first step, on 7 September 2017, a webinar was organized with a focus on arrangements for following up on voluntary commitments, establishing action communities among stakeholders, and hearing updates from participants on commitments related to mangroves.

Mangroves are a vital coastal ecosystem, which hosts a spectacular diversity of animals and plants, including up to three-quarters of the world’s commercial fish species. They also help fight climate change and its consequences by sequestering nearly 23 million tonnes of carbon each year and by protecting coasts from extreme weather events.

The mangrove community – over 50 representatives of governments, UN organization, civil society and other partners – met on 7 September at a webinar organized by Mr. Thomson and UN DESA to review progress and plot the way forward to protect these unique ecosystems.

The community members reported some remarkable achievements. For example, the UN Development Programme / Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme Pakistan has successfully conserved 7,000 acres of mangroves in the Indus Delta. The Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA) on the Honduran Island of Guanaja has planted 20,000 mangrove plants in 10 hectares of wetland.

Actions reviewed at the webinar range from huge, global initiatives, to small local projects – all equally important and necessary for ocean action. For example, the Global Mangrove Alliance, set up by three large international nongovernmental organizations is aiming to increase mangrove habitat worldwide by 20 percent by the year 2030. On the other side of the spectrum, the WiseOceans community has partnered with resorts and schools in Seychelles to educate the youth on the importance of oceans and mangroves.

More webinars for other ocean communities will be soon announced here and the new Ocean Action newsletter will bring regular updates on the progress to save our ocean.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs and retrieved on 01/07/2018 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM Inc. accordingly.


Changing the way the world views and manages water: Storytelling through photos

SUBMITTED BY WATER COMMUNICATIONS  |THURSDAY | 06/08/2017


The Joint Secretariat of High Level Panel on Water and Connect4Climate announced today that the winner of the Instagram Photo Competition — #All4TheGreen Photo4Climate Contest Special Blue Prize — for the best photo on water is Probal Rashid, from Bangladesh, with a photo taken in his country showing how water stress is affecting individuals in his community.

The Special Blue Prize was created as part of the #All4TheGreen Photo4Climate Contest and aimed to select the best photo on the value of water: clean water, dirty water, lack of water, how inadequate access to water and sanitation causes poor health and stunting, how too much or too little water contributes to environmental disasters and human suffering, or how water insecurity can lead to fragility and violence. What is the value of water to you?

  Probal Rashid, Bangladesh   |   Shyamnagar, Satkhira, Bangladesh

 Rani, 9, collects rainwater for drinking. Rainwater is the main source of drinking water in the village of Shyamnagar, Satkhira, Bangladesh. Due to sea-level rise resulting from climate change, limited sweet water sources of the coastal area have widely been contaminated with saline water.

“I have been documenting the impact of climate change in my country, Bangladesh, over the last years. It’s a great honor to win this competition and I hope it will create more awareness on this issue,” said Probal Rashid during the announcement of the winner, on June 8th, World Oceans Day.

Probal was presented as the winner at the UN Ocean Conference SDG Media Zone in New York City, which connected live with the All4TheGreen Media Zone in Bologna, Italy. “Rainwater is the main source of drinking water due to sea level rise. Sometimes people have to travel long distances to collect drinking water,” he added.

Rashid, a documentary photographer, will be awarded with a trip to New York City to learn more about the High-Level Panel on Water at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September — and presumably, take lots of photos.

“There are two things that are really distinct and unique about the [High Level Panel on Water]. First, they want to change the way the world views and manages water. That is not an easy undertaking. And secondly, as sitting heads of governments, they want to lead by example, by taking initiative in their country and on the regional level. This prize is very important because it will help the world change the way we view and manage water,” said Juwang Zhu, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development at the UN.

After the announcement, Director Zhu added: “By an interesting coincidence, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh is on the [High Level] Panel, and we are going to meet towards the end of July. So I hope we will be able to meet with the winner in person and introduce the work to the Panel. It will help publicize the importance of water for Bangladesh, and for the region as a whole.”

The jury also decided to award four honorable mentions in addition to the winner to the following photos:

  Dorte Verner, Denmark   |    Tadmor, Syria

A Syrian boy in Tadmor desert around Palmyra in Syria. Climate change is making the harsh environment harder and water resources more limited.

  Dorte Verner, Denmark   |    Niger

Young girl in Niger doing the washing with water she has fetched in the river. Water is already a scarce resource for many people in arid parts of the planet and climate change is making it even scarcer.

  Madeline Dahm, USA   |   Vientiane, Laos

Ms.Pheng from Ekxang Village, Lao PDR waters her organic garden. Ekxang is the trial site for the International Water Management Institute’s project to sustainably use groundwater as a supplement to primarily rainfed agriculture. This supplementary resource helps farmers become more resilient to unpredictable climates and increase their productivity during the dry season. We must intensify agricultural output if we wish to feed the world, but this is only feasible if it is done sustainably.

  Artur Cabral, Portugal   |   São Tomé and Príncipe

It is common in some beaches of São Tomé to share moments and experiences with local people, especially the kids who are more curious and daring. This is what happened on a beach in the town of Santana, south of the capital of São Tomé Island. After some football games in the sand and some dives in the sea, a shower of fresh water made the day of those kids.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by The World Bank and retrieved on 01/07/2018 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM Inc. accordingly.


Game-changing water solutions for the Middle East and North Africa


SUBMITTED BY CLAUDIA W. SADOFF ON WED, 11/22/2017 | CO-AUTHORS: ANDERS JAGERSKOG


Also available in  العربية

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have become a hotspot of unsustainable water use, with more than half of current water withdrawals in some countries exceeding the amount naturally available. This could have serious long-term consequences for the region’s growth and stability. Solutions for narrowing the gap between the supply of and demand for water are an urgent priority.

As the Fourth Arab Water Forum gets underway next week in Cairo, Egypt much is at stake in the region’s water management. Armed conflict and massive numbers of refugees have put tremendous additional stress on land and water resources in MENA as well as on infrastructure in communities receiving the refugees. In Jordan alone, according to the country’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation, climate change and the refugee crisis have reduced water availability per person to 140 cubic meters, far below the globally recognized threshold of 500 cubic meters for severe water scarcity.

These recent developments compound the impact of decades of rapid population growth, urbanization and agricultural intensification. A recent World Bank report notes that more than 60% of the region’s population is concentrated in places affected by high or very high surface water stress, compared to a global average of about 35%. The report further warns that climate-related water scarcity is expected to cause economic losses estimated at 6-14% of GDP by 2050 – the highest in the world.

As governments search for solutions, two trends, in particular, could present game-changing opportunities to bolster water security. As captured in two recent reports by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the viability of these solutions will depend on how governments and societies respond to them.

The promise and perils of solar-powered agriculture

One trend is the rapid rollout of solar-powered irrigation in some countries, with the triple aim of strengthening water, energy and food security. Morocco, for example, expects to install more than 100,000 solar pumps by 2020. Similarly, Egypt is implementing a program of desert agriculture, involving the irrigation of 630,000 hectares with solar technology. Other countries are embarking on such ventures as well, taking advantage of lower costs for solar technology and the region’s high solar radiation. Such initiatives will replace polluting and expensive diesel pumps, and offer a new option to farmers who lack access to energy grids. Reductions in traditional fuel subsidies strengthen the incentive for shifting to the use of solar and other renewable energy sources.

Governments hope that solar technology will offer a way for farming communities to leapfrog from chronic vulnerability toward resilient and sustainable intensification of production. The option has a downside, however, stemming from inadequate understanding and poor regulation of groundwater. These shortcomings, by permitting groundwater overexploitation, have caused water tables to fall, making it more expensive to pump from greater depths, while also creating problems such as soil salinity. Solar-powered irrigation could make matters worse by permitting the extraction of more groundwater at lower cost, impacting vulnerable rural communities with poor access to water resources.

Innovative monitoring technologies (such as remotely controlled pumps and smart water meters) could help address some of the challenges. Moreover, as is already happening in Jordan, experts can use remote sensing techniques to help governments control the expansion of groundwater-based irrigation.

Tapping the only increasing natural resource

A second trend centers on wastewater, 82% of which is not being recycled in the region, compared to just 30% in high-income countries. This presents a major threat to human and environmental health but also a massive opportunity to better satisfy water demand. Wastewater is the only natural resource that increases as cities and populations grow. Countries in the MENA region already generate 18.4 cubic kilometers of municipal wastewater per year.

Many technologies are available to treat and reuse wastewater for productive purposes, including forestry, agriculture, landscaping, and aquifer recharge. The uptake of these options has so far been slow, however, because of rigid regulations and a policy disconnect between the agricultural, sanitation and other sectors. When reuse projects do get underway, the lack of appropriate tariffs and economic incentives undermine their sustainability by making it difficult for them to recover the costs of wastewater treatment. Key considerations going forward are the selection of crops best suited for irrigation with reused water and measures for addressing specific health concerns.

MENA has much to gain from efforts to overcome these barriers. With appropriate treatment, wastewater has the potential to provide irrigation and fertilizer for more than 2 million hectares of agricultural land. This would contribute to the conservation of freshwater, making more available for domestic use and a wide variety of productive purposes. Jordan’s success in harnessing private sector technological innovation and financing to recycle wastewater offers an especially instructive case. Such technologies, reinforced by new policies, could help put MENA on course toward water security. This will require commitment at all levels of society to address cultural barriers impeding change in water use, bridge institutional and policy divisions, and revise overly stringent regulations.

Turning threats into opportunities

Solutions to the growing problem of water scarcity are within reach. The challenge is to accelerate the development and spread of innovation for sustainable water management. This, in turn, requires a new “water consciousness,” as noted in Beyond Water Scarcity, which recognizes that everyone – from individual farmers and consumers to businesses and public agencies – has a responsibility to overcome water scarcity.

Participants in the Arab Water Forum will hear a lot about such innovations in water management. The challenge will be to build momentum behind solutions that can make a difference.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by The World Bank and retrieved on 12/30/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


 

Empowering youth to protect fisheries in the Solomon Islands


By Faye Aborina Siota | 


In the Solomon Islands, discussions and decisions on managing local fisheries mostly involve men, who are typically the elders and hold the leadership positions in communities. Yet research from across the world shows that broad community involvement and commitment is critical for equitable fisheries management.

A key challenge is to arrive at a model of community management of natural resources that integrates the voices of all community members, including youth, while also respecting traditional social hierarchy.

Spear fishing, Solomon Islands.

In the Solomon Islands, fish and fishing is important as a source of food and income and is integrated into the way of life of households and communities. Youth participate in fisheries by fishing from shore or from canoes, diving to gather invertebrates and to Spearfish, and helping to clean and prepare to catch for sale or for consumption – all of which are important contributions to the collective activities of a rural and coastal community.

Yet the strong cultural hierarchy in many rural and coastal communities limits the extent that youth can participate in discussions on fisheries governance. Respect for community chiefs, elders, religious leaders and resource owners as the decision makers sometimes restrains the ability that youth have to contribute ideas. This can mean that youth become disenfranchised, resulting in many being uninvolved and even unaware of such deliberations. The trend for youth to move away from rural communities to bigger urban centers adds to the challenge.

Encouraging the greater involvement all individuals, including youth, in fisheries management has been a focus of efforts by WorldFish in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to test, refine and promote community-based resource management (CBRM) in the Solomon Islands since 2005.

The CBRM approach involves local communities managing natural resources in partnership with government bodies and civil society groups through such mechanisms as discussing customary access rights, sharing contemporary scientific and local knowledge about marine environments and fish ecology, promoting sustainable harvesting and practicing enforcement. This approach resonates well in the Solomon Islands, where, because of customary marine tenure, communities have always managed their local fisheries with little intervention from government authorities.

CBRM training participants, Solomon Islands.

To ensure CBRM initiatives reach and involve youth, WorldFish has partnered with the regional organization Pacific Community (SPC) to run workshops on CBRM specifically targeted toward youth. Since November 2016, three youth-targeted trainings have been held involving 47 young people.

The three-day training empowers youth to increase their knowledge and confidence so as to allow them to get actively involved in, and even lead, marine resource management in their communities. It encourages young people to open up, interact and share ideas on tackling fisheries issues and solutions in their own communities. By giving them the opportunity to recognize their capabilities, youth understand that they can contribute to resource management programs, and affect a range of decisions that impact upon the future of their communities.

Look & learn trip, Solomon Islands.

The gaining of basic marine biology knowledge and a deeper understanding of the interconnection of the marine environment to us humans was an evident impact of the training. With this new knowledge, youths discussed ways that they would be able to better manage community resources and work together to improve their management when they returned home. To capture these ideas, the youths drew up action plans that outlined activities such as holding awareness talks to carry out on their return to their communities.

In the Solomon Islands, we are all resource users that depend on fisheries for food and income. If we don’t all participate in managing our natural resources and protecting our environment, then we can’t ensure the continued benefits of fisheries for the people who depend on them. Appreciating our youth and recognizing them as agents of change in our communities is therefore critical to achieving sustainable outcomes from CBRM initiatives.


AUTHOR

Faye Aborina Siota

Faye Aborina Siota

Faye Aborina Siota has been working for WorldFish as a Research Analyst since 2012. She has been involved in research on community-based resource management (CBRM), nearshore fish aggregating devices (FADs) and most recently, on food and nutrition in rural communities. She believes in community empowerment and the strength-based approach.


 


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by The Fish Tank and retrieved on 12/21/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


 

Modernizing rainwater harvesting for the dry areas


Written on Nov 26,2017


Although there is renewed interest in indigenous rainwater harvesting, traditional practices and technologies are rarely suitable or feasible. ICARDA is promoting a practical and cost-effective alternative that combines indigenous knowledge with mechanization to enhance effectiveness and strengthen resilience.

Although rainwater harvesting remains relevant, there have been few efforts in recent decades to modernize old practices, develop new ones, or create an enabling environment to unlock its full potential. Many rural communities have become overly attached to old practices and all too often the concept of rainwater harvesting is blamed for failure when in reality mismanagement and poor design are most at fault.

The limitations of rainwater harvesting

One key limitation is that the technical aspects of water harvesting structures – never simple and often complex – are usually implemented by unskilled labor. Laying ridges or contour lines is essential to the proper functioning of a water harvesting system, but this is a complicated procedure and requires special training. Proper site selection is also required. Failure to adequately tailor a method to site characteristics – topography, soil type, vegetation cover etc. – will result in failure.

In addition, the contextual environment in the drylands is increasingly unfavorable. The break-down in collective conservation systems, subsidized feed, and a corresponding increase in animal populations and overgrazing means that unless new legislation is introduced and existing institutions are reformed dry ecosystem restoration schemes will have limited success.

A practical and cost-effective approach

In an effort to overcome these constraints, ICARDA scientists worked with two communities in Jordan’s badia – Mhareb and Majdieh – to design, test, and promote a practical rainwater harvesting package. The package combines indigenous knowledge with mechanization and a contour laser guiding system to enhance the accuracy of ridges and bunds.

Efforts were also taken to improve the selection of restoration sites, design appropriate structures, select the right shrubs, and most importantly, implement sustainable grazing strategies and ensure on-going maintenance.

With support from Jordan’s National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE), 80% and 90% of farmers in Mhareb and Majdieh used the package. Jordan’s Ministry of Environment also adopted it, allocating funds for its implementation across 2000 Ha so far – an area the Ministry is planning to extend even further.

The result? Rapid vegetation growth, more animal feed, less soil erosion, and enhanced biodiversity. The package is also cost-effective: it costs a mere USD 32/hectare – which includes the production, planting, and maintenance of shrub seedlings – and the economic internal rate of return is estimated at some 13%.

Achieving long-term sustainability

While the positive impacts of the rainwater harvesting package are clear, additional financial support is needed to extend the intervention over a wider area and ensure its long-term sustainability. Given that local communities are unable or unwilling to fully cover the costs of implementation, public funding is essential.

However, to extend benefits and reduce costs even further, public-private partnerships should be initiated to pay for the building of water harvesting structures. This would enhance the intervention’s viability across the dry areas and ensure that many more rural communities could benefit from land restoration and enhanced resilience to climate variability and change.

This blog is based on an article recently published in the Journal Environmental Reviews: ‘Rainwater harvesting for restoring degraded dry agro-pastoral ecosystems; a conceptual review of opportunities and constraints in a changing climate.’


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the ICARDA and retrieved on 12/07/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM Inc. accordingly.


 

%d bloggers like this: