Full Economic Potential of Carbon-Rich Mangroves Remains Untapped, Finds New UN Report / Estimated Worth of Climate Benefits from Central African Mangroves up to US$66 billion And New Satellite Technology Could Help Monitor Mangrove Restoration

LIMA, Peru, December 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The economic and social benefits of mangroves – which are estimated to run into the hundreds of billions worldwide – remain largely untapped due to a lack of carbon finance mechanisms, appropriate policy interventions, and rapid mangrove deforestation, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report launched today at the 20th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change.

The Guiding Principles for Delivering Coastal Wetland Carbon Projects finds that the potential economic, social and environmental gains from conserving mangroves – 90 per cent of which are found in developing countries and many of which are under threat – including from mangrove inclusion in Reducing Emissions from Deforestations and forest Degradation (REDD+) strategies and protecting and enhancing mangrove stores of carbon, still remain largely under-exploited.

UNEP estimates the economic cost of the destruction of carbon-rich mangroves, which are being cleared 3 – 5 times faster than terrestrial forests, at $42 billion in economic damages annually.

The report argues that while policymakers and financial markets are beginning to take action, more needs to be done to develop new methodologies for carbon accounting for mangroves and other coastal wetland ecosystems, to conserve mangroves, and to increase the profile of mangroves in REDD+ and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “As the latest Emissions Gap Report makes clear, countries are increasingly aware of how much progress they need to make to limit a global temperature rise to 2°C. Developing countries have a major climate change mitigation and adaptation asset in the form of mangroves because they hold several times more carbon than terrestrial forests.”

“What is needed now are the right carbon finance mechanisms, and policy interventions, in order to reap the true economic, climate and social gains from this critical ecosystem, which we cannot afford to lose.” he said.

“Part of the answer lies in ensuring, both nationally and internationally, that mangroves have a place in REDD+ strategies and other low carbon development strategies such as National Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs),” he concluded.

The report makes clear that the management of coastal wetlands is a no-regrets approach, with many additional ecosystem service benefits such as fisheries production and shoreline protection, which promote adaptation in coastal communities.

A number of coastal wetlands carbon project initiatives – which include mangroves – in their infancy in many parts of the world, including Kenya, Senegal, West Bengal, and Sumatra are already showing indications of success.

The Gazi Bay community-led carbon finance project in Kenya for the conservation, management and restoration of 117 hectares of mangroves has so far sold certificates of 3000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (C02), with funds being allocated to community projects and additional mangrove activities overseen by village leaders.

One of the many successes of the project has been a dramatic reduction in illegal harvesting of mangroves, and it is hoped that the success of the community based initiatives in these countries will pave the way for other developing countries to start establishing new carbon projects to ensure sustainable ecosystem services to local communities.

However, according to a new report from UNEP, Carbon Pools and Multiple Benefits of Mangroves in Central Africa Assessment for REDD+, many countries will be unable to access carbon incentives, improved governance, jobs, and a range of other benefits under the global REDD+ programme unless they include mangroves in their national definition of forests.

The report finds that the mangroves of Central Africa which are found in Cameroon, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola, could be amongst the most carbon-rich ecosystems in the world, with an estimated release of 1,299 tonnes of C02 per hectare of cleared pristine mangrove.

Unfortunately between 2000 and 2010 it is estimated that over 100 million tonnes of C02 was released into the atmosphere with the clearing and degrading of 771.07km2 of mangroves in Central Africa, which not only represents a potentially significant economic loss in terms of uncapitalized carbon values, but has many other direct economic and social costs.

The economic costs at the time of the research include US$ 11,286 per hectare in seawall replacement, and US$ 7,142 per hectare in benefits for protection of rural infrastructure against shoreline erosion (US$151,948 per hectare for urban mangroves).

The social costs moreover are even greater for the region. As calculated by the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon, for the year 2015, the lower end estimate of the social cost of carbon is likely to be US$ 15,588 per hectare, with the higher estimates coming in at US$ 151,983 per hectare.

This means that with 437,300 hectares of mangroves, the climate benefits from Central African mangroves could reach US$ 66 billion at upper estimates.

While these are not values that can be capitalized upon in a marketplace, they are values that are relevant to the global economy, and especially for local communities.

Fortunately, as efforts to conserve and restore mangroves receive greater attention worldwide, new satellite technology has been tested and proven effective in the monitoring of mangrove restoration. In a study conducted by UNEP, Monitoring the Restoration of Mangrove Ecosystems from Space, around 70 per cent of project sites assessed showed positive restoration results, preventing the release of significant emissions of C02 into the atmosphere.

Combined with on the ground surveys, the satellite remote sensing technology could help policy makers monitor, evaluate, and where necessary take corrective action to ensure the restoration and conservation of mangroves worldwide.

Key Report Takeaways

Guiding Principles for Delivering Coastal Wetland Carbon Projects

•    Coastal wetlands policy and management interventions can be deployed in all coastal

settings to improve reductions in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and removals.

•    Mangroves and temperate tidal forests can be the focus of REDD+ actions, depending upon national definition of forest.

•    The consequences of sea-level rise need to be recognized and accounted for when planning and enacting coastal wetlands carbon interventions.

•    Conservation of existing intact coastal wetlands carbon ecosystems is technically the simplest and most effective mechanism to manage carbon stocks, and provides the greatest ecosystem benefits.

•    There are only limited examples of coastal wetlands carbon ecosystem restoration interventions that account fully for GHG and access carbon markets for finance.

•    The technical ability to successfully restore coastal wetland ecosystems today is available

on a global level, even if it is not always applied.

•    To achieve a successful intervention, coastal wetland conservation or restoration should

be planned with a landscape response to climate change in mind.

•    Project success is greatly increased if local community engagement and capacity building predates or accompanies the intervention. Examples of good practice exist.

Key Report Takeaways

Carbon Pools and Multiple Benefits of Mangroves in Central Africa – Assessment for REDD+

•    Explore the potential for including mangroves in the national definition of forests for each of the countries in the region, in order for this ecosystem to be eligible for inclusion in national REDD+ strategies.

•    Include mangrove regions and pilot projects in national REDD+ strategies.

•    Understand and analyze mangrove-specific drivers of deforestation.

•    Develop national priorities for mangrove action in the region through a stakeholder engagementprocess with governments, private sector, civil society, and local communities.

•    National priorities can provide the basis for decisions on activities to support through REDD+ strategies.

•    Implement the newly-developed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change GHG Inventory guidelines on wetlands in order to include mangroves in national Greenhouse Gas Inventories and National Communications to the UNFCCC.

Categories: AFRICA

UNMISS launches destruction of weapons confiscated from internally displaced persons

JUBA, South Sudan, December 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Mission in South Sudan destroyed 25 firearms and hundreds of knives, machetes, and similar weapons confiscated from internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in its protection-of-civilians sites in Juba at a public event held today in its Tomping compound.

In the presence of foreign diplomats and members of the news media, staff members of the United Nations Mine Action Service fed pistols, AK-47 assault rifles, iron bars and other arms into a weapons shearing machine that sliced the items into small, unusable pieces.

Over 1,500 rounds of ammunition recovered from IDPs will be detonated near the community of Nyolo south of Juba tomorrow. Similar weapons and ammunition destruction events will be held later this month at UNMISS bases in Malakal, Nassir, Wau, Bentiu and Bor.

“In order to reassure all concerned parties that the weapons and ammunition will never be used to commit any acts of violence including human rights violations, UNMISS has decided to destroy these items in full public view,” said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for South Sudan, Ellen Margrethe Loej. “These measures will maintain the civilian character of UNMISS protection sites.”

SRSG Loej noted that since the crisis in South Sudan began nearly a year ago, all civilians and ex-combatants seeking shelter at the Mission’s compounds have undergone thorough security checks and surrendered all weapons in their possession before being admitted into UNMISS protection sites.

All weapons have been carefully inventoried and securely stored from the time they came into the possession of the Mission. Periodic searches of the protection sites conducted by UNMISS police and military personnel have also been carried out in order to protect the civilian character of the sites.

“These arms and ammunition have been recovered from civilians and ex-combatants regardless of their political loyalties or ethnic backgrounds,” said the SRSG.

“We hope that the destruction of all confiscated and ammunition in the Mission’s custody will help foster an environment that is conducive to the silencing of the guns and the restoration of peace to the world’s youngest nation-state,” concluded SRSG Loej.

Categories: AFRICA

Powering Africa: Summit set to advance deals and partnerships for Africa’s power industries in Washington D.C. this January

WASHINGTON, December 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Over the last 20 years EnergyNet has co-ordinated investor meetings with some of the most reliable and successful power developers operating on the continent of Africa. Symbion Power, GE, Siemens, Copperbelt, Goldwind, Azura Power, Aldwych, Karpowership, Globeleq, Schneider Electric, ESBi, Transcorp, Chint, China State Grid, Hanergy and others have all been companies that have made long term commitments to the sector and invested in sustainable solutions. These are powerful companies with strong balance sheets backed by some of the biggest banks.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/poweringafricasummit.jpg

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/141209en.png

Despite all this interest, knowledge and experience, billions of dollars has been spent on development over the last 20 years and many projects have not reached financial closure. Therefore, one key question is how sustainable is the current way of doing things?

How can investors take greater responsibility for the success and speed of the development of long standing projects? Ultimately, African governments and the public sector are the ‘power in Africa’ and it is their responsibility to build power stations and distribute power for the people. Electrification could lead to increased wealth for all, but equally importantly it could lead to increased stability in order to promote further private sector investment, creating more jobs and even more wealth.

It all sounds so simple…. Of course it does, but when a potential investor works across the continent with ministries that lack IT infrastructure and any real depth of international experience across all departments, one starts to understand the challenge that governments and developers face when trying to reach agreements.

Over the last year we’ve seen a change in conversation and indeed a change in the right direction focused on capacity building and infrastructure support for public sector entities.

Symbion Power, Schneider, GE, Aggreko, and Norton Rose Fulbright among others have been investing in long term capacity building including providing grass roots level training. These companies, along with PwC and Deloitte are working with public sector corporations on additional development projects to support capacity development. One of the game change actions has of course been the launch of President Obama’s “Power Africa” initiative designed to increase access to electricity in all of sub-Saharan Africa. Power Africa seeks to strengthen the institutional and human capacity needed to attract investment on a long-term, sustainable basis, and to effectively manage a growing power sector.

Since its launch in late June 2013, Power Africa has helped facilitate the financial close of private sector transactions which expect to produce over 3,100 Megawatts (MW) of new generation capacity. In addition, Power Africa has already mobilized more than $20 billion in commitments from more than 80 private sector partners. Power Africa has also forged strategic partnerships with the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Government of Sweden, which together have committed an additional $9 billion.

At the ‘Powering Africa: Summit’ (http://www.poweringafrica-summit.com) in Washington next month many of the challenges and opportunities will be discussed, with many of the investors in the initiative present including those from the AfDB, World Bank, the United States Government and private sector partners.

With such powerful cooperation among international investors in play, we’re sure that it’s not so much an ‘if’ this will create opportunities, as ‘when’ those opportunities will impact the lives of those on the ground.

Having focused solely on Africa’s power sector and frontier market power generation for 20 years, EnergyNet has had the privilege to witness the passion and long term commitment it takes to ‘turn the lights on in Africa.’ Today there is more enthusiasm and more ‘expectation’ about the potential of Africa’s electricity market, and we’re delighted to play [even] such a small role within such an important and exciting sector.

From 28-30th January 2015, EnergyNet will welcome a high powered delegation of Ministers and officials from utilities and regulatory bodies from Africa to meet with US private and public sector stakeholders at the Powering Africa: Summit where they will continue the crucial conversation on how to maintain the momentum behind building up Africa’s power sector.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of EnergyNet Ltd.

For more information about the Powering Africa Summit:

Meeting dates: 28-30th January 2015

Venue: St. Regis Hotel, Washington DC.

Contact: Amy Offord, Marketing Manager

Tel: +44 (0)20 7384 8068

Email: pa-s@energynet.co.uk

Visit: http://www.poweringafrica-summit.com

Categories: AFRICA

Press Conference of Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) Ellen Margrethe Loej and head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

JUBA, South Sudan, December 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Mission in South Sudan cordially invites members of the media in South Sudan to a press briefing by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) Ellen Margrethe Loej and head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Date: Thursday 11, December 2014

Time: 11:00am

Venue: Juba Conference Room, UNMISS compound in Tomping

Categories: AFRICA

After 23 Years, IOM, UNHCR Repatriate First Somali Refugees from Kenya

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM, in collaboration with UNHCR, yesterday (8/12) began the voluntary repatriation of 94 Somali refugees from Kenya, 23 years after conflict and famine drove them from their homeland.

The refugees, from the sprawling Dadaab refugee complex that hosts over 350,000 Somali refugees, travelled in two IOM buses with their possessions to the Dhobley way station in Afmadow District, Lower Juba, on the Somali-Kenya border.

The repatriation process is the outcome of the tri-partite agreement signed between Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR in November 2013, agreeing a dignified and humane repatriation process for Somali refugees in Kenya on a voluntary basis.

IOM will provide food, accommodation and water at the way station and also advise the returnees on routes to their final destinations. The refugees will receive repatriation packages including food rations for three months, non-food items and a livelihood start-up grant from UNHCR and its partners.

Although Somalia is still affected by conflict, a few pockets are safe to receive returnees, especially those liberated by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

“I am glad to see men, women and children go back voluntarily in dignified manner to rebuild their country,” said IOM Somalia Chief of Mission, Ali Abdi. “IOM will continue to help vulnerable communities willing to return to Somalia by providing them with services such as health care, water and sanitation during the repatriation exercise.”

The repatriation process is supported by the Federal Government of Somalia and the Interim Jubaland Authority.

Categories: AFRICA

IOM Appeals for USD 93 Million to Aid Victims of South Sudan Conflict

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 9, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM is appealing for USD 93.3 million to respond to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan through 2015.

Aid agencies anticipate that over 6.4 million people will need assistance in the first quarter of 2015, including 1.9 million internally displaced people (IDPs), 290,000 refugees and millions facing food insecurity.

“IOM has 400 staff working in eight sub-offices throughout South Sudan. The needs here are as immense and diverse as the country and IOM will continue to play a key role in the humanitarian response,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission David Derthick.

On 15 December 2013, violence broke out in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, and quickly spread throughout the country. The humanitarian consequences of the ongoing crisis include massive population displacement, high rates of death, disease and injuries, severe food insecurity, disrupted livelihoods and wide scale malnutrition.

One year into the crisis, over 1.4 million people are internally displaced. Of these, over 100,000 individuals are seeking physical protection within UN (UNMISS) bases. This number is expected to increase as sporadic fighting continues and the frontlines of battle continue to shift.

The current crisis occurs against the backdrop of chronic poverty, as South Sudan remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

Tensions are particularly high in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states, where control has shifted between the warring parties several times in the past year. In 2015, the humanitarian community expects the total number of IDPs to rise to 1.95 million.

Categories: AFRICA