(Photo from the World Bank)
Starting off a bit slow here on the commentary front until I get my feet. In the meantime, here are a number of recent stories regarding international development.
*From ENN, how developing nations are trying to find ways to fund environmental protection in these budget crunching times. Of particular note is this segment on Palau that calls for protecting about 5 percent of the Pacific Ocean's surface in the Micronesian area by 2020:
On Tuesday, Remengesau launched what he called the "Micronesia challenge," which aims to protect 2.6 million sq. miles (6.7 million sq. kilometers) of the Pacific Ocean — roughly 5 percent of its surface — by 2020.
To fund the project, he hopes to raise money from governments, international lending institutions and the private sector to create an endowment bearing interest that will cover those costs indefinitely.
"We're hoping that this will be an inspiration and will have a snowball effect," said Remengesau, referring to the funding of the endowment. "Merely designing protected areas doesn't address our needs."
*With demand for energy increasing in developing countries such as Malaysia, how these countries develop their energy sectors sustainably with hybrid structures using alternative, bio, wind, hydro and geo energy sources instead of heavy reliance on fossil fuel will dictate just how polluted the future world will be. A conference called by the UN is currently discussing these issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
*The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance met in London on April 2nd to discuss social entrpreneurs and sustainable development.
When Bunker Roy came face to face with a devastating famine that killed thousands in the Indian state of Bihar over 30 years ago, his vocation was suddenly sealed. It would not be in the city but in the countryside, it would not be in the upper echelons of the civil service but at the grassroots, with the village people.
Since founding the Social Work and Research Centre in 1972, Roy has been living in Tilonia, a village in one of India's largest, driest and most famous states, Rajasthan. Better known as the Barefoot College, the centre has trained two generations of villagers without any formal paper qualifications to become health-care workers, solar engineers, hand-pump mechanics and teachers in their communities.
Thanks largely to its efforts, over 100,000 people in 110 villages now have access to safe drinking water, education, health and employment. Rural youth once regarded as "unemployable" install and maintain solar electricity systems, hand pumps and tanks for drinking water. At special workshops, young artisans upgrade local skills acquired through generations. And on an average evening, about 3,000 children (60 per cent of whom are girls) spend their days grazing cattle and helping their elders make their way to night school (there are now 150 of them around Tilonia), taught by local residents with rarely more than eight years of schooling.
*A conference last week in Hong Kong addressed how innovations in social enterprise could help the poor in China.