Land and Forest Should Ride A Tandem

By Luc Gnacadja* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

There is widespread agreement that sustainable forest management on a global scale is not achievable without halting land degradation. But this view is not shared by the rationale and focus of the tools and mechanisms designed during the past decade to promote and incentivize sustainable forest management.

As if to prove the point, the global coalition of the willing has been putting its money and effort into saying “Yes we can achieve sustainable forest management on a global scale without halting land degradation.”

“What if we change this state of affairs?” asks UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja. “Can the economy and the business community benefit from such a change?” he adds and elaborates “on the nexus of land degradation and sustainable forest management” and highlights the specific case of drylands.

BRICS Vow To Move Ahead on Crucial Issues

By Raghu Nathan | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

DURBAN (IDN) – As South Africa inched towards hosting the fifth BRICS Summit from March 26 to 27 in the historic city of Durban, the German Bertelsmann Foundation threw a spanner in the works by declaring that South Africa is “not a model for sustainable development on the African continent”.

The think-tank explained: “The country, in contrast to Brazil for example, has not made convincing social progress in important areas, such as education, health, social inclusion and unemployment, whereas other African countries are catching up and becoming more attractive to the BRICS countries.”

Fossil-Fuel Subsidies Help Asia Roar

By Will Hickey* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

DAEJEON (IDN) – One reason behind greater pollution leading to global warming has been artificially lowered gas prices brought by subsidies. Governments have carried on this shortsighted policy to foster growth and satisfy consumers. But as world fuel prices begin rising again, the costs of subsidy – both budgetary and environmental – will come to the fore. While the much-talked-about carbon tax remains unpopular with consumers, curbing producer subsidies that encourage fossil fuel consumption could be a more effective way to fight environmental challenges.

South-South Cooperation A Door To Development

By Eva Weiler | IDN-InDepth NewsInterview

ROME (IDN) – A broad framework for collaboration among countries of the South, also known as South-South cooperation, is important but it cannot serve as a substitute for existing forms of cooperation between developing and developed countries, according to an expert.

“We must not see South-South cooperation as idyllic, we need to take into account a number of realities. Even if conditions are not imposed, each country has its own interests. South-South cooperation does not automatically lead to more democratic relations between countries: it depends on their policies. The challenge lies in countries maintaining their South-South Cooperation spirit in relations with other developing countries,” said Youssef Brahimi on the eve of his retirement from Global Mechanism (GM).

Chinese Workforce Discovers Africa

By Mark Kapchanga* | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

NAIROBI (IDN) – Africa is turning out to be a new home for Chinese people. Four years after he entered Kenya, a Mr Liu says he may not head back to his rural home in East China’s Fujian Province anytime soon.

Having taken part in the construction of the just completed Thika Superhighway, the father of three says he plans to open up a retail business or get another job in the country.

This worker represents the latest wave of Chinese migrants to Africa. To date, there have been more than 810,000. Lucrative earnings, coupled with enormous businesses opportunities, have motivated the majority to remain behind, despite their work permits expiring.

Some have also been drawn in by Africa’s vast arable land, which they intend to turn into a gold mine.

Li Ruogu, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of China, once suggested that there was no harm in allowing Chinese farmers to leave the country to become farmers in Africa. He argued that the institution would support a migration that was investment-oriented.

Stormy Seas Await New Big Fisherman

By Nimal Fernando* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

WASINGTON DC (IDN) – Simon Peter’s latest successor is now in place. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis I, who had been the archbishop of Buenos Aires, follows 265 other pontiffs as the representative of Jesus Christ on Earth.

He will no doubt have to summon all his management skills to deal effectively with more than a few challenges before the Roman Catholic Church.

As the past year and more has made abundantly clear, Catholics worldwide have voiced their unease, if not displeasure, in the church’s handling of the sex abuse by clergy. Catholics in the United States, for instance, tend to view the scandal over sex abuse by clergy as the most pressing issue for their church today, as an early-March poll by the Pew Research Centre showed.

Chavez Had Creative Link With A US Organisation

By Ernest Corea* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

WASHINGTON DC (IDN) – The death of President Hugo Chavez, after a drawn-out battle with cancer, brought out huge crowds of grieving Venezuelans onto the country’s streets. Their grief suggested that he had been a more effective ruler than many of his critics allowed.

His visceral reaction to most things American was unfortunate, standing in the way of expanded economic relations which could have benefitted both countries, while each remained faithful to its internal political imperatives. In one area, however, he was personally responsible for a strong and beneficial link with the US.

The PLA On Way To a Sophisticated Military

By Mandip Singh* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN | IDSA) – As a part of its modernization plan to fight wars under conditions of informationalisation, the PLA has embarked upon an ambitious effort to induct, educate, train and prepare its rank and file to meet the challenges of future wars. A well-conceived and planned Professional Military Education (PME) programme is underway for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and junior officers. The aim is to raise the bar of the personnel educational standards of the PLA in order to imbibe new generation high technologies and weapon systems.

Thus college degrees and university tie-ups to recruit the modern NCO and junior officer corps have become popular while technical education is limited to one to three month courses at military centres or online before becoming NCOs. While this may produce well-read and technically savvy junior leaders, what needs to be evaluated are the intangibles in the modernization and Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) of the PLA leadership and motivation.

US Spending Cuts Hit Poor at Home and Abroad

By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN) – On 1 March 1, the United States government had to introduce spending cuts of US$85 billion for this year, as President Obama and the Congress failed to reach an agreement on how to reduce the budget deficit. The so-called “sequestration” marked a new failure in the relations between the President and the Republicans in Congress.

The term “dysfunctional” is now commonly used to describe the US government system, as the deadlock between the President and Congress, and the animosity between the Democrat and Republican parties have blocked laws, policies and agreements.

Trailblazing Conference Urges Ban On Nukes

By Ramesh Jaura* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN | OSLO (IDN) – There are miles and miles to go before a world without nuclear weapons becomes a reality. But a significant step towards banning atomic arsenal capable of mass annihilation has been taken in Oslo, the capital of Norway, which is an ardent member of the 28-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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