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III Eurasian Research On Modern China And Eurasia Conference

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December 3-4, 2021, Russian-Armenian University.

Address: Russian-Armenian University, 123 Hovsep Emin St, Yerevan 0051

Organized by: “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Foundation, Armenia and Russian-Armenian University, Armenia.

Supported by: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Armenia

December 3, 2021

Registration (10:30 Yerevan Time)

Welcome Address and Opening Remarks (11:00-12:00)

Prof. Dr. Armen Darbinian (Rector of Russian-Armenian University).

H. E. Mr. Yong Fan (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of PRC to the Republic of Armenia).

H.E. Ms. Zheng Wei (General Secretary of The Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Commission of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization). (Via ZOOM). (Please follow translation from Russian to English via Zoom Link).

Dr. Mher Sahakyan (Director of “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Armenia)

Family Photo of Conference Speakers and Special Guests, Reception (12:00-12:40)

Plenary Session (12:50-14:05)

Prof. Dr. Heinz Gärtner (Chair, Advisory Board, International Institute for Peace; Professor, University of Vienna; Chair, Advisory Committee for Strategy and Security Policy of the Scientific Commission at the Austrian Armed Forces, Austria)/Keynote Speech/. (Via ZOOM).

Prof. Dr. Zheng Yuntian (Director, World Socialism Institute and Assistant Director of BRI Research Center, Renmin University, China), /Keynote Speech/ (Via ZOOM).

Prof. Dr. Emilian Kavalski, (Inaugural NAWA Chair Professor, Complex Systems Lab in the Jagiellonian University of Krakow, Poland; Book Series Editor, Routledge’s “Rethinking Asia and International Relations” series), /Keynote Speech/. (Via ZOOM).

Prof. Dr. Süha Atatüre (Head of the Department of International Relations, Istanbul Gedik University, Turkey), /Keynote Speech/. (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Sergey Lukonin (Head, Sector of Economy and Politics of China, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences), /Keynote Speech/. (Please follow translation from Russian to English via Zoom Link).

Moderator: Dr. Mher Sahakyan (Director, “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Armenia).

Panel 1. (14:10-15:25) Great Powers’ Competition in Eurasia in the Era of Changing World Order

Dr. Gina Panagopoulou (University of Piraeus, Greece), “Great Powers, Eurasia and the Pacific: The Two Pillars of the World – the Golden Apple of Discord.” (Via ZOOM).

Prof. Dr. Nirmal Jindal (Delhi University, India) “China and Eurasia in the New World Order․” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Seven Erdogan (Recep Tayyip Erdogan University, Turkey), “The Implications of the Common Choice for Multilateralism of the European Union and China for the Multipolar World in the Making.” (Via ZOOM).

Mr. Sebastian Contin Trillo-Figueroa (2020/2021 Asia Global Fellow, AsiaGlobal Institute, University of Hong Kong), “Seeking Strategic Sovereignty: The forthcoming Sino-European relationship within the Indo-Pacific.” (Via ZOOM).

Mr. Daniel Shapiro (Harvard University ‘20, U.S. Fulbright Student Research Fellow, US), “Great Power Competition in Eurasia: China’s Rise in the South Caucasus and its Effects on American Interests.”

Mr. Mateusz Ambrożek (PhD Candidate, University of Warsaw, Poland), “Equal Distance but not Hedging: Maintaining Equilibrium by Japan under US-China Competition.” (Via ZOOM).

Moderator: Dr. Ruben Elamiryan (Chairperson and Associate Professor at the Department of World Politics and International Relations of Russian-Armenian University, Executive Officer of IPSA RC41 – Geopolitics).

Panel 2. (15:30-16:55) Eurasia and Belt and Road Initiative

Dr. Christopher B. Primiano (KIMEP University, Kazakhstan) and Dr. James Paradise (Yonsei University, South Korea), “A Parallel Order: China’s Belt and Road Initiative as a Hub and Spoke System.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Maria Smotrytska (International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, Austria), “China’s Nordpolitik: Toward a New Logistics Order in the North.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Connor Judge (Ashoka University / Harvard-Yenching Institute / International Foundation for Education and Research China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship), “Mongolia in China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Receptivity and Connectivity.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Shabnam Dadparvar (Tianshui Normal University, China), “China-Azerbaijan Relations within the Framework of BRI; Opportunities and Constraints.” (Via ZOOM).

Mrs. Shanjida Shahab Uddin (Research Officer, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Bangladesh), “Bangladesh in the Belt and Road Initiative: Strategic Rationale and Future Implications.” (Via ZOOM).

Mr. Dmitry Erokhin (Research Assistant, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, PhD Candidate, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria), “Determinants and Gaps in Chinese Outward Foreign Direct Investment in Belt and Road Initiative Countries.” (Via ZOOM).

Mr. Asantha Senevirathna (Senior lecturer, Sir John Kotelawala University, Sri Lanka), “China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and Sri Lanka: A Geopolitical Perspective.” (Via ZOOM).

Moderator: Prof. Dr. Zheng Yuntian (Director, World Socialism Institute, and Assistant Director of BRI Research Center, Renmin University of China).

Coffee/Pasties (17:00-17:20)

Panel 3. (17:25-18:25) China and the Middle East

Dr. Davoud Gharayagh-Zandi (Shahid Beheshti University, Iran), “China’s Strategic Development and Foreign Policy in the Middle East in the Second Decade of 21st Century: The Whys and the Wherefores.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Ozan Örmeci (Istanbul Kent University, Turkey), “Sino-Turkish Relations and The Belt and Road Initiative.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Haila Al-Mekaimi (Kuwait University, Kuwait), “China and the GCC: A Strategic Partnership.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Hussein Talal Maklad (Dean, Department of International Relations and Diplomacy, Al-sham Private University, Syria), “China’s Strategy Towards Syria”.

Moderator: Dr. Artur Israyelyan (Vice rector for International Cooperation and Public Relations, Yerevan State University).

Panel 4. (18:30-19:55) China, Central Asia, and South Caucasus

Dr. Marina O. Dmitrieva and Mr. Zakhar V. Davydov (Far Eastern Federal University, Russia), “Prospects for Multilateral Cooperation in Central Asia.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Sudhir Singh (University of Delhi, India), “Indian Perception of China- Central Asian Relationship.” (Via ZOOM).

Mr. Devendra Kumar (PhD Candidate, University of Hyderabad, India), “Domestic Drivers of China’s Central Asia Policy.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Sun Chao (Centre of International Studies, Jiangsu Administration Institute, China), “Semi-Presidentialism and Political Stability:A Reflection on Political Transition in the Caucasus.(Via ZOOM).

Dr. Salome Danelia (Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia), “Peculiarities of Innovative Development of Economy in Georgia.” (Via ZOOM).

Ms. Mariam Topakyan (PhD Student, Faculty of International Relations, Yerevan State University), “China and South Caucasus: New Perspectives and Challenges”.

Moderator: Dr. Gevorg Melikyan (Lecturer, Russian-Armenian University; Assistant to the President of the Republic of Armenia).

__________________________________________________________________________________________

December 4, 2021

Coffee/Pasties (10:30-11:00)

Plenary Session: (11:00-11:25)

Prof. Dr. David Arase (Honorary Professor, Asia Global Institute, University of Hong Kong and Resident Professor, Hopkins-Nanjing Center of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies) /Keynote Speech/. (Via ZOOM).

Moderator: Mrs. Lara Setrakian (Co-founder and CEO of News Deeply, Journalist, Entrepreneur & Impact Investor).

Panel 5. (11:30-12:35) China’s Cybersecurity Issues and Digital Silk Road

Prof. Dr. Annita Larissa Sciacovelli (University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy), “EU – China Cybersecurity Cooperation.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Anahit Parzyan (Executive Director, “Nork” Social Services Technology and Awareness Center” Foundation, Armenia), “China’s Cyber Diplomacy in Eurasia: Will There be a Match?”

Prof. Dr. Giorgio Caridi (E-Campus University Rome, Italy)“Innovation and digitization of communication: how to skyrocket the BRI in Europe.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Nehme Elias Khawly (PhD Degree, INSEEC, Paris, France), “Revolutionizing Soft Power: The Digital Silk Road in Eurasia and the MENA.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Ruben Elamiryan (Chairperson and Associate Professor at the Department of World Politics and International Relations of Russian-Armenian University, Executive Officer of IPSA RC41 – Geopolitics), “Cybersecurity in NATO and CSTO: Comparative Analysis of Legal and Political Frameworks.” (Via Zoom).

Moderator: Mrs. Lara Setrakian (Co-founder and CEO of News Deeply, Journalist, Entrepreneur & Impact Investor).

Panel 6. (12:40-14:20) Russia-China-India Triangle; Territorial Disputes in South China Sea

Dr. Mher Sahakyan (Director, China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research, Armenia), “Russian Greater Eurasian Partnership Strategy.”

Dr. Alexander Korolev (Associate Professor, Deputy Head of the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics), “Political and Economic Security in Eurasia: IR English School Perspective.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. DAI Weijing (Peking University, China), “Competition for Leadership: China and Russia in Eurasian Integration.” (Via ZOOM).

Mr. Orazio Maria Gnerre, (PhD Student, University of Perugia, Italy), “The Strengthening of the Sino-Russian Partnership in the World Context.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Vishal Kumar Baswal (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India), “The Role of India, China and Russia in Emerging World Order.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Junuguru Srinivas (Gitam University, India), “China and India View on Emerging Global Order: A Comparative Analysis.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Prasanta Kumar Sahu (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India), “India- Russia Relations and the Emerging Geopolitics in Eurasia.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Dai Yulong (ShanghaiTech University, China), “Malaysia’s “Flexible Nail” Role in Solving its Territory Disputes with ASEAN Neighbors.” (Via ZOOM).

Moderator: Dr. David O’Brien (Institute of East Asian Politics, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany)

Panel 7. (14:25-15:35) Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Eurasian Economic Union, NATO. China’s Energy Security

Dr. Mahesh Ranjan Debata (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India),“Shanghai Cooperation Organisation at 20: An India Perspective.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Elżbieta Pron (University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland), “China and International Institutions – the Case of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and China’s Foreign Policy in Central Asia.” (Via ZOOM).

Ms. Jayshree Borah (Doctoral Candidate, Shanghai International Studies University, China), “Regional Multilateralism and China: China’s push for SCO as platform for Regional Security Multilateralism?” (Via ZOOM).

Ms. Angie Hesham (PhD Student University of Hull, United Kingdom), “NATO Tilt Towards China.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Pavel Barakhvostov (Belarusian State Economic University, Belarus), “The Problems and Prospects of the Eurasian Economic Union at the Present Stage.” (Via ZOOM).

Mr. Ahmet Faruk ISIK (PhD Student, Shanghai International Studies University and Research Assistant, Shanghai Academy of Global Governance and Area Studies), “In the Context of Energy Security, Role of The Renewable Energy; Chinese Example.” (Via ZOOM).

Moderator: Mr. Daniel Shapiro (Harvard University ‘20, U.S. Fulbright Student Research Fellow, US).

Coffee/Pasties (15:40-15:55)

Panel 8. (16:00-16:55) Sino-Russian and Sino-Mongolian Relations: Historical Aspects of Relations

Dr. Oksana Ermolaeva (Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies, New Europe College, Romania),(B)order-Making in the Russian/Soviet Empire at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century: East – West Dimension.” (Via ZOOM).

Ms. Ulyana Fedorenko (Research Fellow, VSUE, Russia), “China and Russia: An Old Strategic Partnership, but A New Format of Interaction.(Via ZOOM).

Dr. Borjgin Shurentana (Inner Mongolia University, China), “Mongolia’s Relations with China in the Post-Cold War Era: An Analysis from the Perspective of Social Cognition.”

Dr. Zhengji Ju (Nanjing University, China), “Germany, Britain and Russia in Xinjiang?” (Via ZOOM).

Moderator: Dr. Robert Ghazaryan (Director-Institute of Oriental Studies, National Academy of Sciences, Armenia).

Panel 9 (17:00-18:25) China and Central and Eastern European Countries; Vaccine Diplomacy; People to People Exchange between China and Eurasia

Dr. Sanja Arezina (Counselor with the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Research Associate-Assistant Professor at Belgrade University, Serbia.2020/2021 Asia Global Fellow, AsiaGlobal Institute, University of Hong Kong), “Chinese Relations with Central and Eastern European Countries in a New Era of Global Transformation.”

Mr. Marko Savić and Mr. Todor Lakić (PhD candidates and Teaching Assistants, University of Montenegro),“China and Montenegro: Balancing Between Debt, Vaccines and Diplomacy.” (Via ZOOM).

Prof. Dr. Olga Zalesskaia (Blagoveshchensk State Pedagogical University, Russia), “Interregional Interaction Between China and Russia in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic: When will the Russian-Chinese Border in the Far East Open?” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Evgenii Gamerman (Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia), “International ‘Covid Diplomacy’ in Eurasia.” (Via ZOOM).

Ms. Ani Margaryan (PhD Candidate, Nanjing Normal University, China), “The Chinese Art of Pandemic Period as the Reflection of its Fight Against and Victory Over COVID-19.” (Via ZOOM).

Prof. Dr. Song Lilei (Tongji University in Shanghai, China) and PAN Jingke (PhD Student, Heidelberg University, Germany), “The Soft Connectivity between China and Europe:  People-To-People Linkages Should Never Be Ignored.” (Via ZOOM).

Dr. Nare Haroyan (PhD Degree, Shanghai Normal University, China), “Interpersonal Conflicts between Different Cultural Individuals at Multicultural Workplace. Case Study: China”.

Moderator Dr. Anahit Parzyan (Executive Director, “Nork” Social Services Technology and Awareness Center” Foundation, Armenia).

(18:30) Official Closing Ceremony of the Conference.

Academic Council:

Dr. Mher Sahakyan (Director, “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Armenia. 2020/2021 Asia Global Fellow, AsiaGlobal Institute, University of Hong Kong, China).

Dr. Artur Israyelyan (Vice rector for International Cooperation and Public Relations, Yerevan State University).

Dr. Zheng Yun-tian (Director, World Socialism Institute, and assistant director of BRI research center, Renmin University of China, PRC).

Dr. Konstantin Kurylev (Professor, Department of Theory and History of International Relations of Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, founder, and Editor in-chief of the “Post-Soviet Studies” academic journal and Head of the Centre of Post-Soviet Studies, Russia).

Dr. Robert Ghazaryan (Director-Institute of Oriental Studies, National Academy of Sciences, Armenia).

Dr. Bin Ma (Associate Professor at the Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University, PRC).

Dr. Ruben Elamiryan (Chairperson and Associate Professor at the Department of World Politics and International Relations of Russian-Armenian University, Executive Officer of IPSA RC41 – Geopolitics).

Dr. Sanja Arezina, (Counselor with the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Research Associate-Assistant Professor at Belgrade University, Serbia.2020/2021 Asia Global Fellow, AsiaGlobal Institute, University of Hong Kong).

Dr. Sudhir Kumar Singh (Professor, Dyal Singh College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India).

Dr. Suha Atature (Professor and Chair of International Relations – Gedik University, Turkey).

Dr. Alexander Korolev (PhD, Deputy Head of Eurasian Sector, Higher School of Economics, Russia).

Dr. Boris Vukićević (Associate Professor-University of Montenegro, Montenegro).

Dr. Varuzhan Geghamyan (Assistant Professor-Yerevan State University, Director-ARDI Institute, Armenia).

Dr. Vakhtang Charaia (Director, Center for Analysis and Forecasting at Tbilisi State University, Georgia).

Dr. Anahit Parzyan (Executive Director, “Nork” Social Services Technology and Awareness Center” Foundation, Armenia).

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About Russian-Armenian University

Russian-Armenian University (RAU) offers a diverse range of undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs. The main language of instruction is Russian; however, we offer courses in Armenian and English as well. Upon graduation, students receive two Diplomas: Armenian and Russian. The University comprises 31 Departments and 8 Institutes. The University prepares specialists with up-to-date knowledge and skill ensuring their place in the competitive job market. RAU is widely recognized for its prominent activity in the regional educational and scientific environment, and it continues to expand its work internationally. The University’s growing international network provides students and lecturers with various opportunities for mobility. At RAU, we have long identified scientific research as our priority. Students of all levels are encouraged to embark on scientific explorations and participate in research conferences. Professors and postgraduate students conduct activities geared towards solving fundamental issues of modern science, their research interests varying from Natural and Computer Sciences to Social Sciences and Humanities. We conduct research at laboratories based within the Institutes of RAU and in cooperation with major Armenian science centers, including the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia.

Please click the link below to join the webinar and for translation:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86778503993?pwd=MmNGdWw3TUdieUFndm92amVLZVphdz09

Passcode: 850963

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Tech News

Maintenance Tips for Second-Hand Cars

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With a shortage of semiconductors continuing to plague the automotive industry, many are instead turning to the second-hand market to source a bargain on their next car purchase – resulting in a boom in second-hand car sales. Second-hand cars, while cheaper to purchase initially, can present problems quicker without proper maintenance. Here are some simple ways to maintain your second-hand vehicle.

Read the Manual and Service History

The first thing you should endeavour to do with any second-hand car purchase is to scrutinise your car’s service history book and user manual. The former will give you crucial information on prior issues that have cropped up with the car, either giving you an idea of what may fail next or what not to worry about, while the latter gives you important details regarding points of maintenance on your car: where your oil pan is, where the safe anchor points for trolley jacks are, and the location of various parts of the engine.

Keep Your Oil Fresh

One key way you can ensure the longevity of your second hand vehicle’s engine is to learn how to replace its engine oil, and to replace its engine oil regularly. The oil cleans and lubricates the engine, preventing debris from clogging moving parts and causing wear. Over time, the oil becomes dirty with this debris, and can eventually pose a threat to the engine’s safe running itself. New oil ensures the engine stays clean, and keeps it running for longer.

Keep a Regular Service Schedule

As with any vehicle, taking your second-hand car in for regular appointments with a mechanic can keep on top of potential problems before they cause more issues; booking a car service online makes managing your car’s service schedule easy, and can make sure that your car remains healthy and well-maintained thanks to regular check-ups via a professional pair of eyes. Regular servicing can also reduce the potential incurred costs from failed MOTs.

Clean Your Interior

Keeping your car’s interior clean might seem like a relatively insignificant task with regard to your car’s overall maintenance, however taking car of the surfaces and fabrics in your car can increase their lifespan, reducing the need for potential re-upholstery and preserving your personal comfort while driving. Regularly vacuuming footwell mats and seat cushions can stave off wear and tear, while regularly cleaning and polishing trim can preserve their condition.

Drive Safely

Lastly, but by no means least, your driving habits can have a profound effect on the life span of your vehicle. Those who drive fast and brake hard are sure to encounter more issues quicker than those who adopt safe driving techniques and approach the road with a sense of calm. Simple things like coasting into corners and accelerating at a steady pace can ensure your brakes, suspension and engine live their longest possible life, giving you a great run with your new second-hand vehicle.

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Africa Today

Bringing dry land in the Sahel back to life

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Workers preparing tractors to start ploughing in Burkina Faso. ©FAO/ Giulio Napolitano

Millions of hectares of farmland are lost to the desert each year in Africa’s Sahel region, but the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is showing that traditional knowledge, combined with the latest technology, can turn arid ground back into fertile soil.

Those trying to grow crops in the Sahel region are often faced with poor soil, erratic rainfail and long periods of drought. However, the introduction of a state-of-the art heavy digger, the Delfino plough, is proving to be, literally, a breakthrough.

As part of its Action Against Desertification (AAD) programme, the FAO has brought the Delfino to four countries in the Sahel region – Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal – to cut through impacted, bone-dry soil to a depth of more than half a metre.

The Delfino plough is extremely efficient: one hundred farmers digging irrigation ditches by hand can cover a hectare a day, but when the Delfino is hooked to a tractor, it can cover 15 to 20 hectares in a day.

Once an area is ploughed, the seeds of woody and herbaceous native species are then sown directly, and inoculated seedlings planted. These species are very resilient and work well in degraded land, providing vegetation cover and improving the productivity of previously barren lands. 

In Burkina Faso and Niger, the target number of hectares for immediate restoration has already been met and extended thanks to the Delfino plough. In Nigeria and Senegal, it is working to scale up the restoration of degraded land.

Farming seen through a half-moon lens

This technology, whilst impressive, is proving to be successful because it is being used in tandem with traditional farming techniques.

“In the end the Delfino is just a plough. A very good and suitable plough, but a plough all the same,” says Moctar Sacande, Coordinator of FAO’s Action Against Desertification programme. “It is when we use it appropriately and in consultation and cooperation that we see such progress.”

The half-moon is a traditional Sahel planting method which creates contours to stop rainwater runoff, improving water infiltration and keeping the soil moist for longer. This creates favourable micro-climate conditions allowing seeds and seedlings to flourish.

The Delfino creates large half-moon catchments ready for planting seeds and seedlings, boosting rainwater harvesting tenfold and making soil more permeable for planting than the traditional – and backbreaking – method of digging by hand.

“The whole community is involved and has benefitted from fodder crops such as hay as high as their knees within just two years”, says Mr. Sacande. “They can feed their livestock and sell the surplus, and move on to gathering products such as edible fruits, natural oils for soaps, wild honey and plants for traditional medicine”.

Women taking the lead

According to Nora Berrahmouni, who was FAO’s Senior Forestry Officer for the African Regional Office when the Delfino was deployed, the plough will also reduce the burden on women.

“The season for the very hard work of hand-digging the half-moon irrigation dams comes when the men of the community have had to move with the animals. So, the work falls on the women,” says Ms. Berrahmouni.

Because the Delfino plough significantly speeds up the ploughing process and reduces the physical labour needed, it gives women extra time to manage their multitude of other tasks.

The project also aims to boost women’s participation in local land restoration on a bigger scale, offering them leadership roles through the village committees that plan the work of restoring land. Under the AAD programme, each site selected for restoration is encouraged to set up a village committee to manage the resources, so as to take ownership right from the beginning.

“Many women are running the local village committees which organise these activities and they are telling us they feel more empowered and respected,” offers Mr. Sacande.

Respecting local knowledge and traditional skills is another key to success. Communities have long understood that half-moon dams are the best way of harvesting rainwater for the long dry season. The mighty Delfino is just making the job more efficient and less physically demanding.

Millions of hectares lost to the desert, forests under threat

And it is urgent that progress is made. Land loss is a driver of many other problems such as hunger, poverty, unemployment, forced migration, conflict and an increased risk of extreme weather events related to climate change.

In Burkina Faso, for example, a third of the landscape is degraded. This means that over nine million hectares of land, once used for agriculture, is no longer viable for farming.

It is projected that degradation will continue to expand at 360 000 hectares per year. If the situation is not reversed, forests are at risk of being cleared to make way for productive agricultural land.

Africa is currently losing four million hectares of forest every year for this reason, yet has more than 700 million hectares of degraded land viable for restoration. By bringing degraded land back to life, farmers do not have to clear additional forest land to turn into cropland for Africa’s rising population and growing food demands.

When Mr. Sacande talks about restoring land in Africa, the passion in his voice is evident. “Restoring degraded land back to productive good health is a huge opportunity for Africa. It brings big social and economic benefits to rural farming communities,” he says. “It’s a bulwark against climate change and it brings technology to enhance traditional knowledge.”

A version of this story first appeared on the FAO website.

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Environment

How UNEP is helping education systems go green

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The world is facing a three-pronged environmental crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. To turn around the planet’s fortunes, the participation of young people will be key, says Sam Barratt, Head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Youth, Education and Advocacy Unit.

Ahead of the International Day of Education on 24 January, we spoke to Barratt about the role of young people in reviving the natural world and what UNEP is doing to enlist their support.

Lots of different players are involved in youth education. What is UNEP’s mandate?

Sam Barratt (SB): The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is the lead on education in the UN system. But here at UNEP, we work closely with them, focusing on non-formal education and higher education. This mandate allows us to work with major global partners and networks that can reach millions to bring environmental issues into the curriculum of schools, on to university campuses, into massive games, such as Subway Surfers, or even into Scout and Girl Guide badge curricula. It’s a huge opportunity to shift norms and reach billions of youth, both inside and outside the classroom.

Collaborating with universities to promote sustainable development seems to be a key aspect of UNEP’s education work. Is that right?

SB: Yes, it’s huge as universities produce the leaders of tomorrow. Our approach is to see how universities can be Petri dishes to shift the habits of students. In September 2020, UNEP launched The Little Book of Green Nudges in 136 campuses around the world. It’s a quick guide composed of 40 nudges to spark sustainable behaviour among students and staff.

In 2021 we launched UNEP’s Sustainable University Framework, which seeks to define what it means to be a sustainable university and lays out a pathway to becoming one, and the Global Guidance for Education on Green Jobs. These initiatives are designed to give the higher education community, employers and youth organizations the tools to prepare students to participate in a green transition.

And in October 2021, UNEP worked with Times Higher Education to organize the inaugural Climate Impact Forum at which Times Higher Education launched its new data-led report, The Race to Net Zero. It presented how well higher education institutions across the globe are performing when it comes to reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to net zero. So far 1,086 universities from 68 countries, representing over 10 million students, made commitments to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

What are you doing to support developing countries?

SB: There are already lots of networks in Europe and North America, but we want to focus on emerging economies. Given this, we’ve launched the Africa Green University and Youth Education Network hosted by the Hassan II International Centre for Environmental Training in Morocco. The network is growing and now includes 22 universities from eight African countries. With the support of the TERI School of Advanced Studies, we talked to stakeholders who agreed that there is a need to establish an India Green University Network. The plan is for this network to be built up and officially launched in 2022. 

Any initiatives specifically on the climate front?

SB: Yes. We’ve provided early support for initiatives such as Count Us In, a campaign that aims to inspire 1 billion people to take simple, impactful actions which will directly reduce carbon dioxideemissions, accelerate the uptake of climate solutions and challenge leaders to act boldly to deliver global systems change.

Hundreds of millions of young people play video games. How is UNEP working with the video gaming industry to promote environmental awareness?

SB: UNEP facilitates the Playing for the Planet Alliance, which is an initiative in support of the video gaming industry to use their influence, reach, and creativity to address some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges. Gaming companies in the alliance have made commitments ranging from integrating green activations in games to reducing their emissions. Since the Playing for the Planet Alliance was launched in 2019, 60 per cent of its members have made a commitment to become net zero or carbon negative by 2030. On top of that, the second annual Green Game Jam welcomed 30 (game) studios with a combined reach of 1 billion players.

UNEP’s GEO-6 for Youth report shows how youth have the power to bring about transformative change for the environment. How is UNEP getting youth to help tackle the scourge of single-use plastics?

SB: The Tide Turners Plastic Challenge Badge seeks to support the World Organization of the Scout Movement, the World Associations of Girl Guides and Scouts, Junior Achievement and university students to take action to reduce single-use plastic in their lives. Since February 2019, more than 470,000 young people have started the badge in over 32 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Thanks to financial support from the United Kingdom government this work will continue in 2022. 

UNEP and partners launched “Earth School” in April 2020 in response to school closures in the wake of the pandemic. In just three weeks, it reached nearly 1 million students. How did you come up with such an idea?

SB: We saw that many pupils, parents and teachers were struggling with COVID-19 so we wanted to try and do something different. Earth School was built with educators and over 40 partners and shows what can happen when a big idea is run by many. It’s the biggest online learning initiative in UNEP’s history and is available for free on TED-Ed’s website.

UNEP

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Not only did China’s distortion and damage to its interests in the field of sports and the politicization of world...

Middle East11 hours ago

Embarking on Libya’s Noble Foray Into the Future

On Saturday the 22nd of January, activists from across the civil society spectrum in Libya gathered over Zoom with one...

china bicycle china bicycle
East Asia13 hours ago

“Post-Communism Era”, “Post-Democracy Era”, in the face of “authoritarian liberalism”

According to my understanding and analysis of the current appropriate Chinese confrontation mechanisms in the face of American boycott of...

Eastern Europe15 hours ago

The Stewards of Hate

A big bear is rattling the open door of his cage.  He cannot abide a NATO spear in his belly. ...

International Law17 hours ago

Psychology of Political Power : Does Power Corrupt or is Magnetic to the Most Corruptible?

Last week I attended a conference on ‘Political Power, Morality and Corruption’. A Socratic dialogue with fellow scholars led me...

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