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U.S. Solar Company Expands International Development to Latin America
SolarReserve, a U.S.-based solar company, has announced its expansion into Latin America for international development purposes. The company opened up an additional office in Santiago, Chile, as part of an effort to “provide cost-effective, clean energy solutions worldwide.”

SolarReserve plans to focus primarily on solar energy opportunities in the growing mining sector throughout the region, and will also be developing large-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) projects, as well as photovoltaic projects.

Company CEO, Kevin Smith, stated that the move to Latin America was a logical next step considering the benefits of clean energy development in the region, including the abundant solar insulation, inclusionary energy policies, and the expanding mining sector. He also said that although hydropower and wind power are already established sources of clean energy in Latin America, solar is only more recently gaining a foothold.

Smith also stated that SolarReserve hopes the installation of solar energy will help provide a more consistent and reliable energy source to the region, along with a cleaner source of power from an environmental standpoint.

Christina Kindlon

Source: Power Engineering

The Link Between the Artificial Leaf and Development
For roughly three billion of the world’s population, access to traditional forms of energy is a luxury afforded to a privileged few. However, increased scientific research focused on finding “personalized” forms of energy production aimed at alleviating energy constraints in remote populations has resulted in amazing technological breakthroughs. Of these exciting new innovations, none has more potential in global poverty reduction than that of the artificial leaf and development.

Made of little more than a thin piece of silicone, the artificial leaf is coated with a self-healing substance that is able to produce a chemical reaction under certain conditions. The artificial leaf is able to utilize water and sunlight – not unlike the photosynthetic reactions of a real leaf – to produce enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for up to 24 hours. Furthermore, the artificial leaf has the unique ability to use dirty water as a means of energy production, a benefit considered instrumental in rural areas with little available drinking water. In regards to the artificial leaf and development, Harvard professor Daniel G. Nocera remarked that “They are a kind of ‘living catalyst.’ This is an important innovation that eases one of the concerns about the initial use of the leaf in developing countries and other remote areas.”

Scientific breakthroughs that open up exciting new energy possibilities such as artificial leaf and development are a reason to be optimistic in the fight against global poverty. In regards to the energy benefits of the artificial leaf, Nocera stated that “We’re interested in making lots of inexpensive units that may not be the most efficient, but that gets the job done. It’s kind of like going from huge mainframe computers to a personal laptop. This is personalized energy.”

Brian Turner

Source: Science Daily
Photo: The Guardian

US AID and Nepal Partner to Educate on Agriculture
Nepal Economic, Agriculture, and Trade Activity (NEAT), a 32-month program funded by USAID, aims to “promote economic growth, reduce poverty, increase food security, and improve lives” throughout Nepal. As part of the program, USAID and Nepal have partnered up through the Nepal Ministry of Agriculture Development to distribute educational materials on agricultural practices in the hopes of improving the production of agriculture in the country.

Through the funding provided by USAID, more than 263,000 pamphlets were handed out detailing specific agricultural instructions, both written in Nepali and as visuals in order to aid those citizens who are illiterate. The pamphlets detail “critical agriculture practice” on 13 types of crops and 3 species of livestock.

The NEAT program has improved the agricultural education of 67,510 households throughout 20 districts of Nepal with a regular lack of access to proper food sources. Thus far, the project has already allowed area farmers to see an increased income of $8.5 million collectively. These farmers and households have had increased access to markets and are better educated on agricultural practices such as pest and disease control, use of fertilizer, improved seed, and “post-harvest handling.”

The Director of USAID’s Social, Environmental, and Economic Development Office, John Stamm, maintained that USAID is dedicated to creating sustainable development solutions, including the NEAT program – which will allow Nepalese citizens greater resources for continuing to improve their lives long after the program ends in August of 2013.

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID

afghanistan art gallery
Art is a powerful form of expression and has been a tool artists have used to document the world around us for ages. Created by ART WORKS Projects and co-presented by UN Women, ten international photojournalists entered the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan to document and photograph their everyday lives in a country of conflict and fear. This was their way of presenting  development through art in Afghanistan.

Behind the camera lens, these photojournalists were able to depict these women and girls by revealing the immense courage they have for strengthening women’s rights. The highlight of these photographs are representative of how much the world has changed, depicting the status of these women in focuses of healthcare, education, peace and security, and economic development.

This women’s rights focused exhibition is a powerful contribution for the celebration of International Women’s Day in March. Joining in on the exhibition includes a collection of essays and writings by journalist Elizabeth Rubin and curator Leslie Thomas.

Some of the photographers includes Jean Chung, with one of her images above, Jared Moossy, Ron Haviv, and Moises Saman are just a few of them who have their work in this gallery. The exhibition is already open for public viewing at the Rayburn Foyer in Washington, DC. For more information on the artwork and project, visit the website here.

Jada Chin

Source: UN Women

Non-Communicable Diseases Key in Reducing PovertyIn a recent report, the World Health Organization (WHO) has deemed non-communicable diseases as the number one killer throughout the world. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease, have over an 80 percent occurrence rate in low-income countries and poverty-stricken regions, specifically.

The WHO also estimates that 63 percent of all deaths in 2008 were caused by NCDs, with 25 percent of those people being younger than 60 years old.

In a related study, Harvard University found that each extra year of life expectancy can raise a country’s GDP by nearly 4 percent, adding to the belief that NCDs help facilitate the spread of poverty and hinder development and economic growth. Although much has been done in industrialized countries to combat these diseases, the lack of health infrastructure throughout the developing world makes it very difficult to consistently provide the proper treatment to each individual affected by NCDs.

A “roadmap” to fight NCDs around the world, published by Johns Hopkins University, recommends that it is imperative for the private and public sectors to work together in order to find efficient solutions to tackling NCDs across the globe, especially in poverty-stricken countries. It also asserts that health infrastructure in low-income countries needs to be consistent and standardized in order to avoid building “systems that are complex, duplicative and inefficient.”

The roadmap also recommends a higher level of cooperation between pharmaceutical companies and regulatory institutions in order to streamline the process of approving selected treatments, and highlights the need for pharmaceutical companies to play a larger role in building “partnerships with communities and governments.”

Christina Kindlon

Sources: Forbes
Photo: United Nations University-MERIT

Peace Corps WeekIn 1961, John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps to “promote world peace and friendship.” Whether the Peace Corps stands more for a political strategy or for genuine friendship and goodwill, it has three main basic goals: helping countries meet their needs of trained men and women, providing and promoting a better understanding of Americans abroad (establishing a positive image), and helping Americans understand others.

Why is the Peace Corps worth it? Well, when it is effective, it saves American lives and money. People who volunteer for this organization serve to promote a positive American image while battling global poverty, thereby benefiting American national security by reducing threats. More success on the part of the Peace Corps volunteers equates to less money spent on military and fewer soldiers risking their lives. Thus, the Peace Corps also helps Americans spend fewer taxes on foreign conflicts and instead on foreign development.

Almost two weeks ago on March 1st, the Peace Corps celebrated its 52nd birthday. The American public was encouraged to take part in the Peace Corps Week celebration while taking into account that the Corps is an idealistic tool that pursues a safer and more stable world.

Leen Abdallah

Source: Policy Mic

The World Alliance of Cities Against PovertyOne voice may not always be enough for the world to hear, but when a community of more than 900 cities joins together to combat and confront development challenges such as global poverty, being heard is a guarantee. The World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty (WACAP) is a network of more than 900 cities, some of them located in nations such as the United Kingdom, Turkey, Ethiopia, among many more. This vast number of cities collaborate together to mobilize change with individuals, governments, and anyone willing to bring a helping hand into confronting and ending global poverty.

When a community comes together, there is the power of partnership and collaboration to depend upon. With this strength magnified, the ability of the network to make strides in development is multiplied.

When a city wants to join WACAP, they don’t only envision an improvement in their own communities, but an open opportunity to help fight urban poverty everywhere. This is the idea of cities helping cities. The cooperation between the cities is a vision of strengthening development. In the mission of WACAP, this vision is comprised of sustainable development in the urban context, understood through economic, environmental, and social dimensions.

Poverty kills thousands and leaves many people leading lives of constant despair and struggle. In order to create hope for these people living in poverty-stricken cities, WACAP is in an enduring partnership that will work to alleviate their suffering and build community networks that people can rely on.

Jada Chin

Source: WACAP

Panel Discusses the Millennium Development GoalsLast Friday, a high-level United Nations panel met in Liberia to discuss the UN Millennium Development Goals, one of the few successful international efforts aimed at addressing poverty, beyond 2015. Co-chaired by President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron, the panel made up of 27 world leaders is part of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s post-2015 initiative to discuss international development targets and advise on how to focus the international community’s efforts to end extreme poverty.

Started in 2002, the eight Millennium Development Goals of the UN Millennium Campaign are: End Poverty and Hunger, Universal Education, Gender Equality, Child Health, Maternal Health, Combat HIV/AIDS, Environmental Sustainability, and Global Partnership.

The objective of last Friday’s discussion was to renew, replace and replenish these goals and their sub-targets.  Present at the conference was Save the Children advocate Brendan Cox who commented that the members of the panel mostly differ on the foci of the new framework. “In our view, the framework can do lots of things: advance debates, encourage a normative shift, start to redefine development – but at its core must be abolishing absolute poverty in all its forms. That’s both because we think ending absolute poverty and focusing on the world’s poorest people is the most important thing, but also because we’re worried that without clear prioritization the panel and the ultimate framework will flounder, be unable to prioritize and unable to get specific. Such a framework would remain at 30,000 feet and struggle to gain political purchase if it could even be agreed.”

Prior to attending the panel, Prime Minister Cameron along with President Sirleaf visited a local school in need of books and computers. Cameron asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up, to which many answered doctors and lawyers. “That is very impressive. In my country, they all want to be footballers or pop stars,” joked Cameron. Cameron made mention that he hopes to include higher quality education to be included in the world poverty goals.

Cameron has also emphasized the need to focus on extreme rather than relative poverty. “Liberia is a country that was absolutely devastated by conflict and civil war,” he said. “It is now recovering but there is still desperate poverty. I think it is very important we keep a focus on eradicating extreme poverty.

“Here in Liberia, one in 10 children do not make it to the age of five. But I also think it is important we look at those things that keep countries poor. Conflict, corruption, lack of justice, lack of the rule of law. These things matter, as well as money,” he said.

Key documents, reports and ongoing research on the post-2015 agenda are available on post-2015.org.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: Post2015UNUN Millennium GoalsThe GuardianThe Guardian
Photo:DFID