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Financing the African Water Revolution

by Sara Löwgren

Stockholm World Water Week – August 26th  2018

During the first day of the annual World Water Week, one of the most anticipated sessions was the Falkenmark Symposium. In the crowded conference room, scientists, politicians, the World Bank, ambassadors, development organizations, technical experts, and many more gathered to discuss the African Water Revolution. More importantly, to discuss the finance of the African Water Revolution.

The African Water Revolution is how Africa will meet the present and future challenge of rapid population growth, lack of irrigation water, and increasing food insecurity and hunger.

While the term can refer to different aspects, including WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene), the Falkenmark Symposium focused on the green water revolution. Green water is water that is found in the soil and it is the only water, as Professor Malin Falkenmark herself pointed out, that plants can utilize. Without green water, plants dry up and subsistence farmers and whole nations lose their source of food. Green water comes from rainwater and when left alone, up to 50% of the precipitation in Africa is lost to evaporation. Rainwater collection and storage, the core of the African Water Revolution, thus holds massive, untapped potential.

But there is a mismatch between the water that is used for agriculture and the water that receives funding. Professor Johan Rockström remarked that while 95% of agriculture in Africa is done using green water, blue water projects (such as drilling wells or treating water from lakes and rivers) receive about 90% of the funding. The rainwater projects are usually very small scale and the Falkenmark panelists suggested the financing organizations prefer larger projects, like typical blue water project, because they are more profitable and projects can usually demonstrate security and a credit history. Most subsistence farmers lack financial history and therefore struggle to receive investments.

The panelists suggested different ways of overcoming the challenge, ranging from microfinance to domestic tax revenues. But, besides some comments on philanthropic contributions from the Rockefeller foundation, a problematic assumption burdened the conversation. Dr. Belay Begashaw, who delivered the closing remark, shone light on it: almost all solutions discussed seemed to assume that it is up to the individual countries to raise funds for the green water revolution. It makes very little sense to demand already poor countries, where only a low percentage of the population have formal jobs that generate income and tax revenue, to increase domestic investments.

Thinking about financing the African Water Revolution through a climate change lens, it becomes very clear that industrialized countries must step up and take their ‘polluter-pays’ responsibility seriously. Due to climate change, most of Africa can expect future dramatic changes to precipitation patterns. Drought, famine, and hunger due to greenhouse gases they did not emit. It is great that so much technology and knowledge is available for rainwater harvest, but now it is time for industrialized countries to step up to the challenge of financing the African Water Revolution.

 

follow parts of the World Water Week here!

photo by Adam Cohn “Storm is Brewing” Creative commons on flickr.com

It’s not just about what we say: it’s about who is listening

by Andrea Fontana

Credits Aura Silva Martinez

Credits Aura Silva Martinez

First day at COP23. Having the chance to address the opening plenary of the Subsidiary Bodies at COP23 we frantically put together a statement on behalf of the coalition Climate Justice Now. Focusing on Loss and Damage and requesting developed countries to live up to their commitments to developing countries (don’t worry – nothing too radical here, just trying to have countries fulfill their commitments). Oh yeah, we also asked Parties to recognize the current losses and damages by climate change and to not rely on the private sector – read capitalism – to solve the climate crisis. Because #copitalismkills. Below is what my voice relayed on behalf of thousands of Climate Justice Now members:

Thank you chair, my name is Andrea Fontana, a member of Earth in Brackets and Climate Justice Now.

 Chairs, delegates

 With the losses of climate disasters stacking up year after year and with Typhoon Damrey currently wreaking havoc in Vietnam, it is impossible to ignore that losses and damages are being faced by communities right now. To give impacted peoples a fighting chance, we need the permanent incorporation of Loss and Damage into the agenda of the COP and SB meetings, and we need clarity on the 100-billion-dollar roadmap for real finance and support.

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International Divestment – Nordic Banks Defunding DAPL

by Sara Löwgren

Two Nordic banks are divesting from companies which contribute to the continuous violations of indigenous rights at Standing Rock through their direct involvement in DAPL. The divestment is following a special UN report on indigenous rights and the cancellation of an Environmental Impact Statement after Trump’s inauguration, and strongly supported by Nordic Arctic indigenous Sami people.

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[Earth] member delivers SBSTA Closing Plenary Intervention at COP22

At every COP meeting, constituencies have the opportunity to address opening and closing plenaries through interventions. The closing of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice closed today at COP22, and a member of our COP22 delegation, Jenna Farineau, gave the speech on behalf of the UNFCCC youth constituency (special thanks and shoutout to all the people who worked on the intervention behind the scenes: Laura Berry, Caroline Jeanmaire, Amalie Cordes, and Jenna Farineau).

You can watch her speech here at 1:13:00 and find the transcript below.

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How the Paris Agreement FCCC’ed Us Over

by Aneesa Khan
To be in a room for seven whole hours is arduous in itself. However, for that room to be one filled with painfully complacent idiots, the overpowering smell of corporate power, and sickeningly thundering applause? Well, that can only be described as torturous. Feelings along the lines of delirious levels of fury, profound misery and a fairly good amount of second-hand embarrassment for those in the room were inevitable and rampant.

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