Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos
1Azerbaijan shows interest in SCO. Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Syria are showing interest in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), but there are clear criteria for joining which should be observed, Anton Kobyakov, the advisor to the Russian president, the executive secretary of the organizing committee on preparation and chairmanship of the Russian Federation in the BRICS and the SCO, told TASS.
2The UN Security Council has delayed a vote on a British-drafted resolution that would condemn the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war as “a crime of genocide” after Russia informed council members it would veto the measure. Russia has circulated a rival draft resolution which does not mention either Srebrenica or genocide, but no vote has been scheduled on it. Last week, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Petr Iliichev called the British draft “divisive”, saying the Russian draft was “more general, more reconciling”. [the guardian]
3North Caucasus — a Wall Against or a Bridge for IS? “Amid the vast ocean of Islamist radicalism, the particular focus given to Islamic State (IS) is merited by its role as the main center of gravity in the transformation of transnational violent jihadism today. Before exploring how this phenomenon is linked to and affects Russia in and beyond the North Caucasus and in the broader Eurasian context, and before examining the character, scale and the contextual limits of such links, it makes sense reflect on IS itself and the plethora of views and interpretations of this movement” writes Ekaterina Stepanova for the RIAC.
4Russia is set on Wednesday to host summits for the BRICS emerging economies and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian economic and military alliance. Putin is expected to meet with the leaders of China and Iran during the event, which runs until Saturday in the Russian city of Ufa, about 1,200 kilometres east of Moscow. One of the event’s highlights is the expected launch of a BRICS bank, seen as a challenge to Western financial dominance.
5Ashgabat has hosted a forum on rational use of water resources. The forum was organized by Turkmenistan’s Water Industry Ministry and the embassy of South Korea in the country. The main purpose of the forum was to exchange experience and present projects and services based on the latest technologies and research in this sphere.South Korean companies presented projects on creating advanced integrated water supply management systems, purification and desalination of water and controlling its quality. South Korea’s leading “K-water” company which is the provider of services in this sphere presented projects on river restoration, including the construction of multipurpose dams and other facilities.
6The European Azerbaijan Society addresses open letter to Chatham House. The letter says: “Your invitation to this man (Bako Sahakyan) is an outrageous slap in the face to a people who have surely suffered enough for the past 23 years and, especially given the current situation in Armenia, is certainly a blow to the prospects for peace and democracy in the region… your credibility is shot; you should be ashamed to claim the status of an independent policy institute”
7How the Senate could make or break the Iran nuclear deal. “Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act passed in May, if President Obama sends an agreement to Congress after July 9, the length of time Congress has to review the deal doubles from 30 to 60 days. Lawmakers can’t stop the U.S. from implementing the agreement entirely. But they can block the president from lifting some of the toughest sanctions against key sectors of Iran’s economy that were implemented by Congress, which would almost certainly cause the deal to fall apart” writes Rebecca Kaplan for the CBS.
8India Signs Five Key Agreements With Kazakhstan to Enhance Ties. “India and Kazakhstan today inked five key agreements including a defence pact to enhance military cooperation and a contract for supply of uranium after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev held comprehensive talks in which they decided to actively engage in the fight against terrorism and extremism” [NDTV]
9Why Russia’s turn to China is a mirage. “Since Japan has joined the West in imposing economic sanctions against Russia, and India’s trade with Russia remains small by comparison, the Kremlin’s turn to Asia has in essence been a turn to China. In the months following the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow announced plans for a number of projects with China — ranging from a new method of inter-bank transfers, to a joint credit agency — that seek to create a shared financial and economic infrastructure between the two countries that would allow them to function independently of Western-dominated financial institutions” writes Björn Düben for Reuters.
10A delegation led by the minister of State for Foreign Trade of France, state secretary on the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad Matthias Fekl visited Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy. The sides discussed issues of energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and France. Deputy Minister of Energy Gulmammad Javadov emphasized that, “Shah Deniz-2” field will allow the wide range of export of gas reserves through TANAP and TAP. Deputy Minister also spoke of the works carried out in the direction of reducing the country’s economy’s dependence on oil and gas, programs and projects realized in the field of alternative energy. He noted that, there is a need to benefit from the French experience in this direction. Mr. Matthias Fekl said that, energy cooperation with Azerbaijan covers the areas of oil production, geological exploration, petrochemical and gas industry. Speaking about the activities of Total in Absheron field, Matthias Fekl said that France is ready to provide financial support to gas projects.
Microplastic pollution is everywhere, but not necessarily a risk to human health
Tiny plastic particles known as microplastics are “everywhere – including in our drinking-water”, but they are not necessarily a risk to human health, UN experts said on Thursday.
In its first summary of the latest research into the impact of the tiny plastic pollutants on humans, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that they have been found in marine settings, waste and fresh water, food, the air and drinking-water, both bottled and from a tap.
Frequently, microplastics are defined as less than five millimetres long, according to WHO.
Its report notes that the particles most commonly found in drinking-water are plastic bottle fragments.
“Based on the limited information we have, microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to pose a health risk at current levels. But we need to find out more,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO’s Director, Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health. “We urgently need to know more about the health impact of microplastics because they are everywhere – including in our drinking-water.”
According to WHO’s findings, microplastics larger than 150 micrometres (a micrometre is a millionth of a metre) are unlikely to be absorbed in the human body, while the uptake of smaller particles is likely to be limited.
Absorption of microplastic particles “including in the nano-size range may, however, be higher”, the WHO report continues, before cautioning that available data in this “emerging area” is extremely limited.
Asked by journalists about how levels of plastic pollutants differ between tap water and bottled water, WHO’s Jennifer de France from WHO’s Department of Public Health, replied that bottled water “in general did contain higher particle numbers”.
Nonetheless, Ms. France also cautioned against jumping to conclusions, owing to the lack of available data.
“In drinking water in general, often the two polymers that were most frequently detected were polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene,” she said. “Now these polymers – the polyethylene terephthalate – is often used in producing bottled water bottles, and polypropylene, is often used in producing caps. However, there were other polymers detected as well, so more studies are needed to really make a firm conclusion about where the sources are coming from.”
While citing the handful of available studies into the absorption of microplastics and nanoplastics in rats and mice, which showed symptoms including inflammation of the liver, WHO’s report insists that people are unlikely to be exposed to such high levels of pollutants.
Drinking-water contamination: a million lives lost each year
A much more clearly understood potential threat than microplastics is exposure to drinking-water contaminated by human or animal waste, said Bruce Gordon, from WHO’s Department of Public Health, highlighting a problem that affects two billion people and claims one million lives a year.
One way that Governments can tackle this problem is by putting in place better waste-water filtration systems.
The move would reduce microplastic pollution by around 90 per cent, the WHO official explained, before noting that the report had touched on people’s wider concerns about how to live more sustainably and waste less.
“Consumers shouldn’t be too worried,” Mr. Gordon said. “There’s many dimensions to this story that are beyond health. What I mean by that is, if you are a concerned citizen worried about plastic pollution and you have access to a well-managed piped supply – a water supply – why not drink from that? Why not reduce pollution. Of course, there are times when you need a water bottle when you’re walking around, but please reuse it”, he emphasized.
Brazilian stakeholders of UNIDO-GEF project trained on biogas
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC), and the International Center of Renewable Energy (CIBiogás) trained members and partners of the Steering Committee of its GEF Biogas project on the biogas value chain in Brazil – a renewable source of energy produced from the decomposition of organic waste generated by various enterprises, such as farms and restaurants.
“The potential use of biogas arises from the need to pursue sustainability in agribusiness; at the same time, it represents an opportunity for local economic development”, said UNIDO Project Management Specialist Bruno Neves. “Organic waste generated by the Brazilian agricultural production can result in economic, social and environmental gains as the benefits of biogas production can both be internalized by producers and be made available in the form of thermal energy, fuel and electricity”.
Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA); the Ministry of Environment (MMA); the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME); the Ministry of Planning, Development and Management (MP); the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (SEBRAE); the Energy Research Company (EPE); the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC); the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP); Itaipu Binacional and the German cooperation agency (GIZ) participated in the training.
“The main objective of the training was to raise the awareness of ministries and important institutional agents about the need to make rules around renewable energy generation more flexible”, said CIBiogas CEO Rodrigo Regis. “Today, Brazil is very dependent on diesel and we have a growing demand for energy, which biogas can partly supply in a decentralized way, and can develop a new economy for the country, thereby generating jobs, income, development and progress”.
The training included a visit to the Itaipu hydroelectric dam and to a demonstration unit supported by CIBiogas: with a breeding of five thousand pigs, the farm is capable of generating 770 cubic meters of biogas per day, resulting in savings of over US$1,000 per month in energy costs.
“The development of biogas is one of MCTIC’s strategic priorities”, said Rafael Menezes, Coordinator of Innovation at the Ministry’s Secretariat for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “The Brazilian potential for biogas and biomethane production is underexplored; we have to create public policies and a favorable environment so that we can increasingly tap into this potential”.
The GEF Biogas project “Biogas Applications in Brazilian Agroindustry” foresees local and federal actions to stimulate the sustainable integration of biogas in the national production chain. It is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and aims to expand the production of renewable energy and strengthen national technology supply chains in the sector.
The workplace equality challenge
year’s G7 French presidency has chosen the theme for the Biarritz Summit well.
‘Combating inequality’ is indeed
one of the key challenges of our time.
The theme of combating inequality strongly aligns with the International Labour Organization’s mandate for social justice, as articulated most recently by our Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2019 . The G7 presidency’s intent for the Biarritz Summit to reaffirm the G7 members’ commitment to respond to global challenges through collective action further provides important support for the declaration’s call for stronger multilateralism to confront the issues facing the world of work.
The G7’s labour and employment track, known this year as the G7 Social, furthered the overarching theme of France’s presidency by concentrating on four goals: further integrating international labour standards into the multilateral system, supporting access to universal social protection systems, supporting individuals through digital transformation and its impact on the future of work, and promoting occupational equality between women and men. Because these themes are integral to the Decent Work Agenda, they provided the ILO with an opportunity to engage deeply with G7 members, not only by providing technical inputs on each of them but also by participating during the discussions.
In the context of the G7 Social’s focus on the rapid changes in the world of work, France highlighted the importance of the ILO’s centenary by welcoming Work for a brighter future, the report of the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work. It also emphasised the critical role played by the ILO in the multilateral debate on economic and social policy, and the importance of the ILO’s groundbreaking new international standard on violence and harassment in the world of work.
The communiqué adopted by labour and employment ministers when they met in Paris on 6–7 June 2019 reflects the work of the G7 Social through an ambitious set of goals:
A call to action to reduce inequalities in a global world, including a multilateral dialogue and coordination for the reduction of inequalities and a commitment to promoting responsible business conduct in global supply chains;
Commitments in favour of universal access to social protection in the changing world of work;
Commitments to empower individuals for the future of work; and,
Commitments to ensure gender equality in the world of work.
The ministers’ communiqué and the ILO’s Centenary Declaration have many strong points of convergence that reveal key areas of focus for the future of work.
The economic and social link
instruments stress the need to strengthen multilateralism. The G7 communiqué
emphasises the inseparability of economic and social policies to reduce
inequalities. This finds its counterpart in the Centenary Declaration’s
recognition of the “strong, complex and crucial links between social, trade,
financial, economic and environmental policies”, which leads to a call for the
ILO to play a stronger role in broad policy dialogues among multilateral
institutions. The communiqué and the accompanying G7 Social Tripartite
Declaration reaffirm and implement the G7 members’ commitment to social
dialogue as the means of shaping the future of work we want.
Similarly, just as the G7 communiqué stresses that social protection, in line with ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors , “is instrumental in shaping the future of work”, the Centenary Declaration calls on the ILO to “develop and enhance social protection systems, which are adequate, sustainable and adapted to developments in the world of work”. Both instruments draw from the Report of the Global Commission, which underscores the importance of social protection systems to support people through the increasingly complex transitions they will need to navigate the changing world of work in order to realise their capabilities.
The G7 communiqué’s call for empowering individuals hinges on the need to “adapt labour market support and institutions to provide decent working conditions for all platform workers” and “underline[s] the importance of harnessing the potential of current changes to create high-quality jobs for all”. Addressing new business models and diverse forms of work arrangements, the Declaration, for its part, directs the ILO’s efforts to “[harness] … technological progress and productivity growth” to ensure decent work and “a just sharing of the benefits for all”. Both documents draw on prior work of the ILO to call for a transformative agenda for gender equality through a broad range of policies, including by closing persistent gender gaps in pay and participation in the labour market. Both instruments recognise the persistent challenges of informality.
As the ILO begins our second century, we are preparing our next programme and budget to respond to the key priority areas identified in the Centenary Declaration. We look to the G7 summit to provide an important boost for the ILO’s efforts to bring that about, and by so doing to provide our own contribution to the G7 priority of combating inequality.
Microplastic pollution is everywhere, but not necessarily a risk to human health
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Brazilian stakeholders of UNIDO-GEF project trained on biogas
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