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Posts tagged ‘policy’

Planned Families Save Lives

From Nation of Change
by Julio Godoy
19 July 2012

Family Planning Essential for Development

Improving family planning to avoid unwanted pregnancies in developing countries, as well as assuring girls’ access to education, and women’s participation in the economy, are essential components of a sound development policy, according to Western experts and African activists.

During a summit on family planning in London last week numerous economic development experts, government delegates from industrialised and developing countries, and private donors agreed to raise some 4.3 billion dollars by 2020 to allow 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries, particularly in the continent of Africa, to access contraceptives and other family planning materials.

The summit underscored the importance of girls’ and women’s access to contraceptives as both a right and a transformational health and development priority.

Simultaneously, gender activists attending the second African Women’s Economic Summit, which concluded on Jul. 14 in Lagos, Nigeria, urged policy makers, corporate organizations and political leaders to step up measures to promote women’s empowerment and remove barriers impeding their economic development.

“I don’t want my daughters … in the coming years discussing these same issues (of women’s education and economic empowerment),” Cecilia Akintomide, vice president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), co-organiser of the African summit, told the audience in Lagos. “I want to see a change in my lifetime.”

During the meeting in Lagos, Nigeria’s finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, emphasized that women’s economic empowerment is no longer simply an option “because investing in women, who constitute half of the continent’s population, is the only way to sustain the growth” recently recorded across the African continent.

“Women are the third largest emerging market in the globe. Women are the third largest source of growth. One of the fastest ways to sustain current growth is to invest in women,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

Participants at the London summit echoed these views, with an emphasis on the health risks associated with unwanted pregnancies.

“Enabling an additional 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries to access and use contraception, something women in the developed world take for granted, will save millions of lives and enable girls and women to determine their own futures,” said Andrew Mitchell, British secretary of state for international development.

Mitchell called the commitments of the summit a “breakthrough for the world’s poorest girls and women, which will transform lives now and for generations to come.”

By 2020, the collective efforts announced in London will allegedly result in 200,000 fewer women dying during pregnancy and childbirth, more than 110 million fewer unintended pregnancies, over 50 million fewer abortions, and nearly three million fewer babies dying in their first year of life.

Avoiding unwanted pregnancies also allows girls and women pursue their own education and improve their professional opportunities.

Numerous studies show that the investment of a single dollar in family planning leads to savings of up to six dollars in health, housing, water, and other public services.

Contraceptive use also leads to more education and greater opportunities for girls, helping to end the cycles of poverty that millions of women and their families are trapped in. Up to a quarter of girls in sub-Saharan Africa drop out of school due to unintended pregnancies.

Based on such evidence, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) call for gender equality, universal education, and improving maternal and child health, setting specific objectives to be met by 2015.

According to the U.N. 2012 MDG report, released Jul. 2, meeting these goals by 2015, while challenging, is possible, “but only if governments do not waiver from their commitments made over a decade ago.”

In the foreword of the report, U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, warned that the current economic crises battering much of the developed world “must not be allowed to decelerate or reverse the progress that has been made.”

“Let us build on the successes we have achieved so far, and let us not relent until all the MDGs have been attained,” he urged.

The U.N. report points out that the world has achieved parity in primary education between girls and boys. Driven by national and international efforts, many more of the world’s children are enrolled in school at the primary level, especially since 2000.

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Dear Friends,

Over a million people have called on world leaders to end fossil fuel subsidies at the Rio Earth Summit — a no-brainer policy that could take one trillion tax dollars from Big Oil and reinvest it in green energy. But they’ve failed to deliver — even with the backing of the EU, the US and most G20 countries! The talks end in 48 hours. Now is our chance to save them and the planet’s future.

Brazil’s President Dilma is hosting the summit and has the power to reopen discussions and demand a timeline for ending polluter payouts, but she is considering walking away with the weak language presented by a team of bureaucrats. We can stop her in her tracks.

Dilma has 2 days to emerge as a global climate hero. Sign this urgent petition now and forward to everyone — at 500,000 signers, Avaaz will deliver it straight to Dilma’s hands and run an urgent, hard-hitting ad in the Financial Times:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_rio_save_the_planet/?bMPbqab&v=15402

In the last 2 weeks, we’ve already made huge strides towards an end to fossil fuel subsidies. Together, we’ve:

Unfurled giant trillion dollar bills with our friends 350 on beaches in Rio and in Los Cabos that garnered the attention of major media across the globe and delivered a 1 million strong call to end harmful polluter subsidies.

Delivered a petition with over 750,000 signers directly to UK Prime Minister Cameron and the Mexican chair of the G20 summit.

Massively impacted the vote in a UN poll — making fossil fuel subsidies the top priority for the Earth Summit. We won with over 66% of the vote!

Flooded the Mexican and New Zealand environment ministers with messages calling on them to push for an end to polluter payouts.

And our team on the ground in Rio and Los Cabos has tirelessly lobbied politicians — attending dozens of meetings with high level officials from key countries.

The stage is set and Dilma has the perfect solution to turn the talks around: a clear and timely end to fossil fuel subsidies. We only have 48 hours for this final push to action — click below to sign:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_rio_save_the_planet/?bMPbqab&v=15402

The movement to end fossil fuel subsidies is at a tipping point. Over 1 million of us signed petitions calling for action, from Rio and Delhi to London and Sydney. As we enter the 11th hour of the Rio Earth Summit, let’s continue to push until we win!

With hope,

Iain, Antonia, Jamie, Emma, Ricken, Diego, Pedro and the rest of the Avaaz team

Energy, Gas & Reality

From Nation of Change

The Energy Deficit
by Michael Spence

I have been surprised by the recent coverage in the American press of gasoline prices and politics. Political pundits agree that presidential approval ratings are highly correlated with gas prices: when prices go up, a president’s poll ratings go down. But, in view of America’s long history of neglect of energy security and resilience, the notion that Barack Obama’s administration is responsible for rising gas prices makes little sense.

Four decades have passed since the oil-price shocks of the 1970’s. We learned a lot from that experience. The short-run impact – as always occurs when oil prices rise quickly – was to reduce growth by reducing consumption of other goods, because oil consumption does not adjust as quickly as that of other goods and services.

But, given time, people can and do respond by lowering their consumption of oil. They buy more fuel-efficient cars and appliances, insulate their homes, and sometimes even use public transportation. The longer-run impact is thus different and much less negative. The more energy-efficient one is, the lower one’s vulnerability to price volatility.

“Follow Project Syndicate on Facebook or Twitter. For more from Michael Spence, click here.”

On the supply side, there is a similar difference between short-term and longer-run effects. In the short term, supply may be able to respond to the extent that there is reserve capacity (there isn’t much now). But the much larger, longer-run effect comes from increased oil exploration and extraction, owing to the incentive of higher prices.

All of this takes time, but, as it occurs, it mitigates the negative impact: the demand and supply curves shift in response to higher prices (or to anticipation of higher prices).

In terms of policy, there was a promising effort in the late 1970’s. Fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles were legislated, and car producers implemented them. In a more fragmented fashion, states established incentives for energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings.

But then oil and gas prices (adjusted for inflation) entered a multi-decade period of decline. Policies targeting energy efficiency and security largely lapsed. Two generations came to think of declining oil prices as normal, which accounts for the current sense of entitlement, the outrage at rising prices, and the search for villains: politicians, oil-producing countries, and oil companies are all targets of scorn in public-opinion surveys.

A substantial failure of education about non-renewable natural resources lies in the background of current public sentiment. And now, having underinvested in energy efficiency and security when the costs of doing so were lower, America is poorly positioned to face the prospect of rising real prices. Energy policy has been “pro-cyclical” – the opposite of saving for a rainy day. Given the upward pressure on prices implied by rising emerging-market demand and the global economy’s rapid increase in size, that day has arrived.

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

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