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Debt for Nature

first_imgDear EarthTalk: As I understand it, “Debt-for-Nature Swaps” are arrangements by which countries can erase debt by preserving land. Are any being done today? — Bill Hunt, Topeka, KSThe debt-for-nature swap concept, whereby a portion of a developing nation’s foreign debt is forgiven in exchange for local investments in environmental conservation measures, dates back to the mid-1980s when Thomas Lovejoy of the non-profit World Wildlife Fund (WWF) first proposed it as a way to deal with the problems of developing nations’ indebtedness and the negative consequences for their natural resources and diverse environments.The theory goes that if a country with, say, valuable tropical rainforests, is up to its ears in debt, it will sell off or otherwise deplete those natural resources, instead of protecting or conserving them, in order to raise the money needed to pay off its debts. Debt-for-nature swaps can therefore be useful financial mechanisms for helping countries reduce debt without destroying their most valuable natural resources.Since the first swap was brokered with Bolivia (to protect its Beni Biosphere Reserve and adjacent areas) by the non-profit Conservation International in 1987, many national governments and conservation groups have engaged in similar types of debt-for-nature swap negotiations, especially in tropical countries which contain diverse and threatened species of flora and fauna. Costa Rica has exchanged tens of millions of dollars in debt to protect some of its most pristine and biologically productive rainforests.In 1998 the U.S. government passed the Tropical Forest Conservation Act to codify debt-for-nature swaps, including formally welcoming non-profit groups like Conservation International, the Nature Conservancy, WWF and others to help arrange the deals and oversee implementation of local initiatives. A 2010 Congressional Research Service report found that since 1987, debt-for-nature swaps have channeled upwards of $1 billion toward tropical forest conservation initiatives instead of back into creditor nations’ coffers.But far fewer deals are occurring today for a number of reasons. For one, says the Congressional Research Service, other agreements for debt restructuring and cancellation have reduced developing nations’ debt by significantly more than debt-for-nature swaps can. Another is that the concept has fallen somewhat out of favor. Some experts argue that the financial benefits are overstated, that funds are misdirected to less needy countries, that external debt is not a primary driver of deforestation and other environmental ills, and that funding does not necessarily equate to effective implementation of conservation strategies.Criticism aside, some deals are still getting done. In 2008, France forgave $20 million in debt owed by Madagascar to help the biodiversity-rich nation triple the size of its protected areas to better protect its native flora and fauna. In 2010, the U.S. forgave $21 million in Brazilian debt to fund several ecosystem protection initiatives in Brazil’s still vanishing tropical rainforests. The U.S. has also forgiven debt from the Philippines, Guatemala and Peru in recent years in exchange for on-the-ground conservation efforts. Germany and the Netherlands have each forgiven some of their foreign debt to tropical nations for forest protection as well. So while debt-for-nature swaps are not as popular as they once were, they are still a key tool in the toolbox of environmentalists looking to promote conservation in tropical countries.CONTACTS: WWF, www.wwf.org; Conservation International, www.conservation.org. The Nature Conservancy, www.nature.org.last_img read more

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Members, legislators talk issues at 2019 Ag Day at the Capital

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest  Leave a CommentBraving ice and snow, hundreds of Farm Bureau members gathered in downtown Columbus to meet one-on-one with their state senators and representatives during Ohio Farm Bureau’s annual Ag Day at the Capital Feb. 20. Ohio Farm Bureau priority issues such as the biennial state budget, water quality, economic development, infrastructure and energy were discussed, along with a host of other community issues. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and OFBF Executive Vice President Adam Sharp took part in a “fireside chat” to discuss infrastructure, education and water quality, among other topics. DeWine vowed to make it a point to work with the agricultural community.“Our way of operating whether on this issue or any other issue is to bring people together and bring agriculture to the table,” DeWine said. OFBF Senior Director of Corporate Communications Joe Cornely and Dorothy Pelanda, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, followed DeWine and Sharp.Throughout the day, Farm Bureau members visited with state senators and representatives and their staffs at the Statehouse and Riffe Center in downtown Columbus. The annual Ag Day at the Capital event embodies the grassroots efforts of Ohio Farm Bureau member volunteers. Online ExtrasView more coverage on Twitter using the hashtag #OFBAgDay.Like Ohio Farm Bureau on Facebook. See a photo album from the day.Coverage from Ohio Ag Net  Leave a Commentlast_img read more

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Youngsters tune into serious debates and spirited dancing at Mind Rocks Chandigarh

first_imgIt is time to get serious.” Punjab’s best-known political satirist and the Aam Aadmi Party’s newest poster boy Bhagwant Mann says “politicians of every colour have done mazaak (played jokes) with people’s emotions and aspirations for far too long.” The ‘funny man’, who made a blistering ingress to Parliament three,It is time to get serious.” Punjab’s best-known political satirist and the Aam Aadmi Party’s newest poster boy Bhagwant Mann says “politicians of every colour have done mazaak (played jokes) with people’s emotions and aspirations for far too long.” The ‘funny man’, who made a blistering ingress to Parliament three months ago, delighted youngsters at Mind Rocks Chandigarh on August 23 with his inimitably sharp and rib-tickling repartees.Bringing young people and youth icons face-to-face like nowhere else, the India Today Youth Summit, for the first time moving north of Delhi to Le Corbusier’s ‘City Beautiful’, included a galaxy of celebrities besides Mann- the stunning Esha Gupta, actor Jimmy Shergill, sporting legends Bishan Singh Bedi, Vijender Singh and Sardara Singh, actor in transition to becoming full-time politician Kirron Kher, and emerging political stars Dushyant Singh, the fourth-generation Chautala, Renuka Bishnoi of the Haryana Janhit Congress and the BJP’s Vineet Joshi.It made for an enthralling time interspersed with fashion advice from designer Rina Dhaka and opportunities for more serious introspection with the cast and crew of Kaum De Heere-the contentious new biopic on the lives of Indira Gandhi’s assassins. “Think original; be passionate about what you do; set your goals early; demonstrate commitment towards excellence; always, always have an open mind towards different ideas”-the essential thread of the ideas nearly 300 young students from Chandigarh, Noida, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan took away from Mind Rocks. All of this through the daylong string of delightfully interactive sessions instigated by Kalli Purie, group synergy and creative officer of the India Today Group. “Feel free to whistle, dance and hoot. Just do not sit stiff,” she told the engrossed youngsters. “India has the world’s largest population of young people. If they make a firm resolve, they can change anything, even the menace of drugs plaguing us,” said Haryana Chief Minister B.S. Hooda’s Principal Secretary K.K. Khandelwal, in his rather stirring inaugural address.advertisementFresh from yet another success at the Commonwealth Games, Vijender Singh was truly inspirational, “Never let doomsayers or the prospect of failure impede you,” he said. Recounting anecdotes and lessons from his journey from the boxing ring to Bollywood, the Haryanvi boxing sensation, happily breaking into dance to the thumping notes of ‘Fugly, fugly?’, confessed candidly that he would never have made it either in sport or films had he allowed himself to be discouraged by critics.Actors Shergill and Gupta, however, spoke of a slightly contrasting journey to success and stardom. “It is important to keep the stress on to ensure that you never lose sight of the target,” said Shergill, insisting that for him intermittent failures have always been learning experiences. Gupta talked about how she started out with small, reachable dreams as a young girl in a middle-class home. “Hard work,” she now believes, can change it all: “I now dream of nothing less than the stars.”At Mind Rocks, amid the breathless singalongs and feisty foot tapping in the aisles with Sukhwinder Singh belting out ‘Jai ho, Chak de and Chhaiya chhaiya’, Bishan Bedi had his young audience nodding vigorously in agreement with his no-holds-barred castigation of the IPL. The IPL, Bedi declared, was like a “cancer” in Indian cricket. Amazingly, the grey-bearded sportsman got more selfie requests than most Bollywood stars at Mind Rocks.Sports and sporting greats evidently draw in young people in India like nothing else. Indian Hockey’s newest star Sardara Singh made two heartening confessions at Mind Rocks Chandigarh-that he went AWOL from his first hockey training camp and would never have become a player but for persistent encouragement from his grandfather. And that his wedding later this year will be the culmination of what started out as a Facebook romance. “I met my fiance online,” he said a trifle sheepishly.Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher started out, amid cheers, exhorting her young listeners to always keep their minds open to new ideas-even those that appear contrary or contentious. Responding to objections during a session featuring the cast and producers of Kaum De Heere, Kher advised “first view the film (when it releases) and only then form an opinion”. Concluding with youngsters rocking to the performance by Triculin, a Chandigarh-based band, the India Today Youth Summit left its participants with a spectrum of lasting impressions.The soulful sufi strains of ‘Nitt khair manga?’ stayed with many, hours after a smiling Hans Raj Hans sang at Mind Rocks Chandigarh.- Follow the writer on Twitter @sukantdeepaklast_img read more

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