Read at : ENB / IISD


The UN Development Programme (UNDP), in cooperation with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Eritrean Ministry of Energy and Mines, has inaugurated the first wind generated electric power in Assad, Eritrea. The wind power project was initiated in 2003 and it aims at transforming the market for wind energy applications through investments in and replication of new technology. Currently, the project is expected to generate electricity of 600 KWH per annum with a potential up to 750 KWH, contributing to a lower dependence on imported fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the partial displacement of diesel generating facilities. An additional objective of the project is to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals, especially the goal pertaining to “the protection and sustainable use of the environment.”
Link to further information

UNDP Press release, 18 December 2007

ATDF Journal Volume 4 Issue 3: Competition

Read at : ATDF

ATDF Journal Volume 4 Issue 3: Competition

The African Technology Development Forum Journal Volume 4, Issue 3 looks at Africa’s competitiveness with a special focus on technological learning, emerging environmental, food and energy supply constraints and investment. It also takes a special look at the fight against malaria.

Inside this issue

Biofuels In Africa: A Criteria To Choose Crop Models for Food and Fuel

Seetharam Annadana

Scaling Up the Innovation Ecosystem

Thomas D. Nastas

Knowledge, Technological Learning and Innovation for Development: The Findings, Arguments and Recommendations of UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report 2007

Charles Gore, Zeljka Kozul-Wright and Rolf Traeger

Benefiting from Biotechnology: Promoting Small-farm Competitiveness and Intellectual Property Rights

Baris Karapinar and Michelangelo Temmerman

Transnational Corporations, Extractive Industries and Development


The Rise, Fall, Rise, and Imminent Fall of DDT

Roger Bate

Advertisement IP Handbook—Now Online

Global warming and desertification (Google Alert / jjmmz)

Read at : Google Alert / desertification

New twist to global warming/desertification

US researchers have discovered a link between Atlantic hurricane activity and thick clouds of dust that periodically rise up from the Sahara Desert. At times of intense hurricane activity, dust clouds were scarce, but in years with stronger dust storms, fewer hurricanes swept across the Atlantic.


Role of forests in wood-based bio-energy and water protection (IISD / EU)

Read at : Linkages Update 2007-12-13


At the Fifth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE 5), held from 5-7 November 2007 in Warsaw, Poland, European ministers responsible for forests adopted the Warsaw Declaration and Resolutions on “Forests, Wood and Energy” and “Forests and Water.” The documents focus on the role of forests in energy production, mitigating climate change and protecting water quality and quantity. Ministers also adopted Ministerial Statements on the Southern European forest fires and on declaring 20-24 October 2008 as the Pan-European Forest Week 2008. The conference, centered on the theme “Forests for Quality of Life,” was attended by ministers and high-level representatives of 44 European countries and the European Community, as well as representatives of 14 observer countries and 31 observer organizations.

Link to further information
IISD RS coverage of the meeting

Jatropha for Biodiesel (Google Alert / Kasper)

Read at : Google Alert / desertification

Jatropha for Biodiesel

I know all of you are wondering why I am writing about a little known plant called “Jatropha curcas“. Well… it all has to do with making biodiesel and the production of electricity using biodiesel as a fuel. This is to inform you of a source of vegetable oil that is relatively unknown in the United States and North America. The European community has already seen the light as have some Asian, African, Indian, and South American countries. Running engines on vegetable oil is nothing new… did you know that Rudolf Diesel originally designed his engine to run on peanut oil? Maybe the US has not seen the light yet because we are mostly engaged in the growing of food crops and oils like soybean oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, and peanut oil. All these oils are edible and thus fetch high prices. After all, why should US farmers grow a completely inedible plant!? Used cooking oil is great for the “do it yourself” biodiesel enthusiast, but there is not enough supply of used cooking oil to supply a whole nation. This is where Jatropha comes in… Continue reading “Jatropha for Biodiesel (Google Alert / Kasper)”

Research and risks to biofuel farmers (Google Alert / Check Biotech)

Read at : Google Alert / desertification

Research needed to cut risks to biofuel farmers

By William Dar

Dryland farmers are growing novel crops for biofuel, but domestication and research into yields and pests is still needed, says William Dar. Countries with biofuel programmes have strengthened their efforts, and many without have set one up. Using biofuels blended with diesel (up to 20 per cent) requires very little or no engine modifications. It also reduces un-burnt hydrocarbons by 30 per cent, carbon monoxide by 20 per cent, and particulate matter by 25 per cent. Moreover, sulphur content is negligible. Whenever the world experiences prolonged high petroleum prices there is a search for alternatives, and in the last two years price rises have focused attention on biofuels. Continue reading “Research and risks to biofuel farmers (Google Alert / Check Biotech)”

SciDev.Net Weekly Update: 3 – 10 December 2007

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SciDev.Net Weekly Update: 3 – 10 December 2007

Biofuels: the research challenge

SciDev.Net latest spotlight looks at the reality of biofuels research and development in the developing world.

Support SciDev.Net and recommend a friend

To celebrate our sixth anniversary we ask you to support SciDev.Net by inviting your friends and colleagues to sign-up before the 31st December 2007. When they register – and identify you as their source – you will be entered into a prize draw and they will be entered into another for a chance to win a digital camera or MP3 digital audio player. Read further details about the prize draw. Sign-up with SciDev.Net now!


Biofuels: Let’s look before we leap
A commitment to biofuels should be based on a careful assessment of their prospective benefits and costs, not a blind leap of faith.


Scientists call for urgent and tough climate action
Scientists at the UN climate-change conference in Bali say greenhouse gas emissions must start declining within the next 10–°©15 years.

Plans to curb deforestation need more consideration
Tackling deforestation can contribute positively to climate change, but effects on poor forest communities must be considered, says a report.
Energy initiative proposes desert power plan
A desert solar power plan, to meet Europe and North Africa’s energy needs and tackle climate change, has been presented.

European collaboration to support African science
The European Union’s ‘Science With Africa’ initiative paves the way for discussions at this weekend’s summit in Lisbon.

US$13 million grant boosts women in agriculture
The Gates Foundation has given US$13 million to a scheme aiming to increase the number of African women in agricultural science.


Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 22 Nov–2 Dec 2007
A round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 22 November — 2 December 2007.




Sugarcane ethanol: Brazil’s biofuel success
Brazil’s successful sugarcane ethanol industry owes much to massive investment in infrastructure and research, reports Carla Almeida.

Biofuel: Africa’s new oil?
Biofuel holds promise for Africa but research is not yet in place to fully reap the rewards, or analyse the pitfalls, reports Kimani Chege.

Europe must admit Africa to carbon trading club
The time is right for Europe to change its carbon trading rules, giving Africa access to the market, writes Louis V. Verchot.

Building on biofuel production opportunities
Biofuel production offers a lifeline to sugar-producing countries hit by the European Union’s 2006 sugar reforms, argues Maureen Wilson.

Biofuel revolution threatens food security for the poor
Strong international policies are needed to stop the biofuel revolution threatening food security for the poor, says Siwa Msangi.

Research needed to cut risks to biofuel farmers
Dryland farmers are growing novel crops for biofuel, but domestication and research into yields and pests is still needed, says William Dar.

Biofuels: benefits and risks for developing countries
Biofuels offer huge potential, but pose challenges best countered with strong and coherent development policies, says S. Arungu-Olende.

Provide carbon credits for long-term soil amendments
Carbon credits should be used to incentivise the use of modern soil technologies that can curb hunger and climate change, says Lou Gold.

Agflation: Food prices – The end of cheap food (The Economist)

Read at :

Food prices – The end of cheap food

Rising food prices are a threat to many; they also present the world with an enormous opportunity


FOR as long as most people can remember, food has been getting cheaper and farming has been in decline. In 1974-2005 food prices on world markets fell by three-quarters in real terms. Food today is so cheap that the West is battling gluttony even as it scrapes piles of half-eaten leftovers into the bin. That is why this year’s price rise has been so extraordinary. Since the spring, wheat prices have doubled and almost every crop under the sun—maize, milk, oilseeds, you name it—is at or near a peak in nominal terms. The Economist‘s food-price index is higher today than at any time since it was created in 1845 (see chart). Even in real terms, prices have jumped by 75% since 2005. No doubt farmers will meet higher prices with investment and more production, but dearer food is likely to persist for years (see article). That is because “agflation” is underpinned by long-running changes in diet that accompany the growing wealth of emerging economies—the Chinese consumer who ate 20kg (44lb) of meat in 1985 will scoff over 50kg of the stuff this year. That in turn pushes up demand for grain: it takes 8kg of grain to produce one of beef. But the rise in prices is also the self-inflicted result of America’s reckless ethanol subsidies. This year biofuels will take a third of America’s (record) maize harvest. That affects food markets directly: fill up an SUV‘s fuel tank with ethanol and you have used enough maize to feed a person for a year. And it affects them indirectly, as farmers switch to maize from other crops. The 30m tonnes of extra maize going to ethanol this year amounts to half the fall in the world’s overall grain stocks. Continue reading “Agflation: Food prices – The end of cheap food (The Economist)”

Saving Earth or Saving Profits (Google Alert / Mailstrom)

Read at : Google Alert / desertification

Saving Earth or Saving Profits


From an article in December’s Socialist Standardtranslated from a leaflet distributed by socialists in France.
The environment is not under threat from industrial production as such, but from this in the service of profit-seeking

All forms of vegetable and animal life are part of a network of relations called an “ecosystem” in ecology. Normally this system is self-regulating to the extent that, if an imbalance develops, this is rectified spontaneously, either by the restoration of the previous balance or by the establishment of a new balance. The problem is that there’s been the industrial revolution: the pollution of water and the ground due to the massive disposal of toxic or non-recyclable wastes and to the use in intensive agriculture of chemical fertilisers, nitrates and pesticides; the pollution of the oceans due to the increase of maritime traffic, the flow from polluted rivers, the shipwreck of oil tankers (70 alone in 1996!), the discharge of toxic, chemical and radioactive waste, desludging at sea, etc; overfishing; the pollution of the air due to the massive use of fossil fuels, the development of the individual motor car, and the clearance by fire of forests (despite these being the lungs of the planet!); industrial accidents (Seveso (1996), Bhopal (1984), Chernobyl (1986), Toulouse (2001)); the emission of greenhouse gases (CO2) by petrol vehicles and factories, deforestation, leading to global warming and its consequences (rise in the sea level due to the melting of the icepack and of polar and continental glaciers, floods, desertification, storms); acid rain; extinction of living species; introduction of GM organisms; storage of nuclear waste; expansion of towns (where now more than half the world’s population live).

And for a good reason! No State is going to implement legislation which would penalise the competitiveness of its national enterprises in the face of foreign competition. States only take into account environmental questions if they can find an agreement at international level which will disadvantage none of them. But that’s the snag because competition for the appropriation of world profits is one of the bases of the present system. Attempts at international cooperation have already been made: the League of Nations, then the UN, for example, were set up to “maintain” peace. But the 20th century saw the most devastating and murderous wars in history! Continue reading “Saving Earth or Saving Profits (Google Alert / Mailstrom)”

id21NRNews 39 – the latest id21 Natural Resources research highlights

Read at : id21NRNews 39 – the latest id21 Natural Resources research highlights


id21NRNews 39




Does aquaculture really benefit poor people in the Philippines?
Aquaculture is expanding steadily around the world. Despite some negative environmental impacts, many experts believe that aquaculture has the potential to resolve hunger and malnutrition in many countries. How much does aquaculture really benefit poor people?

The ‘resource curse’ questioned – does oil abundance really cause civil war?

The ‘resource curse’ theory argues that states with abundant natural resources see higher rates of conflict and poor economic growth, as people fight to benefit from the resources. This is considered to apply
especially to oil rich states; many experts believe that civil war is more likely in these countries. The relationship may not be so simple,

Feeding poor people while the climate changes

Climate change is likely to affect agricultural production all over the world. This will affect strategies for poverty reduction. Although the impacts of climate change cannot be predicted exactly, poverty reduction strategies must consider all possible future scenarios.

Joint Forest Management in India: failing the poorest people

In 1992, the state government of Andhra Pradesh in India introduced Participatory Forest Management – initially under the Joint Forestry Management scheme, then the Community Forest Management scheme. Their aim was to involve local people in the management of forest resources, but what impact has this had?


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Clinton Global Initiative commitments to action (ENB / IISD / Linkages Update)

Read at : Linkages Update


The third annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative convened in New York, US, from 26-28 September 2007. Participants made 245 commitments to take specific action related to the four focus areas: education, energy and climate change, global health, and poverty alleviation. Among the commitments are: US$ 150 million funded by the Geothermal Power Company of Iceland to help countries in the African Rift Valley to develop their geothermal energy resources; Swiss Re will offer its expertise and a dedicated team of specialists to develop, structure, price and implement innovative financial risk transfer solutions, such as weather index insurance, that support adaptation to the consequences of climate change in low-income countries; and IUCN-World Conservation Union, the Swiss government, Mava Foundation and Holcim will work together in a US$ 36.2 million three year program to build an environmentally friendly new headquarters for the World Conservation Union on Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Swiss Re reports that the first phase of its Climate Adaptation Development Programme (CADP) will aim to provide financial protection against drought conditions for up to 400,000 people in Africa. In related news, Swiss Re has also announced that, together with the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the Millennium Promise Alliance, it has provided weather derivative contracts protecting several villages in Kenya, Mali and Ethiopia against severe drought.

Links to further information
Clinton Global Initiative News Release, 28 September 2007
Swiss Re News Release, 27 September 2007
Swiss Re News Release, 6 September 2007

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