Climate change is a well-debated topic of our time and the sense of urgency to reach agreements on how to curb this change has heightened over the last two decades. Over this time span, governments around the world have been trying to reach consensus on a legal mechanism to reduce green house gas emissions. However, the carbon footprints of these same conferences are very large and are often the equivalent to the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of a small town for a year (2).
The international climate summit, Congress of the Parties (COP17), in November/December 2011 and the upcoming sustainable development conference, Rio+20, from 20–22 June, highlight key national choices that will help determine the fate of the planet and its people. In South Africa (SA), for example, the energy sector falls at the intersection of human development and the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs), making it an essential aspect of poverty alleviation and the stabilisation of our climate system.
I was born and raised in a rural area somewhere in the eastern side of Limpopo Lowveld. I never suffered from malnutrition or any other disease linked to food insecurity because my parents relied on small-scale farming to produce the food that we consumed as a family. Like many other families in my area, we have a piece of land where we plant crops depending on the season of the year. Many people in my community face a number of socio-economic hardships in their daily lives. To escape the reality of living under such hardships, they invest their time and energy into small-scale farming.
More than 10 families, whose homes have been destroyed by floods, are receiving aid and housing from policewomen and the Gift of the Givers.
According to Limpopo police, the families lost everything when their houses were washed away two months ago.
Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, says that the families received blankets, clothes and food parcels from the South African Police Service Women's Network.
Meanwhile, the Gift of the Givers was building two-roomed ‘Zozo’ huts for each family and these are expected to be completed on 16 May 2012.
Permaculture should be considered as a sustainable food production system - a completely new way to plan ‘food production’. Cuba is a good example of where they use permaculture to produce food in a low carbon manner with almost no input (fertilisers and pesticides) nor transport and heavy equipment (all of which depend on oil and are sourced externally). Employment was created, and the principle of working with nature was applied by rehabilitating and using the many environmental services (nutrient and inputs recycling).
Southern African countries have agreed to launch a centre to tie together climate change studies across the region.
South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia have signed a declaration to launch the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management in Windhoek, Namibia.
Set up with €50 million in German aid, the centre will streamline regional scientific research on climate change trends and on managing natural resources to deal with them.
The Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations held a meeting to discuss major issues from the 17th Conference of the Parties from civil society organisations and government perspectives in Lehakoe, Maseru.
Apart from that, the participants and stakeholders mapped a way forward in addressing climate change issues and challenges in Lesotho, and also forged working relationships.
The world’s surging population is a big driver of environmental woes but the issue is complex and solutions are few. This is according to experts attending a four-day meeting on Earth’s health, Planet Under Pressure.
Director of the Institute of Population Ageing at the University of Oxford, Sarah Harper, states that, “If you have economic development and you educate women, and women get labour market opportunities, they tend not only to reduce the number of children but crucially to delay when they start having children.”
The World Bank is planning to propose a coalition of governments, global organisations and other groups to protect the oceans, aiming to raise US$1.5 billion in the next five years for the purpose.
The bank’s president, Robert Zoellick, points out that the new partnership will bring together various groups to confront problems of over-fishing, marine degradation and loss of habitat.
"The world's oceans are in danger, and the enormity of the challenge is bigger than one country or organisation," he explains.
The philanthropist Bill Gates, who founded the software giant Microsoft, has announced plans to launch the largest ever initiative to tackle 10 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD).
The campaign is aimed at coordinating improvements in drug supply and delivery, research and development and infrastructure in order to control or eliminate NTDs by 2020.