How Climate-Smart Strategies Revitalized Tanzania’s Livestock Sector

Africa, Africa Climate Wire, Armed Conflicts, Civil Society, Climate Change, Climate Change Justice, Development & Aid, Editors’ Choice, Environment, Featured, Food and Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, Headlines, Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Sustainable Development Goals, TerraViva United Nations

Climate Change Justice

In a quest for survival, farmers and pastoralists living in Oldonyo Sambu, Tanzania’s northern Maasai Steppe, used to fight over every drop of water. However, 12 villages have now adopted climate-smart bylaws after months of negotiations, putting an end to hostilities.

A pastoralist gazes into the horizon while taking a break from grazing cattle in Ikolongo Village. Credit: Kizito Makoye/IPS

A pastoralist gazes into the horizon while taking a break from grazing cattle in Ikolongo Village. Credit: Kizito Makoye/IPS

IRINGA, Tanzania , Jul 16 2024 (IPS) – As the sun sets, its golden hues piece through the dusty haze, creating a dazzling display when a herd of livestock lazily roams on the arid landscape as they return home from grazing.

Dressed in shiny red robes, the youthful Maasai pastoralists routinely whistle as they steer cattle, goats and sheep to maintain a unified path.

The quest for survival has forced these herders in Oldonyo Sambu, Tanzania’s northern Maasai Steppe, jostling for dwindling water and pastures as they try to sustain their herds.

Surprisingly, 670 kilometres (416 miles) away in Ikolongo village, south of Tanzania, the plight of water consumers has improved, thanks to a community-led initiative that brought farmers and pastoralists together  to resolve their water woes.

Sitting under a baobab tree, 47-year-old Leinot Leboo watches his cattle drink from a pond. This tranquil moment contrasts sharply with the situation in Oldonyo Sambu, where farmers often clash with herders as they jostle for water.

“I don’t recall any fight between pastoralists and farmers here.We get enough pastures and water for our livestock,” says Leboo.

Unlike in Oldonyo Sambu, local villagers here have created specific grazing lands and water points for livestock to prevent clashes with farmers. “We often bring our cattle here and let them graze and drink without causing any disturbances,” says Leboo.

According to Ignas Mashaka, Ikolongo village chairman, the residents have created a system where pastoralists pay a small fee to feed their herds on rice husks produced by farmers, especially in the dry season.

“This arrangement provides a steady source of feed, but it also give farmers extra income,” says Mashaka

Cows drink from a pond used exclusively by pastoralists in Ikolongo village, Tanzania. Credit: Kizito Makoye/IPS

Cows drink from a pond used exclusively by pastoralists in Ikolongo village, Tanzania. Credit: Kizito Makoye/IPS

Strict Rules

After months of negotiation between local residents and local district authorities, the villagers enacted strict by-laws, which have now been adopted and ratified by 12 surrounding villages.

“These rules have helped to ease tensions over water use,” says Mashaka.

Under the initiative, local residents joined forces to construct dams and reservoirs which have reduced water scarcity, providing a reliable supply for farmers and pastoralists.

“We used to fight over every drop of water,” says Musa Chacha, a farmer at Ikolongo village. “But now, there’s enough for everyone and there’s no reason to fight,”

By working together and managing resources sustainably, Ikolongo villagers have built a strong and resilient community.

Female farmers in Ikolongo village learn horticulture to grow vegetables as part of their strategy to cope with drought. Credit: Kizito Makoye/IPS

Female farmers in Ikolongo village learn horticulture to grow vegetables as part of their strategy to cope with drought. Credit: Kizito Makoye/IPS

The Bigger Picture

Despite having vast grazing lands, the east African country faces frequent conflicts over water and other resources due to climate change and weak land governance. Prolonged droughts often lead to clashes between farmers and pastoralists as they jostle for water and grazing space.

Tanzania’s livestock sector, a vital source of livelihood for millions, holds potential for growth in production and trade. With a cattle population of 36.6 million, the country ranks second in Africa, after Ethiopia. This accounts for 1.4% of the global cattle population and 11% of Africa’s. Beyond cattle, Tanzania also boasts large numbers of sheep, goats, chickens, and pigs, placing it among the continent’s top ten in overall livestock numbers.

However, the sector is plagued by many challenges due to climate risks and low investment, World Bank analysts say.

Transformative Initiative

As part of its broader efforts to improve the livestock sector, Tanzania has launched a new USD 546 million initiative to bolster productivity, increase resilience to climate change and improve the livestock industry. The initiative entails innovative strategies to curb extreme weather by constructing water reservoirs, introducing drought-resistant forage crops, and improving livestock breeds.

Challenges and Solutions

According to a recent World Bank report, “Harnessing the Opportunity for a Climate-Smart and Competitive Livestock Sector in Tanzania,” the pasture-based livestock sector in Tanzania faces serious challenges due to climate change and endemic livestock diseases, impacting animal health, productivity, and market access.

A herd of cattle grazes in a designated pastoralist area in Ikolongo village. Credit: Kizito Makoye/IPS

A herd of cattle grazes in a designated pastoralist area in Ikolongo village. Credit: Kizito Makoye/IPS

Pastoralist’s Perspective

Saidi Juma, a 55-year-old pastoralist from Kilolo village, has witnessed changes in weather patterns over the years. “When I was young, the rains were predictable, and the grass was plenty,” he says. “But in recent years, we have struggled to find pasture for our animals, and the rivers dry up too soon.”

One aspect of the scheme is adopting climate-smart innovations, such as better animal husbandry practices, drought-resistant fodder, and efficient water management systems.

The introduction of drought-resilient Brachiaria grass at Ikolongo village has maintained better livestock health during dry spells. “We planted these grass because they are resilient to drought and provide enough food for our livestock,” says Mashaka.

According to him, drought-resistant forage crops has ensured a steady supply of nutritious feed for livestock in  dry seasons.

Expert Insights

In an interview with IPS, Malongo Mlozi, Professor of Agricultural studies and extension at Sokoine University of Agriculture, hailed the government initiative to revamp the ailing livestock sector by improving water management techniques.

“Water is life; by ensuring a reliable water supply, we can significantly improve the resilience of our livestock farmers against climate change,” he says

According to Mlozi, pastoralists must be trained to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to cope with the vagaries of the weather.

“When pastoralists understand the benefits of climate-smart practices, they are more likely to adopt them and see positive results,”

Mlozi says the government scheme is likely to improve food security.

“By increasing the productivity of our livestock sector, we can ensure a stable supply of meat, milk, and other livestock products,” says Mlozi

Leinot Leboo grazes his cattle in a bushy enclave in Ikolongo village. Credit: Kizito Makoye/IPS

Leinot Leboo grazes his cattle in a bushy enclave in Ikolongo village. Credit: Kizito Makoye/IPS

“This will help in addressing the nutritional needs of our population and reduce dependency on imports.”

Under the initiative, the government will construct water harvesting structures and introduce solar-powered boreholes to provide an eco-friendly solution.

“Access to water has always been a problem for farmers and pastoralists.The solar-powered boreholes will provide enough water.”

The scheme is also aiming to improve market access for livestock products by improving value chains so pastoralists can fetch better prices in livestock markets closer to their communities.

Tanzania’s livestock sector is changing with climate-smart practices and community-led efforts, setting an example for other regions. By focusing on sustainability and innovation, Tanzania is improving the lives of pastoralists and promoting peace and cooperation.

“We have come a long way from those tough times. Now, we look forward to a future where our children can grow up without the fear of conflict and scarcity.”

This feature is published with the support of Open Society Foundations.

IPS UN Bureau Report


Argentina: Civil Society’s Urgent Call to Protect Rights

Civil Society, Crime & Justice, Democracy, Economy & Trade, Environment, Headlines, Human Rights, Latin America & the Caribbean, TerraViva United Nations


First Round of the elections in Argentina in 2023. Credit: Midia Ninja

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Jul 2 2024 (IPS) – Between the Mafia and the State, I prefer the Mafia. The mafia has codes, it keeps its promises, it doesn’t lie, it’s competitive. If a company pollutes a river, where is the damage? The sale of organs is a market like any other. Abortion should be considered “aggravated murder”.

These are just a couple of quotes from former TV pundit Javier Milei, now president of Argentina, as he makes anti-progressism his trademark, borrowying from the ready-made discourse of the globalalt-right. He claims that global warming is “another lie of socialism”.

In recent months, Argentina has witnessed a significant shift under his new administration that threatens to undermine the very fabric of its civil society and democratic governance.

On June 12th, there was a violent crackdown on protesters outside the National Congress, involving the use of batons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. Several individuals were arrested arbitrarily and subsequently labeled as “terrorists” by the government, a move clearly intended to intimidate civil society and criminalize protest. These detainees have been transferred to federal prisons, where reports indicate continued abuse, including the use of pepper spray, physical violence, and denial of basic rights.

Last Friday, the government sent another controversial bill to Congress looking to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 13, even though minors commit less than 1% of serious crimes in Argentina. A proposal that was labelled by opposers as “pure smoke and mirrors.”

Since taking office, President Javier Milei’s administration has received significant international criticism, including from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights which has scheduled a hearing on July 11th to address the situation.

“A President proud to repress”, this is what various media across Argentina wrote as Milei went as far as accusing protesters of being “terrorists” and said police violence prevented a “coup d’état”.

These alarming development mark a stark contrast to the country’s long-standing commitment to democracy and human rights, a commitment that has been painstakingly nurtured since the end of its brutal military dictatorship in 1983.

Moreover, this change of administration has been accompanied by an abrupt “retreat” of the state from its historic role as guarantor of the rights of its citizens. This abdication by the State of its essential responsibilities adds even more concerns to the already alarming measures explicitly restricting civic space.

Javier Milei’s aggressive and theatrical style – from superhero costumes to wielding a chainsaw to illustrate his plans to cut down the size of the state – has led some to compare him to Donald Trump in the US or Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. This shift, alongside the blurring of ideological lines between the Peronist and Together for Change coalitions, has implications for Argentina’s political landscape and on civic space.

Argentina’s civil society organizations, long the backbone of its democratic resilience and human rights advocacy, face unprecedented challenges.

Legislative proposals aimed at restricting their activities, coupled with limitations on freedom of expression and the right to protest, have sent shockwaves through the community. The administration’s policies include drastic public spending cuts, the closure of state institutions dedicated to women’s rights and access to justice, and a suspension of participation in international events related to the 2030 Agenda.

A recent protocol, announced by Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, involves identifying protesters through various means and then billing them for the costs incurred by deploying security forces to police the demonstrations. Human rights activists, opposition legislators, and organizations like the Centre of Legal Studies (CELS) argue that these measures effectively criminalize legitimate protests and violate constitutional rights. The government’s allies, such as legislator José Luis Espert, have responded with aggressive rhetoric: “Prison or bullet”.

Recently, a violent attack against a member of the organization H.I.J.O.S., known for its fight against impunity for the crimes of the last civil-military dictatorship and for the defense of human rights, has been denounced. This attack, characterized by its brutality and strong political message, reflects an alarming increase in violence against activists and civil society organizations. The attackers, by leaving the acronym VLLC (“Viva la libertad, carajo!”), associated with President Javier Milei, insinuate a disturbing link between government rhetoric and violent actions directed against “dissidents”.

These proposals, exacerbated by the country’s ongoing economic and social crises, pose new hurdles for civil society’s ability to operate and advocate for public interests.

Argentina’s history, marked by the dark years of dictatorship between 1976 and 1983, serves as a reminder of the cost of silence and inaction. The country’s journey to reclaim democracy and human rights was arduous, characterized by relentless efforts to acknowledge and compensate the victims of past repression. The current administration’s move to revise policies related to memory, truth, and human rights threatens to undo decades of progress, challenging the very essence of Argentina’s democratic sphere.

The international community, particularly organizations dedicated to the promotion of human rights and the preservation of historical memory, such as UNESCO, must heed this call to action.

The situation in Argentina requires a collective effort to support its civil society, advocate for the protection of civic space, and ensure that the lessons of the past are not forgotten.

This article was written by the Entidades no Gubernamentales para el Desarrollo (EENGD) – Red Encuentro, the national NGO platform of Argentina, in collaboration with the global civil society network Forus.

IPS UN Bureau


UN Climate Talks: Setting Sail to Plunder the Ocean

Civil Society, Climate Action, Climate Change, Environment, Featured, Global, Headlines, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, Sustainable Development Goals, TerraViva United Nations


The 60th session of the Subsidiary Bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (SB 60, UNFCCC), took place in Bonn June 3-13, with the issue of climate finance high on the agenda. Credit: UN Climate Change Lucia Vasquez Tumi

BONN, Germany, Jun 28 2024 (IPS) – Despite the evident and increasing urgency of the climate crisis, the June intersessional meeting of the UNFCCC closed with little to show for two full weeks of negotiation.

With COP29 being cited as ‘the Finance COP’, much of the focus across various agenda items was on ever contested questions of who owes what to whom. Crucially, the meeting was supposed to advance negotiations on a New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on climate finance for the post 2025 period, due to be agreed in Baku.

However, despite ‘quantified’ being in the very name of the goal, developed countries refused to be drawn on the critical matter of how much is owed and needed.

The 2020 goal of $100bn per year (stretched to 2025) remains unfilled, with the vast majority of what the Global North claims to have contributed in the form of loans, or money redirected from other overseas budgets.

Likewise, despite the long fought battle which secured a new loss and damage finance mechanism at COP27, that pot too remains as good as empty, with current pledges equating to less than 0.2% of the climate change related losses faced by Global South countries each year.

Climate finance is key. Intimately related to the core UNFCCC principles of equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR), it is central to unlocking the stalemate that has plagued negotiations since they began.

But instead of concrete finance commitments and delivery, carbon markets are increasingly being spun as climate finance, with some increasingly desperate nations on the frontlines of the climate crisis grasping wishfully at the idea that a 5% share of proceeds from markets under the Paris Agreement will plug the longstanding gap on adaptation funding, and others preparing to sell off their rich ecosystems as some form or other of carbon credits.

As the practical limitations, to say nothing of the social and environmental harms, of novel land based Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) schemes are increasingly exposed at a scale to impact the climate, Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), one of the most widely touted CDR technologies, would require twice the entire global land area currently under cultivation, oceans are being sized up as the next frontier for such exploitation.

Oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface, and are already our greatest ally in the fight against climate change. Alarmingly, however, highly speculative and risky theories about engineering them at will to sequester and store ever more carbon are increasingly being incorporated into the climate policy landscape.

We see this in the opaque language that invites parties to scale up ‘ocean-based mitigation action’ that found its way into the Global Stocktake decision text last year in Dubai, and more clearly in the explicit inclusion of dangerous ocean CDR methods in the ongoing wrangling over Article 6 guidelines, which in various iterations identify ocean fertilisation, ocean alkalinity enhancement and algae cultivation / biomass sinking for potential inclusion.

And concerningly, we also saw it in this year’s Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue held in Bonn. Pitched as a “[recognition of] the need to strengthen the understanding of, and action on, ocean and climate change”, the Dialogue, now in its 4th year, saw a push for research and development of marine CDR under its theme on ‘Technology Needs for Ocean Climate Action, including Finance Links’.

The problem for those who would financialise and plunder the oceans under the guise of climate mitigation is that there are of course other UN Conventions of equal importance to the UNFCCC that have for good reason imposed restrictive regulations on these activities.

The Convention on Biological Diversity has had a de facto moratorium in place on all geoengineering since 2010, while the London Convention / London Protocol, which regulates pollution at sea, has made clear its intention to add potentially a further four categories of marine geoengineering to its 2008 prohibition on ocean fertilisation.

Crucially, a commercial factor is a key element under both regimes in restricting outdoor experiments – which of course is inherent in any ocean-based CDR envisaged under carbon markets, voluntary or otherwise.

The fact is, however, that none of the marine geoengineering approaches increasingly referred to as CDR do anything to tackle the root causes of climate change, and none have been able to demonstrate that they can effectively capture or store carbon with any permanence.

They are an extremely dangerous distraction from the real action we know is needed to rapidly bring down greenhouse gasses, starting with an urgent and just phase out of fossil fuels. Furthermore they are likely to cause great harm to the delicate equilibrium of the oceans – already severely stressed by over-exploitation, pollution and global heating – with potentially grave consequences for ocean biodiversity, food chains, fisheries, and even the oceans’ natural capacity to sequester carbon.

At least 40 open-water marine geoengineering experiments are currently underway or in planning, across a variety of theories and technologies, many of which have a clear commercial element and are likely in violation of international agreements. Some of these are already running into very practical challenges, such as the postponement of Planetary Technologies’ planned ocean alkalinity enhancement trial in Cornwall, where community resistance led to an independent assessment which exposed serious flaws in the plan, while biomass cultivation and sinking start-up Running Tide announced the closure of its fairly advanced operations only this last week, citing lack of demand for carbon credits from the voluntary market.

Ultimately however, as a broad spectrum of civil society organisations made clear in several interventions at the Ocean and Climate Dialogue, and in a statement endorsed by over 100 organisations as of last month, Paris Agreement carbon markets, which are so very clearly legitimising these highly speculative and risky approaches, cannot ignore international agreements restricting them and must uphold the precautionary principle.

As we head to COP29 in Baku and as IPCC kicks off its work on the 7th Assessment Cycle later this year, the voices of civil society across the globe, Indigenous Peoples, coastal communities and fisherfolk must be heard as they reiterate the risk of undermining the vital role oceans play in sustaining life on earth. It is unquestionably clear that our oceans cannot be for sale.

Mary Church is Geoengineering Campaign Manager, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and member of Hands-Off Mother Earth! (HOME) Alliance.

IPS UN Bureau


Sawantwadi’s Traditional Handmade Toys Struggle for Survival

Arts, Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Cooperatives, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade, Editors’ Choice, Environment, Featured, Headlines, Natural Resources, TerraViva United Nations, Trade & Investment


Shashikant Rane with his wooden fruits. Credit: Rina Mukherji/IPS

Shashikant Rane with his wooden fruits. Credit: Rina Mukherji/IPS

PUNE, Jun 14 2024 (IPS) – Sawantwadi in Maharashtra, on the western coast of India, bordering Goa, has always been known for its wooden toys. A picturesque town amid hills and lush greenery, Sawantwadi retains an old-world charm to this day.  The regal Sawantwadi Palace holds pride of place, with colleges, schools, and temples cloistered around the periphery of the lake, which was once an extension of the royal grounds.  In the centre of the town is the Ubha Bazaar, or Hanging Market, which houses rows of shops selling the iconic wooden toys that are a hallmark of Sawantwadi.

The wooden toys of Sawantwadi are a legacy that the previous rulers nurtured, and they reflect the spirit of the area. Generations of children in Maharashtra and Goa have grown up playing with the life-like depictions of fruits, people, and the pull-along toys that were a necessary part of growing up. But today, these painstakingly carved, hand-made toys made of Pongamia and mango wood are struggling for survival. The once-bustling hilltop market in downtown Sawantwadi, known as Ubha Bazaar (Hanging Market), is now a ghost of what it once was. The artisan families who manufactured and sold these toys from their workshops-cum-homes are now reduced to a handful.

So, what caused the busy hands of these artisans to fall silent?

By the looks of it, several factors are responsible.

Female musicians in concert. Credit: Rina Mukherji/IPS

Female musicians in concert. Credit: Rina Mukherji/IPS


Unlike the cheap machine-made toys that flood the market today, toys are a traditional craft in India, commanding a hoary lineage from the era of the Indus Valley civilization. Like many other centers in India, Sawantwadi always boasted gifted artisans capable of painstakingly breathing life into wood and carving out an array of life-like figures inspired by everyday life. Over the decades, the life-like depiction of fruits and vegetables was always been a specialty of Sawantwadi craftsmen. Of course, there were other toys too, for every age group of children: pull-along toys for toddlers, kitchen sets for little girls, bullock carts and other vehicles for bigger children, as well as spoons, cutters, and ladles used in the kitchen. What always made these toys stand out was the environment-friendly techniques and colors that were used to produce them.

Toy-making in Sawantwadi had its origins in the arrival of  Telangana Brahmins in the 17th century, who visited the kingdom to take part in religious debates with the then ruler, Khem Sawant II, who was extremely well-versed in Hindu religious scriptures and philosophy. The Chitrali artisans who arrived with the Brahmins brought the craft of toy-making and ganjifa (playing cards) to Sawantwadi.

Ideally suited to the greenery and scenic landscape of Sawantwadi, toy-making here made use of Pongamia and mango wood, which thrived in the thick forests here. The wood used for the toys would be collected in the summer and, after being washed and dried, left out to get thoroughly soaked during the entire monsoon. After thorough drying, they would be carved as per the desired shape. Once the toys were carved out, they would be covered with five layers of earth and left aside for a certain period of time. The lathe would then be used in this stage to impart the desired shape and finish. They would be painted with a powdery mixture made of tamarind and other seeds once dusted off and smoothed with sandpaper. After applying several coats of paint, a coat of lacquer and natural gum would add the finishing touches.  To this day, the lacquer used in Sawantwadi toys is their special feature. It is durable and never fades or chips away, no matter how roughly the toys are used. When toy-making was on the verge of fading out at one point in time, the local royal family gave it an impetus in the early 1970s. Primarily responsible for this shot in the arm were the Queen, Maharani Satvashila Devi and her husband, the reigning king, Rajesaheb Khem Sawant VI, Lt Colonel Shivram Sawant Bhonsale. The reigning royal family also set up a workshop to make hand-painted ganjifa cards at the palace, which is functional to this day.

Sawantwadi Palace grounds. Credit: Rina Mukherji/IPS

Sawantwadi Palace grounds. Credit: Rina Mukherji/IPS

Difficulties in Procuring Inputs

Historically, Sawantwadi was a vassal state of the mighty Maratha empire. When the British defeated the Marathas, Sawantwadi continued to exist as a small principality with a benign ruler during the British Raj.  The erstwhile British Resident’s home in downtown Sawantwadi, at a stone’s throw from the Palace, testifies to those bygone days. The early years of the 20th century saw Sawantwadi thrive in matters of education and culture, with the rulers also making efforts to nurture traditional crafts and artisans.

In recent times, however, deforestation has made it difficult to get adequate supplies of pangara (Pongamia) wood, while mango is not suitable for products that need the lathe machine.  Artisans have now turned to Acacia, Shivan (Gmelina Arborea) and Glyricidea, compromising on the quality of the toys.  Glyricidea has particularly emerged as a favorite, notwithstanding its being environmentally unsound and causing rats to overrun homes.

Lack of skilled artisans

The painstaking nature of the job, the difficulties in procuring wood and other inputs, and an uncertain market that cannot guarantee earnings in keeping with the efforts put in have resulted in many skilled artisans moving out of the industry and opting for employment elsewhere.  Industrialization in the neighboring districts has also been a big draw, while government initiatives to train young artisans in wood carving have been lackadaisical at best.

Very few can carve wood now, unlike in the past. So, instead of carving out a toy, the prevailing trend is to fill up sawdust into ready moulds. This also helps keep costs low and is not labour-intensive.  Shashikant Rane, one of the very few remaining master craftsmen in Sawantwadi, who the government approached about opening a Hastkala (handicrafts) Kendra (centre), tells me, “I entered the profession in the early 1960s, thanks to my father, who had received special training from Abha Gawde, a well-known master in the craft. Traditional toy-making requires a great deal of patience, starting with the procurement of the right wood. You procure the wood in May but cannot work on it until a few months later. In these times of quick turnarounds and massive profits, few are willing to put in the effort,” he points out.

Rane has been training 30 youngsters in the craft every year at his modest workshop-cum-home and is a much sought-after craftsman for prominent projects all over India. Referring to the government’s lackadaisical approach to training artisans, Rane tells me,  “The Minister-In-Charge had identified the venue for setting up the Hastkala Kendra and spoken to me about his vision at length.  But it is over a year now, and the plan still awaits finalization.”

Unfair Competition and Dwindling Demand

There are other factors, too. Cheap Chinese machine-made toys have also made consumers move away from these beautiful, hand-carved toys, which, owing to rising input costs, sell at higher rates. One also perceives a change in taste. P D Kanekar and Company, a prominent seller of toys in Sawantwadi, has moved to manufacture non-traditional toys in recent years.  Ankita Kanekar, from the Kanekar family, tells me, “Pangara (Pongamia) wood was always used to make life-like fruits and vegetables in the past. But no one is interested in playing with those now, unlike the previous generation.  Pangara trees are only available in a few villages now. Besides, a single set takes around one and a half months to be made. The work is painstaking and exacting, and the return is very little. There are very few good artisans practicing the trade.”

She also blames the current transport infrastructure for dwindling sales. “Earlier, the road links from Mumbai and Pune passed through Sawantwadi. But the highways now skirt our town.”

Changing tastes are evident when one browses through the shops today. Imitations of machine-made toys hold pride of place as compared to the artistic depictions of musicians, vegetable -sellers, or fishermen in traditional attire. It is tough to spot a bunch of bananas or betelnuts either.

Lack of government support is another major factor.

The active support of the ruling royal family had bolstered the toy industry in the previous century. This kind of support is no longer forthcoming. The lack of a strong toymakers’ cooperative or guild is also partly to blame. “There is no unity among the various people in the trade to negotiate in one voice with the authorities and demand guarantees or protective subsidies,” rues a prominent toymaker, requesting anonymity.

Consequently, Sawantwadi toys were devoid of geographic identification (GI) until now.

Light at the End of a Tunnel

As I write this, toymakers are jubilant about a GI tag having been granted to Sawantwadi wooden toys on March 30, 2024. This opens up a new vista for them. Toymakers like PD Kanekar have already taken to selling their toys online. “ We started selling online during the pandemic when everything shut down,” Ankita Kanekar tells me. The Kanekars sell through the DirectCreate platform to buyers all over India. Otherwise, sales are made to wholesalers based in Goa, who, in turn, sell to those traveling to India. This is because “international courier services are not yet developed from Sawantwadi. ”

Even so, with Goa’s newly-opened MOPA airport just 15–16 km away, international tourists often come down to Sawantwadi to buy these iconic toys.

One could well say that the GI tag and the inclusivity it bestows on these beautiful handcrafted toys are a good beginning. However, a lot more needs to be done if these toys are to capture the attention of a global market. Improving the courier services as well as government subsidies to the makers could go a long way here.

IPS UN Bureau Report

IPS UN Bureau, IPS UN Bureau Report, India


African Activists Call on the West to Finance Climate Action

Africa, Civil Society, Climate Change Finance, Climate Change Justice, Conferences, Development & Aid, Editors’ Choice, Environment, Featured, Global, Headlines, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, Sustainable Development Goals, TerraViva United Nations

Climate Change Finance

Activists at Bonn accuse developed countries of frustrating the process on climate finance. Pictured here are Danni Taaffe, Head of Communications at Climate Action Network (CAN), Mohamed Adow of Power Shift Africa and Sven Harmeling, Head of Climate at CAN. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

Activists at Bonn accuse developed countries of frustrating the process on climate finance. Pictured here are Danni Taaffe, Head of Communications at Climate Action Network (CAN), Mohamed Adow of Power Shift Africa and Sven Harmeling, Head of Climate at CAN. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

BONN, Jun 13 2024 (IPS) – As the technical session of the global climate negotiations enters the final stretch in Bonn, Germany, climate activists from Africa have expressed fears that negotiators from the developed world are dragging their feet in a way to avoid paying their fair share to tackle the climate crisis.

“I think we will be unfair to the snail if we say that the Bonn talks have all along moved at a snail pace,” quipped Mohammed Adow, the Director, Power Shift Africa.

“Ideally, there will be no climate action anywhere without climate finance. Yet what we have seen is that developed countries are frustrating the process, blocking the UAE annual dialogues, which were agreed upon last year in Dubai, to focus on the delivery of finance so as to give confidence to developing countries to implement climate actions,” said Adow.

According to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) dialogue was created to focus on climate finance in relation to implementing the first Global Stoke Take (GST-1) outcomes, with the rationale of serving as a follow up mechanism dedicated to climate finance, ensuring response to and/or monitoring of, as may be appropriate and necessary, all climate finance items under the GST

The two-week Bonn technical session of Subsidiary Bodies (SB60) was expected to develop an infrastructure for the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG), a climate change funding mechanism to raise the floor of climate finance for developing countries above the current $100 billion annual target.

In 2009, during the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the UNFCCC in Copenhagen, developed countries agreed that by 2020, they would collectively mobilize $100 billion per year to support priorities for developing countries in terms of adaptation to climate crisis, loss and damage, just energy transition and climate change mitigation.

When parties endorsed the Paris Agreement at COP 21 in 2015, they found it wise to set up the NCQG, which has to be implemented at the forthcoming COP 29, whose agenda has to be set at the SB60 in Bonn, providing scientific and technological advice, thereby shaping negotiations in Azerbaijan.

However, activists feel that the agenda being set in Bonn is likely to undermine key outcomes of previous negotiations, especially on climate finance.

“We came to Bonn with renewed hope that the NCQG discussions will be honest and frank with all parties committed to seeing that the finance mechanism will be based on the priorities and needs of developing countries and support country-driven strategies, with a focus on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs),” said Memory Zonde-Kachambwa, the Executive Director, FEMNET.

“Seeing the devastation climate change is causing in our countries in terms of floods, storms, and droughts, among other calamities, it was our hope that the rich countries would be eager and willing to indicate the Quantum as per Article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement so as to allow developing countries to plan their climate action,” she said.

So far, negotiators from the North have been pushing for collective “mobilization of financial resources,” which African activists believe is merely the privatization of climate finance within NCQG, thus surrendering poor countries to climate-debt speculators and further impoverishing countries clutching onto debt.

Also in the spotlight was the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), where the activists feel that the means of implementation is being vehemently fought by the parties from developed countries.

“Adaptation must be funded from public resources and must not be seen as a business opportunity open to private sector players,” said Dr. Augustine Njamnshi, an environmental policy and governance law expert and the Executive Secretary of the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access. “Without clear indications on the means of implementation, GGA is an empty shell and it is not fit-for-purpose.”

According to Ambassador Ali Mohammed, the incoming Chair for the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), the SB60 is an opportunity to rebuild trust in the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

“That trust can only be rebuilt if we come out of Bonn with a quantum that adequately covers the needs of the continent,” he said, noting that the figure Africa is asking for, which is to be part of the agenda for COP29, is USD 1.3 trillion per year by 2030.

IPS UN Bureau Report


Biodiversity Meetings in Nairobi End, All Eyes Are Now on COP16

Biodiversity, Climate Change, Conferences, Development & Aid, Environment, Featured, Gender, Global, Headlines, Natural Resources, Sustainable Development Goals, TerraViva United Nations


A banner demanding an end to harmful subsidies is on display on the last day of the SBI meeting in Nairobi. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

A banner demanding an end to harmful subsidies is on display on the last day of the SBI meeting in Nairobi. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

NAIROBI, Jun 3 2024 (IPS) – Regions struggling to revise and update their National Biodiversity Plans aligning them with the Global Biodiversity Framework adopted at COP15, will now be given the technical and scientific support to develop and submit their plans on time.

This was one of the key decisions of the 4th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI)—the crucial pre-COP meetings of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (UNCBD)—to review the status and challenges of implementing the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which started on May 22 and ended in Nairobi late in the evening of May 29, 2024.

More than 1000 participants from 143 countries gathered for the nine-day meeting, which UNCBD referred to as one of the “largest SBI meetings ever,” to discuss a variety of issues pertaining to the timely implementation of the GBF. As the meeting ended, the participants came up with a list of recommendations that will be presented for nations to consider at the next Biodiversity COP (COP16), scheduled to be held in October in Cali, Colombia.

IPS provided coverage of the twin meetings of SBI and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advisors (SBSTTA), which took place earlier on May 13–18.  In this article, we bring you the key issues that topped the agenda of the SBI and the biggest recommendations that were made.

National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plans

In December 2022, at the COP15, parties agreed to revise and update their national biodiversity plans (NBSAP), aligning the targets with the global biodiversity framework that was adopted at the COP. These updated plans are to be submitted to UNCBD by or before the next COP, scheduled to be held in October.

However, as earlier reported by IPS, despite being just five months away from the next COP, only 11 countries have submitted their NBSAPs, while the majority of the countries have not, citing various reasons, including a lack of capacity and resources.

The top agenda item of the SBI has been reviewing these reasons and recommending steps that can help countries close this gap and complete the task of submitting their plans on time.

David Cooper, acting Executive Director of UN Biodiversity and Chirra Achalendar Reddy, chair of SBI-4, address the press conference. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

David Cooper, acting Executive Director of UN Biodiversity and Chirra Achalendar Reddy, chair of SBI-4, address the press conference. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Capacity Building

After the nine-day discussions, delegates at the SBI decided that it would be necessary to provide all countries with specific technical and scientific support that can help them develop their NBSAPs and submit them on time. To provide this support, SBI decided that a network of technical and scientific support centers would be set up at regional and sub-regional level.

According to Chirra Achalender Reddy, Secretary, National Biodiversity Authority, India, and the chair of the SBI-4 meeting, the recommendation to set up these support centers was one of the key decisions made at the meeting.

“I thank the parties for their commitment to implementation of the Convention, as demonstrated by their engagement during the negotiations this week.  While we have many issues to resolve at COP16, the foundation is laid for our discussions in Cali, Colombia, later this year,” said Reddy.

Elaborating further on the decision, David Cooper, Acting Executive Director of the UNCBD, said that 18 regional organizations have been selected worldwide as the support centers. “They will foster and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation as countries harness science, technology and innovation to help halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.”

Cooper also expressed hope that, in the future, these 18 organizations could create more such support centers, expanding the network from regional and sub-regional to national level.

“These subregional support centers will also promote technology transfer among countries, including through joint research programs and joint technology development ventures, acting as “one-stop service centers” offering wide-ranging resources to help meet Biodiversity Plan targets.  The centers are expected to help expand, scale up, and accelerate efforts such as the existing Bio-Bridge initiative,” Cooper added.

Resource Mobilization

In the Global Biodiversity Framework, the financial ambitions set out include investing USD 200 billion a year from both public and private sources until 2030. In addition, the goal also includes saving another USD 500 billion by ending subsidies that are harmful to biodiversity yet are still practiced by countries. This will bring the total available finance for biodiversity conservation to USD 700 billion per year until 2030, the deadline to achieve all GBF targets.

At the SBI, there was an intense discussion on resource mobilization. Several countries complained that, despite being signatories to the GBF, they had not been able to access any resources meant for biodiversity conservation, especially the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF), which was launched last year and is managed by the Global Environment Facility.

Delegates from Syria, who spearheaded this discussion, revealed that their country had not been able to receive any money and suggested that the final document prepared by the CBD Secretariat reflect this. Syria’s voice was amplified by Russia, which said that Syria’s inability to access resources should be interpreted as a denial of resources.

Almost all the governments also discussed their own parameters for national biodiversity finance plans, the role of multilateral development banks, existing UN initiatives, and private finance.

An important discussion that took place was about setting up a new Global Biodiversity Fund, separate from the current Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF).

Women4Biodiversity, a group of women-led NGOs and gender champions, launched a training module on how to mainstream gender at the Global Biodiversity Framework meeting. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Women4Biodiversity, a group of women-led NGOs and gender champions, launched a training module on how to mainstream gender at the Global Biodiversity Framework meeting. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Gender and Indigenous Peoples

One of the most interesting developments that took place on the sidelines of the SBI meeting was the launch of a training module by Women4Biodiversity, a group that advocates for gender mainstreaming across all 23 targets of the GBF and participates in the meetings as an observer.

Titled “Training Module on Advancing Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the Implementation of the Kunming Montreal-Global Biodiversity Framework,” the document was prepared in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Speaking to the press about the training module, Alejandra Duarte, Policy Associate at Women4Biodiversity, said the main objective of the publication was to serve as a source of information for decision-makers, negotiators, indigenous peoples and local communities, women, youth, civil society, businesses, and the whole of society who are engaged in the planning, monitoring, and implementation of the Biodiversity Plan.

Mrinalini Rai, Director of Women4Biodiversity, also explained that the module was created to be understood by all and customized as per the context, community, or country.

Supporting Rai’s comments, Cristina Eghenter, senior global governance policy expert at WWF, said, “I hope that the module will help understand the gaps and what needs to be done for women to be a part of the Biodiversity Plan.”

Rodah Rotino, an indigenous community leader and President of the Pastoral Communities Empowerment Programme (PACEP), a Kenya-based women-led NGO, highlighted the contribution of indigenous women to biodiversity conservation across the world, including Africa.

“In my community, we have started a seed bank that preserves indigenous tree seeds. We plant indigenous plants that help preserve and conserve the local biodiversity and help community members benefit from their many uses, as they have done for centuries,” Rotino said, citing the example of her own community in West Pokot County, where women have started several initiatives. “We even promote the use of our traditional food systems, including the use of traditional indigenous crops, fruits, and vegetables, and we are seeing that after using these, our people, especially women and children, have many health improvements and quick recovery from some ailments. In short, we are going ahead with using our indigenous knowledge without even waiting for the formal implementation of the GBF.”

What’s Next

In Cali, Colombia, the CBD secretariat will present the decisions of the SBI-4 and the SBSTTA to the nations for their consideration and adoption.

However, just before the COP begins, yet another SBI meeting (SBI-5) will be held in Cali. The sole focus of that meeting will be to review the latest status of the national biodiversity plans and the plans that will be submitted between now and the COP.

“Right now, countries are in various stages of developing their NBSAPs and by October, we expect most of them to complete and make the submissions. The SBI-5 will review the plans and the status then,” Cooper explained.

IPS UN Bureau Report