Kenya Hosts Inaugural Sustainable Blue Economy Conference

Balancing sustainability, climate change, and pollution control with jobs creation, economic growth, and poverty alleviation is the focus of the first ever Global High-Level Conference on the Global Sustainable Blue Economy taking place Nov. 26-28, 2018, in Nairobi, Kenya. Canada and Japan are Kenya’s co-hosts.

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference is meant to provide a global forum for advancing global conversation around creating economic growth that is inclusive and sustainable. More than 4,000 participants from around the world are attending—including world leaders and representatives from local, regional, and national governments; civil society organizations; and private businesses—to learn how to build a blue economy that:

  • Harnesses the potential of our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of all, particularly people in developing states, women, youth, and indigenous peoples
  • Leverages the latest innovations, scientific advances, and best practices to build prosperity while conserving our waters for future generations

The conference will capture concrete commitments and practical actions that can be taken to help the world transition to the blue economy. For more information, please visit the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference website.

World Toilet Day Highlights Global Toilet Crisis

Today we celebrate World Toilet Day, a reminder to take action to ensure that everyone has a safe toilet by 2030. This goal reflects No. 6 on the list of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve universal access to adequate sanitation and end the practice of open defecation by 2030.

More than half of the global population (62.5 percent) still lack safely managed sanitation services, according to U.N. data. Some 4.5 billion people are without a safe toilet and 1.8 million drink water possibly contaminated with feces, leaving them vulnerable to diarrhea and other water-borne illnesses.

This toilet crisis forces 892 million people to defecate in the open — in the streets, in the bushes and by rivers and other water sources — contaminating the water and soil that sustain human life. The crisis is most severe in parts of Africa and Asia facing extreme poverty and and a population boom.

For more information, visit the World Toilet Day website.

‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge’ Innovations Showcased at Expo and in Video

High-tech toilets developed through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2011 “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” were displayed last week at the first Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing.

The high-tech toilets, also featured in a video and article in Gates Notes, are innovative products designed to kill pathogens that make people sick and transform human waste into valuable resources at a low cost to users—all without connections to water supply or sewer systems.

In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiated the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” to bring sustainable sanitation solutions to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to safe, affordable sanitation. The grants were awarded to researchers around the world.

Besides showcasing the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” innovations, the Beijing expo from Nov. 6-8, 2018, featured product announcements and funding commitments aimed at accelerating the adoption of innovative, pro-poor sanitation technologies, in developing regions around the world. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined global innovators, development banks, corporate partners, sanitation utilities, and governments to host the event.

New Online Database of WASH in Schools Best Practices and Materials

A new resource and database for WASH in Schools practice and theory is online, building its collection, and looking for contributions. The WASH in Schools Index is funded and supported by UNICEF and hosted by IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, The Hague.

The WASH in Schools Index‘s team collates and shares the best material and approaches from partners, donors, governments, academia, and others concerning bringing water and sanitation services to schools. Site visitors can log in and register to contribute and search the index of it growing collection. The site also features blog and news articles and a calendar of upcoming events, both large and small, relating to WASH in Schools.

New Irrigation System for Community in Armenia’s Ararat Valley Officially Opens

USAID Mission Director Deborah Grieser and the Governor of Armenia’s Ararat province at the pumping station’s official opening.

The completion of a project to re-use water from fish farms for irrigation in Armenia’s Ararat Valley was celebrated Oct. 22, 2018, at the project pumping station’s official opening. USAID/Armenia Mission Director Deborah Grieser, the Governor of Ararat province Garik Sargsyan, and residents of the Sayat-Nova community attended the event.

“Water scarcity has a huge negative impact on food production in the region. The residents of Sayat-Nova should feel proud. They are the second community to put in place this method of irrigation using water from a nearby fishery, and the first community that has applied this method for large-scale irrigation,” Grieser said. “Due to this effort, the water use by the fishery will be more efficient, and the community will not require additional water be pumped from the ground to irrigate their fields, thus saving electricity and helping to reduce soil degradation.”

Following the pumping station’s official opening, the USAID Mission Director, the Governor of Ararat, and guests walked through the fields to meet with the land owners and to see the new irrigation system in use. Today, 252 people from 98 households will benefit from an opportunity to irrigate farmlands left idle for the last 15 years. The new irrigation system has a potential for expansion to cover up to 190 hectares of community land, benefiting 2,400 local residents.

In 2017, USAID’s Advanced Science and Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) project signed a partnership agreement with the Fund for Armenian Relief, the Partnerships for Rural Prosperity project (funded by USAID and implemented by the Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development National Center of Armenia), and the community of Sayat-Nova to implement the community’s irrigation improvement project.

USAID studies show depletion of water in the Ararat Valley threatens the sustainability of Armenia’s strategic groundwater resources. Due to the overexploitation of the valley’s groundwater reserves, more than 30 communities in the region are experiencing a shortage of drinking and irrigation water. Lack of irrigation water hurts farmers, negatively impacting the socio-economic situation of the rural communities and leading to migration of the population from rural communities.

The project will enable farmers to cultivate 60 hectares of farmlands left arid for the last 15 years.

The new system provides more affordable irrigation services and more efficient groundwater use to irrigate 60 hectares of community land by reusing the outlet water from the Masis Dzuk fishery near Sayat-Nova rather than dumping it into the wastewater network. Through the public-private partnership between the community and Masis Dzuk, a new pumping station was built at the outlet section of the fishery and a new irrigation network was installed with durable polyethylene pipes.

Laboratory analysis of the water’s quality proved that the outlet water from the fish farm can be safely used to irrigate crops. In partnership with the Center for Agribusiness and Rural Development (CARD) Foundation, USAID also trained local beneficiaries on sustainable farming practices to ensure lasting results.

Sayat-Nova is the second community in the Ararat Valley after Hayanist where USAID, with the help of its partners, has implemented a project highlighting the secondary use of fish farm water as an alternative and environmentally sustainable solution. This approach can be effectively replicated by other communities in the region to address the valley’s shortage of irrigation water.

M&A implements the ASPIRED project for the USAID Mission in Armenia. Begun in September 2015, ASPIRED is designed to support sustainable water resource management and sustainable practices of water users at the core of the water-energy nexus through the use of science, technology, innovation and partnerships approaches. The goal is to reduce the rate of groundwater extraction in Armenia’s Ararat Valley to sustainable levels. ASPIRED is a task order under the USAID Water and Development Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Contract.

Our Ocean Conference Results in $10.7 Billion in Pledges to Protect Ocean

More than 300 commitments were made to protect and create sustainable and healthy oceans at the fifth Our Ocean Conference Oct. 29-30, 2018, in Bali, Indonesia. The $10.7 billion in pledges represented commitments from governments to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private companies.

The United States pledged its support for 15 initiatives that would affect fishing communities across the globe. They include commitments to improve community-based management of marine and coastal resources, build the resilience of fishing communities, improve understanding of the ocean’s role in climate and weather and promote sustainable waste management systems to prevent marine debris from entering the ocean.

One of the biggest announcements at the conference was the launch of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with United Nations Environment. More than 250 organizations have joined, including large multinationals such as Danone, Coca-Cola, L’Oreal, PepsiCo, and Unilever, to create a new economy where plastics never become waste—a circular approach to create a “new normal” for plastic packaging. Organizations joining the effort represent about 20 percent of the plastics produced in the world.

The sixth Our Ocean conference will take place Oct. 24-25, 2019, in Oslo, Norway.

ME&A and the Global Compact Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business

As a member of the UN Global Compact, ME&A supports the Global Compact Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business focusing on growth, innovation, and sustainability to find ways to best protect the health of the ocean. We support mobilizing the private sector to take tangible action, make investments, and form partnerships to leverage the ocean as a resource to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

The world’s oceans are our greatest common resource to create growth and jobs in areas including food, energy, minerals, and transport. But threats such as overfishing, marine litter, and acidification have put the health of the world’s oceans in a very fragile state. Recent studies indicate that more than 50 percent of the world’s fish stocks are fully exploited. By 2050, the oceans are expected to contain more plastic than fish, and more than 90 percent of coral reefs are at risk of dying off.

Tackling the ocean challenge is a global imperative, and the private sector can play a significant role in ensuring this crucial resource is sustainably managed. By contributing to its research, development, and deployment capabilities and providing new products, services, and business models, companies can negate harmful impacts on ocean ecosystems and contribute to their restoration.

For more information on the Global Compact Action Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business, please visit https://www.unglobalcompact.org/take-action/action-platforms/ocean. Fore more information on joining the UN Global Compact, please visit https://www.unglobalcompact.org/participation/join/application.

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, an annual global advocacy day to motivate and mobilize people around the world to improve their handwashing habits.

Formerly called “Public Private Partnership for Handwashing” (PPPHW), the day was established in 2008 as a way to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times during the day to prevent disease.

Steering Committee members include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Water and Sanitation Programme at the World Bank, UNICEF, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, FHI 360, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, University at Buffalo, and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

For more information, please visit the Global Handwashing Partnership website.

Indonesia Uses Data and Innovative Technology to Protect Its Oceans

Harnessing the power of data and innovative technology to protect Indonesia’s oceans from foreign poaching vessels is proving effective, according to a recent Devex article.

Between 2014-2017, foreign vessels fishing in Indonesia’s waters dropped 80 percent, and there is evidence that Indonesian fishermen are seeing higher catch and greater income, the Devex article cites from a report published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

One Indonesian innovation is partnering with Global Fishing Watch (GFW), an independent platform founded by SkyTruth and Oceana. GFW aims to connect data, civil society, and governments to analyze information on fisheries globally, using this data to drive the development of actionable solutions. Another innovation is using blockchain technology to reduce illegally caught or produced seafood in global supply chains through a project run by the nonprofit startup Provenance.

Photo credit: Adam Cohn / CC BY-NC-ND

World Water Week Taking Place Aug. 26-31 in Stockholm, Sweden

World Water Week is annually hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place each year in Stockholm, Sweden. The 2018 event is Aug. 26 to 31 with the theme “water, ecosystems, and human development” covering the ecosystems life depends on and the critical role water plays in their functions.

The event’s program consists of more than 200 sessions of different formats and covering a range of subjects around the theme. In 2017, more than 3,300 individuals and almost 400 convening organizations from 135 countries participated in the week.

For more information, please visit the SIWI World Water Week website.