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Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

21st Century Tragedy Pending
Sustainability is recognizing the need to better manage resources for survivability, while rethinking actual needs, and reducing waste of emissions, energy and water.  In the European Union, sustainability is implemented through government regulations and policies.  In other countries it is not national policy, but corporate leadership that understands needs for change. Sustainability is an American governmental policy, but is only mandated through environmental laws and regulations. Here, sustainability initiatives are voluntary and a choice for the individual and business concerns.  Not surprising, a recent MIT study suggests that  American leaders are motivated by significant tangible results that affect profitability for their enterprises.

Why are so many governments and so many corporations engaged in sustainability? Why are so many studies focused on sustainability? Simple, survival. Here is an example of a recent survey that shows world population growth has grown dramatically and will continue to do so:

  • 1800 less than 3 percent of the world population lived in large urban areas
  • 1900 about 150 million people lived in the largest urban areas
  • 2011 currently about half of the world’s population live in large urban areas, 3 billion (7 billion total)
  • 2050 it is estimated that over 65 percent of the world population will live in urban mega cities, the world’s estimated population will be 9 −10 billion

Additionally, according to KPMG, the 10 global sustainability megaforces that may impact business over the next two decades are:

  • Climate Change: This may be the one global megaforce that directly impacts all others. Predictions of annual output losses from climate change range between 1 percent per year, if strong and early action is taken, to as much as 5 percent a year–if policymakers fail to act.
  • Energy & Fuel: Fossil fuel markets are likely to become more volatile and unpredictable because of higher global energy demand; changes in the geographical pattern of consumption; supply and production uncertainties and increasing regulatory interventions related to climate change.
  • Material Resource Scarcity: As developing countries industrialize rapidly, global demand for material resources is predicted to increase dramatically. Business is likely to face increasing trade restrictions and intense global competition for a wide range of material resources that become less easily available.
  • Water Scarcity: It is predicted that by 2030, the global demand for freshwater will exceed supply by 40 percent.
  • Population Growth: This will place intense pressures on ecosystems and the supply of natural resources such as food, water, energy and materials. While this is a threat for business, there are also opportunities to grow commerce and create jobs, and to innovate to address the needs of growing populations for agriculture, sanitation, education, technology, finance, and healthcare.
  • Wealth: The challenge for businesses is to serve this new middle class market at a time when resources are likely to be scarcer and more price volatile. The advantages many companies experienced in the last two decades from “cheap labor” in developing nations are likely to be eroded by the growth and power of the global middle class.
  • Urbanization: By 2030 all developing regions including Asia and Africa are expected to have the majority of their inhabitants living in urban areas; virtually all Population Growth over the next 30 years will be in cities.
  • Food Security: Global food prices are predicted to rise 70 to 90 percent by 2030. In water-scarce regions, agricultural producers are likely to have to compete for supplies with other water-intensive industries such as electric utilities and mining, and with consumers.
  • Ecosystem Decline: The decline in ecosystems is making natural resources scarcer, more expensive and less diverse; increasing the costs of water and escalating the damage caused by invasive species to sectors including agriculture, fishing, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and tourism.
  • Deforestation: Wood products contributed $100 billion per year to the global economy … Yet the OECD projects that forest areas will decline globally by 13 percent from 2005 to 2030, mostly in South Asia and Africa. 1

But why do we need to act now?
Political and Business leadership, mostly in Europe, and many multi-national organizations with revenues exceeding $1 Billion annually have recognized the global need for Sustainability and, in many cases, implemented initiatives to transform to 21st century realities.  Major players clearly understand the consequences of their actions, possible scenarios, and the need to manage potential threats or conflicts. The future of current societies will be based on keen understandings of what is required to be efficient, sustainable and promote policies of “zero waste” with long-term commitments from business, governments and citizens.
Many organizations are preparing for limitation of resources in the next three to five years. China has already demonstrated restraints on the export of rare earths or other commodities to the West. For this century, we need Sustainability Leadership that effectively orchestrates resources to preserve our planet for this generation and succeeding generation to meet their needs, whether East or West. Protracted trade wars would have little or no advantage to the global economy and could be a catalyst for a second recession.
To summarize, this man-made global situation, based on poor economic, environmental and social decisions were based on these criteria:

  • Scope: total Global impact (threat to entire biosphere)
  • Business: Involvement and engagement from a global perspective
  • Government: Multi-lateral, multi-country driven legislation and voluntary participation
  • Stakeholders: Consensus varied from Tier 1 – developed and Tier 2 – developing countries. There is no one leader or country that is  inspirational, promotes change and accepts long-term commitment. Responsibilities are unilateral and often centered on individual country priorities.
  • Mitigation: Diplomacy, treaties, government trade and economic policies
  • Result: On-going global discussions for the last thirty years has elevated awareness. Currently, there is no consensus regarding timeline, international sustainability,  or universal strategies to reach a sustainable economy in each country.

Comparing the 20th century to the 21st century, is a contrast in scenarios and outcomes. In the last century, lines were drawn across ideologies and almost produced a cataclysmic event that would have changed the world permanently, in just a few minutes.
Since the 1960s, we watched radical environmentalists confront business and government, to promote environmental and social issues. From the scientific community, environmental and social issues have been studies and shown that indeed our world is changing. Public skepticism has been a byproduct of radical self promotion and scientific bias. Public opinion is concerned about improved economic conditions, while it also has a growing concern over the environment.
Also, we are seeing the expansion of sustainable infrastructure into new areas, destined to build and restore our environment. Successes are often cited in articles about Sustainability initiatives improving business, education, government and the military. Measuring tangible results are posted by the Business Roundtable,  company Sustainability Reports and financial market indices. Sustainability is embraced as a smart choice for future, but it is not quick fix, and will be a long-term commitment.

Footnote:

1 KPMG, Sustainability “Megaforces” Impact on Business Will Accelerate, Finds KPMG, 14 Feb 2012; Retrieved: 14 Feb 2012

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Those working at capacity, professionals most likely prepping to leave
by Neli Esipova and Julie Ray, Nearly 50 Million Worldwide Planning to Migrate Soon, Gallup, February 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.

These findings, and others highlighted in the new report, “Gallup World Poll: The Many Faces of Global Migration,” are based on a rolling average of interviews with 401,490 adults in 146 countries between 2008 and 2010. The 146 countries represent more than 93% of the world’s adult population.

Potential migrants in the Middle East and North Africa were the most likely worldwide to say they plan to leave their countries permanently in the next 12 months. While more than one in five adults (21%) in the Middle East and North Africa overall said they would migrate permanently to another country if they had the chance, one in six of them said they were planning to do so in the near term.

Twelve percent of potential migrant adults in sub-Saharan Africa said they are planning to move to another country permanently in the next year, while 10% of potential migrant adults in the Americas said these were their plans. In all other major regions, the percentage planning to move is in the single digits.

The Most Educated, Those Working at Capacity, and Professionals Prepping to Leave
The people countries would most like to retain or attract — those with high levels of education, professional workers, and those already employed at capacity — are the most likely to say they are making preparations to migrate such as applying for visas or residency and purchasing tickets. This may partly reflect their greater likelihood of having the means to move, but still provides insight into who is motivated to take the necessary steps.

While education makes a significant difference among those preparing to leave, it makes little difference among those who say they are planning to migrate. Among those planning to migrate in the next 12 months, those in the most educated group are nearly twice as likely as those in other education groups to say they are actively preparing to leave.

Those who are employed at capacity are the most likely to say they are making the necessary preparations to move. Although the underemployed are often the most likely to say they would like to migrate permanently and say they are planning to go, they are actually the least likely to say they are taking steps to migrate.

Worldwide, those whose work falls under the “professional” category, which includes professions such as lawyers, doctors, managers, business owners, and office workers, are more likely to desire to migrate than those who are “not employed” or those whose work falls into a category other than “professional.” A majority (54%) of “professionals” who are planning to migrate in the next year say they are actively preparing to move.

Bottom Line
No one factor explains why some people only dream of migrating, while others go. Many factors can influence the situation. Potential migrants’ personal circumstances such as their finances, health, family situation, and their job status can keep them home or push them out the door. Migration policies — or lack thereof — can also create so many roadblocks to leaving or entering a country that potential migrants become discouraged. Yet Gallup’s surveys show millions are actively preparing to leave their homelands for good — and it is often the best and brightest that their homelands would like to see stay.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact SocialandEconomicAnalysis@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.

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A median of 66% say water is getting harder to find
by Magali Rheault and Bob Tortora, Gallup, March 21, 2012; Retrieved: March 21, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.Africans who have enough clean water to drink are more likely to also have enough food to eat, according to Gallup surveys conducted in 17 sub-Saharan African countries in 2010. A median of 67% of those who had enough clean drinking water say they never went without enough food to eat or went without it once or twice in the past year, compared with 46% of those who did not have enough potable water.

Media coverage of basic needs in sub-Saharan Africa usually focuses on the lack or scarcity of food. Further, water programs tend to emphasize Africans’ needs in terms of agriculture. But the Gallup findings underscore the important connections that exist between the two. As leaders and communities worldwide mark U.N. World Water Day this week, Gallup’s results can help them understand the strong relationship between water and food in a region where many experience droughts, floods, and famine.

Clean Drinking Water Is Relatively Abundant, Still Many Don’t Have Enough
Access to potable water is one of the key issues outlined in the U.N. Millennium Goals agenda for 2015.

Although a median of about two-thirds overall say they have enough clean drinking water, it still leaves significant proportions of individuals in many countries without enough potable water. Residents of Botswana are the most likely to report having enough clean drinking water, while those in Burkina Faso and Chad are the least likely.

This is particularly true in rural areas, where a median of 63% of residents report having enough clean water vs. 77% in urban areas. However, in Cameroon and Ghana, there is no difference between urban and rural residents. In Zimbabwe, rural residents are more likely than their urban counterparts to report having enough clean drinking water.

In general, the likelihood of having enough clean drinking water relates to household income. However, in Ghana, Mali, and Zimbabwe, there is no difference in reports of having enough potable water across income groups.

While geography plays an important role in the availability of water, the results show that similar proportions of residents in countries with different freshwater resources and climatic conditions report having enough potable water. For example, while Botswana experiences low levels of rainfall and rains in Ghana are more abundant, residents in both countries are equally likely to say they have enough clean drinking water.

In addition, the timing of the survey may shed some light on the results in some countries. The ongoing severe drought in eastern Africa may partly explain the relatively large proportions of Kenyans and Tanzanians who say they did not have enough potable water in 2010.

Africans View Water as an Increasingly Scarce Commodity
Majorities in all countries surveyed say water, in general, is getting harder to find. Nearly all residents (90%) say this in Burkina Faso, a Sahelian country whose northern region sits at the edge of the Sahara desert. Scientific evidence has shown desertification is increasing in many parts of the Sahel. This suggests that Burkinabes’ views may be indicative of potential water stress for countries farther south in the future. At the other end of the spectrum, slightly more than half residents of Senegal (52%) say water is getting harder to find.

Overall, Africans in a wide range of countries — not just those in arid and semi-arid areas — think water is getting more difficult to find. As such, the Gallup results underscore the multifaceted nature of the water issue in sub-Saharan Africa, encompassing not only climate change and deforestation, but also population growth, household income, and water resource management policies.

Implications
The Gallup findings underscore the close association between potable water and having enough food to eat for African families. It then becomes important to consider water issues when tackling the complex challenge of food security in the region. Circumstances are unique in each country, but water is a transnational issue in sub-Saharan Africa, and a potential source of conflict as it becomes scarcer. In addition, the findings suggest that climate alone does not explain whether residents’ potable water needs are met. However, as in Kenya and Tanzania, bouts of extreme weather will likely exacerbate the dearth of clean drinking water.

As agriculture represents a significant share of the subcontinent’s economies, it will become crucial to develop farming techniques that manage water resources efficiently. In addition, current views as to the scarcity of water call for deeper analysis to determine future water needs based on population growth in cities and rural areas.

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English: Smokestacks from a wartime production...

Dear Journal, March 3, 2052: It continues to be overcast, dark, and hazy again. The weatherman announced that today is a “red” day and particulates are forecasted to be worse for the next eight days. I cough and think; “Why did it have to happen?” We made pollution a common daily event. It is now mid-21st century and where are we going to end up in the next ten years, the next twenty?  George Will once said; “The future has a way of arriving unannounced.”

How does that impact us, now, today? Today, only interior design brings color to our lives by bringing color inside homes, while outside with the smog, we see only shades of gray. It is neither comfortable nor pleasant to open windows in the midst of summer. What the heat scorches, the pollution only amplifies. That layer of dust on the furniture also covers your body. Yes, air pollution has been linked to memory loss, respiratory ailments and heart failure. Remember “Mickie the Miner” said in an interview? He who was so annoyed of hearing people complain about city pollution? He said; “Nobody matters any more!” – is this what our urban culture has come to?

Environmental costs are affecting everyone’s discretionary spending. How many Americans can now afford to use their air conditioning and heating any more? More and more people are going to the “embrace nature” energy campaign where we open our windows and live more like our families did in the 19th century.

Today, we now have over 11 billion people on this planet. Forty years ago they used to say that the planet was not changing, not warming. All megacities continue to work with huge population problems, as well as, pollution that is so dense trees are gray with carbon particulates., Now, add to that megacities that are established on the coastlines around the world. Do you remember the flooding of major cities around the world like Hong Kong, London and New York City? Cities like New Orleans and Venice are either submerged or behind very expensive dikes.

Flooding in this sense is not a one time event. It is the consequence of rising coastlines. There is an estimated 100 million refugees forced out of their cities due to rising coastal waters. They had no potable water, food, electricity, and all fire, police, healthcare, telecommunication and transportation systems were overwhelmed by flooding. Australia and New Zealand have had to commit more defense forces to protect their borders from refugees fleeing from South East Asia. And still, not one country has a policy that addresses coastal flooding.

Transportation has changed, too. Look at the corner service station sign showing $25.00 a gallon for unleaded gasoline. We now have electric cars, fuel-cell powered vehicles, natural gas powered eighteen wheelers, bi-level articulated buses are now standard and mass transit programs have dramatically expanded. Ethanol has not made the impact once thought it could, it only increased food costs. What happened to alternative energy? I can remember when we could take vacations out of state, even out of the country. Those were great experiences. What happened to energy affordability and availability?

It is unimaginable, to see the excessive number of people who have starved in this century. A recent estimate is that the total number of people who starved the 21st century has surpassed the total number of people in the last 300 years. Africa alone has lost more than 90 million people due to lack of food and water. Weather changes in China, Pakistan, Brazil and Australia have created exaggerated cycles from drought to floods. The dwindling flow of water from K2 and Everest areas of Himalayas alone has impacted over a billion people. Those unprecedented cycles have caused extreme crop failures and restricted exports of various grains. Natural disasters that continue to hit US crops as well. I guess there is wisdom in the saying; ““Man has only a thin layer of soil between himself and starvation”.

Do you remember where you were October 13, 2036, when we had our first space crisis? Most people remember not knowing when or where the errant rocket would land. It was to be the first Asian space craft to set up mining operations on the moon. The rocket’s uncontrolled trajectory caused it to burn up in low orbit. The most serious problem was the on-board mining equipment. A nuclear reactor, that powered the extractor, ruptured over an area from Cairo to Tel Aviv. It was estimated that 1.2 million people were exposed to high levels of radiation. How many will die of cancer or radiation exposure?

In the early 2030s, we read and heard about cities on water rations, and various suburban and rural areas that no longer had access to potable water. Yet, industries are continuing to fight against communities over what? Water. One would think that government or industrial leaders could try to solve flooding and drinkable water problems. Communities around the world and industries alike are still dumping their waste, untreated, into lakes, rivers and oceans. Where are the results?

Recall the trade wars from 2021 to 2025? What unfolded when China reinstated their “Accession Protocol”? Their actions in 2021 caused a major trade war between East and West. China lost their economic policy, which many perceived as a loss of face (even with political support from India and Russia). The WTO decision and UN sanctions backed the European Union, Canadian, and US positions. The policy severely impacted trade balance among many countries and the ban on germanium, specifically, halted critical supplies of strategic material for energy and communication products. Fiber optics and photovoltaic solar panel prices increased three-fold in only two years.

In 2023, another strategic event escalated due to Lithium producers export restrictions. The “Lithium Wars”, led by Bolivia, Brazil and Chile, drastically limited electric battery production and eventually caused a global work stoppage for over two years. Only through the successful use of oilfield brine did the battery industry fend off economic collapse in the US.

A recent National Geographic article was about deforestation and its impact on our planet. I had no idea that the rain forests around the world had decreased by 30 percent in just two years . The article documented how laws in various countries were not enforced and farmers continue to eliminate the rain forests to produce crops for only 3 to 4 years. Clearing of forests, produce wood for lumber, but at the same time destroying ecosystems and varieties of plants that have been on this planet since the Jurassic Period. Just the value of knowledge about those rare specimens are unfathomable and forever lost. In 5 years, what remains of the land is often depleted of nutrients and left to erode.

Dear Journal, think about what is happening. Each problem is a global issue by itself. Each of these tribulations, alone, could impact the survival of humanity. But now, we are faced with a convergence of these ten major issues and realize the tremendous impact and severity each bring to our world.  Because of their interconnectedness, each of these issues, could be major problems that might escalate into an epic tragedy. Gandhi said in the 20th century; “Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

We should have started fifty years ago. Sad, after 50 years we still do not have anyone accountable. Looking back, one has to sit down and ask; “What have we done?” Then we must respond by saying: “This is not how the story is going to end. We must have the will to Lead Smart, with a vision, and create endless opportunities through Sustainability. It’s not too late! We can have a future and turn our needs into reality.”

 

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