Posts

Reducing Energy Poverty in Italy Through Solar PV Market
Powertis, a Spanish company that focuses on the development and investment of large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, has announced an expansion plan to enter Italy’s solar PV market. This shift will bring Powertis closer to its goal of reaching one gigawatt (GW) of ready-to-invest assets by 2023. In addition, it will support the National Plan for Energy and Climate (NECP), which has set a target of +30 GW of PV capacity by 2030. Powertis’ growth into the solar PV market will also serve as an opportunity to decrease energy poverty in Italy by reducing the price of electricity.

What is Energy Poverty?

Energy poverty refers to people who are least likely to have access to energy services. This increases their likelihood of remaining poor. Energy poverty affects health by increasing the risk of cardiovascular or respiratory disease and the number of excess deaths in the winter, especially in colder areas. In 2017, estimates determined that 1.1 billion people do not have access to electricity and nearly 3 billion people cook meals with polluting fuels, such as charcoal, wood, kerosene and dung.

The Aim for Efficient and Affordable Energy

In 2011, the former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative to drive faster action towards achieving SDG7. SDG7 is the seventh goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is battling energy poverty by advocating for improved access to reliable, affordable, sustainable and modern energy for all. SE4ALL aims to double the global rate of improved energy efficiency and the global share of renewable energy by 2030. By working with government leaders, the private sector and civil society, SE4ALL hopes to ensure universal access to modern energy.

Energy Poverty and “Vulnerability”

The primary concern that Italy’s population faces when it comes to energy poverty is the uneven distribution of energy expenditure. The lowest 10% of Italian income-earners spend 4% of their budget on energy compared with the 1% that affluent households spend. This leads to a concept known as “vulnerability,” where the lowest 10% of Italian households have compressed purchasing power and reduced ability to purchase domestic or international goods and services.

Furthermore, as of 2017, Eurostat reported that 15.2% of Italy’s population cannot afford to adequately heat their homes. The inability of households to purchase an adequate amount of energy goods can have negative direct costs including increased stress on the healthcare system. It also has indirect costs such as a decrease in economic productivity and output in the community.

How Italy is Addressing the Issue

Italy’s government has created the National Energy Climate Plan (NECP) to address its energy poverty. The NECP aims to cover 30% of final consumption by renewable sources, reduce final energy consumption by 39.7% and aim for a 33% reduction in greenhouse gases. Italy introduced the NECP in December 2018 as a commitment and strategy to increase environmental protection and energy security while reducing polluting emissions, as the European Union put forward. So far, Italy has obtained “Medium” ratings in all of the categories after the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) evaluated it for 2020. This suggests that there has been a lack of implementing effective measures by the public sector.

Powertis’ Role in Reducing Energy Poverty

The CCPI evaluation also includes a “Low” rating for the “Renewable Energy – current trend” component, demonstrating the need to involve the private sector in producing more renewable energy for Italian markets. The inclusion of PV solar panels would improve Italy’s rating. According to Roberto Capuozzo, the Country Manager of Powertis in Italy, Powertis is one of many private firms working to address this need. It is operating as a leading company in the transition to a zero-emission economy. Powertis’ plans to develop PV projects in Basilicata, Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia and Lazio and increase its pipeline beyond over two gigawatts between Italy and Brazil.

Powertis is reducing the price of electricity by working with local community partners to structure the project’s financing and offer a lower price, in comparison to the cost of electricity for coal. Italy’s main issue is the inconsistent distribution of energy expenditure budgets for the bottom 10% of Italian income-earners in comparison with the top 1%. If prices for energy decrease, energy poverty should decrease. Powertis’ expansion to local communities in Basilicata, Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia and Lazio will offer these individuals more purchasing power and decrease their level of vulnerability. This will also benefit the economy by allowing them the ability to consume other goods and services. By increasing Italian households’ purchasing power, Powertis is increasing access to energy services and reducing energy poverty in Italy.

Powertis has expanded its reach into Italy’s solar PV market, thereby decreasing the price of electricity for Italian households. This has increased households’ access to energy services and subsequently increased their ability to dedicate more of their personal budget towards the consumption of other goods and services. The households’ lower level of vulnerability should also help to decrease energy poverty in Italy.

Natasha Nath
Photo: Flickr

Refugee Water Crisis
It’s no secret that there is a refugee crisis. In fact, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) stated that as of January 2019, 70.8 million people were refugees. To put that into perspective, one in every eight persons is either in transit, seeking asylum or living in camps. Roughly 2.6 million reside in managed camps, and this has created an all-new challenge: a refugee water crisis.

UNHCR estimates that more than half of the world’s refugee camps do not have enough water to fulfill the recommended 20 liters per person per day. There are a number of health risks associated with lack of water. To address them, WASH has intervened with several programs.

9 Facts About the Refugee Water Crisis

  1. Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is a CDC program designed to improve access to healthy water, sanitation practices and hygiene. Ultimately, they strive for long-term solutions that will reduce poverty and improve the health and socio-economic development of everyone. WASH has impacted countless refugee camps and bettered the water crisis for many.
  2. Nyamithuthu Refugee Camp in Malawi received hygiene education training and successfully implemented the “improved bucket” initiative. Water does not have to be contaminated from its source to pose a threat to close-corridor inhabitants. Infection can spread from touching and storing water in improperly sanitized containers. To control any possible spread of disease, WASH provided 20-liter water buckets with constraining lids and water spouts to limit secondhand contamination.
  3. Though formal camps typically have better WASH services, they are not always up to ‘safely managed’ standards. These standards include the limitation of shared facilities and on-premise water sources with water sources less than 200 meters (656 feet) away. For example, there are 11 refugee camps managed in Uganda and only 43 percent of the inhabitants have access to water less than 200 meters away. The physical burden of carrying 80 liters of water from a well that far uses one-sixth of rationed calories for the day.
  4. The refugee water crisis inhibits proper sanitation practices, which is the first defense against communicable diseases. Roughly 30 percent of managed camps have inadequate waste disposal. Latrines shared between three or more families increase the risk for cholera outbreaks which are transmitted through fecal-oral contact. Several refugee camps in Bangladesh with sanitation facilities were three times less likely to have cholera outbreaks than camps without them.
  5. Undocumented refugees and migrants in transit have particular difficulty in finding basic water and sanitation services. They risk detection by authorities and tend to revert to unsafe and often dangerous methods to obtain water. For example, undocumented refugees on the French-Italian border use the river as a water source, toilet and place to cook in order to avoid detection by the Red Cross.
  6. Low-income and undocumented refugees are also more likely to live in informal urban areas with non-standardized infrastructures. On the US/Mexico border, Matamoros, Mexico, has an estimated 50,000 migrants settled in an unofficial refugee camp. Sources reveal there are less than 10 portable toilets, no running water and only two wooden showers located in the woods. Refugees use river water to bathe, cook, drink and clean laundry. The majority of the provisions (water and food parcels) are given through religious organizations, immigration activists and individual donors.
  7. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) addressed this humanitarian crisis through the Protocol for the Protection of Migrant Children. The Protocol ensures all necessary actions are taken to protect the rights of migrant children including their access to water.
  8. The true nature of the refugee water crisis is underrepresented, leaving water provisions inadequately rationed. WASH services are estimated based on census and survey data, excluding refugees in transit or informal settings. Undocumented refugees have no chance of consideration with this form of data collection, meaning that the crisis is more serious than the data indicates.
  9. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development details several plausible and lasting solutions to address and end the water crisis, specifically initiating and protecting policies in support of universal and inclusive water services. It also includes recommendations for governments and international agencies to strengthen water governance in correlation with migration.

Access to water is a human right protected under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The refugee water crisis threatens the lives of every migrant already running for their lives. Continued efforts from WASH, government agencies and humanitarian organizations are crucial to ending this crisis.

– Marissa Taylor
Photo: Flickr

United Nations and Global Poverty Reduction
Since its establishment in 1945, the United Nations has had the responsibility of maintaining peace and stability across the globe. This governmental body is at the center of global disputes, such as the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Brexit. It can also exercise diplomatic abilities when it comes to enforcing economic sanctions against some of the world’s less democratic actors. The U.N. has fashioned a multitude of agencies and programs with the sole intention of bringing billions out of poverty and on the path to more sustainable and secure lives.

As a Nobel Prize-winning organization, the United Nations became the world’s first far-reaching diplomatic body. With the powers outlined in its charter, the United Nations is in a unique position to confront many of the world’s 21st-century woes. From global security to health emergencies, the U.N. has the ability to assist in a plethora of international issues.

Beyond Global Conflict

While vital in resolving global conflict, the United Nations and global poverty reduction are not solely peace-keeping endeavors. On December 22, 1992, through resolution 47/196, the U.N. reaffirmed its commitment to global poverty reduction and declared Oct. 17 the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. According to its website, “On that day, over 100,000 people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honor the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger.”

While there is much optimism that one can find in the fight to end global poverty, such as the reduction of the global poverty rate by more than half since 2000., the U.N. is aware that to combat poverty, there is a need for global strategies, outreach and funds.

The Division for Social Policy and Development

The United Nations has developed programs within the organization with the primary functions of establishing the goals and parameters that will hopefully lead society down a path of complete poverty eradication. For example, the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) acts as the primary arbitrator of programs that directly assist participating nations with policy initiatives that will put them on the road to being more secure, free and developed. It does this by improving standards of living and quality of life for billions of people through health and education outreach, economic development and an impassioned commitment to promoting security and harmonious societies.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

As a part of its commitment to poverty elimination and overall sustainability, the U.N. unveiled an ambitious plan. In September 2015, the U.N. began the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This daring strategy tackles issues that people universally share and provides a valuable road map to reaching their outlined goals. It includes 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), as well as 169 global targets that the world intends to meet by 2030. This plan is different from past attempts because of its creative approaches and sheer scale. The United Nations and global poverty reduction efforts include goals to not only tackle the climate crisis but also boost renewable energies, ensure sustainable water and build resilient infrastructures.

As ambitious as this plan may seem, the United Nations sees no reason why it is not achievable. The size of the plan is equitable to the scale of the problem. Of the world’s population, 10 percent of the world or 700 million people still live in extreme poverty. Further, those in extreme poverty are living on $1.90 a day.

The United Nations is aware that while economic prosperity is vital to providing better circumstances, other factors play indirect roles. For example, the U.N. sees the current climate crisis as a clear impediment to achieving its development goals.

Impact of Climate Change

A U.N. report makes it starkly clear that the impacts of climate change and inequality are only exacerbating the already immense issues of hunger and could potentially undermine its goal of ending poverty by 2030. It also notes that the pace of poverty reduction began to slow down in 2018. This will dampen the U.N.’s ability to reach the SDGs and hinder resilience toward deprivation, political unrest and natural disasters.

While the United Nations is confident that it will meet its goals, it will undoubtedly meet new challenges. This was evident when The Borgen Project spoke to Aliyya Noor, a Communications Associate at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Representative Office in Islamabad, Pakistan. For Noor, the path out of extreme poverty in Pakistan comes from within the global community through foreign aid.

When The Borgen Project questioned Noor about what the most pressing reason to donate to foreign aid is, she responded, “to eliminate global poverty, the disparity between immense wealth and extreme poverty is increasing day by day.” Noor believes the United Nations’ all-encompassing approach has the best chance of dealing with the multitude of issues the world faces today. “We can, and should, have more than one ball in the air at a time. Many of these problems support each other, so if we tackle one, we’ll have a good chance against the others.”

The United Nations’ Future Work

The United Nations and global poverty reduction efforts are not perfect, and some critics have even argued its ineffectiveness. However, it has made great strides in many areas of poverty reduction and global development. If the decline in overall global woes is any indication, the U.N.’s leadership in these areas appears to be working. The benefits extend to everyone, not just the nations and organizations involved.

When the Borgen Project asked Noor if she felt optimistic about the progress, she responded, “We could be doing more, of course. But, when you see the impact our people and programs can have on lives, you can’t help but feel optimistic.”

 – Connor Dobson
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

UNDP GoalsIn 2018, the United Nations Development Programme implemented a new strategic plan to help developing countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The plan included fast-tracking towards Agenda 2030 by alleviating poverty, accelerating structural modifications and building resilience to crises. For example, in Fiji, one of the UNDP’s goals included alleviating poverty, which can be achieved by a surge of innovation that allows the locals to connect to services. This allowed the locals to shape the governance of the future. Many other similar goals succeded in 2018.

Here are the five UNDP goals reached in 2018.

5 UNDP Goals Reached in 2018

  1. Poverty: The UNDP succeeded at helping half of the countries in the world prioritize poverty reduction by aligning it with national and local interests. The global development network also helped 4 million people affected by poverty or crises to attain employment and improve their livelihoods. Of note, 20 million more people can now make use of financial services.
  2. Governance: The UNDP supported 56 counties to carry out fair electoral processes through digital means. The aim was to fight corruption and increase the likelihood of civic engagement. In fact, in 2018, 21 million people across the globe became newly registered to vote and 89 countries partnered with UNDP to reform discriminatory laws. For example, to tackle corruption in the Philippines, the UNDP and Google together created “DevelopmentLIVE” to give citizens the chance to livestream the monitoring activities for infrastructure projects that relate to the Sustainable Development Goals.
  3. Resilience: Conflict and crises often worsen poverty and inequality — this is why the UNDP invested more than $1 billion to improve resilience to shocks and crises in 2018. Thanks to this commitment 3 million people living in 12 different countries resumed accessing basic needs such as housing and energy. In 2018, the UNDP also partnered with the local municipalities in Turkey, funded by the EU Facility Projects, to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to shocks, such as the wave of Syrian refugees. This partnership launched the “UNDP Turkey Resilience Project in response to the Syria Crisis (TRP)” that prioritizes livelihoods through economic and social resilience.
  4. Environment: Oftentimes, the ones who are most affected by environmental disasters are those living in extreme poverty. Thus, UNDP goals included helping countries to protect the most vulnerable communities. Of note, 256 million tons of carbon emissions have been cut thanks to UNDP efforts. In addition, in 2018, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the UNDP worked together to encourage governments to incorporate the environment aspect into the framework of human rights for the mining sector.
  5. Energy: UNDP goals redirected countries from using fossil fuels towards renewable and affordable sources of energy. The organization provided around $1 billion in grants to 110 countries towards progressing this goal by increasing the percentage of clean energy usage in each countries’ national energy mix. For instance, Indonesian farmers worked on the Biochar project with the UNDP to develop bio-charcoal. This enabled female farmers to develop bio-charcoal home industries to boost their incomes and improve their living standards.

The UNDP aims to complete its agenda and reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, which is why it has built labs in more than 60 countries to accelerate the process.

– Nergis Sefer
Photo: Flickr

Girls Education in Turkey
The Turkish education system is not much different from that of the U.S; the state governs education, which is mandatory for 12 years and is free. Students may choose to pursue further education at university with more than 70 universities in Turkey to choose from. However, despite how similar it may appear on the surface, girls education in Turkey is still unequal to their male counterparts.

10 Facts About Girls Education in Turkey

  1. Education is currently the biggest item on Turkey’s government budget. The Turkish Statistical Agency reports that direct and indirect expenses on education have increased by 54 percent between 2011 and 2014 sitting at 113.6 billion liras ($31.4 billion). Of note, education spending as part of Turkey’s overall budget increased by one-third from 8.5 percent to 12.4 percent.
  2. While the female literacy rate has risen to 93.56 percent and the male literacy rate is 98.78 percent, it is not an accurate percentage of the girls throughout Turkey. About 45 percent of girls 15 and under remain illiterate in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions and women account for two-thirds of adults without basic literacy skills.
  3. Sixteen million girls in Turkey will never set foot in a classroom for a multitude of reasons such as poverty, geographical information, pregnancy, gender-based violence and traditional attitudes of the role of a woman.
  4. The lack of a push for girlseducation in Turkey has led to a consistent number of only 39 percent of women being in the labor force for almost three decades. Girls’ families consistently discourage them from continuing school and the girls receive pressure to become homemakers. With little support in their home life, girls follow the life that their parents lead and do not choose to further their education.
  5. Turkey ranks 130 out of 149 on the gender gap index. The gender gap index reports on the gender gap in the economy, education, health and politics. The large gap that Turkey holds in the global index continues to show that women in Turkey face some of the biggest inequalities in the world based on a multitude of measurements.
  6. Since 2009, the male to female enrollment ratio for universities in Turkey increased from 12 percent to 14 percent, and since 2005, graduation rates for college students have increased by 170 percent. While attainment levels remain low, only 18 percent of 25 to 64-year-olds have any higher education so the increase in girls’ higher level education in Turkey remains hopeful.
  7. Fifteen percent of girls under the age of 18 in Turkey enter into forced marriages. Child marriage can be driven by gender inequality, gender norms, poor birth registrations, displacement and violence. When girls become child brides, they are less likely to continue with school and more likely to stay at home and become homemakers.
  8. With the Syrian crisis, the longer refugees are living in poverty, the more likely they are to marry off their daughters to Turkish men. This then leads to girls in Turkey not being able to further their education.
  9. With goal 5 of the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Turkey has committed to eliminating child, early and forced marriages in the next decade. During the 2015 Universal Periodic Review, the government-supported policy recommendations to criminalize child marriage and take legislative and political action to bring an end to this archaic practice. This enhancement in eliminating forced childhood marriages allows for more girls to further their education and have more choices in their life as they go into adulthood.
  10. Turkey’s involvement in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also includes its aim to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Goal 4 of the agenda includes seven targets including universal primary and secondary education, universal youth literacy and gender equality and inclusion. Turkey’s participation in the agenda is a step forward in the fight to develop girls education in Turkey.

There is a multitude of initiatives in Turkey other than the Turkish government that intends to reduce inequality in the education system. CYDD, a nonprofit fighting for girls’ education in Turkey, has awarded over 100,000 scholarships and created over 50 schools. These 10 facts about girls’ education in Turkey show the issues that are prevalent, but also the ways in which Turkey is addressing them. The initiatives of nonprofits and the government have bettered girls education in Turkey, but Turkey needs other improvements to further bridge the gap.

– Alexia Carvajalino
Photo: Unsplash

China Is Leading in Poverty ReductionChina is the world’s most populated country and has a culture that stretches back nearly 4,000 years. In recent years, its achievements in poverty reduction have been unprecedented. China is leading the world in poverty reduction, outpacing many other major nations in terms of national focus.

These efforts can be attributed to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has led a drive to eradicate the problem of extreme poverty. For the first time in over 30 years, its list of areas suffering from extreme poverty has been reduced. China removed 28 counties from its list of poorest places in the country. The number of Chinese people lifted out of poverty over the last 30 years accounts for more than 70 percent of the world’s total. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said in a forum that “China is an active advocate and strong force for world poverty alleviation.” This combined with efforts within the country shows how China is leading in poverty reduction.

The government of China hopes to share its experiences and improve collaboration with other countries as part of its plan to follow the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Years of work have led to China closing in on its goals of achieving a moderately prosperous society by 2020, beginning with the baseline task of lifting all people out of poverty. So far, more than 10 million people have been freed from poverty each year since 2012.

In an interview with Xinhuanet, U.N. Resident Coordinator and Development Resident Representative in China Nicholas Rosellini said: “These achievements not only can benefit China but also bring experience to the world and make great contributions to global poverty reduction efforts.” He goes on to stress that without China’s contribution, there is no way to achieve the common goal of reducing global poverty and believes that China can achieve the goal of comprehensively eliminating rural poverty by 2020.

Additionally, the United Nations will provide systematic support for China’s poverty reduction work. Rosellini commends China’s contributions to world peace, as they contribute more troops to U.N. peacekeeping missions than any other permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. China has become the second-largest country to share U.N. peacekeeping costs.

Although the goals may seem somewhat optimistic, it is still significant that China is leading in poverty reduction around the world. There are many reasons for the U.S. to increase support for global poverty reduction. With less poverty comes less overpopulation, as the higher the death rate is for children in a region, the higher the birthrate. This is because when people know their children will survive, they have fewer children. In addition to this, history has shown that when people transition from barely surviving into consumers, it opens new markets and job opportunities for U.S. companies. In the United States, one out of every five jobs are export-based, and 50 percent of U.S. exports go to developing nations.

There are many positive consequences that can come from fighting global poverty and they should incentive other countries, like the U.S., to increase their support for reducing extreme global poverty.

Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr