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Improved Skills and Job Opportunities for Youth in Maldives

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The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a $20 million financing to provide market relevant skills and increase employment opportunities for youth in Maldives.

Basic human development indicators are high in Maldives, with the adult literacy rate at 98.6 percent and life expectancy at 77.6 years. The new project will help the Government of Maldives accelerate human capital accumulation, increase employment opportunities for young people, promote equitable economic and social progress in the country, and fulfill the vision for a climate sensitive Blue Economy.

“The Maldivian youth hold the key to the country’s future prosperity,” said Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “We are happy to partner with the Government to develop ‘A 21st Century Skills Development Strategy’ and test a diversified approach to skills and entrepreneurship that are responsive to the demand-led labor markets and the needs of the local population, particularly the most vulnerable groups.”

This project will also focus on improving female labor-force participation in Maldives by fostering new skills development, such as programming bootcamps to empower young women to pursue home-based work in ICT-related services.

Shobhana Sosale, Adja Mansora Dahourou, and Harsha Aturupane, Project Task Team Leaders from the World Bank highlighted that “Diversified skills and entrepreneurship development will help Maldivian youth to become more employable, harnessing their contribution to the development of the country and promoting the well-being of their communities. We hope that the project can contribute to setting up strong decentralized skills and entrepreneurship ecosystems for accountable, effective and responsive lifelong learning and opportunities for youth.”

The new Enhancing Employability and Resilience of Youth Project will be co-implemented by the Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Economic Development along with island administrative councils, city councils, and women’s committees participating in the project. The total project cost is $20 million, including a $10 million grant and a $10 million credit from the International Development Association.

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Finance

Shipyard in Finland receives major order to build icebreaker

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Helsinki Shipyard has received a major order to build the largest icebreaker in Finnish history and in the marine industry network is approximately 2,100 person-years.

Norilsk Nickel is Russia’s leading metals and mining company. The company is also one of the largest platinum and copper producers in Russia. Norilsk Nickel is listed on the Moscow Stock Exchange and in 2020 had a turnover of around USD 15.5 billion, or around EUR 13.2 billion.

Helsinki Shipyard describes the order as significant for its operations.

“The design and construction of the new icebreaker is yet another indication of the strengths of Helsinki Shipyard Oy and Aker Arctic as well as the whole Finnish marine industry network as the leading builder of icebreakers. The employment impact of the contract at the shipyard and in the marine industry network is approximately 2,100 person-years. The contract is significant for Helsinki Shipyard and brings stability to the shipyard´s order book, extending it to the end of 2024,” Helsinki Shipyard’s press release says.

According to release , the icebreaker now ordered is the largest and most powerful diesel-electric icebreaker ever built in Finland.

“The new icebreaker will be the largest and most powerful diesel-electric icebreaker ever built in Finland,” the release said.

The icebreaker’s mission is to make the channel in Yenisei river for Nornickel Arctic Expresses (Arc7) and tow additionally employed fleet of cargo ships Arc5 class with up to 20 000 tons deadweight. The icebreaker’s home port is going to be Murmansk.

The concept design of the new vessel was developed in cooperation with Aker Arctic Technology Oy. The design work is now proceeding according to the planned schedule, including e.g. the ice model tests, which have already been successfully performed. Project procurement is also proceeding well and purchasing contracts for the main equipment for machinery and propulsion have already been completed. The construction work will begin in 2022 and the vessel will be delivered to the customer for the winter season 2025.

“Receiving new icebreaker by the end of 2024 is very important for Nornickel as it provides additional transportation capacities needed to implement both our strategic investment projects including the city of Norilsk renovation plans. And we are happy to declare that it’s going to be fueled by LNG which goes in line with current environmental trends on decarbonisation and will be a pioneer icebreaker on LNG exploited at Nothern Sea Route” – commented Senior Vice President of Norilsk Nickel Sergey Dubovitskiy.

The new icebreaker will have an integrated dual-fuel diesel-electric power plant, which can use both LNG and low-sulfur diesel oil as fuel with good energy efficiency and low emissions. The vessel will be built for the class notation Icebreaker 8 of the Russian Maritime Register (RMRS) and it will be capable of breaking 2 m thick snow-covered ice when operating either ahead or astern. The ship will also have facilities for transporting cargo and supporting helicopter operations.

The design and construction of the new icebreaker is yet another indication of the strengths of Helsinki Shipyard Oy and Aker Arctic as well as the whole Finnish marine industry network as the leading builder of icebreakers.

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Finance

PM Kishida Outlines Vision for a New Form of Capitalism

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Image source: Wikipedia

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio called for a new form of liberal democratic capitalism, balancing economic growth and distribution, in a special address to business, government and civil society leaders taking part in the World Economic Forum’s virtual event, the Davos Agenda 2022.

“A key focus of my administration will be the revitalization of Japan through a new form a capitalism,” he said. Unfettered state capitalism without adequate checks and balances produces problems such as widening income gaps, rural-urban disparities and social tensions, he added.

Kishida emphasized that the time has come for “historic economic and social transformations”. He said Japan will pioneer a new form of public-private partnership, with leaders of government, industry and labour all working together to develop paradigm-shifting policies. “There has been an overreliance on competition and self-regulation to constrain the excesses of market forces,” he added. “This must change.”

These reforms will build on emerging strength shown by Japan’s economy. However, he reiterated that current policies are not sufficient to ensure that growth is sustainable and inclusive.

The prime minister called for Japan to lead the world in green transformation. He said investment in green technology “will be more than doubled” and become an engine of growth. He also announced that a carbon pricing system will be introduced as soon as possible and Japan will continue to support the Asian emissions trading market.

“Japan remains committed to the Paris Agreement and will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” he said. Private and public sector leadership will work tightly together on the demand and the supply side to support the transformation. One focus for Japan’s clean energy strategy is to reform the energy sector, which accounts for more than 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. Smart grids, upgraded power and distribution networks as well as low-carbon energy sources like solar and wind energy are all part of the solution, he said.

Another important pillar for Japan’s transformation is digitization. “While Japan has traditionally lagged in digital uptake, COVID-19 has given Japan a chance to leap-frog its digitization efforts,” Kishida said. To support this, the government will invest heavily in next-generation networks, optical fibre and 5G-related infrastructure – extending it to 90% of the population over two years.

Kishida also laid out plans for increased corporate disclosure to encourage investment in human capital. “Investment in people is often regarded as a cost, but it is a source of medium to long-term corporate value,” he said.

The prime minister pointed out that Japan continues to take a cautious approach to COVID-19, with borders closed until the end of February. “Changes will be made to border policies as more data comes in,” he said. The government is taking a realistic view and he stressed that a zero-tolerance policy towards COVID-19 is neither possible nor appropriate.

Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum’s Founder and Executive Chairman, thanked Japan for taking an active part in collaborative global efforts to combat shared challenges. “The capabilities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution open up new possibilities and opportunities,” Schwab said. “The future will be much greener, more digital and human-centred.”

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Environment

In Jamaica, farmers struggle to contend with a changing climate

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Althea Spencer harvests her tomato crop. Dwindling rainfall in central Jamaica has made farming a challenge. Photo: UNEP / Thomas Gordon-Martin

It’s 9 am and the rural district of Mount Airy in central Jamaica is already sweltering. As cars trundle along the region’s unpaved roads, chocolate-brown dust clouds burst from behind their back wheels. 

It is here, 50km west of Kingston and 500 meters above sea level, that the Mount Airy Farmers group are having a morning meeting. There are around two dozen people and they all say the same thing; they’re struggling to keep their plots productive amid dwindling rainfall, a byproduct of climate change.

“The weather here’s a lot drier for longer these days,” says Althea Spencer, the treasurer of the Mount Airy Farmers group, which is based in Northern Clarendon. “If  you don’t have water, it makes no sense to plant seeds because they will just die.”

The farmers though, have recently gotten some help in their search for water.

Just meters from where they are gathered stands a two-storey shed with a drainpipe on the roof that funnels rainwater into a tall, black tank. It’s one of more than two dozen reservoirs dotted across these mountains. They are part of a project backed by six United Nations (UN) bodies to help Mount Airy’s farmers adapt to climate change.

“This partnership among the UN and with communities is exactly the type of activity needed to address the day-to-day and practical impacts of climate change,” says Vincent Sweeney, Head of the Caribbean Sub-Regional Office at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “As we look beyond the Glasgow Climate Change Conference, it is vital that we… adapt to the new realities of a warmer planet in order to protect lives and livelihoods in Jamaica and the Caribbean.”

The challenge is not unique to the region. Droughts, floods, and the spread of pests, the byproducts of climate change, are threatening agricultural production around the globe, says the Food and Agriculture Organization. That is potentially disastrous in a world where almost 700 million people go hungry each year.

Small-hold farmers, who work more than 80 per cent of the world‘s farms, in particular, will need support to remain resilient in the face of climate change, say experts.

A country at risk

Farmers in Jamaica, an island nation of 3 million, are especially vulnerable. In 2020, Jamaica became the first Caribbean country to submit a tougher climate action plan to the UN because the country was at risk from rising sea levels, drought and more intense hurricanes, its government said.

In 2018, the Mount Airy farmers enrolled in the United Nations-backed programme that helps build the resilience of communities to threats such as climate change, poverty and water insecurity. It is regarded as the first joint programme of the United Nations  in Jamaica, combining the resources of six agencies, including UNEP.

In Mount Airy, the UN programme has invested in 30 new water harvesting systems. The large, black tanks, which appear across the hilltops like turrets, catch and store rainfall, allowing the farmers to use it evenly via a drip irrigation system. This reduces the emerging threat of longer and more intense dry spells.

The new irrigation system also frees farmers from watering their crops by hand. “Before we got the new system, you had to predict rainfall to put seedlings in,” says Spencer, a rollerball pen tucked neatly into her hair and her feet shifting on the sunbaked earth. “It feels pretty good. It allows me more time to do housework, keep up with my farm records, and I have time to go down to the market.” 

Alongside the tanks sit drums which mix fertilizer with water and spread it evenly among the crops, saving the farmers valuable time. The dissolvable fertilizer is also cheaper than standard fertilizers.

On top of that, the irrigation system improves yields. Spencer now grows and sells more sweet potatoes, peppers and tomatoes than ever before.  

Coupled with the water tanks, the programme has also prioritized education. Seminars are run by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, a government agency, which aims to broaden the farmer’s knowledge and skills. 

Although it is not unusual for women to farm these lands, Spencer speaks about how the trainings have helped to empower the female members of the group by coming together. “To me, the learnings and the trainings bond us ladies together,” she says. 

A life in the mountains

Back at the gathering of the Mount Airy farmers, the assembled say some prayers and repeat their mantra aloud two times: “We are the Mount Airy Farmers Group our motto is: All grow in fear and failure bearing fruits of confidence and success.”

Spencer, who is in her 40s, is a vocal participant at the meeting and obviously well-liked. She was born in Mount Airy and has been farming these fields most of her life. She has vivid memories of working on her father’s farm as a child. Unable to afford to pay anyone else, he often pulled her out of school to sow and reap the fields.

That’s a common refrain among many who grew up in Mount Airy – and one the new UN programme is aiming to change. 

“If my father had this harvesting system, would I have gone to school more?” Spencer asks herself. “Yes, probably. But even then, he was always working us. So I’m sure he’d find something for us to do,” she says laughing. 

Spencer welcomes the introduction of the water tanks. However, she says current rainfall patterns mean water sometimes still runs out. “If you don’t manage your water properly, one will run out before you get anywhere,” she says ominously.

Her story may be one of success today, but it shows that living with climate change will require adaptation and continued investment for years to come. UNEP’s 2021 Adaptation Gap Report called for an urgent increase in financing for climate adaptation. It found that adaptation costs in developing countries are five to ten times greater than current public adaptation finance flows, and the adaptation finance gap is widening.

UNEP

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