Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Gambia registers significant strides on the MDGs

The Gambia, one of the 20 most progressive countries in the world has registered a favourable balance on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) scale.

 

Speaking at the 9th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Deputy Director of policy at the UN Millennium Campaign, Gambian-born, Sering Falu Njie said, “the world has the technical know-how to achieve the MDGs”.   Njie said it does not take much to reduce hunger and achieve universal primary education.

The assembly themed “Committing Youth Leadership to the MDGs” was attended by 600 young people from 40 countries across the world. Njie said the political commitment is essential to youth development and attainment of the MDGs.  He believes more can be done for the youth by means of appropriate policies, strategies and financing.

According to Njie, Gambia is well on track to achieving their MDGs, but some countries might not achieve their goals.

According to the former Director General of the National Planning Commission in The Gambia, a recent review of the MDGs showed countries are at different rankings and he called on developing nations to prioritise their spending by utilising their merger resources, after which they can solicit funds from the developed countries.

Njie said that although The Gambia was doing really well, the country needs to stay focussed to achieve all eight MDG goals by 2015.  Sectors such as fisheries and agriculture need more commitment to steer the country towards achievingthe MDGs.

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President Obama announces spur in biofuels funding

During the next three years, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy will invest up to $510 million on the next generation of biofuels, as announced by President Obama.

 

The investment stems from a directive from President Obama issued in March as part of his Blueprint for A Secure Energy Future, the Administration’s framework for reducing dependence on foreign oil.

Obama said the support towards biofuels cannot be the role of government alone and the White House will partner with the private sector to fast track the development of next-generation biofuels.  In the U.S., the biofuels industry has been slow due to a current lack of manufacturing capabilities but officials believe this effort will help address the issues.

The initiative addresses challenges in developing technology, markets and competitive-cost disadvantages to the oil industry that will focus on creating a new industry able to sustain itself and remain profitable.

U.S. Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said the national biofuel industry would create jobs and boost economic opportunities in rural communities throughout the country. Vilsack said, “As importantly, every gallon of biofuel consumed near where it is produced cuts transportation costs and, for the military, improves energy security.”

Tom Vilsack, Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, and Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, have jointly developed a plan to construct or retrofit several biofuels plants and refineries.  Mabus said finally, there was a guaranteed customer for biofuels and that could bring about the change needed.    The U.S. navy aims to use 50 percentrenewable energy within a decade.


Biofuel drives job creation and financial opportunities

On Monday, Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, announced an additional four project areas for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).  The four projects areas, in the states of California, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington, will be used to produce non-food crops for the manufacture of liquid biofuels.

 

 

When the project areas reach full operating capacity, it is predicted that there will be an additional 3,400 jobs across the agriculture, biorefinery and supporting sectors and the areas will provide the raw materials to produce over 2 million gallons of biofuels per year.

Vilsack said, “The Obama Administration is committed to providing financial opportunities to rural communities, farmers and ranchers to produce biomass which will be converted to renewable fuels and increase America’s energy independence.  The selection of these project areas is another step in the effort to assist the nation’s advanced biofuel industry to produce energy in commercial quantities from sustainable rural resources. This effort will create jobs and stimulate rural economies across the nation.”

BCAP, created in the 2008 Farm Bill, is a primary component of the domestic agriculture, energy, and environmental strategy to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, improve domestic energy security, reduce carbon pollution, and spur rural economic development and job creation.If selected, crop producers will be eligible for reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing a bioenergy perennial crop. Producers can receive up to five years of annual payments for herbaceous (non-woody) crops (annual or perennial), and up to 15 years of annual payments for woody crops (annual or perennial).

Approximately $45 million has been allocated for contracts for producers who volunteer to enrol in BCAP.The BCAP has projects that will grow camelina, poplar, switchgrass and miscanthus giganteus.

Switchgrass and miscanthusgiganteus are the first-ever national investments in expanding U.S. biomass resources to meet domestic energy security.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency


Air Force pushes for 50% Biofuel by 2016

The Air Force wants to switch to 50% use of biofuel by 2016, confirming the transition to alternative energy in aviation.

 

Senator Maria Cantwell showed her support for the initiative while chairing a hearing in the U.S. Senate Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee.

“With the rising cost of jet fuel and the thriving American biofuel industry, we have an opportunity to help the aviation industry by keeping costs down for the future,” Cantwell said.

Camelina, a suitable crop for biofuel production around the U.S could see an increase in price farmers get for their crop.

Cantwell said the burning of petroleum-based jet fuel comprises 2 percent of the U.S’s global greenhouse gas emissions, and fluctuating oil prices make it difficult for airlines to enter into long-term fuel contracts.

The U.S. currently imports almost 65 percent of its petroleum and this is set to increase to 70%.  Senator John Thune, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Aviation said it is in America’s interest to secure alternative energy no matter the form, because most of the oil is held by unstable regimes such as Venezuela and Iran. He also said that the Air Force wants half of its domestically purchased aviation fuel to be from renewable energy sources by 2016.

Biofuels could extend the engine life of aircraft as they are cleaner than fossil fuels and reduce the wear and tear on the engine.  Terry Yonkers, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics said, “If we could extend the engine life 10 or 15 or 20 percent, that will certainly improve our readiness and ability to go to war”.

Washington state is one of the leaders of the biofuel industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it is uniting with AltAir Fuels to increase production of aviation biofuel with non-food crops grown in-state.

The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) provides financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forestland who wish to establish, produce, and deliver biomass feedstocksand covers more than 50,000 acres in Washington, Montana and California.


Mozambican Biofuel exports to German airline Lufthansa

Sun Biofuels Moçambique, a subsidiary of UK-based Sun Biofuels, has exported the first batch of 30 tonnes of biofuel to German airline Lufthansa, from its central province of Manica.

 

Sun Biofuels Mozambique director for corporate affairs, Luis Gouveiaadvised that Lufthansais considering using biofuel in its aircraft and is currently performing testing on the biofuel.

Gouveia said, “On a recent visit to our project, the deputy chairman of Lufthansa considered that the oil produced at our unit was of a high quality.”

The biofuel was initiallyrefined in Mozambique. The second stage of refiningwas carried out in Helsinki, Finland and turned the biofuelinto kerosene.

Gouveia said they are also targeting the automotive industry and the energy supply industry. The company aim is to reach 11,000 hectares of planted area over the next five years.

Environmental protection is another factor that encouraged the company to invest in biofuel production, because of its contribution for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.


The Gambia eligible for The 2011 Future Policy Award

The 2011 Future Policy Award celebrates the most inspiring, innovative and influential forest policies worldwide. The Gambia, alongside Bhutan, Nepal, Rwanda, Switzerland and the USA, is in the running for this prestigious award.

 

The Gambia Community Forest Policy aims to achieve sustainable forest management and poverty alleviation by handing control of forests to the communities that use them. Gambia is leading the trend of reforestation in Western and Central Africa by showing a net increase in forest cover of 8.5% over the last two decades.

The Future Policy Award awards the most exemplary national polices that create better living conditions for current and future generations. The focus for 2011 is forests, and the year has been declared the International Year of Forests by the United Nations.

The director of the World Future Council, Alexandra Wandel says, “With the Future Policy Award we want to cast a spotlight on policies that lead by example. The aim of the World Future Council is to raise global awareness of visionary policies and speed up policy action in the interests of present and future generations.”

Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Honorary Councillor of the WFC said, “These six shortlisted candidates all demonstrate leadership towards the achievement of the 2020 Biodiversity targets: halving deforestation, restoring forests worldwide and ensuring that all forests are managed sustainably. Through the implementation of these policies, we can achieve the 2050 vision, which is a future of life in harmony with nature.”

The Gambia Community Forest Policy includes a far reaching tenure transition of forest land from state ownership to permanent ownership by communities. The policy has also achieved a reduction in illegal logging and the incidence of forest fires in community forest areas as well as contributing to the development of new markets for branch wood and other forest products which benefit women and rural populations economically.


The Gambia eligible for The 2011 Future Policy Award

The 2011 Future Policy Award celebrates the most inspiring, innovative and influential forest policies worldwide. The Gambia, alongside Bhutan, Nepal, Rwanda, Switzerland and the USA, is in the running for this prestigious award.

 

The Gambia Community Forest Policy aims to achieve sustainable forest management and poverty alleviation by handing control of forests to the communities that use them. Gambia is leading the trend of reforestation in Western and Central Africa by showing a net increase in forest cover of 8.5% over the last two decades.

The Future Policy Award awards the most exemplary national polices that create better living conditions for current and future generations. The focus for 2011 is forests, and the year has been declared the International Year of Forests by the United Nations.

The director of the World Future Council, Alexandra Wandel says, “With the Future Policy Award we want to cast a spotlight on policies that lead by example. The aim of the World Future Council is to raise global awareness of visionary policies and speed up policy action in the interests of present and future generations.”

Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Honorary Councillor of the WFC said, “These six shortlisted candidates all demonstrate leadership towards the achievement of the 2020 Biodiversity targets: halving deforestation, restoring forests worldwide and ensuring that all forests are managed sustainably. Through the implementation of these policies, we can achieve the 2050 vision, which is a future of life in harmony with nature.”

The Gambia Community Forest Policy includes a far reaching tenure transition of forest land from state ownership to permanent ownership by communities. The policy has also achieved a reduction in illegal logging and the incidence of forest fires in community forest areas as well as contributing to the development of new markets for branch wood and other forest products which benefit women and rural populations economically.