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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

 

Global launch of the International Year of Small Island Developing States
 
Monday, 24 February
UN Headquarters, Trusteeship Council
10:00 am

The United Nations will launch the International Year of Small Islands Developing States to celebrate the economic, social and cultural contributions that this group of countries has made to the world, as well as raise awareness of the challenges they face such as climate change and rising sea levels. The Year will highlight the common links between small islands developing States and other countries, and encourage new partnerships to achieve a sustainable future for generations to come.
 
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the ceremony along with the President of the General Assembly, John W. Ashe. A promotional video for the Year will be showcased followed by statements from senior representatives of small island developing States. The ceremony will close with cultural performances from each of the three small island regions.
 
WHO:            
Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
Mr. John W. Ashe, General Assembly President
Mr. Wu Hongbo, Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on the Small Islands Developing States
Mr. Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of Nauru
Mr. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa
Ms. Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Barbados
Mr. Devanand Virahsawmy, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Mauritius
Mr. Warren Chanansigh, Major Groups Representative

Master of Ceremonies: Mr. Ronald Jumeau, Ambassador of Climate Change and Small Island Developing States, Seychelles
 
The event will be webcast live on UN Web TV. webtv.un.org/
For more information see: www.un.org/islands2014
 Hashtag: #islands2014

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THIS IS A VERY UNUSUAL EVENT AT THE UN – A CELEBRATION OF LIFE FOR DIEING STATES – STATES IN DANGER OF SINKING INTO THE RISING SEAS CAUSED BY THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE GLUTTONY FOR FOSSIL FUELS BY OTHER STATES – WE WILL BE THERE TO REPORT ON THIS AND TO WATCH IF THE OTHERS DO SHOW UP AT THE CELEBRATION. 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Feb 18. 2014

agri-climatmadagascar.blogspot.com/

 

Family farming and climate change

Drought a river in southern Madagascar
According to the FAO, “The family farming protects traditional foods, while contributing to a healthy and balanced diet, the conservation of the world’s agricultural biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources.”
For Madagascar, agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. However, this sector is now in danger. But often, rural households face the new challenges made by climate change, lack of technical expertise and funds, a particularly important level of isolation, etc.. But the most important remaining exposure to climatic and environmental shocks, against which their resilience is very low. The problems of food insecurity are the most immediate consequence of this poverty.
Flooding of rice fields after passing a downpour

However, Madagascar is a country with high rates of endemic biodiversity and rich natural resources. Of those, family farming is very promising because this practice contributes to the management and sustainable use of these resources. Small farmers become key players in the preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change. Of those, sustainable family farming helps fight climate change.



Renewable energy for agriculture: An asset for the Indian Ocean

 

 

IOC, a vast untapped energy potential
Victoria Harbour Wind Farm, Seychelles
Member countries of the Indian Ocean Commission and IOC (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles) are highly dependent on fossil fuels at least 81% primary is imported (oil and coal) . 

In Madagascar, in particular, wood is the main source of household energy. 

Visit one of the turbines

Now the entire region has a vast potential for renewable energies (hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, wave energy etc.).

Underutilized.

Regarding solar energy, for example, the region of the IOC has a tropical climate where all countries in the region are quite sunny throughout the year. About wind energy or energy waves, the majority of countries of the Commission of the Indian Ocean islands are composed of small islands. Seychelles as currently they are developing the field of wind energy. Since 2013, eight turbines (Wind Farm Port Victoria) have been established to contribute up to 12% of all electricity in the Seychelles.
Where is Madagascar?
River Namorona feeding a hydroelectric plant
Madagascar is the largest island among the members of the IOC (5000km range). However, access to electricity is very limited, especially in rural areas. However, 80% of the Malagasy are living in rural areas. Hence, rural electrification through renewable energy is an important measure to promote sustainable development in Madagascar. It is also a key technology in the fight against climate change, which could have a material adverse impact on ecosystems

Visit the River Namorona

fragile Madagascar. Balanced combination of renewable energy, sustainable agriculture helps preserve rainforests. On hydropower, for example, only 1.3% of 7800MW are being exploited.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Probe at UN climate talks after Saudi sign smashed

Saturday, 12 June 2010 10:06
author:Reuters
POLITICS & ECONOMICS / NEWS
by Reuters, Saturday, 12 June 2010

SAUDI STANCE: Saudi angered many by blocking study of global  warming. (Getty Images)

SAUDI STANCE: Saudi angered many by blocking study of global warming. (Getty Images)

UN climate negotiators agreed to an investigation on Friday after protesters smashed a sign emblazoned “Saudi Arabia” and dropped it in toilet after Riyadh blocked a study of deeper cuts in greenhouse gases.

Many countries condemned the protest, after Saudi Arabia blocked a request by small island states at the May 31-June 11 talks for a study of tougher cuts in greenhouse gases to help slow a rise in world sea levels.


Mexico’s delegate Luis Alfonso de Alba, whose country will host the main climate talks in late 2010, said he was initiating an investigation by the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.

Pieces of the smashed Saudi Arabia sign – about 30 cm and placed on a table to identify the delegation during negotiations – were dropped in a toilet and then photographed, delegates said. The pictures were then put up on some walls.

“This is a serious incident. We should fully support that the secretariat should carry out an investigation and the result should be informed to the parties,” Chinese delegate Su Wei said.

Lebanon’s delegate also said that the Saudi flag was abused during a protest in the conference hall after Saudi Arabia blocked the small island state’s push.

Saudi Arabia has often expressed worries at U.N. climate negotiations that a shift towards renewable energies will undermine its oil export earnings.

It opposed the small island state’s push for a study of limiting global warming, saying that wider issues such as the impact on exporters, also had to be taken into account.

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Sabotage to blame for World Cup fiasco – Al Jazeera.

by Andy Sambidge, ArabianBusiness.com, Friday, 11 June 2010

 www.arabianbusiness.com/590311-te…

 www.arabianbusiness.com/590345-al…

Al Jazeera Sport, which suffered major technical problems during its broadcast of the FIFA World Cup to Middle East viewers, has blamed “a deliberate act of sabotage”.

Its exclusive coverage of the South Africa versus Mexico match on Friday was hit by regular transmission problems with fan across the region unable to enjoy the spectacle.

“Al Jazeera Sport would like to condemn the actions of those involved in the deliberate attempts to block its signal during its World Cup broadcasts yesterday,” Al Jazeera Sport said in a statement published by media in Qatar on Saturday.

“Despite its considerable efforts to bring the best coverage to the most possible fans across the Middle East and North Africa including 18 free-to-air games from the group stages, Al Jazeera Sport viewers repeatedly lost their signal through the course of yesterday’s opening fixture,” the statement added.

“This loss of signal was completely beyond Al Jazeera Sport’s control and they share in the frustrations of all those whose enjoyment was spoiled by what was a deliberate act of sabotage.”


Football fans across the Middle East cried foul on Friday as the start of Al Jazeera’s broadcast of the FIFA World Cup was hit by blank screens. Fans across Dubai, including thousands watching at special events across the emirate, reported technical problems.

Hundreds of fans also complained about the problems on Twitter.

Technical problems hit the beginning of the coverage by the Qatar based TV station with its special World Cup channels frozen or broadcasting in the wrong language in a number of countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt.

For most of the first half an hour of the first game between hosts South Africa and Mexico, viewers were left with no picture or a frozen screen.

The issues appeared to have been sorted out shortly before half time but problems persisted throughout the second half of the match.

Broadcasts on the English language channel morphed into French commentary from the start and then the channel went blank. The English commentary only appeared much later in the first half of the game.

The only coverage working throughout was the HD channel broadcasting in Arabic only.

Broadcasting rights across the region are owned by Al Jazeera Sport, and can currently be accessed either by purchasing an Al Jazeera Sports card or through Etisalat’s pay TV E-Vision.

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Al Jazeera has ‘FIFA backing’ to tackle World Cup woes

by Andy Sambidge, Saturday, 12 June 2010, ArabianBusiness.com

BACKUP PLAN: Al Jazeera Sport has implemented its contingency plan  to minimise future World Cup disruption which has been blamed on  saboteurs. (Getty Images)
BACKUP PLAN: Al Jazeera Sport has implemented its contingency plan to minimise future World Cup disruption which has been blamed on saboteurs. (Getty Images)

The general manager of Al Jazeera Sport said on Saturday that the company had implemented a “back up plan” to minimise future disruption to its FIFA World Cup coverage, adding that it had the full backing of FIFA to tackle the problem.

Nasser Al Khelaifi told Arabian Business in a telephone interview that the people responsible for “destroying our signal” would be found “very soon”.

However, later on Saturday, the broadcaster experienced further technical problems, notably during the Argentina v Nigeria match, as protests mounted up on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Al Khelaifi said that the TV station had the “full backing” of World Cup organisers FIFA to find the culprits he accused of deliberately jammed the Nilesat and Arabsat satellites.

In a statement, FIFA said: “FIFA is supporting Al Jazeera in trying to locate the source of the interference in the broadcast of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. FIFA is appalled by any action to try to stop Al Jazeera’s authorised transmissions of the FIFA World Cup as such actions deprive football fans from enjoying the world game in the region. It is not acceptable to FIFA.”

Al Jazeera Sport suffered major technical problems during its broadcast of the opening World Cup match between South Africa versus Mexico on Friday.

Al Khelaifi said: “The people who were responsible did not steal the TV rights of Al Jazeera yesterday, they stole the viewers’ rights because this was a match that was being broadcast free to everyone. Of course we have been in contact with FIFA and they are supporting us to find them [the people responsible].”

He added that Al Jazeera was working with “a number of international specialised companies” to track down the culprits and that he was confident they would be found soon.

In a statement released earlier, the TV company said: “Al Jazeera Sport would like to condemn the actions of those involved in the deliberate attempts to block its signal during its World Cup broadcasts yesterday”, adding that it was a “deliberate act of sabotage”.

Al Khelaifi told Arabian Business that its contingency plan to minimise future disruption was now in operation but added that he could not say if future satellite attacks would happen during the football tournament.

“I think these people are sick,” he said, adding that everything was being done to ensure the best possible TV coverage for the rest of the tournament.

Technical problems hit the beginning of the coverage by the Qatar based TV station with its special World Cup channels frozen or broadcasting in the wrong language in a number of countries across the Middle East.

For most of the first half an hour of the first game between hosts South Africa and Mexico, viewers were left with no picture or a frozen screen.

The issues appeared to have been sorted out shortly before half time but problems persisted throughout the second half of the match.

The second match of the night – France v Uruguay – was unaffected.

Al Khelaifi could not put a figure on how many viewers were affected by the disruption on Friday but said that 85m people had tuned in for Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Champions League Final last month.

Broadcasting rights across the region are exclusively owned by Al Jazeera Sport

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From Jeannette Larue, Coordinator Environmental Education, Ministry of Education, Seychelles. 5/19/2010.

To celebrate Earth Day, the Ministry of Education in Seychelles, organized a public speaking competition for its young people to give their views on climate change. Please find attached an article on the outcomes.

Young Islanders from Seychelles disappointed with COP 15.


Young Islands from the Seychelles islands say that they are “profoundly” disappointed with COP 15 conference. They felt that as future leaders of this planet, and the inheritance of climate change impact, their future is being decided “for” them instead of “with” them.  All these feelings were expressed during a public speaking competition organized by the Ministry of Education to celebrate Earth Day 2010.

Prior to the competition, a workshop was organized for secondary school students, and their teachers, where they learnt about the reasons for organizing such an important conference in December 2009.  They also learnt about the COP 15, the different negotiations which took place there, and looked at the COP 15 Accord.  The competition provided secondary students with an opportunity to give their opinions on COP 15 whereas the Primary ones topic was ‘Stop! We do not want to live in a world of Climate Change.’

The competition was a very tough one, especially for the secondary students which proved that a lot of research was done on the topic. The students concentrated on their position as young islanders.

All teams stated that they were disappointed with the results of COP 15.  One of the team stated that the negotiation should have been an “open, democratic, party driven, transparent, inclusive, legitimate and accountable” but due to the final decisions being made “just between a few” and “behind closed doors” showed that “the super powers’ greed overruled the small island stated needs.”  They felt that as SIDS, ‘life is so unfair’ and that the “superpowers bullied us!!”   They said that even if so much money was spent, people met, voices cried out, in the end, superpowers once again put their self-interest first instead of the health of the planet, though they accepted in the accord that climate change is real.

Anse Boileau team, the winners of the competition argued that even now, days after the meeting, they are still asking themselves whether this whole ordeal really paid off.  They further disputed that the biggest losers from COP 15 are the SIDS and that as young SIDS people they are very disappointed as COP 15 have “failed to meet our expectation for the future.”

They strongly pointed out that “the Accord was not acknowledged by all present …” for decisions were made mainly by the same “major polluters who got to write down what they thought was best for the world.”  In the end they said, “It was not negotiable it was jammed down the throat of the rest of the world” and that SIDS, as major victims were left out. They also said that they were not happy with Maldives who was amongst the final small group which drafted the Accord; they did not defend SIDS enough they said. They felt that there was no transparency in the negotiation and it was undemocratic and asked the audience “Why was such a negotiation held, don’t the rich countries want us, small island to exist?” They said that they supported their Seychellois delegates for not endorsing the agreement made.

The participants of competition also argued that as future victims of climate change and leaders of tomorrow, they felt that “youth were left out of the whole process at Copenhagen.” They said that although many youth were present, they were not included in the final decision making process. For that they say:

“Our future was being decided FOR us, but not WITH us.  They (other youth around the world) like us didn’t feel valued.  I wonder how the rich countries would have felt if they were in our shoes and they have to live to see effect of their decisions.”

One team even stressed that even if their President, James Michel, tried to plead for their survival, it fell upon deaf ears. Similarly, another team sadly put it as “… the Copenhagen conference and its subsequent Accord did not deal Seychelles a fair deal, we were ignored and our request for survival denied.  Our future is at stake, we need to act now’.

One of the teams which came from the second largest residential islands, Praslin, brought forward several examples of how their once beautiful coasts are now being battered by climate change.  They explained that for them “climate change is already a reality, and this issue is of urgency.  Waiting for 2015 to review and consider the reduction of emission is far too late. But then the gravity of the existing problems will have multiplied.”

Some of the teams acknowledged that the accord at least made reference that funding will be needed to assist developing and the least developing countries.  But most of them also stated that too often there are frustrating delays where it comes to accessing large donor funds.  The Praslinois argued that “we felt that money will not solve the existing problem,” and that “much of the money earmarked for climate adaptation, the global community is left resembling an alcoholic who has decided to save up for a liver transplant rather than give up drinking.” They question if the money will bring back their beautiful eroding beaches.

To conclude the teams expressed that they are “disappointed”, “frustrated”, “angered” and “saddened”, especially as the accord was made by “a selected few”. Seychelles youth said that “fear of becoming climate change refugees and loosing our way of life, culture and identify.” Young islanders from Seychelles islands are calling upon world leaders stating that it’s high time “we stop the talk and start walking the talk.” They further stated that “we therefore, reaffirm that the cost of inaction today will be higher tomorrow than the cost of action today.” Stop talking they said, take action to reduce carbon emission for that is our main problem.


They also strongly recommended that at the next COP 16, all government of SIDS, including Seychelles, should have at least one youth representative on their team and that young people must be involved, stop underestimating them they said. They further requested that: “Decision makers need to understand that whatever decision they make today, they may not live to see their outcomes.  We, the youth of island states, we are the frontline of being totally gone, WE NEED TO SURVIVE!  So listen to us, we can help”.

Teams called upon all youths around the world to stand together and ask boldly, in the name of their future that “more be done to make 350 ppm and 1.5 degrees goal a reality to ensure our survival.” The youth from Seychelles also called up upon young people from other SIDS to fight against the decision made at COP 15. “They have not done enough for us, the SIDS,” they said.

“It is now or never.  Now is the time to save our planet.  To do the right thing before it is too late.  We are fighting for 1.5 degrees to stay alive,” they emphasised. They concluded that “we are glad to form part of the global community of young people who are increasingly taking bold steps to protect our planet against climate.” As for world leaders, they are insisting that it is high time to try to take decision “WITH US” they said instead of “FOR US”.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

WIP on our website means WORK (WRITING) IN PROGRESS – or simply unfinished article. When finished the WIP will be taken off but the article will stay in place without the UPDATED designation. Nevertheless, theses introductory lines will remain as a reminder that the article had a long birth.

***

The meeting, August 15, 2008 was chaired by the Ambassador For Palau. Present were also the Ambassadors from Nauru and from Fiji. Many other Missions were represented – some of these missions have representatives on the working committee. Involved are also some of the active NGOs.

At present the sponsors of a resolution to be brought before the UN General Assembly are 11 from among the 14 Pacific Small Island Developing States – Fiji, Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu; the Maldives and Seychelles from non-Pacific SIDS; Canada, the Philippines from among larger States. But these 15 States will pick up many more co-sponsors. Mentioned were Turkey, the EU, Austria and Iceland that have expressed their eagerness to join. There is no opposition we were told – but only some hesitation because it is seen as a new approach to the problem of the humanitarian impact of climate change that goes on already – this while in major UN institutions the debate has not led yet to action. The inhabitants of the small islands of the Pacific are the first to lose their habitat – and what we see is the eradication of UN Member States by this predictable catastrophe.

On our website we announced this encounter between the proponents of the resolution and the NGOs:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)We also pointed out the topically relevant event at the Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart Festival” when Lemi Ponifasio’s REQUIEM had its two evenings before a New York audience.The history of this special effort by the Pacific SIDS started on February 15, 2008, in a speech by Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau, before the UN General Assembly:www.palauun.org/news_archive.cfm?news_id=189Palau Calls for Security Council Action to Protect Island Nations From Sea-Level Rise.

NEW YORK, NY,  www.islandsfirst.org February 15, 2008 — Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations at the High Level Debate on Climate Change, H.E. Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau, citing the “life or death” nature of sea-level rise for the world’s island nations, urged the Security Council to utilize its powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to address this threat to member states by imposing mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards on all member states, and utilizing the power to sanction, if necessary, to encourage compliance with such standards.

He said:
“The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else…Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken…We take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?”

States reacted swiftly to the statement. This week, Ambassadors are meeting in New York to draft a General Assembly Resolution requesting Security Council intervention to prevent an aggravation of the climate change situation caused by greenhouse gas emissions by states. Pacific Island states will be in the forefront of the effort, since they are both the most vulnerable states, and amongst the least responsible for the problem.

Last year, the Security Council debated the security implications of climate change. Its then President, Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett of the United Kingdom, affirmed that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”. Chapter VII of the UN Charter conveys to the Security Council the necessary tools to address the problem, as it has done so in recent years in connection with terrorism and HIV/AIDS. No other international body has the power to mandate change in an effort to save the threatened island cultures of the world.

The full text of Ambassador Beck’s remarks at the UN Climate Change debate is as follows:

“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, friends:

The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else. Salinization of fresh water and formerly productive lands continues apace. The reefs, the foundation of our food chain, experience periodic bleaching and death. Throughout the Pacific, sea level rise has not only generated plans for the relocation of populations, but such relocations are actually in progress. Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken. Larger countries can build dikes, and move to higher ground. This is not feasible for the small island states who must simply stand by and watch their cultures vanish.

Is the United Nations simply powerless to act in the face of this threat to the very existence of many of its member states? We suggest that it is not.

Last April, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom, the Security Council took up the issue of climate change. At that time, while there were some expressions of discomfort with the venue of the debate, a discomfort which we decidedly did not share, there was general agreement with the notion expressed by the President of the Security Council, UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”.

Islands are not the only countries whose existence is threatened. Ambassador Kaire Mbuende of Namibia characterized climate change as a ” a matter of life or death” for his country, observing that ” the developing countries in particular, have been subjected to what could be described as low-intensity biological or chemical warfare. Greenhouse gases are slowly destroying plants, animals and human beings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum at last years Security Council debate Ambassador Robert Aisi, of Papua New Guinea observed that climate change is no less a threat to small island states than the dangers of guns and bombs to larger countries. Pacific Island countries are likely to face massive dislocations of people, similar to flows sparked by conflict, and such circumstances will generate as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis.

Ambassador Aisi observed then, and we reiterate now, that it is the Security Council which is charged with protecting human rights and the integrity and security of States. The Security Council is empowered to make decisions on behalf of all States to take action on threats to international peace and security. While we applaud the efforts of the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General to shine a light on this awful problem, we take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?

Under Article 39 of the Charter, the Security Council “shall determine the existence of any threat to peace…and shall make recommendations…to maintain or restore international peace or security”. We call upon the Security Council to do this in the context of climate change.

Under Articles 40 and 41 of the Charter, it is the obligation of the Security Council to “prevent an aggravation of the situation” and to devise appropriate measures to be carried out by all States to do this. While we Small Island states do not have all the answers, we are not unmindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions by states are the cause of this threat to international security and the existence of our countries. We therefore suggest that the Security Council should consider the imposition of mandatory emission caps on all states and use its power to sanction in order to encourage compliance.

We further propose that under Article 11 of the Charter, the General Assembly is empowered to call to the attention of the Security Council “situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security” and, at the appropriate time, we will call upon this body to do so. In the event that the General Assembly chooses not to avail itself of this right, then we will call upon the countries whose very existence is threatened to utilize Article 34 of the Charter, which empowers each Member State to bring to the attention of the Security Council any issue which “might lead to international friction”.
I think we can all agree that international friction is a mild term to describe the terrible plight in which the island nations now find themselves.

Our Charter provides a way forward. Our Security Council has the wisdom and the tools to address this situation. And while we debate, the waters are rising.

Thank you.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 15th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From: Republic of Botswana (15/7/07): TAUTONA TIMES no 23 of 2007
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President

July 16, 2007 – President’s Day in Botswana.

Today is the eve of President’s Day celebrations in Botswana. Like “Botswana Day”, which every year falls on the anniversary of our nation’s independence, President’s Day is an annual occasion for Batswana to reflect on the fruits of their political sovereignty. The creation of the State Presidency at the time of independence brought to an end a period of eighty-one year’s in which the British Crown had claimed and exercised sovereign rights over Botswana’s territory, much of which was thus demarcated as “Crownlands”.

During the colonial period, imperial sovereignty over Botswana was annually celebrated by the British administration as either “King’s” or “Queen’s” day, an Empire wide tradition that dated back to the time of Queen Victoria (“Mmamosadinyana”). Replacing Queen’s Day with President’s Day thus represented a break from foreign rule to self-rule.

Subsequently, it was also deemed appropriate to mark the 1st of July birth date of Botswana’s first President, Sir Seretse Khama with a separate holiday, while preserving the tradition of President’s Day.

It has also become an informal tradition for local political parties to hold meetings on the President’s Day long weekend. Thus, while H.E. the President has been attending the 32nd National Congress of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), elsewhere around the country there have been similar gatherings of various other political movements that, like stars in a constellation, collectively enlighten this nation’s democratic unity in diversity.

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From the President’s Statement:

CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT

14. Our government has championed citizen empowerment for the past 41 years, and we will continue enthusiastically to do so. A plethora of empowerment schemes exist and have existed as individual projects or as sectoral programmes in our development plans. Since they have not been isolated and highlighted in one document, some people, including members of the BDP have erroneously assumed that we do not have a policy on citizen empowerment.

15. The bottom line is that an enabling environment should exist, wherein all Batswana are empowered with requisite opportunities and skills to enable them to optimise their standard of living. Furthermore, it should be clarified, that most proponents of a stand alone citizen economic empowerment policy often refer to countries that have a preferential treatment policy for a specific segment of their society.

16. In most cases the segment that is being singled out for targeted empowerment tends to be a historically disadvantaged group, but in Botswana our empowerment efforts should and must focus on every single Motswana and not a specified segment of the population as we have all been previously disadvantaged.

POVERTY

17. The BDP Governments have over the years focused aggressively in resourcing the poor in our society. Not only has poverty dropped from 60% in our population in 1985/86 to 28% in 2002/03; a clear indication of our success in our poverty eradication efforts, but we have also very effective safety nets which ensure, that not one Motswana can perish because of hunger.

18. Our safety nets include schemes for the poor, the aged, remote area dwellers, orphans, the disabled and war veterans. As I speak, my government has allocated some P395m to drought relief projects for this year alone. This will provide part time employment for some 180, 000 Batswana the majority of whom would have depended on agriculture had the rains been good.

EMPOWERMENT IN EDUCATION AND LOCAL TRAINING PROGRAMMES

19. Education has been either heavily subsidized or totally free for all Batswana from primary to secondary education. All deserving Batswana continue to get substantial assistance for their education even at tertiary level. These subsidies on education are a targeted investment by the BDP government, intended to provide Batswana, with a springboard they could use to empower themselves.

20. The expansion of the University of Botswana; the planned Botswana International University of Science and Technology; and the Medical School and Training Hospital are recent examples of projects in education aimed at further empowering Batswana for employment and higher calibre job creation. Recently the Ministry of Education started to sponsor students at local private tertiary institutions for Diploma and Degree courses. Over 7000 are now so sponsored. This is empowerment.

SUBSIDISED HEALTHCARE

21. Health care is virtually free in Botswana. Even expensive medications such as ARV’s are availed free of charge. The BDP government is cognisant of the relationship between an individual’s health and their overall ability to command an acceptable living standard.

22. For this reason, we have ensured, on a sustained basis, that our people have the best healthcare we are capable of providing as a nation. The evidence is overwhelming! Our commitment and determination to arrest the spread of HIV/AIDS is total and unshakable – hence the modest success we have registered in reducing the rate of infection.

UNEMPLOYMENT

40. Our ultimate objective is to achieve full employment for all our citizens as reflected in our Vision 2016 statement. As Democrats are aware, the rate of unemployment was around 10% in the early 1990’s. However, as a result of a combination of chronic droughts and the plateauing of minerals growth with a concomitant depression in the construction industry unemployment rose to 24% and it hovered around that level for many years, until recently, when we were able to reduce it to 17.6%.

41. The big projects which your government has initiated should force unemployment to go down further. I must express my concern though, about the rather lax attitude of some of our people. Many jobs in the agricultural sector remain unmanned for a long time because Batswana are not interested in working in that sector. This is regrettable. If we are to fight unemployment successfully we must become less choosy.

ELECTIONS

51. This is the penultimate congress before the next General Elections in 2009. This means by the time we get to the 2009 Congress it will be too late to fine tune or sharpen our thinking in various policy areas. This congress is, therefore, the most important opportunity to do so.

52. Our election preparedness starts right now with the preparations for “Bulela Ditswe” our primary elections. The Central Committee has appointed a Task Force, which in turn has sent teams around the country to clean up our membership registration hitches. This is very important, as it will determine that we have a clean, peaceful primary election, not adulterated by incomplete voters’ rolls and allegations of rigging.

53. Of course ultimately the business of any political party that wants to run the country is to win elections. It is for this reason that everything that we do must be aimed towards – the attainment of that objective – the 2009 elections. I shall never tire of reminding you, to channel all your energies towards making sure, that the BDP not only wins those elections but does so convincingly.

54. A scenario where we win the majority of seats but fail to command a comfortable majority in the popular vote is not a good one. Let us face it, it would undermine our mandate. Although in other countries it is not uncommon for a party to win elections sometimes with numbers as low as 30%, our opponents seem to think our 52% gives them some hope and even reason to celebrate.

55. I know we can legally and legitimately exercise a mandate even with less than half of the popular vote, but this we should never aim at. If all Batswana who were carrying our cards in 2004 had voted for their party, we would have won with more than 60% of the popular vote.

OPPOSITION

56. As for the opposition, we should remember, that they still present no alternative to ourselves, united or separately. This is why Batswana look to us as their only hope. Our policies, programmes and projects are well thought out. I still do not know what our opposition stands for. This situation is further compounded by the very public disunity that currently plagues the main opposition party, the BNF.

57. Anyone who thinks their recent special congress has healed their rift has got another surprise coming. To begin with, the one group did not even accept the results and we are receiving reports of a divided and disenchanted opposition membership around the country.

58. We should not, however, just sit here and celebrate their current state of disarray. We must work hard to exploit it to our benefit. We should graphically point out their current state of affairs.
Imagine the leader of a political party contemplating to run in an election under another party name and symbol as we hear is being contemplated in Ramotswa! And as happened in Lobatse when the leader of PUSO, in the person of Modubule successfully usurped the BNF seat and came to Parliament. You could go through them one after another and still be left wondering. The answer is of course that there is still no alternative.

59. This is why it is laughable for an organization like the BCP, which is not even running for state power, to lampoon Botswana’s democracy. Our democratic credentials are impeccable. They constitute the foundation of our political culture. And as such they do not belong to a single party but to all Batswana.

60. An entity that dissociates itself from this democratic culture runs the risk, of being driven into the political wilderness by our voters. I would not be surprised if the lonely member the BCP has in Parliament, who is there by dint of our generosity, went into extinction after 2009.

61. Madomi a Mantle, as I mentioned at the recent Women’s Wing Congress, the Constitution of our country, quite properly decrees that I retire by the 31st March 2008. I thank you most sincerely for the support that you have always given me during my tenure as Party leader. I have no doubt that you will extend similar support to my successor, His Honour the Vice President, Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. I should enjoy my retirement immensely if you would do so.

CONCLUSION

62. In conclusion, let me wish you well in your Congress and encourage you to be level headed in your discussions if you are to come up with meaningful resolutions. May I also ask that we end our Congress in the spirit of love and mutual respect that must reflect our current theme: Unity and hard Work: Towards 2009 and beyond. Those elected and their supporters must, as they celebrate their success, do so with the utmost restraint and have consideration for the feelings of those who will have been less fortunate.

63. Much as I will spend as much time with you as I can, the immediate affairs of the country require that I, as is usual, leave you at some point to join the people of Goodhope on President’s Day. I join Batswana in different parts of the country every year for these celebrations at this time.

64. It is now my singular honour and privilege to declare this the 32nd National Congress of the Botswana Democratic Party officially open. TSHOLETSA! TSHOLETSA!

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10/7/07 – from the World Bank Institute launches 2007 World Governance Indicators (WGI) Report:

With reference to the above, please find below [a] Statement by this Office, as well as [b] the full text of a media release received earlier this evening from the World Bank. The World Bank media release had been embargoed for forward transmission until 19hOO local time (CAT) (13h00 EST – Washington D.C.). Both statements’ can thus be understood as breaking news.

[a] “Botswana praised in latest World Governance Indicators Report

This Office is pleased to note that Botswana was once more been singled out for special praise by World Bank researchers in the context of today’s launch of the 2007 World Governance Indicators (WGI) Report, the full title of which is: “Governance Matters, 2007: Worldwide Governance Indicators 1996-2006”.

The launch was held at the World Bank Institute in Washington D.C.

In a statement released by the World Bank to coincide with the launch, Botswana has been singled out by researchers as being among a select group of developing countries that score higher on key dimensions of governance than a number of leading industrialized countries.

Botswana is the only African country to be so singled out in the statement. The other high achievers among those classified as “developing countries”, which are listed along with Botswana in the statement are Slovenia, Chile, Estonia, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, and Costa Rica.

The 2007 World Governance Indicators Report is said to represent a decade-long effort by a global network of researchers to build and update the most comprehensive cross-country set of governance indicators currently available to the public.

The latest indicators are further reported to cover a total of 212 countries and territories, drawing on 33 different data sources to capture the views of tens of thousands of survey respondents worldwide, as well as thousands of experts in the private, NGO, and public sectors.

This Office is also pleased to note that Botswana has performed well in all six of the Report’s identified components of good governance, which are:

1. Voice and Accountability – measuring the extent to which a country’s citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media.

2. Political Stability and Absence of Violence – measuring perceptions of the likelihood that the government will be destabilized or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including terrorism

3. Government Effectiveness – measuring the quality of public services, the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures, the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government’s commitment to such policies

4. Regulatory Quality – measuring the ability of the government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations that permit and promote private sector development

5. Rule of Law – measuring the extent to which agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society, and in particular the quality of contract enforcement, the police, and the courts, as well as the likelihood of crime and violence

6. Control of Corruption – measuring the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as “capture” of the state by elites and private interests.

The aggregate indicators as well as data from the underlying sources will be available at the website www.govindicators.org, which currently posts last’s year’s aggregate data.

According to the World Bank statement measuring various countries’ governance performance, and their improvements over time, is both a key item on the international governance agenda and a complex challenge, as governance has many dimensions, each with inherent measurement challenges. It goes on to state that the Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project shows how this challenge can be met.

[b] [World Bank Institute] Press Release No: 2007/009/WBI… [The Release is now accessible online at – www.worldbank.org]

E2) 11/7/06: “Botswana a global leader in Political Stability”

The World Bank Institute report “Governance Matters, 2007: Worldwide Governance Indicators 1996-2006”, which was released yesterday, has ranked Botswana among the global leaders for Political Stability and the Absence of Violence.

With a score of 92.8% Botswana was ranked number 16 in the category out of the 212 countries and territories covered by the study, as well as number one in Africa. The score also placed Botswana above:

* all of the G8 nations, i.e. Canada (80.3), France (61.5), Germany (75.0), Italy (56.3), Japan (85.1), Russia (23.6), UK (61.1), and USA (57.7);

* all but 2 of the member states of the European Union, i.e. Finland (99.0), Luxemburg (99.5);

* all but 2 countries/territories in the Western Hemisphere, i.e. Aruba (95.7), St. Kitts & Nevis (94.2);

* all but 3 countries/territories in Asia, i.e. Bhutan (95.2), Brunei (93.3), and Singapore (94.7).

The 2007 World Governance Indicators Report is said to reflect a decade-long effort by a global network of researchers to build and update the most comprehensive cross-country set of governance indicators currently available to the public. Its composite indicators for 212 countries and territories have been drawn from 33 different data sources to capture the views of tens of thousands of survey respondents worldwide, as well as thousands of experts in the private, NGO, and public sectors.

Botswana scored exceptionally well for all six areas identified by the Report as being the key components of good governance. As labelled in the report itself, these are:

1) “Voice and Accountability” – measuring political, civil and human rights;

2) “Political Stability and Absence of Violence” – measuring the likelihood of violent threats to, or changes in, government, including terrorism;

3) “Government Effectiveness” – measuring the competence of the bureaucracy and the quality of public service delivery;

4) “Regulatory Quality” – measuring the incidence of market-unfriendly policies;

5) “Rule of Law” – measuring the quality of contract enforcement, the police, and the courts, including judiciary independence, and the incidence of crime; and

6) “Control of Corruption” – measuring the abuse of public power for private gain, including petty and grand corruption and state capture by elites.

With a composite score for all of the above categories of 74 Botswana occupies first position in Africa, followed by Mauritius (72) Cape Verde (66), South Africa (65), Namibia (62) and Seychelles (55).
13/7/07: 2007 Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) Africa Top Ten wrap up: “Botswana leads the way, as African countries make progress”

According to a now widely circulated news article, originally published in the New York Times, Africa has been portrayed “as a continent of great variety, with some countries making extraordinary progress over the past decade” in the latest World Bank Institute study “Governance Matters, 2007: Worldwide Governance Indicators 1996-2006”, which was released earlier this week in Washington D.C.

The article further cites the World Bank’s own descriptions of the study as providing strong evidence to contradict the notion of “Afro-pessimism”, while, moreover, establishing that wealthy, industrialized nations must also struggle with challenges of corruption and bad governance. In this respect the study is seen as a credible counter to negative media stereotypes of Africa as a whole as somehow being a continent that is uniquely mired in corruption, misrule and violence.

When combined, the World Bank Institute Report’s indicators place Botswana among the global leaders, as well as number one in Africa, for good governance. At the Report’s launch Botswana was thus singled out as being among an emerging group of developing countries that had scored higher on key dimensions of governance than many leading industrialized countries.

Described as the world’s most comprehensive database on governance issues, the Report incorporates composite indicators for a total of 212 countries and territories, which have been drawn from 33 different data sources. These are said to capture the views of tens of thousands of survey respondents worldwide, as well as thousands of experts in the private, NGO, and public sectors.

Botswana’s composite WGI score was 74, while Africa’s other top ten overall performers were, as ranked, were: Mauritius (72), Cape Verde (66), South Africa (65), Namibia (62), Ghana (55), Seychelles (55), Tunisia (53), Madagascar (48) and Lesotho (48).

In achieving its top score Botswana was also ranked well above the international norm, as well as in first, second or third position for Africa in each of the sub-category indexes for the six areas that were identified by the Report as being key components of good governance.

Botswana score and rank among Africa’s top ten for each of the six is reproduced below:

I. “Political Stability and Absence of Violence Index”, which is a composite of indicators measuring the likelihood of violent threats to, or changes in, government, including terrorism:

Botswana (93), Seychelles (84), Mauritius (79), Cape Verde (79), Namibia (75), Mozambique (64), Benin (59), Zambia (57), Libya (55), and Ghana (55). (In this index Botswana was also ranked 16 out of the 212 countries and territories surveyed.)

II. “Voice and Accountability Index”, which is a composite of indicators measuring political, civil and human rights:

Mauritius (75), Cape Verde (74), Botswana (67), South Africa (67), Benin (66), Namibia (61), Ghana (60), Mali (58), Lesotho (56), Seychelles (54).

III “Government Effectiveness Index”, which is a composite indicators measuring the competence of the bureaucracy and the quality of public service delivery:

South Africa (77), Botswana (74), Mauritius (72), Tunisia (71), Cape Verde (62), Namibia (59), Ghana (57), Morocco (56), Seychelles (53), Madagascar (50).

IV. “Regulatory Quality Index”, which is a composite of indicators measuring the incidence of market-unfriendly policies;

South Africa (70), Mauritius (67), Botswana (63), Tunisia (58), Namibia (57), Ghana (51), Morocco (48), Cape Verde (45), Madagascar (43), Senegal (42).

V. “Rule of Law Index”, which is a composite of indicators measuring the quality of contract enforcement, the police, and the courts, including judiciary independence, and the incidence of crime:

Mauritius (76), Botswana (67), Cape Verde (66), Tunisia (60), Namibia (57), South Africa (57), Seychelles (55), Morocco (53), Ghana (51), Lesotho (49).

VI. “Control of Corruption Index”, which is a composite of indicators measuring the abuse of public power for private gain, including petty and grand corruption and state capture by elites:

Botswana (78), Cape Verde (72), South Africa (71), Mauritius (66), Tunisia (62), Namibia (61), Seychelles (61), Lesotho (58), Morocco (57), Rwanda (56).

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11/7/07: Report from VOA News  www.voanews.com) – “Six African Countries Win High Marks in New Study of Religious Freedoms”

Six African countries – Botswana, Mali, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, and Kenya – rank among the world’s most tolerant societies in terms of religious freedoms. That’s according to the latest study by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. It measured the amount of government regulation, government favouritism toward a particular religion, and the amount of social pressures and constraints imposed by other faiths and organized groups in the country.

These factors, along with a high economic correlation had a close bearing on the study’s rankings of more than 100 countries worldwide. Eritrea and Sudan ranked among the most restrictive. Paul Marshall is the Hudson Institute Centre’s Senior Fellow and editor of its latest study, Religious Freedom in the World 2007. In Washington, he said that the 20 African countries studied revealed several success stories and also displayed some surprising anomalies.

“Sub-Saharan Africa scores lower than western Europe and the North Atlantic countries, all of which tend to score pretty highly with ones, twos, or threes. It scores better than North Africa and West Asia (sometimes called the greater Middle East),” he says……”The study shows that religious freedom correlates very well with firstly economic freedom, and the development of markets. Secondly, it correlates with economic well-being, that income levels measure equality. It actually correlates even better than income with indexing, as measured in this context, by numbers of cell phones in use. And we have grounds to believe that we can actually show, in general, religious freedom helps development. This is true in Sub-Saharan Africa especially,” he says.

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