ROSEN, A LEADING LAW FIRM, Encourages Waste Management, Inc. Investors to Secure Counsel Before Important Deadline in Securities Class Action – WM

NEW YORK, June 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WHY: Rosen Law Firm, a global investor rights law firm, reminds purchasers of Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE: WM) redeemable senior notes (the "Notes") between February 13, 2020 and June 23, 2020, inclusive (the "Class Period"), including the following senior redeemable notes issued by WM in May 2019: (i) 2.95% Senior Notes due 2024; (ii) 3.20% Senior Notes due 2026; (iii) 3.45% Senior Notes due 2029; and (iv) 4.00% Senior Notes due 2039, of the important August 8, 2022 lead plaintiff deadline.

SO WHAT: If you purchased Waste Management Notes during the Class Period you may be entitled to compensation without payment of any out of pocket fees or costs through a contingency fee arrangement.

WHAT TO DO NEXT: To join the Waste Management class action, go to https://rosenlegal.com/submit–form/?case_id=6891 or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action. A class action lawsuit has already been filed. If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the Court no later than August 8, 2022. A lead plaintiff is a representative party acting on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation.

WHY ROSEN LAW: We encourage investors to select qualified counsel with a track record of success in leadership roles. Often, firms issuing notices do not have comparable experience, resources or any meaningful peer recognition. Many of these firms do not actually handle securities class actions, but are merely middlemen that refer clients or partner with law firms that actually litigate the cases. Be wise in selecting counsel. The Rosen Law Firm represents investors throughout the globe, concentrating its practice in securities class actions and shareholder derivative litigation. Rosen Law Firm has achieved the largest ever securities class action settlement against a Chinese Company. Rosen Law Firm was Ranked No. 1 by ISS Securities Class Action Services for number of securities class action settlements in 2017. The firm has been ranked in the top 4 each year since 2013 and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for investors. In 2019 alone the firm secured over $438 million for investors. In 2020, founding partner Laurence Rosen was named by law360 as a Titan of Plaintiffs' Bar. Many of the firm's attorneys have been recognized by Lawdragon and Super Lawyers.

DETAILS OF THE CASE: The complaint filed in this class action alleges that throughout the Class Period, defendants made materially false and/or misleading statements, as well as failed to disclose material adverse facts about the Company's business, operations, and prospects. Specifically, defendants failed to disclose to investors that: (1) the U.S. Department of Justice had indicated to Waste Management that it would require Waste Management to divest significantly more assets than the $200 million Antitrust Revenue Threshold; (2) as a result, the merger would not be completed by the End Date; and (3) the Notes would be subject to mandatory redemption at 101% of par. When the true details entered the market, the lawsuit claims that investors suffered damages.

To join the Waste Management class action, go to https://rosenlegal.com/submit–form/?case_id=6891 or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action.

No Class Has Been Certified. Until a class is certified, you are not represented by counsel unless you retain one. You may select counsel of your choice. You may also remain an absent class member and do nothing at this point. An investor's ability to share in any potential future recovery is not dependent upon serving as lead plaintiff.

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Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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International Relief Effort After Deadly Afghan Earthquake Displaces Thousands

Pakistani medics treat Afghan quake survivors on the border of the two countries. More than 1000 were killed and thousands displaced after the 5.9-magnitude quake hit the Paktika and Khost on June 22, 2022. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS

Pakistani medics treat Afghan quake survivors on the border of the two countries. More than 1000 were killed and thousands displaced after the 5.9-magnitude quake hit the Paktika and Khost on June 22, 2022. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS

By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR, Jun 24 2022 – Survivors of the deadly earthquake that hit Afghanistan’s Paktika and Khost provinces told of their losses while being treated in hospitals in neighboring Pakistan after a 5.9-magnitude quake killed at least 1000 and displaced thousands more in the early hours of June 22, 2022.

The Taliban-led government has appealed for assistance, and its neighbor Pakistan was the first responder, sending aid and treating injured people.

A resident of Khost province Abdur Rahim, a daily wager, brought his nine-year-old daughter, Samia Bibi, to the North Waziristan’s hospital. She has a head injury.

Rahim told IPS that they were asleep when the earthquake started.

“My wife and two sons died on the spot, and my daughter sustained head injuries. I ran out after feeling the tremor, and within seconds the roof of our home collapsed,” he said.

A weeping Rahim said he was able to retrieve his daughter from the debris.

“Now, she is improving after getting medication. Doctors will operate upon her when she improves some more.”

Zahoor Shah, from the same province, said all his family members were still under the debris of his mud house, which fell due to the quake. He miraculously survived.

“We were all sleeping and heard the noise made by our house collapsing. I was sleeping near the door, therefore, received fewer injuries,” he said, lying in hospital with fractured legs and hands.

He lost his 38-year-old wife, his son, aged ten, and two daughters, 17 and 18.

Shah, 45, a prayer leader, said that he was thankful for the Pakistani medics.

Pakistan sent humanitarian aid to the Afghan victims, including blankets, tents, and medicine, the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s office said in a statement.

Pakistan ambassador to the United Nations, Munir Akram, urged the international community not to link assistance for the disaster-hit nation with political concerns.

“The humanitarian assistance should not become a victim of geopolitics. UN’s humanitarian principles, including the principles of neutrality and impartiality, must be upheld,” said Akram in New York, according to media reports.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Health said about 30 of Pakistan’s tribespeople, who had gone to adjacent Khost province for business, were also among the dead.

“In line with the government’s directives, we have alerted hospitals to receive injured people from Afghanistan in North Waziristan district located on Afghanistan’s border,” he said.

Pakistan received eight injured people on June 23 from the Khost province for treatment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the number of people crossing the border for treatment rose daily.

“We have imposed an emergency in the hospitals in North Waziristan district located close to Khost province, the epicenter of the earthquake, and have called in all medical staff,” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s health director Dr Ikramullah Khan told IPS.

In addition, Pakistan sent a team of 61 doctors and medical supplies to the affected areas to treat the people.

“Most people required medication for diarrhea, dysentery, and gastroenteritis due to dehydration,” he said. “Ambulances are standing near the border to transport the patients to hospitals. It is an ongoing process as we would provide continuous relief to the needy people.”

Seventeen-year-old Rozina Begum lost her parents and two brothers.

“I was shifted to this hospital by rescue workers. Many say that my parents and brothers are alive, but I don’t believe because I saw their dead bodies with my own eyes,” Begum said.

She said she was to be married in a few months, but now she lay hospitalized at Khalifa Gul Nawaz Hospital, Bannu district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, near North Waziristan. Doctors are expected to operate on her for multiple abdominal injuries within the next few days.

“She is not fit for surgery. We are giving her antibiotics to prevent infection before her surgery,” Dr Kashmala Khan said.

She said that they had already received 30 bags of blood from local donors. Most of the injured people required blood.

“Local people are giving cash and serving food and drinks to the patients. They are donating blankets and clothes as well, “Khan said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted: “The earthquake in Afghanistan is a great tragedy, adding to an already dire humanitarian situation. We grieve for all the lives lost, and the hardships Afghans continue to face. The US is working with our humanitarian partners to send medical teams to help those affected.

The Taliban in Afghanistan has appealed for international support.

Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told IPS from the capital Kabul that they had appealed for international assistance because providing food, shelter, and medicines to those affected by the natural disaster was challenging.

“We welcome UN agencies and international organizations’ donations and help for the people. We have already allocated one billion Afghanis (over 11m USD) (to disaster relief), but we are unable to deal with the situation,” he said.

Rasool Ahmadzai, who works with World Food Programme, said they faced hardships reaching the area because of inclement weather and rain.

“Rescue workers find it extremely difficult to remove the debris and retrieve the bodies. Still, we are re-enforcing efforts to provide food and save the people from starvation,” Ahmadzai said.

Most mud-built homes in southeastern Paktika province were destroyed, and he said it was difficult to reach the victims.

“Displaced population also require shelter, and UNHCR is working to donate the needful, but the task isn’t easy,” he said.

He elaborated that the roads were in shambles, and mobile phones were not working, hampering rescue work.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the agency was “fully mobilized” in Afghanistan.

“My heart goes out to the people of Afghanistan who are already reeling from the impact of years of conflict, economic hardship, and hunger. I convey my deep condolences to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” Guterres said.

After an Afghan foreign ministry spokesman said the Taliban would welcome international help, US President Joe Biden directed USAID and other federal government entities to assess how they could respond.

Salahuddin Ayubi, a spokesman for the Afghanistan interior ministry, feared the death toll was likely to rise “as some of the villages were in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details.”

Ayubi said that most of the houses had been reduced to rubble, and bodies swathed in blankets could be seen lying on the ground.
IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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Digital Technology Buoys Indonesian Catfish Farmers

Men working for Edy Prasetyo harvesting catfish in Indramayu, West Java, take a break on a recent day. Credit: Kafil Yamin/IPS

By Kafil Yamin
INDRAMAYU, Indonesia, Jun 24 2022 – For years Indramayu has been known as one of Indonesia’s rice centres. The district in West Java is the country’s number one rice producer, generating 1.3 million tonnes of husked rice in 2021, according to Indonesia’s Centre of Statistics (BPS). The country’s total rice production was 54 million tonnes.

What we witness as we drive to the district confirms the rice-dominant economy. Paddy fields stretch on the right and left as far as the eye can see. This is early June, traditionally the start of the harvest, but the plants are still green, indicating that the harvest is still months away.

It is also a clear sign that the paddy growing cycle has changed, due to a shift in climate.

Ironically, Indramayu was one of the five poorest districts in West Java in 2021, according to the BPS report, which also revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic increased the number of poor in Indramayu by 13 percent.

Even before the pandemic, Indramayu was a pocket of poverty in Indonesia. The majority of people in the paddy-dominant district are not land-owning farmers but farm labourers or landless growers.

Paddy fields are labour-intensive only during planting season and harvest, which take place three times a year on average. That leaves three to four months as free time for landless farmers. Both men and women migrate to the capital Jakarta, 240 km away, to find temporary jobs, before returning to Indramayu for the harvest.

 

Labour migration decreasing

Global climate change has been disrupting these patterns — of planting, harvesting, and migration. But one silver lining of this disruption is that landless growers have begun to find alternative livelihoods without migrating to Jakarta. Fish farming is a popular choice in the coastal district.

Indramayu farmers started making ponds along the seashore to raise tiger prawns, a popular commodity. But this farming is vulnerable to incursions from the ocean, including tidal waves.

That’s why Edy Prasetyo, 46, chose to enter the catfish farming business in 2001. Twenty-one years later, Prasetyo has 69 ponds in Soge village, Kandanghaur sub-district.

In recent years catfish has become a favourite street food for middle and low-income people in almost all major cities in Indonesia. Demand is so high that in the Jakarta area, where most Indramayu catfish is sold, shortages are common. Seeing the opportunity, some young local growers have become rich quick.

It’s demanding work, Prasetyo tells an IPS reporter on a recent visit. “We have to stick to a fixed feeding schedule, including during the night and when it rains. Imagine walking around the ponds in heavy rain and throwing catfish food into them. I have 69 ponds. I need at least 10 people to do it.”

But now, new technology is making the farmers’ lives easier. In October 2020, FAO Indonesia and Bogor Agriculture University (IPB) introduced technology known as eFishery to Prasetyo’s village. After a short training he and other catfish farmers began to adopt the system, particularly a digital automatic fish feeder.

Invented by a graduate of Indonesia’s Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Gibran Huzaifah, the auto-feeder connects through the internet to farmers’ smartphones. There they can set the breed of fish, feeding schedules and the amount of food pellets to drop into the ponds.

 

Gunawan, 47, a catfish farmer in Ciseeng, West Java, has been using the auto-feeder since 2019. Credit: Kafil Yamin/IPS

 

Detects level of hunger

The auto-feeder is equipped with an in-water, vibration-based sensor that is able to read the movements of hungry versus full fish. Guided by the farmer’s feeding schedule, when the artificial intelligence detects hunger, it releases the amount of feed required. This avoids over or underfeeding the fish.

The auto-feeder connects through the internet to farmers’ smartphones. There they can set the breed of fish, feeding schedules and the amount of food pellets to drop into the ponds

The eFishery’s sensors collect and store real time data, such as feed volumes and consumption levels. Farmers can access this through eFishery’s web and mobile apps on their smartphone, tablet or computer and make any needed changes to the feeding.

“This is the kind of technology we need,” says Prasetyo. “It cuts time spent for feeding the catfish and saves a lot of energy.”

With eFishery, production has increased 25-30 percent, says the farmer, adding that he has more time to spend on other things. Additional benefits of the technology include that the size and weight of the catfish can be controlled and the water quality is monitored.

While Prasetyo spoke, several men placed buckets of catfish on weighing scales and then transferred them to a small truck, which soon drove out of the village, bound for Jakarta.

Losarang sub-district has now become Indramayu’s catfish centre, with the majority of residents farming the species. Catfish ponds dominate the landscape. “Sixty percent of Indramayu’s 200 hectares of catfish ponds are in Losarang sub-district,” said Thalib, the village head.

The technology and knowledge has spread throughout the area, and Prasetyo’s success story has drawn fishermen from other villages to learn about eFishery.

“This is what Member Nations want. This is what this project is designed for,” said Aziz Elbehri, senior economist at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s Regional Office in Bangkok, who leads the 1,000 Digital Villages Initiative (DVI) for Asia and Pacific.

A global initiative inspired by FAO’s Director-General Mr QU Dongyu, the DVI is being piloted in the Asia-Pacific region. Soge village is among many being showcased and sharing its advancements with other villages and areas in Asia and the Pacific, as well as other regions of the world.

“A successful undertaking in one village should be copied, or in popular terms, replicated to other villages. And this is what is happening here now,” Elbehri told IPS as he and his FAO team visited Soge village on 26 May.

“Indonesia is one of the success stories,” Elbehri said, pointing out several female catfish farmers who joined his visit. As eFishery is a national innovation, the project is also driving national excellence, he added.

 

Challenges remain

Catfish farming is not without challenges. Mardiah, 52, has been farming the species for 26 years. “Sometimes we go through lack of water during prolonged drought, which has caused many of our catfish to die. At other times, we get flooded during heavy rainfall and our ponds are destroyed,” he told IPS, adding that farmers can do little about such natural occurrences. Disease is another serious threat.

But what gives farmers their largest headache is the soaring price of catfish food. “More and more people make fish ponds, while catfish food production remain the same. This make its price soar,” Mardiah said.

Head of the Indramayu Fishery and Marine Office, Edi Umaedi, told IPS that fish ponds cover 560 hectares in his area, more than half of it is used for catfish farming. Last year, Indramayu’s catfish production reached 85,000 tonnes.

Setting up the business is not difficult, added Umaedi, and farmers prefer it because unlike rice, catfish can endure a water shortage and do not require irrigation. “Fish ponds, particularly catfish ponds, do not need a vast amount of land. One pond of 100 or 200 square metres is enough to farm catfish.”

To date, FAO and IPB have established eFishery in 30 villages in West Java and there are plans to expand to other Indonesian provinces.

 

Across Asia and the Pacific, Digitalization of Rural Communities is Leading the Way to a Better Future – But the Goal is to Leave No One Behind

Credit: FAO

By Jong-Jin Kim
BANGKOK, Jun 24 2022 – It wasn’t that long ago that Internet connectivity faded the moment one left a populated area like a city or big town – “no service” was the take-away message back then. But thanks to 3G, 4G and now 5G mobile technology, coupled with widespread installation of cellular towers in rural areas region-wide, that little message shows up much less frequently.

Most importantly, the rapid spread of internet connectivity and mobile telephony, reaching into the most remote rural communities, has resulted in countless opportunities to help address chronic problems such as poverty, malnutrition and inequality.

Investing in an enabling environment to ensure equal access is key to ensuring the benefits of rural digitalization are enjoyed more broadly

From farmers to fishers to herders, digital technologies are increasingly relied upon to help transform and enhance livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people each day. From a smart phone in the hands of a woman or man checking optimal conditions to sow a field, or band together to rent a drone for aerial assessments, to a herder checking the weather, to fishers finding the best places to cast their nets, digital technologies are becoming increasingly accessible, useful and affordable for those in rural areas.

This paradigm shift offers great hope to get this region – and the world – back on track to meet the 2030 SDG deadline.

While this digital revolution sweeping rural areas of Asia and the Pacific holds great promise, not everyone is benefiting equally. Indeed, in some cases, digital technologies can even be disruptive, or lead to unintended consequences by widening, not reducing, the digital divide if their implementations result in a loss of decent work.

This needs to be addressed, and it’s in everyone’s best interests to do so. Policy makers in countries across the region do understand the added value, and they see the economic benefits digitalization of rural areas bring to their nations and people. Hence, investing in an enabling environment to ensure equal access is key to ensuring the benefits of rural digitalization are enjoyed more broadly.

 

Credit: FAO

 

Digitalization of rural areas needed now – more than ever before

Indeed, the move to accelerate implementation of digital technologies, equitably across the region’s rural areas couldn’t come at a more important time. The global pandemic hit rural communities disproportionately hard – particularly with respect to individual livelihoods. Now, as we try to recover from the devastation of COVID-19, we are facing the highest prices for many basic foods – the highest we’ve seen in decades. Higher food costs hit poorer and marginalized communities the hardest, particularly in rural areas, as they must spend a greater proportion of their disposable income to feed their families.

These challenges are compounding an already existing and alarming situation. Last year, prior to the inflation of food commodities, FAO and partners pointed out that many people – at that time – already couldn’t afford a healthy diet in Asia and the Pacific.

By leveraging the advancements offered by digital technologies we can find ways to counter some of these and other devastating negative effects that already existed such as severe weather related events, droughts and floods.

That is already happening in some countries in this region, and they are well on the road to digitalization of even the smallest and most remote villages and towns. And they have good examples to share with their neighbors.

At the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), we’ve been following these trends, policies and initiatives of our Member Nations in the Asia-Pacific region. We know the full scale of their desire and determination to embrace, and fully harness, the potential of digitalization.

For our part, FAO has pledged to assist in bringing together these existing good practices of our Members, and to create a space for others to share their digital solutions as part of FAO’s 1,000 Digital Village Initiative. A key component of this initiative is the Digital Village Knowledge Sharing Platform for Asia-Pacific that can act as a one-stop village square, where those working in the food and agriculture sectors can share their innovations and technologies with us all.

A digital village isn’t necessary a small place. It is a concept – one that is inclusive, operational, country-led and fit-for-purpose to deliver solid benefits to people.

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to make things better for everyone.

Working together, and sharing together, this region’s digital village innovations and technologies can help lead us all to a world of better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life – leaving no one behind!

 

Credit: FAO

 

More information on the Digital Village Initiative:

Join the Knowledge sharing and policy dialogue live (and recorded) – 27 June 2022, Bangkok, and more information about the Programme is here.

At G20, FAO’s Director-General calls for closing of digital divide.

FAO Video on Digital Village Centres empowering farmers in Bangladesh and a social media video here

For more information on FAO’s Digital Village work with our Members in Asia and the Pacific, see here.

For more information on FAO’s Digital Village work with our Members in Africa, see here.

For more information on FAO’ Digital Village work with our Members in Latin America and the Caribbean, see here.

 

Excerpt:

Jong-Jin Kim is Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

A Frightening View: Inside the Eye of the ‘Hurricane of Hunger’

The World Food Programme (WFP) says 41 million people around the world, including in Nigeria (pictured) are at imminent risk of famine. Credit: UNOCHA/ Eve Sabbagh

By Danielle Nierenberg
NEW ORLEANS, Jun 24 2022 – When I first met Dr. Roland Bunch, I have to be honest—he scared me. As one of the most well-respected leaders on agronomy and resilient land management, he offers extremely prescient predictions on how famines take root when soils fail—and also has an admirably clear-eyed view of what we need to do better.

When we first met in the mid-2000s, I was at the Worldwatch Institute and invited him to contribute a chapter to a book I was writing. He described how farmers in Malawi and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were noticing their soil was getting tired.

Maize yields were unpredictable and decreasing year to year—problematic when that’s the crop you depend on most for both consumption and sale to earn your livelihood. Droughts were a major concern, but Dr. Bunch understood that farmers were, rightly, more worried about loss of soil fertility.

Droughts and depleted soils can be difficult to distinguish. While fertile soils can soak up and retain what little rain does fall, depleted soils become compacted and water simply runs off, so each problem accentuates the other.

Plus, when farmers are facing infertile soils, they are more likely to move to new areas of land, which unfortunately eats up arable land without regenerating it. And in some cases, folks give up farming altogether and move to cities, where it’s difficult for them to find jobs that match their skills.

He wrote this warning right around the 2007–08 food and financial collapse, which stretched into riots and famines around the globe over the next half-decade. And unfortunately, we may be back where we were then.
Dr. Bunch warns that the coming famine will be a “hurricane of hunger,” which sounds ominous to me and so many of us who work in this space. But things are not hopeless.

Over the past 20 years, one of the so-called solutions that’s been heavily promoted in places like Malawi are fertilizer subsidies and artificial fertilizers—which are not the answer.

We forget that artificial fertilizer should be used sparingly like medicine, to help get farmers over a hump or temporarily boost soil quality to allow for better use of organic matter.

But unfortunately, subsidies have led to farmers becoming dependent on artificial soil amendments and have actively disincentivized growing a more diverse set of crops or using organics to fertilize soils in countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and more.

One of the answers to what we’re seeing around soil infertility are cover crops and ‘green manure’ (which refers not to colorful animal poop but rather the practice of growing certain crops to turn or incorporate back into the soil).

These can be things like bushes, trees, and vines that help improve soil quality, control weeds, and retain water. Other great options are crops like cowpeas and scarlet runner beans, which people can eat.

This is something else we often forget when we’re talking about how to keep folks from being hungry: The foods people have depended on for generations are not only regenerative but also delicious! Farmers have an opportunity,

Roland says, to return to growing these indigenous crops—sometimes called forgotten crops or orphan crops—that are resilient to droughts, have deep root structures to keep water and nutrients in soils, grow perennially so they don’t need to be replanted every year, and taste really, really good.

Between crises like climate change, soil depletion, global conflicts, and Covid’s supply chain fallout, the bottom line—and it’s a sobering one—is that we’re facing a massive famine and that “hurricane of hunger” over the next year.

I’ve talked before in this newsletter about the power of citizen eaters and the participatory democracies Frances Moore Lappé advocates for—but for these ideas to actually translate into powerful results, we need governments that are actively engaging in agriculture.

Roland says it’s possible to end hunger in one generation, and quite inexpensively, but only if we have the will to do so. We’ll need action from leaders in policy, business, and more to invest in helping farmers adopt greener, more regenerative soil practices.

As he says, better soils lead to better lives—which is more urgent now than ever before.

I want to thank and commend Dr. Roland Bunch for his leadership and—seriously—for scaring me. His predictions not only frighten me but also give me hope. He tells us how bad things can be—but also how good things can be if, again, we have that political engagement.

I’ve included more writing from Dr. Bunch and other luminaries in the Learn More section below, and as always, please shoot me an email at danielle@foodtank.com with your perspectives and ideas for how we move forward.

Danielle Nierenberg is President of Food Tank and an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues. She has written extensively on gender and population, the spread of factory farming in the developing world and innovations in sustainable agriculture.

IPS UN Bureau

 


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Digital Tools Complement Organic Farming at Islamic School in Indonesia

Orange trees growing with the help of a digital watering system attached to the water tank on the right side. Al Ittifaq farm, Ciwidey, West Java, Indonesia. Credit: Kompas

By Kafil Yamin
CIWIDEY, West Java, Indonesia, Jun 24 2022 – It appears to be business as usual at the Al-Ittifaq pesantren, the local term for an Islamic boarding school. Yadi and Rezki, both 18, join the subuh, pre-dawn prayer, in the local mosque. After a session of religious meditation, along with other santris, or students, the two study science in a pre-dawn class for about 30 minutes.

Once the session ends, the students know where to go and what to do. They pick up a hoe, shovel and machete and walk together to the school’s farm. The ustadz, or teacher, divides them into groups and issues instructions.

Soon the students no longer look like learners but like young farmers working the land. “This is part of our class lessons. We do this every day,” said Yadi, who is busy planting seeds. “I am planting green onion. But my friends are harvesting it in other side of this farm.”

Soon more business, job and career opportunities will be available in villages than in cities. With digitalization the future for the young generation is in villages

Ridwan Kamil, West Java Governor

The pesantren environment seems ideal for farming. Located in a hilly, mountainous area of Ciwidey, West Java, 170 kilometres or about a 4-hour drive from Jakarta, Al-Ittifaq compound is surrounded by green, in a temperature that hovers between 18C and 22C – cold by tropical standards.

 

Orange grove — with a surprise

Senior teacher Anwar Mustiawan shows a reporter an area where leafy orange trees with white trunks are growing — and what makes the pesantren unique is revealed. Arranged in neat rows, some trees are over two metres tall, others less than one metre. The soil under each one is covered with a tarpaulin, and under it is a sensor that measures the temperature and humidity of the soil. A water hose is attached to each tarpaulin and connected to an auto-watering machine, which joins a huge water tank.

“The machine decides, based on the soil temperature, when to water the soil,” Anwar said. “This is what digital farming technology is all about,” he added.

He also pointed out that the auto-watering machine isn’t used for all crops. “Our students should know the soil temperature and when it is time to water them,” Anwar said.

Also on hand is Aziz Elbehri, the senior economist who leads the 1,000 Digital Villages Initiative (DVI) at the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We are promoting sustainable, resilient and digitalized agricultural and farming practices by assisting policy makers, national and local government to meet the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030,” Elbehri told IPS as he visited the pesantren on 27 June.

“This use of technology needs to be spread and replicated to other rural communities,” he added.

While Al-Ittifaq is at the heart of a thriving farming community, digitalization is giving its inhabitants a further boost.

Everything produced on the farm goes to the Ittifaq cooperative, where students sort, grade, pack, wrap and label items. The enterprise supplies local supermarkets, malls and wholesalers with vegetables and fruits. It also purchases produce grown by local farmers, who have been its business partners since it was established in 1977.

The organization sends at least five tonnes of various vegetables daily to major cities in Indonesia, said the cooperative’s head, Agus Setia Irawan. “The demand is increasing because our product is highly competitive, which suggest that local farmers are capable of producing quality vegetables and fruits.”

That Al-Ittifaq practices organic farming is what makes the difference. “It is public knowledge that our products are planted, grown and processed in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way,” Agus added.

 

A student working on the Al Ittifaq farm, Ciwidey, West Java, Indonesia, June 2022. Credit: Kafil Yamin/IPS.

 

Self-financing farm

The proceeds of the business are used to finance the Ittifaq educational operations. “Our syeikh taught us that a good person is financially self-reliant and does not hope for charity. He makes it into reality. This pesantren is financially self-financing,” said Rezki, another student.

Al-Ittifaq also employs local residents to work on its 14-hectare farm, so that students and local residents toil together. “There are hundreds of people, most of them women, working with us in shifts. We are like a big family here,” Refky added.

The cooperative also partners with five farmers’ groups, each one consisting of 300 farmers who work 70 hectares of land.

Not only has the pesantren made big steps in the agro-industrial business, it has also become the centre of agricultural and agribusiness training for residents, in collaboration with 20 other pesantren in West Java.

And as part of the digitization drive, Ittifaq has started online marketing. Agus said the cooperative has adopted the so-called business-to-business-to-consumer model (B2B2C). By partnering with other businesses, its online e-commerce efforts are able to reach new markets and customers.

“Our virtual marketing is made through an online agricultural store called Alifmart, which offers several features, including a catalogue of products, purchasing mechanism and customer service,” he said.

FAO Representative in Indonesia Rajendra Aryal said that with more and more people having access to the internet, digital agriculture is becoming a main vehicle for transforming Indonesia’s food system.

“Indonesia is an archipelagic country that is struggling to give its people wider access to economic resources. Digitalization of agriculture is coming into play now,” he said.

 

Target — 104 digital villages

West Java’s administration has set the target of digitalizing 104 villages in the province in 2022.

“The villages are selected because they don’t have access to the internet yet. But we have been building internet infrastructure during the last two years. Soon, they are not in the blank spot anymore,” said the head of the West Java Communication and Information Office, Ika Mardiah. “And soon the villages’ potential and products, will be in e-commerce, online transactions and promotion,” she added during a meeting with FAO officials on 26 June.

To date, Mardiah’s office has incorporated 4,225 village enterprises in West Java into the digital business network under her management. “This involves more than 400 products, 12.8 million customers and a huge amount of money,” she said.

According to West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil, soon more business, job and career opportunities will be available in villages than in cities. “With digitalization the future for the young generation is in villages,” he added at the meeting.

Kamil’s administration has succeeded in building three thematic digital villages: one focused on health, which use technology to address the lack of health facilities and specialized doctors. Patients in five pilot areas are able to consult a family doctor online.

The multimedia digital village provides capacity building in digital content-making skills for villagers in the province, while education digital villages are equipped with a so-called Smart Router as a source of education materials that can be accessed by all village residents. The materials are regularly updated.

A global initiative inspired by FAO’s Director-General, Mr QU Dongyu, the DVI is being piloted throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Ciwidey is among many communities being showcased and sharing its advancements with other villages and areas in Asia-Pacific as well as other regions of the world.

Centering Gender in the Next Biodiversity Agenda: A Long Way to Montreal

Mrinalini Rai, head of Women4Biodiversity and leader of the Women’s Caucus at the UN Biodiversity Convention and Cristina Eghenter of World Wildlife Fund for Nature, at a media roundtable at the ongoing UN CBD Working Group 4 meeting in Nairobi. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Mrinalini Rai, head of Women4Biodiversity and leader of the Women’s Caucus at the UN Biodiversity Convention and Cristina Eghenter of World Wildlife Fund for Nature, at a media roundtable at the ongoing UN CBD Working Group 4 meeting in Nairobi. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

By Stella Paul
Nairobi, Jun 24 2022 – “I often hear, ‘What do women have to do with biodiversity?’ And I want to ask them back, ‘What do men have to do (with biodiversity)?’,” says Mrinalini Rai, a prominent gender equality rights advocate at the 4th Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group of the UN Biodiversity Convention, which started this week in Nairobi.

Her comment appears to reflect the frustration women activists feel as their demand for a specific target on gender equality – known as Target 22 – shows few signs of progress.

Target 22 was first submitted last September at the 3rd meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) in Geneva. The target, when summarized, proposes to “ensure women and girls’ equitable access and benefits from conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as their informed and effective participation at all levels of policy and decision making related to biodiversity.”

The target was proposed officially by Costa Rica, with the support of GLURAC – a group comprising 11 countries from Latin America and West Africa which has been since accepted as a point of discussion by the CBD. The GRULAC members are Guatemala, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, and Tanzania.

However, this week in Nairobi, when asked by IPS for their comments on Target 22, the co-chairs of the CBD appeared largely dismissive. “We already have a Gender Action Plan,” said Basile Van Havre – one of the two co-chairs, implying little importance or need for a standalone target.

Unsurprisingly, the draft remains a barely-discussed target on Friday – two days before the current meeting ends.

Gender in Biodiversity and Drafting of Target 22

Ratified by 200 nations, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the first legally binding global treaty. It has three main goals: conserve biological diversity, promote sustainable use of its components, and attain fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the utilization of genetic resources.

The convention’s 14th Conference of the Parties, held in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, in 2018, adopted a decision to develop a new biodiversity framework that builds on the CBD’s 2011-2020 strategic plan known as “Aichi Biodiversity Targets”. The decision also includes “a gender-responsive and gender-balanced process for the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework”.

However, while a lot of progress has been made since 2018 on crafting and shaping the targets for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the Convention has yet to truly center gender issues. Of the 21 targets within the draft Framework, only one target mentions women, and no single target refers to gender. Some parties have stated that since the Gender Plan of Action (GPA) will complement the Framework, there is no need for a standalone target on gender. Feminists and gender equality advocates, however, believe it is critical to have strong integration of gender within the Framework itself to anchor and give life to the Gender Plan of Action.

“What we are saying is that this target is not supposed to be seen as something separate from everything in the GBF. When you adopt a standalone target on gender equality, it will guide all the work being done under the framework and to operationalize the framework including the communications, knowledge management, capacity building and financing of the new mechanism”, says Rai.

Cristina Eghenter, Global Governance Policy Coordinator at World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) links the currently lacking gender-segregated data and how the adoption of Target 22 could help plug the gaps.

“Women’s contribution to biodiversity is often questioned because this contribution is underreported and therefore, undervalued. A standalone target on gender equality would lead to the setting of clear indicators and a monitoring system which would then contribute to the production of gender-segregated data,” Eghenter points out.

Gaining support from other advocacy rights and equity groups

UNCBD Working Group 4 meeting in Nairobi in session. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

UNCBD Working Group 4 meeting in Nairobi in session. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Jennifer Corpuz leads the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IPFB) – a collection of representatives from indigenous governments, indigenous non-governmental organizations, and indigenous scholars and activists that organize around the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

On being asked her stance on a standalone, specific target on gender equality, Corpuz says that she wholeheartedly supports this. “When the GBF has included target 21, it is a natural progression that there should be a target 22”. Corpuz also explains that  Target 21 – the only target to mention women in the GFB, emphasizes indigenous communities and therefore, it will be more helpful to have a standalone target on gender equality that goes beyond women and is inclusive of all genders.

“We, therefore, strongly support Target 22 and hope it will be taken up for adoption at COP15,” she says.

Besides, IIFB and WWF, several other rights and equity advocacy groups are supporting the proposed new target. The Global Youth Biodiversity Network – an advocacy group that is demanding greater focus on youths in the GBF, also has voiced its support for a target on gender equality. Other groups lending their support are the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), the Convention on Biological Diversity Alliance (CBDA), and the Women Caucus at the UNCBD.

Expectation VS Reality

As the Nairobi meeting nears its end – the conference will close on Sunday – there are more meetings of the contacts groups which oversee discussing and finalizing the text of the draft GBF with the negotiation in each meeting turning more intense. However, when it comes to Target 22 – the contact group 4, responsible for discussing and cleaning up the text of both targets related to gender, has had only one reading of the Target 22.

According to Benjamin Schachter, Human Rights Officer on Climate Change and Environment at ORCHR, the text of the target 22 is right now ‘full of brackets’ which indicates there is hardly any agreement among the contact group members discussing the target on its content.

As the GBF is expected to have at least 80% of ‘clean text’ before it is presented by CBD to the parties for discussion and adoption, the question that most people are wondering is if the draft GBF at COP15 includes a target for gender equality at all? Some are even asking if the draft in its current form (full of brackets) can be rejected by the parties altogether if they feel the task to clean it up is too arduous?

Total exclusion is ‘extremely unlikely,’ explains Schafter, explaining the technical process: since the target has been officially proposed by a group of parties and discussed at the contact group, the parties must work harder and get the draft to a shape where it can be considered for consensus building and eventual adoption.

A long way to Montreal

The onus, then, lies equally on parties as well as on groups such as Women4Biodiversity to lobby more parties and gain their support. Already, in the Nairobi meeting, a few more countries including Maldives, Norway, and the EU have expressed their support, taking the total number of supporting parties to 22.

Norway has, in fact,  also proposed an alternative text for the Target which reads Ensure gender equality in the implementation of the global biodiversity framework and the achievement of the 3 objectives of the convention including by recognizing equal rights and access to land and natural resources of women and girls and their meaningful and informed participation in policy and decision-making”

“This language is both cleaner and stronger”, says Schachter.

Mrinalini Rai of Women4Biodiversity agrees: “Norway proposed and supported by American countries a new way to address the rights of gender equality and rights of women to lands and natural resources which is a fantastic improvement and if this new text comes in, it would be monumental step forward for CBD,” she says.

But can the advocates and supporters get 108 remaining countries to read, give input and prepare themselves for an informed discussion in the next five months? Undoubtedly, that remains an arduous task for the nations, requiring manpower, time, and resources.

The Target 22 advocates appear well aware of the challenge ahead: “It is going to be a long road to Montreal,” says Ana di Pangracio of the Convention of Biodiversity Alliance (CBDA).

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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Nuclear-Armed Powers Squander $156.000 Every Minute on Their ‘MAD’ Policy

With more than 13,000 nuclear weapons still held across the globe, “the once unthinkable prospect of nuclear conflict is now back within the realm of possibility.”

Credit: US government

By Baher Kamal
MADRID, Jun 24 2022 – They call it MAD: Mutual Assured Destruction. It is about the nuclear-armed powers’ doctrine of military strategy and national security policy. And they spent on their MAD policy more than 156.000 US dollars, every single minute, in just one year–2021.

According to their MAD doctrine a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by an attacker on a nuclear-armed defender, with second-strike capabilities, would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender.

Nuclear Weapons – The United States spent three times more than the next in line- a whopping 44.2 billion US dollars. China was the only other country crossing the ten billion mark, spending 11.7 billion US dollars. Russia had the third highest spending at 8.6 billion US dollars

Nine countries are classified as nuclear-armed powers, with the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France ranking at the top of the list. Others: India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea.

 

Already before the war now unfolding in Europe

In its report “Squandered: 2021 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending,” the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) reveals that in 2021 –the year before the Russian invasion of Ukraine– nine nuclear-armed states spent 82.4 billion US dollars on these weapons of mass destruction, that’s more than 156,000 US dollars… per minute.

Specifically, the United States spent three times more than the next in line- a whopping 44.2 billion US dollars, reports ICAN. China was the only other country crossing the ten billion mark, spending 11.7 billion US dollars.

Russia had the third-highest spending at 8.6 billion US dollars, though the United Kingdom’s 6.8 billion US dollars, and the French 5.9 billion, weren’t so far behind. ICAN adds that India, Israel and Pakistan also each spent over a billion on their arsenals, while North Korea spent 642 million US dollars, according to the 2017 Nobel Peace laureate: ICAN.

 

Arsenals expected to grow

Another prestigious global peace research body, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on 13 June 2022 launched the findings of its Yearbook 2022, which assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security.

One key finding is that despite a marginal decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2021, nuclear arsenals are expected to grow over the coming decade.

The nine nuclear-armed states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea —continue to modernise their nuclear arsenals and although the total number of nuclear weapons declined slightly between January 2021 and January 2022, the number will probably increase in the next decade, SIPRI reports.

 

90% of all nukes, in the hands of Russia and the U.S.

Russia and the USA together possess over 90% of all nuclear weapons.

Of the total inventory of an estimated 12.705 warheads at the start of 2022, about 9.440 were in military stockpiles for potential use.

Of those, an estimated 3.732 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2000—nearly all of which belonged to Russia or the USA—were kept in a state of “high operational alert,” according to SIPRI’s 2022 Yearbook Global nuclear arsenals are expected to grow as states continue to modernise.

 

Technology adds greater risks

The study Emerging technologies and nuclear weapon risks explains that the specific risks posed by advancements in cyber operations and artificial intelligence are still being discovered, but some risks include:

  • Cyber attacks could manipulate the information decision-makers get to launch nuclear weapons, and interfere with the operation of nuclear weapons themselves;

  • The increased application of advanced machine learning in defence systems can speed up warfare – giving decision-makers even less time to consider whether or not to launch nuclear weapons;

  • Countries may be eager to apply new artificial intelligence technologies before they understand the full implications of these technologies;

  • It is impossible to eliminate the risk of core nuclear weapons systems being hacked or compromised without eliminating nuclear weapons.

 

‘Eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us’

“These [nuclear] weapons offer false promises of security and deterrence – while guaranteeing only destruction, death, and endless brinkmanship,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on 20 June 2022 in a video message to the First Meeting of States Parties to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in Vienna, Austria.

“Let’s eliminate these weapons before they eliminate us.”

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon-related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, or stockpile nuclear weapons, or other nuclear explosive devices.

It was adopted in July 2017 and entered into force in January 2021.

 

‘Recipe for annihilation’

The UN chief also said that the “terrifying lessons” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are fading from memory, referring to the atomic bombing of these two major Japanese cities during the Second World War.

However, with more than 13,000 nuclear weapons still held across the globe, “the once unthinkable prospect of nuclear conflict is now back within the realm of possibility.”

“In a world rife with geopolitical tensions and mistrust, this is a recipe for annihilation. We cannot allow the nuclear weapons wielded by a handful of States to jeopardise all life on our planet. We must stop knocking at Doomsday’s door.”

 

The most destructive instruments of mass murder ever created

ICAN has been repeatedly warning that nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate instruments of mass murder ever created.

The term “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” describes their unique and horrifying effects on people, including lethal harm to those who are not part of the conflicts in which they are used.

 

The world at Doom’s doorstep

While the past year offered glimmers of hope that humankind might reverse its march toward global catastrophe, the Doomsday Clock was set at just 100 seconds to midnight, on 20 January 2022 warned the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

The time is based on continuing and dangerous threats posed by nuclear weapons, climate change, disruptive technologies, and COVID-19.

“All of these factors were exacerbated by “a corrupted information ecosphere that undermines rational decision making.”

“US relations with Russia and China remain tense, with all three countries engaged in an array of nuclear modernization and expansion efforts—including China’s apparent large-scale program to increase its deployment of silo-based long-range nuclear missiles; the push by Russia, China, and the United States to develop hypersonic missiles; and the continued testing of anti-satellite weapons by many nations.”

Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet.