LeddarTech Expands its Collaboration with Renesas to Accelerate Autonomous Driving and ADAS Development

QUEBEC CITY, Dec. 17, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — LeddarTech , a global leader in Level 1–5 advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving (AD) sensing technology announces a strengthened collaboration with Renesas by joining the RCar Consortium, and with a new collaboration on the development and promotion of an automotive ADAS reference platform. This platform combines LeddarTech's industry–leading raw data sensor fusion stack and LiDAR technology with Renesas' newly launched R–Car V3U "" a best–in–class ASIL D system–on–chip (SoC) for ADAS and AD systems.

Renesas is already investing in LeddarTech SoC development and production for the LeddarEngine, consisting of the world's most advanced and integrated LiDAR SoCs, the LCA2 and LCA3, and accompanying LiDAR measurement software. These SoCs power the most cost–efficient LiDARs enabling mass deployment of advanced level 2 and 3 passenger car ADAS applications and a broad range of mobility and industrial applications.

This automotive ADAS reference platform expands the companies' collaboration to the system level with a sensor fusion solution applicable to the camera and RADAR sensor–based systems plus systems that add LiDAR to deliver higher safety and performance. These improvements are achieved with a software–centric and extensible architecture compatible with the Renesas' R–Car V3U processor and roadmap.

"The expanded collaboration with LeddarTech on this project introduces a higher performance ADAS system optimized for power and cost compatible with high volume deployment to the market," said Tomomitsu Maoka, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Manager, Automotive Solution Business Unit, of Renesas. "The combination of LeddarTech's sensor fusion and LiDAR technologies in an open platform model and Renesas' R–Car V3U technology will help our customers develop value–added and differentiated solutions in this rapidly evolving ADAS & AD market."

"Renesas is the market leader in automotive processors," stated Charles Boulanger, CEO of LeddarTech. "Our collaboration on this project accelerates the market introduction of a safer and cost–efficient ADAS system that offers an improved user experience." He continued, "the solution also enables software for extensible and upgradable ADAS & AD platforms, accelerating subsequent innovation and development cycles."

About LeddarTech

LeddarTech is a leader in environmental sensing platforms for autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems. Founded in 2007, LeddarTech has evolved to become a comprehensive end–to–end environmental sensing company by enabling customers to solve critical sensing and perception challenges across the entire value chain of the automotive and mobility market segments. With its LeddarVision sensor–fusion and perception platform and its cost–effective, scalable, and versatile LiDAR development solution for automotive–grade solid–state LiDARs based on the LeddarEngine, LeddarTech enables Tier 1–2 automotive system integrators to develop full–stack sensing solutions from Level 1–5. This platform is actively deployed in autonomous shuttles, trucks, buses, delivery vehicles, smart city/factory, and robotaxi applications. The company is responsible for several innovations in cutting–edge automotive and mobility remote–sensing applications, with over 95 patented technologies (granted or pending) enhancing ADAS and autonomous driving capabilities.

Additional information about LeddarTech can be found at www.LeddarTech.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Daniel Aitken, Vice–President, Global Corporate Marketing, Communications and Product Management
LeddarTech Inc.
Tel.: + 1–418–653–9000 ext. 232

Leddar, LeddarTech, LeddarEngine, LeddarVision, LeddarSP, LeddarCore, VAYADrive, VayaVision, and related logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of LeddarTech Inc. and its subsidiaries. All other brands, product names, and marks are or may be trademarks or registered trademarks used to identify products or services of their respective owners.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/30a8ef9b–3c38–4703–b9e6–e1251363d593

Latin American Electric Utilities COVID-accelerated Evolution

To increase access to electricity through lower prices and cleaner energy matrices it is imperative that the region embark on an energy integration program. Credit: Bigstock.

By Andrés Chambouleyron
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 17 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated an evolution across Latin American electric utilities. The need for utilities to manage structural issues derived from increased deployment of Renewable Sources of Energy (RSE) such as wind and solar and Distributed Energy Resources (DER) has rapidly increased. Technology is unleashing major disruptions and challenges. In many ways, Latin America’s traditional electric utilities are in crisis. 

Electric sector reforms throughout Latin America in the 1990s led to widespread adoption of liberalization measures and a paradigm of unbundling of generation, transmission and distribution in the sector. But now, there is a pronounced paradigm shift for the region’s utilities.

By allowing countries with temporary deficits (surpluses) to import (export) clean power (from or to) countries with low renewable density thus helping move faster towards decarbonization

Intermittent RSE, and more importantly, photovoltaic (PV) distributed generation (DG) and electric mobility (EV) have upended the decades-old system. In the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, there are clear directions companies and regulators should take to address the 3 Ds: decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization.

Indeed, unlike traditional thermal or hydro generation, intermittent RSE and DER require increasing network and operational (System Operator or ISO) flexibility from both supply and demand.

Most notable is the critical need to accommodate steeper and steeper (up and down) ramps resulting from more and more intermittent RSE coming off and on line as they take on larger shares of electricity supply. 

The increasing adoption of intermittent RSE in Latin American countries will permanently alter the electrical landscape requiring modifications in every step of the sector’s vertical structure. The first challenge, by definition, is how to deal with intermittency. 

Intermittency requires back-up traditional generation to come off (on)-line whenever the sun starts (stops) shining and the wind starts (stops) blowing.

The larger the share of intermittent RSE over total generation the steeper the slope of both down and up ramps during sunup and sundown (i.e. the duck’s “belly” becomes larger, see below) requiring faster and faster back-up generation to allow/replace PV solar panels or wind mills that go on/off line. 

Alternatively, back-up generation can be (and it is already being) replaced by storage. Batteries charged during peak hours can later replace solar panels whenever the sun comes down (or wind stops) injecting energy into the grid hence shaving the evening peak (See below) thus replacing alternative traditional (and more expensive) thermal or hydro generation as the next graph shows.


The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated an evolution across Latin American electric utilities. The need for utilities to manage structural issues derived from increased deployment of Renewable Sources of Energy (RSE) such as wind and solar and Distributed Energy Resources (DER) has rapidly increased. Technology is unleashing major disruptions and challenges. In many ways, Latin America’s traditional electric utilities are in crisis.


Once the intermittency problem has been dealt with and solved, RSE have enormous advantages vis à vis traditional generation, namely: they are (becoming) more economical, they have zero marginal costs as natural resources (i.e. sun and wind) are of unlimited supply, they do not pollute the environment and, combined with storage, they can contribute to reduce network congestion and losses during peak hours. They may require, however, additional investment in transmission and/or storage to fully exploit their potential. 

Intermittent RSEs in Latin America are normally located in low densely populated areas sometimes thousands of miles away from energy consumption centers.

The combination of faraway locations, more geographically scattered and smaller installed capacities generate more capillarity in transmission networks that in turn requires more investment in transmission lines, each of them of smaller capacity. But, it is important to note that storage can help overcome some of these problems. 

To a certain degree, the intermittency problem inherent to RSE has been solved by (thermal and hydro) back-up generation and increasingly by storage. The increased investment in RSE will require additional investment in transmission capacity because of their more remote and more scattered location.

This additional investment need may, however, be mitigated by additional investment in storage that will help stabilize power flows thus reducing congestion and losses. 

There is also rapidly emerging technology and what many see as an opportunity for Distribution Companies (DistCos) to island sections of the network with microgrid technology and to promote smaller projects close to loads when possible. In this manner, the microgrid would be more manageable. 

A slightly different technological challenge to electric utilities will be posed by Distributed Energy Resources (DER) and electromobility (EV).

Among DER, DG adds to the intermittency problem but it is now faced directly by the(DistCos). As hundreds or even thousands of PV rooftop panels come on and off-line injecting power into the distribution grid (or charging batteries or an EV) DistCos have now to manage intermittency 

in their own grids probably resorting to a Distribution System Operator or DSO and eventually also to a Transmission System Operator of TSO as the number of real time transactions multiplies by hundreds or even thousands.

The former duck chart at the generation level now also appears at the distribution level forcing DistCos to deal with their own duck belly and to run their own dispatch with a DSO and eventually also a TSO.

EV poses the challenge to DistCos of multiplicity of real-time transactions as does storage but with an additional problem: EV requires a different distribution network design as users charge EV batteries all around the distribution network, switching places all the time thus altering load factors and requiring additional investment in distributions lines and transformation substations to cope with this additional moving demand.

But, here again, emerging technology being implemented in some areas such as California have begun to seek to use EVs as storage for home usage during outages.


A sustainable electricity network


The traditional vertically separated electricity utility is clearly in crisis. New renewable sources of generation coupled with DG plus storage and EV are driving needed evolution of the traditional vertically disintegrated paradigm in the region’s electric sector.

Finally, to increase access to electricity through lower prices and cleaner energy matrices it is imperative that the region embark on an energy integration program. By allowing countries with temporary deficits (surpluses) to import (export) clean power (from or to) countries with low renewable density thus helping move faster towards decarbonization.

What is crystal clear is that the COVID pandemic and its aftermath should be embraced as a catalyst for the long-needed reform in Latin America’s power sector by addressing these key technological challenges. 

Out of crisis, opportunity. 


Kashmir’s New Land Laws Could Impact Biodiversity

A saffron farmer in Kashmir poses with saffron crocus flowers. The most expensive spice in the world is derived from the sigma of the purple flower. Credit: Umer Asif/IPS

A saffron farmer in Kashmir poses with saffron crocus flowers. The most expensive spice in the world is derived from the sigma of the purple flower. Credit: Umer Asif/IPS

By Peerzada Ummer
SRINAGAR, India , Dec 17 2020 – Walking in the middle of fields of delicately-scented purple saffron crocus flowers, 36-year-old Mubeen Yasin, a saffron farmer from the southern region of Indian Kashmir, is not optimistic that in a few years time the scenery will remain as beautiful as it is today.

Located in the southern region of an otherwise violence-strewn Kashmir valley, the town of Pampore — which is also called Saffron Town — is famous for its saffron and remains one of the few places in the world where the saffron crocus still grows. The most expensive spice in the world is derived from the sigma of the purple flower — its bright orange-red strands. Once dried, these harvested sigma are sold as saffron strands.

In Pampore more than 19,000 families are directly dependent on this crop for their livelihoods.

However, over the last decade the area has seen an unprecedented boom of cement manufacturing plants, which are proving lethal for Kashmir’s famed saffron crop.

As these cement factories mushroom across the landscape, they have impacted the saffron harvests, according to Fayaz Ahmad Dar, a research scholar.

A few years ago Dar conducted research on the ill effects of the cement industry on Kashmir’s saffron crop.  He found that over 200 hectares of saffron fields were under severe threat from cement factories and as a result saffron production had been affected in fields located near cement plants, reducing production from the normal 3,000 grams to as low as 1,400 grams per hectare. 

“The losses were related to the amount of dust fall from the cement factories, similarly studies on impacts of cement pollution on morphology of saffron and its productivity revealed negative impacts on both parameters. Since most cement factories are located around the only area where saffron is grown on a large scale in the valley it has adversely affected the plant,” Dar said in his research.

However, Yasin, like other farmers, fears that new plans of industrialisation for the region by the Indian government will devastate saffron cultivation. 

While the government has stressed that it will not use any agricultural land for industrialisation, Yasin is not convinced saffron farmers will not be affected.

“The government is planning massive industrialisation in Kashmir. The lands, which were till now fertile, will now turn barren. The few cement factories have destroyed the saffron crop beyond imagination. Now imagine if industries in hundreds would come up here, what would be the scenario?” Yasin tells IPS.

Repeal of land laws

Kashmir was previously India’s only state with a special status and limited autonomy. And only permanent residents of this Himalayan region were eligible to sell and purchase land and property.

But after the removal of the region’s autonomy last year, this was set to change. On Oct. 27, through government order, Kashmir’s land laws were repealed and the new guidelines now allow all Indian citizens to purchase land and property in the region.

Days after the rules were amended, the government ordered the transfer of more than 3,000 acres of land to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade in order to invite investment and generate employment in the region.

On Oct. 31, Hurriyat Conference, an amalgam of separatist outfits demanding Kashmir’s freedom from Indian rule, announced a day-long strike against the new laws. The conglomerate claimed in its official handout that the Indian government, by repealing the old laws, was planning to change the demography of the region where Muslims are more than 67 percent of the total population.

Government’s response

Kashmir’s Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has clarified that the government wants employment generation in the region and that is the reason the old laws were repealed. He stated that no agricultural land will be acquired in the process. 

“I want to say this forcefully and with full responsibility that agricultural land has been kept reserved for farmers; no outsider will come on those lands. The industrial areas that we have defined, we want that like rest of the country, here too industries come so that Jammu & Kashmir also develops and employment is generated,” Sinha said in a statement last month.

Potential environmental impact

But environmentalists and Kashmir’s civil society groups believe the move could drastically impact the biodiversity of the region where more than 19 percent of the land is covered by thick forests and has 1,300 water bodies and an estimated 147 majestic glaciers.

Dr Arshid Jahangir, who teaches Environmental Studies in University of Kashmir, told IPS that the possible construction large scale industries and subsequent overpopulation in Kashmir would have a direct impact upon the local resources of the region and could turn an otherwise picturesque valley into a concrete jungle.

“The  number of brick kilns, cement factories, and aggregate crushing units will  increase as you need more materials for the infrastructure build. Now imagine the level of pollution in a place which from all sides is surrounded by mountains and is completely landlocked. It will be a disaster in the making,” said Jahangir.

According to Tavseef Mairaj, a Kashmiri  research  scholar from the Institute of Waste Water Management and Water Protection at Hamburg University of Technology, Germany, Kashmir’s food system and food sovereignty will be among the worst affected due to the new land laws.

“Our food system is already under stress due to land use change, water scarcity, and extreme weather events. The area of land under agriculture decreased from 56 percent to 40 percent from 1992 to 2015, with a further reduction of 17 percent from 2015 to 2019. Now with the opening of land ownership to big industry, there will be further changes in land use patterns, resulting in dependence on external supplies for our food security,” Mairaj told IPS.

He said that water resources are vital for the sustenance of the food system and rapid industrialisation will endanger these resources in more ways than one.

“The area under open water has decreased by almost 50 percent in the same time period, from 4.9 percent to 2.5 percent, which is alarming given the importance of water to our food sovereignty, which mainly depends on our rice produce.

“Kashmir is already seeing the effects of non-industrial waste on our rivers and lakes due to improper waste management infrastructure. Industrial waste in comparison will be a herculean task to manage in a place like Kashmir,” Tavseef said.

Professor Nisar Ali, a leading economist from Kashmir, told IPS that Kashmir can never be a suitable place for massive urbanisation and ruthless industrialisation. 

“I remember in 1973, then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was on a tour in Kashmir. She was accompanied by her finance minister who in one public rally announced the setting up of mega industries in Kashmir valley. Minutes later, in the same public event, he was rebuked by none other than Ms Gandhi herself who conveyed it to her minister that Kashmir’s scenic beauty and fragile ecology should never be disturbed by the setting up of massive industries.

“More than 40 years later, the situation seems entirely different. It appears that the government is no longer concerned about the environmental aspects of the decisions it is making vis-a-vis the industrialisation and  giving land to non-residents in Kashmir,” Ali said.


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Reclaim Your Rights: Defend Indigenous People’s Lands

Indigenous Peoples, advocates and members of IPMSDL call for continuing struggle for self-determination to combat imperialist plunder and state-terror. Credit: Carlo Manalansan, International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)

By Beverly L. Longid
QUEZON CITY, Philippines, Dec 17 2020 – Rights are earned through hard-fought struggles. And for Indigenous Peoples (IP), its fulfillment comes from the collective and continuous defense of ancestral land and territory, and assertion of their ways of life and the right to self-determination.

As the pandemic ravages and the global crisis deepen, the world’s superpowers and the oppressive governments and systems continue to intensify widening inequality. Exacerbated neglect and discrimination to their access to health and basic services has been a grave threat to the 476 million Indigenous Peoples across the globe — the tip of the iceberg of today’s social and economic inequities.

For those already faced with food insecurity due to loss of ancestral lands, access to food and livelihood became everyday challenges. And while the mobility of indigenous villages are limited, there are no breaks for extractives, logging, government and private projects, and militarization in indigenous territories.

Wealth outpours to secure corporate profit at the expense of indigenous rights to land and environment protection. Imperialist plunder dominates over people’s health and lives.

The railroading of public hearings for the Teesta dam, a China-funded hydropower project approximately worth $1 billion, poses threats to the earthquake-prone environment and customary rights of Lepcha people in Sikkim, North East India.

The $ 700 million Papar Dam in Sabah, Malaysia remains a threat to indigenous communities of Papar and Penampang. In the Philippines, contractors of the $ 250 million China-funded Kaliwa Dam resume operations despite the lockdown.

Global Coordinator Beverly Longid shares how international solidarity is key to reclaim Indigenous Peoples rights. Credit: Carlo Manalansan, International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)

Mining in ancestral lands is now the key economic driver in Amazonian countries as the price of gold rises in time of the pandemic. An estimate of 1.5 million Indigenous Peoples depending on Amazon forest faces the attacks of criminal groups and illegal miners.

The oil spill in Coca and Napo river in Ecuador affecting 200,000 Kichwa and Shuar people remains. In India’s Assam and Manipur, permits for coal and mineral mining and exploration in wildlife centers and IP lands are hastened in the name of “seamless economic growth.”

Five-star Marriott Hotels and Resort is on its way to displace around 11,000 Juma cultivators and six villages of indigenous Mro Community in Chittagong Hill Crest, Bangladesh. Arguing the Kenyan government’s forest conservation programs, the Kenya Forest Services has demolished over 300 Ogiek homes in Mau Forest and burned 28 homes in Embobut Forest.

In countries with most aggressive projects encroaching ancestral lands, fear and terror has been the weapon of the State’s laws and armed forces to silence all resistance.

Around 40% of land defenders killed around the world belong to indigenous communities even though they make up only 5% of the world’s population. And with fascists and autocrats spewing racism, IP’s are in greater danger.

The call grows to pull out heavy military deployment in indigenous lands, which resulted in a wide array of human rights violations. Militarization not only enables plunder and land encroachments, it erodes all safeguards to protect the collective rights and rights to self-determination and governance.

In Karen territory in Burma, 1,500 villagers mobilized after Burmese soldiers killed and robbed an indigenous Karen woman in July. Another murder of West Papuan in palm oil plantation by the Indonesian military this May added to at least 100,000 West Papuans who have been killed since the Indonesian takeover in the 1960s. Militarization in Lumad communities in the Philippines aggravated forced evacuation and closure of indigenous Lumada schools.

Indigenous elders and vocal anti-mining leaders, such as Domingo Choc Che from Guatemala and Bae Milda Ansabo from Mindanao, suffered brutal murder with impunity.

In Indonesia, indigenous farmers Dilik Bin Asap and land rights activist James Watt are now jailed for harvesting fruits from a plantation company that has encroached on their lands.

Charges of illegal possession of firearms have been an old trick by the police as happened to Betty Belen, indigenous leader who led a barricade against the entry of Chevron Energy company’s geothermal power project in her village.

The United Nations identified criminalization and repressive counter-insurgency laws as a tool against IP defending and exercising rights to their lands. Indigenous leaders and members of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) have hit on the systematic and fully-funded State-terror to smash any dissent and resistance using online and public vilification, terrorist-tagging and harassment.

Together with massive disinformation and fake news, all these fuels ethnic divide and discrimination towards IP and their struggles.

In the commemoration of the annual International Human Rights Day, the painful state of Indigenous Peoples brought about by imperialist powers with tyrants and militarized governments benefitting from plunder, need to be challenged.

Let us build our movement for international solidarity to defend IP lands and life from imperialist plunder and State-terror. To honor our brave ancestors who paved the way, and to build a better future for the next generation, let us unite to reclaim our rights!


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America has a Chequered Past in International Environmental Diplomacy

By Yvo de Boer
THE HAGUE, Dec 17 2020 – When it comes to international environmental diplomacy, America has a chequered past. It stood at the forefront of the international battle to fix the ozone hole and has shaped many key international agreements.

Sadly, US positions are not always built on solid political ground at home. Twice, in the climate change process, this has led to the United States forging an agreement, only to then walk away. This happened with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which then Vice-President Gore flew to Japan to sign in the full knowledge that a Republican dominated Senate would never ratify the deal. It happened again five years ago, with former President Obama closing that landmark deal (and John Kerry signing at the UN), only for President Trump to tear it up a few weeks later.

Yvo de Boer

With such a background the international community is a little nervous when a new Democrat administration takes the helm laden with robust statements and bold promises, as President-elect Biden is doing now. But, as is so often the case, the prodigal son will get the benefit of the doubt (again) and for good reason!

Let’s look at what those reasons are.

No-one would argue the fact that the United States are a political powerhouse and an economic superpower. This makes having the US in the climate action tent critically important. But why? Is this about political posturing, or is there something more?

When the Biden administration chooses to take an ambitious lead on climate action, the world is wise to take heed. Clear signals from politicians on where the new administration plans to go, have an enormous power in the market. An example. Wind and solar energy made it to where they are today in a hostile economic environment where the playing field was everything but level.

Environmental cost is not internalised and fossil fuels are still subsidised to a huge degree. What helped to push wind and solar to the current competitive strength is the hope that, in the long term, things will change and new (climate) challenges be recognised, thus creating a viable market for these technologies.

If you are building things (powerplants, factories or refinery’s) with a technical lifetime of 40 years, you do well to think about how friendly or hostile the operating environment is likely to be over that time period. So a political statement sends strong market signals. Especially if it comes from a superpower and even more so when others are pointing in the same direction.

How the market responds to political signals has ramifications around the globe. Our economy is now truly global. This means that when key market players take a course, set an standard or make demands on their suppliers, this resonates around the world. The EU agreeing auto standards with European manufactures immediately sets a trend that Japan and Korea must follow because the European market is so big. American companies like Wall Mart have hundreds of thousands of suppliers around the world. So a direction taken at a corporate HQ is delivered-on in pretty much every country on our planet. The standards the US and other major players set become imperatives, or things you choose to ignore at your own peril.

Another important point is that climate action has increasingly become a race to the top that is driven by innovation. Innovators smell a climate market and they are rushing to seize the opportunities. Opportunities around electric vehicles, energy efficiency, clean technologies, low-asset business models, you name it. America has long stood at the forefront of discovery and innovation. Many of the key technologies we apply today have at least part of their roots in America. So the signals politicians send and how the corporate community responds, creates an innovation catalyst that will transform business opportunities both in the US and around the world.

A final point to mention here is America’s proud history in working together with other nations, providing them with the finance, technology and capacity support they need in order to climate proof their energy systems, industry and infrastructure. Reducing emissions in the economic powerhouses of today is obviously critical. But with much of future economic growth and population increase of the future set to happen in Africa and South East Asia, we need to fix the future, not only the past.

Five years after the Paris Climate Accord was reached, the international process is now in full implementation mode. The purpose of the negotiations will be to ensure that countries individually are delivering what they have promised and that the collective impact of their efforts is enough to keep global temperature increase below the agreed level.

The United States returning to the international process at this time is critical to ensuring that especially the major players show leadership, both at home and abroad. At the end of the day, ensuring this happens is in the US’s own interest for a number of reasons. First because the US has in recent years always considered action by others, especially China, as a precondition for its own engagement. Second because bold global action will ensure all nations pull their weight toward a common goal. Third because that global action will create the opportunities for the innovation economy of the future President-elect Biden is seeking to deliver, as opposed to the manufacturing economy of the past.

The model outgoing President Trump held up is what should make America great again.

The author is President of the Gold Standard Foundation and former Secretary of the UN Climate Convention.


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Five Years since the Paris Agreement: The Race to Net Zero Is On

GGGI has been working closely with the Provincial Government of Central Kalimantan supporting effective policymaking and planning to drive reduced deforestation and peatland degradation in the province, particularly in Utar Serapat which consists of 107,000 ha of peatlands. GGGI also supports Central Kalimantan in mobilizing public and private investment for sustainable and inclusive landscape-based projects designed to achieve low carbon development in the province.

By Frank Rijsberman, Ingvild Solvang, Kristin Deason, Julie Godin, Hanh Le, Siddhartha Nauduri, and Marcel Silvius, Global Green Growth Institute
Dec 17 2020 (IPS-Partners)

In the wake of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, there are both challenges and opportunities in ensuring that COP26, a UN climate change summit, builds confidence in the Paris Agreement as an effective tool to avoid climate crisis.

As 2020 comes to a close, the date is fast approaching for all parties to the Paris Climate Agreement to submit their updated commitments, or NDCs, that specifically delineate how each country will meet the common climate goals within the United Nations framework.

Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, COP26 climate talks was postponed to 2021, and instead a series of virtual events including the Climate Ambition Summit was held on December 12, 2020, where countries could give updates on their adjusted NDCs.

Much has happened in recent months. While the Republic of Korea did not show very ambitious NDC targets earlier this year, President Moon Jae-in announced net zero ambitions for 2050. Likewise, China made a net zero pledge for 2060. The European Union announced enhanced ambitions to cut emissions by 55% from the 1990 level by 2030.

Many other states made commensurate pledges to tackle the climate crisis. A Race to Resilience was also launched by mayors, community leaders and insurance companies committed to safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of four billion vulnerable people by 2030, which aligns in particular with the priorities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

While these commitments are positive and more ambitious than earlier NDCs, they are still not ambitious enough to meet the 1.5 degree target and protect people and nature from climate change. UK Minister Alok Sharma has called out the world leaders’ failure to show necessary levels of ambition.

Reflecting on priorities ahead of next year’s COP26, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) will continue supporting its Members’ and Partners’ NDC enhancement and implementation through climate and carbon finance mobilization. However, a key area of focus in 2021 will be to build synergies between climate solutions and green COVID19 recovery.

It is critical to ensure that the unprecedented economic stimulus packages result in lasting shifts toward green development pathways with explicit focus on employment potential and other socio-economic co-benefits.

The tens of trillions mobilized to recovery efforts provide a big and perhaps last chance to solve the unprecedented challenges as leverage vanishes with rising debt levels and dried-up public funding.

Green recovery packages must be put to work to decarbonize the economy. Renewable energy is now the cheapest form of energy, especially when taking account of the extended costs of our reliance on fossil fuels so far.

Circular economy options can drastically reduce waste, and alternatives to fossil fuel are available in the bioeconomy, and nature-based solutions hold tremendous untapped climate mitigation potential with employment and adaptation co-benefits. New technologies are pushing opportunities. Hydrogen can take up where RE cannot reach, and Artificial Intelligence can push energy efficiency and effective production.

These are trends moving us in the right direction. Explicit focus is required to highlight the economic multipliers and social co-benefits of climate action.

In our collaborative Green Growth Program with the Government of Indonesia, we are promoting nature-based solutions that help halt deforestation, restore carbon rich wetlands and soils, improve land productivity and water security, and deliver improved livelihoods as well as enhanced climate mitigation and adaptation actions.

Continued and improved investments in biomass-based and solar energy-based electricity generation brings more and higher quality jobs, food security and climate resilience.

In Vietnam, GGGI works with the government to enhance its NDC ambitions through promoting sustainable urban cooling, energy efficiency digital solutions and increasing green investments with innovative financial instruments such as carbon financing or green bonds through collaborating with the Government of Luxembourg.

To verify the employment potential of renewable energy, GGGI’s employment assessments in countries like Indonesia, Rwanda and Mexico show that renewable energy, Solar PV in particular, employs more people per unit of investment compared to fossil fuels-based technologies. A global solar-powered irrigation program, including Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Uganda will improve livelihoods, food security and climate resilience.

While supporting several governments with their NDC revision processes into 2021 with the NDC Partnership and others, technical analysis incorporating employment potential and safeguarding of poor and vulnerable communities is key.

GGGI is supporting several SIDS countries in this regard – Saint Lucia is using a modeling approach to explore how reforming fossil fuel subsidy and taxation schemes can lower fossil fuel consumption while ensuring that vulnerable populations are not negatively impacted. In Antigua & Barbuda, GGGI is developing programs to ensure the inclusion of all segments of the population are included in the transition to renewable energy.

Focusing on green recovery packages and climate action simultaneously means a more effective integration of NDCs and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

While the Covid-19 pandemic has placed emphasis on the socio-economic aspects of climate action, and the importance of assessing and including long-term health and vulnerabilities of the local communities into planning processes, the notion that we must marry sustainable development and climate ambitions have been made evident by the successes and failures of climate action to date.

As the world recovers with the introduction of vaccines, and business and economic activities resume, a change in trajectory towards a green recovery should be at the center of focus. Looking ahead to COP26 in Glasgow next year, it is essential that the world does not bounce back to business as usual.


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Aren’t We Missing Food Security Experts in the Incoming President-Elect Biden-Kamala Harris Administration?

We never imagined that we would witness food insecurity being an issue in developed countries such as the US. Credit: Stephen Leahy/IPS.

By Esther Ngumbi and Ifeanyi Nsofor
URBANA, Illinois / ABUJA, Dec 17 2020 – Food insecurity across the U.S. continues to be on the rise because of the effects of COVID-19. According to Feeding America, over 50 million Americans will experience food insecurity, including 17 million children

We both grew up in countries referred to as “developing countries,” Ifeanyi in Nigeria and Esther in Kenya. At the time, we never imagined that we would witness food insecurity being an issue in developed countries such as the U.S. like we are now. As thought leaders in global health and food security, we are compelled to amplify this inequity in the world’s richest country.

The last few months, clearly, have changed our perception of food insecurity and the narrative around it is changing.

COVID-19 is very well linked with food insecurity and failing to have a food security expert working alongside the other advisory council members would undermine the ability of the country to effectively tackle these tightly linked issues

Moreover, even as we celebrate the arrival of the vaccine, COVID-19 continues to claim the lives of many Americans, while bringing the possibilities of new lockdowns, hence, we can certainly expect food insecurity to continue to be a problem.

Impressively, measures that were in existence before the pandemic in the U.S. such as foodbanks and other Federal benefits such as SNAP and WIC that Americans have access to in order to assist with food insecurity have helped to make a difference.

Through the pandemic months, we have also witnessed a rise in resources available to citizens who at one point or another need help with finding food. From the U.S. Department of Agriculture hotline that can connect citizens to available pantries, interactive maps that reveal where help and your local food bank is, to databases of pantries and non-profit subsidized grocery to food finder apps.  But the truth is these resources were designed to be supplemental.

Much more needs to be done. Here’s where to start.

First, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris should include a food security expert in the COVID-19 Advisory Council. The responsibility of the expert should be to provide advice on ways to address the current COVID-19 food insecurity in the U.S.

COVID-19 is very well linked with food insecurity and failing to have a food security expert working alongside the other advisory council members would undermine the ability of the country to effectively tackle these tightly linked issues. Moreover, this person should preferably be a person of color, the population that has been impacted most by food insecurity.

Second, develop a multi-stakeholder comprehensive food security plan as part of epidemic preparedness plans for the next pandemic.

This is imperative because no one knows when the next pandemic could occur. A major lesson from COVID-19 and the city lockdowns which followed is that during pandemics there would be life losses, job losses, schools will be closed, and some families would need food support.

The major idea is to use lessons from COVID-19 to estimate those who may be in need of food support and group them based on ethnicities, postcodes, states etc. This plan should involve government agencies, food banks, non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations, schools, university institutions and other community groups.

Third, food banks should improve their process to enable long-term storage of nutritious foods such as green vegetables, fruits, proteins, milk etc. According to Feeding America, these classes of nutritious foods are the most requested at food banks. However, due to challenges with storage, those in need hardly have these requirements met.

Fourth, prioritize the needs of under-five children and women of child-bearing age. Worryingly, science and available evidence from a comprehensive review of 120 studies done by the UN FAO suggests a correlation between food insecurity and malnutrition.

Furthermore, according to World Health Organization, and available scientific data evidence, mostly obtained from studies done in developing countries, childhood malnutrition is considered a major public health concern with long lasting impacts including impaired cognitive development, enhanced risks of acquiring other diseases, and suboptimal economic productivity.

With the risk of irreversible stunting in children and its consequences on school performance, future earning capacity and contributions to the economy, children must receive the right nutrition at the right time.

Likewise, women of child-bearing age require to be well nourished to ensure they have adequate blood, healthy milk and not anemic. Anemia in women who plan to get pregnant has adverse consequences such as intrauterine growth retardation of the fetus, low birth of their babies and more likelihood of going into shock from bleeding after birth or even death.

Lastly, encourage families to form groups and run all seasons sustainable community gardens. There is a need to have community greenhouses that can be used to grow food past summer months. This would enable them grow fresh vegetables, poultry (for proteins) and cows (for milk).

At this time, many US States are going through the winter season, and food gardens that millions of Americans relied upon during summer have no sustainability during cold seasons.

A recent UNICEF report on the persistence of child poverty above pre-COVID levels in high income countries highlights why all year around community gardens should be an alternative source of fresh foods as the country recovers from this pandemic.

COVID-related food insecurity is widening health and social inequities in the U.S. The in-coming Biden-Harris administration should make this a priority. It is an ethical thing to do.


Dr. Esther Ngumbi is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and a Senior Food Security Fellow with the Aspen Institute, New Voices. She has published scores of OpEds including a letter to the Editor at the New York Times.  
Dr. Ifeanyi McWilliams Nsofor is a graduate of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. He is a Senior New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity at George Washington University. Ifeanyi is the Director Policy and Advocacy at Nigeria Health Watch.