Our Perspective

Why rice farmers are key to tackling climate change in the Philippines

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In the Philippines, rice is the most important crop and its agriculture represents 11% of the growing GDP of the country.

When I began supporting the Philippines Programme for rice cultivation, I saw it through the lens of climate change mitigation. The logic was, if we made some necessary improvements to cultivation methods, we could reduce greenhouse gas emission (GHG) and help mitigate climate change. This is especially important in a country where 29 percent of the GHGs come from rice cultivation. However, I quickly learned that although you might be driven and committed to work towards reducing global warming, it does not necessarily lead to the critical buy-in of stakeholders like the Department of Agriculture, the National Irrigation Administration, and farmers. Our Adaptation and Mitigation programme aimed to improve local cultivation techniques in order to lower GHGs. Irrigation techniques like the applied Alternative Wetting and Drying, allow for modification of water management for shorter periods of rice flooding and a reduction of methane emissions. The first phase of the program involves building capacity for these improved techniques and supporting farmers in diversifying their income sources through the production of mushrooms, vegetables or other crops. It was estimated that this would help the Philippines reduce GHGs by 36,455,063 tons of carbon dioxide. The programme would eventually be extended to the entire country... Read more

If the oceans were a country…

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If the oceans were a country it would have the seventh largest economy in the world – larger than Brazil’s or Russia’s. UNDP Photo

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day is Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care. We are being encouraged to dream of a better world and to make pledges to fulfill that dream. I like this. As a person who grew up on the coast of South Africa, I have a big dream: a healthy ocean that supports lives on Planet Earth. Why choose the ocean from among the myriad of environmental issues that plague us, you might ask? Because the ocean is the basic building block that makes all life on Earth possible. All life, the human race included, depends on healthy oceans. As the legendary marine biologist Sylvia Earle once remarked: ‘With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live.” The ocean environment is unquestionably linked to human life. The World Wildlife Fund recently estimated that the total asset base of the ocean is valued at US$ 24 trillion, and the annual gross marine product (GMP) is at least US$ 2.5 trillion. To make that real, imagine that we gave every person alive in the world today US$350 every year; we’d still have... Read more

‘Not everything that counts can be counted…’

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Few nations, if any, keep records of the vast array of ecosystem services and biodiversity assets. UNDP Photo

‘And not everything that can be counted counts.’ So goes the oft-quoted adage by Albert Einstein. Wise words no doubt and, despite their overuse, I make no apology for repeating them. Indeed every time I hear them, either verbatim, or paraphrased, as someone working to conserve ecosystems and biodiversity, I feel encouraged. So often, they apply to our work, to the multitude of threats that have been wrecking the natural world driven by dollars rather than sense and, most importantly to the many potential solutions that lie within our reach. Here is another quote. Rather less celebrated. Never before in print, in fact. It came from the lips of a friend, watching something small and furry, and fearing the worst upon its discovery in her lavender beds.  “What a precious vole!” she said, caring, delighted surprise all too apparent both in her face and voice. While scientists might deride the emotion when used to describe a species, we’d still agree with “precious” as appropriate, given that in terms of food chains and ecological balance, the vole is an essential piece in the complex jigsaw that comprises a viable ecosystem.  Other people might see nothing particularly precious, at all. The UNDP, practically... Read more

In Nepal, a chance to consolidate peace from the rubble

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Disasters open up a time-bound window for peace building and reconciliation, with actors across political divides coming together in a spirit of national unity. UNDP Photo

As the people of Nepal begin to rebuild their lives through the loss and sorrow that the April 25 earthquake has left in its wake, the country is faced with a choice that carries immense significance for its future.... Read more

Nepal’s opportunity to seize the moment for the future of its people

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The need of the hour is to ensure that the generously contributed aid is disbursed in a timely and transparent manner, and reaches people who need it most. Photo UNDP Nepal

I was in Kathmandu this time around – and it was terrifying to experience the earthquake. I took refuge in my aunt’s house, along with 25 other people whose homes, like many across the city, were either damaged or destroyed.... Read more

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