Friday, October 31, 2014


The inaugural World Cities Day, and its theme “Leading Urban Transformations,” comes less than two weeks after the successful conclusion of the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, which saw the adoption of an important decision with a focus on sustainable urbanization.

This decision and its adoption not only demonstrate the important role cities play in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, but recognize that biodiversity offers solutions to the challenges of sustainable urbanization. Titled “Engagement with Subnational and Local Governments,” the decision invites the 194 Parties to the Convention to “increase their efforts to enable, support and guide strategic and sustainable urbanization by working together with subnational and local governments… especially in promoting local and subnational biodiversity strategies and action plans.” Furthermore, it calls on Parties “to incorporate biodiversity considerations into their urban, peri-urban and land use planning and infrastructure”… and to strengthen capacities of subnational and local governments to incorporate biodiversity into urban and other spatial planning processes.”

As cities move forward on implementing this agenda, they will show that they can lead the way in sustainably using biodiversity and the ecosystem services it underpins, as the basis for addressing water and food security, disaster risk reduction, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and other key issues. In so doing, subnational and local governments will also be contributing to the attainment of the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the overarching framework on biodiversity for the entire United Nations system.

The decision also calls upon the CBD Secretariat to mainstream biodiversity into the considerations of partner organizations; to integrate the contribution of subnational and local governments into the implementation of the Strategic Plan; and to collaborate with other United Nations agencies, international organizations, including biodiversity-related conventions, and stakeholders, on issues related to subnational and local implementation.

The decision, appropriately aligned with the theme for COP 12, “Biodiversity for Sustainable
Development,” reflects the CBD’s increased focus on the issues of urbanization and the subnational implementation of the Convention that is required to complement Parties’ efforts. This focus has already resulted in important publications such as “Urbanization, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and Opportunities,” produced in partnership with the Stockholm Resilience Centre, UNHabitat and others, as well as various pilot projects and events.

A key event at COP 12, and indeed the past four COPs, which has helped to demonstrate subnational government support for the implementation of the Convention, has been the “Biodiversity Summit for Cities and Subnational Governments.” Co-organized by long-time CBD partner, ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability, and this time in collaboration with the governments of Gangwon Province and the Republic of Korea, the event was well-attended with hundreds of participants, including governors and mayors, from 46 countries. They and representatives of national, international and United Nations organizations and experts in the field, discussed various aspects of subnational implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the UN sustainable development goals, with a focus on multi-level cooperation on biodiversity.

The Summit also produced the “Gangwon/Pyeongchang Resolution” - a declaration of the commitment by subnational and local governments present, to continue to contribute to the implementation of the CBD and a call for improved or continued cooperation by their national governments to enable that contribution.

Today, on World Cities Day, I am pleased to say that these recent actions taken by cities to conserve biodiversity and the natural systems that underpin the wealth of all nations are playing a pivotal role in our mutual efforts to conserve life on Earth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Irreversible Climate Change Would Result from Continued Inaction

A pending U.N. report notes that a lack of fast action to combat global warming will lead to severe impacts

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why do waste-pickers continue to be a neglected lot, in spite of their vital contribution to keeping a city clean? India

PinkyChandran, KabirArora and Nalini Shekhar Bengaluru 

Mary is a waste-picker in Bengaluru. A single mother of two, she walks up to 25 km every day to collect 75- odd kg of waste, for a paltry sum of `100–150 a day. Being a woman, Mary is often harassed by lewd and drunk men, questioned by the police, threatened by other contract workers, laughed at by kids or accused by the neighbours of being a thief, yet she continues making rounds to collect waste, every day. Waste-picking for her and 25,000 others in Bengaluru is not a hobby, but an occupation that—apart from a fair share of hazards—is considered dirty, ridiculed and traditionally excluded from the narratives of urban life.

Like most Indian cities, Bengaluru has a booming informal economy with an estimated 25,000 waste-pickers, working together with the municipal waste system as it follows a centralised approach of collection and transportation to the landfills. However, despite this attitude of treating waste as disposal, several community-based initiatives were set up in the late 1980s, stressing the need for public participation in solid waste management. The Centre for Environment Education (CEE) started the Committee for Clean Bangalore in partnership with various organisations in 1989 to promote segregation at source. Twenty years later, in 2009, a group of individuals called the Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) got together to promote decentralised waste management in the city for efficient waste handling.

In 2011, an alliance of waste-pickers filed an affidavit for recognition of waste-pickers which led the Lok Adalat to issue the landmark directive to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for the registration and enumeration of waste-pickers and scrap dealers. Around 8,000 waste-pickers were enumerated and more than 6,000 provided identity cards by the municipal body, which had the signature of the Commissioner of the city. This was facilitated by Hasiru Dala, a waste-picker member-based organisation, and the occasional advocacy of Solid Waste Management Round Table.

The identity card made them the legitimate children of the republic. It allowed them to collect waste without facing harassment from the state or other relevant bodies. The identity card also became a proof to avail of other social welfare services provided by various governments like scholarships for the children of those in unclean vocations, enumeration for Rashtriya Swasthya Beema Yojna (RSBY) and so on. Hasiru Dala was instrumental in ensuring enumeration and recognition for the workers.
But recognition was just the beginning. The Bengaluru municipal body took another great step by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the erstwhile informal waste-pickers to operate ‘Dry waste collection centres’ (DWCC)—recyclable material sorting and collection centres. Hasiru Dala provides managerial services in those centres. In addition, waste-pickers are upgrading their skills to become total waste management service providers, consultants who can be hired to do urban organic farming and to ensure zero waste weddings.

According to Hasiru Dala’s studies, Bengaluru generates around 3,000–5,000 tonnes of waste daily, of which a third, or 1,050 tonnes, are sorted by around 15,000 waste-pickers to be sent for recycling. This reduces carbon and methane gas emissions, as well as helps to economise the space in landfills. Around 16,850 cubic metres of space, equivalent to seven Olympic-size swimming pools, is saved every year due to this remarkable effort. By recycling paper alone, the waste-pickers end up saving around 7,962 trees a year. By sending plastic and glass for recycling, they save 3.9 million electric units. Recycling also obviates a trip to the landfill, thereby saving around 2,335 litres of fuel which would have been used in its transport.

Waste-pickers’ contributions to the reduction of municipal waste-handling costs, resource recovery, environment conservation and climate change mitigation has been documented by various studies and the Expert Committee on Solid Waste Management constituted by the Supreme Court of India. With the Swachch Bharat Mission, the focus must be on organising and reclaiming these livelihoods.    

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: OCTOBER 2014
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Students visit the Baie-Sainte-Catherine, Quebec, Canada

Students from St-Laurent Academy School in Ottawa visited the famous Baie-Sainte-Catherine region of Quebec to see the magnificent whales and wildlife.

A very popular spot for tourists- even in October!

 You never know where the whales will surface!


 Harbour seal


 Beluga whale

Minke whale

Sustainable wildlife management essential for protecting biodiversity

Montreal, 21 October 2014 – Recognizing that wildlife is an important renewable natural resource, with economic, cultural, nutritional and recreational value to humans, Parties at the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12), held in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, have passed a landmark decision on the sustainable use of biodiversity with regards to bushmeat and sustainable wildlife management.

The decision provides a clear mandate for sustainable wildlife management and will be carried out in tandem with the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management (CPW), a voluntary partnership of international organizations with substantive mandates and programmes for the sustainable use and conservation of wildlife resources.

“Sustainable management of wildlife is a key issue in the good governance of biodiversity,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, speaking at the fourth meeting of the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management, held in the margins of COP 12.

The decision encourages Parties to revise their regulatory systems and to strengthen the capacity of indigenous peoples and local communities for sustainable wildlife management as well as to reform incentives that might encourage unsustainable consumption.

The need to address biodiversity as a key element of sustainable development in the post-2015 period has been widely recognised. Sustainable wildlife management provide continuous ecosystem services and income, and contributes to the reduction of poverty. It is the sound management of wildlife species to sustain their populations and habitats over time, taking into account the socioeconomic needs of human populations.

The Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management comprises 14 international organizations, with a Secretariat hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The CPW’s work plan on substantive mandates and programmes includes improving wildlife management through raising awareness and advocating sustainable practices for wildlife for food security and livelihoods, human wildlife conflict and illegal/unsustainable hunting.

At its fourth meeting, CPW partners updated their work plan. One key activity is the development of a Bushmeat Sourcebook. This publication, prepared primarily by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), provides a better understanding of how bushmeat relates to broader socio-economic and conservation issues.

A side event hosted by the CPW, “Wildlife Management in a Landscape Perspective: enhancing biodiversity conservation and supporting livelihoods,” held 13 October 2014, highlighted practical work carried out by CPW members – including the launch of its first joint product and a fact sheet on Sustainable Wildlife Management and Biodiversity. The fact sheet describes key components of wildlife management that can provide incentives to conserve biodiversity.

As part of its next phase of activities, the CPW is developing a project proposal, to be co-funded by the Global Environment Facility, titled “Criteria and Indicators for sustainable wildlife management: a key step towards a global certification system.” Geared towards improving the social, economic, and environmental benefits derived from sustainable wildlife management, countries interested in being a pilot country to test the framework are welcome to contact the Secretariat.


According to State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development, China has become the first developing country to reduce its population living in poverty by half. Similarly, Tibet autonomous region in China's southwest is the region with highest poverty rate but the region has reduced poverty from 34.42 percent of its total rural and pastoral population in 2010 to 18.73 per cent in 2013, lifting about 370,000 people out of poverty, according to China Daily. 
October 17


Mulberry farming is flourishing in Assam, northern India which has replaced the age-old traditional methods. This has resulted after a promotional mulberry farming programme implemented by the Sate Sericulture Department at a cluster level in the areas where people used to follow the traditional method of farming. The programme included training along with technical support.
October 15


According to the district forest office of Dang, western Nepal there are altogether 507 district community forest, of which 38 forest has been registered for storing and selling forest carbon. A research conducted by Plan Vivo Foundation has stated that the forests spread in area of 9,670 ha stores around 12,834 metric tons of carbon every year which costs between $6-$15 in the international market. The 38 community forest user groups have formed a carbon fund in the VDC level by depositing more than NPR. 400,000 by each of them.
October 17