The world is, according to most, losing the climate change battle, but Algeria losing no hope is gearing up and can lead the way to combat climate change. It is a Fight against global warming for the collective effort of Africa.
COP 27: Algeria’s actions in the Fight against global warming for the collective effort of Africa.
By Dr Abderrahmane MEBTOUL
The temperature record is likely to become the norm, and not the exception and scientists continue to warn about global warming and call for emergency measures. Aware of the dangers threatening our planet, Algeria will be present at COP 27, which will take place in Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022. The President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid TEBBOUNE, recently presented an ambitious plan for the fight against global warming in Africa. The goal unanimously adopted by the Organization of African Union (OAU) proposed the establishment of the Support Fund for Measures to Combat the Negative Impacts of Climate Change. It had been endorsed by the Peace and Security Council (PSC), urging developed countries to fulfil their commitments to limit climate deterioration.
1.-The context of the holding of COP 27 in Egypt
This crucial meeting engages the world’s security where UN reports predict an unprecedented drought between 2025 and 2030, with fires, a shortage of fresh water and, therefore, a food crisis. It is in an alarming context, with the last two years, 2021 and 2022, marked by extreme weather events such as mega-fires in the Amazon, California or Greece, drought in North Africa and Europe, continued deforestation in the Amazon, and floods in Pakistan. Fundamentally, if we fail to transition to a low-carbon world, it will threaten the integrity of the global economy.
Because the climate is a vast, interconnected system, any action in a specific area of the globe impacts the rest of the world. Since 1850, our planet has already warmed by an average of 1.1°C. According to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming could reach 1.5°C to 4.4°C by 2100. IPCC experts say global warming should be contained to +1.5°C by 2100 to prevent our climate from spiralling away. This limitation will be out of reach unless immediate, rapid and massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are achieved through carbon neutrality by 2050. Global warming has several adverse effects that threaten global security. Global warming is having disastrous consequences on the planet. It leads to rising sea levels, changing the oceans, amplifying extreme weather events and causing water to evaporate, which changes rainfall patterns. Global warming threatens plants and animals as the growth cycles of wild and cultivated plants are altered. Global warming is also disrupting human living conditions and increasing health risks: heat waves, cyclones, floods, and droughts, facilitated the spread of diseases and disruption of the distribution of natural resources, their quantity and quality, and agricultural yields and fishing activities. Thus, government commitments would only achieve 20% of the necessary emission reductions by 2030. Achieving the goals would require an investment of up to $4 trillion annually over the next decade, with most of these investments directed to developing economies. Global warming is not a vision of the mind being a global threat, and the highest Algerian authorities have become aware, especially with, on the one hand, torrential rains and, on the other hand, fires more and more frequent with sometimes criminal acts. But it is a question of distinguishing short-term actions in the face of emergencies from medium- and long-term measures that exceed the means of a single country; the efforts must be collective.
2.- Algeria’s actions against global warming: the national climate plan 2020-2030
For Algeria, a semi-arid country, the significant impacts of climate change are fires destroying thousands of hectares of forests, sometimes with many victims, not to mention material damage – as in 2021 in Kabylia and 2022 in the east of the country. A shortage of water resources, the degradation of water quality, the intrusion of marine waters at aquifers and the deterioration of infrastructure are caused mainly by water tables flooding. Algeria has adopted an ambitious plan against global warming because it has experienced, over the last century, a temperature increase of 0.3 ° C per decade as well as a rainfall deficit of 15%, requiring another water policy not unique to Algeria, which can lead to wars in the world. Algeria has opted for seawater desalination units throughout the country, particularly on the coasts where more than 80% of the population is concentrated. In Algeria, there are losses of up to 30% due to old pipes, making investments urgent as well as in water recycling units, another policy for agriculture by encouraging dripping, for example. The Albian aquifer is the enormous groundwater table in the world, with about 50,000 billion cubic meters, straddling three countries, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. 70% of the water table is in Algerian territory in the country’s southeast. A pipeline has been built between In Salah and Tamanrasset for its supply, and a reasonable policy without breaking the ecosystem (these aquifers are non-renewable) can boost agriculture. Algeria is committed to the fight against climate change. In 2015, it ratified the Paris Climate Agreement (COP 21). Long before, in June 1992, Algeria signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and ratified it in June 1993, having participated in the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 25), which took place in Madrid (2-13 December 2019). The Green Economy Recovery Plan aims to encourage recycling and promote green processing industries by establishing tax incentives for industrial companies that commit to reducing the emission of gases and chemical waste. In the field of gas flaring, efforts have made it possible to reduce gas flaring by 500 million m³ during 2020-2021. Sonatrach Oil and Gas Group has signed the Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative, launched in 2015 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the World Bank Group, to end routine flaring by 2030. Recently, Algeria has set up a National Climate Plan 2020-2030 covering 155 projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the negative impacts of climate change, and support climate governance. It has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 7%, a rate that could rise to 22% by 2030 if it can receive support for significant projects to adapt to climate change. Algeria has adopted a program to convert vehicles to LPG while creating national structures to implement strategies for producing clean energy. It includes green hydrogen, and the revival of the Green Dam project with a view to its expansion to an area of 4.7 million hectares in the coming years is part of this strategy to fight against global warming.
3.- Algeria’s solidarity potential
But it is mainly thanks to its great solar potential (3000 hours) that Algeria is in an excellent position to produce electricity. Having an ambitious program for renewable energies to combine thermal for export and photovoltaic solar panels for the domestic market. In mid-July 2011, Algeria took delivery of the hybrid power plant at Hassi R’mel, with a total capacity of 150 MW, including 30 MW from the combination of gas and solar. This is an exciting experience. Combining 20% gas, cleaner than coal and oil, and 80% solar seems essential to reduce costs and master the technology. The Algerian program consists of installing a renewable power of nearly 22,000 MW by 2030/2035, of which 12,000 MW will be dedicated to covering national electricity demand and 10,000 MW for export. According to the Ministry of Energy, in 2030, the goal is to produce 40% of its electricity needs from renewable energies. The amount of public investment devoted by Algeria to the realization of its renewable energy development program by 2030 was initially set (between 2019/2020) at 60 billion dollars, requiring a national and international public-private partnership. Recently, the delegation led by the European Commissioner for Energy, visiting Algiers, committed to promoting investment in renewable energies and green hydrogen, the power of the future 2036/2040; this segment, in partnership with Algeria through interconnections, there is an opportunity to export to Europe. But other partnerships are possible, especially with China investing in these niches.
In conclusion, the irony of history, according to a recent UN 2022 report, in its worst projection, a warming of the temperature of the planet beyond 4 ° C under the title “threat to the Nile”, one of its jewels is threatened with disappearance where with the rise in sea level caused by global warming,
“The sea will rise by one meter, consequently engulfing a third of the very fertile land of the Nile Delta and historic cities; the coastal city of Alexandria could be underwater by 2050.” It also threatens all coasts of the world, including the Algerian coast. Peace in this region is essential for calmly addressing the strategic subject of global warming and, therefore, the irreversible energy transition that will change the world’s energy and economic power between 2025/2030/2040. However, with the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, many countries have come to fall back on fossil fuels massively. Like most developing countries, Algeria is caught because air pollution is not their responsibility. the main culprits are the developed countries, China and Russia, and their commitments still need to be fulfilled under the second period of the Kyoto Protocol. It is the responsibility which lies primarily with the developed countries, significant polluters, with a catastrophic impact on developing countries, particularly in Africa where the commitments of COP 21 of the aid of 100 billion dollars have been very partially implemented. And the significant problem to be solved, a complicated equation, is to reconcile the legitimate development aspiration and the fight against global warming presupposing progressive adaptation strategies with the help of developed countries to achieve this transition. Let us hope this umpteenth meeting will propose concrete solutions to global warming.
Dr Abderrahmane MEBTOUL, University Professor, International Expert Doctor of State 1974
Director of Studies Ministry of Industry and Energy 1974/1979-1990/1995-2000/2006-2013/2015
Chairman of the Energy Transition Commission of 5+5+ Germany in June 2019
Time and time again, financial approaches have worked to fix economic problems. Raising interest rates has acted to slow the economy and lowering them has acted to speed up the economy. Governments overspending their incomes also acts to push the economy ahead; doing the reverse seems to slow economies down.
What could possibly go wrong? The issue is a physics problem. The economy doesn’t run simply on money and debt. It operates on resources of many kinds, including energy-related resources. As the population grows, the need for energy-related resources grows. The bottleneck that occurs is something that is hard to see in advance; it is an affordability bottleneck.
For a very long time, financial manipulations have been able to adjust affordability in a way that is optimal for most players. At some point, resources, especially energy resources, get stretched too thin, relative to the rising population and all the commitments that have been made, such as pension commitments. As a result, there is no way for the quantity of goods and services produced to grow sufficiently to match the promises that the financial system has made. This is the real bottleneck that the world economy reaches.
I believe that we are closely approaching this bottleneck today. I recently gave a talk to a group of European officials at the 2nd Luxembourg Strategy Conference, discussing the issue from the European point of view. Europeans seem to be especially vulnerable because Europe, with its early entry into the Industrial Revolution, substantially depleted its fossil fuel resources many years ago. The topic I was asked to discuss was, “Energy: The interconnection of energy limits and the economy and what this means for the future.”
In this post, I write about this presentation.
The major issue is that money, by itself, cannot operate the economy, because we cannot eat money. Any model of the economy must include energy and other resources. In a finite world, these resources tend to deplete. Also, human population tends to grow. At some point, not enough goods and services are produced for the growing population.
I believe that the major reason we have not been told about how the economy really works is because it would simply be too disturbing to understand the real situation. If today’s economy is dependent on finite fossil fuel supplies, it becomes clear that, at some point, these will run short. Then the world economy is likely to face a very difficult time.
A secondary reason for the confusion about how the economy operates is too much specialization by researchers studying the issue. Physicists (who are concerned about energy) don’t study economics; politicians and economists don’t study physics. As a result, neither group has a very broad understanding of the situation.
I am an actuary. I come from a different perspective: Will physical resources be adequate to meet financial promises being made? I have had the privilege of learning a little from both economic and physics sides of the discussion. I have also learned about the issue from a historical perspective.
World energy consumption has been growing very rapidly at the same time that the world economy has been growing. This makes it hard to tell whether the growing energy supply enabled the economic growth, or whether the higher demand created by the growing economy encouraged the world economy to use more resources, including energy resources.
Physics says that it is energy resources that enable economic growth.
The R-squared of GDP as a function of energy is .98, relative to the equation shown.
Physicists talk about the “dissipation” of energy. In this process, the ability of an energy product to do “useful work” is depleted. For example, food is an energy product. When food is digested, its ability to do useful work (provide energy for our body) is used up. Cooking food, whether using a campfire or electricity or by burning natural gas, is another way of dissipating energy.
Humans are clearly part of the economy. Every type of work that is done depends upon energy dissipation. If energy supplies deplete, the form of the economy must change to match.
There are a huge number of systems that seem to grow by themselves using a process called self-organization. I have listed a few of these on Slide 8. Some of these things are alive; most are not. They are all called “dissipative structures.”
The key input that allows these systems to stay in a “non-dead” state is dissipation of energy of the appropriate type. For example, we know that humans need about 2,000 calories a day to continue to function properly. The mix of food must be approximately correct, too. Humans probably could not live on a diet of lettuce alone, for example.
Economies have their own need for energy supplies of the proper kind, or they don’t function properly. For example, today’s agricultural equipment, as well as today’s long-distance trucks, operate on diesel fuel. Without enough diesel fuel, it becomes impossible to plant and harvest crops and bring them to market. A transition to an all-electric system would take many, many years, if it could be done at all.
I think of an economy as being like a child’s building toy. Gradually, new participants are added, both in the form of new citizens and new businesses. Businesses are formed in response to expected changes in the markets. Governments gradually add new laws and new taxes. Supply and demand seem to set market prices. When the system seems to be operating poorly, regulators step in, typically adjusting interest rates and the availability of debt.
One key to keeping the economy working well is the fact that those who are “consumers” closely overlap those who are “employees.” The consumers (= employees) need to be paid well enough, or they cannot purchase the goods and services made by the economy.
A less obvious key to keeping the economy working well is that the whole system needs to be growing. This is necessary so that there are enough goods and services available for the growing population. A growing economy is also needed so that debt can be repaid with interest, and so that pension obligations can be paid as promised.
World population has been growing year after year, but arable land stays close to constant. To provide enough food for this rising population, more intensive agriculture is required, often including irrigation, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
Furthermore, an increasing amount of fresh water is needed, leading to a need for deeper wells and, in some places, desalination to supplement other water sources. All these additional efforts add energy usage, as well as costs.
In addition, mineral ores and energy supplies of all kinds tend to become depleted because the best resources are accessed first. This leaves the more expensive-to-extract resources for later.
The issues in Slide 11 are a continuation of the issues described on Slide 10. The result is that the cost of energy production eventually rises so much that its higher costs spill over into the cost of all other goods and services. Workers find that their paychecks are not high enough to cover the items they usually purchased in the past. Some poor people cannot even afford food and fresh water.
Increasing debt is helpful as an economy grows. A farmer can borrow money for seed to grow a crop, and he can repay the debt, once the crop has grown. Or an entrepreneur can finance a factory using debt.
On the consumer side, debt at a sufficiently low interest rate can be used to make the purchase of a home or vehicle affordable.
Central banks and others involved in the financial world figured out many years ago that if they manipulate interest rates and the availability of credit, they are generally able to get the economy to grow as fast as they would like.
It is hard for most people to imagine how much interest rates have varied over the last century. Back during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the early 1940s, interest rates were very close to zero. As large amounts of inexpensive energy were added to the economy in the post-World War II period, the world economy raced ahead. It was possible to hold back growth by raising interest rates.
Oil supply was constrained in the 1970s, but demand and prices kept rising. US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker is known for raising interest rates to unheard of heights (over 15%) with a peak in 1981 to end inflation brought on by high oil prices. This high inflation rate brought on a huge recession from which the economy eventually recovered, as the higher prices brought more oil supply online (Alaska, North Sea, and Mexico), and as substitution was made for some oil use. For example, home heating was moved away from burning oil; electricity-production was mostly moved from oil to nuclear, coal and natural gas.
Another thing that has helped the economy since 1981 has been the ability to stimulate demand by lowering interest rates, making monthly payments more affordable. In 2008, the US added Quantitative Easing as a way of further holding interest rates down. A huge debt bubble has thus been built up since 1981, as the world economy has increasingly been operated with an increasing amount of debt at ever-lower interest rates. (See 3-month and 10 year interest rates shown on Slide 14.) This cheap debt has allowed rapidly rising asset prices.
The world economy starts hitting major obstacles when energy supply stops growing faster than population because the supply of finished goods and services (such as new automobile, new homes, paved roads, and airplane trips for passengers) produced stops growing as rapidly as population. These obstacles take the form of affordability obstacles. The physics of the situation somehow causes the wages and wealth to be increasingly be concentrated among the top 10% or 1%. Lower-paid individuals are increasingly left out. While goods are still produced, ever-fewer workers can afford more than basic necessities. Such a situation makes for unhappy workers.
World energy consumption per capitahit a peak in 2018 and began to slide in 2019, with an even bigger drop in 2020. With less energy consumption, world automobile sales began to slide in 2019 and fell even lower in 2020. Protests, often indirectly related to inadequate wages or benefits, became an increasing problem in 2019. The year 2020 is known for Covid-19 related shutdowns and flight cancellations, but the indirect effect was to reduce energy consumption by less travel and by broken supply lines leading to unavailable goods. Prices of fossil fuels dropped far too low for producers.
Governments tried to get their own economies growing by various techniques, including spending more than the tax revenue they took in, leading to a need for more government debt, and by Quantitative Easing, acting to hold down interest rates. The result was a big increase in the money supply in many countries. This increased money supply was often distributed to individual citizens as subsidies of various kinds.
The higher demand caused by this additional money tended to cause inflation. It tended to raise fossil fuel prices because the inexpensive-to-extract fuels have mostly been extracted. In the days of Paul Volker, more energy supply at a little higher price was available within a few years. This seems extremely unlikely today because of diminishing returns. The problem is that there is little new oil supply available unless prices can stay above at least $120 per barrel on a consistent basis, and prices this high, or higher, do not seem to be available.
Oil prices are not rising this high, even with all of the stimulus funds because of the physics-based wage disparity problem mentioned previously. Also, those with political power try to keep fuel prices down so that the standards of living of citizens will not fall. Because of these low oil prices, OPEC+ continues to make cuts in production. The existence of chronically low prices for fossil fuels is likely the reason why Russia behaves in as belligerent a manner as it does today.
Today, with rising interest rates and Quantitative Tightening instead of Quantitative Easing, a major concern is that the debt bubble that has grown since in 1981 will start to collapse. With falling debt levels, prices of assets, such as homes, farms, and shares of stock, can be expected to fall. Many borrowers will be unable to repay their loans.
If this combination of events occurs, deflation is a likely outcome because banks and pension funds are likely to fail. If, somehow, local governments are able to bail out banks and pension funds, then there is a substantial likelihood of local hyperinflation. In such a case, people will have huge quantities of money, but practically nothing available to buy. In either case, the world economy will shrink because of inadequate energy supply.
Most people have a “normalcy bias.” They assume that if economic growth has continued for a long time in the past, it necessarily will occur in the future. Yet, we all know that all dissipative structures somehow come to an end. Humans can come to an end in many ways: They can get hit by a car; they can catch an illness and succumb to it; they can die of old age; they can starve to death.
History tells us that economies nearly always collapse, usually over a period of years. Sometimes, population rises so high that the food production margin becomes tight; it becomes difficult to set aside enough food if the cycle of weather should turn for the worse. Thus, population drops when crops fail.
In the years leading up to collapse, it is common that the wages of ordinary citizens fall too low for them to be able to afford an adequate diet. In such a situation, epidemics can spread easily and kill many citizens. With so much poverty, it becomes impossible for governments to collect enough taxes to maintain services they have promised. Sometimes, nations lose at war because they cannot afford a suitable army. Very often, governmental debt becomes non-repayable.
The world economy today seems to be approaching some of the same bottlenecks that more local economies hit in the past.
The basic problem is that with inadequate energy supplies, the total quantity of goods and services provided by the economy must shrink. Thus, on average, people must become poorer. Most individual citizens, as well as most governments, will not be happy about this situation.
The situation becomes very much like the game of musical chairs. In this game, one chair at a time is removed. The players walk around the chairs while music plays. When the music stops, all participants grab for a chair. Someone gets left out. In the case of energy supplies, the stronger countries will try to push aside the weaker competitors.
Countries that understand the importance of adequate energy supplies recognize that Europe is relatively weak because of its dependence on imported fuel. However, Europe seems to be oblivious to its poor position, attempting to dictate to others how important it is to prevent climate change by eliminating fossil fuels. With this view, it can easily keep its high opinion of itself.
If we think about the musical chairs’ situation and not enough energy supplies to go around, everyone in the world (except Europe) would be better off if Europe were to be forced out of its high imports of fossil fuels. Russia could perhaps obtain higher energy export prices in Asia and the Far East. The whole situation becomes very strange. Europe tells itself it is cutting off imports to punish Russia. But, if Europe’s imports can remain very low, everyone else, from the US, to Russia, to China, to Japan would benefit.
The benefits of wind and solar energy are glorified in Europe, with people being led to believe that it would be easy to transition from fossil fuels, and perhaps leave nuclear, as well. The problem is that wind, solar, and even hydroelectric energy supply are very undependable. They cannot ever be ramped up to provide year-round heat. They are poorly adapted for agricultural use (except for sunshine helping crops grow).
Few people realize that the benefits that wind and solar provide are tiny. They cannot be depended on, so companies providing electricity need to maintain duplicate generating capacity. Wind and solar require far more transmission than fossil-fuel-generated electricity because the best sources are often far from population centers. When all costs are included (without subsidy), wind and solar electricity tend to be more expensive than fossil-fuel generated electricity. They are especially difficult to rely on in winter. Therefore, many people in Europe are concerned about possibly “freezing in the dark,” as soon as this winter.
There is no possibility of ever transitioning to a system that operates only on intermittent electricity with the population that Europe has today, or that the world has today. Wind turbines and solar panels are built and maintained using fossil fuel energy. Transmission lines cannot be maintained using intermittent electricity alone.
Basically, Europe must use very much less fossil fuel energy, for the long term. Citizens cannot assume that the war with Ukraine will soon be over, and everything will be back to the way it was several years ago. It is much more likely that the freeze-in-the-dark problem will be present every winter, from now on. In fact, European citizens might actually be happier if the climate would warm up a bit.
With this as background, there is a need to figure out how to use less energy without hurting lifestyles too badly. To some extent, changes from the Covid-19 shutdowns can be used, since these indirectly were ways of saving energy. Furthermore, if families can move in together, fewer buildings in total will need to be heated. Cooking can perhaps be done for larger groups at a time, saving on fuel.
If families can home-school their children, this saves both the energy for transportation to school and the energy for heating the school. If families can keep younger children at home, instead of sending them to daycare, this saves energy, as well.
A major issue that I do not point out directly in this presentation is the high energy cost of supporting the elderly in the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed. One issue is the huge amount and cost of healthcare. Another is the cost of separate residences. These costs can be reduced if the elderly can persuaded to move in with family members, as was done in the past. Pension programs worldwide are running into financial difficulty now, with interest rates rising. Countries with large elderly populations are likely to be especially affected.
Besides conserving energy, the other thing people in Europe can do is attempt to understand the dynamics of our current situation. We are in a different world now, with not enough energy of the right kinds to go around.
The dynamics in a world of energy shortages are like those of the musical chairs’ game. We can expect more fighting. We cannot expect that countries that have been on our side in the past will necessarily be on our side in the future. It is more like being in an undeclared war with many participants.
Under ideal circumstances, Europe would be on good terms with energy exporters, even Russia. I suppose at this late date, nothing can be done.
A major issue is that if Europe attempts to hold down fossil fuel prices, the indirect result will be to reduce supply. Oil, natural gas and coal producers will all reduce supply before they will accept a price that they consider too low. Given the dependence of the world economy on energy supplies, especially fossil fuel energy supplies, this will make the situation worse, rather than better.
Wind and solar are not replacements for fossil fuels. They are made with fossil fuels. We don’t have the ability to store up solar energy from summer to winter. Wind is also too undependable, and battery capacity too low, to compensate for need for storage from season to season. Thus, without a growing supply of fossil fuels, it is impossible for today’s economy to continue in its current form.
What is the MENA countries’ Soft Power Ranking? According to the latest Global Soft Power Index 2022, a nation’s ability to influence, whether through attraction or persuasion, the behaviour and preferences of different actors on the international scene, including political regimes, businesses, and communities. That is nowadays labelled “Soft Power.”
So, here is the MENA countries’ soft power ranking
Certain countries of the MENA suffer from a loss of influence on the international stage. They are dangerously retreating in favour of several small countries that manage to acquire a much more powerful brand image.
The assessment of the strength of the national brand is based, among other things, on data from the “Soft Power Index” as compiled by Brand Finance.
Fifty-five thousand people from more than 100 countries were asked about the reputation of countries and their influence on the international scene.
According to Brand Finance, countries with high overall ratings are suitable for investment. They also have an easier time marketing their brands and products.
Founded in 1996, Brand Finance, an accounting firm touted as the world’s leading independent brand valuation and brand strategy consulting group, is present in more than 20 countries and is at the service of Marketing, Finance, Tax & Legal departments as well as Business Leaders. It is the first brand valuation US consultancy to join the International Valuation Standards Council, an independent, not-for-profit, U.S.- incorporated, private sector standards organization headquartered in the United States with its social headquarters in London, United Kingdom.
For several years, the Global Soft Power Index (GSPI) has measured the power and influence of all countries worldwide. For this 2022 edition, Algeria has retreated on the international scene to find itself in the 75th position out of 120 countries.
The GSPI considered Algeria less influential than countries such as Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jamaica and Malta.
According to the GSPI, Morocco is considered much more influential, ranking 46th globally. Algeria is also far from being able to compete with Egypt, which ranked first in Africa (31st), followed by South Africa (34th).
In the MENA region, Algeria ranked barely 8th among the 15 listed countries, after the United Arab Emirates (15th globally), Israel (23rd), Saudi Arabia (24th), Egypt (31st), Kuwait (36th), and Morocco (46th). Algeria (75th) is only better than Tunisia (76th).
The GSPI 2022 does, at the same time, not include Mauritania and Libya because of their chronic weaknesses that exclude them from this world ranking of the most influential countries.
The UAE is ranked as the top country in the MENA region in terms of global influence; as a small country of fewer than 10 million people located along the Arabian Gulf, it rose to tenth in this new ranking of 120 countries in the world. The UAE is one of the ten most influential and powerful countries worldwide.
Standards are a hidden part of the information and communications technology networks and devices that we all use every day. Though rarely perceived by users, they are vital in enabling the interconnection and interoperability of ICT equipment and devices manufactured by hundreds of thousands of different companies around the world.
For example, 95% of internet traffic is on fiber, built on standards from the International Telecommunication Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations for ICT. ITU has also played a leading role in managing the radio spectrum and developing globally applicable standards for 5G cellular networks.
But while technical standards are clearly indispensable for business and society to work in our industrialized world, it is also becoming clear that technical standards have a key role in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Indeed, the focus of the recent ITU Global Standards Symposium, which brought together more than 700 industry leaders and policymakers, was how standards can help address some of the most pressing needs of the planet, such as eradicating poverty or hunger and mitigating climate change.
To address SDGs 1 and 2 on ending poverty and hunger, an ITU focus group on “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) for Digital Agriculture” is working toward new standards to support global improvements in the precision and sustainability of farming techniques.
Under ITU and the World Health Organization, a focus group on “Artificial Intelligence for Health” aims to establish an “open code” benchmarking platform, highlighting the type of metrics that could help developers and health regulators certify future AI solutions in the same way as is done for medical equipment. Also, standards for medical-grade digital health devices — such as connected blood pressure cuffs, glucose monitors, or weight scales — are helping prevent and manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Standards are helping bring broadband to rural communities with lightweight optical cable that can be deployed on the ground’s surface with minimal expense and environmental impact. The installation of ultrahigh-speed optical networks typically comes with a great deal of cost and complexity. Standards can change that equation by providing a solution able to be deployed at low cost with everyday tools.
To address SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities, more than 150 cities around the world have started evaluating their progress toward smart-city objectives and alignment with the SDGs using so-called key performance indicators based on tech standards. These cities are supported by United for Smart Sustainable Cities, an initiative backed by ITU and 16 other U.N. partners.
International standards, recognized around the world, are essential for making technologies … accessible and useful to everyone, everywhere.
Addressing SDGs related to climate action and green energy, ITU standards for green ICT include sustainable power-feeding solutions for 5G networks, as well as smart energy solutions for telecom sites and data centers that prioritize the intake of power from renewable energy sources. They also cover the use of AI and big data to optimize data center energy efficiency and innovative techniques to reduce energy needs for data center cooling.
Financial inclusion is another key area of action to achieve SDG 1 on ending poverty. Digital channels are bringing life-changing financial services to millions of people for the very first time. Enormous advances have been made within the Financial Inclusion Global Initiative and the associated development of technical standards in support of secure financial applications and services, as well as reliable digital infrastructure and the resulting consumer trust that our money and digital identities are safe.
However, the complexity of global problems requires numerous organizations with different objectives and profiles to work toward common goals. Leading developers of international ICT standards need to work together to address the SDGs, using frameworks such as the World Standards Cooperation, with the support of mechanisms such as the Standards Programme Coordination Group — reviewing activities, identifying standards gaps and opportunities, and ensuring comprehensive standardization solutions to global challenges.
Including a greater variety of voices in standards discussions is crucial. It is particularly important that low- and middle-income countries are heard and that a multistakeholder approach is made a priority to have a successful and inclusive digital transformation.
Uncoordinated and noninclusive standardization can spell lasting harm for countries that already struggle to afford long-term socioeconomic investments. Without global and regional coordination, today’s digital revolution could produce uneven results, making it imperative that all standards bodies work cohesively.
Sustainable digital transformation requires political will. It was notable that last year in Italy for the first time, leaders from the G-20 group of nations used their final communiqué to acknowledge the importance of international consensus-based standards to digital transformation and sustainable development.
This important step could not have been made by one standards body alone.
Cities, governments, and companies face a significant learning curve while adopting new tech as part of low-carbon, sustainable, citizen-centric development strategies to meet the challenge of addressing the SDGs. International standards, recognized around the world, are essential for making technologies in areas like digital health and 5G — combined with bigger and better data use — accessible and useful to everyone, everywhere.
The views in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect Devex’s editorial views.
About the author
Chaesub Lee is the director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau at the International Telecommunication Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations for ICT. Lee has contributed to ICT standardization for over 30 years, specializing in areas such as integrated services digital networks, global information infrastructure, internet protocol, next-generation networks, internet protocol television, and cloud computing.
In Glasgow’s COP 26, Egypt was selected to host a follow-up COP 27. It intends to push for action on climate pledges with priority areas that will include ‘loss and damage’ funds. It concedes that protests, the peaceful though, are to be allowed as per an official.
Egypt wants to shift focus to developing countries in climate talks – official
Wael Aboulmagd, special representative to the COP27 President. Picture taken May 24, 2022. REUTERS/Sayed Sheasha
CAIRO, May 25 (Reuters) – Egypt will position itself as an impartial arbiter while hosting this year’s COP27 U.N. climate summit, as it pushes other nations to act on climate pledges while promoting the interests of the developing world, a senior Egyptian official said.
Egypt, where unauthorised public demonstrations are banned, would also welcome protests within the rules of the Nov. 7-18 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, said Wael Aboulmagd, special representative to the COP27 president.
A natural gas exporter, Egypt takes over presidency of the U.N. climate talks from Britain. Last year’s summit in Glasgow, Scotland, ended with the nearly 200 countries in attendance promising to strengthen their climate pledges this year. read more
Wealthy nations also disappointed many in Glasgow by saying they would not deliver the $100 billion per year promised from 2020 until 2023 to help developing countries with their energy transition and with adapting to a warming world. read more
Delivering this financing is among Egypt’s priorities for COP27. It also wants to focus on securing separate “loss and damage” funds, or compensation payments to climate-vulnerable countries already suffering from climate-related weather extremes, Aboulmagd said in an interview.
“There are issues that are of interest and priority to developing countries, and there are high expectations from us as a developing country to ensure that these issues are taken on board and that they achieve commensurate progress with how important they are,” he said.
But Egypt also would seek to mediate between developed and developing countries that have clashed over issues including carbon emissions and climate financing, as it tries to help steer a move from pledges to action, Aboulmagd said.
“In this particular year it is in the interest of the process that a perception of impartiality and equal distance from everyone is maintained.”
Aboulmagd said Egypt was working to launch about 17 voluntary initiatives in areas including food and agriculture and water management, hoping to inspire ideas and action to help countries meet their pledges.
Egypt is fine tuning its own updated target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, known as a nationally determined contribution (NDC). read more
“We intend to move even faster, despite very difficult circumstances,” Aboulmagd said, referring to economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
To promote global access and representation at COP27, Egypt has sought to fast track accreditation for under-represented civil society organisations from Africa, Aboulmagd said, adding that he hoped climate campaigners and activists play a constructive role.
“There are certain rules and we’re working with the secretariat to ensure that if there are people who want to protest, they’re entitled to do that, and it’s done in a peaceful manner,” he said.
“It’s good to have people yelling at you – hopefully not throwing stuff at you, but just yelling at you and we’re accustomed to that.”
Egypt’s government had worked with hotels to provide affordable accommodation for participants in Sharm el-Sheikh, a tourist resort on the Red Sea, he said.
“What we have done to the utmost is to ensure that decent hotels and very reasonable rates are made available.”
Reporting by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Katy Daigle and Grant McCool
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