Reduced Inequalities: Cate Blanchett Just Warned the World About the Latest Risk for Rohingya Refugees #Rohingya #Refugees #SDGs #GlobalGoals

Monsoon-related floods could be lethal for the Rohingya in refugee camps.


Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have survived violent persecution in Myanmar followed by disease and poverty in refugee camps in Bangladesh, but they are about to face another major threat, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ Ambassador Cate Blanchett.

During a recent visit to refugee camps in Bangladesh, Blanchett, an Academy-Award winning actress, began warning the international community about the monsoon-related floods and landslides that are expected to hit the region in the coming months.

“The Rohingya refugees have already experienced targeted violence, human rights abuses, and horrific journeys,” Blanchett added. “They have shown unimaginable resilience and courage.”

But, she added, the government of Bangladesh, the UNHCR, and other humanitarian sponsors are in a “race against time” to ensure that refugees are safe and secure during the regions annual flooding.

Since August 2017, roughly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar crossed into neighboring Bangladesh due to persecution and violence. Accounts of mass graves, indiscriminate violence, targeted starvation, and systematic rape have compelled the United Nations to condemn the “hallmarks of genocide” inside Myanmar.

The sudden nature of the exodus meant that refugee camps had to be assembled quickly in Bangladesh and, too often, families were given inadequate shelter

Without sturdy and secure homes, refugees exposed in makeshift camps face a high risk of injury, disruption, or death from monsoon-related flooding, the UNHCR said in a statement.

During the annual monsoon season, parts of Southeast Asia can experience devastating floods and landslides. In 2017, for example, monsoon-related flooding killed more than 1,200 people and affected 41 million more, the UN reports.

And around the world, storms fueled by climate change-related factors like higher precipitation are growing even more intense.

“I cannot stress how much more help is needed for these vulnerable stateless refugees, the majority of whom are women and children,” Blanchett said. “This is the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world, the monsoons are coming, and it is critical that the international community, private sector, and individuals all do that they can to support these stateless refugees and the communities hosting them.”



Civil Union, Partnership, Peace & Justice: Why Not Being Able to Get Divorced Is a Women’s Rights Issue in the Philippines #Women #HumanRights #SDGs #GlobalGoals

Costly annulment fees, no child support, and no rights to assets — a new bill hopes to change that.


This article originally appeared on Women’s Advancement Deeply. You can find the original here.

MANILA –When Amy Perez-Castillo tried to separate from her husband, she had to tell the courts she was psychologically unwell. It wasn’t true, but it was the only way she could get a legal separation in the Philippines, where divorce is against the law.

Her husband had walked out when their son was a baby. “Since the birth of my son, I have been the only financial contributor to his life,” Perez-Castillo says.

But it took 10 years of court proceedings before the successful TV and radio host, actress and now mother of three was granted an annulment.

“My first lawyer suggested I go through psychological evaluation, but I did not want to because of how it would affect my career, and more importantly, I needed to be classed as ‘normal’ to get custody of my son,” she says.

“Three years into the process, I was denied annulment by the supreme court. When I tried again for annulment, I had to admit to psychological incapacity.”

Apart from having to admit to something that wasn’t true, she says the process cost her dearly. “It’s hard to say how much I paid in the end, maybe more than half a million pesos [USD $10,000].”

The Philippines is the only place in the world, outside the Vatican City, where divorce is illegal. But a bill working its way through the House of Representatives could change that.

On February 21, The Act of Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage passed committee stage, and will be debated in Congress’s next plenary session.

The bill consolidates several divorce bills filed before, all seeking to allow the dissolution of marriage and address the concerns of couples in failed marriages. This version represents a landmark: By getting through committee stage, it has progressed farther than any previous attempt at legalizing divorce.

If passed, the bill would provide official separation for couples with irreconcilable differences in cases of abuse or where the couple is already de facto separated. Perhaps most importantly for women, it provides guidelines for the division of assets, financial support for the children of divorced parents, and payment of damages to “the innocent spouse.”

Ending a Marriage Without Divorce

For the 40 million married couples currently living together in the Philippines, filing for an annulment or legal separation is a lengthy process that can drag on for years, often with unsuccessful results. Today, options to end marriages are available, but they differ from divorce in important ways.

In an annulment, the couple must prove that either or both of them are psychologically incapacitated.Infidelity, physical or mental abuse, and irreconcilable differences are not taken into account in an annulment proceeding, and physical violence is not considered a sufficient reason to annul a marriage.

Legal separation allows parties to live apart, but does not legally end a marital union and therefore does not permit remarriage.

A voided marriage is considered invalid from the beginning. Reasons for voiding a marriage can include either party having an incurable sexually transmitted disease or cases of mistaken identity.

Parties can file for divorce in only one case: if they are among the estimated 5 percent of the population that is Muslim and is governed by the Code of Muslim Personal Laws.

Too Poor to Separate

Women are worst affected by the lack of divorce legislation. Representing 49.4 percent of the population but only 34 percent of the workforce, according to statistics provided to News Deeply by the Philippine Statistical Authority, they are rarely the breadwinners in a family.

The majority rely on their husbands financially, and most are reluctant to file for an annulment or legal separation because of the practical and financial implications – separated women often find they can’t support their families.

“Some women are afraid to separate from their husbands, especially if they have children who are still in need of financial support and are dependent on him,” says Clarissa Castro, an attorney specializing in family law cases.

“Worse, if they have no conjugal assets to partition, the woman will definitely be at a loss once the marriage is severed, because the obligation to give support also ends,” she says.

Helaria Legaspi, 58, married when she was just 15. Three years ago, she went to the local council to get an annulment after finding out that her husband was having an affair. But she soon discovered she would not be able to pay.

“It was just too expensive for me to even dream of. There was no way that I could afford it, so I never went back,” Legaspi says.

“I have heard of annulment scams: lawyers quoting $10,000for an all-inclusive annulment package granted by the court. But the documents are forged and they leave women in financial ruin. I thought I would be scammed, so I thought better to just leave it.

“We are poor, and the options available to us are anti-poor, we cannot afford them.”

If passed, the bill before parliament would provide state lawyers for those who can’t afford the costs associated with a divorce.

Opting Out of Marriage

In a typical year, civil courts will grant about 10,000 annulments, the office of the Solicitor General told News Deeply.

The Philippine Statistical Authority said that 6,304 petitions were filed to end marriages in Manila in the first nine months of 2017, a 23 percent decrease on the year before, with women filing slightly more than half of the petitions.

But there has also been a 20 percent decrease in reported marriages,they say, with younger generations opting for cohabitation instead of an expensive celebration that they cannot afford, followed by a relationship arrangement that can’t be left if it breaks down.

A Work in Progress?

In an overwhelmingly Catholic country, the church wields enormous influence and is clear on its view that marriage is a contract and a sacrament.

But for many women, the divorce bill is long overdue, and the current options available to them are inadequate. Three in five Filipinos are in favor of introducing divorce legislation.

“Filipino women require a quick and affordable process,” Perez-Castillo says. “The costs of an annulment must be addressed, and the government needs to do more to support single mothers.”

“Divorce is a deterrent to working on differences,” said a pastoral statementissued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, reiterating its position against the divorce bill. “Marriage is and ought to be a work in progress.”


Environment, Pollution & Life Below Water: Hawaii Is Close to Banning Ocean-Polluting Takeout Containers #Plastic #Hawaii #AplasticOcean #PlasticBan

They would be the first state in the US to ban the foam containers.


By Erica Cirino, Oceans Deeply

Hawaii, a state with a $17-billion tourism industry and a persistent plastic pollution problem, is moving toward a groundbreaking ban on polystyrene food containers.

While hundreds of cities and counties have passed local ordinances eliminating polystyrene in food containers or in other uses, no legislation has so far been successful at the state level in the United States.A similar effort failed recently in California, while Maryland’s General Assembly is now also considering legislation that was introduced in early 2018.

Internationally, a few nations have imposed strong regulations against the importation and use of polystyrene, including Zimbabwe and the Seychelles, which has banned the use of all disposable plastic items.

All plastic debris is a concern for marine and coastal health because it does not biodegrade and can end up polluting beaches and the ocean, where it breaks up into tiny pieces that can be eaten by marine life. Lightweight polystyrene foam is particularly worrisome in an island state such as Hawaii because it easily blows out of trash cans and eventually out to sea.

“The ban would be a positive step forward in preventing more plastic debris from affecting Hawaiian shores and waters,” said Mark Manuel, Pacific Islands Marine Debris Program regional coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Honolulu.

On Monday, spectators packed a small room in the Hawaii State Capitol building and watched as five senators read public testimony from supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 2498. This is the first time in 10 years that a statewide polystyrene foam prohibition bill has moved through Hawaii’s Senate, according to the Surfrider Foundation’s Oahu Chapter, and follows bans passed in Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii last year.

After the hearing, the members of the Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health committee unanimously voted to move the bill forward. If passed by the full Senate, and the House passes its own version, the provision would take effect January 1, 2019, if signed into law by the governor.

The proposed ban wouldn’t forbid all uses of the polystyrene foam, commonly called by the trade name Styrofoam, just the kind used in food service businesses. However, because so many food vendors in Hawaii distribute polystyrene food containers daily, supporters say the ban could greatly reduce plastic litter across the islands and in the surrounding waters. (The popular Hawaiian plate lunch, for instance, is commonly served up in polystyrene containers.) Senator Stanley Chang, a co-sponsor of the bill, said polystyrene foam is one of the most common sources of litter and marine debris in Hawaii. A 2014 study found that polystyrene foams are the most commonly seen visible plastic material at sea.

The polystyrene debris is affecting the quality of our marine environment and harming our wildlife, both in our major population centres and as far away as the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, where birds and aquatic life often die because of their consumption of human-generated debris,” said Chang.

Takeout container pollution is particularly dangerous to marine wildlife. The lightweight material easily breaks into pieces that can be eaten by animals, disrupting their digestive system and contaminating their blood with toxins.

Douglas McCauley, a University of California, Santa Barbara marine biologist, estimates that 98 percent of all albatross chicks found dead on the islands contain plastic, including polystyrene foam. He said Hawaii’s polystyrene foam pollution is contributing to a mess “in a place that should be famous for generating sunsets, good waves, Mai Tais and memories.”

He said, “This ban is not going to fix the problem of plastic pollution in Hawaii, but it will be a big step in the right direction.” McCauley also added, “It will cut back on a particularly insidious form of plastic pollution that is easy to replace and that is known to harm ocean wildlife.”

Hawaii asks residents to dispose of polystyrene foam in the trash. In Oahu, polystyrene is burned along with other garbage at H-Power, its waste-to-energy plant. Elsewhere on Hawaii, it is sent to a landfill. Polystyrene can technically be recycled, but few recycling centers handle the material and there are none in Hawaii.

At the hearing Monday, opponents to the legislation submitted comments, but they were outnumbered by individuals, scientists, environmental organizations, food vendors and companies. Surfrider Foundation’s Oahu Chapter, a major supporter of the ban, pushed the public to post testimony supporting the bill on social media. In Hawaii’s public schools, teachers asked dozens of students to send letters to their senators. Only one individual – a Hawaii state resident – submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill, stating that polystyrene is “practical” and that the state should instead focus on solving its homelessness problem in order to reduce littering.

“This is a bold bill, but it is way overdue,” said McCauley. “Hawaii is usually a global leader on oceans. People in Hawaii know, perhaps better than any other place on the planet, that ocean health and human health are intertwined. This has been a part of Hawaiian knowledge systems for thousands of years.”

Opponents of the ban – including the American Chemistry Council, Hawaii Restaurant Association, Hawaii Food Industry Association, Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and local polystyrene manufacturer KYD – argue efforts to deal with plastic pollution should focus on litter prevention. They contend that switching to eco-friendly food containers would be prohibitively expensive for small businesses, and that alternate materials would not be sturdy enough to hold classic Hawaiian plate lunches – which are often served hot and drenched in sauces.

This article originally appeared on Oceans Deeply. You can find the original here

Clean Water/Sanitation: “Focus South Africa” For Nearly 1 Million People in Cape Town, the Water Apocalypse Has Already Arrived #GlobalGoals #SDGs #2030Now

Capetonians living in informal settlements consume just 4% of the city’s water.


For as many as 1 million people in Cape Town, Day Zero concerns are nothing new.

That’s because many of the city’s poorest residents lack running water in their homes and already use less than the municipal government’s 50-liter daily water ration mandate.

In the city’s unincorporated settlements, residents — who make up more than 20% of Cape Town’s population — collect water at community taps and account for just 4% of the city’s total water use, according to Elitsha, a local news organization.

Few of the city’s wealthier residents have decreased their daily water use to 50 liters per day, the New York Times reported. Yet, overall consumption has dropped, enabling Cape Town to delay Day Zero — the date when the municipal water supply sinks below 13.5% capacity and forces the government is forced to shut off taps around the city.

Last week, Cape Town pushed Day Zero to July 9, just a few weeks after predicting the city would dry up by April 22. Cape Town’s current daily water consumption of about 523 million liters —139 million gallons— is less than half of what it was four years ago, The New York Times reported.

Now, Cape Town’s deputy mayor said, “defeating Day-Zero is in sight.”

But even if the city staves off a complete water shutdown, hundreds of thousands of Capetonians will continue to ration their water, Cape Town University Professor Kirsty Carden, a water expert.

Along with Cape Town’s low-income residents, roughly 2 billion people worldwide lack access to reliable drinking water water.

The water crisis has increased awareness about the value of water and the extent of water inequality, but it does not seem to have galvanized support for better infrastructure, says Carden

Carden said the pending water shutdown would not have a significant impact on informal settlement residents because they already have limited access to water.

“The average water use in informal settlements is currently around 40-liters per person per day, so they are not being rationed any further than what they are using,” Says Carden 

The municipal water systems in the settlements generally consist of community taps — about one for every 25 homes — and shared toilets, Carden said

Still, even though they lack consistent running water, residents of the unincorporated settlements have contributed to the declining of rate water consumption.

“Before, I was using two kettles of water to wash myself,” settlement resident Vuyo Kazi told the Associated Press. “So now I use one kettle of water.”


Reduced Inequalities: MPs Just Backed a Bill to Allow Child Refugees to Unite with Family in the UK #FamiliesTogether #GlobalGoals #2030Now #Refugees #RefugeesWelcome

Britain and Norway are the only European countries that deny children the right.


A bill that would allow refugee children to reunite with close relatives in the UK is one step closer to becoming law, after it was backed by cross-party members of parliament in the House of Commons.

Over 120 MPs from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Green, and DUP, along with Conservative former ministers Bob Neill and Anna Soubry, gave the refugee family reunion bill their support at its second reading on Friday.

Scottish National Party MP Angus MacNeil’s private member’s bill seeks to do three things, according to Amnesty International — which is one of several charities supporting it, along with the British Red Cross, the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR, Oxfam, the Refugee Council, Help Refugees, and the Student Action for Refugees network.

The bill aims to:

  • Expand the criteria of who qualifies as a family member for the purposes of refugee family reunion. 
  • Give unaccompanied refugee children in the UK the right to sponsor their family members to join them under the refugee family reunion rules
  • Reintroduce legal aid for refugee family reunion cases. 

“Everybody forgets what and who a refugee is,” said Soubry during the reading. “This is somebody who is fleeing a place they love — their home.”

“They do not want to leave it, but circumstances that we cannot even begin to imagine, mean they literally grasp the first things that come to hand and flee their home looking for a place of refuge,” she said.

Currently, the only family members explicitly allowed to join adult refugees in the UK are their spouse or partner, and their dependent children under the age of 18, according to the charity Help Refugees.

Unaccompanied children who are granted refugee status in the UK at the moment have no right to reunite with their closest family members. In the whole of Europe, only the UK and Denmark currently deny this right.

According to Help Refugees , the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has urged the UK to “review its asylum policy in order to facilitate family reunion for unaccompanied and separated refugee children.”

Caroline Nokes, the immigration minister, said the government is, however, likely to block the bill at the next stage, the committee stage,

In an article written for the Times , Nokes said the government is concerned that the legislation would mean higher numbers of people would try to make the dangerous crossing to the UK.

“Those who — with all good intention — try to promote and encourage alternative pathways to the UK could be putting the people they are trying to help in danger,” Nokes wrote.


She added that the new legislation would apply to family members “regardless of whether they need protection, are living in conflict zones, or had even formed a family unit before they left.”

Nokes further said the government spent £1.1 billion on resettlement between 2015 and 2020, and had set up routes within immigration regulation to bring refugees to the UK.

During Friday’s reading, MacNeil said the change would help between 800 and 1,000 people a year.

“It’s clear that this issue isn’t about party politics, it’s about doing the right thing and it was pretty obvious to all of us that families belong together and that children belong with their parents,” said MacNeil.

The bill had its first reading on July 19 2017. It will now go to the committee stage in the House of Commons, although the date hasn’t yet been announced.




Peace, Justice And Strong Institutions: These Are the 10 Happiest Countries in the World {2018} #SDGs #GlobalGoals #2030Now

The UN just released the 2018 World Happiness Report.


Finland has climbed to the top of the list of the happiest countries in the world, according to a United Nations report released on Wednesday.

The 2018 World Happiness Report comes from the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and it ranks 156 counties on happiness levels, considering elements like life expectancy, social support and corruption, according to the Canadian Press.

This year, the report also assessed 117 countries by the happiness and well-being of their immigrants.

Nordic countries had high scores when it came to income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity in the 2018 report.

The rankings come from information pulled from Gallup polls that addressed well-being, corruption, generosity and freedom, according to The Guardian.

Canada held its spot in 7th place this year.

The United States dropped to 18th place, with the report pointing to the country’s obesity crisis, substance abuse and depression.

Take a look at the full list here:

  1. Finland

  2. Norway

  3. Denmark

  4. Iceland

  5. Switzerland

  6. Netherlands

  7. Canada

  8. New Zealand

  9. Sweden

  10. Australia

Women & Girls: Angelina Jolie Gave a Powerful Speech About Sexual Violence to the UN

One of the strongest voices in Hollywood has finally spoken out on the topic that has gripped the industry over the past two months: sexual violence against women.

Angelina Jolie delivered an urgent call for an end to sexual violence in all industries around the world during a speech at a United Nations conference in Vancouver on Wednesday.

“Sexual violence is everywhere — in the industry where I work, in business, in universities, in politics, in the military, and across the world,” Jolie said .

“All too often, these kinds of crimes against women are laughed off, depicted as a minor offense by someone who cannot control themselves, as an illness, or as some kind of exaggerated sexual need,” Jolie, who also holds the title as special envoy for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, said. “But a man who mistreats women is not oversexed. He is abusive.”

The Hollywood actress took the issue a step further, noting how sexual violence against women is often used as a form of warfare and how it prevents women from achieving full equality and human rights in many places around the world.

Meet Our Founder: Www.JoelMordi.Com

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.5, for gender equality.  campaigns to end gender violence and enact laws that ensure women and girls have the same protections as men everywhere in the world; Not only in Nigeria and the African Diaspora.

Jolie cited the sexual crimes against the Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar as an example of gender violence is “a critical obstacle to achieving women’s equality and our full human rights.”

“It is cheaper than a bullet, and it has lasting consequences that unfold with sickening predictability that make it so cruelly effective,” she explained.

Jolie didn’t reference Harvey Weinstein or the sexual abuse scandal in Hollywood by name but spoke about the insidious way crimes against women prevent women’s equality. She has previously spoken about Weinstein to the New York Times, saying she had a “bad experience” with the Hollywood mogul.

On Wednesday she called for an end to sexual violence to a conference of UN Peacekeepers, a group that has had members accused of sexual violence in the countries they are supposed to be protecting, according to The Guardian .

“This is rape and assault designed to torture, to terrorize, to force people to flee, and to humiliate them. It has nothing to do with sex. It has everything to do with the abuse of power. It is criminal behaviour,” the actress and humanitarian said.

Jolie urged the UN to work toward ending sexual violence once and for all.

“[It’s] hard, but it is not impossible,” she said. “We have the laws, the institutions, and the expertise in gathering evidence. We are able to identify perpetrators. What is missing is the political will.”



Reduced Inequalities: 1% of the World’s Population Owns Over 50% of the World’s Wealth, Report Finds

The numbers on global inequality are in —and they’re astounding.

According to a new report on global finance released Tuesday, the richest 1% of the population owns over half over the world’s wealth.

That comes out to about $140 trillion sitting in the pockets of the ultra wealthy, while over 3.5 billion people living on less than $10,000 per year own only about 2.7% of global wealth.

Released by the banking and research institution Credit Suisse, the 2017 Global Wealth Report paints a picture economic growth occurring across the world, with many of the gains being concentrated in the hands of wealthy individuals living in wealthy countries.

Read More: Here’s How Much Food Really Costs for People Around the World

Since 2000, over 23 million people became millionaires, with the vast majority of them in high-income countries. Over 60% of the world’s millionaires reside in the US and Europe. The number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals, owning more than $50 million, grew by 13% in the last year.

The dramatic rise in the number of the ultra wealthy has been steady since the recovery from the 2008 economic crisis. Over 70% of these individuals live in the US and Europe.

Meanwhile, in low-income countries, up to 90% of people own less than $10,000 of assets, as is the case in many African countries and India.

Those who fit into this poorest category of having less than $10,000 account for an astonishing 70% of the entire world’s population.

“In some low-income countries in Africa, the percentage of the population in this wealth group is close to 100%,” the report reads. “For many residents of low-income countries, life membership of the base tier is the norm rather than the exception.”

Read More: Gender Equality Actually Got Worse in 2017, World Economic Forum Says

The report found that the average personal wealth of adults across the world came out to $56,540, but this number is skewed by a few ultra wealthy individuals, and is not representative of the majority of people. Although numbers indicate average wealth rose 4.9% over the last year, these gains are in most cases not trickling down to the masses.

Meet Our Founder: Www.JoelMordi.Com

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.10, Reduced Inequalities

The United Nations reports that income inequality is often accompanied by similar inequalities in access to education, health services, and other basic needs.

The organization’s website on global inequality notes that increasing global wealth will not be enough to eliminate poverty across the world.

“There is growing consensus that economic growth is not sufficient to reduce poverty if it is not inclusive and if it does not involve the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental,”

“To reduce inequality, policies should be universal in principle paying attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations.”

Women & Girls: Proposed Iraq Law Would Allow Girls as YOUNG as 9 to MARRY! (You read Right)

At the age of 9, most kids are getting ready to begin third grade.

In Iraq, 9-year-old girls could have a very different fate awaiting them under a proposed law now being considered by the Iraqi parliament.

A group of lawmakers in parliament voted to move forward with a bill that would allow religious courts throughout Iraq to grant marriages to girls as young as 9 — a change that could have a devastating effect on girls’ opportunities to go to school, lead healthy lives, and become members of their country’s economy.

The official marriage age in Iraq is currently 18, though judges can make exceptions that allow girls as young as 15 to marry.

The bill would change that process, allowing religious courts to make exceptions to the law for girls as young as 9, an age that reportedly comes from some interpretations of the Islamic religion, according to EuroNews.

The draft legislation was approved by 40 MPs, but will need to be voted on by the entire parliament in order to become law, according to EuroNews.

The transfer of power from state courts to religious courts represents a dangerous shift for Iraqis, the human rights group Equality Now said in a statement.

Read More: These Teen Girls Are Stopping Child Marriages in West Africa

“The organization of personal matters should be the responsibility of the courts and not the executive branch of Sunni or Shiite religious orders. This would create more fractions in the society and among communities,” the group said.

Religious courts — primarily Shia Muslim courts — would also be able to rule on divorce, inheritance, and adoption, according to the group.

Meet Our Founder: Www.JoelMordi.Com

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.5, for gender equality. including end child marriage around the world.

Political parties in Iraq have proposed such a shift in the past, and Equality Now pointed out that the proposal could be tied to upcoming nationwide elections in May, 2018.

In 2014, the Shia-aligned Fadila party proposed a similar policy change in order to shore up the Shiite vote, according to Reuters; the policy ultimately did not pass.

“This is an attempt by Fadila to show Iraqis that they represent the Shia and want to make their identity clear before the election,” professor Hassan al-Shimari, a political analyst at Baghdad University, told The Guardian at the time. “Everything is changing on a daily basis, and the division between the Shia themselves keeps being redefined.”

“It’s a completely shameless political stunt,” Haider Ala Hamoudi, associate professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, told Reuters in 2014.

Equality Now said in a statement that the bill was “a complete violation of these girls’ human rights and could destroy their lives. Iraq must be held to its commitments under international law to end child marriage and not pass this bill.”

The Baghdad Women Association and Iraqi Women League also condemned the bill, according to Equality Now.

UNICEF estimates that one in five girls in Iraq is already subjected to child marriage, which puts them at greater risk for health complications — young girls can suffer health consequences from sex and childbirth — as well as missed opportunities at school and in the workforce.

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a full vote.

Environment & Climate Change: 62 of World’s Natural Wonders Are at Risk From #ClimateChange

The marshy expanses of the Everglades in Southern Florida contain hundreds of species of animals, including flamingos, alligators, and manatees. Clusters of mangroves span its coastline, acting as ecosystem hubs, and if you take a boat through the region, you’ll see countless plants that are native to the area.

But the Everglades, which have been around for more than 5,000 years, are collapsing, as saltwater intrudes from rising sea levels, pollution seeps from surrounding industries, invasive species kill off native species, bad water management techniques dry parts of the wetland, and climate change intensifies.


In fact, the number of world heritage sites — places of supreme natural splendor and biodiversity — threatened by climate change has nearly doubled in the past three years, going from 35 in 2014 to 62 in 2017, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

The threats facing these places are many — invasive species, logging, fires, tourism, urban sprawl, water pollution, and more.

But the threat with the greatest potential for harm is climate change, according to the report.

“Protection of World Heritage sites is an international responsibility of the same governments that have signed up to the Paris agreement,” said Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General, in a press release. “This IUCN report sends a clear message … climate change acts fast and is not sparing the finest treasures of our planet.

The report was released during the third round of international negotiations for the Paris climate agreement, held in Bonn, Germany.

World Heritage Sites are a designation created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Out of more than 220,000 potential sites, only 221 places have have received the special distinction.


Of the sites, 64% have a positive conservation outlook, according to the report by IUCN. These include many places that have rebounded from endangered status, including the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.

Some places, such as Thailand’s Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, have benefitted from international agreements designed to stem to illegal logging and bolster conservation efforts, according to the report.


The Comoé National Park in Côte d’Ivoire has also rebounded because of an international effort to contain poaching and illegal gold mining and better manage agricultural practices, the report notes.

This trend of regional cooperation is growing around the world, especially in relation to marine environments. For instance, the number of marine reserves and no-fish zones has skyrocketed in recent years. As of the end of 2016, more than 5% of the world’s oceans were under formal protection, compared to 1% in 2007.

Throughout the world, North America remains the region with the best conservation outlook, followed by Oceania and Asia, where the majority of heritage sites are in a good state. The worst conservation outlooks are in Africa, South America, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean, where less than half of heritage sites are adequately protected.

Meet Our Founder: Www.JoelMordi.Com

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals, which call for the effective management and conservation of the natural environment.

While invasive species remain the greatest threat to heritage sites for their ability to crowd out native species and undermine ecosystems, climate change is the most rapidly growing threat.

Rising sea levels from global warming temperatures is pushing saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean into the Everglades, which is killing off large sections of wildlife, including mangroves.


The Great Barrier Reef off Australia, however, may be the clearest example of climate change’s destructive capacity.

Rising ocean temperatures have caused nearly 100% of the reef’s coral colonies to begin bleaching, which is the stage before death, when microscopic algae that provide sustenance and give the plants color are shed.

The Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of species and is one of the most vibrant ecosystems on Earth.

barrier reef

And its destruction, just like with other World Heritage Sites, would have myriad consequences.

As Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Program, said in a statement:

“Their destruction can thus have devastating consequences that go beyond their exceptional beauty and natural value. In Peru’s Huascarán National Park, for example, melting glaciers affect water supplies and contaminate water and soil due to the release of heavy metals previously trapped under ice. This adds to the urgency of our challenge to protect these places.”