Reduced Inequalities: Meghan & Harry’s Wedding Will Help Tackle Period Taboo, Homelessness, and HIV #sdgs #2030now #globalgoals


The royal couple are asking for donations in their name as wedding gifts.

Isn’t it the worst when, with a month to go before a wedding, you realise you haven’t got the happy couple a gift yet?

Luckily, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have found a great solution for anyone struggling to come up with gift ideas.

And it doesn’t involve a last-minute dash to get a gravy boat, either.

The royal couple are asking for donations to seven different charities to be made in their name, for “anyone who might wish to mark the occasion of their wedding” on May 19, according to Kensington Palace.

“The couple have personally chosen seven charities which represent a range of issues that they are passionate about, including sport for social change, women’s empowerment, conservation, the environment, homelessness, HIV, and the armed forces,” said the palace in a tweet.

“Many of these are small charities, and the couple are pleased to be able to amplify and shine a light on their work,” it added.

One on the list is an Indian charity, the Myna Mahila Foundation , which works in Mumbai’s slums to combat period stigma and to empower women. It works to educate women and girls about menstrual hygiene, provides low-cost sanitary products, and also provides women with stable employment.

Markle visited the organisation’s offices in January last year, on a trip that inspired an article published in “Time” about stripping away taboos around periods.

Another charity on the list is UK homelessness organisation Crisis , which is particularly pertinent following the uproar around the treatment of homeless people in Windsor in the run-up to the wedding.

In preparation for the wedding and the expected influx of tourists, council leader Simon Dudley released a letter directed to the commissioner of the Thames Police, asking for action to be taken to stop “aggressive begging and intimidation in Windsor.”

“It is becoming increasingly concerning to see the quantities of bags and detritus that those begging are accumulating and leaving on our pavements,” he wrote . “The whole situation also presents a beautiful town in a sadly unfavourable light.”

Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, said they are “hugely grateful” to the royal couple.

“Homelessness is one of the most urgent issues of our time, but at Crisis we know what it takes to end it,” he said .

He added: “Donations will help us to support more people to leave homelessness behind through our housing, employment, education, and advice services across the country, and to campaign for the changes needed to solve the homelessness crisis once and for all.”

Other organisations on the list are Chiva , which supports children diagnosed with HIV, an issue that Harry’s mother Princess Diana campaigned fiercely on; StreetGames , a children’s sports charity; the Wilderness Foundation , which works to preserve the great outdoors and enable young people to access it; and Scotty’s Little Soldiers , which helps children who’ve lost a parent in the military.

Also on the list is marine conservation organisation Surfers Against Sewage , which recently called on the UK government to eliminate single-use plastics after research showed more than 2 million “avoidable” plastic items were bought by the British parliament in 2017. 


Women & Girls: Why Clean Water Is So Critical for Women and Girls Everywhere #cleanwater #sdgs #globalgoals #2030Now #wash


It’s a basic human rights issues that impacts women and girls the most.

Like the air we breathe, water is crucial for sustaining human life. Yet 2.1 billion people around the world lack consistent access to clean, safe water.

It’s a crisis that exacerbates the world’s most pressing problems, including national security, weak economies, deadly epidemics, and catastrophic climate change. Access to clean water alleviates these problems and lays the foundation for a safer, more prosperous world.

That means that universal access to clean water affects all of us.

Fostering access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), is the foundation for achieving each of the world’s most important human rights issues — and it affects girls and women most of all.

While water may flow freely from taps in wealthier countries, that isn’t the case for about a quarter of the world’s population. Their WASH deficits affect the rest of the world too because competition for dwindling water supplies can lead to violence, conflict, and, ultimately, displacement.

That displacement will lead to drastic surges in worldwide migration, especially to wealthy regions like North America and Western Europe where the water situation is more secure. In fact, that phenomenon has already begun. Over the past few years, mass migration has rocked the world’s political order and inspired populist movements that embrace dangerous violence, xenophobia, and isolationism.

WASH access also serves as the world’s most vital women’s rights issue. Thus, it’s a major factor for fostering robust and diverse economies. Girls and women currently play a disproportionate role in providing water for their families. In fact, 80% of water-deprived households depend on women for collecting water, the United Nations reports.

In countries like Cote d’Ivoire and Nepal, the task often requires hours-long journeys by foot. Women fetch the water and lug it back in heavy containers so that their children, siblings, spouses, and parents can stay hydrated.

All those hours trekking for water take away from time in school, at work, or with family. The water burden also removes a huge portion of the population from the workforce and erodes women’s ability to directly contribute to national economies.

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of girls and women lack a safe, clean, and private toilet in which to go to the bathroom. It’s more than just an inconvenience: Open-defecation puts girls and women at risk for disease, harassment, and even sexual violence. Providing girls and women with safe toilets can help protect them.

For millennia, various societies have branded periods as unclean — or even toxic — and exploited these taboos to subjugate or isolate women. Millions of girls around the world skip school or drop out all together when they have their periods. Throughout Africa, one in 10 girls miss school when they have their period, according to UNESCO. And in the UK, low-income girls routinely skip class because they cannot afford to buy menstrual hygiene products.

Elsewhere in the world, women risk rape or death inside secluded menstruation huts.

And in wealthy and developing countries alike, women and girls face significant barriers that prevent them from getting clean and safe tampons and pads, and other menstrual hygiene products. Proposed funding cuts by the US only exacerbate the problem.

In addition to the countless humanitarian reasons to ensure women have clean water, toilets, and menstrual health products, universal WASH access serves as a critical component for fostering global security and a strong, inclusive economy. Simply put: when their WASH needs are met, women are able to go to work and go to school.

Universal WASH access also has a massive public health impact, limiting the spread of preventable waterborne illnesses like cholera and various neglected tropical diseases that spread through contact with contaminated feces. In addition to devastating entire families and communities, such illnesses are far less expensive to prevent than to contain and treat.

Thanks to the efforts of governments and activists, open defecation has dropped dramatically in recent years, from 20.5% of the world population practicing open defecation in 2000 to about 12% in 2015. But that means hundreds of millions of women still need safe and sanitary toilets.

Climate change is the latest threat to worldwide WASH access. While heavy storms damage sanitation systems, severe droughts, like the one affecting South Africa, deplete fresh water sources.

You can join us by stepping up to tell governments, businesses, and institutions that there has never been a more critical moment to support clean water and sanitation.

Partnerships For the Goals: Gates, Jolie, the Obamas: These Are the Most Admired People of 2018 #sdgs #2030now #globalgoals


Gates and Jolie beat out former presidents, royals and Oprah to claim the top spots.

YouGov recently released their annual study highlighting public figures people look up to the most. The list includes celebrities, activists as well as former and current world leaders.

The survey queried 37,000 people from more than 35 countries to determine who are the women and men our world hails as most admirable.

Entertainers rounded out most of the top 20 for women, while businessmen, politicians and athletes dominated the top 20 for men. Many of these men and women work to tackle global issues and have left a lasting impact on the world.

The World’s Most Admired Women

Angelina Jolie

Angelina-Jolie.jpgAngelina Jolie poses for photographers upon arrival at the BAFTA Film Awards, in London, Feb. 18, 2018.
Image: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

While famous for her work as an actress, Jolie has also committed her life to humanitarian efforts. As a Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, she focuses on preventing and punishing sexual violence.

Michelle Obama

michelle obama ap .jpgImage: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The former first lady’s transformative work includes the launch of Let Girls Learn , an initiative that helps educate girls around the world.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah-Golden-Globes-MeToo.jpgImage: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/AP

Aside from being a general beacon for empowerment of everyone, everywhere, Oprah stole the show at the Golden Globes with her powerful speech on the #MeToo movement.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen-Elizabeth-Social-Share.jpgBritain’s Queen Elizabeth II waves to the crowd in Ascot, England, June 22, 2017.
Image: Alastair Grant/AP

The Queen recently waged a war on plastic in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of royal households.

Hillary Clinton

clinton dnc victory ap.jpgImage: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

As a former secretary of state and presidential candidate, Clinton has spent her life breaking glass ceilings and advocating for the rights of women both domestically and abroad.

Emma Watson

emma watson UN Women malawi.jpgUN Women/Karin Schermbrucker
Image: UN Women/Karin Schermbrucker

Watson is a dedicated advocate for the UN’s HeforShe campaign working to promote gender equality.

Malala Yousafazi

2017-Women-Malala.jpgImage: Mark Garten/UN Photo

As the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala is staunch advocate of education as a basic human right and uses her own organization and voice to empower girls around the world.

Read More: 15 Times That Malala Nailed It

Priyanka Chopra

GCF17_PriyankaChopra_DanielDorsaForGlobalCitizen102.jpgImage: Daniel Dorsa 

Chopra advocates for girls’ causes and education as an ambassador for both Girls Up and Girls Rising and through her own foundation.


madonna-woman-of-the-year (1).jpgImage: Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

When not pushing musical boundaries, pop icon Madonna works to end extreme poverty among orphans in Malawi.

Gal Gadot

gal gadotImage: Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

Gal Gadot is a Wonder Woman both on and off screen: She uses her platform to raise funds to build schools and take a stance on the importance of education.

Angela Merkel

Angela MerkelImage: Michaela Rehle/Pool Photo via AP

Merkel made headlines with her open door refugee policy that took in millions fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

The World’s Most Admired Men

Bill Gates

AP_17128846109365_Bill_Gates_AP Photo_Nati Harnik.jpgImage: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

As the founder of both Microsoft and the world’s largest private charity, Gates promotes global development and tackles issues in health and education.

Barack Obama

Barack_Obama_Birthday_FINALS_011.jpgImage: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Having ranked first in 19 of the countries surveyed, the former president continues his legacy as a leader of global change

Jackie Chan


Considered one of Asia’s premier philanthropists, Chan has founded multiple charities focused on expanding educational opportunities for children.

Dalai Lama

DalaiLama WikiCommons.jpgImage: Yancho Sabev / Wikimedia Commons

The spiritual leader and activist is renowned for his peaceful approaches to global relations and attempts to end human rights violations.

Warren Buffet

Warren BuffettImage: Fortune Live Media / Flickr

While he donates billions to charity, philanthropist Warren Buffet also uses his status to advocate for ending global poverty.

David Beckham


Michael Jordan


Jordan actively contributes to charities that target and help at-risk youth.

Pope Francis

Pope-Francis.jpgPope Francis waves as he leaves the Shrine of Our Lord of the Miracles after a mid-morning prayer with contemplative nuns, in Lima, Peru, Jan. 21, 2018.
Image: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Pope Francis has brought ending poverty and eradicating injustices to the forefront of his mission as head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City.

Lionel Messi


Messi’s charitable work includes building classrooms in Syria so more than 1,600 displaced children can return to school.

Imran Khan

The Pakistani politician’s foundation works to engage and mobilize local communities through better access to basic services.

Narendra Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at ratification of Paris Agreement on Climate Change with the UNImage: AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Modi has made humanitarian efforts central to his role as Prime Minister of India by making improvements to health and education a priority.

Environment & Poverty: This Brazilian City Is Solving Plastic Waste and Poverty at the Same Time #sdgs #globalgoals #2030Now #


“For me it is empowering – it has given me work and given me a social life.”

The statistics about global plastic pollution are shocking. An estimated 1 million plastic bottles are bought each minute. As a result, the average person consumes more than 70,000 microplastics, which can leak into food and water, each year. The amount of plastic in the ocean is on pace to triple in the next decade. The list goes on.

Sometimes lost in the deluge of facts about plastic pollution are the human beings affected by it — especially those living in extreme poverty.

In Brazil, where more than 50 million people still live below the poverty line, the poorest people often bear the brunt of plastic pollution. Plastic pollutes life-sustaining rivers, leads to diseases, and floods poor communities that lack proper waste collection infrastructure, The Guardian reports.

But despite ever-rising plastic pollution, villagers in one Brazilian community are showing that there’s hope. With the help of the NGO Tearfund and a local church outreach project called Instituto Solidare, residents of the city of Recife are fighting back against plastic pollution — by turning trash into treasure.

In Recife, where poverty and crime are rife, an army of plastic collectors is cleaning up the community of Coqueiral and turning plastic collection into a full-time job, according to The Guardian report.

Women sell handbags, jewellery, and toys they fashioned out of plastic waste; schoolchildren collected waste and turned it into a House of Trash; many others collect plastic and sell it to collection companies at a rate of about 50 cents for every 50 plastic bottles.

“We are putting a lot of work into researching the market and looking at trends and trying to make sure we can make a business out of what we are doing,” one woman, Olga Gomes, said. “For me it is empowering – it has given me work and given me a social life.”

Residents have also organized marches to protect the local river, the Tejipió, from plastic waste, and to lobby for the government to institute waste management policies that protect people living in poverty.

“The situation here in this community, where life is already incredibly hard, has been getting worse,” Evandro Alves, a community leader, told The Guardian. “We are are seeing more and more plastic being used and thrown away, and it stops here in their community. So we decided to mobilise.”

In Brazil, a rising global economy, the problem goes beyond plastic pollution. According to a 2011 report, Brazil produces nearly 150,000 tons of metric waste each day.

Residents have called on the Brazilian government to implement a solid waste management regulatory policy, which it failed to pass in 2010.

The Guardian reports that the movement to turn plastic into profits has spread to other poor communities around the world — including Nigeria and Mozambique.

Elsewhere, plastic is being turned into everything from roads, to houses, to art, to shoes. While these communities aren’t literally turning trash into treasure, they’re coming pretty darn close.

Women & Girls: This Woman’s Crafty Invention Is Keeping Menstruating Girls in School #sdgs #globalgoals #menstruation #2030now #education


Periods will always be a drag. But they should never impact a young woman’s ability to succeed in school.

Unfortunately, due to inadequate hygiene education and limited access to personal products, girls in rural areas around the world often rely on found items ranging from scraps of clothing to mud, leaves or animal skins to manage their menstrual flow — often forcing them to stay home from school due to social stigma and embarrassment.

Having experienced this issue first-hand growing up, Nigerian philanthropist and entrepreneur Folasade Bamisaye recently launched a start-up to help prevent young women in her country from missing classes due to lack of proper hygiene products: MYperiodKIT.

“I missed a lot of classes, a lot of lectures, and it interfered with my academic performance,” Bamisaye told Mashable. “Visiting schools as part of my job brought me back into the community and … I met people going through the same situation as me over 20 years ago. I thought: ‘I need to do something.'”

MYperiodKIT provides girls with menstrual hygiene kits, including sanitary pads, tissue wipes, pantyliners, and disposable bags — all at an affordable cost — with the goal of keeping young girls in school. For those living in regions with limited access to running water, MYperiodKIT has even developed a sustainable, disposable sanitary pad made from banana and plantain stem fibre called “GreenPads.”

Profits from sales of the MYperiodKITs and GreenPads are reinvested in the program so that disadvantaged females who cannot afford the materials may also receive them “no matter your economic situation,” Bamisaye explained to Mashable.

“The justification for having MYperiodKIT is that girls and women residing in under-served areas around Nigeria are faced with huge challenge of coping with their menstrual period hygienically,” Bamisaye told She Leads Africa.

“Women and girls’ capacity to manage their periods is affected by factors including limited access to affordable hygienic sanitary materials and disposal options. This has led many girls and women to manage their periods ineffectively, uncomfortably and unhygienically.”

But by arming young women with these essential tools, she believes all of that can soon change.

Empowering youth is a recurring theme throughout Bamisaye’s career: In addition to launching MYperiodKIT, she is the the founder of Young Women Arise, an organization that educates young girls about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and she is the curator of Ablaze Ladies Camp, which provides participants with the needed skills for them to make informed decision about their SRHR, according to She Leads Africa.

Her latest work creating MYperiodKIT is already receiving praise, and Bamisaye was recently selected as a finalist to represent Nigeria in the $1 million global startup competition Chivas Venture.

But such recognition would only serve her greater goal, she said, telling Mashable, “The startup means to me that we will have girls who will no longer have to drop out of school just because they cannot afford a necessity as basic as menstrual hygiene.”

Clean Water & Sanitation: 5 Ways You’re Wasting Water Without Even Knowing It #sdgs #globalgoals

These are really common activities.

waste water.jpg

Most of us perform several simple water-saving tasks every single day.

We turn off the faucet when we brush our teeth. We take daily showers instead of luxurious bubble baths. We even keep water cool in the refrigerator instead of running the tap until the water gets cold.

Most of us learned about these water conservation techniques way back in elementary school. And while we may consider ourselves responsible water consumers, there are still many hidden ways we waste or misuse water every day. Often without realizing it.

Water waste and misuse contribute to water scarcity and unequal access for millions of people worldwide, particularly those living in regions affected by poverty, conflict, and climate change-related catastrophes. Around the world, roughly 2.1 billion people lack reliable access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization

You can also consider five common ways we indirectly consume water through our purchases, energy use, and complacence.

1// Buying Bottled Water

When it comes to bottled water, the plastic containers’ impact on the environment tends to garner the most attention.

But the origin of the water itself is a massive problem that affects some of the most drought-plagued regions of the US and the world.

At least 45% of bottled water in the US is just filtered tap water — often the very same stuff that comes out of your faucet at home. And while communities throughout Michigan contend with municipal water crises fuelled by government cost-cutting and neglect, bottlers have tried to set up shop in the state in order to sell water back to residents.

As Cape Town careens toward a complete water shutdown, advocacy organizations like the Water Crisis Coalition, have railed against the impact of bottling. Coca Cola and other conglomerates have slurped much-needed water from the city’s reservoir during a devastating drought.

“That amounts to abuse of the crisis rather than positively contributing to measures that will make the water last a little longer,” Shaheed Mohamed, a member of the Water Crisis Coalition told Quartz Africa. “The water they have access to should be made available to the communities where water has been limited unfairly.”

2// Leaving the Lights On

Turning on the lights or raising the thermostat may seem like surprising ways to waste water. But if your heat or electricity come from natural gas then you indirectly contribute to water waste and misuse.

That’s because natural gas fracking uses nearly 10 million gallons of water per well and depletes agriculture and drinking water sources in drought-stricken regions like Texas and other parts of the Southwest, according to research by the US Geological Survey.

Fracking — the common term for the process of hydraulic fracturing — blasts huge amounts of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground to release methane gas, which is then captured and used as a fossil fuel.

Though a fraction of the fracking water does get recycled, the vast majority is removed from the water cycle and often plunged deep underground because it’s so heavily contaminated with the toxic substances used to frack, Scientific American reports.

3// Ignoring Our Faulty Faucets

It may seem like just a teeny puddle pooling in the cabinet under your kitchen sink or on the floor of your shower, but all that water adds up.

In fact, the amount of water drip-drip-dripping from leaky taps and pipes could fill 40 million swimming pools. Or 24 billion bathtubs. Or the entire expanse of Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s largest body of water.

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report as part of Fix A Leak Week that detailed the 1 trillion gallons of household water trickling through faulty faucets, punctured pipes, or perpetually running toilets every year in the US.

The solution? Grab a wrench and tighten the tap. Or call a plumber.

4// Logging In to Facebook


In the process of preserving and powering internet technology, massive data centers generate a tremendous amount of heat. So to keep the facility cool and stop the servers from frying, data centers depend on water — lots of it.

Just one data center operated by the National Security Administration in Utah uses 1.7 million gallons of water a day to stay cool.

In 2016, Facebook consumed about 315 million gallons of water, with about three-quarters of that total diverted to its data centers. Meanwhile, vast cryptocurrency mining operations for Bitcoin and imitators constitute the next frontier for data center cooling and threaten to drain water supplies.

Companies have begun implementing less water-intensive cooling solutions, but they are a long way from becoming the norm.

5// Buying New Clothes

The dye used to color our clothing requires a vast amount of water, which means every new t-shirt we purchase takes a toll on the water supply.

According to The Guardian, dying facilities in India and China burden local water supplies in two ways. First, they suck a large amount of water from rivers, lakes, and streams and then they dump contaminated wastewater back into those water sources.

Just one pair of jeans can take up to 8,000 gallons of water to produce, from the cotton field through the dying process.

Some companies, like Patagonia, have begun switching to non water-based dyes. Patagonia uses half the average water consumption at its dye houses and has even experimented with bug poop as a source of environmentally friendly dye.

“The textile industry is one of the most chemically intensive industries on earth, second only to agriculture, and the world’s largest polluter of increasingly scarce freshwater,” wrote Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard in his book  The Responsible Company. “The World Bank estimates nearly 20 percent of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment.”

Life Below Water: Baby Turtles Return in Mumbai After ‘Largest Beach Clean-Up’ in History #sdgs #globalgoals #turtle #sealife #marinelife


“I had tears in my eyes when I saw them walking towards the ocean.”

More than 80 Olive Ridley baby turtles have been spotted waddling across the sand of Versova Beach in Mumbai to get to the Arabian Sea over the past week, the Guardian reports.

It had been decades since the turtles were last seen on the beach. Their return continues a migratory journey that has been going on for centuries.

“I had tears in my eyes when I saw them walking towards the ocean,” Afroz Shah, a lawyer and local community activist, told the Guardian.

The migration is a sign that thousands of hours of hard work has paid off.

Two years ago, Versova Beach was essentially a landfill — pictures show legs sinking knee-deep into garbage.

“[The waste] was 5.5 feet high,” Shah told CNN at the time. “A man could drown in the plastic.”

Today, you can sunbathe on the pristine sand.

That’s because a team of hundreds of volunteers led by Shah spent nearly two years picking up 11,684,500 pounds of trash, clearing upstream rivers, putting systems in place to prevent future trash from accumulating, and teaching locals about sustainable waste management.

They also cleaned 52 public toilets and planted 50 coconut trees, and Shah has plans to line coastlines with mangrove trees to prevent flooding and improve water quality.

The United Nations called it the “world’s largest beach clean-up effort” and awarded Shah the “Champion of the Earth” award.

“I am an ocean lover and feel that we owe a duty to our ocean to make it free of plastic,” he told the UN. “I just hope this is the beginning for coastal communities across India and the world.”

Olive Ridley turtles lay eggs in the area, but had been unable to climb through the trash on  Versova Beach, according to the Guardian.

Now the same volunteers who cleaned the beach are camping out to make sure the baby turtles are protected from dogs and birds as they make their way to the water, the Guardian reports.

It’s an example of how collective action can revitalize communities and create environmental guardians.

Each year, 8 to 13 million tons of plastic make it into the world’s oceans — the equivalent of a garbage truck filled with plastic every minute. Throughout the world, there are about five plastic bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline. By 2050, plastic could outweigh fish in the oceans.

Shah wants to bring his community clean-up methods around the world to make sure ecosystems stay safe for both humans and animals.

“There has been a loss of a sense of belonging,” Shah told the Guardian. “You can have laws, policies, regulations in place, but if the community doesn’t have a sense of belonging, you can see what happens.”

Zero Hunger: How Africa can solve its food crisis by growing more crops sustainably #sdgs #globalgoals #sustainability #agenda2030


It is time to place sustainable intensification at the heart of African agriculture, and ensure that development goals deliver on the agenda opened in Dublin. Sustainable intensification involves producing more crops, better nutrition and higher rural incomes from the same set of inputs – such as land, water, credit and knowledge – while reducing environmental impacts on a sustained basis.

Sub-Saharan Africa faces specific and complex challenges. The number of hungry people in the continent rose to 239 million last year and 40% of children under five years old are stunted due to malnutrition. Africa’s population is expected to almost double by 2050, bringing it to almost 2 billion people. Based on present trends, the current African food production system would be able to meet only 13% of the continent’s needs by 2050.

Despite this urgent need, African crop yields have been largely stagnant over the past 50 years. Less than 4% of farmland in sub-Saharan Africa is irrigated. Almost three-quarters of its soils are degraded (pdf) due to years of planting crops without replacing nutrients; fertiliser use is by far the lowest in the world with most farmers unable to afford it.

Yet the carbon footprint of African smallholder farming is low, and problems of eutrophication and other forms of agricultural pollution areless prevalent than elsewhere.

Sustainable intensification is sometimes viewed as a Trojan horse for the implantation of large-scale, industrial agriculture – increasing yields through a dramatic increase in the use of fertilisers and pesticides while paying lip service to the environment and local farming conditions. As such, sustainable intensification polarises opinion.

But the term needs to be understood in a more balanced way and reinterpreted as relevant to the realities of smallholder agriculture and the need for strengthening food security.

report released on Thursday by the Montpellier panel – international experts in agriculture, sustainable development, trade, policy and development from Africa and Europe – aims to demystify sustainable intensification and show its relevance to addressing food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty.

Agricultural intensification can take many forms, including current systems, many of which are not sustainable. With increasing pressure on natural resources and the impact of climate change, intensification must be made more sustainable. It can follow many paths, such as reducing reliance on fertilisers and pesticides; generating lower greenhouse gas emissions, and contributing to the maintenance of critical public goods, such as biodiversity and clean water.

Sustainable intensification is achievable for African smallholder farmers, and builds on many of their traditional practices. It includes: “micro-dosing” by which smallholder farmers use the cap of a drinks bottle to measure out small amounts of fertilisers, boosting yields significantly while keeping costs down for farmers and reducing the risk of fertiliser runoff into waterways; combining mixed field and tree crops, such as nitrogen-fixing varieties; harvesting and managing scarce water for supplementary irrigation; and promoting regeneration of diverse natural species in common lands.

But sustainable intensification requires more than just inputs and technology – it demands greater co-operation and organisation in rural areas. For instance, supporting village “grain banks” run by local farmer associations helps smallholders to protect their grain. Farmers deposit grain and the bank keeps it protected against pests and diseases, so that farmers can access it as needed or sell later in the season when prices are typically higher. This type of network is supported by the Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange, a private-sector firm that provides farmers with prices and other market intelligence by SMS text.

We are calling on governments, in partnership with the private sector and NGOs, to recognise the huge potential for sustainable intensification as a driver of development – in terms of food security, better nutrition and more resilient rural livelihoods.

While many parts of the world have experienced large increases in crop yields over the past 50 years, production has not always been intensified sustainably. Intensification is often associated with the ills of modern agriculture seen in the west – over-use of chemicals and fertiliser, pollution of rivers and water bodies, monocrops and biodiversity deserts.

But African agriculture does not need to follow suit. Helping African farmers to increase their production and incomes while safeguarding the environment – in short, sustainable intensification – offers a balanced and practical way forward.

• Camilla Toulmin is deputy chair of the Montpellier panel and director of the International Institute for Environment and Development

Original Article 

Image Credit: Joe Penney/Reuters

Copyright 2013 The Guardian

Peace, Justice And Strong Institutions: Introduction to the importance of effective governance #sdgs #globalgoals


Transparency and Accountability:

Transparency and accountability about resources and results are essential elements in the fight against poverty. In their absence, it’s impossible to know whether health, education, and other services are being delivered efficiently and effectively; whether development objectives are being met; and civil society will not have the tools necessary to track public spending and hold governments to account.

Too often, precious development dollars (either aid or domestic resources) are lost due to corruption, inefficiency, and mismanagement. Donor countries must not only provide mechanisms for accountability to their own taxpayers, but must also work with partner governments to provide better accountability to citizens in developing countries who are recipients of aid and the true drivers of development.

Emerging economies are increasing their investment in developing countries. South-south partnerships are redefining the development agenda. Citizens across the world are demanding more transparent, accountable and responsive governance. And meanwhile, many developing countries are still struggling to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 203o. In this context, issues of efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability for development resources are more important than ever.

Some countries rely on aid for more than 30% of their government expenditures, and in addition to playing a crucial role in the delivery of essential services and the provision of humanitarian relief, aid can play an important catalytic role, helping to leverage other resources for development (including domestic resource mobilization, private investment, private philanthropy, and innovative finance), ensuring that they are spent effectively, and ultimately contributing to countries’ making progress on development outcomes. While it is crucial that aid dependency must be reduced over time and replaced with more sustainable financing, it is imperative that current aid levels and aid effectiveness commitments are maintained and better coordinated with other financing and development policies to spur results.

Zero Poverty: Esther Duflo; Social experiments to fight poverty #sdgs #globalgoals #poverty

Watch Video

What is a large obstacle in fighting global poverty? Knowing what, and what doesn’t, work


One of the biggest obstacles we face in the fight against poverty is that all too often, we don’t know what works and what doesn’t because we don’t collect good data.

Watch the above TED talk, from award-winning economist Esther Duflo to see that it is possible to know which development efforts work and those which don’t, using the same process of experimentation and testing we use in science.

And, for a summary of the talk, read on…

Duflo explains how, by using a system of randomized controlled trials, we can take the “guess-work” out of aid. To make this real, she asks three simple questions and offers three simple solutions; how to immunize children, how to stop malaria, and how to get children into school?

The answers: lentils, bed nets and deworming.

Immunization is the most effective way of saving children’s lives yet millions of children still die every year due to preventable illnesses. So, what measures could we take to encourage mothers to immunize their kids, to make immunization a priority?

Duflo ran a randomized controlled trial in Udaipur, India so that she could answer these questions. After setting up three immunization camps, Duflo found that by giving mothers an incentive to go to the camps to immunize their children, and by making it easier for them to get there, the rate of full immunization increased from 6% to 38%. The incentive – a kilo of lentils for every child immunized.

Duflo also applied a similar system of randomized controlled trials to the use of bed nets to prevent malaria. Considering bed nets are the most effective way of dealing with malaria, should they be given away for free or should we ask people to pay for them, and what affect would this have on whether or not people buy them in the future?

The trial she conducted was in Kenya where different discount vouchers were given to people to buy bed nets in their local pharmacy. The trial showed that making people pay (any amount) for the nets, significantly lowered the amount of people who used them. But, regardless of how people got them, if they had bed nets, they used them. The trial also found that if people were given the nets for free, they were more likely to buy the nets in the future. This goes against claims that giving people stuff for free simply makes them dependent on handouts – it doesn’t, as Duflo says, people just get used to using bed nets.

The final question Duflo looks at is the best way to get children into school, a question aid agencies have always grappled with. After conducting another randomized controlled trial the evidence showed that if you educate people about the benefits of going to school, the number of years a child goes to school increases to an astounding 40 years for every $100 of aid spent. This is compared to a 1 -3 year increase using traditional methods such as providing food, scholarships or school uniforms. Duflo also found that in areas where there were intestinal worms, deworming the children got you an extra 30 years of education.

Results like these are exciting because they show us how a cheap and easy solution such as deworming or bed-nets are effective aid measures which significantly contribute to enabling people to reduce poverty in their own communities.

Duflo shows us how we can approach development projects in a logical, systematic way and she breaks down what is normally seen as a problem too “huge” to deal with, into bite-size manageable chunks. Her talk is incredibly inspiring and it gives us some amazing examples of how aid can, and does, work when done in the right way. Her work should serve as a reminder to us all that our goal of ending extreme poverty in a generation, is an achievable one.