A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
Interested in GIS?
Monday, June 23, 2008
Posted 1:41 PM by Tevita
Food, poverty, and climate change: an agenda for rich-country leaders
The year 2008 is halfway to the deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Despite some progress, they will not be achieved if current trends continue. Aid promises are predicted to be missed by $30bn, at a potential cost of 5 million lives. Starting with the G8 meeting in Japan, rich countries must use a series of high-profile summits in 2008 to make sure the Goals are met, and to tackle both climate change and the current food crisis. Economic woes must not be used as excuses: rich countries’ credibility is on the line
From : Oxfam International
No one has to be poor in 2008. No woman need die giving birth for want of simple medical care. No child should die of pneumonia because of a lack of medicine. No girl should have to watch her brothers leave to go to school while she stays at home. No family should see floods wash away its food. No woman should have to watch her children risk their lives drinking dirty water, or go to sleep with empty bellies.
This year, 2008, is the halfway point towards the deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed by 147 nations in the year 2000. They focus on tackling poverty, hunger, gender inequality, education, health, water, sanitation, and the environment. These goals were not chosen as impossible dreams. They were chosen because they are realistic targets that, with concerted action, can and should be reached – and in fact exceeded – in order to banish extreme poverty to the history books Remarkable progress is possible, even in the poorest countries. In Rwanda the number of children dying from malaria has been cut by two-thirds in the last two years alone. If you are born in Tanzania today, you are 25 per cent less likely to die by your first birthday than your sister born just four years ago. The Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, which was created at the last G8 held in Japan in 2000, has to date distributed 30 million anti-malarial bednets, and is saving 3000 lives a day.
The most powerful driver of these transformations is the realisation that change is indeed possible: despair in poor countries and apathy in rich ones are the greatest obstacles. In Malawi, consistent economic growth, government subsidy for fertilisers that contributed to record harvests, mass distribution of free AIDS drugs and falling numbers of those infected, a 50 per cent salary increase for nurses, and free primary education for every child have all contributed to a palpable sense of optimism in the country. Compared with just six years ago when the country was gripped by a food crisis, this is amazing progress. There is so much further to go; some reversals and setbacks are inevitable. But the first ingredient of success is the belief that it is within reach.
It is these successes that make the wider failure of progress towards the MDGs all the more unacceptable. Rapid increases in food prices threaten to reverse what gains have been made, thus driving millions back below the poverty line. At half time, instead of coasting to victory, the world is staring at defeat. Rich countries are not the only reason for this failure. Poor-country governments can and should do far more, and Oxfam works with activists and citizens across the developing world to demand change from their leaders.
But rich countries continue to control 60 per cent of the world economy and have generated 60 per cent of the world’s accumulated carbon emissions. They are the ones who make or break trade or climate negotiations depending on what concessions they give and what demands they make on developing countries. They are the ones producing most of the arms. They are the creditors demanding that illegitimate and crippling debts are repaid: often debts incurred paying for those same arms. But with this great power comes great responsibility. They have a strong obligation to use their money and power to stop doing harm and instead to make the world a fairer, better place. When they do act, for example on debt cancellation or on provision of treatment for those living with HIV and AIDS, lives are saved.
By 2010 we need to see $150bn in additional high-quality annual aid in order to reach the MDGs.1 To go beyond the MDGs, to end poverty and not just halve it, rich countries must finally fulfil their promise, made in 1970, to give 0.7 per cent of their income as aid. In an unprecedented move, the leaders of all the major multilateral agencies, including the World Bank, the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Commission (EC) have jointly published, in May 2008, a detailed investment plan for Africa, which shows clearly the specific life-saving interventions that could be made if the aid promised at the G8 in Gleneagles were delivered.
Action by rich countries to end poverty is not just a moral imperative: a more prosperous and safer developing world is in the interests of everyone. It means more markets and trading partners. It undermines the threat of armed conflict and terrorism. It reduces the pressure for economic migration. It enables the world to act together to tackle global crises such as climate change and disease.
Sadly, despite these compelling arguments, rich-country leaders more commonly prefer to hide behind promises, polemic, and short-term self-interest.
During the next few months, a series of important opportunities present themselves in which leaders can take action to restore their crumbling credibility. As this year’s G8 chair, Japan must press the rich countries to take action at their meeting in July. Beyond the G8, the emergency MDG meeting called by the UN Secretary-General for September, the Ghana Aid Summit the same month, and the Financing for Development Conference in Doha in November are all important accountability opportunities. These meetings should present action plans, backed by finance, to deliver on the MDGs. The climate change summit in Poznan in Poland in December then offers the chance of a fair deal on climate. The millions of campaigners in rich and poor countries who want action on poverty and inequality have not gone away and will make their presence felt this year, and every year, until leaders meet the challenge.
Oxfam has a six-point agenda for the G8 and other rich-country leaders for these critical meetings. They must follow this set of steps, and follow them now:
1 Stop burning food and start supporting poor farmers
2 Mend broken aid promises
3 Support health, education, water and sanitation for all
4 Climate change: stop harming and start helping
5 Put women and girls first
6 Prioritise security for sustainable development
The recent rapid increases in food prices mean untold misery for millions, with despair and anger leading to riots worldwide. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has estimated that biofuels explain 30 per cent of the recent increase in food prices.2 The IMF has calculated that 50 per cent of the increase in consumption of major food crops is attributable to the rapid increase in the use of US corn for biofuels. Unless new targets to further increase biofuel use are frozen, this will get worse and not better. The rich cannot burn food while the poor world starves. They must revisit support for biofuels that drive food prices higher. At the same time humanitarian aid and long-term investment in agriculture, including subsidised seed and fertiliser, should be rapidly increased and further supported through fair trade rules.
Aid should be going up, not down. Rich countries give just over half as much of their income as they did in 1962. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has confirmed Oxfam’s prediction that rich countries could miss their 2010 promise of $50bn in extra annual aid by as much as $30bn – money that could save 5 million lives. Rich-country leaders have produced nearly a trillion dollars to bail out their reckless banks, yet cannot find $30bn in aid. Many people are tired of broken promises and implausible excuses. If Spain can increase its aid by 33 per cent in one year, then so can Japan, Germany, France, and the UK. It is simply untrue that giving 0.7 per cent of the country’s income as foreign aid is not affordable or politically feasible. Aid must be radically improved in quality, too. We need to see French aid spent on basic health and education, not squandered on scholarships to the Sorbonne and other French universities. Aid must support government plans, not donor pet projects, and aid commitments must be made for years, not months.
This year is the tenth anniversary of the first major protest of Jubilee 2000 at the Birmingham G8 in 1998. Debt cancellation is the best thing the G8 has ever done for poor countries, under huge pressure from this worldwide campaign. It has led to a doubling of social spending in many countries. But the process has now slowed to a crawl and many more countries need relief. Bangladesh has had no cancellation and is still paying rich countries $2m a day. The rules must also be changed to ensure that a new debt crisis does not emerge, and to punish irresponsible lenders who write cheques to dictators and demand payment from poor people.
Essential public services – health, education, water, sanitation – are lethal weapons in the fight against poverty and inequality. Massive progress has been possible with the free and universal provision of these basic services. To pay for this, funds must be forthcoming from rich nations: they should support government plans for free universal public services. They must stop attracting health workers away from poor countries and defending their drug companies’ profits rather than affordable medicines for all.
Climate change is already hitting poor people first and worst, causing increased droughts and floods and threatening livelihoods. Although not directly included in the MDGs, 2015 is also a critical milestone in efforts to combat climate change. The brutal reality is that unless the global trend of greenhouse-gas emissions growth is reversed by 2015, our chances of avoiding unmanageable climate impacts will be very poor. This will have direct life or death consequences for the poorest, most vulnerable people around the world.
Climate is likely to dominate this year’s G8 discussions, but it looks unlikely that the G8 leaders will resolve to support an ambitious post-2012 agreement under the UN. China will be painted as one of the big problems. In fact, rich-country emissions have created the problem in the first place. They have the responisbility to cut their emissions fast and deep as well as to help people in poor countries adapt to the already unavoidable impacts of climate change. At the G8, some money to help poor countries adapt will be announced by the UK, USA, and Japan, but a large part is going to be taken from existing aid budgets, and in the case of the UK will actually be loans. Poor countries face a triple injustice: they have to pay the price for rich countries’ pollution, the little money to help them is being diverted from urgently needed development aid promises, and they are being asked to repay it with interest. This is completely unacceptable; rich countries must come up with at least $50bn a year to compensate poor countries for their dirty carbon habit.
Poverty is literally man-made. Men hold most of the power in the world, and must take responsibility for the brutal poverty and insidious inequality that is the blight on the lives of so many. Prioritising equality for women and girls is a prerequisite of any progress. Ending poverty will require money and dedicated UN leadership.
Poverty, and particularly inequality between different groups, contributes to many of the world’s 31 major armed conflicts. In the next five years, any of the poorest countries in the world could have a one in six chance of civil war, with women worst affected. G8 governments are some of the biggest arms dealers and the flood of unregulated arms undermines the potential of tackling poverty. Currently, spending on arms is 12 times more than spending on aid. If this were reversed, poverty and insecurity could be ended. The world needs a fully enforced Arms Trade Treaty.
The G8 and other rich nations have the power and the opportunity to make poverty history. They have the power to end the current food crisis and to tackle climate change. It is not yet too late, but it will be if rich nations don’t act soon.
Well, that is a great post.Post a Comment
I would like to inform that the campaign also has an official community http://www.orkut.co.in/Community.aspx?cmm=47234928 .
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.