World Migratory Bird Day!

Today is World Migratory Bird day (WMBD)! 

2018 is an important transition year in the history of World Migratory Bird Day - unifying the planet’s major migratory bird corridors, or flyways: the African-Eurasian flyway, the East Asian-Australasian flyway, and the Americas flyways. Celebrated from now on twice a year, on the Second Saturday in May and in October, WMBD aims to reach out to a broader audience and amplify its message for bird conservation. As a new global platform that unifies efforts worldwide, WMBD will be reinforcing education and awareness-raising about the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats - at all different levels, in all parts of the world.
— www.worldmigratorybirdday.org
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Rufous Hummingbird / Selasphorus rufus

  • This tiny migratory pollinator breeds in western Canada and the U.S. It spends the non-breeding season primarily in Mexico, but has also have been increasingly documented as wintering in the southeastern U.S.
  • The Rufous Hummingbird is known as one of the “feistiest” hummingbirds in North America, aggressively defending nectar at feeders and flowers.
  • This species breeds farther north than any other hummingbird, all the way to Alaska. Its migratory pattern is unusual, with most following the Pacific Coast north and the Rocky Mountains south, as one of the earliest fall migrants at backyard feeders.
  • Their declining population may be due to changes in the timing of flowering as temperatures warm, pesticide applications, or loss of habitat. To help these brilliantly colored birds, plant native flowers that bloom throughout the season.
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Golden-winged Warbler / Vermivora chrysoptera

  • Changing habitats are impacting this striking bird with bright yellow markings.
  • The Golden-winged Warbler prefers nesting sites with sparse shrubs and trees in wetlands or in upland areas. As this habitat matures to forest or is developed, numbers of this species have declined steeply.
  • This species usually nests on the ground.
  • Conservation efforts are focused on implementing management practices to increase breeding habitat in wetlands and shrublands, and on collaborating with partners to protect their wintering grounds in Central and South Am
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Red Knot / Calidris canutus

  • Traveling as many as 19,000 miles each year from non-breeding sites in South America to nesting sites in Canada, in as few as six days, it faces challenges throughout its journey.
  • During spring migration this species stops over in Delaware Bay to feed on the eggs of horseshoe crabs. Such sites where they refuel for their long flights are important to protect.
  • One of the biggest contributors to the declines in Red Knot populations is a warming climate, which is reducing the tundra where they nest, intensifying storms during their migration, and warming sea waters which affects the shellfish they need to survive.
  • Helping to protect migratory birds from climate change impacts starts at home. Weatherizing your home, using energy-efficient lights and appliances, and reducing your use of fuel are small steps, but when multiplied across the planet they can have a big impact.

Jeffrey Sachs: Lessons from the Millennium Villages Project: a personal perspective

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The Millennium Village Project (MVP) was initiated in 2005 as a means to implement the recommendations of the UN Millennium Project at a local scale in rural Africa. The main conclusion of the UN Millennium Project was that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be achieved if the high-income donor nations increased their official development assistance (ODA) to the long-standing UN target of 0·7% of gross national income (GNI). The evaluation of the MVP published in The Lancet Global Health reinforces the main message of the UN Millennium Project, and is relevant for the era of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a small amount of funding goes far to achieve bold goals to alleviate the multidimensional burdens of rural poverty.

The MVP was implemented under three over-riding principles: (1) an integrated rural development approach, with interventions spanning agriculture, environmental restoration, primary education, primary health care, and local infrastructure (water, sanitation, energy, and connectivity); (2) an incremental donor investment aiming at $60 per person per year; and (3) community- based delivery, with a focus on inclusive services for the community (farmer cooperatives, health systems, public education, and local infrastructure) rather than private income transfers or credits for individuals or for businesses. The focus, in short, was on grant financing for community-based capital. The project was undertaken in impoverished rural areas in 10 countries in sub- Saharan Africa with the cooperation of national and local governments and the communities.

All ten Millennium Village (MV) sites operated for the entire 10 years of the project, during which investments and systems were successfully implemented in a phased manner. A multisector approach proved to be feasible in all the sites and a small lead team of around five local staff ensured support and continuity across hundreds of interventions spanning the major categories of farming, environment, health, education, and infrastructure. In no cases did the complexity of the project prove to be logistically or procedurally overwhelming. This was true even as donor funding for the MVP was limited to a mere $25 per person per year during the second phase.

The project achieved significant gains in MDG-related outcomes, and significant impacts compared with matched sites on 30 of the 40 MDG-related targets. When grouped by major MDG-related category (poverty, nutrition, education, health, and infrastructure), significant impacts were found for every major category. The largest consistent gains were in health and agriculture.

The outcomes on poverty were mixed, with no discernible impact on consumption-based poverty, and yet a positive effect on asset ownership. One plausible explanation for this finding is that most farm families seem to have directed increased incomes— from practices  such as  increased use of  fertilisers and improved seeds, and strengthening of farmer-based organisations and cooperatives—mainly into durable assets (eg, latrines, piped water, better roofing or flooring materials) rather than non-durable consumption. We observed this same outcome in another project setting (northern Ghana) outside of the ten sites. In that site, too, households saved their incremental income as durable assets.

This explanation is necessarily provisional given uncertainties in the data. As is typical in rural settings, we had difficulty for several reasons in obtaining precise measurements of household income and consumption: inaccuracy of recall on surveys, high seasonality of consumption flows, irregular purchases of capital assets, and under-reporting of incomes by households. We regard the data on assets to be more reliable than the data on incomes and consumption spending, as household assets were directly observed by the survey teams.

The project achieved around a third of the MDG- related targets and fell short on two-thirds, although with at least some progress towards most of the targets. However, even when impacts were favourable, they were often insufficient to reach the ambitious targets. I suspect that there are four main reasons for this shortfall.

First, the MVP inherently lacked economies of scale—a point we of course recognised from the start. Because of the lack of scale economies, the benefits to an MVP site of receiving $60 per person per year were smaller for the MVP community than if the entire nation had received the same $60 per person per year. The MVP could build a local road, or a local micro-grid, but without the benefit of a national road network and power grid, the impact was restricted. The MVP could control a local disease outbreak, but not prevent its reintroduction from a neighbouring community.

Furthermore, the international community utterly failed to follow through on its commitment to raise ODA to 0·7% of GNI. For the 29 donor countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) taken as a group, the total ODA as of 2016 was a mere 0·32% of the combined GNI, signifying a shortfall in aid from these donor countries of roughly US$170 billion per year. Lacking adequate ODA, the interventions advocated by the UN Millennium Project could not be implemented at national scale in low-income Africa, and Africa as a whole fell short on the MDGs, with inevitable adverse consequences within the MVs as well. The MVP was meant to offer guidance on national scale-up, but the national scale-ups were generally constrained by limited ODA.

Second, and related, the MVP focused on only one of the three pillars of national poverty reduction. The MVP focused on rural development, not on urban development nor on national infrastructure (roads, rail, power, fibre) connecting rural and urban areas. Most importantly, the MVs did not benefit from complementary donor spending to boost urban jobs and incomes. Given the tiny sizes of many rural farms (often below 1 hectare), and the still rapidly growing rural populations, rural poverty will not end without the rapid growth of urban job opportunities alongside the higher productivity and incomes of farm households.

Third, as an island of relative prosperity in the midst of poverty, the MVP’s resources inevitably were shared beyond the MVs to the neighbouring areas, thus diminishing the spending per person and impact within the MVs. Partly, this sharing occurred as individuals from neighbouring communities came to the MVs to use the clinics, schools, and other expanded facilities. Partly it resulted from the tendency of local authorities to direct incremental budgetary resources towards non-MVP areas. This dilution of the MVP investments was natural, unpreventable, and inevitable.

Fourth, the MVP was underfunded in the second phase. In 2005, the project began as a 5-year effort, but by 2007 the MVP leadership team realised that the communities would need the full 10 years to 2015 to achieve the MDGs. Yet the MVP was able to raise only half of the $60 per capita for the second phase, and thus per force implemented a ramp-down of project funding between 2011 and 2015, which averaged $25 per person per year during the second 5-year interval.

As is widely recognised, there are important synergies across investments in health, education, agriculture, and infrastructure. Healthier children learn better and attend school more reliably; schools teach health-promoting activities; infrastructure such as electrification and clean water enhance both health and education. It used to be supposed that complex, multisector projects might be too hard to implement. We found that this was not the case: there were not only synergies in outcomes, but also important synergies in implementation across sectors. One of the most important means by which the MVP achieved such synergies was by instituting an effective real-time information platform. The MVP built a monthly information system based on local vital events reporting (births, deaths, and cause of death), reports from health workers and clinics, reports from schools, and additional data. Building a common information platform took time, and gained a high degree of performance only after the widespread uptake of smartphones (2012 in the MVs).

Other synergies emerged in the project’s interactions with the local and national governments, local and foreign universities, the business sector, and UN agencies. These counterparts were themselves working across several sectors, so the MVP, as an integrated development project, found an important multisector interface with these counterparts regarding information exchanges, partnerships, staffing, funding, and technical support to and from the project.

The MVP looked very different in 2015 from its launch in 2005. Fortunately, the project was not based on testing the effects of a specific and fixed set of interventions. It was instead based on reaching a specific set of targets. Throughout the project, the available technologies to achieve those targets improved rapidly. The project adjusted accordingly, regularly upgrading the interventions deployed in the MVs in line with the global technological progress. Consider briefly the case of malaria, one of the priority targets of the MVP. At the start of the MVP, malaria diagnoses and treatment were largely facility-based, with trained microscopists reading blood smears. The newly available artemisinin-based treatments were gradually being introduced via clinics. Mothers had to carry febrile children long distances to reach the clinic, and many did not make it in time. Most bednets as of 2005 still required frequent retreatments with insecticides in order to maintain their efficacy, and many nets were left untreated. Overall bednet coverage was very low. By 2015, all this had changed. Rapid diagnostic tests for malaria were now available. Community health workers (CHWs) used these at the household level, and carried artemisinin-based treatments. The CHWs were supported by supervisors and by expert systems on smartphones. The bednets were redesigned to maintain the insecticide for the lifetime of the net. The MVP was an early adopter of each new antimalarial technology (long-lasting insecticidal bednets, rapid diagnostic tests, artemisinin-based treatments at household level, CHW deployments, smartphone applications, real-time data- based adaptation of interventions and management), and the MVP experience accelerated the adoption of these effective control measures at both national and global levels.

Similar ongoing advances are now available for other aspects of rural health care (telemedicine, teledentistry, remote monitoring, expert systems), education (online curriculum, linked classrooms), infrastructure (solar and wind microgrids, solar-powered irrigation, remote monitoring  of  infrastructure),  agriculture  (precision farming, soil moisture monitoring, etc). In all cases, the MVP endeavoured to keep abreast of the latest technologies and to provide a base for their rapid uptake.

The SDGs call for bold advances in living standards by 2030, including the end of poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2), universal health coverage (SDG 3), universal completion of secondary education (SDG 4),
gender equality (SDG 5), universal access to water and sanitation (SDG 6) and electricity (SDG 7), as well as several environmental goals related to climate (SDG 13), pollutants (SDG 12), urban environment (SDG 11) and biodiversity (SDG 14, 15). To achieve these bold goals, governments will need to implement integrated rural and urban development plans over a period of a decade or more, and to do so at all levels of government, from local communities to the national government.

The lessons from the MVP are highly pertinent. Multisector planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation are feasible and necessary. Information platforms can be created for multisector plans and programmes. Computer technologies, including artificial intelligence and big data (responsibly managed), offer new cutting-edge solutions.

The lessons of the MVP suggest the following key steps. (1) Set clear targets to 2030. (2) Identify key interventions and budgetary needs. (3) Form teams from national to local level prepared to work in an integrated manner. (4) Establish real-time information systems. And (5) don’t expect a quiet life! Rapid changes in technology, and even in geopolitics, will force considerable innovations, systems changes, and improvisation, between now and 2030.
 
Jeffrey D. Sachs
Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY 10025, USA sachs@columbia.edu
I was the Director of the Millennium Project

1. UN Millennium Project. Investing in development: a practical plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. http://csd.columbia.edu/publications/un-millennium-project-reports/      

2. Mitchell S, Gelman A, Ross R, et al. The Millennium Villages Project:
a retrospective, observational, endline evaluation. Lancet Glob Health 2018;6: e500–13.
http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/langlo/PIIS2214-109X(18)30065-2.pdf

3. Jeffrey D. Sachs. Lessons from the Millennium Villages Project: a personal perspective.

Source: UNSDSN

James Lovelock: Green Personality of the Month of May 2018

 Originator, Gaia theory and inventor of the electron capture detector

Originator, Gaia theory and inventor of the electron capture detector

Names: James Ephraim Lovelock

Birth: He was born on 26 July, 1919

Place of Birth: Letchworth Garden City, in Hertfordshire, England.

Nationality: British

I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change.
— The Guardian (2010)

Education

He attended Strand School, London, and Birkbeck College as a part-time evening student as a result of having started work early in life in a photography firm. He later studied Chemistry at the University of Manchester and also had his PhD in Medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Also, he worked as a research fellow in both the College of Medicine, Yale University, and the Medical School, Harvard University, USA.

Occupation/Career

Lovelock is best described as ‘an independent scientist, inventor, and author’, because he has invented and made copious science tools and materials, such as electron capture detector, an instrument for the creation of microwave oven, instruments for NASA’s planetary expeditions, etc. He is most reputed for his development of the Gaia hypothesis.

Residence

Lovelock lives in Dorset, England.

Advocacy

Lovelock initially postulated that, as a result of global warming, ‘billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable’ by the end of this century. However, in April 2012, interview which was aired on MSNBC, he eventually agreed that he had been ‘alarmist’. That was due to emerging facts and developments on what he had predicted would happen. Now, Lovelock advocates what he terms ‘sustainable development’ which he does not directly support. By ‘retreat’, he means ‘… changing where we live and how we get our food;… making plans for the migration of people from low-lying regions like Bangladesh into Europe … admitting that New Orleans is a goner and moving the people to cities better positioned for the future.’ The concept promotes the use of resources in such a way as to meet human needs with lower levels and environmentally harmful types of resources.

James LoveLock_Green_Institute

Achievements on Sustainable Development and Environmentalism

In September 2007, Lovelock and Chris Rapley suggested constructing oceans pumps to pump water up from below the thermocline to ‘fertilize algae in the surface waters and encourage them to bloom ‘. The purpose was to cause the acceleration of the transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean by increasing primary production and enhancing the export of organic carbon to the deep ocean. It is noteworthy that despite widespread media attention and criticism on this proposal by Lovelock, a commercial company was already working independently on similar ideas as at that time. This idea is now known as Geo-engineering or Climate engineering. Also, Lovelock now favours ‘fracking’ as a low-polluting alternative to coal.

Publications/Awards and Honours

  1. Fellow of the Royal Society (1974)
  2. Tswett Medal (1975)
  3. American Chemical Society Award in Chromatography (1980)
  4. Norbert Gerbier – MUMM Award (1988)
  5. Dr AH. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences (1990)
  6. Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1990)
  7. Volvo Environment Prize (1996)
  8. Companion of Honour (2003)
  9. Wollaston Medal (2006)
  10. Arne Naess  Chair in Global Justice and Environment (2007)
  11. Lovelock has copious articles in leading science journals.

Official Website

http://www.jameslovelock.org/

 

PUBLICATION: Ecotoxicological Dynamics of the Coastal Soil Ecosystem of Oil Producing Regions of Ondo State, Nigeria

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Authors: Adenike A. Akinsemolu, Felix A. Akinyosoye, Daniel J. Arotupin

Abstract

The industrial revolution marked the beginning of unprecedented anthropogenic growth and technological advancement that also inadvertently led to acute environmental degradation. This technological advancement was driven by the use fossil fuels such as crude oil. Crude oil extraction through drilling has resulted in widespread environmental pollution and deterioration of natural habitats. The Ondo State region in Nigeria presents one such expanse where large scale crude extraction operations have caused hazardous environmental pollution and toxic substance contamination. This study is a comprehensive and holistic study of the terrestrial soil ecosystem aimed towards elucidating the potential ecotoxicity that may have adversely affected the area. The results indicated that the terrestrial soil ecosystem was largely acidic (~pH6) and the organic matter content ranged from 6% to 12% indicating the soil was hydric. The results also indicated that the terrestrial soil environment was contaminated with toxic heavy metals including cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), lead (Pb) and arsenic (As). The toxic heavy metal concentration of the soil ecosystem was higher during the dry season. The Cr concentration in the soil samples was >3 ppm in most of the sampling sites, which exceeded WHO maximum permissible limit. Mean concentrations of the heavy metals in the soil samples in both seasons were of the order: Cr > Pb > Cd > As. The soil ecosystem was also characterized by a diverse and large population of microorganisms including bacteria like Enterobacter, Escherichia coli, and several species of fungi.

Keywords

  • Anthropogenic Growth;
  • Crude Oil Extraction;
  • Ecotoxicity;
  • Toxic Heavy Metals;
  • Ilaje.

Introduction

Over the past several decades, uncontrolled anthropogenic growth has led to overutilization and exploitation of natural resources as well as widespread environmental pollution and degradation. One of the more significant damaging effects of this unrestrained growth has been the uncontrolled assembly of excess waste materials, which is contaminated with a wide range of noxious substances as well as toxic heavy metals and various detrimental materials [1] [2] [3]. Reckless discharge practices for such waste products added an additional environmental burden to natural ecosystems and had resulted in hazardous consequences [4] [5]. This waste disposal has mostly affected terrestrial soil ecosystems, turning the useful soil systems into wastelands [6]. According to a report published by the United Nations Environment Program [7] on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, such soil contamination not only affects the socio-economic life of the inhabitants of the affected region but also it has an adverse effect on the drinking water quality. Therefore, regulation and reversal of this colossal degradation of natural ecosystems necessitate an appropriate socioeconomic valuation of natural resources, along with an efficient and sustainable utilization of these natural resources and employment of responsible waste treatment technologies [8].

The extraction of crude oil and natural gases has had hazardous consequences on natural environments. Kvenvolden and Cooper [9] reported that crude-oil seepage is about 600,000 metric tons per year. Crude oil extraction through drilling in terrestrial, marine or coastal environments has been a source of significant concern. This drilling often leads to industrial accidents such as spillage and acute environmental degradation due to irresponsible waste expulsion practices.

This study has focused on the terrestrial soil ecosystem of the Ondo state region in Nigeria. This region is a major site for offshore and mainland crude oil drilling operations that are carried out by several multinational oil corporations [10]. Furthermore, due to the lack of adequate wastewater treatment facilities in the region, a substantial amount of the wastewater produced in the region flows through the network of rivers into the area under investigation and frequently contaminates the surrounding natural environment [11].

Soil samples were collected and studied to examine the nature and degree of potential environmental pollution in the natural environment of the region. To this end, several standard soil quality parameters, as well as physicochemical parameters, were analyzed in samples that were collected from several different sampling regions. Toxic heavy metals are generally defined as metals or metalloids that have relatively high density, occur in multiple oxidation states, and cause extreme toxic effects on living organisms even upon exposure to low concentrations [12] [13]. The toxic heavy metals are found either naturally in a given area or can accumulate in the region as a result of anthropogenic activities. They have the ability to interact and bind to cellular components and can inhibit metabolic functions and activities of living cells [14].

There have been several studies which sought to determine the extent and causes of toxic heavy metal distribution in various parts of the world [15] [16] [17] [18]. The results of Manta, Angelone, Bellanca, Neri and Sprovieri [15] demonstrated that in parts of Italy, the source of Pb, Zn, and Hg in topsoil could be traced to anthropogenic pollution, while other metals like Mn and Ni among were thought to be primarily naturally occurring metals. Lin, Teng and Chang [16] demonstrated that in Taiwan, urbanization and industrialization had led to the contamination of natural soil environments with toxic heavy metals. Arora et al. [18] , demonstrated that in parts of India, use of irrigation water contaminated with toxic heavy metals led to bio-accumulation within vegetables that were being consumed by the general population. Li, Ma, van der Kuijp, Yuan and Huang [17] summarized that mining activities and irresponsible mining waste discharge practices across several provinces of China led to toxic heavy metal pollution in the region.

Microorganisms are the keystone of any natural ecosystem as they regulate vital nutrient cycles in a natural environment and hence the microbial population dynamics of the terrestrial soil environment were also analyzed. Therefore, this study presents a comprehensive picture of the terrestrial soil ecosystem and reveals several facets of the natural environment that can lead to widespread pollution and environmental degradation with devastatingly hazardous consequences.

'The water's not going anywhere' - Louisiana confronts climate threats

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In storm-battered New Orleans, preparation for disasters "has become the norm, not the exception"

Sitting on his porch in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Otis Tucker cuts a lone figure on a street punctuated with large empty spaces - the shadows of homes lost to Hurricane Katrina.

Tucker lives in the part of the Louisiana city most devastated by the powerful storm and its aftermath in 2005, when levees designed to protect the city from flooding failed.

Many residents of the poor neighbourhood have struggled to return after fleeing Katrina.

Lack of funds to come home and rebuild, coupled with developers swiftly moving in, and gentrification of this predominantly black, lower-income area, have left scars.

Today, broken windows and overgrown weeds pepper abandoned homes, and the angry barking of a dog interrupts the silence.

"There were families here, there were kids in the street playing football, and there were neighbours," said Tucker, who was born and bred in the neighbourhood. "And that went away overnight. It just got washed away."

Since being battered by Katrina – which killed more than 1,800 people and destroyed or damaged about 800,000 homes - New Orleans has started adapting to extreme weather, which scientists predict will worsen as the planet warms.

Arthur Johnson, chief executive officer of the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development in the Lower Ninth Ward, said disaster preparation "has become the norm, not the exception".

Evacuation centres have been built, homes have been raised higher, and solar panels installed on roofs.

The center teaches the community here to create "rain gardens" that capture rainwater for re-use. And with much of the soil still contaminated by toxic chemicals such as arsenic post-Katrina, local people are shown how to grow orchards and plant seeds in troughs above the ground.

WORKING WITH WATER

On a larger scale, New Orleans-based architects Waggonner and Ball have played a lead role in developing the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan.

Funded by the Louisiana Office of Community Development, the plan addresses flooding from heavy rainfall, as well as ground subsidence caused by pumping out storm water.

Company president David Waggonner, who travels extensively to share his experiences, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the city has much to learn from Amsterdam.

New Orleans has relied on an outdated method of pumping out excess water, and needs to rethink if it is to survive, he explained at his desk, which sports a model of the city's streets and extensive pump stations.

"The city needs to learn to live with water - creating a space for water to fall and gradually go into the soil and back into the sky," he said.

One way to do this is by creating "aesthetic blue ways and green ways", he added.

These include the Mirabeau Water Garden in Gentilly district - 25 acres (10 hectares) that will be designed to divert water from canals and capture storm runoff - as well as other green infrastructure such as new parks and redesigned streets with trees, grassy areas and ponds.

COASTAL MASTER PLAN

New Orleans is the state's largest city, with a population of just under 400,000, but Louisiana as a whole is responding rapidly to ongoing land loss and an increased risk of flooding.

According to a study released by the U.S. Geological Society, Louisiana is suffering loss of its wetlands at a rate of a football field an hour.

"After Hurricane Katrina, people started to get really serious about coastal issues," said Denise Reed, research professor at the University of New Orleans and a key technical advisor on the state-led Coastal Master Plan.

The first such master plan was mandated by the state legislature following Katrina, but earlier versions were more of a "wish list", Reed said.

The latest plan - drawn up by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and approved in 2017 - outlines priority projects requiring investment of $50 billion.

The money is needed to rebuild barrier islands and wetlands, move water and sediment from the Mississippi River to make new marshes, construct levees and flood gates, raise houses, and in some cases buy property so homeowners can move to a safer place.

"We all have to be creative with expenditure," Reed told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"In the area where I live, we've passed a sales tax, so every time you go to the store to buy something, a penny or two goes into a pot used for building a levee."

SINKING LAND, RISING SEAS

In a boat heading to the marshlands off the coast of Cocodrie, a shrimping and crabbing village in southeast Louisiana, Alex Kolker, associate professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, pointed to large industrial structures protruding from the water.

"Something in the order of 20 to 30 percent of the nation's oil infrastructure is in the Gulf of Mexico," said the oceanologist and coastal geologist. "It's a multi-billion, if not multi-trillion investment - and much of it is at, or very near, sea level."

The extractive industry is at risk from rising seas and storms, but is also a key reason why Louisiana is subsiding, he explained. When oil and gas are taken from the ground, a vacuum is created and the land sinks into it.

Research by Kolker and others shows that much of the subsidence affecting Louisiana's coast relates to these patterns of oil and gas withdrawal.

In the last century, most of the increase in the water level was due to the ground sinking, but as global sea levels rise, that is changing.

"The biggest variable for the future of Louisiana is sea level rise," said Kolker. He pointed to predictions the United States will see an average increase of about 1 cm (0.39 inches) a year by 2050.

"Those are the kind of rates that we experienced at the end of last Ice Age. That would be very, very disruptive - to New York, to London and Tokyo," he said.

Against that background, lessons being learned in Louisiana will be invaluable for the rest of the world, Kolker believes.

Back in New Orleans, Tucker's community has already experienced the full force of wild weather.

Even though he is aware that those with fewer means may struggle to be as resilient as wealthier residents, he is determined not to be cowed by the growing threat.

"I know that the water's not going anywhere," he said. "But politicians, developers, poor people, rich people, people with many resources, people with little - we're all in this together."

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation News

Michael Bloomberg to write $4.5 mln check for Paris climate pact

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President Donald Trump last year pulled the United States out of the agreement, making the country the only one opposed to the pact.

Former New York mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg said on Sunday he will write a $4.5 million check to cover this year's U.S. financial commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

President Donald Trump last year pulled the United States out of the pact, making the country the only one opposed to it.

Bloomberg, in a CBS interview, said he hopes by next year Trump will have changed his mind.

Bloomberg will continue to provide money for the pact if the United States does not rejoin the agreement, according to a news release from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity he founded.

"Our foundation will uphold our promise to cover any cuts to UN climate funding by the federal government," Bloomberg said in the statement.

Trump staunchly opposes the agreement and his administration has rolled back a number of environmental regulations. (Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb Editing by James Dalgleish)

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation News

Malaria in conflict zones threatens global progress against the disease

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Africa accounts for about nine in ten deaths and cases, with more than a third concentrated in two countries - Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Global gains in the fight against malaria could be reversed unless countries control the disease in conflict zones, where deaths and infections are rising, experts said on Tuesday.

The number of malaria cases worldwide increased in 2016 after 15 years of decline, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Global leaders seek to reignite fight against deadly malaria

Royals, celebrities, scientists join renewed call to tackle malaria

Africa accounts for about nine in ten deaths and cases, with more than a third concentrated in two countries - Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo - where conflict has forced millions to flee their homes, WHO data shows.

Tackling malaria in such places requires new strategies since those used elsewhere - such as distributing bed nets - do not work, said Richard Allen, head of The Mentor Initiative, an organisation focused on disease control in humanitarian crises.

"All too often we try to make the wrong tool fit the context," Allen said in an interview ahead of the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria's (MIM) pan-African conference this week.

"Where is a displaced person going to hang a net?" he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Researchers presented possible solutions at the conference in Senegal's capital Dakar, such as insecticide-treated plastic sheeting that can be used for shelters, and giving health workers mini malaria kits in a backpack.

WHO's global malaria programme director, Pedro Alonso, said the right tools were being used but noted that malaria surged in conflict zones for other reasons.

"Whenever there is an emergency, if the country is endemic for malaria (then) disruption of health services, movement of people and malnutrition ... all lead to malaria," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Malaria killed twice as many people as Ebola during West Africa's Ebola crisis, and is responsible for the majority of deaths in war-torn South Sudan and in parts of Nigeria battling Boko Haram, Alonso said.

Global funding for the disease has levelled off while populations have grown, meaning the amount of money per capita to fight malaria in at-risk countries has dropped, he added.

Alonso said urgent action was needed.

"We either remain where we are or we start going backwards," he said.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

How a Bizarre Nazi Military Machine Left a Lasting Mark on the Environment

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VIENNA —The Tirpitz was the Nazis' most imposing warship and the largest battleship ever built by a European navy. It should have been an easy target for bombers, but this massive vessel could hide in plain sight.

Hitler's navy used a toxic artificial fog to conceal the ship when it was stationed in a Norwegian fjord. And, according to new research, this ephemeral smoke left a lasting mark on some of the living witnesses of World War II: the trees.

"The effects of one military engagement during World War II are still evident in the forests of Norway, 70 years later," said Claudia Hartl, a tree-ring researcher at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

Hartl, who presented her findings here during the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union, didn't set out to study "war dendrochronology." Rather, she was taking core samples from pine trees around Kåfjord, near the northern edge of Scandinavia, to reconstruct a record of yearly temperatures for the past 2,000 years. (The trees can live for dozens or hundreds of years, and even older stumps can be found preserved in frigid lakes.)

"Trees are limited by temperature there, so if you have a cold year, trees form a narrow ring, and if you have a warm year, then you have wide ring," Hartl explained.

At a site near the fjord, Hartl and her colleagues found trees that didn't produce rings in 1945. This "exceptional stress response" didn't fit with the researchers' climate reconstructions, so they had to look for another explanation. And they learned that the Tirpitz had been stationed at Kåfjord, and was finally sunk by Allied bombs, in 1944.

Nicknamed "The Lonely Queen of the North" by Norwegians and "The Beast" by Winston Churchill, the battleship had been moored at Kåfjord to threaten Allied ships bringing supplies to the Soviet Union. Part of the Nazis' defense was to release chlorosulfuric acid into the air, which attracts moisture and can create a smoke screen. Hartl said there is not much in historical records about the environmental impact of the fake fog. The substance is known to be corrosive, and the group of soldiers responsible for producing this smoke had to wear special protection suits.

The researchers sampled pine trees from six sites near the fjord. Trees farther away from the Tirpitz's mooring were less affected by the fog. But at the site closest to the location of the battleship, 60 percent of the trees didn't produce a ring in 1945, and some of the trees didn't grow for several years after the war. Hartl's team thinks the trees lost their needles due to the fog, which harmed their ability to photosynthesize.

War dendrochronology could join other nascent fields like "bombturbation" (the study of how bombs alter landscapes) as scientists begin to investigate the environmental impact of war.

"What I think is very interesting is the human impact on ecosystems," Hartl told Live Science. "If you have a drought event, the trees also show a growth decline, but you can also see that these trees recover, and usually, it doesn't take longer than five years. But in northern Scandinavia, through this Second World War impact, it took the trees 12 years to recover. That's a really strong impact."

Source: Live Science.

REPORT: THE HBKU’S MAKERSPACE INITIATIVE

The College of Islamic Studies (CIS) at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) organized the first Makerspace initiative in Qatar recently, and I participated in the life-enriching and fantastic programme. This report presents what took place at the wonderful event, the benefits of such an innovative initiative and its prospects for the world.

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INTRODUCTION

My team and I at the Green Institute have been facing, the usual challenges faced by innovators and pacesetters in breaking new grounds of knowledge or bringing new and novel ideas into an environment that is vastly used to stereotypes. The questions people usually ask include “What is green education? How is it different? What can it do for me?” However, HBKU’s Makerspace initiative is a quintessence of the benefits of green education, and I know that writing and presenting this report as a speaker, will give the readers a fascinating view of some the benefits and prospects of green education in the world today. The events took place at the Education City, Student Center, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in Qatar for one week. Below are snapshots of the events.

For clarity purpose, the body of this report is presented in the following order:

1.       The Initiative

2.       The Facilitators

3.       The Content

4.       The Output

1.  THE INITIATIVE

The HBKU’s Makerspace Initiative was organized by an Assistant Professor in the College of Islamic Studies, Dr. Mohammed Evren Tok. It was a collaborative space where the public could explore and learn about ‘Green Economy, Business and Entrepreneurship in Qatar’ and the world at large. It involved, inter alia, exhibitions, workshops, and short talks.

 A student of CIS with Dr. Mohammed Evren Tok and the Dean, College of Islamic Studies

A student of CIS with Dr. Mohammed Evren Tok and the Dean, College of Islamic Studies

2. THE FACILITATORS

The facilitators are leading and accomplished scholars and academics who were drawn from reputable tertiary institutions and organizations across the globe, on the recommendation of some international and distinguished academics and authorities and based on the works the former are known to have done or been doing in respect of the focus of the Makerspace Initiative. Thus, I was invited as a Young Green leader and the Founder of the Green Institute in Ondo state, Nigeria.

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The facilitators were grouped into three panels, conceptually named the ‘Young Green leaders’. I was in Panel 3 which also included Ayansola Oluwayemisi, Wecyclers, Anael Bodwell, Queen’s Young leader 2018 and  Jason McSparren, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA. The keynote speech was given by Totan Kuzenbaev, a renowed architect. Also, students, organizations and members of the public in Qatar were invited to participate in the programme. Here are some snapshots of the participants:

3. THE CONTENT

The main content of the programme was divided into six aspects, namely:

  1. Recycling Ring: This entailed members of the public bringing materials such as plastic, bags, paper, plastic bottles and caps, and textiles that were recycled during the events.
     
  2. Living off the Land Exhibition: This showcased how people rely on nature for a sustainable living either out of choice or as necessity demands, with the hope of creating an awareness of and inspiring the possibilities of sustainable lifestyles.
     
  3. Theatre: This involved giving of short talks by selected local and international speakers on their insights into environmentally sustainable initiatives in Qatar and worldwide. Panel 1 members discussed the Frameworks for environmentally sustainable lifestyles in Qatar and the World at large; members of Panel 2 highlighted its Ethics and Panel 3 members (where I belonged) gave insights into prospects.
     
  4. Production Zone: This included workshops for the education of future generation about possibilities in recycling and upcycling and visitors to the workshops witnessed how waste materials collected at the events were repurposed into art and clothes.
     
  5. Makeathon: This was a four-day design competition in which the participants were grouped into five teams and provided with fabrication tools and mentorship from Ibtechar (such as microcontrolling kits, 3D printers and CNC routers.) and also other resources found at the events.
     
  6. Experiential Zone: This comprised Botanical Garden, Greenhouse, Entrepreneurial Exhibitions, and local startups and businesses in Qatar demonstrated practices of sustainable farming, recycling of electronic and waste management.

4. THE OUTPUT

 The week-long programme produced the under listed results and benefits:

  1. Practical demonstrations of recycling and upcycling;
  2. Concrete evidence of sustainable lifestyles;
  3. Practical demonstrations of environmentally sustainable principles and methods;
  4. Production of clothes and other useful materials from the so-called waste products;
  5. Practical demonstrations of the products of green education (e.g. building of a plastic house)
  6. Practical demonstration of sustainable farming, and,
  7. Proper and beneficial waste management

Of course, the whole programme was not about work only. For leisure, during the events, Ms. Fatima Al-Khalifa, the Director of Qur’anic Botanical Garden of Qatar received Dr. Joel Guello, Professor of Biological Systems Engineering in the University of Arizona, USA and myself at the Qur’anic Botanical Garden. We enjoyed the goodness and beauty of nature while discussing future collaborations.  We also visited and explored the provisions of the Desert of Qatar, the Museum of Islamic Art, the Pearl (which is an old market with traditional buildings in Qatar), Katara Beach and of course, the Mall of Qatar which is known as Souq Waqif. The experiences we had by visiting these masterpieces of nature were fascinating, elevating and long-lasting.

THE CONCLUSION

In fact, by the end of the programme, members of the public in Qatar and all international visitors were utterly convinced of the limitless opportunities in and benefits of green education. Are you green yet?


ADENIKE AKINSEMOLU writes from Ondo, Nigeria.

REPORT: THE GREEN INSTITUTE GRADUATES ITS FIRST SET

INTRODUCTION

APRIL 6, 2018, marks a significant turning point in the history of education in Nigeria, particularly in Ondo state. This is because the first set of students who have acquired a novel and unique kind of education known as ‘green education’, graduated on that day. The convocation ceremony took place inside the beautiful hall of the Green Institute which shares the same facility with Homaj Secondary School, Ondo-Akure Road, Itanla, Ondo State, Nigeria.

The graduating students, each of whom was awarded a nano degree in Early Childhood Education Sustainability, are Elizabeth Adeyemo and Temilade Adegbite. It was a fascinating story of innovation, intellectual creativity, entrepreneurship and career sustainability.

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS AT THE OCCASION

The special guest was Dr. Oyinloye from Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo. The other prominent guests included Mr. T.J. Falowo (Wesley University, Ondo), Mr. Charles Adeyemi (Elizade University), Ms. Akinseye (Adeyemi College of Education) and Ms. Fabunmi (Federal University of Technology, Akure).

The other guests in the audience were students from tertiary institutions, professionals, parents and guardians and well-wishers of the graduating students.

COMMENCEMENT OF THE CEREMONY

The convocation ceremony began at about 11:30 am with the showing of two fascinating TED talks on ‘The importance of Relationship in Educating Children’ and ‘What Makes a Good Teacher Great?’ respectively. Each of video clips ran for about 15 minutes. The amiable and ever-smiling anchorperson for the ceremony, Miss Odunayo Aliu of The Green Institute prompted the attentive audience to either ask questions or pass comments on the TED Talks. This opened a barrage of elevating critical comments especially from the guests on the high table, led by Dr. Afolabi. He opined that most of the solutions proffered by the TED speakers might not be applicable to the Nigerian situation because of some peculiar hindrances. By and large, everybody finally agreed that sound ‘relationship’ between a teacher and the students he/she teaches is a necessity for the achievement of learning objectives in schools.

After that, Miss Odunayo called on the special guest of the day in the person of Dr. Afolabi (aka ‘Baba Bimbo’) to deliver the keynote address. He was greeted by the whole house with thunderous applause, apparently because he is a respected and popular teacher and academic who is loved by his students especially those in ACE. He presented a paper on “Early Childhood Education for Sustainability”. It was very educative and expertly presented.

THE HIGH POINT OF THE EVENT

The high point of the day was the presentation of their research project by the graduating students. Thus, Miss Elizabeth Adeyemo was called, and she came up and did her presentation on ‘Teaching Children with Learning Disabilities for Sustainable Development‘. It was fantastic, and she got general applause for it.  Then came the turn of Miss Temilade Adegbite whose research work was on ‘Early Childhood Education Curriculum into Prenatal Care Program: A Suggestive Approach‘. She presented it confidently and got the commendation of all.

Of course, as the students were doing the presentations, they were being assessed by a team of distinguished academics who were also on the high table for the purpose. Their assessments would form a part of the final grade of the graduating students. However, after the students finished presenting their research works, the anchor person requested the guests, especially those on the high table, to pass their comments on the performances.

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Subsequently, Dr. Afolabi praised the graduating students for their elegance, confidence and determination. He pointed out areas that the students should improve on in their skills and presentations. He also commended the Founder and Director of The Green Institute, Adenike Akinsemolu, for a job well done on the students and prayed that God should give her more power and grace to fulfil the mission of the Institute

Also, Madam Oloyede, the representative of Dr Oyinloye, similarly commended both the founder and the students for their efforts. Other invited dignitaries and members of the audience too did the same.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Founder and Director of The Green Institute, Adenike Akinsemolu, was called to the podium to give her speech. The speech was short and direct. She briefly pointed out that it was hard to start and continue such a novel idea as The Green Institute in such a challenging environment but that because of her focus, determination and committed Team, the dream is finally a reality. She promised that more was still to come. She finally thanked everybody for honouring the invitation to grace the occasion, particularly the special guest and all distinguished guests on the high table.

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PHOTOGRAPHY

Finally, it was time for taking pictures. It started with group photograph of distinguished guests and the graduates of the day.

CONCLUSION

With what the first convoked students of The Green Institute, Ondo, displayed on the day of their convocation, and with the kind of comments passed on them and the institute by eminent scholars and academics who witnessed the occasion, I am confident that the institute has started charting a new and availing path for the proper education and equipment of students and the youth for sustainable personal, social and economic development in Nigeria.


TUNDE TIJANI

(B. Ed & M.A English)

Call for Abstracts, 6th International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD)

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The Global Association of Master's in Development Practice Programs (MDP), in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), will hold the Sixth Annual International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) on 26-28 September, 2018, at Columbia University in New York City.

If you would like to present at the conference, please submit an abstract as directed below. The deadline for submission is May 1, 2018. The conference is also open to observers (i.e. non-presenters). Simply register on the conference website to join us!

The conference theme is Breaking Down Silos: Fostering Collaborative Action on the SDGs. The aim of the conference is to bring together persons involved in research, policy, practice, and business. Participants will share practical solutions for achieving the SDGs at local and national levels. Abstracts should be directly relevant to one of the following Topics:

  1. Linking Policy, Operations, and Workforce toward Meeting Global Health Goals
  2. Opportunities of Marine Natural Capital for Sustainable Blue Growth
  3. Metrics and frameworks for assessing Sustainable Urban Development
  4. Ensuring Public Engagement and Accountability for Sustainable Urban Development
  5. Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Towns and Small Cities
  6. Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Building in Agriculture
  7. Economics and Demography of Natural Disasters
  8. Clean and Affordable Energy as a Keystone for Sustainable Development
  9. Globalization, Value Chains and Decent Work
  10. Indigenous Approaches to Understanding and Practicing Sustainable Development
  11. Mainstreaming Gender in Agenda 2030: Interlinkages between Sustainable Development Goals
  12. Breaking Down Silos in Government Administration
  13. Breaking Down Silos in Universities: Imaginative Interdisciplinary Approaches to Sustainable Development Research, Education, and Practice
  14. Collaborative Arts & Culture to Help Achieve the SDGs
  15. What's Law Got to Do With It? Legal Preparedness for Delivering the SDGs

Interested presenters should submit an abstract of at least 300 words but not exceeding 500 words, in English, by 1 May, 2018, via the conference website. Each abstract may only be submitted once and under one Topic. Failure to answer questions on the submission form or the submission of the same abstract under multiple topics is likely to result in the abstract being declined.

We're here for you if you have questions! Write to info@ic-sd.org

The Pioneers Class of 2018 Seminar Presentation for a Nanodegree in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability

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The Pioneer set of the Early Childhood Education Nanodegree program presented their seminar topics at the Green Institute Auditorium, Ondo kingdom. The Keynote address was delivered by Dr F.O Afolabi on the theme of the seminar, Early Childhood Education for Sustainability.  The event was witnessed by over fifty individuals across the country.

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The presentation was moderated by erudite scholars from various universities across Nigeria.

The graduating students, Adeyemo Elizabeth and Adegbite Temilade spoke on “Teaching Children with Learning Disabilities for Sustainable Development” and “Inculcating Early Childhood Education Curriculum into Prenatal Care Program: A Suggestive Approach” respectively.

The moderators applauded the students for a job well done and urge the students to make necessary corrections to strengthen the credibility of their work further. Dr Afolabi commended the Green Institute member of staff for educating young people to be social and environmental change-makers in their communities.

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Isaac Omoyele: Green Personality of the Month of April 2018

Isaac Omoyele is a passionate young man who will inspire you to pursue your dream and live a life of impact. He has helped hundreds of children living in slums back to school, build healthy self-esteem, to realise their dreams and aspirations and also empowered the ‘vulnerables’ in the society to be self sustainable. He is one of the few people the world needs, he is a world changer. We had an interview session with him, here is what he said.

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If you had one minute to sell yourself to a potential investor, how would you introduce yourself?

My name is Isaac Success Omoyele, I make the dreams of people living in the slum to become a reality through an initiative I founded “dreams from the slum empowerment initiative”

DREAMS FROM THE SLUM, how did you come about that name?

I grew up in the slum and my dreams and aspiration almost crashed when I dropped out of school while growing up; hence I was inspired to make dreams of people living in the slum to become a reality, making the world know that people who live in the slum have got valid dreams.

How long have you been running this programme and what inspired you to start?

Dreams From The Slum (DFTS) was established in 2013 based on three convictions.

  1. To ensure that regardless of social status ; every child has access to quality education.
  2. That whoever ‘CHASES’ his/her dream, no matter how or where you are born, either in the slum, rural community or a remote and desolate area; you will definitely become it.
  3. Your background doesn’t have the right to make your back be on the ground. “You may be born in the slum, but the slum is not born in you”.

Since its inception, DFTS has pioneered innovative strategies to achieve this through the following approach:

  • Education
  • Empowerment
  • Mentoring.

Through our approach on Education, we provide children with the opportunity to borrow books and read in our library facility and we have adopted over 1000 out of school children back into school in Nigeria by providing scholarship opportunities and access to basic school materials such as notebooks, bags, shoes etc.

Also, to enhance the quality of education in the slum , our teachers readiness program trains educators in low cost primary schools in rural communities, and we are extremely excited about the effect this is having on learners through their academic performance.

Through our approach via Empowerment, we provide teenage pregnant girls with livelihood skills so that they can be self reliant and live purpose driven lives; knowing that they have the potential to contribute meaningfully in our society, not minding their dreams and aspirations been delayed due to their misinformed choices. However, we make them realize they have a second chance to rewrite the outcome of their life through our ‘Young mothers Academy’

Other women are not left behind especially the parents of the beneficiaries as we get them engaged through livelihood skills so they can be self employed and meet the basic needs of their children.

Through our Mentoring approach, we provide career guidance to children and teenagers by helping them discover their unique abilities and passion, revolutionize the way they learn and get them exposed.

They are also exposed to self discovery and leadership training programmes as we are committed in developing their self esteem.

What are some of your achievements so far?

We have reduce the high number of “out of school” children living in the slum area of Ajegunle by adopting then back to school. We have held the government accountable on educational policy by reporting corrupt head teachers which reduced the high extortion rate in government schools in Lagos State.  We have empowered women with no income to be self employed so they will better cater for the needs of their children and we also set up a library in the slum to enable children have access to books because we believe that “Readers are Leaders”.

What are the major challenges and how have you been able to pull through?

The major challenge we have faced and still facing is funding.  

We leverage on individual donors to access funding for our projects.

How do you get people to support you especially non-family members?

We sell the vision, share our story and how we are changing lives.

What other areas do you think you need support?

We want to acquire a property where we can have our centre for children which will include a standard school for them but we need support to make this dream come to reality.

If you have the opportunity to change anything about the Nigerian Education System what would it be?

To ensure children go to school without monetary restrictions.

What is it about you that people do not know?

I have loads of children and I am not married, I call them my adopted kids.

What's your advice to young people aspiring to contribute positively to their community?

When you find your place, everything will fall in place for you and you will become the master of that place – FIND YOUR PLACE

How can people reach you and learn more about your work?

www.dreamsfromtheslum.org

info@dreamsfromtheslum.org

08064222169 , 08179586733

www.facebook.com/dreamsfromtheslum

www.instagram.com/dreamsfromtheslum

Land degradation drives mass migration, climate change - experts

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By Anastasia Moloney

Land degradation could force hundreds of millions of people to migrate in the coming decades

BOGOTA, March 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Billions of people live on farmland that is deteriorating and producing less food, and this situation could force hundreds of millions of people to migrate over the next three decades, a major report said on Monday.

The study, which is backed by the United Nations, said climate change and worsening land quality could see crop yields halve in some regions by 2050, and warned that larger tracts of degraded land meant conflict over resources was more likely.

"Decreasing land productivity also makes societies more vulnerable to social instability – particularly in dryland areas, where years with extremely low rainfall have been associated with an increase of up to 45 percent in violent conflict," said Robert Scholes, the report's co-author.

The report was written by more than 100 experts from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a global scientific group.

The body said that as degraded land becomes less productive - through deforestation, overgrazing, flash floods or drought - people, many of them poor farmers, are forced to migrate to cities or abroad.

And, it warned, when arid, semi-dry or dryland areas degrade further, deserts spread - which means lower crop yields.

"In just over three decades from now, an estimated 4 billion people will live in drylands," Scholes said in a statement.

"By then it is likely that land degradation, together with the closely related problems of climate change, will have forced 50-700 million people to migrate," he said

Read more

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation News

Launching the 2018 Youth Solutions Report’s Call for Submissions

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About

We are in the midst of an era of unprecedented transformation. Be it in the context of the rapid modifications of the global economy, in the difficulties our societies face in coping with massive technological and other societal changes, or in the dramatic ways in which our ecosystems are adapting and reacting to increased anthropogenic pressures, the world is calling for solutions that can embark us upon a trajectory of sustainable development.

Yet, worryingly, we seem to have lost the notion that it is young people who are the best positioned to analyze and solve this sort of novel challenges. Young men and women between the ages of 15 and 30 today represent the best-educated generation ever; are more intelligent than the average of the adult population, and are far more knowledgeable about new technologies. In addition, and mainly as a consequence of these other characteristics, younger generations also have a grasp of uncertainty and complexity that other age groups often lack. On the one hand, this leads to a better understanding of the synergies and trade-offs involved in addressing the cross-sectoral challenges enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. On the other, it allows young people to think of institutional arrangements and innovations that confront the many forms of path dependency which exist in international organizations, governments, and businesses and usually lead to inefficient, inequitable and unsustainable outcomes.

For the first time in history, young people from different countries and regions often share the same objectives and grievances, usually linked with the negative impacts of globalization and poor governance, and are increasingly part of a common culture as well. This goes beyond the usual notion that “all young people are idealistic”, even though idealism itself is everything but a negative word, in the context of the major challenges we are facing. Rather, it speaks of the incredible, untapped potential of 1.8 billion global citizens who largely hold the same ideas about how to transform our societies for the better through innovative forms of problem-solving along the four dimensions of sustainable development.

At SDSN Youth, we believe that failing to partner with young innovators and change-makers would represent the biggest waste of human capital in the history of mankind. This is why we are proud to announce that we will be launching the second edition of our Youth Solutions Report in July 2018.

Like its 2017 predecessor, this year’s Report also seeks to identify and celebrate 50 youth-led solutions that are succesfully contributing towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in business, charity, education and research. However, the new Report comes with a wider scope and greater ambitions, aiming to inform the policies and actions of all stakeholders through in-depth research and analysis, with a view to substantially increase the support that young innovators receive in their countries and communities.

In 2017, with the first edition of the Youth Solutions Report, we offered young innovators the opportunity to present their solutions and take part in international conferences and events, including the UN High-Level Political Forum, the International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD), EXPO 2017 Astana, COP23, the Youth Assembly at the United Nations, and UNLEASH Lab 2017. We also helped youth-led solutions become more visible online, not just through our media channels but also with collaborations with websites and media outlets including National Geographic, Impakter, Virgin Unite, and Connect4Climate, among others. Lastly, we shared funding and mentoring opportunities, matched innovators with interested experts and supporters, and launched the first edition of our Investment Readiness Program in collaboration with Babele.co in January 2018.

With this year’s Report, we are confident that we will significantly build on our past successes, establish new meaningful partnerships with UN Agencies, NGOs, companies and media outlets, and overall step up our support to youth-led initiatives in their quest to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through holistic and innovative approaches.

“Young people not only have a stake because they will be the ones implementing the SDGs and because their well-being will depend on achieving them. They also have a stake because they are part of the most educated generation in the history of the world, and through their skills, creativity, and enthusiasm they are uniquely positioned to deliver transformative change across multiple sectors of society.”

Submissions to the 2018 Youth Solutions Report are open until April 30, 2018, at this link.  

Source: Youth Solution Blog

Millions more hungry in 2017 amid famine, conflict, and numbers rising -report

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“We are clearly seeing a trend now, from 80 million to 108 million, from 108 to 124 million, people literally marching to the brink of starvation around the world”

By Thin Lei Win

ROME, March 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Conflicts and climate disasters, particularly drought, drove the number of people facing crisis levels of hunger up by about 15 percent last year and the situation is getting worse, a report said on Thursday.

Last year 124 million people in 51 countries faced crisis levels of hunger compared to 108 million people in 48 countries in 2016 and 80 million in 2015, according to the Food Security Information Network (FSIN).

The FSIN is a global project set up to strengthen food and nutrition security information systems that is sponsored by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

“We are clearly seeing a trend now, from 80 million to 108 million, from 108 to 124 million, people literally marching to the brink of starvation around the world,” said David Beasley, WFP’s executive director.

“We will never address the issues of the day until we end some of these conflicts,” he added at the report’s launch.

The FSIN report said the rising numbers in 2017 were largely due to new or intensified conflicts in Myanmar, north-east Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Yemen.

In 2018, “conflict will remain a primary driver of food security”, it said, while severe dry weather is expected to affect crop and livestock production and worsen hunger in many parts of Africa.

Yemen,  where a proxy war between a Saudi-led military coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi movement has displaced more than 2 million people since 2015, would remain “the world’s most concerning food crisis”, the report said.

Read More

Source: Thomson Reuter Foundation News

Brighton Chama, GCI Campus Representative For Copperbelt University, Zambia Meets Konkola Trust School Environmental Club.

On March 20, 2018, our Zambian representative was invited to speak on Environmental Sustainability to the students of Konkola Secondary Trust School, Zambia. He spoke extensively about the work of the Green Campus Initiative in ensuring that Eco-conscious children are raised all over the world.

 

The training is in resonance with the vision of the school which made the School authority propose collaboration between the Green Campus Initiative, Copperbelt Chapter and Konkola Trust School, Zambia. This is to actively drive their school to becoming a Green School by adopting the Green Practices designed by the Green Campus Initiative.

Carbon prices too low to protect SE Asian forests from rubber expansion - report

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The price of carbon credits must rise drastically if they are to help protect Southeast Asia's tropical forests against rubber plantation expansion, according to researchers.

Individuals, companies and countries purchase carbon credits to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

Putting a cost on carbon emissions provides an incentive to do business more sustainably, and a disincentive to engage in environmentally damaging activities - like clearing forests.

But researchers found that credits bought and sold on international markets would need to rise from $5-$13 per tonne of carbon dioxide to $30-$51 per tonne if they are to safeguard Southeast Asian forests from rubber.

At current prices, carbon credits cannot compete with the profits to be made from felling forests and developing rubber plantations, according to the report published this month in the journal Nature Communications.

"We looked at rubber as an economic driver of deforestation," said Eleanor Warren-Thomas, the lead researcher who was at Britain's University of East Anglia when she worked on the study.

"What kind of profits can you make from rubber plantations, and what kind incentive (to preserve forests) do you need to provide through carbon finance?"

Such a large study has not been done before, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Most forest conservation efforts in the region tend to focus on palm oil expansion, and the growth of rubber plantations has received little attention, said Warren-Thomas.

Rubber demand rose over the last 20 years, as emerging markets like China and India became wealthier and more people were able to buy cars and motorcycles.

Rubber plantations cover about 11 million hectares around the world, two-thirds of which are in Southeast Asia, while annual expansion rates roughly doubled between 2003-2013, said Warren-Thomas.

Converting forests to rubber plantations results in net carbon emissions, as the carbon stored in the cut-down trees is released into the atmosphere - but that is not widely recognised in the industry, the researchers said.

"Rubber is (from) trees, and so it looks like you've replaced one kind of forest with another," said Tom Evans, an Oxford-based conservation director at the Wildlife Conservation Society, which was involved in the report.

"But really you've replaced a high carbon system that provides a lot of other ecosystems services with a much lower carbon ecosystem."

Zero-deforestation pledges made by governments and large tyre companies, as well as the enforcement of forest protection laws, are crucial to curb rubber expansion, the report said.

Besides higher carbon credit prices, it also recommended further development of synthetic alternatives to natural rubber and improvements in recycling of natural rubber.

The researchers focused on forests in Cambodia, but those in China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam are also under threat from rubber, Warren-Thomas said.

Source: Thomas Reuters Foundation News

High School Student Nicknamed ‘Trash Girl’ by Bullies Refuses to Stop Collecting Litter

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Many people may not want to think about our plastic pollution problem, but it’s imperative that we do. Every year, we produce 300 million tons of plastic and around 8.8 million tons of it get dumped in the oceans, threatening countless animals, many of which are on the verge of extinction as a result. If that wasn’t bad enough, it’s now estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

As one of the greatest threats to our oceans and the animals that we share the planet with, we need to rethink every single aspect of how much waste we produce and how we deal with it. That’s why 12-year-old Nadia Sparkes decided to take matters into her own hands. The high schooler has been picking up trash along the two-mile route from her school to her home for months now, using the basket of her bike to bring the trash home. In just the short amount of time that she has been picking up trash, Nadia has already accumulated more than two recycling bins worth of plastic.

Despite her green intentions, some of the kids at Nadia’s school have dubbed her “Trash Girl” and have bullied her for her noble efforts to help the planet. It would be easy to succumb to mean comments and stop picking up trash, but on the contrary, Nadia is more determined than ever to clean up her community.

“I’m doing something to protect the world they also live in. It’s everyone’s job. We are all responsible for keeping this world safe, instead of believing that it’s always someone else’s job,”  Nadia said about the bullies. 

 

“I told her she had two choices, she could either stop collecting rubbish, stop drawing their attention and hopefully they would leave her alone. Or she could own “trash girl,” Paula Sparkes, Nadia’s mom, said about the bullies.

As a result of the media attention Nadia has received, she now has created a Facebook group aptly named “Team Trash Girl” where she shares updates on her efforts. Positive comments have poured in, all in support of Nadia, advocating for her to ignore the negative. “Nadia, I think you’re truly awesome! Own that nickname and don’t give up. The bullies are ignorant and should be ashamed. I wish more people were just like you,” Emma Whitmore said.

Local artists have also shown their support by creating original artwork that boldly says “ Team Trash Girl.” 

If you’d like to stay up to date on Nadia’s work to rid her community of trash, you can join the “Team Trash Girl” Facebook group. At a time when our plastic pollution has become a full-blown environmental crisis, Nadia’s efforts are important now more than ever. We need more people like Nadia to proudly stand up for what they believe in!

What You Can Do! 

A staggering 1 trillion plastic bags are used each year worldwide, according to the Earth Policy Institute. Plastic bags are made out of non-renewable resources like petroleum and natural gas, and because they take hundreds of years to decompose, when plastics do eventually degrade, they don’t biodegrade. Instead, they photodegrade, which means they break down into smaller fragments and easily soak up toxins, which then contaminate waterways, soil, and animals upon digestion of the plastic materials.

If we all make an effort to identify where we use plastic and actively look for alternatives, we can drastically cut down on the amount of plastic pollution that finds its way into the oceans. Achieving a 100 percent waste-free lifestyle is challenging, but it is certainly not impossible. Just take a look at Lauren Singer, the 25-year-old who can store all the waste she’s produced in the past few years in just a single mason jar!

As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, One Green Planet believes that reducing everyday plastics from our lives is not about giving up anything or sacrificing convenience, but rather learning to reap the maximum benefits from the items you use every day while having minimal impact.

If you’re ready to start, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

Source: One Green Planet

With bottle walls and a recycled ship, Kenya’s coast takes on plastic waste

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WATAMU, Kenya, March 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Like many places in the world, Kenya's coast faces challenges with waste plastic, from used shopping bags that block drains to throw-away water bottles that litter streets and wash into the sea.

But this Indian Ocean resort village, best known for its tropical beaches and Swahili history, is taking on plastic waste, turning it into homes, furniture – and maybe even a ship capable of sailing all the way to South Africa to raise awareness about plastic pollution.

Sammy Baya, for instance, one resident of the coastal community, now owns a house with walls made of stacked glass and plastic bottles.

"It just like living in any other house but this one, unlike other ordinary houses, allows more light to enter the house and therefore I don't use my solar (panels) for lighting when there is a full moon," Baya told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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Source: Zilient