The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 14 September 2019

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

PDF: The Sentinel_ period ending 14 Sep 2019

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities   [see PDF]
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals  [see PDF]

Global leaders call for urgent action on climate adaptation; commission finds adaptation can deliver $7.1 trillion in benefits

Climate Action

10 Sep 2019 Press release
Global leaders call for urgent action on climate adaptation; commission finds adaptation can deliver $7.1 trillion in benefits
Global Commission on Adaptation report finds that investing $1.8 trillion globally from 2020 to 2030 in five areas of climate adaptation could yield $7.1 trillion in net benefits.

The Commission’s report highlights many economic, social and environmental benefits of adaptation

Climate impacts – such as super-charged hurricanes, floods, and wildfires – are becoming an increasingly urgent reality

Washington/Rotterdam, 10 September 2019 – At a time when the impacts of the climate crisis – such as super-charged hurricanes, floods, and wildfires – are becoming increasingly clear, leaders from the Global Commission on Adaptation are calling on governments and businesses to take urgent action to innovate and advance climate adaptation solutions in light of new research findings.

The report, Adapt Now: A Gobal Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience, puts forward a bold vision for how to transform key economics systems, making them more resilient and productive. The Commission finds that climate adaptation can produce significant economic returns: the overall rate of return on investments in improved resilience is high, with benefit-cost ratios ranging from 2:1 to 10:1, and in some cases even higher.

The analysis specifically finds that investing $1.8 trillion globally in five areas from 2020 to 2030 could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits. The five areas of climate adaptation the report considers are: early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection, and investments in making water resources more resilient. These represent just a portion of the total investments needed and total benefits available.

…Launched with events in over 10 capitals and cities around the world, including Majuro, Beijing, New Delhi, Geneva, Mexico City, Ottawa, Wainibuka, Washington D.C., among others, the Commission’s report highlights the many economic, social and environmental benefits of climate adaptation. For example:
:: Restoring mangrove forests in places like Thailand, India and the Philippines protects coastal communities from deadly storm surges while providing critical habitats to local fisheries and boosting prosperity.
:: The Netherlands “Room for the River” strategy moved dikes inland, widened rivers and created water-absorbing plazas. These projects manage and slow floodwaters, while providing innovative public use spaces and revitalizing neighbourhoods.
:: Zimbabwe, farmers using drought-tolerant maize were able to harvest up to 600 kilograms more maize per hectare than with conventional maize. The additional harvest was enough to feed a family of six for nine months and provided US $240 in extra income, helping them send their children to school and meet other household needs.
:: Reducing flood risks in urban areas lowers financial costs, increases security, and makes investments more viable that would otherwise be too vulnerable to climate risks. London’s Canary Wharf and other developments in East London would have been impossible without flood protection from the Thames Barrier.

In order to ensure that climate impacts, risks and solutions are factoring into decision making at all levels, the report calls for revolutions in three areas: understanding, planning and finance. It also explores how these major system changes can be applied across seven interlocking systems: food, the natural environment, water, cities, infrastructure, disaster risk management, and finance…

Nature – Editorial | Take action to stop the Amazon burning

Featured Journal Content

Volume 573 Issue 7773, 12 September 2019

Editorial | 10 September 2019
Take action to stop the Amazon burning
The planet’s largest rainforest is on fire. Brazil and the world must halt the destruction before it’s too late.
L ss than a decade ago, Brazil was an environmental leader. Its government had elevated forest conservation and sustainable development to national policy and then, with the help of satellite imagery, it had cracked down on illegal deforestation across the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Deforestation in the Amazon plummeted even as agricultural production — the biggest driver of forest loss — increased. Now, that progress is going up in smoke.

Data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) showing a sharp uptick in the number of fires in the Amazon this year triggered headlines around the globe. Landowners use fire to clear forest illegally to make way for crops and cattle grazing, but Brazil’s populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, has effectively fanned the flames with his anti-environmentalist agenda since taking office in January. Scientists who live and work in the region were not surprised at what is happening, but INPE’s report sparked concerns in world capitals just as leaders of the G7 group of countries with the world’s biggest economies gathered for their annual summit in Biarritz, France.

Neither extinguishing the flames nor solving the underlying problem of deforestation will be easy. It doesn’t help that Bolsonaro is among those world leaders questioning whether an environmental agenda can deliver long-promised economic benefits. His development-at-any-cost policies hark back to an earlier era in which deforestation was treated as a measure of progress.

He has railed against regulation, cut the budget of Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency and advocated mining on lands belonging to Indigenous people. When news of the fires spread, Bolsonaro accused environmental groups of setting blazes to make him look bad. When G7 leaders pledged emergency funding to help put the fires out, he called it colonialism.

More efforts needed
The attention of world leaders on the Amazon is welcome, but their response is insufficient to deal with the scale of the crisis. The G7’s offer of US$22 million, initially rebuffed by Bolsonaro, seemed rushed. This sum would hardly fight the fires, let alone address the underlying problems. In the words of the former UN climate-secretariat chief Christiana Figueres, it was “a drop in the bucket”. On 6 September, at a forest-conservation summit convened by Brazil, seven Amazon countries pledged to work together — but provided few details on what they would actually do.

Paradoxically, there is already a large pot of money dedicated to tropical-forest conservation in Brazil. This is the Amazon Fund, established by Brazil in 2008 to attract international donations for conservation efforts. Since the fund’s inception, Norway has invested the lion’s share of the almost $1.3-billion total, while Germany has contributed another $68 million and Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobras of Rio de Janeiro, nearly $8 million. The funds have been used to pay for everything from research and land-use planning to law enforcement. But these investments were contingent on the government curbing deforestation, and both Germany and Norway have now suspended payments.

This decision is unlikely to change unless there is a shift in the Bolsonaro government’s priorities, but European Union countries could have some extra leverage. The EU has negotiated a trade agreement with several South American states, including Brazil. France and Ireland have threatened to refuse to ratify the deal — limiting Brazil’s exports of beef and soya to the EU — unless Bolsonaro changes his approach to the Amazon. Brazil’s agri-businesses are concerned about these developments. That gives them an opportunity to persuade Bolsonaro to re-engage with Europe over the Amazon if not doing so means that the interests of the country’s agricultural producers are on the line.

Fifteen years ago, many people assumed that the Brazilian government had little control or influence over illegal deforestation in the Amazon. We now know that is not true. Between 2004 and 2012, Brazil was able to curb deforestation by more than 80% while almost eliminating industrial-scale land-clearing.

The Amazon rainforest is a reservoir of biodiversity and carbon, which is locked up in trees and soils. Clearing and burning the forest to make way for agriculture destroys the former and sends the latter into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Brazil rightly claims sovereignty over its territory, but the forest is a global good, just as the soya beans and beef produced by farmers and ranchers there are global commodities. The responsibility for what happens on Brazil’s turf extends well beyond its borders.

Cyber warfare: IHL provides an additional layer of protection [ICRC]

IHL: Cyber Warfare

Cyber warfare: IHL provides an additional layer of protection [ICRC]
Statement delivered by Véronique Christory, Senior Arms Control Adviser for the International Committee of the Red Cross to the “Open-ended working group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” –

New York, 10 September 2019
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is grateful for the opportunity to address the first substantive session of the “Open-ended working group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security”.

As we all know, technological developments offer tremendous opportunities for humanity. But they also entail risks.

In today’s armed conflicts, cyber operations are being used as a means or method of warfare. A few States have publicly acknowledged their use, and an increasing number of States are developing military cyber capabilities, whether for offensive or defensive purposes.

The ICRC monitors technological developments that could be used as means and methods of warfare and assesses the risks and challenges they generate from technical, humanitarian, military and legal perspectives. Last year, the ICRC invited experts from around the world to meet to develop a realistic assessment of the potential human cost of cyber operations. The report of this expert meeting is available online.

The cyber attacks we are seeing today generate significant economic costs, but most are not part of an armed conflict and have fortunately not caused major harm to people. However, sophisticated attacks have succeeded in disrupting the provision of essential services to the civilian population. The health-care sector appears to be particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks. Other critical civilian infrastructure, including electricity, water and sanitation systems, have also been affected. These attacks are reportedly becoming more frequent, and their severity is increasing more rapidly than anticipated.

In the ICRC’s view, there is no question that cyber operations during armed conflicts are regulated by international humanitarian law – IHL – just like any other weapon or means or methods of warfare used by a belligerent in a conflict, whether new or old.

By asserting that IHL applies, we are not encouraging the militarization of cyberspace and not legitimizing cyber warfare. Any use of force by States – cyber or kinetic – remains governed by the UN Charter, in particular the prohibition against the use of force. International disputes must be settled by peaceful means, in cyber space as in all other domains.

What IHL provides is an additional layer of protection against the effects of hostilities. For example, under IHL belligerents must respect and protect medical facilities and personnel at all times. Accordingly, cyber attacks against the health-care sector during armed conflict would in most cases violate IHL. Likewise, civilians and civilian objects, and objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population enjoy specific protection under the IHL principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. Critical civilian infrastructure is therefore afforded strong protection against the effects of cyber attacks during armed conflicts.

Cyber operations can be used in compliance with IHL, because their technical characteristics allow them to be tailored very precisely to create effects on specific targets only.

However, cyber operations raise a number of issues regarding the interpretation of IHL. For example, only cyber operations that amount to attacks as defined in IHL are subject to the prohibition against direct attacks at civilian objects and indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. However, the notion of cyber attack has not been fully settled under IHL. In our view, the full scope of legal protection will be afforded under key IHL rules only if States recognize that cyber operations that impair the functionality of objects are subject to the rules governing attacks under IHL.

The unique characteristics of cyberspace raise questions about the interpretation of IHL rules that States must urgently address. Affirming that IHL applies in cyber space and discussing its interpretation does not imply that new rules might not be useful or even needed. But if new rules are developed, they should build upon and strengthen existing law.

The ICRC therefore welcomes the renewed efforts of the international community, including through this open-ended working group, to study how international law applies to the use of information and communications technologies by States with a view to promoting common understandings. The ICRC stands ready to lend its expertise to such discussions.

IOM Strengthens Government Capacities for Comprehensive Care of Migrant Children in México, Whose Numbers Have More Than Doubled

Migrant Children: Care/Protection – Mexico

IOM Strengthens Government Capacities for Comprehensive Care of Migrant Children in México, Whose Numbers Have More Than Doubled
2019-09-10 15:15
México City – México’s National Migration Institute (INM) reports a 131 per cent increase in the first half of 2019 in the number of migrant children and adolescents in the country, compared with the same period last year.

During the first six months of 2019, Mexican migration authorities recorded 33,000 minors among all new arrivals, with 26 per cent of that population (8,500 boys and girls) arriving unaccompanied by an adult. These numbers do not include 21,900 adolescents returned to their country of origin with the assistance of the Mexican government during this same period.

In response, IOM has embarked on a series of regional meetings with professionals working in the child and adolescent protection systems of México’s border states. These workshops allow local governments to increase their capacity for a comprehensive and timely response to the concerns of migrant children…

During each of these encounters, analysis was shared on the conditions, characteristics and dynamics of the migratory flows crossing México. The meetings also fostered discussions on implementing the Comprehensive Care Route for the Rights of Migrant Children and Adolescents. That instrument – designed by México’s federal government, with support from IOM, UNICEF and UNHCR – defines specific institutional responsibilities, as well as weaknesses detected in existing government instruments.

“The migration of children and adolescents is a priority issue in migration governance worldwide and in the Americas,” said Alexandra Bonnie, coordinator of the IOM Mesoamerica – Caribbean programme. “This is due to the relevance of the phenomenon, the complexity of its causes and consequences, the differentiated needs for assistance and protection, and the need for a comprehensive approach to effectively protect the human rights of the people who make up this population.”

These activities are part of the Regional Migration Program: Mesoamerica – Caribbean, which is funded by the United States Department of State. At the regional level, within the framework of the Regional Conference on Migration, the said programme has allowed the design and implementation of the Regional Guidelines for the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents in the Context of Migration…

US $14 billion needed to achieve universal literacy in countries with lowest literacy rates and E-9 countries

Universal Literacy

US $14 billion needed to achieve universal literacy in countries with lowest literacy rates and E-9 countries
10 September 2019
Paris, France: A new UNESCO cost analysis shows that US $14 billion(1) will be needed if the 20 countries with the lowest literacy rates(2) and the E-9 countries(3) are to achieve functional literacy and numeracy skills by 2030. The analysis highlights a funding gap of US $10 billion in the 20 countries with adult literacy rates below 50 per cent and US $4 billion among the E-9 countries, where the majority of the youth and adults with low literacy levels live.

David Atchoarena, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, says: ‘Of the approximately 750 million illiterate adults worldwide, 565 million live in 29 countries. Even if an increase in domestic resources with 5 per cent of the GDP being allocated to education and 3 per cent of the education budget invested in literacy is taken into account, these countries will only achieve universal literacy by 2030 with the support of the international community. This analysis shows how far we still have to go in meeting this target, in line with commitments made by world leaders as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. I call on donors worldwide to contribute to closing the current funding gap of US $14 billion.’

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) will present this new cost analysis to the members of the UNESCO Global Alliance for Literacy at a meeting at UNESCO in Paris, France, on 10 September 2019. The study is authored by UIL, the UNESCO Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, in collaboration with the Global Education Monitoring Report team.

The study shows that the majority of youth and adults with poor literacy live in the Asia-Pacific region, with approximately 80 per cent of all illiterate youth and adults living in the E-9 countries. However, most non-E-9 countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, South Sudan and others require significant external funding support since they will not be able to cover the costs from national budgets.

The authors of the study also underline that while basic data on literacy related costs exists there is a strong need for further data collection and research in order to enable well-informed decision-making in regards to the expansion of literacy programmes.

In addition to increased funding from both national governments and international partners, there is a need to enhance the coordination, planning, management and monitoring capacities of literacy management systems. The creation of a well-functioning literacy management system that coordinates all stakeholders will be a major challenge in many countries, the study found.

Download: 2019 UNESCO literacy cost analysis (English), (French)

Technical notes
[1] The calculated costs above comprise the annual salary for instructors and are based on the estimation of 500 contact hours per learner, as estimated by the expert panel of the study.
[2] The 20 countries with literacy rates below 50 per cent are Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan.
[3] The E-9 countries are Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM urge European states to boost education for refugee and migrant children

Education: Refugee and Migrant Children

UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM urge European states to boost education for refugee and migrant children
11 September 2019
Key challenges include lack of school spaces, teachers not adequately trained, language barriers and limited access to psychosocial support

BRUSSELS/GENEVA – Three UN agencies are calling on European States to increase resources and practical support for their school systems to ensure all refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant children can access and stay in quality education.

In a briefing paper published today, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and IOM, the International Organization for Migration, detail the obstacles children and adolescents born outside Europe face when trying to access education in Europe.

Currently the number of children and adolescents born outside Europe (including recently arrived refugee and migrant children) who leave school early is nearly twice as high compared to native-born children. Migrant children also have lower learning outcomes when they are not given adequate support. For example, around 3 in 4 native-born students attain proficiency in science, reading and math but only 3 in 5 students with a migrant background do.

Among the key challenges highlighted in the report are:
:: Insufficient financial resources
:: Not enough school spaces or teachers trained to work with refugee and migrant children
:: Language barriers

A lack of psychosocial support and limited catch-up classes. The latter are vital for children who have missed extended periods of schooling or have come from different education systems.
Children of pre-primary age (3 to 5 years old) and upper secondary age (15 years and older) are particularly vulnerable to being out of school, as they are often beyond the scope of national legislation on compulsory education.

To help States tackle these challenges and address key data gaps, the paper gives examples of good and promising practices in education across Europe and makes a series of recommendations