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Africa: Accessible Tourism Will Benefit Everyone, Say Senior United Nations Officials On World Day

Noting the obstacles that persons with disabilities or those with other access requirements face in taking advantage of fundamental aspects of travel, senior United Nations officials today urged policy-makers, travel planners and companies that work with persons with disabilities to work together to make travel more accessible.

“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on World Tourism Day. He added, however: “Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.”

According to the message, while almost 1.2 billion people are travelling aboard each year, close to one billion persons with disability, along with young children, older persons and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing the most basic travel needs such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate.

“Tourism has become a powerful economic sector, a passport to prosperity and peace, and a transformative force improving millions of lives,” noted Mr. Ban, underlining that benefits of accessible tourism will not only provide an important market opportunity, it will help ensure that all people are able to participate in tourism and enjoy unforgettable travel experiences.

The theme for this year’s World Tourism Day is Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility.

In a separate message, Taleb Rifai, the Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the specialized UN agency that works for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, highlighted that travelling has become a major part in many lives and said that with the world’s population ageing, everyone sooner or later will benefit from universal accessibility in tourism.

“As we celebrate World Tourism Day, let us recall that all of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer,” he said, urging all countries and destinations, as well as the tourism industry, to promote accessibility for all.

In September 2015, the UNWTO’s general assembly designated Thailand as host country for the 2016 World Tourism Day. As the host, the South-east Asian country will partner with the UN agency to celebrate the occasion.

In her own message, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, said that in addition to understanding the needs of everyone, considering the environment impact of tourism is equally important.

“As the world of travel and tourism is an expanding industry and the number of travellers increases every year, we have to ensure that travelling the world has to be safe and seamless at its utmost,” she said.

In 1979, the UNWTO General Assembly decided to institute the World Tourism Day to be commemorated every year on 27 September, the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes, to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.

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Source: allafrica


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Africa: Innovative Upcycling of Food Waste Expands Opportunities for Food Waste Management

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London — Key emerging opportunities will be in the conversion of food waste to products such as plastics, fruit juices, food ingredients, and liquid fuels, finds Frost & Sullivan

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The concept of food waste management (FMW) has gained traction with the declaration of food waste reduction as a target in the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Countries across the globe are showing greater interest in reducing as well as managing food wastage. The present gap between the amount of food waste generated globally and the number of storage and recycling facilities in operation translates to significant opportunities for the development of effective FWM technologies.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Emerging Trends and Opportunities in Food Waste Management, finds that policies favouring food waste reduction in Europe and North America and the setting of global targets greatly aid the development of FWM technologies. The most popular methods for FWM at present are composting and anaerobic digestion. However, they do not help salvage unspoilt food from the food waste. These processes can also be energy intensive, substantially reducing the overall environmental benefits of FWM.

“Currently, there is a demand for technologies that can convert food unfit for human consumption to animal feed,” said TechVision Research Analyst Lekshmy Ravi. “Technology developers are simultaneously working on repackaging or repurposing food waste to food for human consumption using less energy-intensive solutions and employing novel management models.”

There are considerable research and industry initiatives for the conversion of food waste to products such as plastics, fruit juices and food ingredients. Additionally, innovative FWM companies are trying to convert food waste to valuable products such as liquid fuels.

While technology developers are looking to eliminate inefficiencies in FWM, it is also necessary to form strategic partnerships along the various links of the food supply chain. These synergies can help improve the efficiency of FWM and facilitate the exchange of technologies and techniques.

“Eventually, companies are likely to adopt models that enable the efficient and cost-effective extraction of valuable products from food waste,” noted Ravi. “Overall, key emerging opportunities are expected to be in the extraction of edible ingredients from food waste, conversion of misshapen fruits to saleable products, and conversion of byproducts from food production.”

Emerging Trends and Opportunities in Food Waste Management, part of the TechVision subscription, offers a detailed account of FWM’s global trends. It discusses various solutions for FWM and studies the various pathways that could be adopted, as well as innovative technology and management solutions. Our expert analysts have identified emerging business models for FWM and employed Porter’s Five Forces to analyse the various FWM pathways.

Frost & Sullivan’s global TechVision practice is focused on innovation, disruption and convergence and provides a variety of technology based alerts, newsletters and research services as well as growth consulting services. Its premier offering, the TechVision program, identifies and evaluates the most valuable emerging and disruptive technologies enabling products with near-term potential. A unique feature of the TechVision program is an annual selection of 50 technologies that can generate convergence scenarios, possibly disrupt the innovation landscape, and drive transformational growth.

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Source: allafrica


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African foreign ministers upbeat on future ties with China

PRETORIA, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) — Foreign ministers from African countries on Thursday said bilateral ties with China have a promising future given the political goodwill and sincerity from both sides.

The foreign ministers whom spoke to Xinhua on the sidelines of the 6th ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Pretoria, South Africa said Beijing will be a critical partner in the endeavor to accelerate Africa’s socio-economic transformation.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the ministerial conference that was a precursor to the FOCAC Heads of State summit to be held in Johannesburg from Friday to Saturday.

African foreign ministers who attended the forum emphasized that strong bilateral cooperation with China is key to achieve long-term growth and shared prosperity in the continent.

In her opening remarks, South African Minister for international relations and cooperation, Nkoana Mashabane, said that Sino-Africa cooperation has evolved to cover issues that address poverty alleviation, peace, security, health and ecosystems protection.

“Our relationship with China has addressed major issues ranging from education, health, tourism and infrastructure development. Ours is a true friendship that has stood the test of time,” Mashabane remarked.

She added that China’s involvement was crucial to help African countries realize the UN sustainable development goals and the African Union’s agenda 2063.

The blossoming Sino-Africa cooperation provides a durable solution to the continent’s endemic challenges like poverty, infrastructure and skills gap alongside an under-developed industrial sector.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that China’s assistance was crucial to boost industrialization in Africa.

“We have a nascent industrial sector and require China’s help in areas like capacity development and technology transfer to enable us establish industrial parks,” said Ghebreyesus.

He added that China’s model of rapid economic transformation in the last two decades was an inspiration to African states aspiring to transition from agrarian to industrial powerhouses.

“We can borrow China’s best practices like manpower development and harnessing of innovations to drive industrial growth,” Ghebreyesus told Xinhua.

The landmark FOCAC summit to be held in Johannesburg will strengthen Sino-Africa bilateral cooperation in strategic areas like industry, infrastructure development, energy and cultural exchanges.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said that China is a critical ally that will help African countries realize peaceful and inclusive development.

“There is no question China is an important ally for the African continent. The country has global influence and FOCAC summit presents us an opportunity to review our friendship with Beijing,” Mushikiwabo remarked.

She was upbeat Sino-Africa cooperation will be elevated to new heights in order to help address the continent’s pressing challenges.

“We look forward to major undertakings between China and Africa. We expect China to help us develop infrastructure and link up the continent,” Mushikiwabo told Xinhua.

The theme of the sixth FOCAC summit to be held for the first time in the Africa is in tandem with the continent’s ambition to realize prosperity, peace and cohesion.

Somali Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer said the landmark summit will lay a strong foundation for future cooperation with China.

“Our expectations for the FOCAC summit are high. We expect China and African countries to come up with a blueprint to guide future development of this continent,” Omer remarked.

He added that in future, Sino-Africa cooperation should focus on development of modern infrastructure alongside social amenities like education and health.

Source: news.xinhuanet


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UN climate change chief: ‘We are counting on the business community’

The UN’s climate change chief, Christiana Figueres, has today issued a heartfelt plea for businesses to support the push for a global climate change agreement, arguing they are crucial to the success of any deal reached in Paris later this year.
Writing for BusinessGreen as part of the site’s new content hub, Figueres said the long-running negotiations to deliver a new international climate change treaty had entered an exciting new phase whereby businesses and governments were no longer stuck in a deadlock over who should act first to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“The historical catch 22 around who should act first on climate change – governments or businesses – has finally been broken,” she said. “What we are now witnessing is a “co-responding” effort from both the public and private sector, responding to the reality that green growth and a wider understanding of what is wealth, is the growth-engine of the future.”

Figueres insisted she was increasingly confident a deal can be reached at the Paris Summit at the end of the year, in part because 46 nations have now submitted detailed climate action plans ahead of the talks and in part because of “the rising ambition and action of companies and investors”.

“At the close of this year, we can be confident we will have that new agreement which needs to put the world on track to a low carbon economy by charting a defining and definitive course towards limiting a global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celcius this century,” she writes.

Figueres also argued that the long-term plans for governments and businesses are more aligned than ever. “Governments, through decisive and bold action – such as the recent announcement by the leaders of the G7 countries to phase out the use of fossil fuels by the end of this century – are signalling that investment in green technology is a sure bet as the world transitions to a low-emission economy,” she said. “Similarly, companies that recognise that climate action makes good business sense are committing to invest in innovative technologies, which are transforming the energy market.”

However, Figueres argued businesses could support the summit further by signing up to cross-industry commitments to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts.

“Ultimately, one of the most compelling ways that businesses can build the will for a climate agreement is by signing up to initiatives that are truly transformational in terms of putting us on a trajectory towards steeply declining emissions such that in the second half of the century everyone can live and breathe in a climate-neutral world,” she writes. “This can mean setting a target for 100 per cent renewable energy use, committing to include climate change information in financial reports, or calling for a price on carbon – as six major European oil and gas companies did last month.”

Businesses are expected to play a key role at the Paris Summit where governments from around the world are planning to finalise an emissions reduction treaty that would then come into effect from 2020.

The treaty is expected to be based on a system of national climate action plans, known as INDCs, and as a result will have a major impact on national economies and policy regimes. Businesses will be expected to deliver on the national emissions reduction commitments through clean tech investments and new business processes. Meanwhile, the private sector is also expected to play a key role in delivering on a previous international commitment to mobilise up to $100bn of investment a year in helping poorer nations tackle climate change.

Growing numbers of business have voiced their support for the UN’s goals, arguing an international climate change agreement will help reduce climate-related risks for businesses, drive green growth, and create a level playing field between different jurisdictions.
Figueres stressed that the support of the private sector will be crucial if any UN agreement is prove a success. “We are counting on the business community to acknowledge their role in this new trend toward sustainability, seize the opportunity at hand and to work with their countries and their communities as we seek to mitigate the effects of climate change; build more resilient societies and help move every man, woman and child into a more healthy and prosperous future,” she wrote.

The UN’s latest intervention came on the same day a major new study from Grantham Institute argued that economics is no longer a barrier to tackling climate change. It claimed almost all measures to curb global temperature rise to under two degrees will bring a net economic benefit to individual countries.

Source: businessgreen


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South Africa: SA Keen to Meet UN Goals On Water

Since time immemorial humankind has had a special relationship with water. Its life-giving essence has been the foundation for all development. Great civilizations have been built around water and in the future wars may well be fought over it.

Water is life – without it nothing can flourish or grow. At the 7th World Water Forum (WWF) held in April in South Korea it became apparent that there was an urgent need to turn words into action. The WWF specifically looked at the need to find solutions to the world’s water and sanitation challenges.

According to the UN, a child dies every 15 seconds from a waterborne disease, and an estimated 200 million hours are spent each year by women and girls carrying water to their homes. More than one in three people across the planet have no access to decent sanitation facilities, and one in seven have no choice but to defecate in the open. An estimated 2 million tons of human waste are disposed of in open water courses every day.

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Given these stark realities, South Africa must act. For us to realise sustainable development, we must secure our water supply in line with the 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals developed by a UN working group last year. These goals are up for discussion at a UN summit set to take place in September in New York and are to replace the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expire at the end of this year.

Under Goal 6 countries are expected to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. This will be done by pursuing six clear targets that must be achieved by 2030.

Equitable access to safe, drinkable water for all.

Access to adequate sanitation and hygiene for all.

Improvements to water quality through the reduction of pollution.

Substantial increases in water-use efficiencies.

Implementation of integrated water resource management at all levels, including through trans-boundary co-operation.

Protecting and restoring water-related eco-systems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes (this to be achieved by 2020).

The deliberations in Korea culminated in the release of an “implementation roadmap”, widely expected to act as a mechanism to turn long-spoken-of water and sanitation solutions into actions that will benefit those suffering shortages on the ground. It will also provide major inputs for the UN’s September summit.

It is important to stress that solving the world’s water and sanitation challenges must take local solutions into account. A one size-fits-all approach does not work. What we need is a single vision and many voices, and embrace local solutions.

We support the results of the 7th World Water Forum and look forward to the ‘Implementation Roadmap’, along with its relevant monitoring system, which could be considered as a reference for establishing implementation and monitoring guidelines of water-related goals in the post-2015 development agenda.

Challenges facing our department include: ageing water and sanitation infrastructure, a rising lack of technical skills, poor water services planning and prioritisation at many municipalities, shifting patterns in water demand, climate change and changing rainfall patterns and inadequate water supply in several areas of the country, with winter being a critical period.

Despite these challenges, South Africa has managed to exceed the Millennium Development Goal target set in 2000 by the UN. South Africa, the world’s 30th-driest country, hit the MDG target of countries halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2005 and 2008.

Source: allafrica


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