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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Indigenous Forest Guardians: Good or Bad?

Empowering Indigenous Peoples with their Own Lands

Studies show Indigenous people are the best custodians of the planet's threatened forests.

By Paola Totaro
 
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Granting formal land rights to indigenous people living in the world's tropical forests is among the most effective, but underused, ways to stop illegal deforestation that fuels violence, poverty and global warming, according to new research.

Local communities are best equipped to safeguard valuable forests, and those with strong land rights are the most effective, said a raft of studies presented this week at the World Bank's annual Land and Poverty Conference.

A representative from the Maya Leaders Alliance, Belize, addresses the crowd on behalf
of award winners at the Equator Prize ceremony in Paris. Image: Eco-Business
Deforestation is known to be detrimental to the earth's climate. Clearing woodlands for agriculture and grazing, and fires that often follow, is responsible for about one-tenth of carbon emissions that contribute to a dangerous rise in global temperatures, researchers say.

Shrinking forests can cause poverty and conflicts as well, as local residents are forced to compete for fewer resources.

A six-nation study for the World Bank's Program on Forests found deforestation rates are significantly lower where communities have legal rights to the forests and government support for management and enforcement, compared with areas elsewhere.

"Critical links" exist among land security, local economic development, biodiversity conservation and reduced carbon emissions, it said.

Research from Indonesia showed conflict over land was minimized and investment was encouraged when local communities were involved in designing transportation corridors around proposed mining projects.
Another study from Indonesia showed granting long-term rights over mangrove swamps to indigenous people has better protected the critical coastal ecosystems than in areas where the endangered buffers between land and sea are not locally managed.

Less than a fifth of the world's population has formal land rights, or tenure.

"Granting communal land rights to indigenous inhabitants of tropical forests is among the most underused and effective solutions to reducing deforestation that fuels climate change," said Peter Veit, director of the Washington-based World Resources Institute's land rights initiative.

"Securing rights also has implications for reducing poverty and conflict," he said.

More than 1,500 land rights specialists converged on the U.S capital this week to share their findings.
The use of giant swathes of information such as advanced satellite imagery can identify patterns such as water use in land rights and land management, said Andrew Steer, head of the WRI and a former World Bank Special Envoy for Climate Change.

"We can show water risk, make future projections of population, use crowd sourcing and cloud computing in a way that is transforming how water is used by private companies and indigenous communities," he said.
Many papers highlighted challenges posed to developing nations by big mining and agricultural industries that are using technology to gain access to remote regions.

Nevertheless, researchers said indigenous peoples and campaigners working with them are harnessing technology as well to expose illegal deforestation or land use and seek remedies and justice.

The research is significant to help back up indigenous communities' claims that they are the best custodians of global forests.

 Map illustrating that tropical regions contain 20% of the world's carbon. More
science reveals that these areas must remain natural for the survival of the planet.

Some critics have claimed remote tropical forests looked after by indigenous groups are protected due to a lack of development pressure rather than good management techniques.

An estimated 15 percent of the world's forest cover remains untouched.

Brazil, once a leader in slowing deforestation, has recently been accused of rolling back gains made by providing land rights to rural people in the face of recession and a political crisis.

The World Bank estimates that forest ecosystems cover a fifth of the land in Latin America, representing half of the world's tropical forests.
 

Reporting by Paola Totaro, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org/


Commentary: Indigenous peoples are in great danger globally as their territorial rights are being challenged by corporations and states that want to claim natural resources, often indigenous people are in the way and now for the first time in history there is a chance to perpetually preserve global biodiversity and what remains of our natural world with these spectacular people. Their freedom is our freedom, but theirs is at greater risk while at great disadvantage without empowerment to defend themselves and their rights as human beings.

Read more about forest carbon and indigenous peoples in Toward a Common Baseline of Carbon Storage on Collective Lands and Tropical Forest Carbon in Indigenous Territories; A Global Analysis.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Global Goals serve as a Doorway to the Future

Making the Universal Agenda Truly Universal

Director of the Sustainable Development Goals Fund

NEW YORK, Nov 17 2016 (IPS) - One of the key features of the 2030 Agenda which the United Nations and member states identified in the lead up to the SDG agreement was the principle of universality.

After managing to get the pivotal agreement on the global framework for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon last year, it is now critical to continue this momentum and understand the opportunities and challenges it creates for the private sector as partners in sustainable development efforts.

Building on our interest to tip the scales and generate greater private sector engagement, the UN Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG Fund) in collaboration with its Private Sector Advisory Group and the Global Compact examined these questions through a new report, Universality and the SDGs: A Business Perspective. The report, launched last week highlights varied perspectives from both large and small companies working to understand the commonality of the new development agenda.

Universality in this context is defined by the UN as “applicable to all countries, while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development that respect national policies and principles.” Thus the notion of Universality also envisions that everyone has a role to play in development and poverty alleviation efforts framing the development agenda.

The business community has, and continues to be deemed an important partner for us, serving as a critical economic engine and multiplier to catalyze economic and social development programs in our 23 joint programs around the world. The task at hand is to now reinforce this commitment and ensure that companies of all sizes and sectors are properly aware of the new SDGs.

To this end, the outcomes of the report were based on a year-long series of workshops and dialogues and reflected input from over 100 firms across a variety of regions and industry sectors. These findings stemming from countless interviews and in-depth questions were not unexpected and mainly in-line with our experience at the SDG Fund. We found that companies were keen to address the new set of goals which they viewed as critical to their core business activities, but many firms still struggled to fully understand the depth of the goals.

The report also mirrored some of our unique experience working with the private sector. For example, while many firms are already working in areas linked to the SDGs, this work is not always associated with the same “UN” or development language. In fact, many companies articulate the “global goals” using other mechanisms, including using other metrics or reporting based on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) indicators or other industry standards.

The new report offers some other useful findings. First, companies both small and large are increasingly aware of the concept of the SDGs, but many firms did not fully grasp the intricacies of the SDGs in context of their work or internal operations.

In addition, although many companies find a clear and added value to framing sustainability initiatives through the SDGs which provide a unified set of globally accepted principles–many companies are still accustomed to working within the confines of their philanthropic and CSR programs.

Despite a strong willingness to embrace the SDGs, many companies are exploring how to best integrate the SDGs into their work. But perhaps the most compelling case for the SDG Fund’s continued efforts to engage companies in a “co-design, co-invest and co-implement policy” is that the private sector remains eager to work on global challenges.

Companies continue to express their desire to be brought into the process to build innovative and robust multi-stakeholder partnerships at the local level and very often with UN partners.

Undoubtedly, with the one-year anniversary of the 2030 agenda approaching in January, this new report reminds us that the UN can and should play a more active role in educating and informing companies on the “universal” dimensions of the SDGs.

It is also important to continue to translate the new agenda into language and simplified reporting metrics that are palatable for businesses of all sizes – all of which means greater education on how companies can integrate the SDGs in their value chains, disseminate accessible resources and tools to promote learning, and support implementation and alignment across sectors.

In the end, the universality principle embedded in the SDGs provides a clear invitation for action and alignment to advance the new development agenda.

We hope to continue to raise public awareness and foster the much needed dialogue and advocacy required to encourage business to support the SDGs. In addition, our report highlights additional information on the ongoing work of the SDG Fund, including Private Sector Advisory Group case studies that continue to build the case for greater engagement in development, especially across sectors and with welcome actors like the private sector.

Source: -IPSNews

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Global Identity Principles (ID4D)

15 global organizations issue new principles for inclusive, secure identification in the developing world



In its ongoing effort to fight poverty, the World Bank has joined with a number of international partners, issuing a list of 10 key principles to ensure proper identification for citizens in the developing world, particularly with the aid of modern technology.

Entitled Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Towards a Digital Age, the new guidelines have been endorsed by a range of organizations from varying industries, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and Mastercard.

The newly announced principles are part of a global effort to enable more inclusive and robust identification systems. The United Nations have targeted to provide legal identity for all, including birth registration, by 2030, and the guidelines look to help organizations do their part to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal.

“Given the size and complexity of the global identification gap, no single country, international organization, NGO, or private sector partner can surmount this challenge by working alone — coordination is needed at global, regional and national levels,” Vyjayanti Desai, ID4D program manager at World Bank Group, told One World Identity. “This effort is one step towards shaping a shared vision to advance progress globally.”


The list of 10 principles are broken in to three larger categories:
  • Inclusion, with the goal of universal coverage and accessibility
  • Design, aiming for robust, secure, responsive and sustainable methods of identity
  • Governance, building trust by protecting privacy and user rights
The principles were drawn up with the belief that every person has the right to participate fully in their society and economy. But full participation can be difficult without any verifiable proof of identity.
“No one should face the indignity of exclusion, nor be denied the opportunity to realize their full potential, exercise their rights, or share in progress,” the guidelines state. “No one should be left behind.”

Full details can be found in the full report, but the short list of 10 guiding principles are as follows:
  • Inclusion:
    • 1. Ensuring universal coverage for individuals from birth to death, free from discrimination.
    • 2. Removing barriers to access and usage and disparities in the availability of information and technology.
  • Design:
    • 3. Establishing a robust — unique, secure, and accurate — identity.
    • 4. Creating a platform that is inter-operable and responsive
      to the needs of various users.
    • 5. Using open standards and ensuring vendor and technology neutrality.
    • 6. Protecting user privacy and control through system design.
    • 7. Planning for financial and operational sustainability
      without compromising accessibility.
  • Governance:
    • 8. Safeguarding data privacy, security, and user rights through a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework.
    • 9. Establishing clear institutional mandates and accountability.
    • 10. Enforcing legal and trust frameworks though independent oversight and adjudication of grievances.
Republished from One World Identity (OWI) blog.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Indigenous Lands: Most Valuable Property on the Planet

Indigenous Peoples Lands Guard 80 Percent of World’s Biodiversity

Baher Kamal - Inter Press Service

They are more than 370 million self-identified peoples in some 70 countries around the world. In Latin America alone there are over 400 groups, each with a distinct language and culture, though the biggest concentration is in Asia and the Pacific– with an estimated 70 per cent. And their traditional lands guard over 80 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity.

Download Report from the World Bank
They are the indigenous peoples.

They have rich and ancient cultures and view their social, economic, environmental and spiritual systems as interdependent. And they make valuable contributions to the world’s heritage thanks to their traditional knowledge and their understanding of ecosystem management.

“But they are also among the world’s most vulnerable, marginalized and disadvantaged groups. And they have in-depth, varied and locally rooted knowledge of the natural world, “says the Rome-based International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD).

“Unfortunately, indigenous peoples too often pay a price for being different and far too frequently face discrimination,” the Fund, which hosts on Feb 10 and 13 on Rome the Global Meeting of the Indigenous People Forum in the Italian capital.

During this biennial meeting, the United Nations specialized agency will bring together representatives of Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations from across the world, as well as leaders of partner bodies to engage in a direct dialogue and improve participation of indigenous peoples in the Fund’s country programs.

Over the centuries, the Indigenous peoples “have been dispossessed of their lands, territories and resources and, as a consequence, have often lost control over their own way of life. Worldwide, they account for 5 per cent of the population, but represent 15 per cent of those living in poverty.”

One of the most effective ways to enable indigenous peoples to overcome poverty, it adds, is to support their efforts to shape and direct their own destinies, and to ensure that they are the co-creators and co-managers of development initiatives.

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly on Sep. 13, 2007, establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world’s indigenous peoples.

The Declaration addresses individual and collective rights; cultural rights and identity; and rights to education, health, employment and language. And it outlaws discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them.

It also ensures their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own priorities in economic, social and cultural development. The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on Aug. 9 every year.
Announcing the Forum, IFAD noted that it has more than 30 years of experience working with indigenous peoples. In fact, since 2003, an average of about 22 per cent of the Fund’s annual lending has supported initiatives for indigenous peoples, mainly in Asia and Latin America.

Since 2007, it has administered the Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility (IPAF). Through small grants of up to 50,000 dollars, it supports the aspirations of indigenous peoples by funding micro-projects that strengthen their culture, identity, knowledge, natural resources, and intellectual-property and human rights.

To help translate policy commitments into action, it has established an Indigenous Peoples’ Forum that promotes a process of dialogue and consultation among indigenous peoples’ organizations, IFAD staff and member states.

The Fund empowers communities to participate fully in determining strategies for their development and to pursue their own goals and visions by strengthening grass-roots organizations and local governance.

Land is not only crucial to the survival of indigenous peoples, as it is for most poor rural people – it is central to their identities, the Fund reports. “They have a deep spiritual relationship to their ancestral territories. Moreover, when they have secure access to land, they also have a firm base from which to improve their livelihoods.”

According to this international Fund, indigenous peoples and their knowledge systems have a special role to play in the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources.

Indigenous Women’s Untapped Potential

Also named “bank of the poorest” as it provides grants and low-interest credits to the poorest rural communities, recognises indigenous women’s untapped potential as stewards of natural resources and biodiversity, as guardians of cultural diversity, and as peace brokers in conflict mitigation.

Nonetheless, it says, indigenous women are often the most disadvantaged members of their communities because of their limited access to education, assets and credit, and their exclusion from decision-making processes.

This ‘bank of the poorest’ is a specialised agency of the United Nations, which was established as an international financial institution in 1977, being one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference, which was organised in response to the food crises of the early 1970s that primarily affected the Sahelian countries of Africa.

That world conference resolved that “an International Fund for Agricultural Development should be established immediately to finance agricultural development projects primarily for food production in the developing countries.”

One of the most important insights emerging from the Conference was that the causes of food insecurity and famine were not so much failures in food production but structural problems relating to poverty, and to the fact that the majority of the developing world’s poor populations were concentrated in rural areas.

Since its creation, IFAD invested 18.4 billion dollars to help 464 million rural poor people.

Republished from Morung Express

Sunday, February 12, 2017

United Nations Global Citizen Essay Contest

UN launches Many Languages for 2017, One World Student Essay Contest

Win a 10 day Expense Paid Trip to New York and meet the Secretary General


Minsk, 7 February (Belarus News) – The United Nations has launched the fourth edition of the Many Languages, One World Student Essay Contest, BelTA learned from the United Nations Department of Public Information in Belarus.

The United Nations Academic Impact, a program of the Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information, and ELS Educational Services invite full-time college and university students 18 years of age or older to take part in the fourth Many Languages, One World Student Essay Contest.

The essay must be 2,000 words or fewer and written in one of the official languages of the United Nations (English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, or French). It must discuss global citizenship and cultural understanding, and the role that multilingual ability can play in fostering these. The essay submission deadline is 16 March.

The winners will be invited to attend the 2017 Many Languages, One World Global Youth Forum to be hosted by Northeastern University. They will be awarded with an all-expense paid trip to Boston and New York City between 15-26 July 2017. The forum participants will present their views at the UN Headquarters in New York and create action plans related to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.