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France Hosts One Planet Summit

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France is today hosting its One Planet Summit in an effort to develop a new framework that will protect ecosystems and species.

Held alongside the UN and World Bank, the event is laying out plans of action on managing land and marine protected areas, agro-ecology, financing biodiversity and the fight against deforestation.

The summit is run by the Elysée Palace, with about 10 participants on site and the rest joining online.

Among those taking part are UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, World Bank president David Malpass, Britain’s Prince Charles, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde and World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

With the connection between biodiversity loss and human health established by world experts, French President Emmanuel Macron has tasked France with leading the way forward in 2021.

“On the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, I want France to be able to mobilise the international community once again,” Macron said in September, as he announced the summit would go ahead despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The oceans, the poles, the tropical forests all belong to the common heritage of humanity.”

Given 2020 was largely a “lost year” for the environment, with several major global summits either cancelled or postponed, scientists say the next 12 months will be crucial.

Chile’s Cop26 was derailed by the global coronavirus crisis, as was the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which was scheduled for last June in Marseille.

Fear of zoonoses

The Covid-19 pandemic highlights the worrying multiplication of zoonoses – diseases that pass from animals to humans – as a result of increased contact between humans and species whose wild habitats are being destroyed.

“It is true that decision-making has been postponed by a year, which is quite significant in view of the pressures on natural ecosystems today,” said Maud Lelièvre, president of the French committee of the IUCN.

“On the other hand, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown even more clearly that the biodiversity crisis is a major political issue. This health crisis has had at least this revealing effect on many people.”

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East-Africa

Uganda Forests Risk Depletion Due To Rapid Population Growth

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Ugandan experts have revealed that the country’s population is expected to rise to 75million in the next decade warning this could directly and negatively impact on forests.

The revelations come at a time the world is celebrating World Wildlife Day observed on 3 March in order to celebrate the flora and fauna of the world and also raise awareness about them.

The theme for World Wildlife Day 2021 is ‘Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet’. The United Nations aims to highlight the significance of how forests give a livelihood to many communities, especially indigenous and local communities.

Robert Bitariho, Director of Uganda’s Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation said on Wednesday that use of forests is by large unsustainable in Uganda because of high population density. If in 2031 the Ugandan population is at 75 million how much forests are we going to lose?

“On average 75% of forest produce is consumed at the household level with only 25% being traded. This indicates how much forests mean to the survival of the local community,” he said.

Tom Obong Okello, Executive Director National Forestry Authority submitted that “whatever effort we are doing to address sustainable forest management we must manage forests outside gazetted forest protection areas.”

According to Obong, Forestry in Uganda is being recognized as a primary growth sector and a contributor to the goal of sustainable industrialization for growth, employment and wealth creation.

Meanwhile, Sam Mwandah, Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority says “Forest loss greatly derails Uganda’s efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and without forests, our survival is in jeopardy.”

David Duli, Country Director WWF said that the population is overwhelming as we have seen in Bwindi natural forest area. There is the demarcation of boundaries but the gardens are going up to the edge of the forest.

Uganda’s forest cover includes tropical forests, woodlands and plantation forests.

According to Matthias Schauer the EU representative in Uganda,”The damage done to forests and woodlands in Uganda in the past 25 years has been dramatic. We destroy unique biodiversity and intruding natural habitats hence fueling future wildlife conflicts.”

The UN plans to introduce forest wildlife management models and practices on World Wildlife Day 2021. Celebrating the livelihoods that are based in forest, the UN aims to promote practices that can help in sustainable development, including traditional practices and knowledge.

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Business

French Firm Acquires 100 MW Solar Power Plant In South Africa

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 A South African-French multinational electric utility company, ENGIE, has signed a deal to acquire from a Spanish counterpart, Abengoa, a 40% equity stake in Xina Solar One, a 100 MW Concentrated Solar plant, as well as 46% of the Operations & Maintenance Company.

The plant is equipped with parabolic trough technology and a molten salt storage system that allows for 5.5 hours of energy storage to provide reliable electricity during peak demand.

Power is contracted through a 20 years Power Purchase Agreement with Eskom (South African Electricity Public Utility). 

Xina Solar One is supplying clean energy to more than 95,000 South African households and prevents the emission into the atmosphere of approximately 348,000 tons of CO2 each year.

The plant is located in the Northern Cape of South Africa, which is also the location of ENGIE’s 100 MW Kathu CSP plant.

Xina Solar One increases ENGIE’s renewable footprint and is a further step to cementing its position as the leading Independent Power Producer in the country.

Synergies between Xina and Kathu will be developed to further enhance the operational efficiency of both plants.

“With the acquisition of this project, ENGIE is pursuing its low carbon strategy. Xina augments the country’s installed peaking power and reduces its dependence on coal-fired electricity. The 100 MW CSP plant also contributes to ENGIE’s geographic rationalization by expanding its footprint in South Africa, where it is the leading Independent Power Producer with 1,320 MW of installed capacity.”  says Sébastien Arbola, CEO of ENGIE MESCATA.

Mohamed Hoosen, CEO of ENGIE Southern Africa said: “ENGIE is valued as a highly-skilled IPP and a long-term player in the South African power industry. We are adding an innovative high-performing plant and are increasing our CSP capacity. This investment will create value over the lon- term while accelerating impact on the energy transition of our customers.”

Co-shareholders on Xina Solar One include Public Investment Corporation, a pension fund manager and a shareholder on ENGIE’s Kathu project (20%); Industrial Development Corporation, a development finance institution wholly- owned by the South African Government (20%); and Xina Community Trust, funded by the IDC (20%).

Xina Solar One, which started commercial operation in August 2017, was built by Abengoa.

Completion of the transaction is subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions including merger control clearance from relevant competition authorities.

In South Africa, ENGIE has interests in a CSP plant (100 MW Kathu), a wind farm (94 MW Aurora), 2 solar photovoltaic plants (21 MW), and 2 thermal power peaking plants (670 MW Avon and 335 MW Dedisa).

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Environment

Poisoned Fish Spotted Floating On Lake Victoria

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Tanzania has warned its lake shore population against eating fish that is reportedly floating on the vast lake Victoria.

Authorities in Kagera Region have warned residents to avoid eating dead fish found floating on the lake.

Kagera Regional Fisheries officer, Efrazi Mkama said on Saturday that his team was closely following up reports from a neighbouring country, showing that some dead fish had been washed up ashore on lake Victoria as well as lake Kyoga and the Nile.

Lake Victoria is shared by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

“We have taken necessary precautions. Preliminary investigations show fish poisoning. So, people are warned to avoid eating dead fish if they see them floating, instead they have to burry,” he said.

Mkama said last month dead fish stocks were spotted floating on Bugabo and Nyabesigwa sites, adding that the cause might be a drop in oxygen levels.

Nile Perch fish species is believed to be very sensitive to oxygen levels below 2mg/litre of water.

 

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