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Russia Revises Navy Doctrine to counter “unacceptable” NATO expansion

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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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

1Russia will guarantee a permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean and boost its strength in the Atlantic and Arctic under a new strategy to counter “unacceptable” Nato expansion.The plans, which also include ambitious ship-building targets and expansion of infrastructure for the country’s fleet in the Black Sea, were laid out in a new naval doctrine approved by Vladimir Putin on Sunday.Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister with a portfolio for defence, emphasised the “accent put on the Atlantic and the Arctic” in a meeting with Mr Putin on Sunday. Mr Rogozin, a strong critic of Nato, said that the new doctrine reflects “changes in the international political situation and the objective strengthening of Russia as a great naval power. Our attention towards the Atlantic is justified by the expansion of Nato in the east,” he told Russian news agencies. [Telegraph]

2Why is Russia sending bombers close to U.S. airspace? Two Russian bombers intercepted by U.S. fighter jets off the California coast on July Fourth could be seen as having raised a metaphorical middle finger to the United States.”Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day,” they said, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.U.S. fighters also intercepted two other Russian Tu-95 bombers the same day off the southern coast of Alaska. In both instances, American fighter jets flew up to intercept the Russian bombers, and the aircraft turned away. [CNN]

3Azerbaijan is a strategic partner of the EU in peace-building processes and the fields of energy, culture and sport, Novruz Mammadov, the deputy head of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration said.“All this is reality. There is a strange situation. From ambassadors to heads of state, all say Azerbaijan is a country to be cooperated. However, they say that it’s a newspaper and wrote this article, it’s a NGO and made this statement. This breaks the balance of justice. Officials say Azerbaijan is at high level, but if any newspaper or NGO release any information, it undermines Azerbaijan’s reputation. I’m in doubt that such mechanism will bring a success to the West. Most of world countries are in doubt about these approaches,” Mammadov noted.

4Kazakhstan Wind Power Market: Outlook 2015 – 2025.This market report offers an incisive and reliable long-term overview of the wind power sector of the country for the period 2015-2025. Current cumulative installed wind capacity in the country is insignificant, but a number of fully permitted and ready to build projects will promptly increase in 2015 and next years. First MW szie wind power plants have been launched into commerical operation, whilst pipeline of over 1,300 MW (1.3 GW) wind projects pipeline are progressing in different stages of permitting process. Feed-in tariff for wind energy has been approved in Kazakhstan in June 2014, and combined with 15 years PPA period are expected to pave the way for fast further growth of wind power market in Kazakhstan. [Research And Markets]

5Iran announced that it will invest $6 billion in Kazakhstan at the latest Kazakh-Iranian forum held in Almaty on July 22-24. The Islamic Republic also plans to establish a center for the exchange of technologies in Kazakhstan’s special economic zone, the “Park of innovative technologies,” where it will present the country’s latest achievements in the mining and oil and gas industries, and the agriculture and healthcare sectors.”Your country has great economic prospects. And we would like to join our efforts for dynamic development in the field of innovative technologies. This forum should be a first step in this work,” Iranian Deputy Minister of Science, Research, and Technology Vahid Ahmadi said. Kazakhstan and Iran cooperate fruitfully in international and regional organizations, including the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

6Kazakhstan: 100 Steps Toward a New Nation. “The 100 Concrete Steps program, called Plan of the Nation, was unveiled soon after President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s re-election and is designed to provide the strong national platform needed to overcome both short-term challenges and achieve the country’s ambition of joining the top 30 developed countries by 2050. It is a comprehensive reform package that builds on past progress to drive improvements in all the country’s institutional pillars” writes Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan. [The Diplomat]

7Azerbaijan was effective in countering radicalisation. “Azerbaijan continues to be a beacon of secularism and tolerance notwithstanding the recent turbulence in the Muslim world. Walking in the streets of the Azerbaijan, a country with a predominantly Muslim population, one cannot help admiring the culture of acceptance. Even during the holy month of Ramadan, all the restaurants and cafes in Baku are open with plenty of people in them. Some people wear modern dresses, others more traditional ones. Some are drinking alcoholic beverages whereas others prefer soft drinks. Judgement and enforced values are absent here” [Euractiv]

8Iran ready to sign $1bn worth of contracts with Turkmenistan. Irans oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh held talks with Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister, Rashid Muradov in Tehran on Sunday, discussing further expansion of trade exchanges between Tehran and Ashgabat.On the sidelines of the meeting, Iran’s deputy oil minister for international affairs and trade said Iran is ready to sign about $1 billion worth of contracts with Turkmenistan for the export of technical and engineering goods and services to the Central Asian country .Turkmenistan has been always a good trade partner for Iran and we hope it would remain the same in the future,” Amir Hossein Zamaninia added .

9UAE’s Alpha Destination Management Company hosted a series of roadshows in Russia in a bid to promote the Gulf region as an all-encompassing tourism destination. Russia is among Dubai’s top 10 tourism source markets with the number of weekly flights from to UAE almost tripling in the past two years, reaching 124 flights last year. The promotional and marketing initiative was held over a 10-day period in eight Russian cities and evoked strong response from the travel trade professionals.

10Azerbaijan supports Turkey in its fight against ISIL. “The Syrian crisis and the operations of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are taking place in Turkey’s neighborhood. Other processes, respectively, also affect Turkey. It is normal that the Turkish government is taking actions against ISIL” said Novruz Mammadov, deputy head of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, chief of the Administration’s Foreign Relations Department.

Journalist, specialized in Middle East, Russia & FSU, Terrorism and Security issues. Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Modern Diplomacy magazine. follow @DGiannakopoulos

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Environment

Microplastic pollution is everywhere, but not necessarily a risk to human health

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A woman fetches water in Pakistan. Photo: UNDP Pakistan

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.

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Energy News

Brazilian stakeholders of UNIDO-GEF project trained on biogas

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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.

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The workplace equality challenge

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This 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

Both 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.

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