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
1World powers have reached a deal with Iran on limiting Iranian nuclear activity in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions.US President Barack Obama said that with the deal, “every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off” for Iran. His Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, said it opened a “new chapter” in Iran’s relations with the world. The accord will keep Iran from producing enough material for a nuclear weapon for at least 10 years and impose new provisions for inspections of Iranian facilities, including military sites. And it marks a dramatic break from decades of animosity between the United States and Iran, countries that alternatively call each other the “leading state sponsor of terrorism” and the “the Great Satan.” The breakthrough came after several key compromises. Diplomats said Iran agreed to the continuation of a UN arms embargo on the country for up to five more years, though it could end earlier if the International Atomic Energy Agency definitively clears Iran of any current work on nuclear weapons. A similar condition was put on UN restrictions on the transfer of ballistic missile technology to Tehran, which could last for up to eight more years.
2The Fate of the Turkish Stream Pipeline after the 7 June Elections in Turkey. “Russia and Turkey move closer together over the last 10 years may experience a slowdown. The increased political risks accompanied on the one hand by a rapidly changing political situation and on the other by Russia’s strategic interests and Moscow’s updated energy policy, are making their mark on the implementation of the Turkish Stream pipeline. It may therefore be helpful to classify the main political risks for Ankara under the headings of “internal” and “external” writes Kerim Has for RIAC.
3US ambassador: Azerbaijan is the example of tolerance. Since arriving in Azerbaijan, I have learned about many things Azerbaijan can offer to the world. One such thing is the example of tolerance and the history of people of different religions living together and respecting each other, the US ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert Cekuta told during iftar ceremony on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan at his residency. He also mentioned that today 2.6 million Muslims live in the United States. US value friendship with the countries of the Muslim world and wish to expand these ties.
4Kazakhstan: Economic Crisis, State Companies, And The Nation’s Image. “Due to Kazakhstan’s close economic relationship with Russia, and the country’s dependence on oil exports, which accounted for 70 percent of 2014’s exports, Kazakhstan’s economy has been one of the hardest hit in Central Asia. The government has already been forced to revise the budget twice since last year, first to refigure finances based on oil being $80 per barrel, then again early in 2015 to base the budget on the price of oil being $50 per barrel. In February 2015, the government warned that 120,000 workers could be laid off due to economic difficulties” writes Qishloq Ovozi for RFE/RL.
5Turkmenistan sees growth in oil production. Oil production in Turkmenistan has increased by 7.8 percent in Jan.-June 2015, compared to the same period of 2014, the country’s Ministry of Oil and Gas Industry and Mineral Resources said July 13. Positive changes have been observed in many spheres of economy in H1 of 2015, according to the ministry.During the reporting period, gasoline production has increased by 1.1 percent, kerosene – 0.2 percent, oil bitumen – 19.8 percent, petroleum coke – 0.2 percent, liquefied gas – 0.5 percent, polypropylene – 0.2 percent.Turkmenistan plans to bring the capacity of the refining industry to 20 million metric tons of oil by 2020, 22 million metric tons by 2025 and 30 million metric tons by 2030.
6Cossacks Seek Greater Role in Southern Russia’s Economic and Political Life. “On June 26, the ideologue of free Cossakia Grigory Kuznetsov (a. k. a. Vladlen Alyabyev), reiterated his vision of an independent Cossack territorial entity in a brief manifesto. The Cossack leader did not explicitly state that Cossakia should seek independence from the Russian Federation, but strongly suggested the need to explore this route. Cossacks should have their own “national leaders who are elected at the Cossack Council and who depend on the choice of the nation, not on the decrees of the aliens from the bordering state,” the activist wrote” writes Valery Dzutsev for the Jamestown.
7China may replace Russia as gas partner for Turkmenistan. Much of Turkmenistan’s future stability will hinge on the specific partner that will replace Gazprom, who was recently declared by the Central Asian country as an insolvent one, Luca Anceschi, lecturer at the British University of Glasgow believes.“Much of Turkmenistan’s future stability will hinge on the specific partner that will replace Gazprom. It might be China, but I think that it is in the interest of the Turkmen government to finalise as soon as possible a new set of energy deals with other partners, located in both Asia and the West,” Anceschi told Trend.az on July 13. Recently Turkmenistan said that Russia’s Gazprom has become insolvent on its contracts for sale and purchase of natural gas due to the ongoing world economic crisis and the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West.
8General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, begins an official visit to Russia on July 14. Patimapragorn will participate in the Sixth Meeting of the Thai-Russia Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation, which will be held on July 15 in Moscow. The Russian part of the Commission is headed by Minister of Industry and Trade of Russia Denis Manturov. Barsky said that several new agreements are planned to be reached during the visit, and some documents may be signed in the areas of agriculture, customs, and environmental protection.
9New Market Research Report: Herbal Traditional Products in Azerbaijan. Traditional herbal therapy is a strong part of Azerbaijani culture. More often people turn to herbal/traditional products or products with such positioning as they are perceived as being gentle and less harmful than standard products. Although these remedies are mostly consumed to eliminate minor symptoms they are gaining more popularity thanks to the growing belief that most OTC’s cause addiction. Finally in some cases the price of such remedies is more accessible and thus remains an. Euromonitor International’s Herbal/Traditional Products in Azerbaijan report offers a comprehensive guide to the size and shape of the market at a national level. It provides the latest retail sales data 2010-2014 allowing you to identify the sectors driving growth. Forecasts to 2019 illustrate how the market is set to change. [Euromonitor]
10Azerbaijan among most travel-worthy countries. Azerbaijan, which is turning into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, is listed among the countries for the “National Geographic Traveler Awards 2015” contest. The competition, conducted by National Geographic Magazine, is being held to determine the best tourist destinations of 2015 by a range of popular leisure activities.
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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