News From Around the Muslim World – June 2011

Morocco, WB Sign $4 mln-Donation Agreement to Integrate Climate Change in Development of Morocco’s Green Plan

On June 8, 2011, Morocco and the World Bank (WB) signed in Rabat an agreement related to a donation for financing the project of integrating climate change in the development of Morocco’s Green plan (PMV).  The donation, totalling 4.3 million dollars, is granted by the World Environment Fund (WEF). Signed by Economy Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, Director of the Maghreb Department in the World Bank Simon Gray and head of the Agricultural Development Agency Ahmed Hajjaji, the agreement is meant to foster the capacity of Moroccan farmers to adjust to the impact of climate change within the framework of the PMV. Approved on May 17, the donation aims to integrate measures of adjustment to climate change in projects carried out as part of the PMV through reinforcing the capacities of public and private institutions and farmers. It is destined for small-scale farmers in the regions of Chaouia-Ouardigha, Rabat-Sale-Zemmour-Zaer, Tadla-Azilal, Doukkala-Abda and Gharb-Cherarda-Beni Hssen.

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Morocco: Morocco, South Korea Sign Water and Environment MoU

On June 7, 2011, Morocco and South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of water and environment.  The agreement provides for preserving natural resources, enhancing water resources, rehabilitating watercourses, managing water infrastructures, and protecting the environment, said a statement of the Secretariat of State in charge of Water and Environment. The two countries also agreed to set up a joint commission to elaborate an action plan in order to implement the memorandum of understanding. The action plan involves the exchange of expertise and visits between experts and the strengthening of skills.

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Senegal: Senegal to Host International Desertification and Biodiversity Conference

Over 100 scientists, and representatives of government, international and civil society organizations from around the world will converge in Dakar, Senegal, from 10-17 June 2011, to develop an integrated approach to address the region’s challenges of desertification and biodiversity loss, and the new climate change threat.

According to a press release issued by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Bonn, Germany on June 5, 2011, the so-called First Africa Drylands Week will be held back-to-back with the global observance event on 17 June to mark this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification.

The speakers at the events will include Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, representatives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Professor Jeffery Sachs, Earth Institute of Columbia University, Dennis Garrity, ICRAF Director-General, and Godwin Kowero, Executive Secretary of the African Forest Forum and other dignitaries. Djibo Leity Ka, Senegal’s Minister of State for the Environment and Nature Protection, will preside over the World Day to Combat Desertification.

Several heads of UN agencies and international organizations have already sent messages in observance of the events. They are Jacques Diouf, Director General, FAO, Monique Barbut, Chief Executive, Global Environment Facility, Kanayo Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Ahmed Djoglaf, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christian Mersmann, Managing Director, Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, and Ambassador Kwon Byong Hyon, the SLM Champion of the UNCCD.

“Land degradation often begins with deforestation, but leads to many other ills that we then try to address independent of each other. The spirit and mindset of the first African Drylands Week shows a paradigm shift that is emblematic of what the international community, as a whole, must do to surmount the grave environmental challenges facing us. Shedding our individual environmental blinders, will lead us to a holistic view of our environment, and a better identification of the sources, not symptoms, of such global environmental diseases,” says Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The First Africa Drylands Weeks and this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification are also part of 2011 International Year of Forests celebrating forests for people. The arid zone forests support the livelihoods of a large proportion of its two billion people inhabitants of the drylands. Overall deforestation has declined globally, but persists in Africa and South America, according to the FAO’s 2010 Global Forests Resource Assessment. The pressure on arid zone forests and the rangelands that protect them may increase, especially in the tropical and sub-tropical regions, from two opposing forces. There is a global campaign to conserve the moist tropical forests for carbon sequestration, on the one hand, and the need open up new land for agriculture to meet a growing global demand for biofuels, food and poverty eradication on the other. Increasingly, this pressure is being eased by reverting to the drylands.

Field visits, high-level panel discussions and workshops will provide the platform for dialoguing and sharing knowledge around these issues, and the implementation of the biodiversity, climate change and desertification conventions. A way forward and a joint plan to enhancing collaboration among different organizations and partners will be defined and next steps to upscale good practices will be discussed. An information kit on the drylands will be launched during the Week in addition to other activities.

The First Africa Drylands Week and World Day to Combat Desertification are organized by the government of Senegal, in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the National Great Green Wall Agency of Senegal, the Earth Institute of Columbia University, African Forest Forum, FAO, the UNCCD secretariat, the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, the World Agroforestry Organization (ICRAF), the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) and Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI), and co-funded by the European Commission.

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Sudan: Environment Data Centre to be inaugurated on June 5

The Sudanese Environment Conservation Society (SECS) is due to hold a new Centre for Environment Data as part of the national celebration of the International Day on Environment on June 5. The Chairperson of the Centre for Environment Data, Prof. Suad Suleiman, said that the Centre was established through assistance from the Horn of Africa’s environment network and the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi. She said that the cost of establishing the center is 500 million Sudanese pounds, indicating the center will provide environmental data, including research, studies, documents, documentary films about environment in Sudan in the Arabic and English languages, besides serving students of Master and PHD.

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Tanzania: Desertification Crotches on Zanzibar Fast

ZANZIBAR Islands risks becoming a ‘desert’ in the near future should the current pace of remiss cutting down of trees continue, the First Vice-President, Mr Seif Sharif Hamad, cautioned on June 5, 2011 at the gathering to mark World Environment Day held at Bwawani Hotel in the Stone Town.

Mr Hamad said about 17 million hectares of land become desert annually globally, due to reckless human development, causing climate change, increase of temperature and a rise in sea level.

“Everyone should have sustainable conscious environment conservation or risk having an arid land,” said Mr Hamad in his 23 minutes speech. Mr Abdullahi Jihadi Hassan, Minister for Information and Sports warned Zanzibaris:

“We are endangering our lives by harming the environment.” Mr Hamad’s speech was read on his behalf by Mr Abubakar Khamis Bakary, the Zanzibar Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs. Mr Abdullahi Hassan acted as the Minister of State, Environment.

The first vice-president observed in his speech that it was surprising to see that Zanzibaris had failed to follow the footsteps of their grand-parents, who were remembered for planting many trees including mangoes, oranges, pawpaw and coconut.

He said, “Let us avoid laziness and plant trees. We should not destroy corals in the sea by using unwanted methods of fishing. Stop unauthorized quarrying, and avoid use of chemical without proper advice.”

Mr Hamad also suggested introducing ‘Annual Environment Week’ before the World Environment day, an opportunity to encourage cleanliness and promote protection of environment.

He also reminded Zanzibaris to spare no effort in combating spread of HIV/AIDS and drug trafficking on the Islands. Mr Hamad’s speech contained a statement that encouraged unity and involvement of disabled people in all plans.

“To show love, and respect to them because everyone is vulnerable and could be physically disabled,” he said. The colourful event attracted students, civil servants, and a handful of senior government officials.

Dr Islam Seif, the Deputy Principal Secretary – First Vice-President’s Office said the government was improving environment laws to curb rampant cutting down of trees and use of plastics bags.

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