Russia and Syria in the Spotlight for Latest Idlib Medic Deaths

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) said two medical workers were killed in an attack Wednesday at an ambulance centre in Ma’aret Hurmeh, a town in Idlib province. Courtesy: Syrian American Medical Society

By James Reinl
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 16 2019 – Medical aid groups have again blasted Russian and Syrian government forces this week for an ever-growing death toll among doctors, paramedics and other health workers in military strikes in northwestern Syria.

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) said two medical workers were killed in an attack Wednesday at an ambulance centre in Ma’aret Hurmeh, a town in Idlib province, which has been gripped by fighting in recent weeks.

Paramedic Mohamad Hussni Mishnen, 29, and ambulance driver Fadi Alomar, 34, died in a series of six airstrikes that levelled the facility, SAMS said. A rescuer also perished in a “double tap” hit on the centre as he tried to pull Mishnen and Alomar from the rubble.

Several aid groups and the United Nations have warned of repeated strikes on Idlib’s hospitals as Syrian government forces, backed by Russian airpower, retake the last rebel bastion in the country’s eight-year civil war. 

Mufaddal Hamadeh, president of SAMS, said in a statement he was “saddened and disturbed by this terrible incident”. He paid tribute to the medics and said those responsible for such “blatant crimes” should be held accountable.

Another group, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), has received reports of 46 attacks on  health centres since Syrian government and Russian forces launched an offensive on Idlib on April 29. The group has verified 16 of them.

“PHR’s rigorous research since the conflict began reveals that Syrian government and/or Russian government forces have committed approximately 91 percent of the attacks on health facilities in Syria,” said the group’s policy director Susannah Sirkin.

“The fact that these courageous professionals in Idlib were killed while merely doing their jobs should compel the U.N. and all parties to act now to stop the relentless bombing of civilians.”

Last month, after two-thirds of U.N. Security Council diplomats issued a protest note, U.N. secretary-general António Guterres launched an inquiry into attacks on civilian infrastructure including hospitals, clinics and schools.

The so-called Board of Inquiry will probe whether GPS coordinates of hospitals and clinics that the U.N. provides to Russia, the U.S. and Turkey to ensure the hospitals’ protection were used instead to target them.

Guterres “must conduct a rapid, public, and transparent investigation into attacks on health in the face of the deconfliction agreements”, while Security Council members “must ensure that those responsible for these unthinkable crimes are held accountable,” added Sirkin.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and Moscow, whose airpower has been critical to Damascus’ military gains in recent years, say they are fighting terrorists and deny targeting civilians, schools or hospitals, which can constitute war crimes.

Replying to a question from IPS, Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s envoy to the U.N., said he was “disappointed” by the U.N.’s decision to launch the probe but did not commit to cooperating with investigators.

“If we were sure that this board will really try to establish the truth, then I can’t exclude this,” Polyanskiy told reporters.

“But there are a lot of doubts about this. These countries that were pushing for the establishment of this board … are not seeking to find the truth about what’s happened, they seek another tool to pressure Russia, to pressure Syria, and to just distort the actions that we take there.”

Syria’s U.N. ambassador Bashar Ja’afari has said that northwest Syria’s healthcare centres were used by “terrorist groups” rather than doctors.

According to the U.N., more than 450 people have been killed in the Idlib offensive and hundreds of thousands more displaced by fighting. Idlib’s population is about three million, most of whom have fled from other parts of war-torn Syria.

Idlib and nearby parts of the northwest were covered by a “de-escalation” deal to staunch the conflict that was struck in September by Russia and Turkey, which backs some rebel groups in the area. 

But the deal was never fully implemented after fighters refused to withdraw from a planned buffer zone. Fighting has ratcheted up again in recent weeks, sending waves of refugees spilling from conflict hotspots.

President Assad is seeking to claw back control of Syria after peaceful protests in 2011 spiralled into a brutal civil war that saw him lose much of the country to armed religious extremists and other rebels.

More than 400,000 people have died across Syria since 2011, according to World Bank figures, and almost 12 million others have been forced to flee from their homes because of the fighting, both within Syria and abroad.

A Key Role for 1.8 Billion Youth in UN’s 2030 Development Agenda

Students in Primary Seven at Zanaki Primary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania during an English language class. Credit: Sarah Farhat/World Bank.

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 16 2019 – The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is convinced that the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents and youth– a quarter of the global population—have a key role to play in helping implement the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda.

In an interview with IPS, UNFPA Deputy Executive Director (Programme) Dereje Wordofa, said “young people are at the centre of sustainable development”.

“If we do not work with, and for them, there is no way we can achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, or UNFPA’s three transformative results,” he warned.

Through “My Body, My Life, My World!”, UNFPA is also contributing to each of the five priorities of the UN’s overall Youth Strategy, “Youth 2030”.

“If we make coherent, tailored, large-scale reforms and investments, especially in health (including sexual and reproductive health), skills development, and employment, those nations can achieve a huge demographic dividend from their healthy, empowered young populations”

Dereje Wordofa, UNFPA Deputy Executive Director (Programme)

“These are engagement, participation and advocacy, informed and healthy foundations, economic empowerment through decent work, and peace and resilience,” he pointed out.

Speaking during International Youth Day on August 11, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres complained schools are “not equipping young people with the skills they need to navigate the technological revolution.”

Last year, he also stressed the importance of young people in addressing the challenges confronting the contemporary world, including peace, impacts of climate change and growing inequalities.

“The best hope [to address these] challenges is with the new generations. We need to make sure that we are able to strongly invest in those new generations,” said Guterres, urging the international community to be fully engaged in addressing a key problem of youth unemployment.

Asked how realistic was UNFPA’s strategy in poverty-stricken communities struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day, Wordofa told IPS: “Having lived and worked in many countries affected by poverty and deprivation, including in my own Ethiopia, I couldn’t agree with you more”

He said Sustainable Development Goal 1 (SDG 1) is a lynchpin for all the other SDGs, and in all sectors of development “we are contributing towards reducing poverty. I believe empowered young people will play a vital role here too”.

“At UNFPA, we firmly believe that one of the most essential routes to achieving sustainable development lies in educating and empowering young people to make decisions about their health and wellbeing, giving them the tools to take charge of their lives, to drive development, and to sustain peace”.

“We must recognize that adolescents and young people make up the majority of the population in many economically poor nations,” he declared.

“ If we make coherent, tailored, large-scale reforms and investments, especially in health (including sexual and reproductive health), skills development, and employment, those nations can achieve a huge demographic dividend from their healthy, empowered young populations,’ said Wordofa, who earlier served as the International Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, at SOS Children’s Villages and Regional Director for Africa at the American Friends Service Committee.

In this context, he pointed out that UNFPA’s “My Body, My Life, My World!” is a human-centric approach: “we are emphasizing how all the different issues affecting adolescents and youth today are interlinked and inseparable”.

“For example, without rights and choices over their bodies, it is not possible for young people to have full control over their lives and actively shape their communities and end poverty. So we must continue to address the complex determinants that affect young people’s health and wellbeing,” he noted.

 

UNFPA Deputy Executive Director (Programme) Dereje Wordofa.

 

 

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: How best would you describe the UNFPA’s new strategy on adolescents and youth? 

WORDOFA: UNFPA’s vision is to create a world where every young person can make their own choices and enjoy their rights. The strategy titled “My body, my life, my world!” is our new rallying cry for every young person to have the knowledge and power to make informed choices about their bodies and lives, and to participate in transforming their world.

The strategy puts young people – their talents, hopes, perspectives and unique needs – at the very centre of sustainable development, and offers a new approach to collaborate with, invest in, and champion young people around the world. It encompasses everything that was called for and promised by world leaders at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) back in 1994 in Cairo.

“My Body, My Life, My World!” provides a new narrative for all of UNFPA’s youth work, building on the organization’s strategic plan and the UN’s “Youth 2030” strategy, and putting young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights at the core of what we do both in development and humanitarian settings.

In addition to the crucial need for young people to enjoy their right to sexual and reproductive health, the strategy also includes their fundamental right to participate in sustainable development, humanitarian action and sustaining peace.

By working with and for young people, we will deliver across the three spheres that matter to them – their body, life, and world. This will be essential if we are to finally fulfil the promise of the ICPD of rights and choices for all adolescents and youth.

IPS: Are you working on a deadline for its implementation?

WORDOFA: UNFPA seeks to achieve its three transformative goals by 2030; namely zero unmet need for family planning, zero maternal deaths and zero violence and harmful practices against women and girls. “My Body, My Life, My World!” will be a key accelerator to achieving these three goals.

IPS: Do you think the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents and youth now remain largely marginalized in decisions relating to reproductive health, marriage and child-bearing?

WORDOFA: Yes! It is a sad fact that far too many young people are still a long way from being able to exercise their reproductive rights, despite being promised them by world leaders twenty-five years ago at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo.

The numbers are staggering: 21 per cent of girls worldwide are married before age 18. Tens of thousands of girls get married every day. And every day in developing countries, 20,000 girls under age 18 give birth: this amounts to 7.3 million births a year.

The choices young people make—or are forced to make—determine their lives now, their futures as adults, and the health of future generations. A single choice, for example, to stay in school may protect against early pregnancy, child marriage, gender-based violence and HIV infection.

Yet many young people will not be able to make that choice. Poverty, humanitarian crises, race, ethnicity, gender and cultural traditions are just some of the barriers that may stand in the way.

IPS: What role can civil society play in promoting the Youth strategy in the developing world?                   

WORDOFA: Making a real difference in the lives of young people rests on shared leadership and shared responsibility. Youth-led and youth-serving organizations, governments, community leaders, UN entities, civil society, academia, the private sector and the media all have essential roles to play.

As UNFPA, we take pride in being a trusted ally and partner for youth leaders, organizations and networks. We systematically invest in strengthening national and regional youth-led networks, and pioneering models for youth leadership and participation in many countries.

Adolescents and youth both benefit from our programmes, and as our close partners, offer vital contributions to shaping their design and implementation.

For “My Body, My Life, My World!” we are excited to strengthen and broaden our partnership base and collaborate with youth-led organizations, community-based organizations, but also iNGOs, to scale up joint implementation efforts with young people.

IPS: How will your young professional network – the Tangerines – described as the first of its kind in the UN system, be deployed in promoting your new strategy?

WORDOFA: The Tangerines played an important role in formulating and shaping the strategy. We will continue to provide a safe space and promote an organizational culture that encourages young professionals within UNFPA to be closely linked to the implementation of “My Body, My Life, My World!” We know we need to start by walking the talk.

At the conception phase of the Strategy, we conducted a global survey with Tangerine members and consulted with our Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem, and the UN Secretary General’s Youth Envoy to explore how UNFPA was delivering for young people and what could be strengthened.

We are planning to collaborate closely with the Tangerines for the global launch and promotion of the Strategy, as well as when thinking about how we can reach young people and operationalize the strategy.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

Establishing a Science & Technology Park is No Walk in the Park

The Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research. Credit: IAEA Imagebank/CC By 2.0

By Tengfei Wang
BANGKOK, Aug 16 2019 (IPS)

The success of Silicon Valley has been inspirational for many countries worldwide wishing to establish science and technology parks. In Asia, successful science and technology parks can be found in many economies, including China, Japan and Thailand.

Despite this, if the precursory conditions are not in place, a science and technology park could turn into a white elephant project. This is a key message from the ESCAP guidebook titled Establishing Science and Technology Parks: A Reference Guidebook for Policymakers in Asia and the Pacific.

Worldwide and in the region, most science and technology parks are in economically advanced or large economies. As developing economies attempt to close the technology gap, governments are increasingly turning to science and technology parks as a key driver of their national strategies.

For example, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported that approximately 80 per cent of the countries surveyed (including developed, developing and least developed countries) planned to use specialized zones, including science and technology parks, as a part of their 21st century industrial or science, technology and innovation (STI) policies.

Placing the physical infrastructure of a science and technology park is often straightforward. To make it work, however, is more complicated. Only 25 percent of science and technology parks in an advanced economy could be regarded successful in achieving their goals.

How do we ensure a science and technology park is a success?
Before a science and technology park is developed, it is essential to check whether the pre-conditions are in place. These key precursor conditions are:

  1. The key tenants or the anchor tenants – such as national research institutes – are committed to staying in the science and technology park. Anchor tenants are crucial to ensuring that a science and technology park has its backbone and may be useful in attracting other firms to co-locate;
  2. A management team with all the skills necessary for managing the science and technology park can be identified and assembled. The management team needs to have expertise in not only research and development, but also business, marketing, negotiation and communications. Furthermore, the management team must be able to adjust its strategy to an ever-changing environment. Such multi-tasking means, for many developing countries, that assembling an effective management team is a real challenge;
  3. A strong science base in the surrounding areas of the science and technology park is already available. This factor is important because a science base in the surrounding area will provide potential tenants of the science and technology park. In addition, this will ensure that the firms within the park can easily communicate with firms outside the park;
  4. The city or area where a science and technology park will be built is attractive to talented researchers and entrepreneurs.;
  5. An entrepreneurial culture is available in the city or country where a science and technology park will be built. This factor is particularly important if the key objective of a science and technology park is to foster start-ups and entrepreneurs;
  6. Finance, especially seed and venture capital, is available in the city or country where a science and technology park will be built. These resources are critical to support long-term STI initiatives and build upon existing research.

In addition, it is important to assess a science and technology park in a broad national or local economic context. In this connection, key questions should be asked on what can be achieved by establishing a science and technology park and whether there are better but alternative ways to achieving that goal.

While a science and technology park can be developed by the private sector, if a government or public sector finances the development of the park or provides other incentives such as tax exemption or reduction, the science and technology park needs to provide social benefits such as advanced research and development, which subsequently boosts its national STI and/or economic development.

The guidebook was launched at the inaugural Asia-Pacific Innovation Forum. Close collaboration with the Asian Science Park Association ensured not only the relevance of the guidebook but also its effective dissemination.

Tengfei Wang is Economic Affairs Officer, Trade, Investment and Innovation Division, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

Forests, Food & Farming Next Frontier in Climate Emergency

By Ruth Richardson
TORONTO, Canada, Aug 16 2019 – The special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  on climate and land, launched last week, makes it clear that without drastic changes in land use, agriculture and human diets, we will fall significantly short of targets to hold global temperature rise below 1.5°C. 

Agriculture and food systems are identified as they key drivers of land degradation and desertification, with carbon emissions and extractive activities affecting 75 per cent of the Earth’s land surface. Now, as forests, food, and farming become the next frontier in the climate emergency, there is an urgent need to accelerate creative and effective solutions.

It is against this backdrop that a new report  – Beacons of Hope: Accelerating Transformations to Sustainable Food Systems – showcases 21 initiatives from across the world that are already working in diverse ways to achieve sustainable, equitable and secure food systems.

Each Beacons of Hope is disrupting the status quo and regenerating landscapes, enhancing livelihoods, restoring people’s health and wellbeing, reconnecting with Indigenous and cultural knowledge, and more, in order to achieve a resilient food future.

There is an opportunity to learn from these initiatives, as well as apply those learnings to facilitate and accelerate more food systems transformations.

The report makes the case for why we must pinpoint the drivers of change and seize the opportunities they bring. Climate change is called out as the predominant overriding challenge facing Beacons of Hope and is identified as a key driver of change across food systems.

An awareness of the health impacts of current food systems and the desire to improve community health and well-being also emerged as important drivers of change across many Beacons of Hope. As well, migration and immigration – the movement of people from rural to urban areas, as well as across borders – was found to significantly impact agriculture and health outcomes.

Yet, though food systems are vulnerable and complex, this report makes clear that they can be transformed to provide the people- and nature-based climate solutions we urgently need to address a multitude of issues – from climate emergency, urbanization, and the need for healthier and more sustainable diets.

 

In Andhra Pradesh, India

 

In particular, the report details that we need to accelerate agroecological approaches as a way to achieve transformation with many Beacons of Hope putting agroecological principles at the core of their work and their vision of the future.

Take for example how the Climate Resilient Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) initiative in Andhra Pradesh, India, promotes food resilience through traditional, chemical-free farming and agroecological processes and plans to scale from 180,000 farmers today to a massive 6 million by 2024.

At the same time, the Agroecology Case Studies (from the Oakland Institute) present evidence that agroecology can provide better yields, pest management, soil fertility, increased biodiversity, and increased farmer incomes compared to conventional farming.

Both these Beacons of Hope challenge the dominant narrative around food production that pressures national governments to privilege industrialized agriculture and foreign investment over local natural resource management through agroecology.

They also demonstrate that knowledge transfer and skills training, through farmer-to-farmer mentoring, is fundamental to not only building the capacity of farmers and communities over time, but to also challenge top-down approaches to reform and/or single-focused interventions that can cause unintended consequences.

As forests, food, and farming become the next frontier in the climate emergency, there is an urgent need to accelerate creative and effective solutions

Another of the Beacons of Hope – Agricultures Network (AN) is producing regional and global magazines that put farmers at the center of the development of agriculture, and thereby, is facilitating knowledge co-creation between farmer communities, researchers, civil society actors, and others.

Crucially, AN brings to life how sustainable food production also: reduces inequality; fosters healthy society, soil, and environment; and reduces youth unemployment.

Another key takeaway from the report is that new market mechanisms should be identified, developed, and supported by policy and practice. Environmental and social externalities should be internalized by policy and markets in order to balance the playing field on which initiatives addressing sustainability are currently disadvantaged.

This is something that was done, in part, at the Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) in Zambia. Established in 2009, this Beacon of Hope channels market incentives to rural economies, promoting income generation, biodiversity conservation, and food security by training poachers to be farmers and farmers to be stewards of the land.

Now, thanks to this initiative, the farmers involved are able to grow their own food and create a livelihood outside of elephant hunting, which benefits the environment as well as the health of the smallholder farmers and their families.

Ultimately, there’s little doubt that we need systemic change, new policies, and a shift in power dynamics in order to realize a safe, resilient, and fair food future. We need to see systems-thinking in order to facilitate transformative processes in place-based, contextual ways.

Equally, we need to see long-term thinking, and creative partnerships and investment from across the private sector, civil society, and government committed to transforming food systems. Only then can we ensure that the negative externalities are minimized and positive benefits — economic, social, ecological, and cultural — are enhanced and properly valued.

The Beacons of Hope show us that transformation is not only possible, but is already happening. This creates space for hope, possibility, and opportunity through the groundswell of people transforming our food systems in beneficial, dynamic, and significant ways, through nature- and people-based solutions accelerating meaningful food systems transformations at this critical time.

For more about the Beacons of Hope, visit: www.foodsystemstransformations.org/

Producing Energy from Pig and Poultry Waste in Brazil

Romário Schaefer, 65, stands between the biodigester buried in the ground on the right and the blue tank holding whey that is mixed with the manure of the pigs he fattens in a row of pig pens (top left) to produce biogas, in the southern Brazilian municipality of Entre Rios do Oeste. In the background is his brick factory, which saves about 6,500 dollars a month in electricity by using biogas. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Romário Schaefer, 65, stands between the biodigester buried in the ground on the right and the blue tank holding whey that is mixed with the manure of the pigs he fattens in a row of pig pens (top left) to produce biogas, in the southern Brazilian municipality of Entre Rios do Oeste. In the background is his brick factory, which saves about 6,500 dollars a month in electricity by using biogas. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

By Mario Osava
ENTRE RIOS DO OESTE, Brazil, Aug 16 2019 – Romário Schaefer is fattening up 3,300 pigs that he receives when they weigh around 22 kg and returns when they reach 130 to 160 kg – a huge increase in meat and profits for their owner, a local meat-processing plant in this city in Brazil.

Schaefer is not interested in the pork meat business. What he wants is the manure, which he uses to produce biogas and electricity that fuel his brick-making factory.

“I’m not a farmer,” he says as he shows us around his Stein Ceramics company in the middle of a 38-hectare rural property on the outskirts of Entre Rios do Oeste, a farming town of 4,400 people in western Paraná, one of three states in Brazil’s southern region, on the border with Paraguay.

He is explaining the difference between himself and neighbouring pig farmers who produce biogas and sell it to the Mini-Thermoelectric Plant inaugurated on Jul. 24 to generate energy that serves the Entre Rios municipal government and all of its facilities in the town itself and the rest of the municipality.

For them it is a new agricultural product, and has been recognised as such in Paraná for commercial and tax purposes. But for Schaefer it’s an input for his factory, which makes bricks.

Animal waste, which pollutes the soil and rivers, is becoming an important by-product in southwestern Brazil, where pig and poultry farming has expanded widely in recent decades.

The Haacke farm, in the municipality of Santa Helena, south of Entre Rios, uses the waste produced by its tens of thousands of hens and hundreds of cattle to produce biogas, electricity and biomethane.

Its biomethane, a fuel derived from the refining of biogas which is employed as a substitute for natural gas, is used in vehicles at the giant Itaipú hydroelectric plant shared by Brazil and Paraguay on the Paraná River, which forms part of the border between the two countries.

In Mariscal Cándido Rondon, a few kilometres to the north, the Kohler family, pioneers in the use of biogas on their large farm, took on another role in the chain of this energy which is more than just clean – it actually cleans the environment.

Part of Stein Ceramics, whose prosperity and ecological production were made possible by the biogas produced from the manure of 3,300 pigs. The factory produces enough bricks monthly to build 200 60-square-metre homes in the state of Paraná, on Brazil's border with Paraguay. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Part of Stein Ceramics, whose prosperity and ecological production were made possible by the biogas produced from the manure of 3,300 pigs. The factory produces enough bricks monthly to build 200 60-square-metre homes in the state of Paraná, on Brazil’s border with Paraguay. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

They created a biodigester company, BioKohler, which is present in many projects spreading throughout Paraná and other Brazilian states, not only selling equipment but also sharing know-how brought from other countries.

The new family initiative that can guide new projects is a biogas-fired power plant with an installed capacity of 75 kilowatts, built on the farm in partnership with the German company Mele, with many “tropicalised” technological innovations.

“Such a unit is only viable above 150 kilowatts of power, a scale that allows the cost of the investment to be recovered,” Pedro Kohler, who leads the family’s industrial branch, told IPS.

Schaefer looks at the question from the angle of the consumer who generates his own energy. “Without biogas my factory would not be viable, I would not be able to compete and survive in the market,” he said.

In recent years, many ceramic products factories, including brick-makers, went bankrupt in Brazil, something that also happened in the west of the state of Paraná, after the national economic recession of 2015 and 2016, which especially affected the construction industry and aggravated the rise in energy costs.

The pig fattening contract with the slaughterhouse allowed him to avoid bankruptcy, the businessman said.

Pedro Kohler, who heads a biodigester company in the western Brazilian state of Paraná, stands between a biodigester and deposits of biogas and biofertilisers from the thermoelectric plant he installed on his family's farm in the municipality of Cándido Rondon. Innovative technologies and equipment, provided by their German partner Mele, will modernise the biogas sector in Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Pedro Kohler, who heads a biodigester company in the western Brazilian state of Paraná, stands between a biodigester and deposits of biogas and biofertilisers from the thermoelectric plant he installed on his family’s farm in the municipality of Cándido Rondon. Innovative technologies and equipment, provided by their German partner Mele, will modernise the biogas sector in Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

“The meat-packing plant supplies everything: food, medicine and technical assistance. What I provide is the installations and the workforce; a couple of workers is enough because everything is automatic, and I keep the manure,” he told IPS on his rural property.

That makes it possible for him to deposit 1.8 million litres of pig waste in the biodigester, a large closed ball of black canvas, half buried in a pit measuring about 10 metres in diameter, where it ferments thanks to anaerobic bacteria.

The biodigester is the source of the biogas that feeds a generator which produces 23,000 megawatts/hour per month, enough to save 25,000 reais (6,500 dollars at the current exchange rate) – almost half of his electricity bill.

Actually, his mini-plant operates only four to five hours a day. It does so during peak evening consumption hours, when the electricity supplied by the distribution company is most expensive.

In the next few months, Schaefer hopes to put an additional 2,000 piglets in his fattening shed, where he is building new pigsties. He would thus expand biogas production, both to generate more electricity and to feed the kilns, replacing the burning of briquettes and wood waste.

The businessman has 19 years of experience with biogas, initially focused on burning it as a substitute for firewood, which was scarce, and on preventing pollution. As he explains, he proudly points to his “smokeless” fireplace.

In 2013, rising costs forced him to expand the biodigester and install the electric generator.

He also had to automate his factory to survive. “In the past we employed up to 90 workers, today there are only 20 and production has risen threefold,” he said.

Long sheds where thousands of pigs are fattened are becoming a familiar part of the landscape in rural areas of Entre Rios del Oeste, in southwestern Brazil, where a Mini Thermoelectric Plant was inaugurated on Jul. 24. The plant runs on biogas produced by a network of 18 pig farms and supplies the city government facilities. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Long sheds where thousands of pigs are fattened are becoming a familiar part of the landscape in rural areas of Entre Rios del Oeste, in southwestern Brazil, where a Mini Thermoelectric Plant was inaugurated on Jul. 24. The plant runs on biogas produced by a network of 18 pig farms and supplies the city government facilities. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Behind the progress made was great persistence, the ironing out of numerous problems and third party assistance. Sometimes he almost gave up, he confessed. Some solutions came to him by chance, like the biodigestion mixer recommended by a German embassy official, during a visit to his company.

Similarly, he learned about the advantages of incorporating waste whey into cheese production. This offers the dairy industry a sure way to dispose of it, while preventing pollution.

The main source of learning, technical support and drive for the various projects in western Paraná is the International Center for Renewable Energy-Biogas (CIBiogas), which operates in the Itaipu Technology Park.

Founded in 2013 as a non-profit association of 27 national, local and international institutions, CIBIogas has a specialised laboratory and implemented 11 biogas projects on farms and in agribusiness enterprises.

It is an energy source with varied uses and inputs that requires a lengthy learning process and depends on business models and markets that have yet to be defined and are not yet consolidated, said Rafael González, director of Technological Development at CIBiogás.

Each project has its unique characteristics. Changes in animal feed, which primarily seek to improve the production of meat or eggs, for example, can negatively affect the production of biogas.

“The hormones in pigs change their waste and biogas,” González told IPS.

There are also differences between animal manures, said Daiana Martinez, information analyst at CIBiogas. Cattle manure, for example, is more productive, but contains a high level of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) that causes corrosion, requiring more refining.

González said biomethane is the fuel currently used by 82 Itaipu cars and has already been approved in tests with tractors, buses and other large vehicles. It is best to produce it from bird droppings, which facilitate the removal of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, he explained.

Biogas can meet up to 36 percent of the electricity consumption of this South American country, which is the size of a continent and is home to 210 million people, CIBiogas estimates.

This potential is basically divided between agricultural waste, which includes livestock and sugarcane vinasse, and urban waste, including sewage and garbage dumps.

In addition to avoiding pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases, biogas has been shown by local experience to promote local development, through energy projects and a chain of businesses, such as equipment industries, services and productive arrangements, González said.

NetAlly Spins Out of NETSCOUT to Further Drive Innovation in Handheld Network Testing Market

Company's first product enhancements include AirCheck G2 Wi–Fi 6 support and new Link–Live cloud platform updates that centralize tester management and data visibility for network engineers and technicians

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Aug. 14, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today marks the launch of NetAlly , a new company comprised of a team that has been developing highly recognized and respected brands of portable network test solutions for over 25 years. Formerly a business unit of NETSCOUT , and previously part of Fluke Networks , the company is now an independent provider of handheld testing solutions including the LinkSprinter Pocket Network Tester, LinkRunner Network Auto–Tester, OneTouch AT Network Assistant, AirCheck G2 Wireless Tester, and AirMagnet Mobile solutions. As part of the launch, the company is also announcing Wi–Fi 6 support for AirCheck G2, as well as new updates to its centralized cloud platform, Link–Live, that dramatically improve data analysis and collaboration for network engineers and technicians.

"Our testers are sought–after by networking professionals around the world, and our mission is to continue to serve those responsible for planning, deploying, validating and troubleshooting access networks and the devices connected to them," said Mike Parrottino, CEO at NetAlly. "We're dedicated to simplifying the complexities of network testing, providing instant visibility for efficient problem resolution, and enabling seamless collaboration between site personnel and remote experts. Our testing technology has a rich DNA and we're excited to build on that heritage to deliver testing customers can trust, from a new ally."

NetAlly is a 100% channel–focused company, relying on their established global partners for local representation of their award–winning products; customers can contact info@netally.com immediately for information or see a complete list of resellers on their website at www.netally.com. Existing customers with active support contracts have already been transferred over to AllyCare, NetAlly's service and support program, which offers technical assistance, instrument repair, documentation, and training videos from a dedicated team of expert engineers.

New AirCheck G2 and Link–Live Features

NetAlly is releasing version 4.0 of its software for the AirCheck G2 Wi–Fi tester. This adds visibility of Wi–Fi 6 (802.11ax) networks for installation, validation and troubleshooting. It also makes AirCheck G2 the first tool to integrate with new Link–Live Cloud Service enhancements. Link–Live is a centralized management workspace for network test results and site data capture, and offers results management, site data management, and user and tester management. The service now includes new data analysis and sharing features so network engineers and technicians can better coordinate field testing and verification, including:

  • Wi–Fi and iPerf Analysis "" Analyze a richer and broader set of uploaded data for better centralized management and visibility by remote engineers and project supervisors. Go beyond static tables to filter by text for channel and SSID, generate a filtered list of access points (APs), drill down into data instantly, and more. This ability to review connection and roaming test logs makes it easier than ever to collaborate while troubleshooting connectivity and roaming problems. In addition, users can automatically upload and document iPerf performance test results, quickly generating reports that provide Pass/Fail information that can be used to easily validate network upload and download speeds from anywhere, at any time. All of this results in faster mean time to repair (MTTR), and simpler documentation and collaboration.
  • Link–Live API "" New API allows for data extraction into an organization's network management database or trouble–ticketing system for better data sharing and collaboration.

“These testers set the standard in the industry, and as a network analyst, I rely on them for accurate insight when testing today's complex networks. I'm excited by the new NetAlly brand, and know their team is dedicated to delivering innovative new features and technologies," said Mike Pennacchi, President and Owner of Network Protocol Specialists LLC, a network consulting company. "The new data analysis and sharing features are a perfect example of that innovation. This helps engineers better manage, analyze and share the test data, validating networks faster and solving problems more quickly."

For more information about the new Link–Live features and to stay updated on NetAlly product and company news, visit https://netally.com/.

About NetAlly
NetAlly offers testing you can trust, from your new ally. Our family of network test solutions have been helping network engineers and technicians better deploy, manage, and maintain today's complex wired and wireless networks for decades. From creating the industry's first handheld network analyzer in 1993 to being the industry pacesetter "" first as Fluke Networks , then as NETSCOUT "" NetAlly continues to raise the bar for portable network analysis. With tools that include LinkRunner , OneTouch, AirCheck and more, NetAlly simplifies the complexities of network testing, provides instant visibility for efficient problem resolution, and enables seamless collaboration between site personnel and remote experts. To learn more and see why NetAlly delivers the best in handheld network test visit https://netally.com/.

PR Contact
Anthony Cogswell
Voxus PR
ajcogswell@voxuspr.com
253.444.5980

Rules of War Widely Flouted, 70 years on: Red Cross

The first Geneva Convention protects wounded and sick soldiers on land during war. Courtesy: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

By James Reinl
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 14 2019 – World governments are not doing enough to stop armed groups from committing mass rape, torture and other war crimes, the head of the Red Cross aid group head Peter Maurer said on Tuesday.

Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that 70 years after their adoption, the Geneva Conventions were being breached and urged world powers to clamp down on those who commit atrocities.

As he spoke, fighting raged in Syria, Libya, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other hotspots in which United Nations investigators have warned of widespread civilian casualties and other likely war crimes.

“It is clear by the obvious terrible suffering in today’s conflicts that [the Geneva Conventions] are not universally respected,” Maurer told the U.N. Security Council via video link at an event to mark their 70th anniversary.

“Too often, ICRC sees the impact on people when international humanitarian law is violated — indiscriminate killing, torture, rape, cities destroyed, psychological trauma inflicted.”

The four Geneva Conventions are international treaties that deal with the treatment of injured soldiers in the field and at sea, the treatment of medics and prisoners of war and how to protect civilians.

They were adopted on Aug. 12, 1949, after lengthy deliberations.

For Maurer, they are increasingly tested by modern-day conflict, in which big powers frequently partner with local groups, fighting is concentrated in towns and cities and drones and other hi-tech military gear are deployed.

“There is no doubt that the modern battlefield is a complex arena; urbanised warfare, an increasing number of armed groups, partnered warfare are posing new and difficult dilemmas,” Maurer said.

“Rapidly developing technologies are creating new front lines in cyberspace, as well as new ways to fight, for example, autonomous weapon systems and remote technologies.”

U.N. diplomats pointed to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, backed by Russian airpower, are accused of torture, bombing civilians and using poison gas as they claw back rebel-held territory in the country’s eight-year civil war.

In Yemen, both the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition seeking to restore a U.N.-supported government have reportedly attacked civilians, schools and hospitals and recruited child soldiers in the protracted conflict.

Elsewhere, investigators have probed violations of international humanitarian law in Libya, the occupied Palestinian territories and in several African hotspots, including DRC, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Governments should sign up to humanitarian law treaties, pass domestic legislation, train more war crimes sleuths and raise the ethical standards of soldiers, said Maurer, a former Swiss ambassador.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said military field commanders needed to know that pulling the trigger on an ethnic cleansing campaign could well see them end up in the dock of The Hague. 

Czaputowicz, a pro-democracy activist during Soviet times, said the rules of war were “not sufficiently observed” in such conflict zones as Libya, South Sudan, and the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

The “Syria regime definitely used chemical weapons and should be held accountable,” Czaputowicz said in answer to a question from IPS.

The original Geneva Convention, which covered the “amelioration of the condition of the wounded in armies in the field”, was adopted in 1864 in after a proposal by Henry Dunant, who founded the ICRC.

In the years leading up to the second world war, the ICRC drafted extra treaties to expand protections for civilians who got caught up in combat, but governments did not commit to the new rules. 

The horrors of the second world war galvanised momentum and governments agreed to revise and update the conventions in 1949, adding a fourth to protect civilians and property in wartime. Two extra protocols were added in 1977.

The conventions are largely universal, having been ratified by 196 countries, including all members of the world body and observers like Palestine, the most recent authority to sign up to the treaties in 2014.

Women Pastoralists Feel Heat of Climate Change

Members of the Samburu tribe in Kenya. Samburu women pastoralists are affected by climate change.

By Sharon Birch-Jeffrey, Africa Renewal
NAIROBI, Aug 14 2019 – For many people, climate change is about shrinking glaciers, rising sea levels, longer and more intense heatwaves, and other extreme and unpredictable weather patterns.  But for women pastoralists—livestock farmers in the semi-arid lands of Kenya—climate change has forced drastic changes to everyday life, including long and sometimes treacherous journeys to get water.

Faced with an increasingly dry climate, women pastoralists now must spend much more time searching for water. That takes time away from productive economic activities, reinforcing the cycle of poverty.

 

A marginalized group

“Women are the ones who fetch water and firewood. Women are the ones who prepare food. Women are the ones who take care of not just their own children but also the young ones of their animals as well,” Agnes Leina, a Kenyan human rights activist and pastoralist, told Africa Renewal.

Leina established the Il’Laramatak Community Concerns organisation in 2011, because women pastoralists have inadequate land rights, are excluded from community leadership and are often not involved in decision making, despite the responsibilities they shoulder.

This year, Leina was invited to the Commission on the Status of Women at UN headquarters in New York, an opportunity she used to promote the rights of the Maasai, seminomadic pastoralists of the Nilotic ethnic group in parts of northern, central and southern Kenya.

Climate change has made their situation worse, she says.

“Women are the ones who fetch water and firewood. Women are the ones who prepare food. Women are the ones who take care of not just their own children but also the young ones of their animals as well,”
Leina’s organisation addresses the loss of earnings women incur due to climate change by creating programmes that teach them how to make and sell beads, mats, and milk products. It also helps foster girls’ resilience by giving them the tools to set goals for themselves.

She says it used to take her about 30 minutes to fetch 20 litres of water from a river not far from her mother’s home, which was hardly enough to wash clothes and utensils and take a bath. That was until the river started receding.

The time she spent fetching water increased to “one hour, then two hours because, of course, there was no water and so many of us lined up for the little that was available. Then suddenly it completely dried up.”

Now, she says, “You have to travel to another river, which is like one hour’s walk, to fetch water.”

As a result, many girls between ages 14 and 16 run the risk of being attacked by wild animals or becoming victims of sexual assault while searching for water. They have no time to do their homework and, for fear of being punished, they miss school, she explains.

Other girls, discouraged by these realities, “settle for a man in town who has water and then marry him,”  Leina admits with regret.

Agnes Leina.

Climate change also increases the pressure for child marriages. In pastoralist communities, livestock is a status symbol. Losing cattle because the land is too arid for them to survive may compel a father to offer his young daughter’s hand in marriage in exchange for more cows as a bride price.

Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change. The UN Environment (UNE) projects that some countries’ yields from rain-fed agriculture will have been reduced by half by next year. Countries hard hit by land degradation and desertification include Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

“Most African women depend on rain-fed livelihood systems like farming and livestock keeping. Therefore, any shift in climate patterns has a significant impact on women, especially those living in rural areas,” concurs Fatmata Sessay, UN Women regional policy advisor on climate-smart agriculture for East and Southern Africa Region. UN Women’s mandate is to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Globally, nearly 200 million nomadic pastoralists make their livelihoods in remote and harsh environments where conventional farming is limited or not possible, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Glo.be, the online magazine of the Belgian Federal Public Service’s international development aid programme, reports that Kenyan pastoralists are responsible for up to 90% of the meat produced in East Africa. Kenya’s livestock sector contributes 12% to the country’s gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.

Therefore, a changing climate has serious implications for the country’s economy.

In 2014, Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, with support from the International Livestock Research Institute and the World Bank, began a livestock insurance programme for vulnerable pastoralists. That programme has provided some relief to women pastoralists.

 

Technology to the rescue

UN Women is also mobilizing efforts to secure land tenure for women. It is working with the Standard Bank of Africa to help African women overcome barriers in the agriculture sector such as providing access to credit.

Technology is key to saving the water that disappears after a torrential rainfall, says Leina. Windmill technology, for instance, could allow women to access water 300 feet underground. The snag, she explains, is that it’s priced out of the reach of women pastoralists. She hopes authorities can help.

Houses in some rural areas of Kenya have thatched roofs that cannot channel water to household water tanks in the way that zinc rooftops can. Commercial water trucks can fill up household tanks for a fee of up to $60 per tank, but most rural households cannot afford that much.

The situation for women pastoralists is grim, which is why Leina hopes raising awareness of how climate change is threatening their livelihoods may get increased attention—and support—of the Kenyan government and its international partners.

Will Sanctions Undermine 1947 US Treaty with UN?

The UN General Assembly in session.

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 14 2019 – When Yassir Arafat was denied a US visa to visit New York to address the United Nations back in 1988, the General Assembly defied the United States by temporarily moving the UN’s highest policy making body to Geneva– perhaps for the first time in UN history– providing a less-hostile political environment for the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Arafat, who first addressed the UN in 1974, took a swipe at Washington when he prefaced his statement by saying “it never occurred to me that my second meeting with this honourable Assembly, since 1974, would take place in the hospitable city of Geneva”.

If Zarif is denied a visa, as expected, it will be a violation of the 1947 UN-US headquarters agreement under which Washington was expected to facilitate — not hinder– the smooth functioning of the world body

The Trump administration, which has had an ongoing battle with Iran, has imposed a rash of political and economic sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Javid Zarif — even as Washington, paradoxically, proclaims that the Iranian problem can be resolved only diplomatically while, at the same time, it keeps the negotiator-in-chief away from the US.

The sanctions on Zarif will also prevent him from being a member of the Iranian delegation – and also from addressing the six high-level summit meetings scheduled for late September.

If Zarif is denied a visa, as expected, it will be a violation of the 1947 UN-US headquarters agreement under which Washington was expected to facilitate — not hinder– the smooth functioning of the world body.

While the PLO was not a full-fledged UN member state, Iran is a founding member of the world body.

The Trump administration has already reneged or abandoned several international agreements, including the 2015 Paris Climate Change agreement, the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, and most recently the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia which helped seal the end of the Cold War.

Will the US-UN headquarters agreement be far behind?

 

Iranian Foreign Minister Javid Zarif.

 

James Paul, who served as Executive Director of the Global Policy Forum (1993-2012), told IPS the Trump administration’s sanctions on Zarif at the end of July have dealt yet another blow to diplomacy and the settlement of dangerous disputes.

Zarif, he pointed out, is not only a highly-respected diplomat.  He is perhaps the person most able to help resolve the spiraling conflict between Iran and the United States.

“One important aspect of Washington’s move against Zarif has escaped notice: the impact on the United Nations,” he added.

There is a strong possibility that the US will violate its responsibilities as UN host country since the travel sanctions will block Zarif from attending UN functions, including the UN General Assembly opening session in late September (as well as subsequent sessions later on), he noted.

“Such a move would be in breach of the US-UN Headquarters Agreement of 1947,” said Paul, author of the book “Of Foxes and Chickens: Oligarchy and Global Power in the UN Security Council”.

Traditionally, he said, the opening session brings high-level speakers from around the world.  It is important not only as a moment for high-profile speeches, but also as a time for private discussions and negotiations, far from the public eye.

Asked for his response, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters August 6: “Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see what happens at the General Assembly”.

“I can’t predict, but the US has obligations under the Host Country Agreement, as have other countries that host UN Headquarters or host UN conferences.  And, as a matter of principle, we hope that every country that is under such obligations lives up to those obligations, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens,” said Dujarric.

Dr Ramesh Thakur, a former UN Under-Secretary-General and Emeritus Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University in Canberra, told IPS there are three deep problems on the American side.

First, they unilaterally pulled out of a multilaterally-negotiated nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council (UNSC).

The UNSC further called on all states to help implement the deal, to lift sanctions, and to assist Iran’s economic development. Therefore, by re-imposing unilateral sanctions, it is the US that is in material breach of the agreement and in violation of UNSC demands.

Second, the sanctions on Zarif contravene their stated position of a solution through diplomacy. You cannot engage in any diplomacy by placing a country’s foreign minister under sanctions, he argued.

The third is the General Assembly attendance implication.

“On this, yes, the UN spokesman is correct: it would violate the 1947 HQ agreement. But in the hierarchy of seriousness, violating the JCPOA is actually more serious and shows the complete toothlessness of the UN and UNSC to hold to account any of the P5 (the 5 permanent members of the Security Council, namely the US, UK, France Russia and China), said Dr Thakur a former Vice Rector and Senior Vice Rector of the United Nations University (1998–2007).

He said a similar example of this was when Bolton and Pompeo threatened to put the International Criminal Court (ICC) and all its personnel under sanctions, including the threat of criminal prosecution in US courts if they visited the US.

“As we know from the Meng Wanzhou case in Canada, the US can insist other countries honour US arrest warrants against third country nationals. And the UN meekly accepted the brazen US thuggery and the ICC judges dropped the investigation. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2019/05/17/commentary/world-commentary/end-international-criminal-court/

Paul said the Trump administration is keen to put further pressure on Iran and to further collapse the much-discussed nuclear deal, signed after years of delicate negotiations in 2018.

Apart from Israel and the UK, he pointed out, there is little enthusiasm internationally for closing the diplomatic doors to this important agreement.

“Governments world-wide also strongly oppose the Trump administration’s strong-arm tactics and the US disregard for an open UN, where all member states are able to speak,” he said.

“This would not be the only time that the US has refused entry to high-level foreign officials, but the push-back may now be especially strong.  In light of the support for the nuclear deal in Europe, Washington could anticipate intense opposition to US high-handedness”.

Zarif lived in the US as a university student and he is famously adept as a spokesman for Iran with his perfect command of English and courteous manner, said Paul.

This infuriates the White House and convinces the hawks there that he is a “threat.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Pompeo has accused Zarif of being “complicit in the regime’s outlaw behavior,” while National Security Adviser Bolton has hurled insults of his own at the soft-spoken Iranian diplomat.

“Will the hawks neutralize Zarif by banning him from the UN, or will the White House feel obliged to let Zarif represent his country at the UN, at least for the present?,’” asked Paul.

At a time when a US war with Iran remains an active possibility, and when secret negotiations at the UN over Iran could ease tensions, the headquarters treaty could have a very big impact on international peace and security, he declared.

Just before the sanctions were imposed, Zarif was in New York in mid-July to address the high-level political forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  But his travel in the US was strictly limited by the State Department.

The United States has rarely denied a visa to a head of state visiting the United Nations to address the General Assembly.

But it did so in November 2013, denying a visa to the Sudanese president, prompting the government to register a strong protest before the U.N.’s legal committee.

Hassan Ali, a senior Sudanese diplomat, told delegates: “The democratically-elected president of Sudan, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, had been deprived of the opportunity to participate in the General Assembly because the host country, the United States, had denied him a visa, in violation of the U.N.-U.S. Headquarters Agreement.”

Furthermore, he complained, the host country also applied arbitrary pressures on foreign missions, “depending on how close a country’s foreign policy is to that of the United States.”

“It was a great and deliberate violation of the Headquarters Agreement,” he said, also pointing to the closing of bank accounts of foreign missions and diplomats as another violation.

The refusal of a visa to the former Sudanese president was also a political landmine because al-Bashir remained indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

But it raised a legitimate question: does the United States have a right to implicitly act on an ICC ruling when Washington is not a party to the Rome Statute that created the ICC?

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

Sol-Gel Technologies Reports Second Quarter 2019 Financial Results and Corporate Update

  • Top–line generic product revenue of $7.8 million
  • TWIN Phase 3 trials are fully enrolled and remain on track to report results in 4Q19

NESS ZIONA, Israel, Aug. 13, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sol–Gel Technologies, Ltd. (NASDAQ: SLGL), a clinical–stage dermatology company focused on identifying, developing and commercializing branded and generic topical drug products for the treatment of skin diseases, today announced financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2019 and provided an update on its clinical development programs.

"With the positive results reported from our Epsolay Phase 3 trials in papulopustular rosacea and top–line results expected later this year from the now fully enrolled pivotal TWIN program in acne, we remain confident of our ability to lead these programs through both the clinical and regulatory pathways to successful commercial launches," commented Dr. Alon Seri–Levy, Chief Executive Officer of Sol–Gel. "Additionally, we continue to generate meaningful revenue from our generic collaborations, which support the funding of our ongoing plans for TWIN and Epsolay as well as our proof–of–concept study for SGT–210 which we expect to initiate in the first quarter of 2020."

Corporate Highlights and Recent Developments

  • In the second quarter, Sol–Gel generated revenue of $7.8 million from its collaborative arrangement with Perrigo.
  • In July 2019, Sol–Gel received Notice of Allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a patent covering TWIN for the treatment of acne vulgaris. The newly granted patent will extend protection to July 2038, which Sol–Gel believes will prevent the launch of AB–related generic of TWIN during the life of the patent.

Clinical Program Update

  • Epsolay met all primary and secondary endpoints in both Epsolay Phase 3 trials, with statistically significant improvement seen as early as Week 2 compared with vehicle.

  • Enrollment in the two pivotal Phase 3 TWIN trials in acne vulgaris has been completed with top–line results expected in the fourth quarter of 2019, as previously announced.
  • Results from a bioequivalence study for generic 5–fluorouracil cream, 5%, for actinic keratosis, continue to be expected in 2019 followed by a filing in the U.S. of an abbreviated new drug application expected in 2020. This study is part of a collaboration with Douglas Pharmaceuticals.
  • During an investor event held on July 25th, Sol–Gel announced an expansion to its development pipeline to include SGT–210, a topical epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor, for the potential treatment of palmoplantar keratoderma (PPK) and non–melanoma skin cancer. A proof of concept study of SGT–210 in PPK is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2020.

Financial Results for the Three Months Ended June 30, 2019

Revenue in the second quarter of 2019 was $7.8 million. The revenue was due to sales of a generic product from a collaborative arrangement with Perrigo.

Research and development expenses were $11.4 million in the second quarter of 2019 compared to $5.8 million during the same period in 2018. The increase was primarily due to an increase of $6.2 million in clinical trial expenses related to Epsolay and TWIN partially offset by a decrease of $0.2 million in manufacturing expenses for TWIN and a decrease of $0.4 million in share–based compensation expenses.

General and administrative expenses were $1.6 million in the second quarter of 2019 compared to $1.5 million during the same period in 2018. The increase was primarily due to an increase of $0.2 million in legal expenses and an increase of $0.2 million in payroll expenses, partially offset by a decrease of $0.3 million in share–based compensation expenses.

Sol–Gel reported a loss of $4.9 million for the second quarter of 2019 compared to a loss of $6.9 million for the same period in 2018.

As of June 30, 2019, Sol–Gel had $14.4 million in cash, cash equivalents and deposits and $35.5 million in marketable securities for a total balance of $49.9 million. Based on current assumptions, inclusive of the recent offering, Sol–Gel expects its existing cash resources will enable funding of operational and capital expenditure requirements into the first quarter of 2021.

About Sol–Gel Technologies

Sol–Gel is a clinical–stage dermatology company focused on identifying, developing and commercializing branded and generic topical drug products for the treatment of skin diseases. Sol–Gel's current product candidate pipeline consists of late–stage branded product candidates that leverage our proprietary, silica–based microencapsulation technology platform, and several generic product candidates across multiple indications. For additional information, please visit www.sol–gel.com.

Forward–Looking Statements

This press release contains "forward–looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements contained in this press release that do not relate to matters of historical fact should be considered forward–looking statements, including, but not limited to, the clinical progress of our product candidates, plans and timing for the release of clinical data, our expectations surrounding the progress of our generic product pipeline, and the sufficiency of our cash resources to meet our operational and capital expenditure requirements. These forward–looking statements include information about possible or assumed future results of our business, financial condition, results of operations, liquidity, plans and objectives. In some cases, you can identify forward–looking statements by terminology such as "believe," "may," "estimate," "continue," "anticipate," "intend," "should," "plan," "expect," "predict," "potential," or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. Forward–looking statements are based on information we have when those statements are made or our management's current expectation, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward–looking statements. Important factors that could cause such differences include, but are not limited to: (i) the adequacy of our financial and other resources, particularly in light of our history of recurring losses and the uncertainty regarding the adequacy of our liquidity to pursue our complete business objectives; (ii) our ability to complete the development of our product candidates; (iii) our ability to find suitable co–development partners; (iv) our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for our product candidates in our target markets and the possibility of adverse regulatory or legal actions relating to our product candidates even if regulatory approval is obtained; (v) our ability to commercialize our pharmaceutical product candidates; (vi) our ability to obtain and maintain adequate protection of our intellectual property; (vii) our ability to manufacture our product candidates in commercial quantities, at an adequate quality or at an acceptable cost; (viii) our ability to establish adequate sales, marketing and distribution channels; (ix) acceptance of our product candidates by healthcare professionals and patients; (x) the possibility that we may face third–party claims of intellectual property infringement; (xi) the timing and results of clinical trials and studies that we may conduct or that our competitors and others may conduct relating to our or their products; (xii) intense competition in our industry, with competitors having substantially greater financial, technological, research and development, regulatory and clinical, manufacturing, marketing and sales, distribution and personnel resources than we do; (xiii) potential product liability claims; (xiv) potential adverse federal, state and local government regulation in the United States, Europe or Israel; and (xv) loss or retirement of key executives and research scientists. These and other important factors discussed in the Company's Annual Report on Form 20–F filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") on March 21, 2019 and our other reports filed with the SEC could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward–looking statements made in this press release. Any such forward–looking statements represent management's estimates as of the date of this press release. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward–looking statements after the date of this press release to conform these statements to changes in our expectations.

SOL–GEL TECHNOLOGIES LTD.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(U.S. dollars in thousands, except share and per share data)
(Unaudited)
December 31, June 30,
2018 2019
Assets
CURRENT ASSETS:
Cash and cash equivalents $ 5,325 $ 14,388
Bank deposit 1,000
Marketable securities 56,662 35,519
Accounts receivable 7,826
Prepaid expenses and other current assets 2,987 1,097
TOTAL CURRENT ASSETS 65,974 58,830
NON–CURRENT ASSETS:
Restricted long–term deposits 462 467
Property and equipment, net 2,604 2,454
Operating lease right–of–use assets 952
Funds in respect of employee rights upon retirement 642 675
TOTAL NON–CURRENT ASSETS 3,708 4,548
TOTAL ASSETS $ 69,682 $ 63,378
Liabilities and shareholders' equity
CURRENT LIABILITIES:
Accounts payable $ 2,924 $ 2,767
Other account payable 1,971 4,063
Current maturities of operating leases 526
TOTAL CURRENT LIABILITIES 4,895 7,356
LONG–TERM LIABILITIES
Operating leases liabilities 323
Liability for employee rights upon retirement 878 957
TOTAL LONG–TERM LIABILITIES 878 1,280
COMMITMENTS
TOTAL LIABILITIES 5,773 8,636
SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY:
Ordinary Shares, NIS 0.1 par value "" authorized: 50,000,000 as of December 31, 2018 and March 31, 2019; issued and outstanding: 18,949,968 as of December 31, 2018 and March 31, 2019 520 520
Additional paid–in capital 190,853 192,340
Accumulated deficit (127,464 ) (138,118 )
TOTAL SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY 63,909 54,742
TOTAL LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY $ 69,682 $ 63,378

SOL–GEL TECHNOLOGIES LTD.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
(U.S. dollars in thousands, except share and per share data)
(Unaudited)
Six months ended
June 30
Three months ended
June 30
2018 2019
2018 2019
COLLABORATION REVENUES $ 93 $ 14,151 $ 49 $ 7,793
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT EXPENSES 10,462 22,233 5,817 11,440
GENERAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES 2,660 3,332 1,518 1,638
TOTAL OPERATING LOSS 13,029 11,414 7,286 5,285
FINANCIAL INCOME, NET (409 ) (760 ) (379 ) (359 )
LOSS FOR THE PERIOD $ 12,620 $ 10,654 $ 6,907 $ 4,926
BASIC AND DILUTED LOSS PER ORDINARY SHARE $ 0.75 $ 0.56 $ 0.36 $ 0.26
WEIGHTED AVERAGE NUMBER OF SHARES OUTSTANDING USED IN COMPUTATION OF BASIC AND DILUTED LOSS PER SHARE 16,761,158 18,949,968 18,949,968 18,949,968

For further information, please contact:

Sol–Gel Contact:
Gilad Mamlok
Chief Financial Officer
+972–8–9313433

Investor Contact:
Chiara Russo
Solebury Trout
+1–617–221–9197
crusso@soleburytrout.com

Source: Sol–Gel Technologies Ltd.