Around the world, cities race to adapt to a changing climate

In Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, one of Africa’s fastest growing cities, families come to enjoy the scenic coastline along Barack Obama Drive, gazing out into the vast Indian Ocean.

This would have been impossible a few years ago, when this part of the city’s coastline was near-collapse, battered by increasingly violent waves fed by climate change. Locals can still remember when salt poisoning from the rising seawater killed the line of trees that once flanked the coastal promenade.

With support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Office of Project Services, the construction of a seawall – built to last a century – reclaimed this area of the city. It now thrives as a flourishing business and recreation area, packed with families on holiday and newlyweds posing for photographs. For some, the wall has become a powerful symbol of hope in the face of the climate crisis, which is ravaging communities across the Indian Ocean.

This year’s World Environment Day, which falls on 5 June, marks the four-year anniversary of the official opening of the seawall. “Now opportunities are back again,” said William Buco, a local engineer and father-of-five.

Dar es Salaam is one of a growing number of cities around the world that are racing to adapt to a changing climate. Rising global temperatures, fed by human-made greenhouse gas emissions, are wreaking havoc on finely tuned climate systems everywhere from Mexico to China. Adapting to these changes is widely regarded as one of the biggest challenges of the next century and could cost developing countries alone up to US$ 500 billion per year by 2050.

Cities, which are responsible for 70 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions, are home to over half of humanity, a number projected to hit 68 per cent by 2050. The oncoming age of climate breakdown is coinciding with the largest wave of urbanization in human history, as hundreds of millions of people migrate into cities, of which many are already suffering from climate impacts.

This noxious mix of population density and an unstable climate gives way to a cocktail of urban catastrophes, from water shortages, to mega floods, to heatwaves. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, produced by 270 scientists and researchers, notes that “an additional 350 million people living in urban areas are estimated to be exposed to water scarcity from severe droughts at 1.5°C warming.”

Yet cities also pose major opportunities, not necessarily despite the growing urbanization but in some cases because of it. Although the IPCC report makes clear the threat cities face, it also maps a set of options for urban adaptation. “Global urbanization offers a time-limited opportunity to work towards widespread and transformational adaptation and climate-resilient development.”

“Cities are both a hotbed of climate threats and a hotbed of climate solutions,” said Jessica Troni, Head of UNEP’s Climate Change Adaptation Unit. “More and more cities are developing adaptation plans, and we’ve seen cutting-edge innovations across the world, from rainwater harvesting systems to green infrastructure. There’s no doubt that the need to adapt to climate change and urbanization can force us to re-imagine how our cities are built – and for the better.”

With that recognition, UNEP has been lending its technical support and helping governments access adaptation finance with a vast network of projects across the world’s major cities.

These projects are tackling an assortment of climate disasters, like droughts, flooding and heatwaves. In doing so, they’re using a collection of strategies, including restoring ecosystems to absorb climate impacts, building weather stations and early-warning networks, encouraging governments to develop city adaptation plans, and investing in rainwater harvesting technologies.

Some of these initiatives are taking place on a massive scale. In Lao PDR, UNEP is supporting a US $11.5 million initiative, financed by the Green Climate Fund, to draw on nature-based solutions in four cities to build resilience towards climate-induced flooding. The project is expected to benefit 700,000 people – 10 per cent of the nation’s population – by restoring urban wetland and stream ecosystems to regulate water flow and reduce flood risk.

Similarly, in cities across Latin America and the Caribbean UNEP is helping governments develop and utilize nature-based solutions to adaptation through a project known as CityAdapt. In San Salvador, for instance, the mountains slopes around the city are being reforested to absorb floodwater and halt landslides that are increasingly destructive for coffee farmers.

In an episode of the Resilience podcast, launched by UNEP last year to explore climate adaptation solutions, a coffee farmer from San Salvador, Hector Velasquez, explained: “This project has helped empower people to see what they can do to prevent or minimize the impacts of climate change.”

Velasquez tells how the water run-off down the slopes surrounding the city leads to major floods down below, “So, the more preventive work we can do at higher altitudes minimizes the risk downstream in the city. We’ve received economic assistance, but I think the most important part of it has been making us conscious of what we do and the impact on the people downstream.”

The practice of using ecosystem restoration to tackle climate change is increasingly popular worldwide, as evidenced by the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. During the last UN Environment Assembly in March, there was a clear interest from member states for these kinds of approaches to climate change – particularly due to their holistic benefits – demonstrated by the new resolution on the universally agreed definition of nature-based solutions.

UNEP’s CityAdapt project is also building roof rainwater harvesting systems in major cities – such as Xalapa, Mexico and Kingston, Jamaica – to increase their water supply. This is considered an essential technique for improving drought resilience. It is also providing guidance to local communities on how and why to establish such systems.

As we are seeing in India today, one of the major climate impacts affecting cities is heatwaves. Under the framework of the Cool Coalition, UNEP and partners have established an urban cooling programme to support Indian cities to take comprehensive action on extreme heat and the rising demand for cooling.

The programme will provide technical assistance to 100 urban areas, helping them to incorporate solutions at the city, neighbourhood at household scales. The programme is drawing on best practices from around the world, many of which are outlined in UNEP’s Beating the Heat: A Sustainable Cooling Handbook for Cities.

Energy-efficient, climate-friendly cooling could avoid as much as 460 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the next four decades, according to the Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report, demonstrating why the race for sustainable cooling is crucial for both reducing global emissions and building resilience.

A Practical Guide to Climate-resilient Buildings and Communities*, *published by UNEP last year, shows how buildings and community spaces can be constructed to increase their resilience to heatwaves and a whole host of other climate impacts, be it droughts, floods or wildfire. Whilst many cities are embracing the need to adapt to climate change, UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report 2021 finds there is an urgent need to do more.

“The story of how nations tackle climate change will necessarily be a story of how we redesign and rebuild our urban environment,” said Troni. “The more we delay, the bigger the challenge becomes.”

Hosted by Sweden, the theme of World Environment Day on 5 June 2022 is #OnlyOneEarth – with a focus on ‘Living Sustainably in Harmony With Nature’. Follow #OnlyOneEarth on social media and take transformative, global action, because protecting and restoring this planet is a global responsibility.

UNEP is at the forefront of supporting the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise well below 2°C, and aiming for 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. To do this, UNEP has developed a Six-Sector Solution, a roadmap to reducing emissions across sectors in line with the Paris Agreement commitments and in pursuit of climate stability. The six sectors identified are: Energy; Industry; Agriculture & Food; Forests & Land Use; Transport; and Buildings & Cities.

Source: UN Environment Programme

Growing African Mangrove Forests Aim to Combat Climate Woes

MOMBASA, KENYA —

In a bid to protect coastal communities from climate change and encourage investment, African nations are increasingly turning to mangrove restoration projects, with Mozambique becoming the latest addition to the growing list of countries with large scale mangrove initiatives.

Mozambique follows efforts across the continent — including in Kenya, Madagascar, Gambia and Senegal — and is touted as the world’s largest coastal or marine ecosystem carbon storage project. Known as blue carbon, carbon captured by these ecosystems can sequester, or remove, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a faster rate than forests, despite being smaller in size.

Mozambique’s mangrove restoration project — announced in February alongside its UAE-based partner Blue Forest Solutions — hopes to turn 185,000 hectares (457,100 acres) in the central Zambezia and southern Sofala provinces into a forest which could capture up to 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide, according to project leaders.

“Blue carbon can be utilized not only to sequester tons of carbon dioxide but to also improve the lives of coastal communities,” Vahid Fotuhi, the Chief Executive officer of Blue Forest, told the Associated Press. “There are around one million hectares of mangroves forests in Africa. Collectively they’re able to sequester more carbon dioxide than the total annual emissions of a country like Croatia or Bolivia.” He added these projects would create green jobs and promote biodiversity.

Africa’s major mangrove forests have been decimated in recent decades due to logging, fish farming, coastal development, and pollution, leading to increased blue carbon emissions and greater exposure of vulnerable coastal communities to flooding and other threats to livelihood.

But the continent’s growing attention on mangrove restoration can be attributed in part to the successful Mikoko Pamoja project, initiated in 2013 in Kenya’s Gazi Bay, which protected 117 hectares (289 acres) of mangrove forest and replanted 4,000 trees annually, spurring other countries to also address their damaged coastal land and recreate its success.

Mikoko Pamoja, Swahili for ‘mangroves together’, centered its efforts around protecting the small communities in Gazi and Makongeni villages from coastal erosion, loss of fish and climate change. It was dubbed the “world’s first blue carbon project” and earned the community of just 6,000 global fame, accolades, carbon cash and greater living standards.

“Mikoko Pamoja has led to development of projects in the community, including installation of water,” Iddi Bomani, the village chairperson of the Gazi community, said. “Everyone has water available in their houses.”

“It especially leads to improved livelihoods through job creation when done by communities,” Laitani Suleiman, a committee member of the Mikoko Pamoja, added.

Several other projects have come to fruition since. In Senegal, 79 million replanted mangrove trees are projected to store 500,000 tons of carbon over the next 20 years. Neighboring Gambia launched its own reforestation effort in 2017, with Madagascar following suit with its own preservation project two years later. Egypt is planning its mangrove restoration project ahead of hosting the United Nations climate conference in November this year.

The projects have sparked a clamor for the sale of carbon credits, a type of permit that allows for a certain amount of emissions as remuneration for forest restoration or other carbon offset projects. Gabon was offered a recent pay package of $17 million through the Central African Forest Initiative due to its protection efforts, but complaints persist on the low prices offered to African governments.

“Africa remains excluded from a lot of financing available under climate change,” Jean Paul Adam, head of the climate division at the Economic Commission for Africa, said, adding that a lack of financing means nations on the continent are unable to build up their resilience to climate change.

He added that “nature-based solutions and advocating for a fair development price of carbon” would propel the African economy.

And the benefits of reforestation can be significant, according to Coral Reef Alliance’s Marissa Stein.

“Restoring and protecting our marine habitats plays a key role in maintaining the health of our planet,” she said, adding that mangroves alone store up to four times more carbon per hectare than tropical rainforests. The Global Mangroves Alliance also estimates that mangroves reduce damages and flood risk for 15 million people and can prevent over $65 billion of property damage each year.

Source: Voice of America

Forum Discuss About Creating Market Linkage for Ethiopian Coffee in China

The Ethiopian Embassy in Beijing hosted an online forum on yesterday under the banner, “Coffee from the Land of Origins,” aimed at promoting Ethiopian coffee to the Chinese coffee importers.

Director-General of Middle East, Asia, and Pacific Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gebeyehu Gangga spoke on the long-standing diplomatic ties between the two countries mentioning the ever-growing economic and business relationships and Chinese investment in Ethiopia.

The Ambassador reiterated the importance of expanding the engagement between the two countries by creating market linkages for Ethiopian coffee exporters and Chinese importers.

Ethiopia’s Ambassador to China, Teshome Toga on his part said the forum would furnish Ethiopian coffee exporters with opportunities to sell coffee online.

A representative of the Coffee Traders Associations in China noted the growing import and consumption of coffee in China, creating a big market for Ethiopian coffee growers and exporters.

The forum was attended by representatives of the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, and the Ethiopian Coffee Exporters Association.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Finance Minister Holds Talks with Danish Minister for Development Cooperation

Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide received at his office the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Flemming Moller Mortensen, and the Ambassador to Ethiopia Kira Smith Sindbjerg to discuss development cooperation between Ethiopia and Denmark.

The Minister acknowledged Denmark’s longstanding partnership and commitment and thanked its continued development assistance during the conflict, in direct support of the millions of people across the country who are being hit by the crisis, even as the country continues to struggle with the lingering impacts of COVID19 pandemic, the severe drought and the rising commodity prices.

The two Ministers discussed current political and economic affairs, including the good progress toward peace, and the criticality of continuing people-centered interventions on food security, and livelihoods, as well as climate change related programs including renewable energy and drought management, to directly support the poorest and most vulnerable communities affected by the various shocks.

Ahmed Shide also briefed the Minister on the government’s ongoing recovery planning and resource mobilization efforts to support the conflict affected regions, and indicated the need for assistance to adequately recover from the effects of the conflict, which has significantly affected people’s livelihoods, welfare, as well as the economy and infrastructure.

The Danish Minister, on his part, highlighted Denmark’s priority to support a stable Ethiopia and encouraged the measures taken toward this goal and the sustained efforts on humanitarian assistance in N. Ethiopia. The two Ministers reaffirmed mutual commitment to continue and strengthen cooperation activities between the two countries.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Livestock Market Information System Useful for Regional Livestock Trade: Ministry

The effective implementation of the National Livestock Market Information System (NLMIS) in Ethiopia is benefiting stakeholders and is useful for regional livestock trade and integration, according to the Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration.

The ministry has held an Awareness Creation and Dissemination Workshop on the National Livestock Market Information System (NLMIS) on Friday.

NLMIS provides timely and digital livestock market information collected from market centers in Ethiopia where pastoralists, livestock traders, and other interested stakeholders can then request the price and volume information for specific markets using Short Message Service (SMS).

Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration Export Marketing and Promotion Director-General, Gemechies Melaku on the occasion said the government is working to support the livestock sector to exploit the benefits that can be obtained from the great resource the country owns.

Supporting and effectively implementing this national system in a coordinated manner will help resolve the market information gap and facilitate livestock export trade and regional integration, he noted.

Ethiopia has 70.2 million cattles, 52.5 million goats, 42.9 million sheep and 8.1 million camels, the director-general said citing to Ethiopian Statistics Agency report of 2020/2021.

However, he added, recent export earning from the livestock export trade was not satisfactory considering the existing live stock potential of the country, which is the biggest in Africa and among the greatest potential livestock resources in the world.

Out of the 3.64 billion USD total export of the country, 1.1 billion or 28 percent was obtained from the agriculture sector, but if proper focus is given to this sector, more can be generated, he said.

The livestock sector is a means of livelihood for 60 to 70 percent of the Ethiopian population, he stated.

Livestock, Hide and Skin Director at Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration, Desnet Belay told ENA that the web based system currently provides necessary market information from 56 market centers in six regions and the two city administrations of Ethiopia.

According to him, the ministry has trained market information collecting experts who send the necessary information through SMS to the main server in Addis Ababa to be analyzed by experts in place in a way that benefits all stakeholders’ choice and decision in the supply chain.

The 5 market centers in Southern Nations Nationalities Peoples region, 18 from Oromia, 7 from Amhara, 10 from Somali, 11 from Afar, 1 from Harar regions as well as 4 in Addis Ababa and 1 in Dire Dawa are currently sending the market information to the system, he said.

The director said the established national system in Ethiopia is crucial to provide reliable and real-time market information for the livestock market across the country which is critical for farmers, pastoralists, policy makers, traders and exporters as well as other actors in the market chain.

The system will provide online market data for farmers, buyers, government, non-governmental institutions, media outlets and researchers.

The system is being implemented by many IGAD member countries and is hoped that it will provide reliable market information of the livestock market for traders and facilitate regional integration in the IGAD region.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

TPLF Trying to Raise Million Person Army to Wage Another Devastating War: Foreign Journalist, Observer

The terrorist TPLF is trying to create a million person army and recruit again from the enormously depleted Tigray population to wage war, a foreign journalist and observer of northern Ethiopian conflict disclosed.

Scoop Independent News Editor-in-Chief, Alastair Thompson, who is recently in Ethiopia and visited the war-torn areas of the northern part of the country, told the Ethiopian News Agency that the intention of the TPLF is to wage another war.

“The intention of the TPLF is to wage another war, and if the international community fails to act there will be another war here with all the massive consequences,” he stated.

In his press statement last week, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Dina Mufti said the terrorist group is mobilizing a massive number of fighters to areas adjacent to the Amhara and Afar regions to wage another devastating war.

Thompson, who was asked about the scenario that TPLF would launch another attack, responded that TPLF seems to be intent on rearming and re-attacking.

“TPLF has announced it is trying to create a million person army and that it is trying to recruit again from an already enormously depleted population because hundreds of thousands of them may have already died in the war.”

He also cited William Davison, a sympathizer for the terrorist TPLF, as announcing in Crisis Group news that two Antonov planes of arms that could have contained weapons from Sudan have flown into Shire Airport in Tigray .

According to the Editor-in-Chief, “Sudan is the traditional army’s route for TPLF. I am very concerned that those airplanes contained modern little weapons such as switchblades and javelins.”

He added that the encroachment would result in massive suffering and further economic debilitation of Ethiopia in addition to the psychological trauma in the country.

Speaking about his visit to the war-torn areas, particularly the Welkait, Tsegede and Telemet areas, Thompson shared his horrific memories about the mass graves and war crimes committed by TPLF during the past decades.

In this regard, he stressed the need for further investigation in Welkait,Tsegede and Telemt areas by inviting genocide researchers around the world.

It is to be recalled that researchers from the University of Gondar discovered mass graves of ethnic Amharas massacred by TPLF’s tyrannical administration in the past 40 years.

Noting that researchers from University of Gondar had identified around 20 mass grave locations, the journalist believes that there could be many mass graves in that areas.

Therefore, Thompson pointed out that as the University of Gondar has proposed itself to setup a research center into genocide, “it could then invite genocide researchers from all around the world. Then you will have a large group of academics assisting with that in addition to criminal investigation into what happened.”

The journalist and observer finally urged the government to provide sufficient resources to enable the investigation to continue.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

PM Abiy Reviews Joint Military Preparedness Drill of Western Command

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed together with high level federal and regional officials as well as the Generals of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) has reviewed the joint military preparedness drill of the Western Command.

“PM Abiy Ahmed together with high level federal and regional officials as well as ENDF Generals reviewed the joint military preparedness drill of the Western Command in the Amhara region,” according to Office of the Prime Minister.

Praising the usual readiness of the army, PM Abiy noted fully prepared army is crucial to protect Ethiopia’s sovereignty from anyone, under any circumstances and at any time.

The Premier said “We have proved the fact that ENDF is in a strong position that is capable of defending the nation when its peace is endangered.”

The defense force has also ascertained its brevity based on the seven international military science standards, he added.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency