Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Pastoralism - Part of the answer to drought in Africa

Mobile pastoralism is part of the solution to the drought in the Horn of Africa, according to the IUCN-hosted World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism (WISP). “This crisis was predictable and predicted,” says Pablo Manzano, who works with IUCN in its East and Southern Africa Regional Office and is Global Coordinator of WISP. “Irrigated crop farming and abandonment of pastoralism are being proposed as solutions in order to prevent future crises. But analyses on the subject often don’t take into account the ecological, economic and social factors that make pastoralism highly sustainable in drylands.”

In the current crisis in the Horn of Africa, media and economic experts are accusing pastoralism of being an ineffective livelihood that is periodically subjected to similar crises. Irrigated crop farming is proposed as a panacea but it deepens overuse of water resources and exacerbates conflicts. Livestock mobility is a much more rational land use, allowing the exploitation of patchy resources in drylands and is also an important tool for climate change adaptation.

Securing land tenure for pastoralist communities is needed to conserve resources so that droughts are countered and capital inputs are leveraged for development. Long-term strategies should be based on allowing people to move with their livestock across manmade boundaries, which have been key during other food crises. But even if the present crisis was predicted almost a year ago, no action was taken. Famines are more related to political turmoil than to the amount of rainfall, and they do not occur unless pastoral areas have other problems.

“Investments in drylands by government and international aid agencies have to be reoriented, taking into account local ecological conditions as well as local capacities,” adds Manzano. “Investments should include infrastructure to export pastoralist products, financial services for remote areas, high-quality adapted education, and skills for securing land rights, ideally adapting traditional management to modern legal frameworks. Most of these solutions have been adopted by pastoralists themselves in different parts of the world, often with no external help. It becomes clear from overwhelming evidence from around the world that to use investment to support pastoralism, rather than replacing it, is the only realistic solution.”

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU

On 29 June, the European Commission (EC) outlined its priorities for the next budgetary period. Overall, the communication was welcomed by development NGOs due to the EC’s plans to increase external spending by €14bn from 2014 to 2020. The extra funding allocated to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the EU’s commitments to eradicate poverty. The document also outlined a potential Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) to generate EU resources and named climate action as a core priority. There is also an underlying emphasis on the role of the private sector in development.

According to the EC communication, the Commission proposes that €70bn shall be allocated to external instruments, including the Development and Cooperation instrument (DCI) and the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENPI). In order to support the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the EC proposes the introduction of a pan-African instrument under the DCI, which “will focus on poverty eradication and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”. For the European Development Fund (EDF), which is expected to remain outside of the MFF, it is proposed that an allocation of €30 billion be made.

CONCORD welcomed the Communication, stating “The European Commission has shown courage in difficult times. It’s putting its money where its mouth is on giving priority to development,” said Olivier Consolo, Director of CONCORD. The Communication also argued for poverty eradication to be rooted in the promotion of democracy, human rights and equality by respecting the UN charter and international law — an approach applauded by CONCORD.

The Communication draws on the current thinking that gives an increased orientation on the role played by the private sector, not only for the implementation of activities (on the grounds that this levers more resources for development) but also in designing instruments and strategies. The Communication calls for the creation of a new Partnership instrument with industrialised and emerging economies to support EU business benefit from global economic transformation. In addition, the EU calls for greater risk sharing and guarantees so as to promote private investment in innovative business and infrastructure in developing countries. Whilst this emphasis on the private sector is not wholly unexpected in times of fragile economic recovery, there is a need to ensure that the EU’s global approaches are consistent with the EU’s international development commitments.

An orientation debate on the MFF will take place 12 September and 15 November 2011 in meetings of the General Affairs Council. Following this, the proposal for regulatory financial instruments will be agreed before the end of the year.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Union call for emergency G20 Summit on financial markets

As the collapse in world share values threatens to trigger renewed downturn and with it a surge in unemployment, union leaders have called on G20 leaders to convene an emergency Summit to take the initiative to regulate the markets and avert economic collapse. "Three years ago G20 leaders said they would never let the financial markets dictate economic policy again - sadly their actions were woefully inadequate, and we are now experiencing the consequences", stated ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. "It is not too late; an emergency G20 summit must do what they promised then, and introduce effective regulatory measures backed by employment targets for their policies."

"Stock markets have responded predictably like panicking sheep to the vacuum of leadership from the G20" criticised TUAC General Secretary John Evans. "The only acceptable way to exit from this crisis is to stimulate growth and job creation yet the governments are talking of further austerity. The private sector will never generate jobs as long as companies see no reason to anticipate higher demand for their products. Decisive pro-employment measures are urgently needed."