In AFRICATECH of August 22, 2019; More deals, less conflict? Wondered Laurie Goering, Thomson Reuters Foundation whilst Cross-border water planning key, report warns.
LONDON, Aug 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Efforts to share rivers, lakes, and aquifers that cross national boundaries are falling short, raising a growing risk of conflict as global water supplies run low, researchers warned on Thursday.
Fewer than one in three of the world’s transboundary rivers and lake basins and just nine of the 350 aquifers that straddle more than one country have cross-border management systems in place, according to a new index by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
With more than half the world’s population likely to live in water-scarce areas by 2050 and 40 percent dependent on transboundary water, that is a growing threat, said Matus Samel, a public policy consultant with the Economist Intelligence Unit.
“Most transboundary basins are peaceful, but the trend is that we are seeing more and more tensions and conflict arising,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
When work began on the index, which looks at five key river basins around the world from the Mekong to the Amazon, researchers thought they would see hints of future problems rather than current ones, Samel said.
Instead, they found water scarcity was becoming a “very urgent” issue, he said. “It surprised me personally the urgency of some of the situation some of these basins are facing.”
Population growth, climate change, economic and agricultural expansion and deforestation are all placing greater pressures on the world’s limited supplies of water, scientists say.
As competition grows, some regions have put in place relatively effective bodies to try to share water fairly, the Economist Intelligence Unit report said.
Despite worsening drought, the Senegal River basin, shared by West African nations including Senegal, Mali, and Mauritania, has held together a regional water-governance body that has attracted investment and support, Samel said.
Efforts to jointly govern the Sava River basin, which crosses many of the once warring nations of the former Yugoslavia in southeast Europe, have also been largely successful, he said.
But replicating that is likely to be “a huge challenge” in conflict-hit basins, such as along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq and Syria, Samel said.
Still, even in tough political situations, “there are ways … countries and local governments and others can work together to make sure conflicts do not emerge and do not escalate,” he said.
“The benefits of cooperation go way beyond direct access to drinking water,” he said. “It’s about creating trust and channels for communication that might not otherwise exist.”
‘NO EASY SOLUTIONS’
The report suggests national leaders make water security a priority now, link water policy to other national policies, from agriculture to trade, and put in place water-sharing institutions early.
“There are no easy solutions or universal solutions,” Samel warned. “But there are lessons regions and basins can learn and share.”
The index has yet to examine many hotspots, from the Nile River and Lake Chad in Africa to the Indus river system in India and Pakistan, but Samel said it would be expanded in coming years.
Working toward better shared water management is particularly crucial as climate change brings more drought, floods, and other water extremes, said Alan Nicol, who is based in Ethiopia for the International Water Management Institute.
“Knowing how a system works effectively helps you know what to do in the face of a massive drought or flood event – and we should expect more extreme weather,” he said.
While efforts to coordinate water policy with other national and regional policies and priorities are crucial, the key missing element in shoring up water security is political will, he said.
“We’ve been talking about this kind of integrated water management for 30 years,” he said. “The problem is practicing it. And that’s essentially a political problem.”
Reporting by Laurie Goering @lauriegoering; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women’s rights, trafficking, and property rights. Visit news.trust.org/climate
The word “climate” makes most of us look up to the sky – however, the IPCC’s new special report on climate change and land should make us all look under our feet. This is how Anna Krzywoszynska, Research Fellow and Associate Director of the Institute for Sustainable Food, University of Sheffield introduced her article published on The Conversation of last week before adding that ‘Land, the report shows, is intimately linked to the climate. Changes in land use result in changes to the climate and vice versa. In other words, what we do to our soils, we do to our climate – and ourselves.’ So, keeping Global Warming to well below 2°C is the hurdle that all humans need to get over in order to achieve the Paris Agreement requirements.
Land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. At the same time, keeping global warming to well below 2C can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its latest report.
“Governments challenged the IPCC to take the first ever comprehensive look at the whole land-climate system. We did this through many contributions from experts and governments worldwide. This is the first time in IPCC report history that a majority of authors – 53 per cent – are from developing countries,” said Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC.
This report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, but is not the only solution. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if global warming is to be kept to well below 2C, if not 1.5C.
In 2015, governments backed the Paris Agreement goal of strengthening the global response to climate change by holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5C.
Land must remain productive to maintain food security as the population increases and the negative impacts of climate change on vegetation increase. This means there are limits to the contribution of land to addressing climate change, for instance through the cultivation of energy crops and afforestation. It also takes time for trees and soils to store carbon effectively.
Bioenergy needs to be carefully managed to avoid risks to food security, biodiversity and land degradation. Desirable outcomes will depend on locally appropriate policies and governance systems.
Climate Change and Land finds that the world is best placed to tackle climate change when there is an overall focus on sustainability. “Land plays an important role in the climate system,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.
“Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23 per cent of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry,” he said.
The report shows how managing land resources sustainably can help address climate change, said Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II.
“Land already in use could feed the world in a changing climate and provide biomass for renewable energy, but early, far-reaching action across several areas is required. Also for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity,” he added.
Desertification and land degradation
When land is degraded, it becomes less productive, restricting what can be grown and reducing the soil’s ability to absorb carbon. This exacerbates climate change, while climate change, in turn, exacerbates land degradation in many different ways.
“The choices we make about sustainable land management can help reduce and in some cases reverse these adverse impacts,” said Kiyoto Tanabe, co-chair of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.
“In a future with more intensive rainfall the risk of soil erosion on croplands increases, and sustainable land management is a way to protect communities from the detrimental impacts of this soil erosion and landslides. However there are limits to what can be done, so in other cases degradation might be irreversible,” he said.
Roughly 500 million people live in areas that experience desertification. Drylands and areas that experience desertification are also more vulnerable to climate change and extreme events including drought, heatwaves, and dust storms, with an increasing global population providing further pressure.
The report sets out options to tackle land degradation and prevent or adapt to further climate change. It also examines potential impacts from different levels of global warming. “New knowledge shows an increase in risks from dryland water scarcity, fire damage, permafrost degradation and food system instability, even for global warming of around 1.5C,” said Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I.
“Very high risks related to permafrost degradation and food system instability are identified at 2°C of global warming,” she said.
IPS Newsin theirCombating Desertification and Droughtin a post reproduced here holds that the issue of land degradation impacting all countries in all continents would require governments, land users and all different communities of a country to be part of the solution.
ANKARA, Jun 17 2019 (IPS) – The coming decades will be crucial in shaping and implementing a transformative land agenda, according to a scientist at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) framework for Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).
UNCCD-Science Policy Interface co-chair Dr. Mariam Akhtar-Schuster, who spoke with IPS ahead of the start of activities to mark World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) on Monday, Jun. 17, said this was one of the key messages emerging for policy- and other decision-makers.
“The main message is: things are not improving. The issue of desertification is becoming clearer to different communities, but we now have to start implementing the knowledge that we already have to combat desertification,” Akhtar-Schuster told IPS.
“It’s not only technology that we have to implement, it is the policy level that has to develop a governance structure which supports sustainable land management practices.”
IPBES Science and Policy for People and Nature found that the biosphere and atmosphere, upon which humanity as a whole depends, have been deeply reconfigured by people.
The report shows that 75 percent of the land area is very significantly altered, 66 percent of the ocean area is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and 85 percent of the wetland area has been lost.
“There are of course areas which are harder hit; these are areas which are experiencing extreme drought which makes it even more difficult to sustainably use land resources,” Akhtar-Schuster said.
“On all continents you have the issue of land degradation, so there’s no continent, there’s no country which can just lean back and say this is not our issue. Everybody has to do something.”
Akhtar-Schuster said there is sufficient knowledge out there which already can support evidence-based implementation of technology so that at least land degradation does not continue.
While the information is available, Akhtar-Schuster said it requires governments, land users and all different communities in a country to be part of the solution.
“There is no top-down approach. You need the people on the ground, you need the people who generate knowledge and you need the policy makers to implement that knowledge. You need everybody,” the UNCCD-SPI co-chair said.
“Nobody in a community, in a social environment, can say this has nothing to do with me. We are all consumers of products which are generated from land. So, we in our daily lives – the way we eat, the way we dress ourselves – whatever we do has something to do with land, and we can take decisions which are more friendly to land than what we’re doing at the moment.”
UNCCD-Science Policy Interface co-chair Dr. Mariam Akhtar-Schuster says things are not improving and that the issue of desertification is becoming clearer to different communities. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS
UNCCD Lead Scientist Dr. Barron Joseph Orr said it’s important to note that while the four major assessments were all done for different reasons, using different methodologies, they are all converging on very similar messages.
He said while in the past land degradation was seen as a problem in a place where there is overgrazing or poor management practices on agricultural lands, the reality is, that’s not influencing the change in land.
“What’s very different from the past is the rate of land transformation. The pace of that change is considerable, both in terms of conversion to farm land and conversion to built-up areas,” Orr told IPS.
“We’ve got a situation where 75 percent of the land surface of the earth has been transformed, and the demand for food is only going to go up between now and 2050 with the population growth expected to increase one to two billion people.”
That’s a significant jump. Our demand for energy that’s drawn from land, bio energy, or the need for land for solar and wind energy is only going to increase but these studies are making it clear that we are not optimising our use,” Orr added.
Like Akhtar-Schuster, Orr said it’s now public knowledge what tools are necessary to sustainably manage agricultural land, and to restore or rehabilitate land that has been degraded.
“We need better incentives for our farmers and ranchers to do the right thing on the landscape, we have to have stronger safeguards for tenures so that future generations can continue that stewardship of the land,” he added.
The international community adopted the Convention to Combat Desertification in Paris on Jun. 17, 1994.
At the same time, they will look at the broad picture of the next 25 years where they will achieve land degradation neutrality.
The anniversary campaign runs under the slogan “Let’s grow the future together,” with the global observance of WDCD and the 25th anniversary of the Convention on Jun. 17, hosted by the government of Turkey.
The Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental SciencesJBES on September 26, 2018 posted an enlightening article on herbal medicine as practiced in North-Africa. This story is about Ethnobotany of medicinal plants as practised in Mascara, a large agricultural region, 400 kilometers west of the capital city Algiers. An abstract and introduction of the study are proposed as Ethnobotany of medicinal plants in Mascara, Algeria..
Ethnobotany of medicinal plants in the region Béni Chougrane, Mascara, Algeria
By: Marouf Baghdad
This herbal study was conducted in the Mascara region (Beni Chougrane), whose population is closely linked to the various natural resources. our study is to provide a floristic inventory of medicinal plants and to collect information concerning the uses Therapeutic made in said region. The results of our study have identified 72 medicinal species used by local people in traditional medicine, owned 38 families, the most common used: Lamiaceae, Apiaceae and Asteraceae, and we established a herbarium sheets for each plant. Thus, it had been found the modes used in the form of decoction and infusion. The results also showed that medicinal plants are used in the following diseases: hypertension and diabetes.
Search Laboratory Biological Systems and Geomatics. University of Mascara, Algeria
Geomatics laboratory and sustainable development (LGEO2D), University of Ibn Khaldoun, Tiaret, Algeria
University of Abdelhamid Ben Badis, Mostaganem, Algeria
The use of medicinal plants in therapy knows notable interest, and it is through scientific studies based on analytical methods, and the new experiments, the medical world discovers more, the well-founded empirical prescriptions of medicinal plants. These last constitute an inexhaustible source of drugs for men (Handa et al., 2006).
Algeria, by the richness and diversity of its flora, constitutes a real phylogenetic tank, with about 4000 species and sub-species of vascular plants, which allows it to occupy a privileged square among the Mediterranean countries that have a long medical tradition and traditional know-how in herbal medicine (Righi, 2008).
The importance of medicinal plants in Algeria is so undeniable that is why, high request national and international medicinal plants, the use and lawless harvesting constitute a real danger for the future of medicinal plants if any species plantation policy is not applied. However, the Algerian medicinal flora remains unknown until today, because of some thousands of plant species, counted medicinal species do not exceed a few tens.
Analysis of the Algerian medicinal bibliography shows that data relating to regional medicinal plants are very partial and dispersed. Similarly, knowledge making is held currently by few people. Also, the expedited destruction especially by natural drought and human activities, makes it more difficult to discover, the exploitation and backup of the potentialities of this type.
Indeed, traditional medicine has always occupied an important place in the traditions of medications in Algeria especially in mountainous and Saharan areas. The study conducted in the municipalities of Mascara, responds to this concern by bringing documentation for medicinal plants.
Through a series of surveys in ethnobotany, radiotherapists in the Mascara region were interviewed, the information sought on the used plants focused on their local name, their therapies virtues and all related medical practice.
Thus, a floristic inventory was performed on four protected sites. It is very important to translate and reflect knowledge in scientific knowledge to revalue it, keep and use rationally our ethnobotanical study as a contribution to the identification of medicinal plants used by the local population in the Mascara region and the identification of ways of use in traditional Algerian pharmacopoeia.
Materiel and methods
The mountains of Beni Chougrane are one of the links of the western Tell oriented South-West/ North-East, bounded as the east valley of Mina separates them from the mountain of Ouarsenis. West, they are extended by the mountains of Tessala et Ouled Ali. North, they are bordered by the plain of the Habra-Sig and South, by Ghriss-Mascara. In most part of the valley of Mina which marks the limit is valley of Mebtouh, which marks the western limit, the Beni Chougrane mountains are crossed by valley El Hammam, which are built 3 large dams-tanks. The total acreage of the Bneder in 1981 was 2,860 km². The agricultural acreage represents 35% of this total area, course and forests account for 27% and 20 % (heavy degraded) unproductive lands.
The intervention is to identify plants of a region and to realize an herbarium, also from well know its distribution and ecological conditions of this vegetation.
Our objective is to know the traditional use of plants used by the population of semiarid as a remedy so to traditional knowledge. It is also to know the traditional use of our inventory mostly at the time of survey, the lack of means of transport.
“In the Middle East there has been a significant increase in the frequency and the intensity of sand and dust storms in the past 15 years or so,” said Enric Terradellas a meteorologist with the World Meteorology Organisation’s sand and dust storm prediction centre for the region.
“One of the main sources of sand and dust storms is Iraq, where the flow of rivers has decreased because of a race in dam constructions in upstream countries.
“That has led to the disappearance of marshes and drying up of lakes both in Iraq and Iran, and the sediments left behind are very important sources of dust in the region.”
Deserts have always been the source of sand storms in the region, but scientists say unsustainable mining, oil extraction and agriculture as well as intensive military conflicts are worsening the situation.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has predicted that Iraq could witness 300 dust events in a year within 10 years, up from around 120 per year now.
“A dust storm consists of massive amount of particulates in the air and when people breathe it, these can get down their lungs and cause respiratory illness and heart disease and so on,” said Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, a health and climate change expert with the World Health Organisation.
The WHO has said dust storms contribute to poor air quality that is blamed for the death of 7 million people every year.
For more BBC broadcasted programs on this story, click on the story’s title below.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Health had yet another meeting this week on the issue and concluded that :
From higher morbidity and mortality rates to reduced economic growth, the impact of sand and dust storms can be major, especially for lower-income nations and vulnerable communities. However, with stronger collaboration and improved information-sharing, much of the risk could be managed and mitigated, a UN meeting heard on Monday.
Children run from an approaching sand storm in Gao, Mali. UN Photo/Marco Dormino
The high-level General Assembly meeting examined the risks posed by sand and dust storms, known by the acronym SDS, and the various opportunities available to mitigate those risks and fill the existing knowledge gaps.
“For people, the stakes of inaction on this issue are high,” said Miroslav Lajčák, President of the UN General Assembly. “Human well-being is at risk.”
Various studies have revealed the severe effects that sand and dust storms can have on health, including respiratory, cardiovascular, skin and eye diseases.
The panel also highlighted the major economic impact that these meteorological events can have: “One sand or dust storm can cost hundreds of millions of dollars,” explained Mr. Lajčák. “The losses are really felt in the agriculture, transportation and infrastructure sectors. These are resources that could have been channelled towards sustainable development at a time when we need to mobilize more for the 2030 Agenda”.
As this is a phenomenon that affects more than 45 countries – principally in the Sahel, Central and East Asia, the Middle East as well as North America and the Caribbean – Governments and experts have sought solutions to mitigate the risk, build resilience and strengthen the amount of information on the subject globally. The UN World Meteorological Organization‘s Warning Advisory and Assessment System is now capable of issuing forecasts as far as three days in advance. However, ensuring that this information reaches the most vulnerable to reduce death rates as well as negative impacts to their livelihoods, is a challenge that remains to be tackled.
“It is unconscionable that information that can help the health of people affected…is not available to them,” said Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, in a video played at the event.
Among the solutions proposed, the panellists cited: greening areas where SDS events tend to be borne by planting more trees; improving information channels so even the most vulnerable communities can adequately prepare and protect themselves; and enhancing cross-border collaboration so countries can share lessons learned and implement holistic disaster risk reduction measures.
“For the last three years, the General Assembly has pledged to take action on sand and dust storms. But we cannot do this alone,” said Mr. Lajčák, calling for “more Member States to work in tandem with the Rio Conventions, on climate change, biodiversity, and importantly, combatting desertification” and address the issue in a durable and lasting fashion.
The UNCCD published on June 17th 2018, day to combat desertification , this article that started with this: A wise investment in land supports you and your future. Your choices determine future scenarios for sustainable growth.
The MENA region being undoubtedly at the fore front, should combat as a matter of survival not only for themselves but also for the rest of the world. It is also not a matter of one day but of everyday of the year.
The 2018 World Day to Combat Desertification (#2018WDCD) urges you to move away from unsustainable land use and make a difference by investing in the future of land under the slogan, “Land has true value – invest in it.”
We often use land as if it were a limitless resource, ignoring its role in our everyday lives. This negligence threatens food and water supply, biodiversity and even human security itself.
Short-sighted economic gains such as land grabbing, unplanned urban sprawl, unsustainable agriculture and over-consumption lead to unsustainable land use, which eventually causes degradation and loss of critical ecosystem services.
As a result, consumption of the Earth´s natural reserves has doubled in the last 30 years, with a third of the planet´s land already severely degraded.
By turning land degradation into land restoration, we can realize the land´s full potential. Healthy and productive land can bring not only environmental, but also significant economic gains. For example, case studies from the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative(2015) indicate that:
·The annual loss of 75 billon tons of soil from arable land leads a missing opportunity for economic benefits of USD 400 billion per year globally
·Taking action against soil erosion over 105 million hectares would save up to USD 62.4 billion in net present value over the next 15 years
·Enhancing carbon stocks through agricultural soils alone can create potential value on the carbon market from USD 96-480 billion annually
Sustainable land management (SLM) is a wise investment for economic growth that does not compromise resilient livelihoods. It is key to safeguarding and managing the quality of the land by balancing its biological and economic potential.
Moreover, land can play a vital role in linking multiple Sustainable Development Goals by harnessing synergies while minimizing potential conflicts and trade-offs. SLM can give tremendous momentum to positive change. By safeguarding life on land, we deliver for all life on Earth.
This is the true value of land.
Every one of us has a role to play. Farmers can invest in smart agriculture that leads to higher yields despite a reduction in inputs like pesticides. Policy makers and land managers can support bio-economy by investing in new SLM technologies and processes.
Consumers can spend their money on organic and fairly traded products to avoid land degradation. There are many more ways to invest in land wisely.
We can all contribute to and benefit from investing in SLM – whether we act as consumers, producers, corporations, or governments.
Changes in behavior and adoption of more efficient planning and practices can guarantee that sufficient land resources are available long-term to meet our ambitions for and to provide sustainable livelihoods.
The choice is ours. Know the true value of land and invest in it.