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New Project to Support the Improvement of Air Quality in Greater Cairo

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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$200 million project to support Egypt’s initiatives to reduce air and climate pollution from critical sectors and to increase resilience to air pollution in Greater Cairo. The project will focus on reducing vehicle emissions, improving the management of solid waste, and strengthening the air and climate decision-making system. 

Greater Cairo’s air quality has recently seen an improvement; however, ambient air pollution remains the city’s most significant environmental health issue—one that weighs heavily on residents’ quality of life and on the economy. Recent studies have estimated the annual economic cost of air pollution on health in the Greater Cairo area alone at about 1.4% of Egypt’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The six-year Greater Cairo Air Pollution Management and Climate Change Project aims to support Egypt’s efforts to reduce both air pollution and climate pollutant emissions in line with the country’s Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt Vision 2030. The project will contribute toward Egypt’s key environmental goal of halving Particulate Matter pollution and toward developing and implementing a strong, economically feasible climate impact mitigation program that would meet Egypt’s 2030 targets for reduced emissions.

This project supports our Green Recovery Plan to mitigate and adapt simultaneously, promoting new methods and technologies that help reduce air pollution and curb climate change,” said Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation. “This way, we are prioritizing integrated climate solutions that strengthen resilience, protect the health of Egyptians and promote an economically productive society.

 “The hazards of air pollution and climate change are endless and can span decades,” said Dr. Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment. “Through this partnership with the World Bank, we aim to give our children and youth a healthier future, where they can prosper, grow, and fulfill their potential.

The new air pollution reduction and climate change project aims to: i) modernize Egypt’s Air Quality Management System and strengthen the ability of Greater Cairo’s population to cope with high pollution events, including events caused or exacerbated by emissions and climate extremes; ii) support solid waste management in Greater Cairo, including plans for the construction of an integrated waste management facility at the 10th of Ramadan City, the closure and rehabilitation of the Abou-Zaabal dumpsite, and strengthening the regulatory framework for waste management; iii) contribute to vehicle emissions’ reduction by supporting the piloting of electric buses in the public sector and related infrastructure, including charging stations, and assessing the technical and financial feasibility of scaling this up; and, iv) to implement activities aimed at behavioral change by communities and service providers and ensure citizen engagement in project design and implementation.  

Egypt is undertaking steps to accelerate the transition towards a more green, sustainable, resilient and inclusive development model,” said Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti. ‘’This operation is an integral part of our work to improve the quality of life for Egyptians, including the most vulnerable groups of society, enabling them to benefit from a whole array of development projects, while staying healthy and productive.’’

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Environment

Greenpeace Africa reacts to DRC President’s decision to suspend illegal logging concessions

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The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, ordered on Friday, October 15th, the suspension of all dubious logging concessions, including the 6 granted in September 2020. Greenpeace Africa, one of the civil society organizations that denounced these concessions, applauds the decision taken by the Head of State and encourages him to remain vigilant and ensure its effective execution by Deputy Prime Minister Ms. Eve Bazaiba.

Greenpeace Africa reiterates its call for maintaining the moratorium on new industrial logging concessions to prevent a human rights and climate catastrophe. This logging sector, characterized by bad governance, favors corruption and remains out of touch with the socio-economic needs of the Congolese people and the climate crisis we live in.

Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Head of the International Congo Basin Forest Project of Greenpeace: “The decision of H.E. President Tshisekedi against the illegal actions of former Minister Nyamugabo sends an important message to the Congolese people and their government. It is also a red light for the plans of Ms. Ève Bazaiba, current Minister of the Environment, to open a highway to deforestation by multinational logging companies through lifting the moratorium on new industrial concessions.”

The President asks to “Suspend all questionable contracts pending the outcome of an audit and report them to the government at the next cabinet meeting.” Greenpeace Africa maintains that the review of illegalities in the forest sector must be transparent, independent, and open to comments from civil society organizations.

Ms. Wabiwa adds that “Both the protection of the rights of Congolese peoples and the success of COP26 require that the moratorium on granting new forest titles be strengthened. We again call on President Tshisekedi to strengthen the 2005 presidential decree to extend the moratorium.”

Ms. Wabiwa concludes that “instead of allowing new avenues of destruction, the DRC needs a permanent forest protection plan, taking into account the management by the local and indigenous populations who live there and depend on them for their survival.”

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Tech News

Standards & Digital Transformation – Good Governance in a Digital Age

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In celebration of World Standards Day 2021, celebrated on 14 October every year, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is pleased to announce the launch of a brochure, “Standards and Digital Transformation: Good Governance in the Digital Age”.

In the spirit of this year’s World Standards Day theme “Shared Vision for a Better World”, the brochure provides insights into the key drivers of the digital transformation and its implications for sustainable development, particularly people, prosperity and planet. Noting the rapid pace of change of the digital transformation, with the COVID-19 pandemic serving as an unanticipated accelerator, the brochure highlights the role of standards in digital transformation governance. It further considers the principles necessary for guiding the collaborative development of standards in the digital technology landscape to ensure that the technologies remain human-centered and aligned to the goals of sustainability.

This year’s World Standards Day theme highlights the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) representing a shared vision for peace and prosperity, for people and planet. Every SDG is a call for action, but we can only get there if we work together, and international standards offer practical solutions we can all stand behind.

This brochure is a summary of a publication set to be released in November 2021.

Download it here.

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Human Rights

UN: Paraguay violated indigenous rights

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An indigenous community in Paraguay wait to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. WHO/PAHO

Paraguay’s failure to prevent the toxic contamination of indigenous people’s traditional lands by commercial farming violates their rights and their sense of “home”, the UN Human Rights Committee said in a landmark ruling on Wednesday. 

The Committee, which is made up of 18 independent experts from across the world, monitors countries’ adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  

Lands represent ‘home’ 

The decision on Paraguay (in Spanish) marked the first time it has affirmed that for indigenous people, “home” should be understood in the context of their special relationship with their territories, including their livestock, crops and way of life.  

“For indigenous peoples, their lands represent their home, culture and community. Serious environmental damages have severe impacts on indigenous people’s family life, tradition, identity and even lead to the disappearance of their community. It dramatically harms the existence of the culture of the group as a whole,” said Committee member Hélène Tigroudja. 

The decision stems from a complaint filed more than a decade ago on behalf of some 201 Ava Guarani people of the Campo Agua’e indigenous community, located in Curuguaty district in eastern Paraguay. 

The area where they live is surrounded by large commercial farms which produce genetically modified soybeans through fumigation, a process which involves the use of banned pesticides. 

Traditional life affected 

Fumigation occurred continuously for more than 10 years and affected the indigenous community’s whole way of life, including killing livestock, contaminating waterways and harming people’s health. 

The damage also had severe intangible repercussions, according to the UN committee.  The disappearance of natural resources needed for hunting, fishing and foraging resulted in the loss of traditional knowledge.  For example, ceremonial baptisms no longer take place as necessary materials no longer exist. 

“By halting such ceremonies, children are denied a rite crucial to strengthening their cultural identity,” the Committee said.  “Most alarmingly, the indigenous community structure is being eroded and disintegrated as families are forced to leave their land.” 

Toxic exposure 

The indigenous community brought the case to the Human Rights Committee after a lengthy and unsatisfactory administrative and judicial process in Paraguay’s courts. 

“More than 12 years after the victims filed their criminal complaint regarding the fumigation with toxic agrochemicals, to which they have continued to be exposed throughout this period, the investigations have not progressed in any meaningful way and the State party has not justified the delay,” the Committee said in its decision. 

Recommendations, reparations 

Members found Paraguay did not adequately monitor the fumigation and failed to prevent contamination, adding “this failure in its duty to provide protection made it possible for the large-scale, illegal fumigation to continue for many years, destroying all components of the indigenous people’s family life and home.”  

The Committee recommended that Paraguay complete the criminal and administrative proceedings against all parties responsible and make full reparation to the victims. 

The authorities are also urged to take all necessary measures, in close consultation with the indigenous community, to repair the environmental damage, and to work to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. 

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