Global Fishing Watch welcomes partnership with Benin to combat illegal fishing

London, United Kingdom, May 18, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — LONDON, May 19, 2022 – A new partnership agreement between Benin and Global Fishing Watch aims to strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activities within the waters of the West African State.

Under the memorandum of understanding, Global Fishing Watch will provide technical support, including fisheries analysis, capacity building and training on its vessel monitoring tools. To track its fishing fleet, Benin is establishing a vessel monitoring system, or VMS, and has formally agreed to share its data via the Global Fishing Watch map""the first African nation to commit to making its fishing fleet publicly visible.

Benin recently hosted in the large port city of Cotonou the first workshop under the new partnership, bringing together participants from Global Fishing Watch and various government agencies to develop actions to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and advance collaboration through open and shared data.

"We are committed to eradicating illegal fishing from our waters and taking all action necessary to secure sustainable fisheries," said the Honorable Gaston Cossi Dossouhoui, Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Benin. "Through our partnership with Global Fishing Watch, we can strengthen our ability to monitor fishing activity, enforce the law and demonstrate our commitment to transparency in support of a blue economy. We encourage other African States to join us in this initiative to rid our waters of illicit activity."

Captain (Navy) Fernand Maxime Ahoyo, Maritime Prefect of Benin added, "Global Fishing Watch's tools will reinforce Benin's actions to protect its maritime area." Captain Ahoyo also acknowledged support from the non–profit organization, EcoBenin in facilitating engagement between the government of Benin and Global Fishing Watch.

"Greater transparency in fishing activity is an effective and cost–efficient means of driving more compliant behavior at sea. It allows law–abiding fishers to be rewarded, while those with missing information can be investigated and enforcement action more targeted," said Dame Mboup, Global Fishing Watch's program manager for West and Central Africa. "Violations by unauthorized vessels are prevalent off West Africa's coast; Benin is demonstrating leadership in using cutting–edge technology and open data to combat illegal fishing."

Persistent IUU fishing represents a considerable challenge for Benin and other coastal States in the Gulf of Guinea""a vast and diverse region spanning approximately 3,500 miles (5,633 kilometers) of coastline from Senegal to Angola. IUU fishing accounts for nearly 40 percent of all the fish caught in West Africa and threatens the ability of the region's developing countries to maximize the use of their ocean resources.

In addition to the partnership with Benin, Global Fishing Watch has signed letters of intent with Cameroon, Gabon, Guinea, Mauritania and Senegal to strengthen collaboration on governance tools, capacity transfer and analysis. The Regional Fisheries Commission for the Gulf of Guinea and the Sub–regional Fisheries Commission have also expressed their interest in joining Global Fishing Watch's vision for greater fisheries transparency, recognizing that regional cooperation and information sharing is needed to combat IUU fishing.

"West African countries rely on fish as a vital source of protein, income and employment for nearly 7 million people. But this region has seen its fish stocks decline drastically," added Dame Mboup. "Regional collaboration is critical to eliminate IUU fishing and restore fish populations. Global Fishing Watch is excited to support a growing number of West African States working together to share fishing data and harness technology to safeguard their marine resources and promote economic security."

Countries in the Gulf of Guinea recently stepped up the fight against IUU fishing and related crimes. Benin, Cte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo, through the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC)""an intergovernmental organization that promotes regional cooperation in fisheries management""launched the Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Center to monitor fishing and related activities in the Gulf of Guinea.

In support of regional efforts to combat IUU fishing, Global Fishing Watch and the international nonprofit, TM–Tracking launched a pilot project with Cte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and the FCWC to provide authorities with satellite tracking data, analysis and training needed to assess a fishing vessel's recent operations and compliance risk. The collaboration will harness a new tool called vessel viewer, which was developed by the two organizations and provides vital information on a vessel's identity, fishing activity, port visits and transshipments to help assess the need for inspection and port access.

With support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies, Moore Foundation, OAK Foundation and Oceans 5, Global Fishing Watch is committed to working with States to publicly share their vessel monitoring data and make its analytical tools and innovative technologies available to help enhance maritime surveillance.

"Achieving sustainable and equitable management of fisheries is critical," said Melissa Wright, Vibrant Oceans Initiative Lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies. "Fisheries support the health and well–being of coastal communities, and Bloomberg Philanthropies is excited for the opportunity to expand the number of organizations that make fishing information available and accessible to governments, civil society and the public. This is an important step in the fight against illegal fishing "" a problem that requires all hands on deck."

###

Global Fishing Watch is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing ocean governance through increased transparency of human activity at sea. By creating and publicly sharing map visualizations, data and analysis tools, we aim to enable scientific research and transform the way our ocean is managed. We believe human activity at sea should be public knowledge in order to safeguard the global ocean for the common good of all.

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Global Fishing Watch welcomes partnership with Benin to combat illegal fishing

London, United Kingdom, May 18, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — LONDON, May 19, 2022 – A new partnership agreement between Benin and Global Fishing Watch aims to strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activities within the waters of the West African State.

Under the memorandum of understanding, Global Fishing Watch will provide technical support, including fisheries analysis, capacity building and training on its vessel monitoring tools. To track its fishing fleet, Benin is establishing a vessel monitoring system, or VMS, and has formally agreed to share its data via the Global Fishing Watch map""the first African nation to commit to making its fishing fleet publicly visible.

Benin recently hosted in the large port city of Cotonou the first workshop under the new partnership, bringing together participants from Global Fishing Watch and various government agencies to develop actions to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and advance collaboration through open and shared data.

"We are committed to eradicating illegal fishing from our waters and taking all action necessary to secure sustainable fisheries," said the Honorable Gaston Cossi Dossouhoui, Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Benin. "Through our partnership with Global Fishing Watch, we can strengthen our ability to monitor fishing activity, enforce the law and demonstrate our commitment to transparency in support of a blue economy. We encourage other African States to join us in this initiative to rid our waters of illicit activity."

Captain (Navy) Fernand Maxime Ahoyo, Maritime Prefect of Benin added, "Global Fishing Watch's tools will reinforce Benin's actions to protect its maritime area." Captain Ahoyo also acknowledged support from the non–profit organization, EcoBenin in facilitating engagement between the government of Benin and Global Fishing Watch.

"Greater transparency in fishing activity is an effective and cost–efficient means of driving more compliant behavior at sea. It allows law–abiding fishers to be rewarded, while those with missing information can be investigated and enforcement action more targeted," said Dame Mboup, Global Fishing Watch's program manager for West and Central Africa. "Violations by unauthorized vessels are prevalent off West Africa's coast; Benin is demonstrating leadership in using cutting–edge technology and open data to combat illegal fishing."

Persistent IUU fishing represents a considerable challenge for Benin and other coastal States in the Gulf of Guinea""a vast and diverse region spanning approximately 3,500 miles (5,633 kilometers) of coastline from Senegal to Angola. IUU fishing accounts for nearly 40 percent of all the fish caught in West Africa and threatens the ability of the region's developing countries to maximize the use of their ocean resources.

In addition to the partnership with Benin, Global Fishing Watch has signed letters of intent with Cameroon, Gabon, Guinea, Mauritania and Senegal to strengthen collaboration on governance tools, capacity transfer and analysis. The Regional Fisheries Commission for the Gulf of Guinea and the Sub–regional Fisheries Commission have also expressed their interest in joining Global Fishing Watch's vision for greater fisheries transparency, recognizing that regional cooperation and information sharing is needed to combat IUU fishing.

"West African countries rely on fish as a vital source of protein, income and employment for nearly 7 million people. But this region has seen its fish stocks decline drastically," added Dame Mboup. "Regional collaboration is critical to eliminate IUU fishing and restore fish populations. Global Fishing Watch is excited to support a growing number of West African States working together to share fishing data and harness technology to safeguard their marine resources and promote economic security."

Countries in the Gulf of Guinea recently stepped up the fight against IUU fishing and related crimes. Benin, Cte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo, through the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC)""an intergovernmental organization that promotes regional cooperation in fisheries management""launched the Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Center to monitor fishing and related activities in the Gulf of Guinea.

In support of regional efforts to combat IUU fishing, Global Fishing Watch and the international nonprofit, TM–Tracking launched a pilot project with Cte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and the FCWC to provide authorities with satellite tracking data, analysis and training needed to assess a fishing vessel's recent operations and compliance risk. The collaboration will harness a new tool called vessel viewer, which was developed by the two organizations and provides vital information on a vessel's identity, fishing activity, port visits and transshipments to help assess the need for inspection and port access.

With support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies, Moore Foundation, OAK Foundation and Oceans 5, Global Fishing Watch is committed to working with States to publicly share their vessel monitoring data and make its analytical tools and innovative technologies available to help enhance maritime surveillance.

"Achieving sustainable and equitable management of fisheries is critical," said Melissa Wright, Vibrant Oceans Initiative Lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies. "Fisheries support the health and well–being of coastal communities, and Bloomberg Philanthropies is excited for the opportunity to expand the number of organizations that make fishing information available and accessible to governments, civil society and the public. This is an important step in the fight against illegal fishing "" a problem that requires all hands on deck."

###

Global Fishing Watch is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing ocean governance through increased transparency of human activity at sea. By creating and publicly sharing map visualizations, data and analysis tools, we aim to enable scientific research and transform the way our ocean is managed. We believe human activity at sea should be public knowledge in order to safeguard the global ocean for the common good of all.

Attachment


Advance Local is New Sophi.io Customer

TORONTO, May 18, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Advance Local, one of the largest media groups in the United States operating 10 leading news and information organizations and reaching 55 million people monthly, has quadrupled their subscription goal using Sophi Content Paywall Engine. Faced with advertising pressures exacerbated by the Coronavirus, Advance Local increased subscription conversions 45% using Sophi.io, an AI–powered automation, optimization and prediction platform developed by The Globe and Mail. Their success with Sophi has also earned them a spot as a finalist in the Digiday Media Awards, announced this week.

Neil Katz, Chief Customer Officer at Advance Local, said, "We wanted to see how much farther Sophi could take us, so we tested Sophi Content Paywall on one of our largest sites. The results were transformative. We were hoping for a 10% lift in conversion rate and Sophi delivered four times that result. We're continuing to roll out Sophi solutions across more of our sites as we speak."

Advance started using Sophi Content Paywall Engine on one of its largest sites, cleveland.com, to get better insights into the value of their content and fuel their new subscription business. The technology uses advanced natural language processing (NLP) to analyze every piece of content and select which articles to put behind a paywall. It picks only those articles where the subscription revenue opportunity outweighs the advertising revenue forgone.

During an experiment where Advance could see how Sophi performed side by side with their existing paywall, Sophi presented roughly the same amount of paywalls and generated a 45% lift in the total conversion rate, while also uncovering pockets of content that editors didn't anticipate would generate subscriptions.

John Hassell, Senior Vice President and Editorial Director at Advance Local, said, "We wanted to see if Sophi's content paywall could increase subscriber acquisition by 10% and it blew that goal out of the water. We're feeling good about the platform and the way it is showing us just how valuable our editorial content is to our audience."

Advance Local is also a finalist in the Digiday Media Awards, in the category of Best Subscription or Membership Product, for their work using Sophi Content Paywall Engine.

"Advance Local is an incredibly innovative organization that we've watched push the boundaries and we're very excited to be working with them," said Mike O'Neill, Co–Founder and CEO of Sophi.io. "We're seeing great value come from the content paywall they've implemented and we're excited to introduce some other cutting edge technology into this very strong brand."

About Advance Local

Advance Local (www.advancelocal.com) is one of the largest media groups in the United States. It operates 10 leading news and information organizations and reaches 55 million people monthly across multiple platforms with its high–quality journalism. They are dedicated to unrivaled local journalism that improves the lives of millions of people.

About Sophi.io

Sophi.io (https://www.sophi.io) was developed by The Globe and Mail to help content publishers make important strategic and tactical decisions. It is a suite of AI and ML–powered automation, optimization and prediction solutions that include Sophi Site Automation, Sophi for Paywalls and Sophi for First Party Data. Sophi also powers one–click automated laydown of template–free print publishing. Sophi is designed to improve the metrics that matter most to your business, such as subscriber retention and acquisition, engagement, recency, frequency and volume.


Advance Local is New Sophi.io Customer

TORONTO, May 18, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Advance Local, one of the largest media groups in the United States operating 10 leading news and information organizations and reaching 55 million people monthly, has quadrupled their subscription goal using Sophi Content Paywall Engine. Faced with advertising pressures exacerbated by the Coronavirus, Advance Local increased subscription conversions 45% using Sophi.io, an AI–powered automation, optimization and prediction platform developed by The Globe and Mail. Their success with Sophi has also earned them a spot as a finalist in the Digiday Media Awards, announced this week.

Neil Katz, Chief Customer Officer at Advance Local, said, "We wanted to see how much farther Sophi could take us, so we tested Sophi Content Paywall on one of our largest sites. The results were transformative. We were hoping for a 10% lift in conversion rate and Sophi delivered four times that result. We're continuing to roll out Sophi solutions across more of our sites as we speak."

Advance started using Sophi Content Paywall Engine on one of its largest sites, cleveland.com, to get better insights into the value of their content and fuel their new subscription business. The technology uses advanced natural language processing (NLP) to analyze every piece of content and select which articles to put behind a paywall. It picks only those articles where the subscription revenue opportunity outweighs the advertising revenue forgone.

During an experiment where Advance could see how Sophi performed side by side with their existing paywall, Sophi presented roughly the same amount of paywalls and generated a 45% lift in the total conversion rate, while also uncovering pockets of content that editors didn't anticipate would generate subscriptions.

John Hassell, Senior Vice President and Editorial Director at Advance Local, said, "We wanted to see if Sophi's content paywall could increase subscriber acquisition by 10% and it blew that goal out of the water. We're feeling good about the platform and the way it is showing us just how valuable our editorial content is to our audience."

Advance Local is also a finalist in the Digiday Media Awards, in the category of Best Subscription or Membership Product, for their work using Sophi Content Paywall Engine.

"Advance Local is an incredibly innovative organization that we've watched push the boundaries and we're very excited to be working with them," said Mike O'Neill, Co–Founder and CEO of Sophi.io. "We're seeing great value come from the content paywall they've implemented and we're excited to introduce some other cutting edge technology into this very strong brand."

About Advance Local

Advance Local (www.advancelocal.com) is one of the largest media groups in the United States. It operates 10 leading news and information organizations and reaches 55 million people monthly across multiple platforms with its high–quality journalism. They are dedicated to unrivaled local journalism that improves the lives of millions of people.

About Sophi.io

Sophi.io (https://www.sophi.io) was developed by The Globe and Mail to help content publishers make important strategic and tactical decisions. It is a suite of AI and ML–powered automation, optimization and prediction solutions that include Sophi Site Automation, Sophi for Paywalls and Sophi for First Party Data. Sophi also powers one–click automated laydown of template–free print publishing. Sophi is designed to improve the metrics that matter most to your business, such as subscriber retention and acquisition, engagement, recency, frequency and volume.


Advance Local is New Sophi.io Customer

TORONTO, May 18, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Advance Local, one of the largest media groups in the United States operating 10 leading news and information organizations and reaching 55 million people monthly, has quadrupled their subscription goal using Sophi Content Paywall Engine. Faced with advertising pressures exacerbated by the Coronavirus, Advance Local increased subscription conversions 45% using Sophi.io, an AI–powered automation, optimization and prediction platform developed by The Globe and Mail. Their success with Sophi has also earned them a spot as a finalist in the Digiday Media Awards, announced this week.

Neil Katz, Chief Customer Officer at Advance Local, said, "We wanted to see how much farther Sophi could take us, so we tested Sophi Content Paywall on one of our largest sites. The results were transformative. We were hoping for a 10% lift in conversion rate and Sophi delivered four times that result. We're continuing to roll out Sophi solutions across more of our sites as we speak."

Advance started using Sophi Content Paywall Engine on one of its largest sites, cleveland.com, to get better insights into the value of their content and fuel their new subscription business. The technology uses advanced natural language processing (NLP) to analyze every piece of content and select which articles to put behind a paywall. It picks only those articles where the subscription revenue opportunity outweighs the advertising revenue forgone.

During an experiment where Advance could see how Sophi performed side by side with their existing paywall, Sophi presented roughly the same amount of paywalls and generated a 45% lift in the total conversion rate, while also uncovering pockets of content that editors didn't anticipate would generate subscriptions.

John Hassell, Senior Vice President and Editorial Director at Advance Local, said, "We wanted to see if Sophi's content paywall could increase subscriber acquisition by 10% and it blew that goal out of the water. We're feeling good about the platform and the way it is showing us just how valuable our editorial content is to our audience."

Advance Local is also a finalist in the Digiday Media Awards, in the category of Best Subscription or Membership Product, for their work using Sophi Content Paywall Engine.

"Advance Local is an incredibly innovative organization that we've watched push the boundaries and we're very excited to be working with them," said Mike O'Neill, Co–Founder and CEO of Sophi.io. "We're seeing great value come from the content paywall they've implemented and we're excited to introduce some other cutting edge technology into this very strong brand."

About Advance Local

Advance Local (www.advancelocal.com) is one of the largest media groups in the United States. It operates 10 leading news and information organizations and reaches 55 million people monthly across multiple platforms with its high–quality journalism. They are dedicated to unrivaled local journalism that improves the lives of millions of people.

About Sophi.io

Sophi.io (https://www.sophi.io) was developed by The Globe and Mail to help content publishers make important strategic and tactical decisions. It is a suite of AI and ML–powered automation, optimization and prediction solutions that include Sophi Site Automation, Sophi for Paywalls and Sophi for First Party Data. Sophi also powers one–click automated laydown of template–free print publishing. Sophi is designed to improve the metrics that matter most to your business, such as subscriber retention and acquisition, engagement, recency, frequency and volume.


Technology for Tracing the Work of Child Labour Could Help End the Practice

A picture exhibited at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour is taken from the book ‘Through their eyes – Visions of forced labour’. This picture was created by Gargalo Vasco Portugal who won an award for his depiction of child labour. Credit: ILO and RHSF, 2021.

A picture exhibited at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour is taken from the book ‘Through their eyes – Visions of forced labour’. This picture was created by Gargalo Vasco Portugal who won an award for his depiction of child labour. Credit: ILO and RHSF, 2021.

By Lyse Comins
DURBAN, May 18 2022 – Technology used to trace the origin and price of consumer goods to ensure farmers earn fair profits could easily be adapted as a tool to fight child labour Fair Trade living wage and income lead Isa Miralles told delegates at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour.

Miralles told a panel discussion that brought together civil society organisations to highlight their crucial role in reaching SDG 8.7 to eliminate child labour and that the organisation’s technological tool could help to raise transparency and accountability regarding child labour practices. The six-day conference takes place in Durban, South Africa, until Friday, 20 May.

The conference aimed at putting the world back on track to meet the 2025 deadline for ending child labour was opened on Sunday by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Two Nobel laureates appealed for resources to end the scourge.

Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi said he “refused to believe that the world is so poor that we cannot protect the children”. During the week high-level delegations have been looking at research, finance and innovation to ensure that children are protected from the practice.

Willy Buloso, Regional Coordinator for Africa of ECPAT International, who leads the organisation’s advocacy work against the sexual exploitation of children in the tourism and travel sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, also highlighted how his organisation’s successes could be adopted to assist in the fight against child labour.

Miralles explained how Fairtrade’s tech-centric approach to using a software tool to trace products throughout the food supply chain, such as farm sources of cocoa and fresh produce in Africa as well as spices in Indonesia, to retail level in the Northern Hemisphere, could also be used to bring transparency to the source of labour used to produced goods. The organisation co-created the tool to guide businesses to support a living wage for food producers and change the way farm trading occurs.

Child labour in Africa is a major challenge as most of the world’s 160 million children entrapped in child labour live on the continent. About 80% of the 92,2 million children trapped in child labour in Africa work in the agricultural sector, usually with their families. The practice is rife in the cocoa sector in the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Fairtrade’s traceability tool could help to create transparency and accountability around this pressing problem, Miralles said.

“We are using the technology to unlock the value of the supply chain for the people at the start of it. We provide the software to trace every action in the supply chain, log in every buyer, trace products from producer to consumer, monitor quality, and whether goods are made by women and whether they are carbon neutral. We are creating a digital passport of our products,”  Miralles said.

“I can request proof a farmer was paid a certain price, and then the buyer can load up the information of the farmer and the price paid. This mechanism is relevant because it can also work to show whether a product is child labour free. We can pass this on through the whole supply chain and create intelligence,” she said.

She said consumers could log into a website, scan a product’s bar code, and find out more about its sourcing, and the tool’s intelligence could also be shared with courts in Europe, where necessary.

“We are bringing this to the consumer, and obviously, it is quite novel,” Miralles said.

She said consumers did not necessarily have to pay a higher price for Fairtrade products. There was leverage in the supply chain to ensure farmers obtained fair prices and that most profits were not made by wealthy Northern Hemisphere retailers.

Buloso, who is working to stamp out the child sex trade that accompanies tourism and travel on the continent, said it was “a great idea” for civil society organisations, not focused on fighting child labour to share insights.

He said the problem of child sexual exploitation did not involve mainly wealthy tourists from the North travelling to Cape Town and Zanzibar, as many assumed, but rather local people engaging in exploitation.

“The state of exploitation of children in prostitution is mostly by perpetrators who are based here in Africa in our countries. Perpetrators are among us,” he said.

Buloso added that 30% of child sex exploitation victims were boys.

“Something we can transfer from our work in (advocating against) sex exploitation of children, to the fight against child labour, is the code of conduct we developed to provide tourism businesses with tools to work together to fight sex exploitation,” Buloso said.

Buloso said the code of conduct, which included six criteria, could be used by organisations fighting against child labour.

The code of conduct criteria included:

  • Establish an internal tourism and travel business policy against the sexual exploitation of children.
  • Businesses must educate and train their employees on preventing and reporting cases of sexual exploitation of children.
  • Businesses must include a zero-tolerance clause in contracts with stakeholders and clients.
  • Businesses must provide tourists with information about the sexual exploitation of children.
  • All tourism and travel industry stakeholders must be supported and provided with key information about the problem.
  • Businesses must report annually on how they uphold the code of conduct.

Augustina Perez, Child Rights Senior Associate at the Bank Information Centre, which partners with civil society to spotlight risks and improve the transparency, accountability, and sustainability of development finance, said the World Bank had been proactive in addressing child labour.

“We have a project in the cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). We know most child labour is in agriculture, and we know that together with Ghana, the country produces 60% of the cocoa in the world,” she said.

“The government (Ivory Coast) is a little resistant to putting child labour on the agenda, but the World Bank has been very proactive and has invited BIC to join a working group. We are trying to raise all the red flags and everything crucial to the Ivory Coast like taking (checking) IDs and addressing the root causes of child labour,” she said.

She said her organisation had presented the problem to the US government.

Ghana deputy minister of employment and labour relations, Bright Wireko-Brobby, speaking during an interview with IPS on the sidelines of the conference, said his government was committed to eradicating child labour. Ghana was the first country to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990 and then adopted it into its national laws.

“In Ghana, mostly the child labour issue can be found in the cocoa-growing areas and also pockets in the fishing and mining industry and the area of trade and commerce,” Wireko-Brobby said.

However, he said his government disputed a report by NORC at the University of Chicago which claimed that there were almost 1,6 million children involved in child labour in the cocoa industry in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

NORC conducted surveys with children aged between 15 and 17 between 2008 and 2019 and revealed that cocoa production had increased by 62% in both countries. The report acknowledged that the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana had implemented education reforms such as free education and compulsory attendance to fight child labour and that school attendance of children from agricultural households rose from 58 to 80 percent in Côte d’Ivoire and 89 to 96 percent in Ghana.

Wireko-Brobby said his country had made gains in the fight against child labour.

“In recent times, we have ensured that every child should be in school. We have provided meals, lunch and breakfast for every child in Ghana. We challenged that commissioned study because we did not believe that despite our interventions, child labour would go higher. We are now domesticating some of the indicators,” he said.

He said his government would welcome an intervention like Fairtrade’s tool to ensure cocoa production is child labour free.

“There is a focus on private sector interventions in the cocoa industry where they are trying to make sure that there is not a point in the supply chain where they can trace child labour. The collaboration between the private sector and the government is strong, and we try to bring it into the mainstream. Every child must be able to enjoy their childhood,” Wireko-Brobby said.

This is one of a series of stories that IPS will publish during the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour in Durban, South Africa.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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Political Will and Partnerships Key to Ending Child Labour, says ILO’s Joni Musabayana

Dr Joni Musabayana, Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says it will take strong commitments and political will to end child labour in Africa. Credit: Fawzia Moodley/IPS

Dr Joni Musabayana, Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says it will take strong commitments and political will to end child labour in Africa. Credit: Fawzia Moodley/IPS

By Fawzia Moodley
Durban, May 18 2022 – With a strong commitment from governments, businesses, labour and consumers, the scourge of child labour can be eliminated, says Dr Joni Musabayana, Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Pretoria, South Africa.

Speaking to IPS in an exclusive interview at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour in Durban, Musabayana was upbeat despite an increase in child labour worldwide. International efforts to end the scourge are under pressure to reach the United Nations goal of ending child labour by 2025.

Musabayana also spoke of the Durban Call To Action – expected to be ratified at the end of the conference.

“It  is not so much about legally binding but to give impetus to accelerate the efforts to address a problem using good practice.”

Musabayana says the sizeable high-level contingent of African delegates is a good sign for the continent, which carries the biggest burden of child labour.

“It is agreed that of the 160 million children in labour, 92 million are on the African continent. The turnout of 60% to 70 % African delegates, just by coming, shows their commitment to redouble their efforts to address this scourge.”

The key drivers of child labour in Africa are agriculture, bonded labour on the farms, mining, fishing, sexual exploitation of young children and informal and domestic work.

“You need multiple stakeholders and an integrated approach. It is not only about the government, but it has to show leadership because the fundamental pillars of solving child labour are largely access to free education, food schemes for children, and child support grants.

“These are policy instruments that South Africa is showing leadership in. Other African countries are following, and they are pointing us in the direction of what needs to be done.”

Political will and partnerships are vital to ending child labour.

Musabayana says: “What we need is extra political will, which we hope this conference will generate, to ensure that these programmes are well resourced, implemented, well monitored.

“Partnerships must be established with civil society, the employers employing child labour, and the unions working with these children.”

He encourages the media to expose instances of child labour, “if I could say to ‘name and shame’ those who continue to perpetuate this abhorrent practice.”

On the issue of global supply chains, he says: “We are happy that the CEOs of Nestle and Cocoa Cola have been with us and other big businesses. (It’s) important to see that they do not find it acceptable to source products and services made and facilitated through child labour.

Talking is not enough, though.

“It is not enough to make this point but crucial to cut off access to goods and services associated in their value chain with child labour.”

Musabayana adds: “Most critical is the end consumer, whether in China or the US or indeed the African continent or in Europe. I think everybody abhors products and services got through child labour, and we need to highlight which products are on the market and why end consumers should disassociate themselves with them.”

It’s emerged that many child labourers are employed by their own families. Musabayana blames this on poverty, saying no parent “willingly says I will send my child to work in a farm using hazardous chemicals.”

Therefore, the ILO seeks social protection for vulnerable families “to ensure that no one falls below a certain level of human survival.”

It also supports social support grants and basic income grants.

“These are policy instruments to ensure that families are not in such want and hunger, and in such need that they feel it necessary to use children to augment the family income.”

But where will the money come from?

“Clearly, the affordability of social security packages is a necessary debate, but we will always start by saying if you think it’s expensive to have a social protection plan, try the alternative.

“What kind of a society would we have?  We already have a fairly unequal society, and then what happens if we don’t take clear measures to ensure that those at the bottom of the pyramid lead a decent life,” Musabayana asks.

Earlier this week Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi told the conference the estimated cost of a social protection package for all children was 53 billion US dollars per annum.

As for a decent living wage, Musabayana says: “The ILO has supported the concept of a national minimum wage and the principle of collective bargaining so that working people must negotiate with their employers an agreement on what is a fair remuneration.”

The ILO also supports a national living wage. But Musabayana says it must be done responsibly: “We must have a gradual approach so that it is affordable and businesses that are supposed to carry this cost are still able to make a profit because we must not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.”

“I don’t think we should give up now and throw out hands in the air. We must ensure that come 2025, we can say – we did accelerate, we did remove many children, but more importantly, we should make sure no more children are entering the child labour.”

New Medicines May Help End AIDS– but High Prices & Monopolies Could Keep the Poor Locked Out

A man is tested for HIV at a health centre in Odienné, Côte d’Ivoire. Credit: UNICEF/Frank Dejongh

By Matthew Kavanagh and Eamonn Murphy
WASHINGTON DC, May 18 2022 – Here’s the good news: there are a new set of breakthrough medicines to prevent and treat HIV, known as “long actings” because they can be taken every few months instead of every day, and they are coming on-stream. If, as they are rolled out, they are made available at scale, they could help save many lives and help end the AIDS pandemic.

But here’s the bad news: on the current trajectory, most people who need them will not be able to get them any time soon, because high prices and monopolies will keep people in low- and middle-income countries locked out. That’s where we are heading – again.

UNAIDS has been convening some of the world’s leading scientists and researchers. They have emphasised to us that long-acting drugs for prevention are available now – an injection every few months that very effectively protects against HIV transmission. It has been approved in the U.S. and the World Health Organization (WHO) is reviewing it now.

And in the near term, there are in addition exciting medicines in development for long-acting treatment – which could make it far easier for people to stay on life-long HIV treatment, even when their lives make getting pills every day difficult.

New HIV prevention tools like long-acting pre-exposure prophylactic (PrEP) are particularly needed to fight the ongoing pandemic. In 2020, a year for which the world had set a collective goal of reducing new infections below 500,000, there were, in fact, 1.5 million; and in too many communities new HIV infections are rising.

Long-acting injectable PrEP could help fill critical HIV prevention needs for those facing the worlds’ highest HIV risks – particularly those whose lives, logistics, and legal contexts make accessing and taking oral prep challenging.

This includes people facing discrimination, including gay men, transgender people, sex workers, and people who use drugs in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe. Young African women, facing far higher risks than young men of their age, also need new HIV prevention options.

Studies have shown many people want a long-acting option, and indeed an estimated 74 million people around the world use long-acting injections to prevent pregnancy. Carefully done studies presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) showed long-acting PrEP can prevent more new infections than taking a pill every day.

If and when WHO endorses its use, the world should move fast to make it available at scale. The best way to ensure this breakthrough science translates into a global game-changer it is to make it available free to all who choose it.

UN member states agreed a new Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS last year that sets an ambitious goal of getting access to PrEP for 11 million people by 2025. For this to be possible, the governments and institutions who will need to make large scale purchases will need to be able to do so at a price that they can afford.

Right now, in the U.S. long-acting PrEP costs tens of thousands of dollars. But members of UNAIDS’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) assess that long-acting prep can be manufactured affordably – tens of dollars instead of tens of thousands. It would be possible for prices to come down whilst ensuring continued profitability for producers.

For treatment, the science is also moving rapidly and promising technologies on the way could be transformative. As of last year, 28.2 million people were on HIV treatment – that’s over 10 billion times every year people living with HIV take a pill.

But 10 million more people still need access to HIV treatment. If people could choose a pill that lasted a week or an injection that lasted months it would make it easier for many to start and sustain treatment – saving lives and stopping HIV transmission.

One key structural barrier that jeopardizes widespread access is the fact that production of these medicines is so far monopolized by a tiny number of companies based in a tiny number of countries, keeping prices high and limiting (and concentrating) supply. We know from experience (on the first ARVs, on the second generation of ARVs, and with COVID-19 vaccines and medicines) that this barrier can only be overcome through intervention.

When treatment for HIV first became available in the late 1990s, ARV monopolies meant the price was over $10,000 per person per year, a price far out of reach for the millions of people living with HIV.

As a consequence,12 million Africans died. Mass use of antiretrovirals to stop AIDS came only when low- and middle-income countries defied pressure and triggered generic competition, and when global civil society pressured Western governments and companies to stop working to block them.

That experience led the world to say never again to allowing people in developing countries to be locked out access to life-saving medical technology. But the same exclusionary and deadly approach has denied Africa access to sufficient vaccines in the COVID-19 crisis.

And on the current trajectory we are on course to repeat the story with new HIV medicines. It could be years before new drugs becoming available in New York or London ever reach those who need them most in Manila, Freetown, Maputo, Sao Paolo and Port-au-Prince.

An alternative approach is available, that ensures the translation of science into impact. Manufacturers of HIV drugs can set prices at affordable levels for low- and middle-income countries. To secure this for the long term, generic production in low- and middle-income countries is essential.

To do that we have to overcome monopolies. Pooling patents and pro-actively transferring technology can make it possible for a wider set of manufacturers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to make long-acting ARVs at low costs. This must be standard practice – and the sharing of information can start even before regulatory approval for use.

Of course, price and local production are not the only barriers to ensuring effective use. Some public health systems may require global solidarity and support to purchase commodities, with logistics and storage, training for effective provision, and engaging communities to ensure demand and treatment literacy for retention. The joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and our partners, are providing support on all of these.

Building from emergency action on COVID-19, we need to end inequalities in access right across health technologies, by spurring the best science and getting it to everyone, investing in all health innovations as global public goods.

To stop today’s pandemics and to prevent future pandemics, it is vital to move from monopolizing knowledge about lifesaving health technologies to sharing it worldwide. We need to reform rules on the protection of intellectual property that have failed us in these pandemics, so that access to life-saving science is no longer dependent on the passport you hold or the money in your pocket.

We need governments to use their powers to compel sharing of pandemic science and technology and ways to compel companies and countries to use WHO-led mechanisms. We need to separate incentives for innovation from monopolies on manufacturing. Monopolies constrain supply, perpetuate unaffordable prices, widen inequalities, and have proven an unreliable driver of innovation, especially for those health issues that disproportionately impact people living in poverty.

We need to invest now in building health production capacity all over the world. We need to prioritise investment in universities and other public research institutions to enhance our technical capacity to develop medical technologies for all.

We can end the AIDS pandemic. And the COVID-19 pandemic. And stop the pandemics of the future. But we are not on track – in part because biomedical breakthroughs are not getting to those who need them most. If we act on long-acting ARVs, many people who would otherwise have acquired HIV will not. People living with HIV who would otherwise have died of AIDS will not. And the well-being and dignity of people at risk of or living with HIV can be enhanced.

Equitable global access to pandemic-fighting technologies cannot be achieved through the default operation of the market alone. It is policy and practice dependent. Work on those policies cannot wait until all those technologies have been rolled out at scale in rich countries, but needs to be accelerated now.

Leaders from civil society networks, especially those led by people living with HIV and by key populations, are calling for us to act now to ensure global access to new HIV technologies. We can and we should.

Shared science will save lives and stop pandemics.

IPS UN Bureau

 


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Excerpt:

The writers are Deputy Executive Directors of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

Oil Business Burns Enough Gas to Power the Whole Sub-Sahara or Two Thirds of Europe

Global gas flaring increased to 144 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2021 from 142 bcm in 2020. It is estimated that each cubic metre of associated gas flared results in about 2.8 kilograms of CO2-equivalent emissions. Credit: public domain

Global gas flaring increased to 144 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2021 from 142 bcm in 2020. It is estimated that each cubic metre of associated gas flared results in about 2.8 kilograms of CO2-equivalent emissions. Credit: public domain

By Baher Kamal
MADRID, May 18 2022 – While the attention of mostly Western media and politicians is quasi exclusively hoarded up by the proxy war in Ukraine and its consequences on the energy sector, the world’s big oil business continues to burn Planet Earth with its underreported though highly polluting, wasteful practice of gas flaring.

This is anything but a minor issue: in fact, as much as 144 billion cubic metres of gas was flared at upstream oil and gas facilities in just one year-2021. Such an amount caused the emission of 400 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, according to the World Bank.

Ten countries account for three-quarters of gas flaring. Out of these ten, seven oil producing countries –Russia, Iraq, Iran, the United States, Venezuela, Algeria, and Nigeria — have remained the top seven consistently over the last ten years, according to a World Bank report

Flaring is “a monumental waste of a valuable natural resource” that should either be used for productive purposes, such as generating power, or conserved.

 

Enough to power the whole sub-Saharan Africa…

For instance, the amount of gas that is currently flared each year – about 144 billion cubic metres – could power the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank explains.

 

… And to generate 65% of Europe’s domestic power

However, the world still flared enough gas to generate approximately 1,800 Terawatt hours (TWh) of energy, almost two-thirds of the European Union’s net domestic electricity generation.

 

But, what is gas flaring?

Gas flaring is the burning of natural gas associated with oil extraction. The practice has persisted from the beginning of oil production over 160 years ago and takes place due to a range of issues, from market and economic constraints, to a lack of appropriate regulation and political will, explains the World Bank.

Its Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) report estimates that global gas flaring increased to 144 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2021 from 142 bcm in 2020.

“Gas flaring contributes to climate change and impacts the environment through emission of CO2, black carbon and other pollutants. It is estimated that each cubic metre of associated gas flared results in about 2.8 kilograms of CO2-equivalent emissions.”

 

Ten countries account for 75% of gas flaring

In its May 2022 report, the World Bank also specifies that just ten countries account for three-quarters of gas flaring.

Out of these ten, seven oil producing countries –Russia, Iraq, Iran, the United States, Venezuela, Algeria, and Nigeria — have remained the top seven consistently over the last ten years.

Ending flaring and methane emissions is key to the energy transition, nevertheless the global progress to reduce it has stalled over the last decade, further underscoring the urgency to accelerate the decarbonisation of the world’s economies.

 

Subsidising climate disastres

In spite of the scientifically evidenced fact that oil, gas and carbon industry is one of the major contributors to global warming, politicians continue to subsidise the fossil fuels business with shocking amounts of taxpayers money.

In fact, in a 2021 study: Still Not Getting Energy Prices Right: A Global and Country Update of Fossil Fuel Subsidies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that globally, fossil fuel subsidies were 5.9 trillion US dollars in 2020 or about 6.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And that such subsidies are expected to rise to 7.4 percent of GDP in 2025.

In the case of the United States, the government provides a heavy public subsidy to petroleum companies, with major tax breaks at virtually every stage of oil exploration and extraction, including the costs of oil field leases and drilling equipment.

 

The grim picture

The profit-making fossil fuels sector appears not to care about the real dangers of growing climate emergencies.

Such emergencies are already here. For instance, there is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial level for at least one of the next five years – and the likelihood is increasing with time, according to a new climate update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

There is a 93% likelihood of at least one year between 2022-2026 becoming the warmest on record and dislodging 2016 from the top ranking.

The chance of the five-year average for 2022-2026 being higher than the last five years (2017-2021) is also 93%, according to the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, produced by the United Kingdom’s Met Office, the WMO lead centre for such predictions.

 

Not just a random statistic

The chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5°C has risen steadily since 2015, when it was close to zero. For the years between 2017 and 2021, there was a 10% chance of exceedance. That probability has increased to nearly 50% for the 2022-2026 period, the WMO on 9 May 2022 reported.

“This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – that we are getting measurably closer to temporarily reaching the lower target of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The 1.5°C figure is not some random statistic.

“It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

 

The looming dangers

“For as long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise. And alongside that, our oceans will continue to become warmer and more acidic, sea ice and glaciers will continue to melt, sea level will continue to rise and our weather will become more extreme. Arctic warming is disproportionately high and what happens in the Arctic affects all of us.”

 

More bla, bla, bla?

The 2015 Paris Agreement sets long-term goals to guide all nations to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 °C while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 °C.

Meanwhile, under heavy pressures by big business, politicians continue to pour empty promises, fixing new never-to-be-met commitments, cackling in world sumits and international big gatherings. What for?