Feature Story

English

Benin has its fair share of energy challenges. Only a third of the nation’s population has access to electricity, frequent outages disrupt service, over 80 percent of the nation’s electricity is imported, wood remains a prime source for cooking, and a changing climate means higher temperatures and even greater strains on the nation’s energy supplies.

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By Homi Kharas, deputy director, global economy and development programme, Brookings Institute

“The best things in life are free”, says the old song. When it comes to the global commons – clean air, healthy oceans, conservation of diverse species – this is no longer true. We’ve abused the great systems of our planet for centuries and now it’s time to pay the bill.

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Kazakhstan’s classrooms are in the frontline of the battle against global warming, with green technology helping to make schools more energy efficient.

The first thing that springs into mind when you think about schools is learning and grades. But these are impossible without proper basic conditions like warmth and good light,” says Tatyana Nemtsan, head teacher of Vyacheslavskaya School in Arnasay, Akmola Region. Flickering lights and the buzzing noise made by old equipment can cause serious health problems such as bad vision and splitting headaches. 

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By Rolph Payet, executive secretary, Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions

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By Yolanda Kakabadse, president, WWF International

Underneath its vast blue surface, the ocean’s value – to our planet and people alike – is almost incalculable. It puts food on the table and underpins trillions of dollars of economic activity worldwide. It produces 50 % of our oxygen, absorbs heat and re-distributes it around the world, and regulates the world’s weather systems. Quite simply, life could not exist without these enormous marine resources and the goods and services they provide, seemingly endlessly.

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By Pavan Sukhdev, founder, GIST Advisory

More than a year has passed since the world’s governments agreed the sustainable development goals (SDGs). But as the theoretical rubber of their targets and indicators meets the road of practical policy reform to implement them, we are hearing a discordant sound.

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In 2014 the GEF approved funding for a sorely needed project to protect the ecosystem surrounding tropical seagrass. Seagrass ecosystems span several countries and offer various environmental benefits to the areas they belong to. Given its mandate, the GEF was uniquely placed to finance this project at the global level with over $5 million invested in 8 different countries. The dugong, also known as the "sea cow", was chosen as a flagship animal for this project since it feeds and relies on the seagrass ecosystem.

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By Nigel Topping, CEO, We Mean Business

The world economy is in a transition to a low-carbon one that respects the planet’s climate and its other vital global commons. But will it be just, or unjust?

Just transitions happen when a failing sector or business is helped to move towards a new, low-carbon growth area. Some quite widespread examples are already under way. The former steel city of Pittsburgh, for example, is reinventing itself as a leading centre for developing self-driving autonomous cars.

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By Carlos Nobre and Juan Carlos Castilla-Rubio

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Andean ecosystems are under threat from unsustainable agricultural and rangeland management practices, fire, deforestation, and overexploitation of natural resources. To overcome this challenge, Peru and Ecuador have put in place Conservation agreements to help stem damage to the Andean region’s globally significant carbon stocks and biodiversity. 

This is one of the main achievements of a 2014-2018 GEF project led by UN Environment (UNEP) at three sites in Ecuador and two in Peru.