Africa Climate Business Plan
In 2015, the World Bank launched the Africa Climate Business Plan. The Plan marks a strategic effort to accelerate low-carbon, climate-resilient development in sub-Saharan Africa. A great success, the World Bank is now in its first stages of rolling out the Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan, building off of lessons learned from the first installation. The new plan is ambitious, but necessarily so—with climate impacts on the rise and less than a decade left to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Africa must rapidly deploy climate-smart, inclusive development projects. The Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan stems from the World Bank’s greater commitment to placing climate at the center of all development efforts. It works toward carving out green paths to prosperity.

A Continent in Crisis

By and large, sub-Saharan Africa has contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this, it suffers some of the most devastating impacts of environmental challenges and changing weather patterns. The year 2019 was the third-warmest year ever on record in Africa.

A sample of 30 African countries found that two-thirds were warming quicker than the whole world on average. Poorer countries are more vulnerable to weather challenges due to the limited adaptive capacity of rural economies. Though Africa’s engines of growth are diversified, agriculture is still its largest economic sector. Agriculture makes up 15% of the continent’s GDP. It is highly climate-sensitive. Changing weather patterns and natural disasters like droughts and cyclones have directly impacted productivity.

Africa boasts a variety of climate types from arid to rainforest or temperate, so changing weather manifests differently in different regions. Effects can range from rising sea levels and coastal erosion to extreme floods, landslides and even desert locusts. These events threaten food and water security, as well as the overall socio-economic development of the continent. Changes in weather reverse development gains, undermining the health, safety and stability of communities. Climate-informed development is urgent; without it, an estimated 43 million additional people in sub-Saharan Africa could fall below the poverty line by 2030.

Strategic Focuses

The Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan is all about thinking ahead for the future, but this does not mean that the World Bank is not looking to the past for guidance. The new and improved Climate Plan is building on the successes of its predecessor, the original Africa Climate Business Plan. This plan supported 246 projects with more than $33 billion in World Bank financing over the course of its six-year tenure. As the largest financial sponsor of climate action in Africa, the World Bank plans to ramp up existing efforts and institute new initiatives as part of the Next Generation Plan. With the plan, it will work to cooperatively tackling changing weather and promoting development within African countries.

The Next Generation African Climate Business Plan is essentially a sustainable development blueprint with five Strategic Directions. These include:

  1. Food Security
  2. Environmental Sustainability
  3. Clean Energy
  4. Resilient Green Cities
  5. Climate Shocks

The plan also has two Special Areas of Emphasis including Climate-Informed Macroeconomic Policies and Green and Resilient Infrastructure. At its core, it aims to scale up climate resilience as part and parcel of development efforts to reduce poverty and grow economies.

The Plan in Action

Until recently, Adwoa Adezawa, a resident of the Cape Coast of Ghana, lived in a community entirely without power. However, Adwoa, along with thousands of other Ghanaians, could purchase a mini solar grid thanks to the $220 million Ghana Energy and Development Access Project (GEDAP) financed by the World Bank. GEDAP focuses on inclusive access to renewable energy through the deployment of off-grid solar products. The project includes subsidies to make energy more affordable. It also collaborates with local financiers like rural banks to support access to financing. Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal Sierra Leone and Togo have all rolled out similar solar programs.

Given that sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest energy access rates in the world—electricity reaches only around half of its people—such programs are critical. Efficient, affordable solar energy is a pillar of the Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan. Furthermore, the World Bank has been scaling up such projects each year.

Other cruxes of the plan include outfitting cities with low-carbon urban planning approaches and promoting climate-smart agriculture. The World Bank already supports modern agriculture projects in Ethiopia, Niger and Zambia. Additionally, it currently works to target 28 million farmers to ensure food security across 20 countries. The World Bank aims to train farmers on climate-smart agricultural approaches and expand integrated landscape management to more than 60 million hectares. Overall, expectations have determined investments in new projects will reach $22.5 billion by 2025. Treating development and climate action as interwoven, interdependent goals, the World Bank is pushing for growth that not only minimizes environmental impact but actively corrects past and future trends of environmental degradation.

Margot Seidel
Photo: Flickr

The Samsung Global Goals App, Supporting SDGs With a TapIn 2015, the United Nations General Assembly announced a pledge to change the world for the better by the year 2030. That pledge led to the Sustainable Development Goals, also known simply as the Global Goals, which aim to eradicate hunger, combat inequality and clean up the planet. To this end, Samsung has joined the efforts to see the world accomplish these goals and released the Samsung Global Goals app in 2019.

The Samsung Global Goals

The Samsung Global Goals app’s purpose is to “take action on the Global Goals and make the world a better place,” according to the app’s Google Play Store listing. The app has three intentions:

  1. Know the Goals: This allows the user to discover what all 17 goals are about and lets the user determine which one they care about the most and want to support the most.
  2. Get the Facts: Lets the user see statistics about the Global Goals and what important areas organizations are working on to alleviate global poverty and build a sustainable world.
  3. Monitor Donations: This function allows the user to track their donation history and see which of the Global Goals are progressing worst than others.

Donating With a Simple Tap

The app puts Samsung’s advertising revenue to good use. Every ad the user views inside the app earns money that can be donated toward a goal, the user can choose to keep donating to one goal or keep switching between goals. If the user is using the app on a Samsung phone or tablet in the U.S., Singapore, Canada or the U.K., they can use Samsung’s own payment system, Samsung Pay, or if they are on another Android device, they can use Google Pay.

Samsung will also match the user’s donation as the South Korean tech giant’s attempt to brand themselves as a “global corporate citizen.” If the user cannot donate, then they can raise funds by allowing the app to place ads on the user’s lock screen as they charge their devices and the user can select which of the goals those funds will go toward. After an update on January 2020, the app allows users to put inspiring messages and quotes from famous humanitarians and messages about the planet’s climate situation.

United Nations’ Initiatives to Accomplish its SDGs

The Samsung Global Goals app is just one of the new ways the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is attempting to advertise the Global Goals. The UNDP is partnering with different companies to promote the idea and raise awareness of the Global Goals. In America, the UNDP teamed up with iHeart Media to create short messages from famous pop stars about the Global Goals and how citizens can help accomplish them.

Even though the Samsung Global Goals app comes from a place of philanthropy, it would probably do more good for the Global Goals and the UNDP if the app was not limited to just Samsung and the Android platforms. Instead, it should become available to outside platforms, such as Apple’s iOS, to raise even more awareness for the Global Goals, and ultimately our planet.

As we grow closer to the deadline for the SDGs, the world should see more companies following Samsung’s lead and helping the United Nations build a sustainable world by 2030.

—Pedro Vega
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Alleviation Schemes in India
Poverty is a multidimensional concept that encompasses the various deprivations that poor people experience in their daily lives. The first goal of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere. India has witnessed a decline in poverty through lifting 271 million people out of poverty from 2006 to 2016, according to U.N. reports. The Government of India has launched various poverty alleviation schemes to address poverty in rural areas and to ensure rural development.

4 Poverty Alleviation Schemes in India for Rural Development

  1. National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) was launched in 2011 by the Ministry of Rural Development and aided by the World Bank. NRLM aims to create an efficient and effective system for the rural poor to access financial services. To that end, the objective is to create sustainable opportunities by empowering and enabling the poor to increase their household income. In addition to income-generated assets to the poor — they would also be facilitated to achieve increased access to rights, entitlements and public services, diversified risk and better social indicators of empowerment. The mission aims at harnessing the innate capabilities of the poor and complements them with providing them the capacity to participate in the growing economy of the country. In 2015, the program was renamed to Deendayal Antayodaya Yojana (DAY-NRLM).
  2. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MNREGA). To ensure the security and livelihood of people in rural areas, this act guarantees a minimum of 100 days of wage employment. These measures apply to households whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled, manual work. All districts in India have coverage under MNREGA. Under this scheme, every person has the right to a job. If the state is unable to provide a job within 15 days of application, then the worker receives an entitlement to a daily unemployment allowance. To ensure social inclusion, women gain priority — such that some 33% of the beneficiaries under this scheme are women. Moreover, the robust institutions for grievance redressal and social auditing guarantee accountability and transparency.
  3. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G). Due to the gaps in the earlier scheme for rural housing, titled Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) — it was restructured in 2016 to PMAY-G. Through this scheme, the government commits to realizing housing for all, by 2022. The aim is to provide solid and permanent housing with all the basic amenities including toilet, LPG connection, electricity connection and drinking water.
  4. Public Distribution System (PDS) aims to manage food scarcity and distributing essential food commodities at affordable prices. The Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) launched in June 1997, to allocate food resources to the poor. The primary goal is to distribute essential food commodities like rice, wheat and kerosene at highly subsidized rates to the people living below the poverty line. This poverty alleviation scheme helps in addressing the issue of food insecurity in rural areas of India.

Empower the Rural Poor to Alleviate Poverty

According to the 2019 U.N. Human Development Report, 27.9% of the population in India is multidimensionally poor. With proper implementation of the poverty alleviation schemes, India can reduce poverty by empowering the rural poor with optimal use and management of resources. These schemes focus on targeting the multidimensional deprivations the poor face by providing them with food security, employment, housing and wages. Finally, the driver of these schemes is the objective to create sustainable mechanisms leading to rural development.

Anandita Bardia
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

4 Organizations Fighting World Hunger
Hunger and poverty integrally link together, because most people experiencing chronic hunger live in poverty. Further, most of the world’s hungry reside in developing nations. A 2018 report from the United Nations concluded that the number of people afflicted with chronic hunger was actually rising.  In 2017, there were 821 million people around the globe that were hungry. In other words, hunger affects one in every nine people. World hunger is an issue that demands attention because of its regression throughout the past few years. Additionally, improving food security should boost global health and support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030. There are countless organizations working tirelessly to make a hunger-free world a reality. Below are four organizations fighting world hunger.

4 Organizations Fighting World Hunger

  1. Oxfam International: Oxfam International is a global movement working in more than 90 countries on a multitude of issues. Between 2017 and 2018, Oxfam worked with 22.3 million people to fight inequality and beat poverty. The organization aims to build resilience in communities and campaigns for sustainable change. It operates as a confederation that partners with local organizations. Oxfam believes that hunger in a world of plenty is the result of inequalities such as economic and gender differences. One specific aim is to create a more fair and sustainable global food system. Various programs support small-scale farmers and workers in production with the capacity to provide for increasing populations and reduce poverty. Specifically, the implementation of these sustainable farming techniques in conjunction with advocating for necessary government investments helps to fight against world hunger.
  2. Biodiversity International: Biodiversity International is a global research and development organization working in 35 countries around the world with the aim of fighting world hunger. This organization has a regional presence in Central and South America, West and Central Africa, East and Southern Africa, Central and South Asia and Southeast Asia. It implements various research endeavors and programs based on the idea that agricultural biodiversity provides adequate nutrition for the global population by sustaining the planet. In 2018, Biodiversity International published 145 papers indicating that biodiversity aids in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which includes ending hunger. In order to accomplish these goals, Biodiversity International partners with local communities and organizations in low-income countries to target issues specific to that population. All of the research and intervention methods are based around the use of scientific evidence, effective management practices and the implementation of policies to safeguard biodiversity, thus achieving food security globally.
  3. Rise Against Hunger: Rise Against Hunger is a hunger relief organization that aligns itself with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in its efforts to end world hunger by 2030. In order to achieve this, the organization distributes food and aid to vulnerable populations. In 2018, Rise Against Hunger impacted 794,700 people by providing meals and aid. The organization implements safety nets in order to provide for basic needs while people are planning and putting long term solutions in place. Rise Against Hunger also provides effective and efficient food provisions along with aid during emergency situations. Additional focuses include efforts to build community resilience, self-sufficiency and empowerment. The organization also brings resilient food security by creating long-lasting solutions for fighting world hunger through implementing sustainable agricultural practices, teaching business skills and improving market access.
  4. UNICEF: UNICEF is an organization active in more than 90 countries that focuses on saving the lives of children around the globe. Development is a huge part of providing for vulnerable populations and is especially critical for youth. Combating hunger and implementing accessible food systems is an integral part of the development; it interweaves in almost all of UNICEF’s programs in developing countries. UNICEF’s Survive and Thrive initiatives address the health of children, including early childhood development, health, HIV/AIDS, immunization, water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition. UNICEF understands that fighting world hunger is necessary for achieving these initiatives and creating a healthier young population. Additionally, the organization provides aid during crisis and emergency situations, which includes ensuring food security for children. Through these programs, UNICEF improved the quality of 15.6 million children’s diets in 2018. UNICEF primarily focuses on children’s issues, but the organization is aware that addressing hunger is a crucial aspect of addressing developmental issues.

Hunger and poverty are issues that inherently tie together. These four organizations address global hunger through diverse programs and disciplines. Through each organizations’ work, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of fighting world hunger has a profound possibility. 

Treya Parikh
Photo: Flickr

terminating child marriage
Child marriage and its confining consequences affect 650 million women across the world and violate human rights. Some of these are access to health care and economic opportunity. While UNICEF databases indicate that the prevalence of child marriage has considerably decreased by at least 6 percent since 1995, child marriage rates remain urgent and concerning; 12 million girls under 18 enter a marriage or early union globally each year.

The persistence of child marriage in a globalized age remains a barrier that obstructs the world from achieving international social justice. Aims to discover the key to terminating child marriage is only a modern development, as child marriage had been the norm virtually everywhere up until the 20th century. In the 21st century, the practice conflicts with a number of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the U.N. in 2015, such as gender equality, no poverty and decent work and economic growth.

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

  1. Gender equality: Women make up the vast majority of child marriage victims, largely lacking the necessary empowerment from their communities to escape such conditions. Often feeling as though they lack any other choice, they enter the immobilizing hands of long-held social norms and thus continuing gender inequalities. Subsequently, they are unable to escape their impoverished conditions.
  2. No poverty: Just as poverty is a consequence of child marriage, it too serves as a driving cause. In rural regions where large family sizes and poverty commonly go hand in hand, families send off young daughters in arranged marriages as an attempt to reduce their financial burden. The attempt largely fails, however, and the cycle of poverty for these families and girls continues.
  3. Decent work and economic growth: Barred from freedom and choice in major life decisions, it is no surprise that these 15 million child victims entering marriage each year lack economic independence. Not only do these conditions mean the disabling of girls from unlocking their potential, but according to Economic Impacts of Child Marriage research, it also restrains countries, where child marriage is most prominent, from achieving significant and otherwise attainable economic growth.

Other SDGs that clash with child marriage include quality education and reduced inequalities. Given the prevalence and urgency of this human rights issue, to make true progress within the variety of goals, the U.N. set Target 5.3 of the SDGs to “eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.”

The UN’s Inter-Agency Program

Latin America and the Caribbean are regions with the highest prevalence of child marriage, following Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. As such, the U.N. made it a priority to target this region to accomplish SDG target 5.3. Specifically, it intended to accomplish this with an inter-agency program covering five countries.

  1. The Dominican Republic, where 36 percent of girls married before 18 in 2017.
  2. Guatemala, where 30 percent of girls married before 18.
  3. Colombia, where 23 percent of girls married before 18.
  4. El Salvador, where 26 percent of girls married before 18.
  5. Mexico, where 26 percent of girls married before 18.

This program involved the uniting of the UNPF, UNICEF and U.N. Women in October 2017 to discuss their shared experiences alongside Latin American inter-institutional actors. Moreover, it was “to identify common challenges and strategies and develop national and regional roadmaps to contribute to compliance with the SDGs” according to UNICEF’s official file.

Those involved included members of civil society and international organizations, government officials and even adolescent girls serving as the program’s youth network representatives. The U.N. uses the power of diversity to effectively analyze, evaluate and prescribe for the pressing matter at hand.

Four Main Program Outcomes

The program ultimately proved that communication and cooperation among these diverse parties are key to terminating child marriage. The first step to progress is to discover and discuss the root causes of the critical issue. Through mutual respect for one another and collective discussion, key causes that participants agreed upon during the program included poverty and inequalities, as well as gender-based violence. With their first-hand experiences, the adolescent representatives disclosed the majority of the drivers discussed. Key causes they shared included school dropout, social harassment and the lack of resources available for pregnant and/or married girls.

Four main outcomes came out of the program, agreed upon by all involved parties as key to terminating child marriage. They were as follows:

  1. Create legal reforms to raise the legal age of marriage in all countries with no exceptions. Participants thoroughly discussed challenges in doing so and in promoting awareness of such legal changes. Since the program, a legislation change that occurred was the Mexico Senate’s approval of a total ban on underage marriage.
  2. Promote policies and services in the areas of health, education and gender equality, among others, and make them far more accessible in all regions. Involved parties agreed that a key means of doing so would require working at the community level and from among civil society, such as teaching males the good of gender equality.
  3. Empower girls in all Latin American and Caribbean countries. This would be accomplished by teaching adolescent girls their sexual rights as well as using social networks to reach and further educate them. This method would be particularly effective since there is a rising amount of internet usage in Latin America.
  4. Create a multilateral platform to maximize efficiency in the fight against child marriage within Latin America and beyond. The collaboration innate to this program would optimistically enter the future with cooperative methods such as pooling resources and advocating for girls’ rights internationally.

Countries should consider each of the four outcomes when implementing future national and international developments and projects meant to end underage marriage. The evident prioritizing of international cooperation is key to terminating child marriage. While the battle in doing so is far from over, the future appears bright as endeavors for correspondence and correlating declines in child marriage rates represent the necessary effort— and potential— for change.

– Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr