Bombardier to Report its Third Quarter 2020 Financial Results on November 5, 2020

MONTRÉAL, Oct. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Bombardier (TSX: BBD.B) will publish its financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2020 on November 5, 2020.

On November 5, 2020 at 8:00 a.m., EST, ric Martel, President and Chief Executive Officer; John Di Bert, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; and Patrick Ghoche, Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Investor Relations, will hold a webcast/conference call intended for investors and financial analysts to review the company's financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2020.

A live webcast of the call and relevant financial charts will be available at http://ir.bombardier.com.

Stakeholders wishing to listen to the presentation and question and answer period by telephone may dial one of the following conference call numbers:

In English: 514–392–1587, passcode: 7514406# or
1–877–395–0279, passcode: 7514406# (toll–free in North America)
+800 4222 8835, passcode: 7514406# (overseas calls)
In French: (with translation) 514–861–1381, passcode: 5206544# ou
1–877–695–6175, passcode: 5206544# (toll–free in North America)
+800 4222 8835, passcode: 5206544# (overseas calls)

The replay of this call will be available on Bombardier's website shortly after the end of the webcast.

About Bombardier
With nearly 60,000 employees across two business segments, Bombardier is a global leader in the transportation industry, creating innovative and game–changing planes and trains. Our products and services provide world–class transportation experiences that set new standards in passenger comfort, energy efficiency, reliability and safety.

Headquartered in Montral, Canada, Bombardier has production and engineering sites in over 25 countries across the segments of Aviation and Transportation. Bombardier shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). In the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, Bombardier posted revenues of $15.8 billion. News and information are available at bombardier.com or follow us on Twitter @Bombardier.

Bombardier is a trademark of Bombardier Inc.

For Information

Jessica McDonald
Advisor, Media Relations
Bombardier Inc.
+1 514 861 9481
Patrick Ghoche
Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Investor Relations,
Bombardier Inc.
+1 514 861 5727

$280m ‘Dark Money’ Spent by US Christian Right Groups Globally

Groups linked to the Trump administration have poured at least $270m into activities globally. Graphic: Paul Hamilton/openDemocracy

By Claire Provost and Nandini Archer
LONDON, Oct 28 2020 – US Christian right groups, many with close links to the Trump administration, have spent at least $280m in ‘dark money’ fuelling campaigns against the rights of women and LGBTIQ people across five continents, openDemocracy can reveal today.

Organisations led by some of Donald Trump’s most vocal allies and supporters have spent increasing amounts of money globally to influence foreign laws, policies and public opinion in order “to stir a backlash” against sexual and reproductive rights.

Today openDemocracy has released the first-ever dataset detailing the global scale of this spending. Human rights advocates and transparency campaigners from around the world have called it “alarming”, and a “wake-up call” for democracies.

None of the Christian right groups we studied reveals who its donors are, or discloses details of how exactly it spends its money overseas.

“This is a form of interference in our political and judicial system which is as harmful to human rights as Russian meddling in democratic elections,” said Neil Datta, head of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF), which includes dozens of MEPs and national MPs from across Europe.

Organisations led by some of Donald Trump’s most vocal allies and supporters have spent increasing amounts of money globally to influence foreign laws, policies and public opinion in order “to stir a backlash” against sexual and reproductive rights

Irene Donadio at the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) said there has been a clear increase in campaigns against reproductive and sexual rights across the region, and described the scale of the funding revealed by openDemocracy today as “staggering”.

She added: “It is outrageous that groups that are playing with women’s lives and safety are allowed to operate in the darkness. They should be forced to comply with the basic principles of transparency and accountability.”

 

Trump-linked dark money

Each of the US groups openDemocracy examined is registered as a tax-exempt non-profit and as such is barred from participating in partisan political activity.

However, several of them, including the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) – which is run by Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow – have vocally supported Trump’s administration and his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Last year, openDemocracy uncovered how a dozen US Christian right ‘fundamentalist’ groups, many with links to the Trump administration and to Steve Bannon, had poured at least $50 million of dark money into Europe over a decade.

openDemocracy’s latest dataset is the most comprehensive yet, following examination of thousands of pages of financial records since 2007 from 28 US groups. According to this data, these organisations spent more money in Europe (almost $90 million) than anywhere else outside the US, followed by Africa and Asia.

This European spending has been led mainly by two groups that focus their fights on the courts. One of these is the ACLJ organisation headed by Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow who, along with Rudy Giuliani, will be coordinating any legal challenges brought by Trump to the result of the US election on 3 November.

Another half-dozen ACLJ lawyers were also part of Trump’s defence team in impeachment proceedings earlier this year.

The ACLJ’s European branch (the ECLJ) has intervened in two cases to defend Italy’s position against gay marriage. It has also intervened in at least seven cases involving Poland, including at the European Court of Human Rights, to defend that country’s conservative policies including against divorce and abortion.

Last week, Poland’s constitutional court voted to restrict access to abortion in cases of fatal foetal anomalies. Sekulow’s group submitted arguments in favour of the new restrictions.

A second US conservative legal group involved in such cases is Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Based in a small town in Arizona, it is also closely linked to the Trump administration through former staffers and frequent meetings.

ADF went to the US Supreme Court last year to defend non-profit donor secrecy. The case is still ongoing. Its few known funders include the family foundations of Trump’s education secretary Betsy DeVos, which are also major Republican party donors.

 

Financial secrecy

The full extent of US religious right funding for global activities is hidden, given that many Christian conservative organisations are registered as church organisations that do not have to disclose any of this information.

For some groups in openDemocracy’s data – notably the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – US financial filings are only available for a small number of years. This group re-registered as an association of churches in 2015.

Sekulow has come under scrutiny over his financial practices since the 1980s when he was a tax lawyer specialised in creating tax shelters for Atlanta’s elite.

Earlier this year, the Associated Press revealed that Sekulow’s groups, including the ACLJ, had paid more than $65 million in charitable funds to Sekulow, his family members and corporations they own, fuelling a well-documented opulent lifestyle including expensive cars and high-end real estate.

In 2018 alone, the ACLJ spent $6 million on legal services provided by the CLA Group, a for-profit law firm in which Sekulow holds a 50% stake. This is the same firm that is understood to be contracted by Trump. It only has a mailbox address, however, and Sekulow is believed to do his work for Trump from the ACLJ’s offices.

American Institute of Philanthropy president Daniel Borochoff has said: “Regulators should investigate whether or not charitable resources, such as office, labor, equipment, etc, are being wrongly utilised to benefit Sekulow’s for-profit law firm.”

The US website Charity Navigator, which rates non-profits, has attached an orange “moderate concern” label to its entry for the ACLJ because of “atypical financial reporting issues”. These include millions of dollars that the ACLJ has paid over the years to Sekulow’s for-profit legal firm.

 

Global outcry

Several of these US Christian right groups have also been linked to COVID-19 misinformation. The anti-abortion Population Research Institute (PRI), for example, is led by an ultra-conservative activist who claims COVID-19 was man-made in a Chinese lab, and also sits on an anti-China lobby group with Steve Bannon.

Another group, Family Watch International (FWI), has been training African politicians, religious and civil society leaders for years to oppose comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and LGBT rights across the African continent.

UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima, from Uganda, told openDemocracy that “CSE is an integral part of the right to education and to health. It is not optional. It is not negotiable.”

South African gender rights group The Other Foundation also said that it has witnessed how US religious right funding has been used to “stir a backlash to the pursuits for freedom, dignity and equality of LGBTIQ people”.

It said, “the government has a duty to frown upon and act against any agenda that undermines its country’s constitution”, which in South Africa forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Alejandra Cárdenas, director of global legal strategies at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said openDemocracy’s findings “prove a manipulation we’ve been seeing for years by the US Christian right in Latin America and Africa, meant to break the social fabric and human rights protections that popular movements fought for”.

The EPF’s Neil Datta said: “As Europeans, we cannot sit back and watch what’s happening in the US with distance, thinking that the erosion of democratic norms and human rights cannot happen here. The same US Christian groups pushing for this in the US are now spending millions in Europe trying to achieve the same over here.”

Croatian MP Bojan Glavasevic, a member of EPF’s executive committee, said openDemocracy’s revelations show “that action needs to be taken by member states to ensure full protection of EU citizens against predatory organisations. This isn’t a question of ideology. This is a question of security, the health of our citizens and transparency”.

“It’s time for the world to wake up. Do not stumble into our mistakes and do not think it could not happen where you live,” said Quinn Mckew, director of Article 19 (an NGO focused on freedom on expression and information), about the rising influence of dark money in US politics. She attributed this to “a long-standing process to erode accountability and transparency”.

“It was inevitable that these individuals, powering these organisations, would seek to internationalise their influence,” she added. Action is now needed to increase “financial transparency, shining light on these groups’ sources of funding”.

“It is the duty of governments to ensure that women’s rights are not eroded through misinformation and ideologically motivated campaigns,” said Melissa Upreti, member of the UN working group on tackling discrimination against women. “There are real-life and often dangerous consequences for women as a result.”

Neither the ACLJ, PRI or FWI responded to openDemocracy requests for comment.

ADF did not answer openDemocracy’s questions about its spending, but said that it is “among the largest and most effective legal advocacy organisations dedicated to protecting the religious freedom and free speech rights of all Americans”.

 

This story was originally published by openDemocracy

SAFR® from RealNetworks Launches Version 3.0 Featuring Enhanced COVID-19 Response Features and a New High Sensitivity Face Detector

SEATTLE, Oct. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — SAFR from RealNetworks, Inc. (NASDAQ: RNWK) today announced improved face detection and recognition accuracy for both masked and unmasked faces with the release of SAFR 3.0. Available now, SAFR's 3.0 release introduces a new default high sensitivity face detector. Customers running the high sensitivity face detector will see a 95.1% detection rate and 98.85% recognition accuracy rate for faces covered by PPE face masks "" including non–surgical fabric masks of varying patterns "" in surveillance–style videos of faces in motion. Detection efficiency has also been improved when multiple faces are simultaneously in the field of view to ensure detection and recognition speeds remain high.

"With the 3.0 release, SAFR continues its track record of maintaining high–accuracy under challenging real–world conditions, including the new norms brought by this global pandemic. SAFR's accuracy improvements will enable customers to deploy face–based contactless secure access without requiring removal of PPE and ensure persons of interest and registered VIPs don't go unrecognized while wearing face masks," said Brad Donaldson, VP Computer Vision, SAFR.

SAFR 3.0 also includes a new mask detection dashboard that enables customers to anonymously track mask usage rates and view and filter by age, gender, location, and time. This dashboard joins the existing occupancy and traversal dashboards available in the SAFR web console.

"NTT DOCOMO provides facial recognition service with RealNetworks to the Japanese market. With SAFR's new functionalities, and in particular the new mask detection feature, we believe that we can enhance the safety and security of people and organizations. We will continue to work with various partners to create new value–added solutions to help solve social issues," said Hisakazu Tsuboya, Senior Vice President, General Manager of 5G & IoT Business Department, NTT DOCOMO, INC.

Learn more about the 3.0 release at https://safr.com/release–notes/.

About SAFR
SAFR (www.safr.com) is"the world's foremost facial recognition platform for live video intelligence. It taps the power of AI to help the world get back to work. Whether it's used for occupancy counting, face mask detection, or touchless entry control, SAFR can be deployed on premises, in the cloud, or with a VMS. SAFR enhances security, heightens situational awareness, and delivers insights that improve operational efficiency and protect the health and safety of people everywhere.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/f20caff2–d570–4f50–89b1–2fd7993061c1

Global Data Community’s Response to COVID-19

Data Community’s Response to Covid-10. Credit: UNWDF Secretariat, UN Statistics Division

By Francesca Perucci
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 28 2020 – The world is currently counting more than 42 million confirmed cases of the COVID-19 and over 1 million deaths since the start of the pandemic.1

The first quarter of 2020 saw a loss equivalent to 155 million full-time jobs in the global economy, a number that increased to 495 million jobs in the second quarter, with lower- and middle-income countries hardest hit.2

The pandemic is pushing an additional 71 to 100 million people into extreme poverty and, in only a brief period of time, has reversed years of progress on poverty, hunger, health care and education, disrupting efforts to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.3

While the virus has impacted everyone, it has affected the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the most.

The pandemic has also demonstrated that timely, reliable and disaggregated data is a critical tool for governments to contain the pandemic and mitigate its impacts.

In addition, data on the social and economic impact have been essential to develop support programmes to reach those in need and start planning for a recovery that leads to a safer, more equal, inclusive and sustainable world for all.

Data and statistics are more urgently needed than ever before. While many countries are finding innovative ways to better data, statistical operations have been significantly disrupted by the pandemic.

According to a survey conducted in May 2020, 96 per cent of national statistical offices partially or fully stopped face-to-face data collection at the height of the pandemic.4

Francesca Perucci, UN Statistics Division. Credit: IISD/EBN | Kiara Worth

Approximately 150 censuses are expected to be conducted in 2020-2021 alone, a historical record. Yet, to address the urgent issues brought by the pandemic, some countries have diverted their census funding to national emergency funding.5

Seventy-seven out of 155 countries monitored for Covid-19 do not have adequate poverty data, although there have been clear improvements in the last decade.6

Behind these numbers there is a tremendous human cost. Despite an increasing awareness of the importance of data for evidence–based policymaking and development, data gaps remain significant in most countries, particularly in the ones with fewer resources.

In addition, the lack of sound disaggregated data for vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities, older persons, indigenous peoples, migrants and others, exacerbates their vulnerabilities by masking the extent of deprivation and disparities and making them invisible when designing policies and critical measures.

The 2030 Agenda, with the principle of “leaving no-one behind” at its heart, underlines the need for new approaches and tools to respond to an unprecedented demand for high quality, timely and disaggregated data.

The UN World Data Forum

The UN World Data Forum was established as a response to the increased data demands of the 2030 agenda and as a space for different data communities to come together and find the best data solutions leveraging new technology, innovation, private sector and civil society’s contributions and wider users’ engagement.

The first and second World Data Forums in Cape Town and Dubai resulted in the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data and the Dubai Declaration.

These two forums addressed the new approaches required to the production and use of data and statistics not only by official statistical systems, but across broader data ecosystems where players from academia, civil society and the private sector play an increasingly important role.

This year, the UN World Data Forum, initially to take place in Bern, Switzerland, was held on a virtual platform because of the pandemic.

The virtual event allowed for a very broad and inclusive participation, with over 10,000 participants from 180 countries to showcase their answers to the challenges posted by the COVID-19 crisis, share their latest experiences and innovations, and renew the call for intensified efforts and political commitments to meet the data demands of the COVID-19 crisis and for delivering on the sustainable development Goals (SDGs) while also addressing trust in data, privacy and governance.

The programme of the Forum included three high-level plenaries on leaving no one behind, on data use and on trust in data. Together and under one virtual roof, the forum launched the Global Data Community’s response to COVID 19 – Data for a changing world.

This is a call for increased support for data use during COVID-19, focusing on the immediate needs related to the pandemic and for increased political and financial support for data throughout the COVID 19 pandemic and beyond.

Showcased in 70 live-streamed, 30 pre-recorded sessions and 20 virtual exhibit spaces, many innovative solutions to the data challenges of the 2030 Agenda were proposed and partnerships were formed, including:

    • Lessons learned in using data to track and mitigate the impact of COVID-19, at the global, national and local level;
    • Better ways to communicate data and statistics;
    • Use of maps and spatial data to improve the lives of communities;
    • Lessons learned from the use of AI algorithms;
    • Challenges in balancing data use and data protection;
    • How to secure more funding for data.

The next World Data Forum is scheduled to take place from 3 to 6 October 2021 in Bern, Switzerland, hosted by the Federal Statistical Office and the United Nations.

What next?

The Covid-19 pandemic has sadly confirmed that without timely, trusted, disaggregated data there cannot be an adequate response to the many challenges of dealing with the crisis and ensuring a sustainable, inclusive and better future for all.

Clearly, the time is now to recognize that we need data for a changing world. The time is now to accelerate action on the implementation of the Cape Town Global Action Plan and the Dubai declaration to respond more effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic and to put us back on track towards the achievement of the SDGs and to build stronger and more agile and resilient statistical and data systems to respond to future disasters.

World leaders need to recognize that increased investments are more urgently needed than ever to address the data gap and to close the digital divide and data inequality across the world.

To ensure the political commitment and donor support necessary to prioritize data and statistics, it is critical that the data community is able to demonstrate the impact and value of data.

The UN World Data Forum will continue to strive towards these objectives. It will also remain the space for knowledge sharing and launching new initiatives and collaborations for the integration of new data sources into official statistical systems and for promoting users’ engagement and a better use of data for policy and decision-making.

1 WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard
2 ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. Sixth edition
3 United Nations, The Sustainable Development Goals, Report 2020
4 United Nations Statistics Division, COVID-19 widens gulf of global data inequality, while national statistical offices step up to meet new data demands, 5 June 2020. https://covid-19-response.unstatshub.org/statistical-programmes/covid19-nso-survey/
5 PARIS21 Partner Report on Support to Statistics 2020
6 The World Bank

 


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The Mental Health Consequences of the Lekki Toll Gate Attack

On October 20, 2020, young Nigerians who were protesting against police brutality were shot by men in Nigerian military uniforms. Unarmed, peaceful citizens were massacred at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, southwest Nigeria

Protesters hold up their placards in front of the Lagos State House. Credit: TobiJamesCandids/Wikimedia Commons.

By Ifeanyi Nsofor
ABUJA, Oct 28 2020 – On October 20, 2020, young Nigerians who were protesting against police brutality were shot by men in Nigerian military uniforms. Unarmed, peaceful citizens were massacred at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, southwest Nigeria.

The Governor of Lagos state, Jide Sanwo-Olu earlier in the day had announced a 24-hour curfew to curb violence that erupted following the #EndSARS Campaign. SARS is Special Anti-Robbery Squad, established in 1984 to combat armed robbery which was rife then. However, SARS has been on a killing spree of young Nigerians. Protesters are demanding for the disbanding of SARS, prosecution of indicted officers and total reform of the Nigerian Police Force.

I do not know how long this campaign against police brutality will last. However, one thing I am sure of is the mental health consequences of the pre-meditated massacre of young Nigerians at the Lekki Toll Gate will be with us for a long time

Governor Sanwo-Olu’s announcement for curfew to begin at 4pm was made at 11:49am on the same day. This meant that a city of more than 20 million people was somehow supposed to magically beat the notorious Lagos traffic, get off the streets and be at home within 4 hours. I do not live in Lagos. However, I am aware of the confusion that arose as residents scampered home. My sister-in-law drove through the Lagos traffic from Apapa to Ojuelegba to make sure she was home for her three daughters aged 7 years and below.

There were complaints on social media about the short time available for people to get home before the curfew began. Human rights advocates urged residents to do everything possible to obey the directives. However, it is understandable that not all would be able to. Some peaceful protesters stayed back to continue pushing their message of disbanding SARS, at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos.

I followed the protest over Twitter while preparing dinner for my wife and daughters. My wife was tracking it too, and soon she called to me in tears that these peaceful protesters were being shot. Coincidentally, one of Nigeria’s celebrity Disc Jockeys (DJ Switch) was a protester at Lekki Toll Gate and live streamed the shooting.

When I viewed it, it was pure chaos hearing the sounds of multiple gunshots and the screams. It was like a war zone. It was also pitch dark because lights were off at the usually well-lit area. Sadly, these young protesters assumed they would be safe if they sat on the ground while singing Nigeria’s national anthem and waving Nigeria’s flag. It was a fatal assumption.

This experience has negatively affected my mental health. I am completely overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness and apathy. I could not sleep that night. I kept turning and tossing. I was edgy and jumpy for days. For instance, not long after daybreak, I heard loud sounds and I thought they were gunshots. It turned out to be sounds made by masons at a construction site next to my house. A week later, I am still trying to make sense of this massacre.

I am not alone in my reaction to the horrible events. Indeed, there is fear and apprehension in the land. All over social media, Nigerians are sharing how depressed they are by this massacre:

Nigerian public health physician, Dr. Chijioke Kaduru tweeted:

For someone who is used to being angry, and channeling that anger, today feels very different. It’s anger. Heartbreak. A sense of helplessness. And for the first time, doubt. This is 2020.

In response to his tweet, my friend and laboratory scientist Celestina Obiekea responded:

Today, I can’t even channel any anger… I’m just numb… and when I think my heart can’t break any more than it has already, it breaks all over again.

With such strong emotions, Nigerians are searching for answers and mental health support. I am not surprised that Nigeria’s top mental health advocacy organization, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) is inundated by calls and have now extended their usual service hours.

With these increased requests for mental health therapy by Nigerians, my friend and MANI founder, Dr. Victor Ugo sent out this this message for international mental health support volunteers. 

Reaching out for help to all my friends in the international #mentalhealth community. We’ve just had the most overwhelming day since Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) started providing crisis support services in Nigeria, way beyond what we experienced during the months of #COVID19 lockdown. We are very much overwhelmed and need your help. If you have Mental Health and Psychosocial Support experience and can provide remote support, please fill this form. If you aren’t able to help, please do share across your networks.

The mental health services provided by MANI are very important in a country like Nigeria with poor knowledge of mental health and inadequate human resources for mental health. In 2019, EpiAFRIC and Africa Polling Institute conducted the mental health in Nigeria survey that found most people know little about it or how to help.

For instance, 54% say it is caused by evil spirits, and when someone has a mental health illness, 18% say they will take the person to a prayer house. For a country of about 200 million people, Nigeria has only 250 psychiatrists, according to the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria. This means that approximately one psychiatrist provides mental health services to 800,000 Nigerians.

Nigerians currently feel like sheep under attack without a shepherd. President Buhari made a national broadcast without acknowledging the massacre at Lekki Toll Gate. Initially, the Lagos State Governor had alluded that those responsible were forces beyond his control. However, at a recent interview, he mentioned that it was indeed the Nigerian military that is responsible for the massacre.

I do not know how long this campaign against police brutality will last. However, one thing I am sure of is the mental health consequences of the pre-meditated massacre of young Nigerians at the Lekki Toll Gate will be with us for a long time.

 

Dr. Ifeanyi M. Nsofor, is a medical doctor, a graduate of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the CEO of EpiAFRIC and Director of Policy and Advocacy at Nigeria Health Watch. He is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity at George Washington University, a Senior New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a 2006 International Ford Fellow. 

Distributed Generation Provides Hope of Energy for the Poor in Brazil

A hotel in Xanxerê, in the western part of the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, took advantage of its rooftops to generate its own solar energy and save on electricity costs. Similar initiatives have taken place in other states of the country, such as the northeastern state of Paraíba, where solar power self-generation facilities are mushrooming in the capital, Sousa. CREDIT: Mario Osava/IPS

A hotel in Xanxerê, in the western part of the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, took advantage of its rooftops to generate its own solar energy and save on electricity costs. Similar initiatives have taken place in other states of the country, such as the northeastern state of Paraíba, where solar power self-generation facilities are mushrooming in the capital, Sousa. CREDIT: Mario Osava/IPS

By Mario Osava
RÍO DE JANEIRO, Oct 28 2020 – “Showing solidarity is consuming the energy generated in your own municipality” – this is the motto of a project of distributed electricity generation in one of Brazil’s many poor neighbourhoods.

“Sertão (the word for the country’s semiarid hinterland) with solidarity” is how the director of the Brazilian Association of Distributed Generation (ABGD) in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, Walter Abreu, named the project. The organisation promotes solar energy in the north of that state, where 1.5 million of the state’s 2.7 million people live in poverty and half of these in extreme poverty.

If local governments were to decide to use solar panels to generate the electricity consumed by their offices and other facilities, this would represent significant savings in public spending and incomes comparable to a minimum wage (about 200 dollars per month) for 3,500 families, estimated Abreu in an interview with Solar TV, a channel that advocates the use of solar power.

Another estimate he provided is that increasing the proportion of solar energy in the national electricity grid to five percent could lift out of poverty two million people in Brazil’s semiarid Northeast, a region of 27 million people that experienced its longest drought between 2011 and 2018.

Distributed or decentralised generation is seen as an important means of giving a social boost to poor or energy-poor communities in different parts of this country, where 23.7 million people out of a total population of 212 million live in poverty.

The expansion of decentralised generation is part of a broader transition in several sectors, such as decarbonisation in response to requirements for combating climate change, the breakdown of monopolies and empowerment of consumers to become “prosumers” – both producers and consumers at the same time.

 Carlos Evangelista, president of the Brazilian Association of Distributed Generation, explained to IPS that Brazil already has more than 400,000 "prosumer" plants for electricity from renewable sources, mainly solar. The growth and diversification of this type of generation is part of a global trend. CREDIT: Courtesy of ABGD

Carlos Evangelista, president of the Brazilian Association of Distributed Generation, explained to IPS that Brazil already has more than 400,000 “prosumer” plants for electricity from renewable sources, mainly solar. The growth and diversification of this type of generation is part of a global trend. CREDIT: Courtesy of ABGD

In this process, solar energy plays a leading role, “as the source that is growing the fastest and generating the most jobs,” Carlos Evangelista, president of ABGD, told IPS by phone from São Paulo.

In addition, 57 percent of these jobs in Brazil arise from the installation of the solar power systems, i.e., they are local, not distant or foreign, such as jobs involved in the manufacture and sales of the equipment, he pointed out.

The isolated solar energy systems in many communities in the Amazon rainforest, far from the electricity grid, produce perhaps the most outstanding effects.

They are used to pump water and to run refrigerators to preserve fish, the main local source of protein, other foods and exportable forest products, such as açaí, the fruit of a palm tree of the same name (Euterpe oleracea).

In general, scattered villages and hamlets in the jungle have diesel or gasoline generators, which only operate a few hours at night, due to the high cost of fuel and its scarcity. Fuel takes days to bring in by river boat.

ABGD, with support from the U.S.-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, promotes policies and projects together with more than sixty municipalities in the Amazon jungle in northern Brazil, with the aim of “mobilising resources for an economy that makes the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, and solar energy is one of the solutions,” said Evangelista.

“Four projects were completed in the Purus River basin,” with the installation of micro solar plants and the training of local technicians for the installation and maintenance of the equipment, the involvement of local leaders and the community, in order to “create a self-propelled economic ecosystem,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the activities of the two-year project, but ABGD’s new director of sustainability and social action, Lucia Abadia, announced for the near future the larger “Divine Light” project, which would create 150 community micro solar plants.

This housing complex for a thousand poor families in Juazeiro, in the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, was built at the beginning of the last decade with 9,144 solar panels to generate electricity for self-consumption and sell the surplus. In 2016, the monthly payment of about 18 dollars to each resident was suspended because the project did not meet all the requirements for distributed generation. CREDIT: Mario Osava/IPS

This housing complex for a thousand poor families in Juazeiro, in the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, was built at the beginning of the last decade with 9,144 solar panels to generate electricity for self-consumption and sell the surplus. In 2016, the monthly payment of about 18 dollars to each resident was suspended because the project did not meet all the requirements for distributed generation. CREDIT: Mario Osava/IPS

“The people in the Amazon need energy for their daily tasks and for starting businesses, producing, freezing and storing food, and thus living better while preserving the forests, without burning firewood,” she told IPS from Paulinia, 120 km from São Paulo.

Abadia “discovered” solar energy in her previous business activity, construction, when she was looking for solutions to develop “smart neighborhoods”, where she wanted to incorporate energy alternatives.

She then joined a solar system installation company which led her to ABGD, where she became director of sustainability, an unremunerated volunteer position.

In the Amazon, there are still 990,000 Brazilians without electricity, including indigenous people on reservations, riverbank dwellers, small farmers and people who live in environmental conservation areas, according to a study by the non-governmental Institute of Energy and Environment, in São Paulo.

In order to mobilise municipal authorities, the private sector and community leaders, ABGD is preparing a manual on public policies for the Amazon, which details the potential of distributed generation to bolster the local economy by generating jobs and social improvements.

Evangelista said: “We want to bring information to the local governments, about national and state public policies with which authorities in the interior are sometimes unfamiliar, such as the possibility of stimulating local energy generation with measures like tax reduction.”

It’s a process of transition, of a change in mentality that requires planning and takes time, he said. Many apparently well-designed projects have failed in the Amazon because they did not take into account local specificities, he added.

Lucia Abadia, director of sustainability in the Brazilian Association of Distributed Generation and executive director of Yellow Energía Solar, aims to promote 150 micro solar plants in remote communities in the Amazon rainforest, to improve the quality of life for local residents and boost local development. CREDIT: Courtesy of ABGD

Lucia Abadia, director of sustainability in the Brazilian Association of Distributed Generation and executive director of Yellow Energía Solar, aims to promote 150 micro solar plants in remote communities in the Amazon rainforest, to improve the quality of life for local residents and boost local development. CREDIT: Courtesy of ABGD

There are also embedded interests, such as the fuel business.

“I received death threats for going against the diesel fuel distribution chain,” said Evangelista, an engineer whose interest in distributed generation was awakened when he had to secure power for telecommunication antennas while working for a transnational company.

In 2015 he founded ABGD with the participation of 14 companies from the power industry, involved in various services, production or sources. Today there are more than 800 associates.

The government also took a new stance on the energy exclusion experienced by many communities in the Amazon. In February, it launched the “More Light for the Amazon” programme, but with a limited goal of bringing solar energy to 70,000 families (a total of some 300,000 people).

But decentralised electricity generation as a factor in local social and economic development is also a concern in the Northeast, another poor region of Brazil.

“The Northeast concentrates 65 percent of the installed capacity of centralised solar energy, but only 18 percent of distributed generation,” said Daniel Lima, president of the Northeast Association of Solar Energy (Anesolar), founded in August, and director of the solar energy company RDSol.

“The state of Minas Gerais installed more power in solar distributed generation than the nine states of the Northeast,” he noted.

The difference lies in the tax exemption that Minas Gerais has been offering for the past five years, an initiative only followed by the state of Rio de Janeiro, starting in July of this year. Anesolar will demand that the governments of the Northeastern states adopt a similar measure.

Centralised generation, generally on solar farms, grew a great deal because of the low price of land in the Northeast, compared to other regions, Lima explained. The difficulty that consumers run into with regard to finding financing is another barrier to their becoming “prosumers”, he added.

Even so, there are cases of successful projects, such as that of the Cabedelo School of Medicine, in the state of Paraíba, which took advantage of its parking lot with 300 parking spaces and covered it with solar panels. The energy generated allowed it to save 90 percent of its electrical expenses – about 11,000 dollars per month.

The major incentive for people to become prosumers is the unsustainable increase in the price of electricity, which for more than a decade has been rising more than inflation, the result of subsidies to various sectors and activities whose cost is charged to energy consumers, Lima said by telephone from a town in Alagoas, a neighbouring state where he has been living during the COVID-19 crisis.

There is still very little distributed generation in Brazil, but it is growing rapidly. It rose twofold from one to two gigawatts between June and December 2019 and reached three GW in May 2020, according to the Energy Research Company, a planning body under the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Cultivating an Eco-friendly Culture in Indonesia’s Schools

Students at the Santo Markus I Elementary School in East Jakarta, Indonesia, learn how to plant medicinal herbs as part of their green programme. Courtesy Ruben Kharisma

Students at the Santo Markus I Elementary School in East Jakarta, Indonesia, learn how to plant medicinal herbs as part of their green programme. Courtesy Ruben Kharisma

By Kanis Dursin
JAKARTA, Oct 28 2020 – In West Jakarta, Indonesia, teachers at the private Santo Kristoforus High School are so environmentally conscious they make other schools seem a little bit green when it comes to environmental education.

“We integrate environmental issues into science, especially natural science subjects. At school we teach them to conserve water and electricity. And since we don’t have a designated area for students to grow and learn about plants, we organise field trips to botanical gardens in the capital Jakarta and surrounding towns,” teacher Senobius Santi told IPS.

Santo Markus I, a private elementary school in East Jakarta, Indonesia, also has  a green vision. Since it opened in 2006, the science and homeroom teachers have been integrating environmental issues into their classes and designing extracurricular activities aimed at teaching students to care for the environment.

“We usually ask our students to bring medicinal herbs to be planted in what we call family garden under the guidance of their teachers. We homeroom teachers meet every two months to evaluate the programme,” teacher Ruben Kharisma told IPS.

He explained that the school’s green programme is not limited to planting medicinal herbs.

“We also teach our students environmental cleanliness, including disposing of trash at designated bins and keeping a roaster of students cleaning classrooms after school hours.”

Both schools could be candidates for the country’s Adiwiyata award, which is given to elementary, junior high, and senior high schools that have integrated environmental issues into their education system, including extracurricular activities.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry introduced the award in 2006, with the aim to develop environmentally-conscious school that are able to participate and contribute to efforts for conservation and sustainable development. The award has four indicators that include; an environment-based school policy, an environment-based curriculum, participatory environmental activities, and environmentally-friendly supporting facilities.

Indonesia has been listed among the world’s biggest polluters, producing a total of 2.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2015. In 2016, the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions went down to 1.46 million metric tons and fell down further to 1.15 million metric tons in 2017, according to Indonesia’s Statistics Agency

Land-use change and forestry contributed at least 65.5 percent of GHG emissions, followed by the energy sector at 22.6 percent, and agriculture at 7.4 percent

A 2018 study by Greenpeace and AirVisual IQ showed that Jakarta ranked first in Southeast Asia for the worst air quality and that Jakarta, along with Hanoi, was one of Southeast Asia’s two-most polluted cities.

In 2009, the country pledged in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce GHG emissions by 29 percent below the business as usual level by 2030, and by 41 percent with international support.

But Prof. Arief Rachman, Executive Chairman of the Indonesian National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and Ministry of Education and Culture official, said the Adiwiyata campaign would help government efforts to reduce the country’s GHG emissions.

“Indeed, the green campaign would not bring immediate results, but we are on the right track. We have to cultivate environmental awareness among the country’s young generations if we want to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” Rahman told IPS.

“We have around 51 million students from the elementary to senior high school level and 2.7 million teachers, it takes time to mobilise all of them. But I believe we are on the right track. We have to educate our young students to care for the environment and cultivate a nature-loving culture and environment in the school compound,” Rachman said.

According to Rachman, the Adiwiyata programme focuses on climate change education and accommodates UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development criteria of “student participation, community involvement, varied learning methods, local excellence-based learning, and proactive actions”.

“The Adiwiyata programme is built on two basic principles of participation and sustainability. Participation means school communities are actively involved in school management from planning, implementation, and evaluation based on their role and responsibility, while sustainability means all school activities should be well planned continuously and comprehensively,” he said in a recent regional webinar hosted by UNESCO Jakarta Office.

Asri Tresnawati, an official from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, told IPS that between 2006 until 2019, the ministry has given national green awards to 3,477 schools.

However, this year the green award was scrapped due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic that has killed 13,612 people out of 400,483 confirmed cases in the country, according to Johns Hopkins

Experts expect the coronavirus pandemic will reduce Indonesia’s 2020 emissions by between two to six percent compared to 2019, mainly due to a decrease in household consumption, a slowdown in investments, and a fall in coal and palm oil exports. 

Ananto K. Seta, Education for Sustainable Development Coordinator at the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO, said the current COVID-19 pandemic presented a challenge for education. According to Seta, over 50 million students in Indonesia are temporarily out of school due to COVID-19. 

“The biggest challenges that students face while learning at home is the lack of internet access and electronic devices, lack of teachers’ ability to deliver (online) the education curriculum, and lack of parents’ ability to accompany their children for learning at home,” he told a recent webinar.

The green programmes run by Santo Markus I and Santo Kristoforus High School are obviously hard to continue in their entirety with pupils learning from home.

But Tresnawati, from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, told IPS the COVID-19 pandemic was a learning opportunity about the strong relation between human health and environmental sustainability.

“When the environment is destroyed or contaminated, new diseases will appear. The COVID-19 pandemic also wakes us up to the reality that we have to take care of the environment just as we take care of ourselves,” Tresnawati said.

But until schools reopen, students will have to learn this lesson from home.

Climate Friendly Travel and Tourism

By Hans Friederich
GOZO, Malta, Oct 28 2020 (IPS-Partners)

SUNx Malta, a not-for-profit organization, based in Malta is advancing and enabling “Climate Friendly Travel” which is tourism and travel that is Low-Carbon and linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and follows the Paris Agreement 1.5 degree trajectory.

Hans Friederich

Together with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the 2019 Global Climate Action State of the Sector Report produced by SUN Malta noted the limited engagement of travel & tourism stakeholders in the global climate discussions, although the sector is responsible for 10% of global GDP.

While there are many hopeful statements, there is not much substance in many of the ambitions of the sector. To fill this gap, SUNx Malta brought together a think tank of international experts in travel and tourism in early 2020 to discuss how best to effect transformation to climate friendly travel. My report on the meeting can be accessed here:https://hansfriederich.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/the-existential-climate-crisis-requires-even-more-urgent-action-by-the-entire-global-travel-tourism-sector-than-has-been-generally-recognized-to-date/.

The findings of the report embraced a wide range of issues, one of the identified priorities being education of the next generation of travel and tourism practitioners. As a response, SUNx Malta has started an international Climate Friendly Travel Graduate Diploma with the Institute for Tourism Studies (ITS) in Malta. The 2020/2021 course is delivered through the internet, in the face of the COVID 19 travel restrictions. It is hoped that in the coming years students will be on site in the ITS Campus on the island of Gozo, Malta. Most of the current students come from Small Island States and from the African continent. It is expected that they will return to their current employers and become trainers in their own right. This will eventually create a world-wide group of 100,000 Travel and Tourism Climate Champions by 2030.

SUNx Malta has also created a global Registry for 2050 Climate Neutral and Sustainability Ambitions to be the travel & tourism entry point into the United Nations Climate Action Portal. The idea of a climate reduction ambitions registry for Nations was built into the 2015 Paris Agreement and this was extended to non-state actors like regions, cities and companies. After we realized the limited engagement of travel & tourism stakeholders, we reached agreement with the Climate Change Convention to create a discreet travel and tourism climate change ambitions registry. The Climate Friendly Travel Registry was launched on 25 September during the climate week that formed part of the 2020 United Nations General Assembly programme. With effect from 1 October 2020, I have the honor of being the Registrar of this new Registry.

As a catalyst, the Registry will be open to all travel & tourism companies and communities, whether or not they have created a 2050 Carbon Neutral Ambition yet. It will cover transport, hospitality, travel service and infrastructure providers – from the smallest to the largest.

Registrants who are still developing their carbon reduction strategy will have two years to benefit from on-line knowledge and support systems. Those who have already embarked on a 2050 Plan will be able to readily incorporate those details in the Registry, with little or no extra work. They can cross-reference any other mainstream carbon reduction initiative they are already involved with, as the SUNx MaltaRegistry is complementary to such other initiatives.

As the new Registrar, I think there are four very compelling reasons for a tourism company or community to register their carbon reduction ambitions:

    Responsively: Everyone should make efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. The potential customers of the company are increasingly doing this and they are expecting it from the company as well. Recording the plans on the Registry is a way to show the good intentions;
    Economically: Reducing the carbon footprint will reduce operational costs, as daily CO2 emissions are typically a result from electricity use. In addition, registration can be used for branding and advertising purposes.
    Politically: All countries are preparing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the Climate Change Convention, and the private sector has been asked to contribute. Our register is the only official registry for tourism and travel that is recognized by the Convention;
    Strategically: Some countries are already preparing national legislation to enforce climate action, and this will eventually become law throughout the world. Registering your ambitions now will put you in a stronger position to have a full plan when it becomes a legal obligation;

I hope that many small and large tourism and travel companies and communities will sign up to show their commitment to climate action, and to highlight their particular ambitions.

For more information about the Registry, go to: https://climatefriendly.travel/
More information about the Diploma course is available here: https://its.edu.mt/courses-admission/32-courses-admission/468-diploma-in-climate-friendly-travel.html
A report of the launch is available here: https://travelcommunication.net/featured/sunx-malta-launches-climate-friendly-travel-registry/.

The author is a member of the Board of SUNx Malta