Saturday, October 27, 2018

We’re altering the climate so severely that we’ll soon face apocalyptic repercussions. Sucking carbon dioxide out of the air could save us.

That's why the NAS took a thorough look at potential negative-emissions technologies.

"Most climate mitigation efforts are intended to decrease the rate at which people add carbon from fossil fuel reservoirs to the atmosphere. We focused on the reverse - technologies that take carbon out of the air and put it back into ecosystems and the land," Stephen Pacala, a professor at Princeton University and chair of the committee behind the report, said in a statement.

The authors looked at a variety of strategies. As Kate Gordon, a fellow at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, described it, the approaches range "from literally planting trees and agricultural practices that help keep carbon in the ground, all the way to engineered technological solutions that actually take carbon directly out of the atmosphere through machines."

On the simpler end of the spectrum are options like re-foresting areas that have been logged and using no-till farming practices that keep more carbon in soil. Then there are ways to burn biological material (which traps carbon as it grows) to create energy and catch the CO2 they emit before it gets into the air. "

" A more promising option, they said, is to invest in technologies that essentially filter out CO2 molecules from the air around us. These technologies are still in early development stages, but usually involve materials that naturally attract and bind with carbon.

"It's like draining a bathtub — like pulling the plug and letting a little bit of the water out. It's actually not that sophisticated or crazy," Gordon told Business Insider.

That carbon would then get concentrated and stored, perhaps by injecting it into pores in deep underground rock, which is essentially where it came from in the first place. There's not much limit to how much CO2 these potential technologies could capture and store.

We need this kind of intervention immediately, according to the authors. " Read More

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Climate Change: Five Cheap Ways To Remove Co2 From The Atmosphere


But a new assessment from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says that some of these “negative emissions technologies” are ready to be deployed, on a large scale, right now.

The authors point to the fact that the US Congress has recently passed the 45Q tax rule, which gives a $50 tax credit for every tonne of CO2 that’s captured and stored. So their study highlights some technologies that are available at between $20 and $100 per tonne.

Coastal blue carbon

This report says that there is a lot of potential for increasing the amount of carbon that is stored in living plants and sediments found in the marshy lands near the sea shore and on the edges of river estuaries. They include mangroves, tidal areas and seagrass beds.

Together, these wetlands contain the highest carbon stocks per unit area of any ecosystem.

The National Academies study says that by creating new wetlands and restoring and protecting these fringe areas, there is the potential to more than double the current rate of carbon extracted from the atmosphere.

What’s more the study says that this is quite a cheap option, where carbon can be captured for around $20 a tonne.

The downsides, though, are that these coastal ecosystems are some of the most threatened areas on Earth, with an estimated 340,000 to 980,000 hectares being destroyed each year.

When you degrade these areas, instead of soaking up CO2 they themselves become significant sources of the gas.

Other problems are that rising seas around the world might swamp and destroy marsh lands. Another restriction is that there just aren’t enough coastal areas.

“Although coastal engineering is very expensive, coastal blue carbon is probably about the lowest cost option that we’ve got,” said Prof Stephen Pacala, from Princeton University, who chaired the report.

“The problem is that the total capacity is not that large.” Read More

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tax havens shielding companies responsible for deforestation and overfishing



The study found that more than two thirds of foreign capital directed to Brazil’s soy and beef sectors between 2000 and 2011, as recorded by the Central Bank of Brazil, was channelled through tax havens. Soy and beef farming have been associated with deforestation in the Amazon.

During the period studied, almost $27bn of foreign capital was transferred to key companies within these sectors, and of this about $18.4bn came through tax havens, with the Cayman Islands most commonly used.


(https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/13/tax-havens-shielding-companies-deforestation-overfishing

Friday, October 12, 2018

Why we should all have a basic income


Consider for a moment that from this day forward, on the first day of every month, around $1,000 is deposited into your bank account – because you are a citizen. This income is independent of every other source of income and guarantees you a monthly starting salary above the poverty line for the rest of your life.

What do you do? Possibly of more importance, what don’t you do? How does this firm foundation of economic security and positive freedom affect your present and future decisions, from the work you choose to the relationships you maintain, to the risks you take?

The idea is called unconditional or universal basic income, or UBI. It’s like social security for all, and it’s taking root within minds around the world and across the entire political spectrum, for a multitude of converging reasons. Rising inequality, decades of stagnant wages, the transformation of lifelong careers into sub-hourly tasks, exponentially advancing technology like robots and deep neural networks increasingly capable of replacing potentially half of all human labour, world-changing events like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump – all of these and more are pointing to the need to start permanently guaranteeing everyone at least some income.

A promise of equal opportunity - http://bit.ly/2Pvr0WF

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the World Wide Web

Tim Berners-Lee


Exclusive: Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the World Wide Web

Last week, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, asked me to come and see a project he has been working on almost as long as the web itself. It’s a crisp autumn day in Boston, where Berners-Lee works out of an office above a boxing gym. After politely offering me a cup of coffee, he leads us into a sparse conference room. At one end of a long table is a battered laptop covered with stickers. Here, on this computer, he is working on a plan to radically alter how all of us live and work on the web.

“The intent is world domination,” Berners-Lee says with a wry smile. The British-born scientist is known for his dry sense of humor. But in this case, he is not joking.

This week, Berners-Lee will launch Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.

“We have to do it now,” he says, displaying an intensity and urgency that is uncharacteristic for this soft-spoken academic. “It’s a historical moment.” Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people’s data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee has felt an imperative to get this digital idyll into the real world. In a post published this weekend, Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. The company will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building. Read More

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Case for Climate Reparations

The mounting price tag of extreme weather events and the prospect of greater destruction to come have brought into focus a question that has been lurking at the edges of climate change conversations: Who should pay the costs of the death and destruction caused by human-driven global warming?

Hurricane Maria Destruction - Puerto Rico

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report stating that during the past decade, the government had spent more than $350 billion in response to climate-change-related extreme weather events. "Climate change impacts are already costing the federal government money," the report said, "and these costs will likely increase over time."

That's an understatement. In 2017, extraordinary wildfires, floods, and storms pummeled large sections of the United States and led to never-before-seen destruction. The complex of fires that torched California's Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties in October caused more than $10 billion in damages, making them the most expensive wildfires in U.S. history. At least 44 people lost their lives during the firestorm. The surreal Christmas-season fires near Santa Barbara led to another $2.5 billion in destroyed property. In August and September, widespread flooding during Hurricane Harvey caused at least $125 billion in damages in the greater Houston area and contributed to 93 deaths. Hurricane Irma damaged $50 billion worth of property in Florida, while Hurricane Maria's September scouring of Puerto Rico caused another $90 billion in damages. At least 60 people in Puerto Rico died as a direct result of the storm; as many as 1,000 lives may have been lost due to the long-running electricity blackout on the island. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2017 was the most expensive year for natural disasters in U.S. history, costing a total of $306 billion.

The mounting price tag of extreme weather events and the prospect of greater destruction to come have brought into focus a question that has been lurking at the edges of climate change conversations: Who should pay the costs of the death and destruction caused by human-driven global warming? Read More

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Failing State

Where do we go from here?

The Democratic Party, which helped build our system of inverted totalitarianism, is once again held up by many on the left as the savior.
Yet the party steadfastly refuses to address the social inequality that led to the election of Trump and the insurgency by Bernie Sanders. It is deaf, dumb and blind to the very real economic suffering that plagues over half the country.

• It will not fight to pay workers a living wage.
• It will not defy the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to provide Medicare for all.
• It will not curb the voracious appetite of the military that is disemboweling the country and promoting the prosecution of futile and costly foreign wars.
• It will not restore our lost civil liberties, including the right to privacy, freedom from government surveillance, and due process.
• It will not get corporate and dark money out of politics.
• It will not demilitarize our police and reform a prison system that has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population.

It plays to the margins, especially in election seasons, refusing to address substantive political and social problems and instead focusing on narrow cultural issues like gay rights, abortion and gun control in our peculiar species of anti-politics.

All this will soon be compounded by financial collapse. Wall Street banks have been handed $16 trillion in bailouts and other subsidies by the Federal Reserve and Congress at nearly zero percent interest since the 2008 financial collapse. They have used this money, as well as the money saved through the huge tax cuts imposed last year, to buy back their own stock, raising the compensation and bonuses of their managers and thrusting the society deeper into untenable debt peonage. Read More

Sunday, May 6, 2018

20,000 Scientists Have Now Signed 'Warning to Humanity'


A chilling research paper warning about the fate of humanity has received 4,500 additional signatures and endorsements from scientists since it was first released last year.


The paper—"World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice"—was published in November 2017 in the journal Bioscience and quickly received the largest-ever formal support by scientists for a journal article with roughly 15,000 signatories from 184 countries.

Today, the article has collected 20,000 expert endorsements and/or co-signatories, and more are encouraged to add their names.

The "Warning" became one of the most widely discussed research papers in the world. It currently ranks 6th out of 9 million papers on the Altmetric scale, which tracks attention to research. It has also inspired pleas from political leaders from Israel to Canada. Read More

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Islands are pushing forward with efforts to preserve their natural wealth and protect their people from disasters

Islands comb own shores for solutions to environmental pressures


CALVIA, Spain, April 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Island governments around the world are no longer begging for help to tackle the many problems they face - from too many tourists to devastating storms and rising seas - but are finding their own solutions and sharing them, experts say.

There has been a "huge shift" in the past 10 to 15 years, said Kate Brown, executive director of the Global Island Partnership, an alliance spearheaded by island leaders.

Islands no longer present themselves merely as victims of external pressures, but are blazing a trail in areas such as marine conservation, renewable energy and sustainable tourism.

"There is a real difference in thinking - that it is possible to do something and we don't need to wait for other people to tell us what to do," Brown told the Smart Island World Congress in Calvia on the Spanish island of Mallorca this week.

Islands have had successes at international climate talks, she noted - from winning a lower limit on global temperature rise in the Paris climate deal to convincing the world's shipping industry to curb its planet-warming emissions.

Progress is being made on home shores too, Brown said. Her organisation is working with the Marshall Islands, Palau and Fiji, for instance, to see how global development goals apply to them and uniting business and government to map out an action plan - as has been done in Hawaii.

The conference, attended by representatives of more than 100 islands alongside researchers, businesses and other experts, showcased efforts to preserve the natural wealth of islands and protect them better from worsening extreme weather, plastic pollution, uncontrolled tourism and other stresses.
Read More

St George's [Granada] earmarked to become region's first climate resilient city


The Town of St George is earmarked to become the first climate resilient city in the region. The government announced it received approval for another project from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to undertake major infrastructural work.

The GCF team agreed to support Grenada’s request for additional funding for the following actions during 2018:

To build national capacity with an annual disbursement of US$1 million through direct access to the GCF.
A key component of this support is the setting up of a Climate Change Training Centre in Grenada in collaboration with local, regional and international institutions to provide certified training in climate change at the technical, vocational as well as professional levels. The training will target persons in the public and private sectors, as well as communities and civil society actors.

(http://www.nowgrenada.com/2018/04/st-georges-earmarked-to-become-regions-first-climate-resilient-city/)

#centre_of_excellence_cayman_islands

Monday, April 23, 2018

Plastic Bag Taxes and Bans Are Working


Paper or plastic? You've probably heard the question approximately 2.589 billion times. But depending on where you live, that question might have changed in recent years to something like, "Do you want to buy a bag, or did you bring your own?" Now, it doesn't really seem like asking for a measly 5-to-7 cents for a bag could make too big of an impact on the planet — but as it turns out, it does.


(https://curiosity.com/topics/plastic-bag-taxes-and-bans-are-working-curiosity?utm_campaign=daily-digest&utm_source=sendgrid&utm_medium=email

Commonwealth leaders express 'grave concern' about climate change impacts


Climate change risks are pushing millions of people worldwide into poverty, heads of government from the 53-strong Commonwealth warned on Friday evening.

Leaders from the loose coalition issued a statement affirming their commitment to the Paris Agreement at the conclusion of a week-long meeting in London.

With more than half of members coming from small islands and the world’s poorest countries, the summit highlighted their vulnerability to climate-driven disasters and cemented ties with developed countries UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“Heads expressed grave concern that without urgent action to mitigate climate change, reduce vulnerability and increase resilience, the impacts of climate change could push an additional 100 million people into poverty by 2030,” the statement said.

“Heads recognised that temperature and sea level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change are a significant reality and risk to many of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable member countries.”

They called for “innovative financing solutions” and consensus on ways to direct aid to those who need it most.

Another section recognised “the imperative to transition to clean forms of energy”, encouraging members to back the International Solar Alliance and similar initiatives.

Tuvalu prime minister Enele Sopoaga welcomed the “re-focused purpose” on common challenges such as “the existential threat of climate change to the security and survival of peoples of small island developing states”.

“We must save Tuvalu to save the world,” he said.


(http://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/04/23/commonwealth-leaders-express-grave-concern-climate-change-impacts/

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Conservation group in Seychelles launches coral nursery on land


In the Seychelles a Community, an Environmental NGO, a Hotel and a Bank come together in a Public Private Partnership to save coral reefs.

A conservation group from Anse Forbans has launched the first on-land coral nursery project to educate the community and act as a backup plan in case of a major seawater warming effect in Seychelles.

The chairperson of the Anse Forbans Community Conservation Programme, Lisa Booyse, said that Seychelles needs to be prepared as it is fast losing its corals to coral bleaching events and other issues such as human destruction, anchorage and marine pollution.

“It is essential that we maintain our corals for our livelihoods, fish stock and to protect our beaches from erosion and flooding. As a community, we all need to start to realise the situation,” said Booyse.

The project launched last week is an initiative of the Anse Forbans not-for-profit group from the southern Mahe district of Takamaka, in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, DoubleTree Resort and Spa, and the Mauritius Commercial Bank. Read More

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Increasing Likelihood Of Nuclear War Should Straighten Out All Our Priorities


A Russian pilot has been killed by US-armed terrorists in Syria. The Ron Paul Institute‘s Daniel McAdams writes the following about this new development:

“The scenario where a US-backed, US-supplied jihadist group in Syria uses US weapons to shoot down a Russian plane and then murders the pilot on the ground should be seen as a near-nightmare escalation, drawing the US and Russia terrifyingly closer to direct conflict.”

McAdams is not fearmongering; he is stating a plainly obvious fact. The Trump administration has just announced that it is restructuring its nuclear weapons policy to take a more aggressive stance toward Russia than that which was held by the previous administration. This is coming after this administration’s decision to arm Ukraine against Russia, a move Obama refused to take for fear of escalating tensions with Moscow, as well as its decision to continue to occupy Syria in order to effect regime change, along with numerous other escalations. The Council on Foreign Relations, which is without exaggeration as close to the voice of the US establishment as you can possibly get, is now openly admitting that the “United States is currently in a second Cold War with Russia. Read More

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Peak Mexico by Albert Bates


The transformation of México in the second half of the 20th century reads like a fairy tale. The country went from being a tinhorn dictator puppet colony of the Great Powers — a lampoon backdrop in the films of Cantinflas — to a prosperous and trendy middle class democratic socialist country with less absolute poverty than the United States.
In recent years nearly as many USAnians have flocked to the medical centers, second home sites and loan-free universities of México as there are would-be gardeners and tradesmen slipping North. Not that long ago it appeared as though the two countries were in the process of exchanging populations.
In Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse, William R. Catton called our modern humans Homo colossus — those among our kind living in industrial countries and consuming massive amounts of fossil fuels to motivate and control machines that do orders of magnitude more work than humans or animals could do otherwise. Homo colossus is gradually replacing Homo sapiens as industrial development spreads like a cancer across the Earth.
Fossil fuels artificially boosted carrying capacity for human occupancy, at least to outward appearances. It could never last. Read More

2018


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hurricane-hit Caribbean states target future safe from from climate harm


TEPIC, Mexico, Dec 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A group of Caribbean nations, many devastated by recent hurricanes, will work with companies, development banks and other organisations to curb damage from climate change and grow cleanly, under an action plan launched this week.

The countries aim to restructure up to $1 billion in debt to free up cash for coastal defences, switch from costly imported fuels to cheaper green energy, and buffer their communities and economies against the effects of global warming, including rising sea levels and heavier storms and floods.

Angus Friday, Grenada's ambassador to the United States, said the idea was to "inject a new DNA", breaking away from business-as-usual and bureaucratic measures so as to be able to act faster.

"Given the next hurricane season is just seven months around the corner, it's really important we move with the speed of climate change now," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Hurricanes Maria and Irma left a trail of destruction as they crashed through the Caribbean earlier this year, and many low-lying nations fear their infrastructure and economies will be devastated by more powerful storms and encroaching seas.

With many economies in the region plagued by high levels of debt, Caribbean nations have been pushing for rich countries to help bolster their defences and in turn, protect livelihoods.

Eleven nations, including Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica and the British Virgin Islands, signed up to the plan to create a "climate-smart zone", unveiled at the "One Planet" summit in Paris on Tuesday.

The plan's backers include the World Bank, the Nature Conservancy, the Green Climate Fund, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and British businessman Richard Branson, whose Caribbean island Necker was hit by Hurricane Irma.

Branson has pushed for a scheme to help vulnerable islands, centred on replacing outdated fossil-fuel power grids with renewable energy systems that can better withstand extreme weather and boost economic development.

The Caribbean region needs $8 billion to roll out national plans to tackle climate change under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Around $1.3 billion has been pledged to help islands rebuild in the wake of the recent hurricanes, while a further $2.8 billion has been committed through longer-term investment and debt restructuring plans.

The Nature Conservancy, a U.S.-based environmental charity, wants to work with lenders and governments to find ways to restructure $1 billion in sovereign debt and free up funds to invest in the "blue economy", a statement said. More

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cayman, a Digital Republic?

Its government is virtual, borderless, blockchained, and secure.
Has this tiny post-Soviet nation found the way of the future?

Today, [Estonian] citizens can vote from their laptops and challenge parking tickets from home. They do so through the “once only” policy, which dictates that no single piece of information should be entered twice. Instead of having to “prepare” a loan application, applicants have their data—income, debt, savings—pulled from elsewhere in the system. There’s nothing to fill out in doctors’ waiting rooms, because physicians can access their patients’ medical histories. Estonia’s system is keyed to a chip-I.D. card that reduces typically onerous, integrative processes—such as doing taxes—to quick work. “If a couple in love would like to marry, they still have to visit the government location and express their will,” Andrus Kaarelson, a director at the Estonian Information Systems Authority, says. But, apart from transfers of physical property, such as buying a house, all bureaucratic processes can be done online.

Less expensive more efficient government anyone?

Estonia is a Baltic country of 1.3 million people and four million hectares, half of which is forest. Its
government presents this digitization as a cost-saving efficiency and an equalizing force. Digitizing processes reportedly saves the state two per cent of its G.D.P. a year in salaries and expenses. https://goo.gl/iwMb2B

Monday, December 4, 2017

A new Bill to decriminalise small quantities of cannabis was tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday.


Hamilton, Bermuda, Dec 04 2017: The Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalisation of Cannabis) Amendment Act was formally proposed by Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Social Development and Sport.

The Bill would decriminalise quantities of cannabis less than 7 grams.

However, the Bill states police will still have the authority to seize any amount of cannabis, and the minister shall make regulations to provide for substance abuse education or treatment for those found with the drug.

A similar Bill was debated and approved by the House of Assembly in May, but the legislation never reached the Senate due to the timing of the General Election.

While both pieces of legislation were aimed at decriminalising quantities of cannabis less than 7 grams, the latest Bill specifies that the Director of Public Prosecutions can still proceed with charges if there is evidence the drugs were intended for supply.

The new legislation also lacks a commencement date. More

Top Credit Agency to Cities and States: Prepare for Climate Change or Face Lower Credit Rating

Yale E360

Moody’s Investors Service, one of the top credit rating agencies in the world, warned cities and states in the U.S. that unless they prepare for climate change, the agency could lower their credit ratings, making it harder for them to obtain low-interest bonds.

The agency told clients this week that Moody’s analysts examine the climate risks that municipalities and states face and their efforts to plan and prepare for these impacts. These include both long-term threats, such as sea level rise, as well as what Moody’s calls “climate shocks” — extreme weather like floods, droughts, and coastal storms. These impacts, the company said, increase a city or state’s risk of defaulting on a loan. https://goo.gl/xiLj6T

Friday, November 24, 2017

You can't negotiate with a hurricane


It's impossible to negotiate with a hurricane. Or a dying coral reef. Maybe it is unsurprising that 23 years of climate negotiations have not abated the dangerous industrial activity we know causes climate ecocide as well as ecological ecocide. After all, the system used to address the problem is based on trade and commerce, not justice.

The Paris agreement was useful in that it proves we all know and agree that industrial activity is linked to climate change. No government minister or CEO can claim lack of knowledge. What it lacks is legal teeth. Without a crime of ecocide, we cannot hope to seriously address the causes of climate loss and damage.

RE-ARRANGING DECKCHAIRS ON THE TITANIC
The COP23 climate negotiations in Bonn take us no closer to a just outcome. It's like watching an intricate rearranging of deckchairs on the Titanic, complete with special mechanisms, processes and interim reports. The Pacific islands were well represented thanks to Germany, and yet the touching address from young Fijian Timoci Naulusala "it’s not about what, or how, or who, but it’s about what you can do as an individual" sums up the quantum failure of political will as a whole.

For the Monsantos and Rio Tintos of this world, it signals the go-ahead to continue to recklessly disregard their climate and ecological responsibilities. Timoci Naulusala's statement - whilst well meant - implictly accepts the transfer of responsibility away from where it truly lies, from the industrial polluters
https://goo.gl/R6xj76

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Climate change is luring Kodiak bears away from their iconic salmon streams


The researchers found that due to warm spring temperatures on Kodiak, the berries were developing fruit weeks earlier, at the same time as the peak of the salmon migration; 2014 was one of the warmest years on the island since record-keeping began 60 years ago. Although there will continue to be considerable variation in Kodiak's climate, the warming trend is likely to continue.

The research team analyzed the bears' scat to find direct evidence that the bears were consuming the berries and not the salmon.

"An earlier berry crop shut down one of the most iconic predator-prey scenes in nature," said Jonny Armstrong, an ecologist at OSU and member of the research team. "As climate change reschedules ecosystems, species that were once separated in time are now getting a chance to interact--in this case the berries, bears and salmon. This is going to have large impacts that are hard to predict."

For example, birds that depend on bears pulling salmon out of the stream, could be seriously affected, he said. Other far-reaching effects may include changes in bear demographics due to the change in their diet, evolving salmon populations and impacts on plant pollinators.

"It is a strange, indirect effect of climate change," Deacy said. "These bears eat dozens of different foods throughout the year but now two of them are overlapping. This is causing a disruption in the food web that could have profound implications for the ecology of the island."

The abundance of salmon and berries on Kodiak Island are why there are so many bears there, and why they are so large, said Jack Stanford, director emeritus at the University of Montana's Flathead Lake Biological Station and one of the study's co-authors.

"This overlap in their resources forces the bears to make a choice that could in the long run result in fewer bears and/or unexpected changes in ecosystem structure," Stanford said. More

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

It is time for the Cayman Islands to implement bike lanes?

Why Olympian Adam van Koeverden supports bike lanes - People can't be divided neatly into cyclists and motorists, says Adam van Koeverden.

The 2004 winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy, given to Canada's top athlete, is himself a driver on some days, a bike-rider on others. He's not alone. "Most cyclists also spend time in a car, taxi or Uber," he explains. The goal isn't taking sides but finding a way for all road-users to move safely through the city. Toward that end, he supports separated bicycle lanes.

"If there's no lane, it's a scramble," says van Koeverden, who was once sent to hospital after being doored by a truck driver. "But when a lane's been installed there's an order to the road -- there's a place for cars and a place for bikes."

The issue is successful cohabitation: protected lanes allow two- and four-wheeled vehicles to live securely side-by-side.

The two-time world champion and Olympic gold-medallist in sprint kayak likes what he sees in Europe. In Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, for example, the relationship between automobiles and bikes is much less adversarial. There's "less 'us versus them'," he argues. There's an understanding that protected lanes also benefit drivers because "when I'm driving I don't want to hit a cyclist."

As well, European motorists realize that the more people use bikes, the less congestion there is for those taking the car.

Van Koeverden, 35, has been a Toronto cyclist since 2008. His motivation is largely pragmatic. "I use my bike a lot. It makes total sense to save money on parking and gas. It's just practical." In addition to using the bike for commuting, he enjoys riding dirt trails in the city's rugged Don Valley. "It's a little known fact that we have really, really good mountain biking in the heart of the city," he told the Metro newspaper in June.

As a kayaker, van Koeverden spends much time in lakes. Not surprisingly, he has a passion for water, sports and the environment -- issues he generously supports as an ambassador for WaterAid, Right to Play and the David Suzuki Foundation. His charitable work takes him across the country and around the world: Right to Play is supporting Indigenous youth in Canada; WaterAid is building wells in African nations.

Back home in Toronto, he's endorsing the Bloor bike lanes, which come to a council vote this fall. He hopes city hall will make the lanes -- currently a pilot -- into permanent features.

Asked what single message he'd send the mayor regarding the Bloor lanes, he answers succinctly, "Keep them." Their great value, he suggests, is building civic harmony. "I listen to experts and I haven't heard anyone dispute the value of peaceful co-existence between bicycles and autos." More

Saturday, August 19, 2017

IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro and apologises for the immolation of Greece


The International Monetary Fund’s top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory.

This is the lacerating verdict of the IMF’s top watchdog on the fund’s tangled political role in the eurozone debt crisis, the most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions.

While the fund’s actions were understandable in the white heat of the crisis, the harsh truth is that the bailout sacrificed Greece in a “holding action” to save the euro and north European banks. Greece endured the traditional IMF shock of austerity, without the offsetting IMF cure of debt relief and devaluation to restore viability.

It describes a “culture of complacency”, prone to “superficial and mechanistic” analysis, and traces a shocking breakdown in the governance of the IMF, leaving it unclear who is ultimately in charge of this extremely powerful organisation. More

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Vehicle Centric-Towns and Communities

If one wants to walk from AL Thompson's Home Center to Parker's you have to cross the Butterfield round-about.

There is no safe way for me to do so. I and all pedestrians have to risk crossing four lanes of traffic to get to the East side of the round-about, and then after walking North on North Sound Road one have to cross another two lanes to get to Parker's.

Did I mention that there are no Pedestrian Crossings anywhere on the route? Trying to bicycle this route would e even more dangerous.

We need Cycle Lanes and Pedestrian Crossings, or perhaps pedestrian over passes. The few cycle lanes that we do have are not properly maintained and end up being covered with gravel and debris. The outcome of this is that bicyclists ride on the left of the vehicle lane which can be dangerous. Although the Cayman Islands Government has a street sweeping machine it is rarely used. Furthermore, to protect cyclists there would ideally be a curb separating the cycle lane from the vehicle lane.

A few days ago a visitor, trying to cross the street at Owen Roberts International Airport was struck, allegedly by a taxi and is, according to the press, was in intensive care at the George Town Hospital. https://goo.gl/szAqQV The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, reported that 62-year-old Vary Jones Leslie had succumbed to her injuries. She was using the cross walk when she was struck.

Livable Streets https://goo.gl/qto9Ku
People have always lived on streets. Our houses in the Cayman Islands traditionally faced the streets. They have been the places where children first learned about the world, where neighbors met and the social centers of towns and cities.
Paris is fighting pollution and vehicular mayhem, perhaps having realized the their mistake. The city will ban diesel cars and double the number of bike lanes.
When Paris banned cars with even-numbered plates for a day in 2014, pollution dropped by 30%. Now, the city wants to discourage cars from driving in the city center at all.

Chicago-based architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill designed a new residential area for the Chinese city of Chendu.The layout makes it easier to walk than drive, with streets designed so that people can walk anywhere in 15 minutes.
While Chengdu won't completely ban cars, only half the roads in the 80,000-person city will allow vehicles. The firm originally planned to make this happen by 2020, but zoning issues are delaying the deadline. https://goo.gl/fFavMf

Given that the Cayman Islands is one of the highest emitters per capita of carbon dioxide globally, at 9.2 tonnes per capita https://goo.gl/Bf3Ox, it would behoove us, from an environmental point-of-view, as well from a health perspective, to encourage our residents to utilize human powered transport, walking, bicycles as well as low-carbon devices like the Segway transporter.

However, for this to happen we will need designated lanes to separate walkers, cyclists and Segway operators from cars and trucks. To ensure that bicyclists use these lanes the lanes will have to be maintained and swept of debris on a regular basis. I have, unfortunately noticed, on those of our roads that do have bike lanes, riders are forced to ride on the extreme edge of the lane, almost in the vehicle lane, due to there being a build up of gravel and debris from not being maintained.

Bermuda, our colonial neighbor to the north has long striven to curb traffic by limiting the size and quantity of motor vehicles allowed onto the island. Bermuda is smaller than Grand Cayman, having only 23 square miles of land.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Morgan Stanley picks Frankfurt as post-Brexit hub

How will financial institutions deserting London affect the Cayman Islands?

The latest financial institution making plans to relocate jobs away from the UK is Morgan Stanley, which has announced that Frankfurt will become its post-Brexit EU hub, a move that could shift an initial 200 jobs to Germany.

Morgan Stanley joins Standard Chartered and Nomura, both of which also picked Frankfurt as a new EU base, and JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, which are moving jobs out of London to various other centres. Morgan Stanley’s asset management arm is to relocate to Dublin, as several European cities woo jittery banks that will not hang around to see what final deal is hammered out between the UK and Europe before they start looking elsewhere. A competition to host the UK’s bankers post-Brexit would have as its slogan: “Better in than out.”

The key for banks is regulation. The moment it was announced that the UK would leave the single market, the die was cast. Even if Brexit goes smoothly from a regulatory standpoint, which is wishful thinking, certain financial institutions that cater to Europe would need to move onshore, since conducting business would be more expensive otherwise. In some cases, it is mandatory from a compliance perspective that transactions are onshore. The beginning of a flight to Europe is not necessarily a hedge against uncertainty. In many instances, there is no choice.
https://goo.gl/iH1QGy

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Basic income possible solution to human rights problem of poverty


The basic values of the international human rights system are under attack in a new diverse ways in 2017, and one important part of the explanation is the rapidly growing sense of economic insecurity afflicting large segments of societies, said Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

“People feel exposed, vulnerable, overwhelmed and helpless and some are being systematically marginalized both economically and socially,” he said. “But the human rights community has barely engaged with this resulting phenomenon of deep economic insecurity.”

Alston made his statement during the presentation of his report to the Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva throughout June. The focus of the report is “universal basic income” as a means to protect and promote human rights.

“In many respects, basic income offers a bold and imaginative solution to pressing problems that are about to become far more intractable as a result of the directions in which the global economy appears inexorably to be heading,” Alston said. More

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

NBSAP Forum Free Webinar Series are Back

The NBSAP Forum Free Webinar Series are Back. The Forum this time focusses on "Strengthening Indigenous Peoples Capacity Building". Click here to learn more about the speakers and to register for the free webinar series https://goo.gl/eY7bmB.

WEBINAR SERIES ABSTRACT: Since time immemorial, indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) have served as custodians of the environment by protecting and sustainably using a variety of ecosystems. They often live in areas with a high concentration of biodiversity, and their knowledge and practices can be a source of traditional as well as innovative conservation and sustainable development solutions to safeguard the planet. Nevertheless, indigenous peoples’ territories (lands and waters) are increasingly under threat from economic development models that prioritise wealth creation.

As voiced in various workshops supported by UNDP's Equator Initiative, IPLCs are requesting capacity building opportunities that support them to better understand autonomous governance structures; apply international legal frameworks at the national level; learn effective conflict resolution and negotiation skills; and more effectively communicate messages to protect their lands, waters, cultures and well-being.

To help meet these goals, the NBSAP Forum Host Partners and the Equator Initiative are co-hosting a five-part IPLC focused webinar series in July 2017.

Webinar #1: International Law and Indigenous Rights: National Implementation and Access to Justice. 11th July 2017, 9:00 EDT. IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Webinar #2: Derechos de Pueblos Indígenas a la Tierra, el Territorio y a los Recursos Naturales: Estándares Internacionales y Mecanismos de Protección. 13 de Julio 2017, 9:00 EDT. IN SPANISH LANGUAGE

Webinar #3: Indigenous Communities Respond to Threats: Conflict Resolution and Negotiation Strategies. 18th July 2017, 8:00 EDT. IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Webinar #4: Claves para una comunicación intercultural e inclusiva. 25 de Julio de 2017, 10:00 EDT. IN SPANISH LANGUAGE

Webinar #5: Indigenous Ubuntu Resurgence. 27th July 2017, 10:30 EDT. IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE

REGISTER HERE https://goo.gl/z6fkuA and LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SPEAKERS: https://goo.gl/eY7bmB.

Click here to join the NBSAP Forum httpt://nbsapforum.net/#create-account. Don’t forget to subscribe for our NBSAP Forum YouTube channel!

We look forward to your participation. Thank you

Monday, July 3, 2017

Student’s Post, on NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Summer School on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons

Student’s Post, on NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Summer School on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons, Canada | International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions

Reflections from the Field: A Historian Attends a Science Workshop on Underwater Munitions, 27 June to 1 July 2016.

Pasta http:// Link above in your browser to see pictures related to article.

By Dr. Alex Souchen, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic, and Disarmament Studies

The view was simply magnificent. Looking across Halifax Harbour from Dartmouth, I could see a bustling waterfront full of people and tourist shops. Sea gulls flew overhead while several boats traversed the upper harbour heading out toward the Atlantic Ocean. The breeze was salty, the air was warm, and the skies were clear and sunny. But the beautiful scenery obscured the dangers hidden far below the surface. Along coastlines around the world, a threatening legacy of war and disarmament lays buried in the seabed: dumped conventional and chemical munitions. Primarily thrown in the oceans between the 1920s and 1970s, these tools of death and destruction are now corroding away and polluting their surrounding marine environments with toxic chemicals and carcinogens.

The total amount dumped at sea in the twentieth century remains unknown, but experts estimate that roughly 1 billion tons of conventional and chemical munitions were disposed of in the oceans. Depending on whom you ask, opinions on the dangers will vary. Some scientists believe that underwater munitions should be left where they are and monitored closely for any serious changes, while others consider them an unfolding environmental disaster and advocate for their immediate removal. More

Do We Want George Town Looking Like This?


Cruise Ships in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Our Oceans, Our Islands, Our Future


With the leadership of H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., President of Palau, H.E. Vincent Meriton, Vice-President of Seychelles, The Hon. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier of the British Virgin Islands, Ambassador Spencer Thomas of Grenada, alongside Global Island Partnership members and friends, the Partnership coordinated a series of events that demonstrated the leadership of islands united in strong partnerships to implement Sustainable Development Goal 14 and support strong outcomes for the UN Oceans Conference held in New York at the United Nations.

Download the GLISPA Event Spotlight: Our Oceans, Our Islands, Our Future here.

Since its launch in 2006, the Global Island Partnership has engaged high-level leaders to catalyze US$150 million for island action and assisted 35+ countries to launch or strengthen major sustainable island commitments. The Partnership now has more than 25 members and 30 friends working together to build resilient and sustainable island communities. We welcome entities interested in supporting its mission to apply for membership. Learn more: http://www.glispa.org/participate

Our postal address: IUCN (GLISPA), 1630 Connecticut Ave NW #300, Washington, DC 20009, USA

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Chomsky: ‘US is racing toward the precipice, while the world is trying to save itself

Neoliberalism has been putting the working people of the world in competition with each other, but allowing freedom of capital, and in fact a high degree of protection for capital. So, for example, intellectual property rights are a huge tax on the population,” said Chomsky, who noted Microsoft’s stranglehold on tech patents, and Apple’s tax avoidance schemes as means of depriving ordinary people.

Chomsky, who co-authored the prominent 1992 media study Manufacturing Consent, said that these changes have been pinned by “indoctrination” with opponents marginalized and even dismissed as “anti-American.”

“Aside from the US, I don’t know any other non-totalitarian, non-authoritarian country where the concept even exists. That’s a very striking concept. If you’re critical of policy – you’re anti-American,” said Chomsky. More

Friday, June 9, 2017

Finland's new, weird school 'courses' say a lot about how we teach our kids.

There are mathematicians, sure, or engineers, but even math-heavy jobs still need strong foundations in grammar, technology, and history if they want to be successful. So it's a little weird that American schools divide these subjects so heavily, like they are ingredients in a soup.

In Finland, they're trying a different approach. Rather than teach subjects as dry, separate ingredients, from now on, it's all cooking together.

Finland's concept is called "phenomenon-based learning." Here's how it works:

Rather than focus on one subject like math, students and teachers sit down and pick a real-world topic that interests them — climate change, for example — which is then dissected from different angles. What's the science behind it? How are nations planning on dealing with it? What literature is there about it?

This isn't a replacement for traditional subjects — those are still taught too. Instead, these topic-based studies are their own course and an opportunity to tie a bunch of skills together. The kids learn holistically and use real-world skills (like using technology) to tackle a subject the same way they would as an adult.

Why does this matter for us? Because while American schools struggle, Finland is literally at the top of the education game.


Inside a Finnish classroom in 2005. Photo from Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images.
Finland's schools are extraordinary. Their primary school system was ranked #1 in the world in 2016, according to the World Economic Forum. The United States, for comparison, ranked 39th. In short, we have some things to learn from the Finns.

Finland has been experimenting with phenomenon-based learning since the 1980s. Other schools around the world have too, but thanks to a curriculum change in August 2016, every school in Finland will start adding these special topic-based courses. Each school will be able to tailor the specifics of the idea to fit them best.

Getting kids ready for the real world is tough. There isn't a single magical solution. But this looks like a pretty neat idea.

The program’s not without trade-offs or critics. Some teachers are worried that less able students might struggle to keep up, for instance. But Finnish heads of education, like Anneli Rautiainen, are hoping the benefits will shine through, as the BBC reported.

Education is complicated, but if there's anyone we should be paying attention to, it's Finland.
http://flip.it/nxdhqF

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference (CTEC)


Caribbean economies suffer from some of the highest electricity prices in the world.

Despite their abundance of renewable energy sources, Cayman has a relatively low level of renewable energy penetration; the economy continues to spend a large proportion of its GDP on imported fossil fuels and residents and businesses continue to pay some of the highest electricity bills in the region. This is a common situation among island nations.

There is a clear opportunity for Cayman to emerge as a regional leader in developing solutions to address climate change through the adoption of renewable energy which will reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and provide key environmental, social and economic benefits.

With the Cayman Islands National Energy Policy now in place, a framework for transition is complete and seizing upon that vision will be critical to affecting positive change for the Cayman Islands and all those who follow.

The recent achievements for islands at COP21 provide a strong driver for action focused on carbon reduction goals. Given that Cayman ranks highly among islands as carbon emitters, it is critical that we position ourselves as leaders in carbon reduction and meet the goals set out in the National Energy Policy and the Paris agreement.

Cayman seeks to stand with other islands in the region and across the world to embrace a low carbon future and to stand on the front line of demonstrating solutions to climate change while delivering cheaper, secure, reliable and economically feasible energy solutions.
Who should attend?

Be part of Cayman’s low carbon future by joining an event which seeks to set out our vision, renewable road-map and opportunities.

The event will bring together delegates from public, private and non-profit sectors, underlining our collaborative approach to a sustainable future- government officials, project developers, manufacturers, investors and key players across the non-profit landscape.

Join government official and industry leads and participate in interactive panel discussions that seek to establish what the journey ahead looks like and how we address the challenges and maximise the opportunities.

Make the most of key networking opportunities, bringing together local, regional and global participation.
For More Information and Register

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Carribean Transitionary Energy Conference 2017 - Cayman Islands

WHY CAYMAN? WHY NOW?

Caribbean economies suffer from some of the highest electricity prices in the world. Despite their abundance of renewable energy sources, Cayman has a relatively low level of renewable energy penetration; the economy continues to spend a large proportion of its GDP on imported fossil fuels.

The Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference (CTEC) is about building our resilience as a small nation, about diversifying our energy sector and the way that we do business.

It is about ensuring sustainable social and economic growth through strong leadership, recognising the threat of climate change and the vulnerability of islands across the world and voicing our commitment to take the measures that we can take now. For more Information and Rehistration

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cayman to host transitional energy conference | Cayman Compass

Cayman to host transitional energy conference | Cayman Compass

Ocean conservationist Fabien Cousteau and entrepreneur Richard Branson will be the keynote speakers at the Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference at the Kimpton Seafire Resort in May.

Mr. Cousteau will appear in person at the event, while Mr. Branson will deliver his speech by video link.

The event will feature speeches and discussions on low carbon pathways, commercial opportunities in the sector, and the potential for island nations to increase renewable energy use through new storage technologies. There will also be presentations from the Caribbean Utilities Company and Dart Real Estate and on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, a renewable energy method being piloted in Cayman.

Sponsored by government and the Dart Group and organized by the Cayman Renewable Energy Association, the event is scheduled for May 11 and 12.

James Whittaker, president of CREA, said the Cayman Islands has the opportunity to emerge as a regional leader in the renewable energy sector.

“Cayman seeks to stand with other islands in the region and across the world to embrace a low carbon future and to stand on the front line of delivering secure, reliable and economically feasible clean energy solutions.”

(https://www.caymancompass.com/2017/04/24/cayman-to-host-transitional-energy-conference/

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New self-paced courses! #Law4Dev


International law online courses
New and self-paced!
Investment: $200 USD
UNITAR is pleased to inform that registrations are open for our upcoming and new self-paced online courses on International Law, Environmental Law, Law of International Organizations and Law of Treaties. UNITAR contributes to the implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), sustainable development and peace by delivering capacity development and knowledge sharing initiatives in international law.


International Law

This self-paced course aims to provide you with a comprehensive knowledge of the fundamentals of International Law that is necessary to understand the importance, role and purpose of international law in the contemporary legal order and international community.
Read more and apply!


International Environmental Law

This self-paced course will provide you with the basics of International Environmental Law (IEL) by identifying its sources and fundamental principles, the law-making process, its main actors, the implementation and compliance procedures needed to understand and implement Multilateral Environmental Agreements.
Read more and apply!

Law of International Organizations

This self-paced course aims to provide you with a comprehensive knowledge of the key issues of the
Law of International Organizations that is necessary
to understand the role and position of international organizations in the contemporary legal order.
Read more and apply!

Law of Treaties

This self-paced course aims to provide you with the fundamental theoretical and practical knowledge of
the key issues surrounding the Law of Treaties. You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the provisions of the universal conventions as the sources of the International Law of Treaties and developed critical skills of analysis and interpretation of cases regarding contemporary practice.
Read more and apply!

United Nations Institute for Training and Research
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
http://www.unitar.org/

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Global Green honors Standing Rock Chairman on Feb. 22 at Pre-Oscar Gala

I hope you will​ help Global Green and the Hollywood community stand with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe as we honor Chairman David Archambault, II on February 22 at our 14th Annual Pre-Oscar Gala that will be held at the brand new TAO restaurant in Hollywood.

The gala will be the first opportunity for the Hollywood community to respond to the broad environmental attacks from the new Administration and will raise money and awareness for our efforts locally and nationally to fight for climate initiatives that help communities like the Sioux that are under direct threat. Please find our invitation attached below. I do​ hope you will be able to join us for what promises to be a wonderful and critically important evening. To purchase tickets or tables click here.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

What if we gave universal income to people in biodiversity hotpots?

What if we gave universal income to people in biodiversity hotpots?

Writer and professor, Ashley Dawson, argues in his new book that capitalism is behind our current mass extinction crisis. But installing universal guaranteed income in biodiversity hotspots may be one remedy.

Around five hundred years ago, Europeans brought about the invention of modern day capitalism, a system that was rooted in colonialism, slavery and environmental destruction, according to Dawson.

“Capitalism is an economic system founded on ceaseless expansion,” Dawson, who specializes in Postcolonial studies, said. “It must grow at a compound rate or it will experience convulsive economic and social crises. The contradictions of this system are patently self-evident: an economic system based on infinite expansion must inevitably crash into the natural limits of finite ecosystems.”

Although capitalism has spread over the world in the last half millennium, Dawson argues it didn’t have to be this way.

“The global expansion of capitalism was not a deepening of some inherent human drive to environmental destruction, but a complete transformation in the foundation of human societies, the substitution of an ecocidal and genocidal system for the relatively sustainable social forms that preceded it.” More

Thursday, January 26, 2017

CREA (Cayman Renewable Energy Association) / UCCI Solar Course

CREA (Cayman Renewable Energy Association) in conjunction with UCCI will be holding a renewable energy installation course as listed below.

Week 1 January 30 -February 3 Intermediate Solar Design and Installation course level 1 - 8 to 12 noon and 1pm to 4pm for 5 days
Week 2 No classes
Week 3 February 13-17 Intermediate Solar Design and Installation course level 2 - 8 to 12noon and 1pm to 4pm for 5 days

There will be no weekend or night classes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Monday, June 27, 2016

IOM, Governments Launch Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries in Crisis

IOM, Governments Launch Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries in Crisis
15 June 2016: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched a set of guidelines for improving responses to ensure the wellbeing of migrants in countries experiencing conflict and natural disasters, following the outcome of a government-led, multi-stakeholder initiative launched in May 2014.   The Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) guidelines, released on 10 June 2016, highlight the great diversity of migrants' situations, including: those who may be in an irregular situation; those who are fleeing natural disasters or violence; those who are victims of trafficking or in bonded labor; and those who are traditionally nomadic, such as some indigenous pastoralists. The guidelines were launched at an event in New York on 15 June, to be followed by an event in Geneva on 28 June.   The voluntary, non-binding guidelines include recommended actions for crisis preparedness, emergency responses, and post-crisis actions. The document notes that conflict and disasters often disproportionately affect migrants, who may become stranded or experience greater vulnerability. The IOM report also explains the basic principles underpinning the recommendations, and suggests ways to put the guidelines into practice. These include researching migration trends and demographics, requiring employers to maintain data on migrant workers, carrying out "positive communications" to counter prejudice against migrants, and providing language training to enable migrants to communicate in the language of their host country.   At the UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD) in 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for addressing the plight of stranded migrants, and Peter Sutherland, UN Special Representative for International Migration, called for developing better ways to protect and assist migrants in crisis. Subsequently, the MICIC initiative was launched at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Stockholm, Sweden, in May 2014. The US and Philippines co-chaired the MICIC process, supported by a working group with representatives from the Governments of Australia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica and Ethiopia, the European Commission, IOM, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Centre for Migration Policy and Development (ICMPD) and other partners. IOM served as the secretariat for this initiative, and the US and Australia funded several stakeholder consultations on the issue.   Separately, the EU has supported a four-year project launched in January 2015, known as ‘Migrants in Countries in Crisis; Supporting an Evidence-based Approach for Effective and Cooperative State Action.' This project aims to support and complement the MICIC Initiative through research, regional consultations, and capacity building activities with governments, with particular attention being paid to socio-economic impacts of crises with migration implications. [MICIC Website] [Publication: Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster] [ICMPD Webpage on EU Project]       Read More

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Competency Based Training In Barbados - A Silent Revolution?

 

Young Barbadians sign their contracts for participation in training

“We needed to reduce the rates of accidents during the transfer of cargo resulting from improper rigging of containers at the Bridgetown Port, the major port of entry in Barbados. By training dockers, operators, and cargo supervisors in appropriate lashing and unlashing, as well as securing cargo according to international standards, we will reduce the damage to cargo (…) and increase productivity”

 

The story above is one of the many that emerge from the silent revolution going on in Barbados, one that is transforming how technical and vocational trainingcontributes to the development of the human capital and the competitiveness of this small island of 300,000 people. Behind this revolution is the Competency Based Training Fund (CBTF), an innovative scheme to finance employer-driven, competency-based training initiatives that respond to industry standards and lead to national and international certification of trainees.

The upgrading of the competencies and skills of the island’s workforce has been at the center of Barbados’ Human Resource Development Strategy (HRD) for the last five years. As a result, the central government and the IDB developed the “Skills for the Future Program”, an initiative to improve the quality and relevance of secondary education by strengthening academic core skills and “life skills”; as well as to align the supply and demand for skills by supporting an employer-driven training system. It is in the context of this program that the Competency Based Training Fund (CBTF) emerged as a way to creative productive partnerships between key stakeholders.

The CBTF’s guidelines require employers to partner with training institutions to jointly identify skills gaps and develop competency-based training modules that respond to the needs of their industries. Trainees are then assessed and certified by the national agency, the TVET Council, according to national or international standards. This is a critical change in the way training programs were designed, developed and implemented, because it promotes a closer and more continuous interaction between employers, training providers, and the external assessing/certifying public agency.

This new approach is a shift from traditional training in Barbados where providers defined the content of the training; the development of industry recognized standards and certifications was slow; and the engagement of training institutions with employers was limited.  Moreover, in-house company training by employers was scarce and short-termed, lacking a strategic perspective and the resources needed to develop competency-based standards and certifications.

Evidence of the revolutionary changes initiated by the CBTF two years ago can be seen in the size and nature of training initiatives and, more importantly, in the way in which the program has truly redefined the dynamics of interaction between actors. As of this year, more than 100 proposals in key sectors such as hospitality and tourism, energy, and manufacturing have been submitted as a result of strategic partnerships between employers and training providers.  Out of these 100, the best 25 proposals have been financed and led to the training of almost 4,000 men and women in relevant competency-based programs.

The success of competency-based training is driven by the demand from employers in the key sectors of the Barbadian economy. There is a pipeline of training initiatives underway and new cohorts of graduates need to be assessed and certified.  This has prompted the TVET Council to strengthen its capacity to not only develop new standards in record time but also to modernize the assessment process to make it more efficient.

Initial results based on data collected from both winner proposals as well as non-winning eligible proposals are promising. Results indicate that the introduction of the CBTF has produced a clear increase in the number of firms undergoing competency-based training, in the amount of resources invested in that type of training and in the number of trainees certified. In addition, feedback obtained from the various firms shows that the majority of them have a positive perception about the impact of the training on the productivity of their employees (60%) and their prospects for employability beyond the firm (60 to 80%).

 

A fourth call for proposals is planned for 2016, and as the program enters its next stage, the hope is that success will continue, providing evidence of the potential that better synergy between public and private sector actors can have on the effectiveness of vocational training programs and, ultimately, in the life of thousands of young men and women ready to contribute to their society. The Caribbean and the rest of the region might have lots to learn from small Barbados. More

Friday, June 3, 2016

European Union Overseas Countries and Territories Association Innovation Strategy

The Innovation Strategy

Introduction

The European Union has 22 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) as members of its Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA).  One aim of OCTA is to contribute to the sustainable development of all of the EU’s OCTs, with priority given to innovation, competitiveness and green growth.  Based on this aim, OCTA has developed a dedicated project to spur innovation in OCTs, called ‘Territorial Strategies for Innovation’, which was officially launched on the 6th June 2014 in Brussels.  This project provides technical and demand-driven services to OCT governments.

The European Commission (EC) has allocated a budget of €5m for the ‘Territorial Strategies for Innovation’ project, specifically for technical assistance and the implementation of pilot projects in OCTs.  The technical assistance contract was awarded to Eurecna (Italy) and Egis (France) for a four-year period (April 2014-March 2018) and a core team of experts will be based in Brussels.  The experts will help OCTs to;

  • Establish an innovation strategy;
  • Establish actions plans for implementing the innovation strategy;
  • Create training tools to raise awareness of innovation;
  • Facilitate an innovation network through digital platform and training sessions;
  • Develop regional cooperation.

Accordng to OCTA, the definition for innovation is as follows;

“Innovation is really about responding to change in a creative way; it’s about generating new ideas, conducting R&D, improving processes or revamping products and services. At another level, it’s also a mindset in your business; your employees are always focused on continuous improvement and constantly thinking outside of the box.

 

 In the context of TSI this means changing or creating more effective processes, products and ideas that will increase the likelihood in the OCTs of increasing in competitiveness and achieving sustainable economic growth.”

Territorial Strategies for Innovation in the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands Development Board approved the establishment of the 'Innovation Strategy for the Falklands Islands' in April 2014.  Subsequently, Michael Betts, FIDC Business Relations Manager, was appointed as the Innovation Manager for the Falkland Islands.

 

The first task for the Innovation Manager was to set up an Advisory Board, which was completed in June 2015. The overall purpose of the Advisory Board is to provide advice, experience and knowledge to the Innovation Manager and facilitate the formulation and implementation of an Innovation Strategy for the Falkland Islands.

The Strategy

The Advisory Board agreed a phase of stakeholder consultation to take place in October 2015.  The consultation centred around an Innovation Workshop, which was held on the 16th October 2015 at the FIDF Club.  An Innovation Questionnaire was also produced to capture the views of those who were unable to attend the workshop.  The workshop was structured in a way to gather information regarding the current environment for innovation in the Falklands, barriers that prevent innovation, how innovation can be encouraged, identifying innovation opportunities and the key factors needed to deliver a national innovation strategy.  A total of 31 individuals, from both the public and private sectors, attended the workshop.  The workshop was led by the Innovation Manager, assisted by six facilitators.

The draft Innovation Strategy has been broken down into three parts.  Part A details the stakeholder consultation structure and results, providing the context and outlining the process that has been followed.  Part B is the strategy itself and Part C is the strategy’s Action Plan.  Part C provides the detail of how and when the recommendations, expressed in Part B, will be delivered.  Parts B and C can be found in Appendix A.

Part B is influenced by three elements; (1) the Advisory Board agreed vision for innovation in the Falkland Islands, (2) the results of the Stakeholder Consultation and (3) the OCTA definition for innovation.  Using these three elements as a guide, as well as research regarding innovation strategies adopted by other countries, the Innovation Strategy for the Falklands was drafted.

The Innovation Strategy aims to instil a mentality of innovation throughout the Falkland Islands’ public and private sectors.  This is to be achieved by making innovation a national priority, by specifically encouraging more local and overseas collaboration between the public sector, the private sector and institutions, increased investment in research and development, long-term planning in the development of people, encouraging innovation through the sharing of risk, and the continuous review and improvements to the Innovation Strategy itself.

You can download the Falkland Islands Innovation Strategy by clicking the link below

icon Falkland Islands Innovation Strategy (448.17 kB)