MADRID, Dec 1 2022 (IPS) – Drought is one of the ‘most destructive’ natural disasters in terms of the loss of life, arising from impacts, such as wide-scale crop failure, wildfires and water stress.
In other words, droughts are one of the “most feared natural phenomena in the world;” they devastate farmland, destroy livelihoods and cause untold suffering, as reported by the world’s top specialised bodies: the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
They occur when an area experiences a shortage of water supply due to a lack of rainfall or lack of surface or groundwater. And they can last for weeks, months or years.
Exacerbated by land degradation and climate change, droughts are increasing in frequency and severity, up 29% since 2000, with 55 million people affected every year.
The impacts of climate change are often felt through water – more intense and frequent droughts, more extreme flooding, more erratic seasonal rainfall and accelerated melting of glaciers – with cascading effects on economies, ecosystems and all aspects of our daily lives, Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General
By 2050, droughts may affect an estimated three-quarters of the world’s population. This means that agricultural production will have to increase by 60% to meet the global food demand in 2050.
This means that about 71% of the world’s irrigated area and 47% of major cities are to experience at least periodic water shortages. If this trend continues, the scarcity and associated water quality problems will lead to competition and conflicts among water users, adds the Convention.
Most of the world already impacted
The alert is loud and strong and it comes from a number of the world’s most knowledgeable organisations.
To begin with, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on 29 November 2022 reported that most of the globe was drier than normal in 2021, with “cascading effects on economies, ecosystems and our daily lives.”
Between 2001 and 2018, UN-Water reported that a staggering 74% of all-natural disasters were water-related.
Currently, over 3.6 billion people have inadequate access to water at least one month per year and this is expected to increase to more than five billion by 2050.
In Africa, major rivers such as the Niger, Volta, Nile and Congo had below-average water flow in 2021.
The same trend was observed in rivers in parts of Russia, West Siberia and in Central Asia.
On the other hand, there were above-normal river volumes in some North American basins, the North Amazon and South Africa, as well as in China’s Amur river basin, and northern India.
The impacts of climate change are often felt through water – more intense and frequent droughts, more extreme flooding, more erratic seasonal rainfall and accelerated melting of glaciers – with cascading effects on economies, ecosystems and all aspects of our daily lives, said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“Changes to Cryosphere water resources affect food security, human health, ecosystem integrity and maintenance, and lead to significant impacts on economic and social development”, said WMO, sometimes causing river flooding and flash floods due to glacier lake outbursts.
The cryosphere – namely glaciers, snow cover, ice caps and, where present, permafrost – is the world’s biggest natural reservoir of freshwater.
Being water –or rather the lack of it– a major cause-effect of the fast-growing deterioration of natural resources, and the consequent damage to the world’s food production, the theme of World Soil Day 2022, marked 5 December, is “Soils: Where food begins.”
18 naturally occurring chemical elements are essential to plants. Soils supply 15.
Agricultural production will have to increase by 60% to meet the global food demand in 2050.
33% of soils are degraded.
In addition to the life of humans, animals, and plants, one of the sectors that most depend on water–crops is now highly endangered.
Indeed, since the 1950s, reminds the United Nations, innovations like synthetic fertilisers, chemical pesticides and high-yield cereals have helped humanity dramatically increase the amount of food it grows.
“But those inventions would be moot without agriculture’s most precious commodity: fresh water. And it, say researchers, is now under threat.”
Moreover, pollution, climate change and over-abstraction are beginning to compromise the lakes, rivers, and aquifers that underpin farming globally, reports the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Salinised and plastified
Such is the case, among many others, of the growing salinisation and ‘plastification’ of the world’s soils.
In fact, currently, it is estimated that there are more than 833 million hectares of salt-affected soils around the globe (8.7% of the planet). This implies the loss of soil’s capacity to grow food and also increasing impacts on water and the ability to filter pollution.
Soil salinisation and sodification are major soil degradation processes threatening ecosystems and are recognised as being among the most important problems at a global level for agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions, said the UN on occasion of the 2021 World Soil Day.
Among the major causes that this international body highlights is that in some arid areas, there has been an increase in the amount of wastewater used to grow crops.
“The problem can be exacerbated by flooding, which can inundate sewage systems or stores of fertiliser, polluting both surface water and groundwater.” Fertiliser run-off can cause algal blooms in lakes.
Meanwhile, the amount of freshwater per capita has fallen by 20% over the last two decades and nearly 60% of irrigated cropland is water-stressed.
The implications of those shortages are far-reaching: irrigated agriculture contributes 40% of total food produced worldwide.
Soils are highly living organisms
“Did you know that there are more living organisms in a tablespoon of soil than people on Earth?”
Agricultural systems lose nutrients with each harvest, and if soils are not managed sustainably, fertility is progressively lost, and soils will produce nutrient-deficient plants.
Soil nutrient loss is a major soil degradation process threatening nutrition. It is recognised as being among the most critical problems at a global level for food security and sustainability all around the globe.
Over the last 70 years, the level of vitamins and nutrients in food has drastically decreased, and it is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide suffer from a lack of micronutrients, known as hidden hunger because it is difficult to detect.
“Soil degradation induces some soils to be nutrient depleted, losing their capacity to support crops, while others have such a high nutrient concentration that represents a toxic environment to plants and animals, pollutes the environment and causes climate change.”
Significant changes are occurring in nearly every industry as technology advances and attitudes surrounding work and leadership evolve. Project management is no exception, and the styles and strategies for managing both the technical and human aspects of team projects are being adapted to accommodate the new workplace landscape emerging in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are the 2023 project management trends that we anticipate growing in the year to come.
A Continued Shift Towards Digital and Remote Work
In our post-pandemic world, fully remote and hybrid work options are here to stay. Gallup reports approximately 56% of full-time employees can fulfill job requirements entirely from home. The transition to fully remote work during the pandemic further illustrated productivity and effectiveness in the workplace could be maintained, even when a majority of employees were working from home.
Pros and Cons
From a project management standpoint, this transition has its pros and cons. Working in the same physical location as other team members promotes team-building and spontaneous collaboration that can be otherwise limited in a virtual workspace. Despite the perks of in-person collaboration, however, remote employees enjoy the flexible nature of working from home and report increased satisfaction with their work. When given the choice, many remote employees would prefer to remain remote or partially remote instead of returning full-time to the office.
As we move into 2023, project managers are challenged with navigating team dynamics and productivity in an increasingly digital environment.
Preference for Cloud-Based Operations
The transition to more remote working environments has created reliance on cloud-based computing solutions and communication networks. Cloud-based systems can provide cost-effective alternatives to traditional operations without surrendering performance and function. The ability for employees to access cloud-based networks from any location has made them the new standard for modern companies.
The Changing Responsibilities of a Project Manager
The scope of a project manager’s responsibilities is shifting, with more emphasis placed on flexibility, team dynamics and contributions outside of the project requirements.
Project Management and Change Management
In recent years, companies have enacted increasing numbers of change initiatives to organizations and the structures within. Project managers are learning to integrate the requirements of these change initiatives into project management strategies and plans. It is crucial to create a flexible methodology for integrating change initiatives with specific steps and protocols that your team can follow. These skills will continue to be relevant in coming years as companies grow and conform to the ever-evolving workplace standards.
Project success strategies have traditionally relied upon adherence to a single project management methodology. Recently, an increasing number of companies have merged multiple approaches to project management in an effort to increase flexibility and create a style that’s adapted to the needs of the individual project. Hybrid approaches also work well when faced with the task of integrating the expectations of new change initiatives presented by company leaders.
Increasing Connection Between Projects and Strategy
Project managers increasingly are asked to expand the scope and scale of strategies in growing workplaces. Rather than simply focusing on individual projects in isolation, project managers are being tasked with learning how individual projects relate to one another and how they work together to advance the goals of the company. This type of understanding can promote the strategic use of a project manager’s skills and help them to consistently make decisions that align closely with the company’s vision.
Advanced Project Management Tools, Solutions and Software
Technological advancements and improvements in software and automation have made their way into nearly every industry, project management included. Digital tools can help make the job of a project manager more efficient.
Increased Prevalence of AI and Automation
Artificial intelligence, automation, machine learning and data collection and analysis are rapidly becoming critical elements in project management strategies. According to PwC, 77% of high-performing projects utilize project management software to help streamline their work and meet their goals.
AI has the capacity to evaluate outcomes and provide insights into performance strengths and weaknesses, provide organized data to guide important decisions, predict outcomes, estimate timelines, analyze risk and optimize resource distribution. Project management tools and software can also automate time-consuming administrative tasks normally performed by the project manager, leaving the project manager free to focus time and energy on more critical or more nuanced tasks.
Project managers who take the time to understand how the AI and automation processes in their organization can complement their role will be well-prepared to take advantage of this resource.
Increased Focus on Data
Project management and data go hand in hand. A project manager who successfully uses available data to gain insight into key metrics can craft a targeted strategy to improve existing processes and further the goals of their business. Project management software can assist with both data collection and analysis, and provide concise evaluations and visualization tools for project managers to refer to in team building, productivity and time management efforts.
Emphasis on Soft Skills and Emotional Intelligence
As AI and automation take over aspects of the more technical side of project management, more emphasis is placed on the soft skills a project manager needs to effectively connect with, motivate and manage teams. These skills include emotional intelligence, communication, conflict resolution, mentoring and training, adaptability, time and risk management, leadership, team building and decision making.
Choosing the Best Project Management Software
Project management software can make a tremendous difference in the effectiveness and efficiency of a team and its leaders. With so many options to choose from, it may be challenging to know which software best fits the needs of your team. We’ve reviewed many of the available options and created a list of our picks for the best project management software based on ease of use, cost and fees, features and functionality, customer support and customer reviews.
THE looked at the MENA higher education establishments by measuring their knowledge transfer, impact and international outlook, thus in Rankings for 2022 that are given by Country breakdown. It would be interesting to compare the same Rankings in 2021.
Arab University Rankings 2022: Country breakdown
The different countries of the Arab region have different strengths in higher education. Here we explore their scores against THE’s five pillars: teaching, research, citations, society (which measures knowledge transfer and impact) and international outlook
Algeria’s overall score is 24.3, based on 21 universities ranked, making it the lowest ranking region in the table. The average score for society is higher than for three other countries, however, at 26.9.
Egypt features in the top half of the table, with an overall score of 59.6 based on 34 universities. While the country scores especially high for citations (71.3), it falls down on international outlook (45.3).
While Iraq’s average overall score is among the lowest in the region, based on 23 universities ranked, the country does punch above its weight in the society pillar, with an average score of 59.0.
An all-rounder, Jordan has average scores in the 40s for all the pillars. And when it comes to working internationally, it scores 53.8, based on 14 universities ranked.
Lebanon is the third-highest scoring country in the region, or the second-highest when excluding countries with fewer than five universities ranked. Its strengths are teaching (82.9) and research (79.0), but its weakness is citations (39.4).
The average overall score for Morocco is 37.4, based on 10 universities ranked. The country’s strongest pillar is society, where it has an average score of 54.2.
With the seventh-highest score in the region (or fourth when discounting countries with fewer than five universities ranked), Saudi Arabia scores well all-round. Its strongest areas are international outlook (75.2) and citations (74.7).
With an overall score of 44.4, based on 10 universities, Tunisia sits around the middle of the table. The pillar on which it performs best is teaching (53.2), followed by research (50.3); it is weakest on citations (23.2).
United Arab Emirates
The UAE has the highest average overall score in the region, when counting countries with five or more universities ranked, at 71.2. It scores especially well on the international outlook pillar (82.4). Its lowest scoring pillar is society at 51.0.
to celebrate its independence and setting up, the United Arab Emirates is toying with expediting a vehicle From the dunes of Dubai to the soil of the Moon. Why not? Let us read this story from Gulf News of today.
UAE@51: From the dunes of Dubai to the soil of the Moon, Rashid Rover all set to make history
All you need to know about the UAE’s lunar mission that will take off on November 30
Dubai: In what is a huge feat ahead of the 51st UAE National Day, Emirati-made Rashid Rover will shoot to the Moon on Wednesday, November 30, at 12.39pm (Gulf Standard Time), carrying with it the pride and dreams of the UAE — and the entire Arab world.
From the desert dunes of the UAE to the soil of the Moon, the lunar rover — named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, builder of modern Dubai — will give mankind and the global scientific community more knowledge about Earth’s closest celestial neighbour.
It will land on Atlas Crater, located at 47.5°N, 44.4°E on the Moon’s southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris (Sea of Cold), and from there capture photos and collect information of the unexplored crater area and the vast basins on Moon’s surface that were formed billions of years ago.
The UAE’s moonshot has lofty goals. According to Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC),“Rashid Rover will provide about 10 gigabytes of recorded material, scientific data and new images to the global scientific community to study the Moon.”
In particular, Rashid Rover will study the characteristics of lunar soil, the petrography (composition and properties of lunar rocks) and geology of the Moon. It will also take photos of the moon’s dust movement, surface plasma conditions, and the lunar regolith (blanket of superficial deposits covering solid rocks).
Rashid Rover will help scientists better understand how lunar dust and rocks vary across the Moon. It will also provide fresh data for the development of new technologies that can be used to unravel the origins of the Earth and our solar system.
The success of the first Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM) will make the UAE the first Arab country and among the first countries in the world to land a spacecraft on the Moon, after the United States, former Soviet Union and China.
MBRSC underlined: “The mission embodies the aspirations of the UAE. Rashid Rover will collect images and information that will allow the UAE to conduct comprehensive and integrated studies on how to build human settlement on the Moon, prepare for future missions to study Mars and provide the scientific community with answers about the solar system and other planets.”
Before lift-off, let us look back at the timeline, technical specifications, instruments, functionalities and other important details of the Emirati-made Rashid Rover.
Two years ahead
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, first announced Rashid Rover in September 2020, and the original goal was to land it on the Moon by 2024.
In April 2021, MBRSC signed a contract with ispace, inc., a Japanese private lunar robotic exploration company, to transport Rashid Rover to the Moon aboard Hakuto-R M1 (mission 1) lander. Under the terms of the agreement, ispace will also provide wired communication and power during the cruise phase and engage in wireless communication on the lunar surface.
Lift-off is on Wednesday, November 30, at 12.39pm (Gulf Standard Time) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. But the date and time are subject to change, depending on weather and other conditions at launch, according to MBRSC.
Hakuto-R M1, which means ‘white rabbit’ in Japanese (it is said a white rabbit lives on the Moon, according to Japanese folklore), will also carry other payloads, including a transformable lunar robot from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; a test module for a solid-state battery from NGK Spark Plug Co., Ltd., an artificial intelligence (AI) flight computer from Mission Control Space Services Inc., a multiple 360-degree camera from Canadensys Aerospace, a panel engraved with the names of Hakuto crowdfunding supporters, and a music disc containing the song ‘Sorato’ played by Japanese rock band Sakanaction.
Once launched, the integrated spacecraft Hakuto-R M1 that will carry Rashid Rover and other payload to the Moon will take a low-energy route to the Moon rather than a direct approach. This means the landing on the Moon will take about five months after launch, in April 2023.
Dr Hamad Al Marzooqi, project manager of Emirates Lunar Mission at MBRSC, told Gulf News the rationale for the fuel-saving but long route. He said: “The main factor is the cost of the mission. The cost comes from the volume and mass of the spacecraft. In order to reach to the moon within six days – which is the shortest path – you would need to burn a lot of fuel which means that you need a big tank and a big propulsion system to do that.”
“But it will have a huge impact in cost so, in order to reduce the cost of the mission, ispace (our partner) has selected their approach that they can reach to the lunar surface within five months but it will be less costly because it will burn much less fuel. They will use a smaller tank and propulsion system, therefore the launch cost and the cost of developing the developing system will be lower,” he further explained.
Dimitra Atri, astrophysicist at New York University in Abu Dhabi, added: “In order to keep the prices of payload delivery attractive to customers, private companies reduce their expenses by choosing the lower cost option, which consumes less energy but takes much longer.”
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will take Hakuto-R M1 into the Moon’s orbit, and following its successful separation from the launch vehicle (rocket), Hakuto-R M1 will use the gravitational pull of the Earth and sun to guide it to the moon.
As it gets closer to the lunar surface, the Japanese-made lander will first orbit the moon with an increasingly elliptical trajectory, before angling itself vertically to softly land on the moon and perform a fully-automated landing.
Hakuto-R M1 will then establish a steady telecommunication and power supply on the lunar surface after landing to support customer payload’s surface operations, including that of the UAE’s Rashid Rover.
MBRSC confirmed Atlas Crater, located at 47.5°N, 44.4°E on the moon’s southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris (“Sea of Cold”), as Rashid Rover’s landing site.
MBRSC explained: “It was chosen to maintain flexibility during operations. Mare Frigoris lies in the far lunar north. The primary landing site was chosen along with multiple contingencies, which may be used depending on variables that occur during transit. The site meets the technical specifications of the lander technology demonstration mission and the scientific exploration objectives for the ELM mission.”
Atlas Crater has a diameter of 88 kilometres, and believer to have been formed between 3.2 to 3.8 billion years ago. It is circular in shape and bounded by an intricately terraced rim wall. The crater is 2km deep and has a complex floor covered in hills and cracks.
Aside from Atlas Crater, alternative landing targets – according to ispace – include Lacus Somniorum, Sinus Iridium and Oceanus Procellarum, among others.
Designed and developed fully by an Emirati team, Rashid Rover is touted as the world’s most compact rover that could land on the Moon. Its height is 70cm, length is 50cm and width is 50cm. Its weight is approximately 10kg with payload, but it can climb over an obstacle up to 10cm tall and descend a 20-degree slope.
Because Rashid Rover has been delivered well ahead of the original 2024 deadline, building it required rapid prototyping. According to Al Marqoozi, engineers at MBRSC “went through five modules until they reached with the one” that will be launched on November 30.
The four-wheeled Rashid Rover has 3D cameras, advanced motion system, sensors, and communication system that are powered by solar panels. There are four cameras that move vertically and horizontally, including two main cameras, which are Caspex (camera for space exploration) that can withstand vibrations during launch and landing
MBRSC has partnered with French space agency CNES (National Centre for Space Studies) for the two Caspex that will be used analyse the properties of lunar soil, dust, radioactivity, electrical activities, as well as the rocks on the moon surface. One Caspex is installed on top of the rover’s mast to provide panoramic visibility of its surroundings while the rear-mounted CASPEX camera will deliver images of the lunar soil with high spatial resolution.
“Rashid Rover’s drive tracks will be analysed to determine wheel sinkage and to investigate the detailed wheel-soil interaction. Such data will be important to design the mobility systems of future rovers,” MBRSC noted.
Rashid Rover will study the Moon’s surroundings for one lunar day, which is equivalent to 14 days on Earth. But there is a chance Rashid Rover’s mission can be extended to another lunar day. Al Marzooqi earlier explained: “After the first lunar day the rover will go into a hibernation or mode sleep during the (lunar) night (which is also equivalent to 14 Earth nights) until the sun rises again and the temperature on the rover surface starts to rise again. And by that time, the team will try to “wake up” Rashid Rover to see if its systems were able to survive the low temperatures and ready for the second lunar day.
The Moon’s environment, however, is very harsh. The temperature drops to as low as negative 173 degrees Celsius, from as high as 127 degrees Celsius, when sunlight hits the Moon’s surface. But Rashid Rover is equipped with the latest technologies that can resist the lunar surface temperature.
To the Moon and back
Rashid Rover will not return to Earth. It’s a one-way flight and there is no transport that will bring back Rashid Rover and Hakuto-R. What Rashid Rover will bring back to Earth are multiple images – around 10 gigabytes of recorded material and scientific data. The ELM team at MBRSC will use these to test new technologies in material science, robotics, mobility, navigation and communications. The findings will also help in the design of future missions to survive and function in harsh space environment.
Rashid Rover is just the first of the UAE’s multiple missions to the Moon. A couple of months ago, in September, MBRSC signed an agreement with China National Space Administration (CNSA) to kickstart joint space projects and future lunar exploration, including sending the next UAE rover aboard Chang’e 7, a robotic Chinese lunar exploration mission expected to be launched in 2026 to target the Moon’s south pole.
A visiting official says that hosting success sets new standards for future mega sporting events. The Qatar World Cup is the first edition of the significant soccer tournament ever held during December, and in the Middle East.
Qatar invested significantly in the mega-event, including revamping its national infrastructure. The sought-after ‘soft power’ implications start slowly but surely to show as the games unfold.
On the other hand, sustainable development requires, per the UN an integrated approach that takes into consideration environmental concerns along with economic development but, above all sustainability in the future. Will all those built-up infrastructures be of some use?
Qatar’s hosting success sets new standards for future mega sporting events: Bosnian Deputy PM
DOHA: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina HE Dr Bisera Turkovic said that Qatar did an amazing work to welcome the world during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and succeeded in establishing an incredible and excellent infrastructure, indicating that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has set new standards for future sporting mega-events.
In her remarks to Qatar News Agency, Her Excellency pointed out that Qatar’s hosting of such a global event will inspire generations of young people to come to embrace each other and create a more tolerant world.
Her Excellency said: “The whole world was watching the Al Bayt stadium for the opening ceremony. I am happy that I was present as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, from the Western Balkans and a European country. The opening was a great global event for the first time to be held in an Arab country. Qatar has emerged into a modern, prosperous state, whose citizens enjoy opportunities and security, thanks to the wise leadership of HH the Amir, following the footsteps of HH the Father Amir.”
HE stressed the need to develop the culture of tolerance and respect, as highlighted during the World Cup opening ceremony, saying: “This is the first World Cup taking place in an Arab country and in a Middle Eastern country. It is a great chance for people to get to know a different culture and to learn about one great religion in the world.”
“The more we know the better chance we have for progress and stability in the world. Qatar offers open hand to all who want to come and witness what the Qatari nation achieved in such a short period of time offering unity of basic values and appreciation for difference with full respect of their own culture and religion,” Her Excellency added.
HE Dr. Bisera Turkovic indicated that previous World Cup hosting countries were not subjected to smear campaigns as Qatar was, saying: “Other countries did not receive such scrutiny when hosting global sporting events, even though those countries had many more things that could be criticized.”
Her Excellency explained that Qatar once again stresses that there is more that can unite people rather than divide them, and as sports are a healthy part of societies, it should remain clear from political influence, struggle to dominate, and imposition of bad habits such as alcohol and drugs.
The Bosnian official expressed her happiness that a Bosnian folklore group was present to take part in the world cup festivities at Katara Cultural Village for this truly global event.
HE Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that there are strong fields of cooperation between Bosnia and the State of Qatar, including political, economic, and cultural cooperation that is based on friendship and fraternity. This has been maintained through the exchange of visits between officials of the two countries at the highest levels and documented by the signing of many agreements and bilateral cooperation protocols. Her Excellency expressed her hope to see economic cooperation expansion during the coming period in all sectors.
Her Excellency added that the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been working hard to attract public and private investment from Qatar through having more connectivity between the two countries, enabling direct flights with Qatar Airways, and increasing rights and security for Qataris in ownership of the real estate in Bosnia.
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