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Science-Based TargetsThe Science-Based Targets initiative is a coalition of 885 companies to date that have set goals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The overarching goal of the initiative is to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement’s established standard of limiting temperature rise to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The initiative lays out guidelines and strategies for companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Companies can accomplish this while producing transparent reports on their current emission levels. The purpose of this is to increase the companies’ credibility and public reputation. A team of experts reviews and approves each company’s proposed strategy to ensure that the strategy is effective and efficient. The initiative is led by a group of NGOs who work to reduce emissions: the CPD, the UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund. Some notable American companies taking part in the initiative include Walmart, Unilever and Coca-Cola. However, companies from countries across the globe are taking part.

Setting Science-Based Targets not only benefits the environment through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, but it also benefits each company internally. The initiative conducted a series of polls of company executives to quantify how setting a Science-Based Target benefits their companies. The poll found that 63% of the executives said that Science-Based Targets drive innovation. This is because companies must find greener, more eco-friendly ways to conduct business to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, 52% of the executives found that establishing Science-Based Targets has improved investor confidence. Many investors choose to assess a company based on its environmental friendliness. Therefore, partnering with the Science-Based Targets initiative gives companies credibility and a good reputation in these terms.

How Will the Science-Based Targets Initiative Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

The Science-Based Targets initiative describes three approaches companies can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

  1. A Sector-based Approach: Every sector in the economy receives a carbon emissions budget. If the companies are in excess of the budget, then they are tasked to find a way to reduce their emissions.
  2. An Absolute-based Approach: The initiative sets a blanket percent reduction in carbon emissions for all companies globally. Those companies would have to reduce their emissions by that specified amount.
  3. An Economic-based Approach: Each company’s gross profit is a share of global gross domestic product. Each company must reduce its carbon emissions proportional to the size of its share.

No matter the approach, the goal of each method is to reduce a company’s carbon emissions, with the overarching goal of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the increase in the Earth’s global temperature caused by greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide, water vapor and methane) trapping solar radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere. Some solar radiation is reflected back into space, but other radiation is absorbed by greenhouse gases and reradiated back to Earth. In 2018, carbon dioxide accounted for 81% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing carbon emissions reduces the greenhouse effect, preventing Earth’s temperature from sharply increasing.

How Does Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Help the World’s Poor?

Natural disasters, such as flooding and drought, disproportionately affect the world’s poor. Millions living in poverty are farmers, and weather changes easily affect agriculture. The livelihood of these farmers depends on predictable weather patterns, so natural disasters could be devastating to them. They could also devastate the world’s food supply. If farmers are unable to produce crops at the same rates due to changing weather patterns, food prices could rise. As a result, this could leave the world’s poor at risk of not being able to afford sufficient food.

Climate gentrification has disproportionate impacts on the world’s poor. Climate gentrification is the notion that the wealthy have the means to escape natural disasters, whereas the poor do not. Rising sea levels and increased temperatures may cause many to have to relocate. However, the poor may not have the resources to relocate. This puts them in grave danger and exposes them to the devastation caused by natural disasters.

By reducing carbon emissions in the private sector, the Science-Based Targets initiative hopes to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. These actions could save millions who could be subject to natural disasters. Reducing carbon emissions slows the greenhouse effect, preventing the global temperature from reaching unlivable levels. Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions could prevent the millions already in poverty from being subject to natural disasters. The Science-Based Targets initiative is quickly gaining traction worldwide. One would hope that the private sector continues to do its part to reduce global carbon emissions.

Harry Yeung
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Gabon

Gabon, located on the west coast of Africa, is surrounded by Atlantic Ocean, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Forest covers 85 percent of the country, and the population is sparse and estimated to be 2.17 million. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about the life expectancy in Gabon.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Gabon

  1. The average life expectancy in Gabon is 66.4 years. Males have a life expectancy of 65 years compared to 68 years for females as per the 2016 data from WHO. This is the highest life expectancy value for Gabon compared to 61 years in 1990.
  2. Gabon’s total expenditure on health care is 3.44 percent of its gross domestic product. From the total expenditure on health, 31.62 percent comes from private resources. The government spends 7.38 percent of its total budget on health. This is higher than the average of 4.2 percent expenditure on health in Central Africa and an average of 3.9 percent for low-and-middle-income countries.
  3. Gabon has a low density of physicians. The country has 26 physicians and 290 nurses for every 100,000 people. The WHO notes that a physician density of less than 2.3 per 1,000 population is inadequate for an efficient primary health care system.
  4. Maternal mortality and infant mortality rates have seen a downward trend since the 1990s. The maternal mortality rate is 291 per 100,000 live births compared to 422 per 100,000 live births in 1990. The infant mortality rate is 21.5 per 1,000 live births. Eighty-nine percent of births are attended by skilled personal. The rate of under-5 deaths is 48.5 per 1,000 live births. On average, women have 3.8 children during their reproductive years.
  5. HIV/AIDS is no longer the number one cause of death in Gabon. Deaths from HIV/AIDS have declined by 77 percent since 2007. Similarly, deaths from tuberculosis and diarrhea have reduced by almost 23 percent and 22 percent respectively over the 10-year period ending in 2017. The current number one killer in Gabon is ischemic heart diseases followed by lower respiratory infection and malaria.
  6. Malnutrition is considered the most important driver of death and disability in Gabon. Dietary iron deficiency is the most important cause of disability and has retained the top spot for more than 10 years. Sixty percent of pregnant mothers and 62.50 percent of under-5 children are anemic, severely affecting the health and life expectancy of these groups.
  7. Rolled out in 2008, Gabon’s Universal health insurance extends coverage to the poorest, students, elderly, public and private sector workers. Gabon uses the Redevance Obligatoire à l’assurance Maladie (ROAM) to fund health care insurance. This is a 10 percent levy on mobile phone companies’ turnover, excluding tax and a 1.5 percent levy on money transfers outside the country. Still, the out of pocket cost for health care accounts for up to 21 percent of the total cost.
  8. As of 2015, 41.9 percent of the population has access to improved quality of drinking water. Gabon is ranked as 150 out of 189 countries in sanitation. People practicing open defecation increased from 1.7 percent in 2000 to 3.03 percent in 2015. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is advocating and investing to promote clean water in Gabon.
  9. Immunization coverage is between 70-79 percent for children in Gabon per UNICEF data. Available statistics for BCG and DTP vaccine shows that 87 percent of children have been vaccinated.
  10. The literacy rate in Gabon is 82.28 percent for the population aged 15 years and above. This is below the global average of 86 percent. The literacy rate for men (84 percent) is slightly higher than women (79 percent).

– Navjot Buttar
Photo: Flickr

8 Facts About Hunger in South AfricaSouth Africa possesses one of the strongest economies and lowest hunger rates in the continent of Africa. It is a middle-income emerging economy with a profusion of natural resources and well developed legal, communication, energy and transport systems. In recent years, its economic growth has declined to 0.7 percent and records show official unemployment as 27 percent. The cost of food in South Africa has increased and citizens are finding it more difficult to acquire food. South Africa’s economic state is one of the main reasons why millions of South Africans are food insecure, unable to consistently access or afford adequate food. To grasp the volume of the issue, here are 8 facts about hunger in South Africa.

8 Facts about Hunger in South Africa

  1. The Statistics South Africa General Household Survey (GHS) reported that 7.4 million people encountered hunger in 2016 and 1.7 million households had a family member go hungry in the past year. The percentage of South African Households with an insufficient or severely insufficient acquisition of food has been steadily declining since 2002. This may be in relation to the rising price of food and the unemployment rate in South Africa. The inflation rate was 5.3 percent in 2017 and the unemployment rate was 27.5 percent.
  2. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) 2017 report, “Food Loss and Waste: Facts and Figures,” a third of all the food produced “in South Africa is never consumed and simply ends up in a landfill.” Specifically, South Africa loses 210 kg per person per year. The report detailed that this contributes to adding more pressure to South Africa’s overly exerted waste-disposal system. The WWF is currently doing research on how to tackle food loss and working towards advocating for action across government and business sectors. Its “research includes both qualitative studies of attitudes and understanding and more data-driven approaches such as using life-cycle analysis to understand hotspots in food product value chains.”
  3. Reports indicated that households led by whites (96.6 percent) and Indian/Asians (93.2 percent) have adequate access to food. On the other hand, black African headed households had the largest proportion (17.9 percent) of households with inadequate access to food. This relates to the fact that the South African unemployment rate is roughly 27 percent of the workforce, and runs significantly higher among black youth.
  4. The number of children aged five or younger who have experienced hunger in 2017 reached half a million and counting. Data provided by Statistics South Africa shows that households with few to no children have more adequate food. Tables show that “80.8 percent of households with no children reported that their food access was adequate.” The report detailed that more than half of the households containing children that have undergone hunger were in urban areas. The report defines rural areas as traditional areas and farms. South Africans living in rural areas are more likely to have farms and thus attain food through agricultural means. Families living in urban areas have a harder time growing food or farming due to their location and surroundings.
  5. The Statistics South Africa General Household Survey reports that in 2017, 63.4 percent of households located in urban areas claimed they were experiencing hunger. As in the previous point, South Africans living in rural areas are more likely to gain food through farming endeavors, whereas people in cities will be less likely to grow their own food.
  6. The number of those living in extreme poverty in South Africa rose from 11 million in 2011 to 13.8 million in 2015. The price of agricultural products has increased over several years as well, which places many South Africans who are combating poverty in a position of insufficient access to food. South Africa’s GDP for agriculture in 2017 was 2.8 percent. Households most commonly grow crops or keep animals in order to grab hold of an additional food source. However, only 14.8 percent of households took part in manufacturing agriculture and only 11.1 percent of these individuals declared receiving government-issued agricultural support. The support would involve training as well as dipping/livestock vaccination services but it is not very widespread across South Africa. The few provinces that received significant support were KwaZulu-Natal (16 percent), Eastern Cape (21.7 percent) and Northern Cape (21.1 percent).
  7. FoodForward South Africa (SA) is a nonprofit organization that redistributes food throughout South Africa. It has partnered with “retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, farmers and growers” to distribute their overabundance of food to those in need. The organization distributed 4,400 tonnes of food and fed 250,000 people in 2018. It provides food to beneficiary organizations centered around services such as youth development, women’s empowerment and care centres that serve “hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries daily throughout South Africa.”
  8. The last of the 8 facts about hunger in South Africa is that many South Africans are not dying of hunger, but malnutrition because they do not have access to proper amounts of food. Malnutrition is the main cause of death for younger children. Deficiencies of vitamins and minerals can lead to birth/growth defects and increase the risk of getting HIV and AIDS. UNICEF is aiding the Department of Health to restructure the capacity of health workers and execute nutrition aid in under-served communities in South Africa. It has also implemented the single infant feeding strategy that encourages breastfeeding in relation to HIV. Specifically, to ensure that babies reach their full potential, health practitioners encourage mothers with HIV and their babies to take antiretroviral medicines (ARV) to prevent transmission.

This list of 8 facts about hunger in South Africa underscores the hunger issue that a number of people in South Africa face. Groups and organizations like the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), FoodForward SA and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recognized this problem and are making efforts to improve food conditions in South Africa.

– Jade Thompson
Photo: Flickr

How World Rowing Is Changing Poverty

Clean water is a very important part of people’s lives. However, for many poorer nations and communities around the world, access to clean water is limited. Some people have to travel for several miles just to find drinkable water. Many individual people and organizations have tackled this problem, but there is no singular solution to having clean water.

In 2011, World Rowing, the international organization, for rowing began a project with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to give to disadvantaged people the vital thing that makes the sport of rowing possible: water. The alliance began as a way to educate people about the importance of clean, fresh water, not just for humans but also for the environment.

WWF and World Rowing further developed this movement to find an area where water was endangered the most by various threats to water security. Some such threats include the effects of pollution, industry, agriculture, flooding, damming, hydropower, other ecosystems and human consumption. The resulting location was the lower water basin of the Kafue River in Zambia. This basin is a key area for economic resources, but it is also an important home to wetland wildlife and the main source of clean water for locals.

The issue at hand is how to reconcile the importance of the water basin with the harmful environmental effects. If people were to stop using it for industrial and agricultural purposes, the area would lose a large portion of its economic support, which could throw more people into poverty. However, if industry pollution and pesticides continue to contaminate the water, then there will be no safe drinking water.

The project has two goals that, if reached, can help end water insecurity and poverty. The first is to create a world-class water research center at the Kafue River Center. The center will team up with universities and researchers from around the world. Here they can study the effects of pollution, various ways to clean water, the balance of industry and wildlife and much more. The results found here will be open to the public, so that all water sources can benefit from the research.

The center’s second task is to provide a meeting place for all the people involved with this water project and other similar projects around the world.

While the project will do work to clean up the water in the Kafue Basin and provide cleaner water for the people, the research done at this center will help the world. It is a local project with a potentially global impact that can help solve the issue of water resources and poverty by finding a balance for all of the uses of water. The research here will hopefully solve the problems of water usage and water access, problems that keep people in poverty. It will be a balance that can provide sustainability and allow people to bring themselves out of poverty.

Katherine Hewitt

Sources: World Rowing, World News
Photo: International Water Security Network

clean-cookstoves
The city of Xi’an is nestled comfortably in mainland China, between the rural West and the modern East. Though the city has a population of approximately nine million, Xi’an is still smaller than Beijing or Shanghai and is decades behind in technology. It is here in the ballroom of the Aurum International Hotel that a representative from the World Wildlife Fund speaks.

She is scheduled to speak about panda conservation, but the conversation drifts towards using clean cookstoves. It’s the same endeavor that Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and many Congressional leaders and celebrities alike have supported. For around $280, the installation of the clean cook stove is a more sustainable alternative to the traditional coal burning cook stoves. Because the price of installation is too high for many of these families, the stoves have been partially subsidized by the Gold Standard.

During Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the clean cookstove initiative gained domestic and international attention as a hallmark of her Foreign Policy. Traditionally found in rural and underprivileged regions of the world, like those just an hour’s drive out of the Xi’an suburbs, the old cook stoves pose a threat to environmental sustainability as well as public health. The annual death toll as a result of wood-burning and high polluting stoves outnumbers the global mortality rate of malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV combined.

The clean cookstove initiative works twofold. Firstly, the stoves require simple installation which creates jobs of skilled workers to use. Secondly, the efficiency of the clean cookstove helps to expedite the time of household chores. Instead of collecting firewood and attending the old version of the cookstoves, villagers are now allotted more time. This time then can be used to continue to work and garner more income.

In 2013, Hillary Clinton announced the United States would pledge an additional $125 million in addition to the initial $50 million pledge. In conjunction with the efforts of the World Wildlife Fund China, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves has become a presence in Western China. By 2020, the goal is to have at least 100 million clean cookstoves worldwide.

Because of the multitude of the clean cookstove initiative have garnered support among ecologists, doctors, and politicians alike. The unified front of non-governmental organizations as well as efforts by the United States government has made the clean cook stove project one of the most successful poverty-reducing and life-preserving measures taken in the past decade.

-Kristin Ronzi

Sources: Carbon Finance for Cookstoves, Reuters
Photo: MyClimate

wwf_opt
The World Wildlife Fund is one of the most recognizable organizations in the world, working in over 80 countries with more than 5 million members and 2,500 staff. It has a long and illustrious history, involving members as powerful as Prince Phillip from the earliest days of its foundation. The World Wildlife Fund, or WWF as it is more commonly known, was created in 1961 in response to a dire shortage in funding towards conservation issues. At any given moment, the WWF is said to be running 1,300 projects, cooperating with other powerful agencies like the UN, USAID and the World Bank.

The organization’s current practice is focusing on the preservation of species that are important to humankind (e.g. elephants, tuna, whales, dolphins) as well as working to reducing countries’ ecological footprints. (This is a measure of an impact on the environment through commercial activities, like carbon emissions from factories, fishing, forestry and water treatment.)

They also maintain a significant level of outreach to the public by educating on endangered species, environmental degradation, pollution and the state of the planet by aggressively promoting and publishing articles and factsheets. They also offer individuals many opportunities to get involved, not only through donation but also through campaigns, pledges, tips for greener living and adopt-an-animal programs. They are a highly active and interactive organization, attempting to harness public power as well as directing their own considerable influence.

Organizations such as the WWF are integral in the alleviation of poverty. Though it is not a link that is immediately recognizable, sustaining a healthy environment is necessary to provide the world’s population food, shelter and water.

For many in the developed world, conservation is somewhat distanced from our everyday lives; living, as we do, in an urbanized environment, we get our food from supermarkets, we live in concrete houses, we work in the third sector and the weather is largely inconsequential to us. Yet for many, subsistence farming is their only source of food, droughts and floods are a matter of life and death and disturbances in the delicate balance of nature have an immediate and devastating impact on their daily lives.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Sources: WWF, The Guardian
Photo: WWF