Connect with us

Green Planet

Small but Smart: Benin and Togo Cooperate to Ensure Water Security

MD Staff

Published

on

A Togolese man measures the water level of the internationally-shared Mono River after heavy rainfall and discharges from an upstream dam. Photo by the Togolese Red Cross

The Mono River divides the two small West African nations of Benin and Togo. While less than a tenth the size of the Nile and Niger rivers, the Mono provides critical economic value for the two countries. Fishing in river-fed lakes and cultivating irrigated fields sustains livelihoods, and hydropower fuels economic growth across sectors and scales. However, when a river is shared, the threat of unilateral development or a tragedy of the commons-type exploitation pattern can limit the opportunity for economic and environmental benefits. The potential for conflict related to disagreements over the shared river can further cloud the economic and environmental outlooks.

“Water is a sensitive matter. In Western Africa, we have a lot of shared waters and often it leads to conflict,” says Mahamane Toure, Regional Program Officer with the Water Resources Coordination Unit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) works to support regional water resources cooperation in West Africa. For example, in 1981 the Mauritania-Senegal Border War began over a border dispute of the Senegal River and grazing rights. The war severed diplomatic relations between the two nations and created thousands of refugees from each.

Cooperation over the management of the Mono River can help Benin and Togo maximize economic and environmental gains, while also reducing the likelihood of disagreement or conflict. Cooperation over shared water resources can build consensus on the condition of the river, provide a forum for mutually beneficial development, and ensure sustainable management to meet future economic and environmental goals.

While the benefits of cooperation over shared waters are clear, successful cooperation can face many challenges including finding agreeable and effective governance arrangements and achieving good financial health and sustainability for the new management organization.

Small River Basin Authorities Face Financial Challenges

In 2014, the governments of Benin and Togo established the Mono Basin Authority (MBA) to coordinate the management and development of the Mono River. Working cooperatively with a fully functioning Authority, the two countries hope to maximize development benefits while protecting the future value of the resource. In its first year the MBA solicited the central governments of the two countries and civil society to assess needs and actions that can be taken.  The MBA worked to draft a Master Plan for Water Development and Management, and established basin and local water committees. The MBA also set out to strengthen information systems to establish agreed baselines for water quality, supply and health of the river.

In the past, other basin authorities in the region have seen funding dry up, effectively freezing operations and demoralizing the organization. “We want to mitigate the risk of irregular funding, because if water management isn’t sustained, and therefore water quality is degraded, the first people to feel the consequences will be the local populations and the most vulnerable,” says Toure. This concern is particularly important to small basin authorities that must dedicate a higher proportion of overall operating costs to core staff functions compared to larger basin authorities.

Toure’s office asked CIWA to do a study to help find innovative financing solutions for the MBA. The goal was to identify options to provide the MBA with lasting and consistent sources of financing, independent from country contributions. A team from CIWA, ECOWAS, and the MBA’s ad hoc Technical Committee of Experts recently concluded that study, called Sustainable Financing Mechanism Study for Mono Basin Authority. It looks at the Authority’s needs and functions, identifies ways to cut costs, evaluates potential sources of financing, and recommends short-, medium-, and long-term ways to finance the authority. The study focused on potential financing mechanisms, including member state contributions, a dedicated regional tax, user fee-based financing, polluter fee-based financing, sale of data and services, project management fees for infrastructure projects, management and administration fees, dividends from an investment fund, donor contributions, and public-private partnerships.

The study found that a small user-fee-based levy to hydropower and the mining sector would be the best solution. This would generate enough resources to finance a compact version of the Authority focused on key functions, and, importantly, “it would allow the organization to function independently from contributions from the states,” Toure noted.

With the organization not yet fully operational, the Authority is at a critical stage. Decision-makers still have the flexibility to determine the organizational structure and sources of financing. Toure feels confident that at the next meeting, the Council of Ministers will adopt the recommendations to ensure steady Authority financing. Lessons learned from the MBA and this financing study can be readily shared with other countries considering cooperation over smaller shared water resources.

In 2014, the governments of Benin and Togo established the Mono Basin Authority (MBA) to coordinate the management and development of the Mono River. Working cooperatively with a fully functioning Authority, the two countries hope to maximize development benefits while protecting the future value of the resource. In its first year the MBA solicited the central governments of the two countries and civil society to assess needs and actions that can be taken.  The MBA worked to draft a Master Plan for Water Development and Management, and established basin and local water committees. The MBA also set out to strengthen information systems to establish agreed baselines for water quality, supply and health of the river.

In the past, other basin authorities in the region have seen funding dry up, effectively freezing operations and demoralizing the organization. “We want to mitigate the risk of irregular funding, because if water management isn’t sustained, and therefore water quality is degraded, the first people to feel the consequences will be the local populations and the most vulnerable,” says Toure. This concern is particularly important to small basin authorities that must dedicate a higher proportion of overall operating costs to core staff functions compared to larger basin authorities.

Toure’s office asked CIWA to do a study to help find innovative financing solutions for the MBA. The goal was to identify options to provide the MBA with lasting and consistent sources of financing, independent from country contributions. A team from CIWA, ECOWAS, and the MBA’s ad hoc Technical Committee of Experts recently concluded that study, called Sustainable Financing Mechanism Study for Mono Basin Authority. It looks at the Authority’s needs and functions, identifies ways to cut costs, evaluates potential sources of financing, and recommends short-, medium-, and long-term ways to finance the authority. The study focused on potential financing mechanisms, including member state contributions, a dedicated regional tax, user fee-based financing, polluter fee-based financing, sale of data and services, project management fees for infrastructure projects, management and administration fees, dividends from an investment fund, donor contributions, and public-private partnerships.

The study found that a small user-fee-based levy to hydropower and the mining sector would be the best solution. This would generate enough resources to finance a compact version of the Authority focused on key functions, and, importantly, “it would allow the organization to function independently from contributions from the states,” Toure noted.

With the organization not yet fully operational, the Authority is at a critical stage. Decision-makers still have the flexibility to determine the organizational structure and sources of financing. Toure feels confident that at the next meeting, the Council of Ministers will adopt the recommendations to ensure steady Authority financing. Lessons learned from the MBA and this financing study can be readily shared with other countries considering cooperation over smaller shared water resources.

Source: World Bank

Green Planet

Promoting food production that values ecosystems

Newsroom

Published

on

Kenya is looking to develop agricultural activity that recognizes the benefits of biodiversity and climate-friendly land management.

UN Environment and the National Museums of Kenya have agreed to work together to develop policy reforms in agriculture that take into account the value of ecosystems. A scoping workshop for the three-year German-funded project entitled Supporting Biodiversity and Climate-friendly Land Management in Agricultural Landscapes will take place on 21-22 February 2018. Other collaborating countries are Colombia, Tanzania and Thailand.

Within UN Environment the project is being led by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) unit, which focuses on “making nature’s values visible”.

The project seeks to:

  • mainstream the values of biodiversity and ecosystem services into decision-making at all levels
  • help decision-makers recognize the wide range of benefits provided by ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • demonstrate their value in economic terms.

Agriculture is at the centre of human well-being and sustainable development. It has influenced our value systems, our cultural heritage, the structure and location of our communities, and the development of other sectors in the economy.

However, the ties between food systems and human health and cultural heritage are increasingly becoming invisible, as are the impacts our production systems are having on nature. This invisibility discourages stewardship of our natural resources and fosters their unsustainable use, generating negative impacts for both present and future generations.

2015 TEEB for Agriculture and Food (TEEBAgriFood) Interim Report seeks to explain the complex links between ecosystems, agriculture and the food we eat. It provides insights into the importance of ecosystems and biodiversity, and the (visible and invisible) impacts of different production systems on human and ecological well-being.

Much of the project’s work will focus on building national, regional and local government capacity to produce tailored economic assessments of ecosystems. The ecosystems and agricultural landscapes that are critical to policy will be chosen at the workshop.

The project will consolidate guidance and training for TEEB national implementation; provide technical support on valuation and accounting for specific national-level TEEB projects; and enhance the communication and dissemination of TEEB results.

UN Environment

Continue Reading

Green Planet

5 ways the United Kingdom is leading the fight against plastic pollution

Newsroom

Published

on

We’re only two months into 2018, but this year has already seen a number of concrete steps to combat plastic pollution in the United Kingdom. Changing public opinion, along with new restrictions on sending plastics to China (which previously took in 66 per cent of the UK’s plastic waste), have forced businesses and government bodies to reconsider traditional strategies for dealing with discarded plastic.

1. Queen Elizabeth bans disposable plastic

Buckingham Palace has implemented a plan to phase out the use of disposable plastics at royal estates. The new waste plan calls for ending the use of plastic straws and bottles in public and private dining areas. Additionally, biodegradable takeaway containers will be introduced. The Queen was reportedly inspired after working on a wildlife film with Sir David Attenborough, whose recent involvement in the BBC series Blue Planet 2 has been praised for bringing greater attention to the issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

2. Restaurants ditch plastic straws

An increasing number of UK restaurants and pubs are joining the global movement to end the use of plastic straws. Chains such as Costa Coffee, Pizza Express, Wagamama restaurants, and Wetherspoons have all put plans into place to phase out the use of non-biodegradable drinking straws in 2018. A number of independent establishments have also followed suit, encouraging customers to forego the straw or use a biodegradable one.

3. Scotland announces nationwide bans

While many companies and individuals have made great progress by phasing out plastic straws, the British nation of Scotland took it a step further by announcing plans for a countrywide ban on straws, which will be developed this year. This came on the heels of a previous announcement in January to ban the sale and manufacture of plastic cotton buds, which will be phased out over the course of 2018.

4. The UK says no to microbeads

In January, a government ban on plastic microbeads officially went into effect. The miniature plastic particles are widely used in cosmetics, soaps, and toothpastes, and due to their small size, can slip through treatment plants and pollute rivers and lakes. The first phase of the ban prevents the plastics from being used in the making of cosmetics and cleaning products, followed by a complete sales ban in July. This law follows similar ones passed by the United States, Canada, and Ireland, as well as moves by global cosmetics companies to phase out the use of such products.

5. Supermarkets go plastic free

In January the UK supermarket chain Iceland made headlines when it announced plans to eliminate plastic packaging for all Iceland branded products. The company released a five-year strategy that calls for introducing paper and pulp food containers, as well as paper bags, all of which can be returned to in-store recycling facilities. The company has already banned plastic straws and is beginning to introduce the new packaging over the next couple of months. Other companies such as Tesco and Aldi UK have announced similar plans, a response to increased demands from shoppers for environmental responsibility.

This article was originally published by UN Environment

Continue Reading

Green Planet

India to host World Environment Day 2018

MD Staff

Published

on

Today, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and Erik Solheim, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Head of UN Environment, jointly announced that India will be hosting the global World Environment Day celebrations on 5 June 2018.

“Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment 2018, urges governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives and urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic polluting our oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health.

“India is excited to host the World Environment Day this year on June 5. Indian philosophy and lifestyle has long been rooted in the concept of co-existence with nature. We are committed to making Planet Earth a cleaner and greener place”, said Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

He added: “If each and every one of us does at least one green good deed daily towards our Green Social Responsibility, there will be billions of green good deeds daily on the planet.”

The Government of India has committed to organizing and promoting the World Environment Day celebrations through a series of engaging activities and events generating strong public interest and participation. From pan-Indian plastic clean-up drives in public areas, national reserves and forests to simultaneous beach clean-up activities – India will lead the initiative by setting an example.

“India will be a great global host of 2018’s World Environment Day celebrations,” said Erik Solheim at the announcement on Monday.

He added: “The country has demonstrated tremendous global leadership on climate change and the need to shift to a low carbon economy, and India will now help galvanize greater action on plastics pollution. It’s a global emergency affecting every aspect of our lives. It’s in the water we drink and the food we eat. It’s destroying our beaches and oceans. India will now be leading the push to save our oceans and planet.”

India is emerging as a leader, given it has one of the highest recycling rates in the world. It can be instrumental in combating plastic pollution. By hosting World Environment Day 2018, the Indian government is accelerating its leadership on an issue of tremendous magnitude.

World Environment Day is a UN Environment-led global event, the single largest celebration of our environment each year, which takes place on June 5 and is celebrated by thousands of communities worldwide.

Since it began in 1972, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated across the globe.

Most of all, World Environment Day is a day of everyone around the world to take ownership of their environment and to actively engage in the protection of our earth.

Plastic Pollution facts:

  • Every year the world uses 500 billion plastic bags
  • Each year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans, the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute.
  • In the last decade, we produced more plastic than in the whole last century
  • 50 percent of the plastic we use is single-use or disposable
  • We buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute
  • Plastic makes up 10% of all of the waste we generate

Continue Reading

Latest

Americas3 hours ago

Russiagate-Trump Gets Solved by Giant of American Investigative Journalism

Lucy Komisar, who is perhaps the greatest living investigative journalist, has discovered — and has documented in detail — that...

Intelligence6 hours ago

Artificial intelligence and intelligence

As was also clearly stated by Vladimir Putin on September 4, 2017: “whichever country leads the way in Artificial Intelligence...

Tech7 hours ago

How Strategy, Technology, and Operations Come Together in “The Symphonic Enterprise”

New Report shares how leading companies are looking beyond traditional domains to leverage technology broadly across the enterprise. Deloitte’s Tech...

Energy8 hours ago

Higher Shares of Renewable Energy Central to Sustainable Development Across Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian countries are on course to meet their aspirational renewable energy target of a 23 per cent share of...

Eastern Europe9 hours ago

Can Azerbaijan fall into the Turkish pitfall?

In July 1974, the 10,000-strong Turkish army, choosing the name of the gang leader Attila the Hun as the operation...

Tech10 hours ago

Digital Controllership: Finance and Accounting Robotic Process Automation a Priority

In a recent Deloitte Center for Controllership™ poll of more than 1,700 finance, accounting and other professionals, 52.8 percent say their...

Middle East11 hours ago

Why US not trustworthy ally for Turkey

Just weeks after failure of the ISIL terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, the United States announced that it is...

Newsletter

Trending

Copyright © 2018 Modern Diplomacy