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Lotus flowers are used to make lotus face masks in Cambodia to address PPE waste and a high face mask demand. Several activists and actors have raised alarm over the potentially devastating effects that personal protective equipment (PPE) can have in terms of increasing pollution around the world. There have been reports of PPE waste collecting on coasts around the world. Plastic pollution negatively impacts ocean health and, for maritime nations, this could translate to economic losses and the loss of livelihoods for those working within the ocean economy. One study by Plastics Hub found that if every person living in the UK utilized a single-use face mask for every day of 2020, it would contribute an additional 66,000 tons of plastic waste. It is unclear how much of this waste could end up in marine environments, but with 150 million tonnes already circulating the earth’s water, there is a pressing urgency to address the unsustainability of single-use face masks to fight the spread of COVID-19. As a result, an eco-friendly designer in Cambodia created lotus face masks to address this PPE waste.

Is There a Way to Combat PPE Pollution?

Cambodia is not exempt from the negative impacts that pollution can have on marine environments. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) identifies Cambodia as being highly dependent on its aquatic resources for both food security and the livelihoods of the Cambodian people.  In 2013, Cambodia averaged 700,000 tons of fishing and aquaculture production.  At a conference on maritime issues in Cambodia in 2015, hosted by the National University of Management in Phnom Penh, speakers highlighted the risk pollution poses to the economic livelihoods of those who depend on the marine economy.  The FAO has also spoken about the degradation of the marine habitat in the country due to pollution. Photographer Niamh Peren described one scene of coastal pollution in Sihanouk, Cambodia as “mountains and mountains of plastic.”

Pollution in the marine environment is a global problem. Due to the nature of the ocean’s currents, marine plastic pollution does not respect national boundaries and one country’s actions will not be enough to address the problem alone. However, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, is implementing an innovative solution to tackling plastic pollution, while simultaneously diversifying the economy in Cambodia and alleviating poverty rates in the country.

Turning Unwanted Lotus Stems into Organic Fabric

Delaval’s lotus face masks are made utilizing ancestral techniques of producing lotus fiber from lotus stems, which are commonly regarded as waste within the country. The entire process of creating sustainable lotus face masks is entirely eco-friendly, as well as biodegradable.  The fabric produced using lotus fibers is remarkably efficient at filtration and, according to Delaval, is a superior fabric due to its light texture and breathability. The eco-textile company Samatoa, which Delaval manages, produces lotus masks that meet the standards of both the United States’ CDC and France’s Association Francaise de Normalization, making them an effective alternative to plastic single-use face masks.

Samatoa also values the tenets of fair trade and has made a positive impact on the livelihoods of poor Cambodians in the Battambang province. The company has provided employment that empowered thirty Cambodia women to be financially independent and provide for their families. According to Samatoa, the wages earned by company workers are twice what they would receive from other textile work in the country. Additionally, the company ensures that workers have access to a number of benefits, including trade union rights, paid leave and health insurance.

Impact of Lotus Face Masks

Delaval’s innovative solution to plastic pollution produced from single-use face masks gained international attention. The company he manages, Samatoa, is striving to increase production and capacity to improve the lives of an additional 500 women. Samatoa also provides educational opportunities to lotus farmers on sustainable farming practices, further improving the lives of the Cambodian people. Deval’s lotus face masks provide a sustainable solution to the problem of PPE waste while simultaneously providing economic development to rural communities in Cambodia.

– Leah Bordlee
Photo: Pixabay

MDGsAt the Millennium Summit in 2000, history was made when a record number of world leaders gathered to adopt the U.N. Millennium Declaration, committing nations to cutting extreme poverty in half through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and eradicate poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Through the agreement, the MDGs target different dimensions of poverty including hunger, disease, insufficient shelter, gender inequality, global education and environmental sustainability.

With an expiration date of December 2015, the achievements made through the MDGs provide evidence that poverty can be eliminated worldwide by 2030.

MDG 1: Cut Extreme Hunger and Poverty in Half

Since 1990, the amount of people living on less than $1.25 per day decreased from 1.9 billion to 836 million in 2015. While extreme poverty was cut in half, extreme hunger narrowly missed the mark, dropping from 23.3 percent to 12.9 percent.

MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

Primary School Enrollment has seen a slight rise, increasing from 83 percent in 2000 to 91 percent in 2015.

MDG 3: Eliminate Gender Disparity in Education and Empower Women

Since 1990, approximately two-thirds of developing countries have achieved gender unity. In Southern Asia, the primary school enrollment ratio favors girls over boys in 2015.

MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality by Two-Thirds

The child mortality rate decreased from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6 million in 2015. In addition, the measles vaccine compared to 2000 covered almost 10 percent more children worldwide.

MDG 5: Reduce the Maternal Morality Rate by 75 Percent

Compared to 1990, the maternal mortality rate has been cut in half, narrowly missing the 75 percent benchmark.

MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

Since 2000, the number of new HIV infections decreased by 40 percent, dropping from 3.5 million to 2.1 million in 2013.

MDG 7: Increase Environmental Sustainability

In 2010, the goal to increase access to clean water was achieved five years early. Since 1990, 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water.

MDG 8: Develop an Open Partnership for Development

Overseas development assistance from developed nations to developing countries increased 66 percent. With the expansion of technology, Internet infiltration increased significantly from 6 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2015.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: The Guardian
Photo: NaijaLog

Victories of the MDGsThe Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been the development foundation for the past 15 years, and as the movement comes to an end, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describes it as “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history.” At the beginning of the millennium the world leaders gathered at the United Nations to strategize methods for fighting poverty; they created eight goals to guide them in fighting poverty in its many elements. The victories of the MDGs are as follows:

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

The extreme poverty rate in developing countries was at 47 percent in 1990 and has since dropped to 14 percent in 2015. In those same 25 years the global number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped from 1,926 million to 836 million. And undernourished percentage in developing countries has dropped from 23.3 to 12.9.

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

The number of out-of-school children has dropped by half between 2000 and 2015: 100 million to 57 million. In sub-Saharan African, net enrollment rate has increased by 20 percent from 2000 to 2015. The global 8 percent increase in literacy rates has also narrowed the literacy gap between men and women.

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

In Southern Asia, for every 100 boys enrolled in primary education, 74 girls were enrolled in 1990, and now 103 girls are enrolled for every 100 boys. In 1990 women made up 35 percent of the paid workforce outside the agricultural sector; today they make up 41 percent of said work force.victories_of_the_MDGs

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality

The global number of deaths for children below the age of 5 has dropped from 12.7 million to 6 million between 1990 and 2015. The measles vaccination has prevented 15.6 million deaths between 2000 and 2013.

Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health

Globally, the mortality ration has dropped by 45 percent since 1990 with most of its decline occurring since 2000. Contraception use has increased by 9 percent among women between the ages of 15 to 49.

Goal 6: Combat HI/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

In 2003 0.8 million people with HIV were receiving Antiretroviral Therapy Treatment (ART), and by 2014 13.6 million people with HIV were receiving ART. Nine hundred million insecticide-treated mosquito nets were delivered to malaria prone countries in sub-Saharan Africa between 2004 and 2014.

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Since 1990, 1.9 billion people have gained access to clean, drinking tap water. Improved sanitation is now available to 2.1 billion people.

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Between 2000 and 2014, the official development assistance from developed countries rose from USD $81 billion to USD $135 billion. The global effort of the MDGs has also brought mobile-cellular signal to 95 percent of the world population, and access to Internet has grown from 6 percent to 43 percent between 2000 and 2015.

According to Ban Ki-moon, the MDGs results have taught world leaders lessons that will help with carrying out the Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years. He said, “Reflecting on the MDGs and looking ahead to the next 15 years, there is no question that we can deliver on our shared responsibility to end poverty, leave no one behind and create a world of dignity for all.”

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: UN, The Guardian
Photo: Pixabay, Wikipedia

EARTH_university

EARTH University focuses on public health and environmental sustainability. The school is based in Costa Rica and began supporting underdeveloped communities in 1990.

The founders of EARTH University’s goals were to teach young people from the Caribbean and Latin America how to use sustainable methods to help their communities thrive.

Now, 25 years later, EARTH University’s impact has spread from Latin and South America to regions in Asia and Africa. EARTH University offers rigorous undergraduate programs that elicit graduates in just four years.

Graduates from EARTH University learn how to utilize sustainable agricultural methods to create prosperous and just communities. Programs offered include agricultural sciences and natural resources management.

The curriculum at EARTH University is based on four guiding principles.

  1. The first principle guides the college to educate its students in technical and scientific knowledge to ensure they practice accurate and sustainable agricultural practices in the future. This helps alumni manage their natural resources and have a prosperous agricultural career.
  2. EARTH University works hard to help its students develop personally by exposing them to positive attitudes and values. The EARTH community fosters self-awareness, empathy, respect and tolerance, while using teamwork, effective communication and lifelong learning to promote peace and understanding.
  3. The University teaches ethical entrepreneurship. During a student’s first three years of schooling, he or she engages in an intensive entrepreneurial project. The project prepares students to leave EARTH University with the knowledge and experience needed to run their own business to help their community develop positively.
  4. EARTH University is dedicated to applying their resources to train their students in sustainability. EARTH’s curriculum promotes maintaining a healthy environment, and graduates are equipped with the knowledge to grow sustainable crops and prevent issues like soil erosion. And with this knowledge, graduates are able to help their communities rise out of poverty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKkOBFWkF9M

As of 2014, EARTH University had 422 students from 43 countries in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe. According to the EARTH University website, graduates like Claudia Jeronimo, who graduated in 2005, return home to use their newfound knowledge of sustainability and social justice to revitalize their communities.

Jeronimo has worked hard since graduating to promote gender equality and food security in her community. Since its inauguration, almost 2,000 students have graduated from EARTH University, with 97 percent of them dedicating their knowledge and experience to assist their home communities.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Explore, Earth, Consortium Earth
Photo: Flickr

A Green Colombia

Humankind has achieved a level of greatness unknown to its predecessors: today we freely traverse the globe as we please and live comfortable lifestyles, infatuated with the belief that we live in a place where almost anything is possible.

Unfortunately, this whimsical attitude cannot last in a world unable to keep up with each and every whim and passing fancy of the human heart. With the inevitable effects of climate change ravaging the one and only planet in which we live, a growing endeavor to find sustainable approaches and solutions for countries around the world continues to be a top priority on the nation’s agenda.

Recognizing this importance, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a $700 million loan which supported green growth in Colombia as well as environmental developments within the country. It was through this Development Policy Loan (DPL) that Colombian administration’s budgetary program was supported.

The National Development Plan for Colombia has several initiatives in support of a green growth strategy which include “reducing water and air pollution as well as the final disposal and recycling of solid waste,” states an article by the World Bank.

Challenges that Colombia faces in this effort include an aversion to adaption in the face of climate change and a “reduction in the costs of environmental degradation on health,” says the World Bank. However, this loan will present a unique and golden opportunity to promote social, economic and environmental developments for this country.

According to the World Bank, “the rate of exploitation of Colombia’s natural resources is greater than the average for Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) countries. For example, extensive cattle raising, mostly undertaken in unsuitable lands, has caused significant deterioration in land use. Equally, the industrial sector is one of the biggest culprits behind organic pollution and the deterioration of water quality in Colombia.”

With the poorest and most vulnerable people suffering the most from environmental degradation issues, advances in environmental sustainability will be welcomed and embraced throughout this region. This loan will not just benefit the very poor but also seeks to improve productivity and overall quality of life for all Colombians.

Future endeavors will focus on strengthening the response capacity to climate change and natural disasters that affect the country. As often as this is repeated, its message stays true: only by investing in these issues today can we create a future for tomorrow.

Nikki Schaffer

Sources: DNP, World Bank
Photo:Flickr

Althelia Climate Fund

On May 28, 2014, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced their financial support for the Althelia Climate Fund.

The Althelia Climate Fund is an organization that works to curb deforestation and unsustainable land use because they believe that “natural capital—our ecosystems, biodiversity and natural resources—is fundamental to the well-being and sustainable development of our societies.”

USAID has agreed to lend $133.8 million to the Althelia Climate Fund that will provide commercial loans to thousands of forest-based businesses whose livelihoods depend on the sustainable management of land use. This large sum is the first private sector fund of this scale allocated to forest conservation.

Deforestation and forest degradation accounts for nearly one fifth of all global greenhouse gas emissions and has an immense impact on all of the world’s citizens.

“Over 1.5 billion people rely on forests to meet their day-to-day needs, and the majority of these are poor rural communities, including some 60 million indigenous people,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah stated. “By creating incentives to better manage these forests, we provide a pathway out of extreme poverty for families who depend on forests while helping preserve critical ecosystems.”

The deterioration of ecosystems hurts everyone, in both developing and developed countries. Althelia estimates that the “annual value of services provided by nature is in the trillions of dollars.”

The financial support from USAID will make it possible to give commercial loans to ecotourism and agroforestry businesses that will enable them to expand their operations. The funds will also protect 20 rainforests and help reduce an estimate of 100 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, or the equivalent of taking 18.5 million cars off the road for one full year.

“This guarantee provided by USAID allows private capital to flow at scale toward financing sustainable land use models that drive livelihood improvements, ecosystem conservation and climate change mitigation,” said the Managing Partner from Althelia Climate Fund, Christian del Valle.

USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) works to mobilize financing locally in developing countries. Through the DCA, credit guarantees reduce risk for private lenders and provide incentive for them to include underserved borrowers in new sectors and regions.

DCA covers up to 50 percent of the risk in lending toward programs that work to achieve USAID’s development objectives. The USAID guarantees cumulative default rate is only 1.85 percent, which means entrepreneurs and businesses in developing countries are being funded at little cost and risk to U.S. taxpayers. Already $3.1 billion dollars has been mobilized to finance private local finds.

As businesses around the world increase their profits, not only is the standard of living increased, but an added bonus is the expansion of the world’s middle class. This expansion in turn results in an increase of U.S exports, of which already 45 percent go to developing countries.

In a video message to the Carbon Expo in Germany from Washington DC on May 28, 2014 when USAID announced its financial support, Secretary of State John Kerry stated that, “If we act now, we can not only save our forests, we can create jobs and economic growth, we can clean up our air, we can improve our health, we can create greater security… and we can live up to a fundamental responsibility that we all share: leaving future generations with a planet that is clean, healthy and sustainable.”

– Kim Tierney

Sources: Althelia Ecosphere, UNEP, USAID, Youtube
Photo: Pinterest

Paradigm Shift Millennium Development Goals Post-2015
For nearly 15 years, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) have been a sign post for development efforts—guiding, informing and evaluating them to ensure they were on the right track. But with 2014 right around the corner, one has to wonder what is next for the global development agenda—what is to become of the MDG after 2015?

Fortunately, forging a post-2015 development agenda has been well underway since 2010.

The current MDG, which were established at the Millennium Summit in 2000, outline eight targets for development which were to be reached by 2015. They are to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, empower women and reduce child mortality; improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.

While certain targets which were agreed upon have been met, there is still a long way to go. Furthermore, it was precisely that which a high level UN plenary meeting on the MDG decided in 2010. What was promised at that meeting was an acceleration of current MDG goals towards reaching their 2015 target date, but more importantly it set the course for a post-2015 development agenda.

To that end, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established several UN panels and task teams while appointing a special adviser on post-2015 development. His efforts resulted in a High Level Panel of Eminent Persons in 2012, which included a myriad of high level officials from every corner of the world.

In May 2013, the panel released a report entitled ‘A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development.’ The report highlights and codifies the efforts that had been underway since the 2010 summit.

Calling for a new post-2015 development paradigm, the report concluded that business as usual is not an option. The report further explained that the post-2015 agenda is a universal agenda which needs to be driven by the following “five big transformative shifts:”

1. Leave no one behind: 

With 1.2 billion people still living in poverty, this shift is meant to change the paradigm from target reduction to total eradication of extreme poverty.

2. Put sustainable development at the core.

With the continued pace of environmental degradation, sustainable development now includes increased social inclusion and a greater emphasis on reducing unsustainable consumption to be brought about through structural changes in our current models of sustainability.

3. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth.

With so many people working far too many hours for too little pay, it is vital to ensure not just equal job status, but equal economic opportunity. That is to say, everyone should have the equal opportunity to engage in work which provides a living wage.

4. Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all. 

With so much poverty resulting from conflict and wars, the post-2015 agenda calls for “a fundamental shift—to recognize peace and good governance as core elements of well-being, not optional extras.”

5. Forge a new global partnership.

Touted as perhaps the most important of the transformative shifts, the idea is to get everyone involved “towards a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation and mutual accountability.”

These shifts are meant to affirm the success of the MDG while acknowledging that there is still work to do. And with the new target date of 2030, everyone gets 15 more years to get it done right this time.

Pedram Afshar

Sources: Post-2015 HLP, UN Report: A New Global Partnership, The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013
Photo: Vintage 3D

green_school
Two weeks ago, the U.S. Green Building Council (GBC) announced this year’s Greenest Schools on Earth at the World Green Building Council Annual Congress in Capetown, South Africa. Can you guess where these winning schools are located?

Based on criteria such as efficient use of resources, reduced environmental impact, enhanced health and learning, and emphasis on sustainability and resource-conservation education, the Waterbank School at Nyiro Primary School in Laikipia, Kenya and the Sing Yin Secondary School in Hong Kong were chosen as the Greenest Schools on Earth for their individual commitments to sustainability.

Kenya’s Uaso Nyiro Primary School’s unique Waterbank School building was designed by Princeton-based architects’ practice, Pitch Africa. The first of its kind in Africa, the Waterbank School was built with local materials and local labor as a low-cost school for poor regions in need of water. The school is equipped with a roof catchment system, which harvests rainwater into an underground cistern with a 350,000 liter/year harvesting capacity at the center of the school’s courtyard.

An integrated clay filtration system then purifies the rainwater for use by the students and for irrigation in the school’s vegetable gardens. Surrounding the cistern are ventilated classrooms, teaching gardens, a community workshop and a courtyard theater, all protected by a high wall that keeps out thirsty elephants and other unwanted guests.

The Waterbank School currently educates around 360 children and provides water for 680 children, all living on less than $1.40 per day.

Hong Kong’s Sing Yin Secondary School similarly serves low-income students, but differs from the Waterbank School in its urban location in the most densely populated district of Hong Kong. This School incorporates an organic farm, two green roofs, a bamboo corner and an aquarium into its operations.

Its buildings are oriented to enhance natural ventilation and maximize natural lighting, but also to block unfavorable weather conditions in the summer and winter. With a heavy focus on energy efficiency and low carbon emission, Sing Yin boasts features such as photovoltaic panels, solar hot water systems, wind turbines and LED lighting.

While the Greenest School on Earth prize is usually awarded to only one winner, the GBC judging panel had difficulty selecting between the two schools this year and, ultimately, chose to award both schools.

President and CEO of the Green Building Council commented, “We selected both of these schools because of what they say about one another and also about the scale and scope in the movement – they demonstrate that across the world, from community to community and from city to village, no matter where we learn, where we learn matters.”

Indeed, these schools serve as strong examples of how sustainability can be inextricably integrated into what and where students learn.

– Tara Young
Sources: Fast CoExist, U.S. Green Building Council
Photo: Eco Child’s Play

 

MDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
This is the seventh post in a series focusing on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs are a set of eight interconnected goals based on a commitment to improving the social, political, and economic lives of all people. They were agreed upon by over 180 countries and are to be achieved by 2015. With two years left until this deadline, it is exciting to see how much progress has been made and important to recognize how much work we have left.

The seventh MDG consists of four facets that aim to ensure environmental sustainability. Progress pertaining to the four individual goals has been uneven, with incredible achievements in some areas and stagnation in others. The four targets are:

  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs, and reverse the loss of environmental resources
  2. Significantly reduce biodiversity loss by 2010
  3. Cut the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in half by 2015
  4. Improve the lives of a least 100 million slum-dwellers by 2020

Overall progress on the first of these goals has been slow. Deforestation continues to deplete an important safety net for the poor, especially in South America and Africa. With over 32 million acres of forest lost annually, the world is headed for environmental devastation and efforts on this front must be redoubled. Similarly, global CO2 emissions have risen by almost 50% since 1990. On the other hand, since the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987, the consumption of such substances has decreased by over 98%. Applying this type of initiative to CO2 emissions, deforestation, and other harmful developments would vastly improve the state of the world. The potential for this type of action exists, as displayed at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, where world leaders pledged more than $513 billion towards sustainable development projects.

Progress in regards to the second goal has been slightly more substantial, with the number of protected areas on Earth’s surface increasing by 58% since 1990. However, there are still many vital biodiversity sites that are not yet protected. As of 2010, only 1.6% of the total ocean area is protected, compared with 12.7% of land area. The world’s oceans are a vastly undervalued resource. They are critical environmental resources and are damaged at alarming rates. Offenses in this area include overfishing, destruction of coral reefs, loss of biodiversity, and water pollution. Protection of oceans is vital to the welfare of many countries whose economies rely on ocean-related industries such as fishing and tourism. Efforts to ensure the preservation of oceans and land areas are needed to counteract biodiversity loss and environmental destruction.

When it comes to the third facet of MDG 7, progress has been incredible. The proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water was cut in half five years ahead of schedule! Over 2 billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources between 1990 and 2010. The World Health Organization and UNICEF define “improved” sources of drinking water as those that are protected from outside contamination, including human and animal waste, and runoff water. The percentage of people using such a source increased from 76% to 89% between 1990 and 2010. This amazing progress should leave no doubt that we can provide improved water sources for the 768 million people who are still in need, 40% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the WHO and UNICEF, improved sanitation facilities are those that hygienically prevent humans from coming in contact with human waste. Between 1990 and 2011, more than 240,000 people gained access to improved sanitation facilities every day. This represents astounding progress, although it still leaves roughly 2.5 billion people in developing countries without access to improved sanitation facilities. Given the astounding achievements thus far, progress should continue to be made in the years to come.

The final target of MDG 7 has also been met far ahead of the 2020 goal date. The lives of at least 200 million slum dwellers have been changed with access to improved water and/or sanitation facilities, as well as sturdier and less crowded housing. Living space is defined as a “slum household” if it lacks one or more of the following:

  • Access to improved water
  • Access to improved sanitation
  • Sufficient living space
  • Durability of housing
  • Security of tenure, or protection by the State from unlawful evictions

Of the five criteria, the security of tenure is by far the most difficult to keep track of. Because of this, the first four standards are widely used to determine the number of people living in slums. Based on these measures, more than 850 million people were living in slums as of 2012, which represents an increase of more than 200 million people from the 1990 figure. However, it is also worth noting that the proportion of slum-dwellers living in the developing world decreased by 6% between 2000 and 2012. This reflects the progress there that has led to the incredible achievement of this facet of MDG 7 so far ahead of schedule.

Environmental stewardship is an essential part of the fight against poverty. Those living in poverty are often the hardest hit when the environment is not taken care of. They do not, for example, have the resources to buy fertilizer to supplement deteriorating soil or to support themselves through a severe drought. They have less access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, and their housing is often tenuous. The seventh MDG is important because it aims to ensure that all people are able to benefit from the world’s resources for many generations to come.

– Katie Fullerton
Sources: UNICEF MDG Indicators UN World Bank

Renewable-energy_clean_energy_international_aid_Global_poverty_optAccess to energy is critical to the development of a nation. It allows for increased productivity and standards of living. Although the cheapest sources of energy often come from nonrenewable sources, developing countries should look to clean energy sources to fulfill their energy needs. Here are the 5 reasons why access to clean energy should be a top priority in development.

  1. Clean energy is renewable. Although clean energy may be more expensive to develop initially, in the long run its development is worth the investment. For instance, while many developed nations originally used fossil fuels as their primary source of energy, many are now switching to greener sources because of the rising cost of the decreasingly abundant nonrenewable ones. These developed nations first bore the costs of establishing the infrastructure needed to support nonrenewable sources of energy, and are now using even more resources to create the infrastructure necessary to use green sources of energy. Developing countries can be most efficient in their development by choosing to invest in renewable energy sources in the beginning.
  2. Energy poverty still remains. While an increasing number of people in the world have access to electricity, 1.2 people in the world still do not. Investing in clean energy allows for more people to have access to power without creating greenhouse gas emissions, unlike generating energy from fossil fuels.
  3. Clean energy drives development. Clean energy produces the power needed for increased production of goods, the lighting needed for children to do their homework at night, and the power needed for mass transportation networks. Additionally, clean energy sources can create jobs in impoverished areas. In Africa, a solar-powered light called the Mwezi Light creates new jobs through its simple assembly design. Workers can easily assemble the lights and sell them for a profit. Clean energy helps drive development by allowing people to be more productive.
  4. Nonrenewable sources of energy hurt people. According to National Geographic, approximately 3.5 million people are killed each year due to respiratory complications caused by using wood and biomass cookstoves. Clean energy sources do not create smoke or gases, and would not create such consequences.
  5. Nonrenewable sources of energy hurt the environment. Although they are cheaper to use, the burning of fossil fuels causes the emission of greenhouse gasses into the environment, which have a warming effect in the atmosphere. This warming can create droughts and extreme weather patterns. Both of these negative effects on the environment could actually perpetuate extreme poverty by destroying crops and endangering people’s homes.

While there are many areas of development — including access to safe water and an adequate amount of food — access to clean energy should also be a priority in any nation’s development. Clean energy drives productivity and increases the standard of living in a country without perpetuating the negative consequences of nonrenewable energy sources.

– Jordan Kline

Source: National Geographic, Sustainablog