RAJANT SHOWCASES RESILIENT AND SECURE SMARTFIELD CONNECTIVITY AT ADIPEC WITH SOLUTION PARTNERS

Malvern, Pennsylvania (USA), Nov. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Rajant Corporation, the exclusive provider of Kinetic Mesh wireless networks, and its technology partners will be attending ADIPEC in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates at the National Exhibition Centre. The event runs November 15th to 18th, with Rajant joining with partners in Booth 13564. Present to showcase the resilient and secure collaborative solution for energy market IIoT connectivity will be Easy Aerial, Ghost Robotics, and Kiber. Live smartfield–focused product demonstrations will be featured daily."Rajant understands what those in the energy business need for ATEX1 to IP67. Operating in hazardous environments places greater emphasis on the safety requirements while enabling continuous communications for a digitalized future–proof plant and site," says Al Rivero, Rajant VP of Sales, Global Energy. "Rajant Kinetic Mesh maintains a secure, reliable, and resilient industrial wireless connection with uninterrupted low latency and high bandwidth. Comprehensive situational awareness is possible for technologies, such as drones, robots, and wearables, with continuous mobile communication enablement and tracking that is rapidly deployable, easy to maintain, and strengthened as the network expands."

Beyond smartfield applications, Rajant has a 20–year successful track record for commercial deployments in such industries as mining, ports, heavy construction, and a non–commercial history for the military and public safety. Rajant pioneered fully mobile V2X/M2M and has a heritage of maintaining interoperability with existing BreadCrumb wireless nodes with new product releases. Notably, in 2021, Rajant introduced its fourth generation BreadCrumbs, known as Peregrine and Hawk, which have had the fastest transition to new sales in the company's history.

Highlighted at ADIPEC will be Rajant's industry–leading MeshTracer for personnel and asset tracking to advance site security and situational awareness. It can effectively report on Rajant BreadCrumbs, AeroScout tags, and any Wi–Fi device that uses a static MAC address. MeshTracer is the most effective mustering and tracking, incident management, and communications platform on the market today, which uses Real–Time Location System (RTLS) technology to identify people and assets across all zones and areas of an industrial IoT site. The system uses standardized communication protocols, allowing devices to exchange messages, define incidents, and monitor the flow of users throughout a physical environment.

Partner demonstrations and meetings at ADIPEC include:

Easy Aerial "" Drones

Whether monitoring infrastructure, assets, or events, Easy Aerial has an autonomous drone solution ready to go above and beyond in terms of ease–of–use, durability, and coverage. Its aircraft solution makes autonomous security easy. Deployments occur via a triggered sensor or as a planned mission to provide full HD and thermal views directly from the aircraft, allowing users to make smarter decisions faster.

Ghost Robotics – Quadrupeds

Perfect for on–ground autonomous site inspections and monitoring, Ghost Robotics all–terrain four–legged robots carry a payload that includes an infrared camera, spectroscopy sensor, and gas sensors. Unstructured terrain is no problem for the easy–to–charge robots to executive vast, dedicated safety and security patrols, taking human guards out of harm's way.

Kiber "" Augmented Reality Headset

Empowering the workforce through AR technology–based solutions, Kiber is making remote collaboration easy, safe, and efficient. The Kiber3 is a unique hardware and software fully integrated AR remote communication wearable solution allowing users to live–stream field activities to command operations. Situational awareness is dynamic and interactive for on–site workers to receive support while staying focused on their job with an all–in–one "hands–free" solution.

Schedule a time to talk at ADIPEC today by visiting https://rajant.com/adipec–2021/. Or stop by our booth to see the latest BreadCrumbs in action.

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About Rajant Corporation

Rajant Corporation is the broadband communications technology company that invented Kinetic Mesh networking, BreadCrumb wireless nodes, and InstaMesh networking software. With Rajant, customers can rapidly deploy a highly adaptable and scalable network that leverages the power of real–time data to deliver on–demand, mission–critical business intelligence. A low–latency, high–throughput, and secure solution for a variety of data, voice, video, and autonomous applications, Rajant's Kinetic Mesh networks provide industrial customers with full mobility, allowing them to take their private network applications and data anywhere. With successful deployments in more than 70 countries for customers in military, mining, ports, rail, oil & gas, petrochemical plants, municipalities, and agriculture. Rajant is headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania, with additional facilities and offices in Arizona and Kentucky. For more information, visit Rajant.com or follow Rajant on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Magical Thinking on Fertilizer and Climate Change

New research estimates that greenhouse gas emissions from nitrogen fertilizer plants such as this one add considerably to the climate impacts of the heavily promoted agricultural input. Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

By Timothy A. Wise
CAMBRIDGE, Nov 9 2021 – As world leaders wrap up the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, new scientific research shows that there is still a great deal of magical thinking about the contribution of fertilizer to global warming.

Philanthropist Bill Gates fed the retreat from science in his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster earlier this year. “To me fertilizer is magical,” he confesses, nitrogen fertilizer in particular. Under a photo of a beaming Gates in a Yara fertilizer distribution warehouse in Tanzania, he explains that “to grow crops, you want tons of nitrogen – way more than you would ever find in a natural setting [sic]…. But nitrogen makes climate change much worse.”

That last part, at least, is true, and new research suggests that the climate impacts of excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers is much worse than previously estimated. Researchers estimate that the N-fertilizer supply chain is contributing more than six times the greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced by the entire commercial aviation sector.

Nitrogen: a growing climate problem

By all accounts, food and agriculture are barely on the agenda of the UN climate summit, even though food systems contribute about one-third of GHGs. Direct emissions from food production account for about one-third of that, with the principal source being livestock, mostly methane and manure emissions.

But about 10% of direct emissions from come from synthetic nitrogen fertilizer applied to crops. Only a portion of the applied fertilizer is absorbed by plants. Some is turned into nitrous oxide by soil micro-organisms. Some leaches off the soil or volatilizes into gas when it is applied. The cumulative effect is the release of nitrous oxide, a GHG 265 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Three scientists working with Greenpeace, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and GRAIN have carried out the first comprehensive lifecycle analysis of N fertilizer emissions. They used improved data on direct field emissions and incorporated emissions from the manufacture and transportation of N fertilizers. Manufacturing, which relies heavily on natural gas, accounts for 35% of total N fertilizer GHGs.

The new estimates, which are preliminary as they undergo peer review, are 20% higher than those previously used by the United Nations. Not surprisingly, the largest emitters are the largest agricultural producers: China, India, North America, and Europe. On a per capita basis, though, the largest emitters are the big agricultural exporters: United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.

Taking Africa in the wrong direction

Africa is still not a large fertilizer user, with application rates low – about 15 kg/ha – but rising rapidly with the recent Green Revolution campaigns. While Gates essentially dismisses the climate impacts from fertilizer as a necessary evil to achieve the greater good of food security, evidence is growing that the Green Revolution approach is failing on its own terms. My research showed that in AGRA’s 13 focus countries, yields were not growing significantly and the number of undernourished people has increased 31%.

The greater good promised by AGRA has not been very good.

According to the new fertilizer research, AGRA is taking Africa in the wrong direction. Globally, the use of nitrogen fertilizer is projected to grow between 50% and 138% by 2050. Africa is projected to see at least a 300% increase in the next 30 years. It will be far greater if Gates has his way.

The climate implications of that development path are worrisome. A 300% increase means 2.7 million tonnes (Mt) more of N fertilizer in Africa. With field emissions estimated at 2.65 tonnes of GHGs per tonne of nitrogen and another 4.35 tonnes from production and transportation, total emissions are more like 7 tonnes of GHGs per tonne of N fertilizer.

By 2050, a 300% increase in Africa’s fertilizer use would mean adding about 19 Mt of GHGs per year more than it emits now. Because GHGs accumulate in the atmosphere and nitrous oxide persists for more than 100 years, Africa will have contributed an additional 284 Mt of GHGs by 2050 if fertilizer use increases 300%. If Gates and AGRA get their way and Africa approaches current global averages of 137 kg/ha of N fertilizer, Africa would contribute 800% more, an additional 50 Mt in 2050, equivalent to the emissions from deforesting half a million hectares of Amazon rainforest (about 1.2 million acres). Cumulative GHGs would be 750 Mt by 2050.

That is an amount nearly equal to the annual emissions of the entire commercial aviation sector.

“Climate-stupid agriculture”

Bill Gates is just plain wrong when he says the only way to grow food is with synthetic fertilizers. Crops need nitrogen and in many areas they can get most or all of what they need from improved agroecological farming. Globally, with improved nutrient management practices there could be a 48% reduction in synthetic fertilizer use with no reduction in cereal yields, according to one article in Nature.

The scientists who authored the new report make three recommendations to reduce GHGs associated with N fertilizer use. All call into question Gates’ Green Revolution model for Africa:

    • Select a model of agriculture that does not depend on synthetic fertilizers; intercropping with nitrogen-fixing crops has been shown to increase yields and improve soils.
    • Reintegrate livestock into crop farming so more of the nutrients in manure are returned to the land; less than half are now.
    • Limit the growth of industrial livestock production and consumption. Three-quarters of N fertilizer worldwide is used to produce livestock feed.

The science is clear: African farmers are right when they call the Green Revolution “climate-stupid agriculture.”

Timothy A. Wise is Senior Advisor at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and a Senior Research Fellow at Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute.

 


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COP26: Climate Justice Begins with the Human Right to Water

A woman in Madagascar walks for up to 14km a day to find clean water. Credit: UNICEF/Safidy Andrianantenain

By Kumi Naidoo
GLASGOW, Scotland, Nov 9 2021 – As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is swiftly moving to its conclusion on Friday, climate justice could not be more urgent or timely.

The health of our planet and our very survival are at stake. How can we ensure that this meeting achieves real action that improves people’s lives in rich and poor countries alike?

More than empty political rhetoric, what we need is a new social contract between decision-makers and people, one that achieves genuine mass support for climate action and connects people with their planet.

Leaders need to ensure that their climate action plans will tackle inequality, poverty, injustice, and promote the implementation of human rights above all.

After all, climate change threatens the enjoyment of a range of human rights, including food, health, housing, culture and development. And there is one human right in particular that is at risk from climate change and could have a domino effect on all the others: the human right to clean drinking water.

This is the most basic of all human rights (together with sanitation), and a key one in the fight against climate change.

90 % of climate change is happening through weather related events which have a profound impact on the hydrological cycle – often resulting in too much water or too little water.

All this in a world where two billion people, or 1 in 4, lack access to safe drinking water, nearly half the world’s population (3.6 billion people) don’t have adequate sanitation, and 2.3 billion people can’t wash their hands at home for lack of water or soap.

The most outrageous injustice is that the same people who lack access to water and sanitation are usually the ones most vulnerable to the effects of climate change – and the least responsible for causing it in the first place.

One report estimates that by 2040, almost 600 million children are projected to be living in areas of extremely high water stress. And the odds are against the most vulnerable, as under 1% of the billions pledged to address climate change goes to protect water services for poor communities.

In the end, those left furthest behind end up bearing the brunt of increasing water scarcity and poverty. These marginalized populations – women, children, and those living in extreme poverty – face a vicious and unjust cycle, in which a lack of access to water and sanitation is aggravated by extreme weather events, leading to more expensive, and unaffordable, services.

Connecting the Dots

But where the problem starts may also be where the solution begins. We need a radical approach that guarantees the human right to water by tackling inequalities and putting people’s needs front and center – especially the needs of those whose voices continue to be marginalized and disregarded.

This is both a necessary response, and a step toward ending the climate change crisis, as it offers benefits both for mitigation (stopping climate change) and adaptation (adjusting to the new normal).

The good news is that the solutions are well known and readily available. Well-managed water systems can protect access to reliable water supplies during times of drought. Strong sanitation systems can resist floods.

And protecting water and sanitation services from extreme weather is highly cost-effective – for every $1 spent upgrading flood-resistant infrastructure, $62 is saved in flood restoration costs.

If world leaders were to prioritize universal access to climate resilient water and sanitation infrastructure, it would be a long-term investment, yielding net benefits of US $37–86 billion per year and avoiding up to 6 billion cases of diarrhoea and 12 billion cases of parasitic worms, with significant implications for child health and nutrition over the next twenty makers understand the adaptation needs and mitigation opportunities of water and sanitation systems, as well as the risks that climate change poses to sustainable services.

And, they must align climate and water policies so that access to water is equitable, climate risks are reduced, and there is more money available for adaptation.

After all, ensuring effective climate action and sustainable access to water and sanitation are matters of human rights. This means that we must years.

Just Add Water

As we look to COP26, we need to ensure that climate decision- tackle the root causes of the water crisis globally and ensure prioritization of water for the realization of human rights, over other uses, such as large-scale agriculture and industries, including extractive industries.

To realize these rights, municipalities and villages also must be supported to improve their capacity to manage their water sources sustainably and efficiently.

Without urgent measures to slow climate change and adapt to the damage already done to our planet, there is a real risk that people’s access to water and sanitation will worsen rather than improve. And, without sanitation, we cannot guarantee the right to education; without hygiene, our health is diminished, and without reliable access to water, gender equality can never be achieved.

COP 26 is an opportunity for a reset, not only for the planet, but also for the social contract between governments and people. Eliminating inequalities, including in access to water and sanitation, is a foundational requirement for effective climate action. We hope that decision makers in Glasgow are champions for this vision of a better world.

Kumi Naidoo is a Global Leader for Sanitation and Water for All and Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy. He is also former Secretary-General of Amnesty International and former Executive Director of Greenpeace.

 


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Carbon Tax Over-Rated

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 2021 – Addressing global warming requires cutting carbon emissions by almost half by 2030! For the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, emissions must fall by 45% below 2010 levels by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5°C, instead of the 2.7°C now expected.

Instead, countries are mainly under pressure to commit to ‘net-zero’ carbon (dioxide, CO2) emissions by 2050 under that deal. Meanwhile, global carbon emissions – now already close to pre-pandemic levels – are rising rapidly despite higher fossil fuel prices.

Anis Chowdhury

Emissions from burning coal and gas are already greater now than in 2019. Global oil use is expected to rise as transport recovers from pandemic restrictions. In short, carbon emissions are far from trending towards net-zero by 2050.

False promise
At the annual climate meetings in Glasgow, carbon pricing is being touted as the main means to cut CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The European Union President urged, “Put a price on carbon”, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advocates a global minimum carbon tax.

Businesses are also rallying behind one-size-fits-all CO2 pricing, claiming it is “effective and fair”. But there is little discussion of how revenues thus raised should be distributed among countries, let alone to support poorer countries’ adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Carbon pricing supposedly penalizes CO2 emitters for economic losses due to global warming. The public bears the costs of global warming, e.g., damage due to rising sea levels, extreme weather events, changing rainfall, droughts or higher health care and other expenses.

But there is little effort at or evidence of compensation to those adversely affected. Therefore, poorer countries are understandably sceptical, especially as rich countries have failed to fulfil their promise of US$100bn yearly climate finance support.

The CO2 price market solution is said to be “the most powerful tool” in the climate policy arsenal. It claims to deter and thus reduce GHG emissions, while incentivizing investment shifts from fossil-fuel burning to cleaner energy generating technologies.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

No silver bullet
Carbon pricing’s actual impact has, in fact, been marginal – only reducing emissions by under 2% yearly. Such impacts remain small as ‘emitters hardly pay’. Most remain undeterred, still relying on energy from fossil fuel combustion. Also, many easily pass on the carbon tax burden to others whose spending is not price sensitive enough.

Only 22% of GHGs produced globally are subject to carbon pricing, averaging only US$3/ton! Hence, such price incentives alone cannot significantly discourage high GHG emissions, or greatly accelerate widespread use of low-carbon technologies.

Powerful fossil-fuel corporate interests have made sure that carbon prices are not high enough to force users to switch energy sources. Thus, existing CO2 pricing policies are “modest and less ambitious” than they could and should be. Meanwhile, several factors have undermined carbon taxation’s ability to speed up ‘decarbonization’.

First, carbon taxes have never actually provided much climate finance. Second, CO2 taxes misrepresent climate change as due to ‘market failure’, not as a fundamental systemic problem. Third, it seeks efficiency, not efficacy! Thus, it does not treat global warming as an urgent threat.

Fourth, market signals from carbon taxation seek to ‘optimize’ the status quo, rather than to transform systems responsible for global warming. Fifth, it offers a deceptively simplistic ‘universal’ solution, rather than a policy approach sensitive to circumstances. Sixth, it ignores political realities, especially differences in key stakeholders’ power and influence.

Unfair to poor
Even if introduced gradually, the flat carbon tax will burden poorer countries more. Worse, carbon pricing is regressive, hurting the poor more. Thus, the burden of CO2 taxes is heavier on average consumers in poor countries than on poor consumers in ‘average’ countries.

A UN survey showed a seemingly fair, uniform global carbon tax would burden – as a share of GDP – developing countries much more than developed countries. Thus, although per capita emissions in poorer countries are far less than in rich ones, a flat CO2 tax burdens developing countries much more.

Also, a standard carbon tax burdens low-income groups more, by raising not only energy costs directly, but also those of all goods and services requiring energy use. With this seemingly fair, one-size-fits-all tax, low income households and countries pay much more relatively.

Analytically, such distributional effects can be avoided by differentiated pricing, e.g., by increasing prices to reflect the amount of energy used. Also, compensatory mechanisms – such as subsidies or cash transfers to low-income groups – can help.

But these are administratively difficult, particularly for poor countries, with limited taxation and social assistance systems. Furthermore, effectively targeting vulnerable populations is hugely problematic in practice.

Mission impossible?
Selective investment and technology promotion policies are much more effective in encouraging clean energy and reducing GHG emissions. Huge investments in solar, hydro and wind energy as well as public transport are required, typically involving high initial costs and low returns. Hence, public investment often has to lead.

But most developing countries lack the fiscal capacity for such large public investment programmes. Large increases in compensatory financing, official development assistance and concessional lending are urgently needed, but have not been forthcoming despite much talk.

Climate finance initiatives generally need to improve incentives for mitigation, while funding much more climate adaptation in developing countries. Potentially, a CO2 tax could yield significantly more resources to cover such international funding requirements, but this requires appropriate redistributive measures which have never been seriously negotiated.

Carbon taxes can help
Even without an ostensibly market-determined CO2 price, taxing GHG emissions would make renewable energy more price competitive. The UN advocated a ‘global green new deal’ in response to the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. It noted a US$50/ton tax would make more renewables commercially competitive, besides mobilizing US$500bn annually for climate finance.

A mid-2021 International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff note has proposed an international carbon price floor. This would “jump-start” emissions reductions by requiring G20 governments to enforce minimum carbon prices. Involving the largest emitting countries would be very consequential while bypassing collective action difficulties among the 195 UN Member States.

The scheme could be pragmatically designed to be more equitable, and for all types of GHGs, not just CO2 emissions. But even a global carbon price of US$75/ton would only cut enough emissions to keep global warming below 2°C – not the needed 1.5°C, the Paris Agreement goal!

 


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COP26 – Adapting to the Climate Crisis

Datong, in China’s Shanxi Province, was an old-fashioned coal mining city. It has been a key city for an environmental clean-up. China is the world’s largest emitter of CO2. Credit: Trevor Page

By Marwa Awad
OTTAWA, Canada, Nov 9 2021 – Look up any map showing today’s global humanitarian crises and you’ll find it awash in red alerts more than ever before. Climate emergencies are fast emerging in new areas that have never previously witnessed them, and they are accelerating humanity’s march towards the precipice in regions long battered by conflict, hunger and displacement.

While developed countries are responsible for the lion’s share of CO2 emissions, developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are the ones suffering the most from the devastating effects of these climate-induced emergencies.

The adverse effects of climate change are already advanced stage, with many developing countries around the world living in climates 3 degrees higher than normal such as Mali and Burkina Faso. It is no longer enough to focus only on mitigating climate crises through reducing fossil fuels and transforming food systems.

Cracked earth due to drought in India’s north-eastern State of Bihar. Bihar was the epicenter of India’s last major famine in the mid 1960s. Credit: Trevor Page

With only a few days left of the UN COP26 climate talks, world leaders and experts negotiating mitigative measures to cap global warming at 1.5 C or face irreversible disaster would be remiss not to prioritize helping developing countries already devastated by the impact of global warming quickly adapt to climate change.

“In parallel with mitigation, we need to help countries adapt to the new climactic stresses brought about by global warming,” says Amir Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme. “Climate change adaptation is urgently needed in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America where people face climate extremes.”

Without the ability to adapt, people will have no other choice but to migrate to where they can survive. In 2020, 30 million people were internally displaced due to weather-related events, primarily storms and floods. That is three times as many as conflict, according to the Norwegian Refugee Committee.

“At WFP, we recognize that if we can keep people in their homes and on their land, we help reduce the number of people who become climate migrants and climate refugees. But to do so, we have to enable people not only survive but also thrive on their land,” said Abdulla.

Entire villages in the Fangak region of South Sudan have been submerged due to record floods that have swept across the country for the third consecutive year, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. Credit: Marwa Awad

WFP has had a strong record of working with communities to recover from climactic shocks and stresses that jeopardize their food security. In some of the most arid regions, WFP helps smallholder farmers and communities establish free nurseries to hold back the desert and recover agricultural land.

In central America and the Dry Corridor of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, WFP helped more than 32,000 people adapt to their changing climate by creating livelihoods and income generating activities that are suitable for the drought condition, while also implementing community projects on land restoration the result of which has been the reforestation of more than 1,300 hectares of degraded and marginal land as well as the construction of nearly 3,000 water harvesting systems.

Another pathway towards climate change adaption is providing climate risk insurance, whether drought or floods, to smallholder farmers who cannot buy insurance to protect their crops. Since the past couple of years, WFP has protected 1.5 million people in Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe and the Gambia from catastrophic drought events with climate risk insurance, through its African Risk Capacity Replica Initiative. Smallholder farmers received payouts from climate risk insurance, without which they would have been forced to move. These insurance schemes have also benefited vulnerable people coping with the impact of COVID-19.

Conclusion

In a post-COVID-19 world compounded by an increase in climate emergencies, humanitarian needs will always outpace available resources and finances, and zero hunger by 2030 has already become a dream out of reach. But those with influence can carve out pathways to a safer, more stable future for all by working with humanitarian organisations and actors in a globally coordinated manner to establish early warning systems that can anticipate risk and map out preventative measures to mitigate climate hazards before they spiral into natural disasters. And for the sake of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis in countries who have not the luxury of time and cannot to wait for developed countries to deliver on their promise of cutting down their CO2 emissions, these vulnerable communities need immediate help to adapt to their already changed and riskier world.

Marwa Awad, a resident of Ottawa, Canada, works for the World Food Programme. She is the co-host of “The WFP PEOPLE Show”.

 


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‘West of The Nile and Around The Sudd’

By Theodore van der Pluijm
THE HAGUE, The Netherlands, Nov 9 2021 – Tensions and hostilities persisted until early 2019, when the regime of Omar al-Bashir – to a large extent symbolized by oppressing minority groups in the Darfurs, Blue Nile state and South Kordofan – finally ended. Meanwhile, many inhabitants of the Nuba Mountains and other parts of South Kordofan, had escaped to South Sudan, which had become independent in 2011. There, they found, however, a country with even more interethnic strains and assaults, resulting, in addition to the innumerable internally displaced persons, the flight of 2.3 million citizens to six countries in the region. An area characterized by perpetual political and ethnic tensions which often resulted in border crossings in opposite ways. The present case of refugees from Ethiopia to the Republic of Sudan is an example of this phenomenon in the IGAD-region. (The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is an eight-country trade bloc in Africa that includes governments from the Horn of Africa, the Nile Valley and the African Great Lakes. Its headquaters is in Djibouti City)

The author on the road between Dilling and Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan in February 1999.

Through the ‘Juba Peace Agreement’ of October 2020, internal reconciliation would finally be realized in The Sudan. By this, creating an environment in which sustained rural and agricultural development programs could be implemented without major ideological or inter-ethnic frictions, including in Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan.

The Transitional Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok aimed at political and ethnic appeasement in order to foster development initiativeves all over the country. However, the military coup led by general Al-Burhan arrested Hamdok and all other civilian members of this interim government. Once again, many people went into the streets to protest. Once more demonstrators were arrested or killed. In addition, during the past two weeks the pressure from outside has gained momentum. The US and other countries, now even including Saudi Arabia and the UAE have urged Al-Burhan to release all persons and to return to civilian rule with Hamdok as Prime Minister.

The book ‘West of The Nile and Around The Sudd’ – published in May 2021 with 142 pp. containing a large number of pictures taken in the field – is about efforts by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations specialized agency and financing institution, aimed at designing of and monitoring the implementation of agricultural and rural development projects in the Republic of The Sudan. The country has ample natural resources for achieving food security and adequate income and living standards for the entire population, including the inhabitants of rural areas where there are no armed conflicts.

More specifically, the purpose of this book is to show how local data are collected as indispensable tools for the preparation of new development projects or for the supervision of on-going investment programs. Considering the latter, the book starts with the process of data-gathering during a supervision mission for the World Bank-led Southern Region Agricultural Project (SRAP) in October 1980, about two years after its start. This promising region-wide scheme, however, had to be terminated already in 1984, an effect of the conflict between the central government and forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

The way of assembling information during the formulation mission in early 1999 for the design of the South Kordofan Rural Development Project is reflected in parts Three, Four and Five of the book. During meetings in villages and hamlets we were impressed both by the willingness of the local authorities to provide maximum information and the friendliness and openness of the inhabitants – families and individuals – in the way they received us and provided their opinions.

This project started its promising operations at the end of the year 2000. However, also in this case, during its implementation, time and time again, project activities have been affected by armed conflicts between government forces – frequently assisted by militias – and insurgents, historically located in the Nuba Mountains and other zones of South Kordofan. However, different from the SRAP, its implementation could continue. Nevertheless, as part Six in the book explains, time-wise and regionally, project activities had frequently to be halted in order to avoid clashes and combats. Moreover, in the final stages of 2012-2013, project activities had to be stopped, when, despite the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CAP), hostilities in South Kordofan expanded significantly.

(On 19 December 2018, a few weeks before starting this book, I visited the ambassador of the Republic of Sudan in The Netherlands. During an informative, frank and pleasant meeting, I stressed that the time had come for President Omar al-Bashir to change his policies radically. Evidently, I was completely unaware that on the very same day in the historic city of Atbara, massive protests took place. These eventually triggered demonstrations and protests all over the country in which women played a major role. Finally, on 11 April 2019 Al Bashir was arrested. A promising era could commence).

The author of the book is a former United Nations IFAD senior official who was Director of the Near East and North Africa Division., in addition to other responsibilities.

 


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Radical Relook at Drug Policies Puts Human Rights into Equation

A new analysis of global drug policies looks at how countries’ drug policies and implementation align with the UN principles of human rights, health and development. Credit: Michael Longmire/Unsplash

By Ed Holt
BRATISLAVA, Nov 9 2021 – A “radically innovative” new analysis of global drug policies has laid bare the full impact repressive drug laws and their implementation have on millions of people worldwide, civil society groups behind its creation have said.

The inaugural Global Drug Policy Index (GDPI) www.globaldrugpolicyindex.net, developed by the Harm Reduction Consortium (HRC) – a collaboration of civil society groups – ranks countries on their drug policies against a series of indicators related to health, development, and human rights.

Groups in the HRC say it is the first tool of its kind to document, measure, and compare countries’ drug policies, and their implementation, across the world.

And the results of the first index have underlined how even the best-ranked countries are falling dramatically short in aligning policies and their implementation with UN principles of human rights, health, and development.

Ann Fordham, Director at the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), which was involved in creating the index, told IPS: “The message is that no country is doing well. They all have huge room for improvement.”

HRC organisations say that for decades, tracking how well – or badly – governments are doing in drug policy has been difficult.

Until now, many governments have measured the ‘success’ of drug policies not against health, development, and human rights outcomes, but instead by prioritising indicators such as the numbers of people imprisoned for drug offences, the volume of drugs seized, or the number of hectares of drug crops eradicated.

The net result, drug law reform groups argue, is a severe lack of accountability when it comes to the repressive approaches to drugs favoured by many governments and which blight the lives of millions of people, invariably among the most vulnerable and marginalised populations.

But they believe the GDPI will change that.

It uses 75 indicators running across five broad dimensions of drug policy: criminal justice, extreme responses, health and harm reduction, access to internationally controlled medicines, and development.

Thirty countries – the HRC plans to expand the project to include more states in future – are given a score in each of these five areas and ranked according to an overall score out of 100.

The scores are decided on not just extant data but, crucially, expert local perspectives on policy implementation.

This, the team behind the index’s methodology says, helped create a more accurate picture of how people were being affected by a given state’s drug policies, and objectively quantifying the effects of their implementation.

Professor David Bewley-Taylor, of Swansea University told IPS: “Our work was a deliberate effort to include affected communities at the heart of the index. It allows lazy assumptions about countries’ drug policies to be challenged and adds nuance to the debate about drug policy.”

His colleague, Dr Matthew Wall, added: “Even with the best data records there can be gaps. Because we were working with civil society, we could get extra data, get an on the ground evaluation of policy implementation.

“Without civil society perspectives, there would have been something missing, especially in measuring equity of implementation in some areas, for instance, access to harm reduction treatment.”

Some of the findings in the index highlighted the dire impact of policy implementation on communities.

It showed that a militarised and law enforcement approach to drug control remains prevalent globally, with lethal force by military or police reported in half of the countries surveyed. Drug law enforcement is also predominantly targeted at non-violent offences, especially people who use drugs.

Meanwhile, to some extent, in all countries, there is a disproportionate impact of drug control on marginalised people based on gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status.

The index also pointed out sometimes large gaps between policy and its implementation, and how some countries are doing well in some areas but poorly in others.

For instance, in ensuring access to controlled medicines, countries like India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Senegal score high on policy but get 0/100 for actual availability for those in need.

It also found that inequality is deeply seated in global drug policies, with the five top-ranking countries scoring three times as much as the lowest-ranking five countries. According to the report, this is partly due to the colonial legacy of the ‘war on drugs’ approach.

While Norway topped the index, even it did not perform well in all areas and gained an overall score of 74/100. The median score across all 30 countries in the index was just 48/100.

Campaigners believe that by framing the ‘success’ of countries’ drug policies in terms of indicators of human rights, health, and development, and especially because it involves data gathered from on the ground experience of implementation, the index can be a powerful tool in trying to persuade governments to change their approach to drugs.

“The Global Drug Policy Index is nothing short of a radical innovation,” said Helen Clark, Chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

“Good, accurate data is power, and it can help us end the `war on drugs´ sooner rather than later.”

Writing in the report’s foreword, she added: “For decision-makers wishing to understand the consequences of drug control, as well as for those who seek to hold governments accountable, the index sheds light on critical aspects of drug policies that have been historically neglected, such as the intersection of drug policy and development, or the differentiated impacts of drug law enforcement on ethnic groups, Indigenous peoples, women and the poorest members of society.”

The index’s accompanying report illustrates the effects of drug policies on communities, including real-life stories of people who use drugs, often documenting the stigma, violence, and persecution drug users face because of repressive drug policies and their implementation.

It also has a series of recommendations for governments, including calls for an end to violence, arbitrary detention, extreme sentencing and disproportionate penalties, and the promotion of access to health, medicines, and harm reduction services and a long-term development approach for marginalised communities worldwide.

However, it is unclear to what extent the GDPI would sway policymakers in countries where repressive drugs policies have been the norm for decades and where regimes have repeatedly resisted calls for reform.

Groups campaigning for drug law reform in Belarus, for instance, which has some of the most repressive drug legislation globally and notoriously harsh implementation of it, told IPS the index is unlikely to change the regime’s legislation, nor its hard-line approach to drug use.

Piotr Markielau of Legalize Belarus told IPS: “This index is a great idea, but it has very little chance of influencing drug policy in Belarus or any other non-democratic country.”

But Fordham said even if the index was ignored by policymakers in some states, it does not diminish its worth.

“We appreciate that there are some countries which will remain impervious to our efforts, but we hope that the index will at least ignite conversation about the metrics used to measure drug policies.

“We have to keep banging the drum and shining a light on repressive drug policies and the harm they are doing.”

She added: “Governments don’t like accountability on this, so we expect some pushback on the index. But one thing I am proud of with the index is the incredibly robust methodology that has been used. It is a very considered piece of work, and it will put us on solid ground when we talk to governments.”

 


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Indigenous Peoples Want to Move Towards Clean Energy Sovereignty

At an event in the so-called Green Zone, Canadian native leaders and the non-governmental Indigenous Clean Energy launched a global hub of social enterprises to pass on knowledge and advice during the Glasgow climate summit. In the picture, Mihskakwan James Harper (R) of the Cree indigenous community explains a mixed battery energy storage project built by a private firm and an indigenous company in the province of Ontario, Canada. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

At an event in the so-called Green Zone, Canadian native leaders and the non-governmental Indigenous Clean Energy launched a global hub of social enterprises to pass on knowledge and advice during the Glasgow climate summit. In the picture, Mihskakwan James Harper (R) of the Cree indigenous community explains a mixed battery energy storage project built by a private firm and an indigenous company in the province of Ontario, Canada. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

By Emilio Godoy
GLASGOW, Nov 9 2021 – In the community of Bella Bella on Turtle Island in the western Canadian province of British Columbia, the indigenous Heiltsuk people capture heat from the air through devices in 40 percent of their homes, in a plan aimed at sustainable energy sovereignty.

“We use less energy, pay less, and that’s good for our health,” Leona Humchitt, a member of the Heiltsuk community, told IPS during a forum on indigenous micro-grids in the so-called Green Zone of the climate summit being hosted by Glasgow, Scotland since Oct. 31. “The project coincides with our view. We need to have a good relationship with nature.”

For native groups, these initiatives mean moving towards energy sovereignty to avoid dependence on projects that have no connection to local populations, combating energy poverty, paving the transition to cleaner sources and combating the exclusion they suffer in the renewable energies sector due to government policies and corporate decisions.

The modernisation process that began in the first quarter of 2021 lowered electricity rates from 2,880 dollars a year to about 1,200 dollars for each participating household.

In addition, the switch to heat pumps eliminates five tons of pollutant emissions per year and has reduced the community’s annual diesel consumption of 2,000 litres per household, which is usually supplied by a private hydroelectric plant.

Funded by the Canadian government and non-governmental organisations, the “Strategic Fuel Switching” project is part of the Heiltsuk Climate Action plan, which also includes measures such as biofuel and biomass from marine algae and carbon credits from marine ecosystems.

In 2017, more than 250 remote indigenous communities, out of 292 in Canada, relied on their own electricity microgeneration grids, dependent especially on diesel generators.

The venture in the Heiltsuk community, which is part of the three major Canadian native peoples, is included in a portfolio of indigenous transitional energy initiatives that have been incorporated into the non-governmental Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) social enterprise in Canada.

A global hub for social entrepreneurship was one of the initiatives launched in the Green Zone, an open event held parallel to the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), whose annual session ends Nov. 12.

ICE has a list of 197 projects – 72 in bioenergy, 127 in energy efficiency, and 19 in other alternative sources – with more than one megawatt of installed capacity. These initiatives together represent 1.49 billion dollars in revenue over 10 years.

Mihskakwan James Harper, an indigenous man from the Cree people of Sturgeon Lake in the western Canadian province of Alberta, said it is not only about energy sovereignty, but also about community power to dispose of their own resources.

“We change our self-consumption and the communities benefit themselves from the energy, and the earth get benefits as well. Without us, we are not going to reach the climate goals. We show that indigenous peoples can bring innovations and solutions to the climate crisis,” Harper, who is development manager at the NR Stor energy company, told IPS.

NR Stor Inc. and the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation in the Canadian province of Ontario are building the Oneida battery storage project – with a capacity of 250 MW and an investment of 400 million dollars – in the south of the province.

The facility, which will prevent some 4.1 million tons of pollutant emissions, the largest of its kind in Canada and one of the largest in the world, will provide clean and stable energy capacity by storing renewable energy off-peak for release when demand rises.

ICE estimates 4.3 billion dollars in investments are needed to underpin this energy efficiency that would create some 73,000 direct and indirect jobs and would cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than five million tons over 10 years.

Electric vehicles are still a pipe dream in many indigenous communities, due to their price and the lack of charging infrastructure. In the picture, an electric car is charged at a station in downtown Glasgow, near COP26. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Electric vehicles are still a pipe dream in many indigenous communities, due to their price and the lack of charging infrastructure. In the picture, an electric car is charged at a station in downtown Glasgow, near COP26. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Slow progress

The increase in clean sources plays a decisive role in achieving one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out in 2015 by the international community in the 2030 Agenda, within the framework of the United Nations.

SDG 7 is aimed at affordable, modern energy for all.

But processes similar to Canada’s ICE are proceeding at a slow pace.

Two projects of the Right Energy Partnership with Indigenous Peoples (REP), launched in 2018 by the non-governmental Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development, are being implemented in El Salvador and Honduras.

In El Salvador, the project is “Access to photovoltaic energy for indigenous peoples”, carried out since 2020 in conjunction with the non-governmental National Salvadoran Indigenous Coordination Council (CCNIS).

It is financed with 150,000 dollars from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme to provide 24 solar power systems to three communities in the town of Guatajiagua, in the eastern department of Morazán.

In Honduras, the Lenca Indigenous Community Council and the Pro Construction Committee are installing a mini-hydroelectric plant to benefit two Lenca indigenous communities in the municipality of San Francisco de Opalaca, in the southwestern department of Intibucá.

The project “Hydroelectric power generation for environmental protection and socioeconomic development in the Lenca communities of Plan de Barrios and El Zapotillo”, launched in 2019, received 150,000 dollars in GEF funding.

Clean alternative sources face community distrust due to human rights violations committed by wind, solar and hydroelectric plant owners in countries such as Colombia, Honduras and Mexico, including land dispossession, contracts harmful to local communities and lack of free consultation and adequate information prior to project design.

Amazonian indigenous people participate in protests by social movements in Glasgow, in which they claimed that their voices were not adequately heard at COP26. CREDIT: Arturo Contreras/Pie de Página

Amazonian indigenous people participate in protests by social movements in Glasgow, in which they claimed that their voices were not adequately heard at COP26. CREDIT: Arturo Contreras/Pie de Página

The evolution of energy initiatives has been slow, due to funding barriers and the limitations imposed by the covid-19 pandemic.

“Our main interest is to enable access to affordable renewable energy and for indigenous peoples to participate in the projects,” Eileen Mairena-Cunningham, REP project coordinator, told IPS.

“These processes should be led by indigenous organisations. Of course we are interested in participating in the global networks,” added the Miskita indigenous woman from Nicaragua.

After the always difficult first step, indigenous communities want to accelerate progress towards these goals.

In Bella Bella, Canada, the hope is to progressively replace diesel with biofuel in vehicles and in the boats that are vital to the fishing community.

“We are not going to electrify transportation overnight,” Humchitt said. “But we see an opportunity in biodiesel. We have to go forward on this issue.”

Harper concurred with that vision. “Of course we want EVs, as they become accessible and satisfy our own needs. We want to get rid of diesel. The communities have to lead the process of the local transition,” he said.

Mairena-Cunningham stressed that indigenous peoples attach primary importance to participating in global networks.

“Existing projects leave us with lessons of what can be done in our territory,” said the activist. “There is a need for policies that facilitate indigenous participation and special safeguards for access to the land. Capacity building is also needed.”

Renewable energies can be added to ecological measures that indigenous peoples already use, such as forest protection and biodiversity and water conservation. But their local implementation requires more than just willingness.

IPS produced this article with the support of Iniciativa Climática of Mexico and the European Climate Foundation.