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Releasing Disaster Funds Before Crises Would Transform Humanitarian Response

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As the world negotiates a new climate deal, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), together with German Red Cross (GRC), unveiled a forecast-based approach which would transform the humanitarian system. This new approach will release funds for disaster preparedness and response before the crisis occurs while providing the necessary funds for resilience building activities.

WFP’s Food Security Climate Resilience Facility (FoodSECuRE) will shift the humanitarian model from a reactive system to one that looks forward and saves more lives, time and money. Both FoodSECuRE and a Red Cross project in Uganda – one in a range of Red Cross-Red Crescent forecast-based financing pilot projects – have been activated in recent weeks to meet climate-related disasters, the dramatic predictions of El Niño and extreme weather.

An anticipatory response not only protects people’s lives: new WFP research shows it also saves money. A 2015 FoodSECuRE analysis in Sudan and Niger shows that using a forecast-based system would lower the cost of the humanitarian response by 50 percent.

FoodSECuRE unlocks funds before disasters, but also ensures that funds are available between cycles of disasters, because only through reliable, multi-year funding will vulnerable people build their resilience to the effects of climate change.

“The humanitarian system is increasingly stretched financially and operationally. More weather disasters require responses in more places and for longer periods. We need new approaches. Now we have the tools to respond before a disaster hits and between recurrent disasters – it’s the only way to help lift vulnerable people out of a cycle of chronic hunger and poverty, for good,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “Turning the FoodSECuRE tool into a meaningful global facility will require mobilizing US$400 million.”

In Guatemala and Zimbabwe, funds have been released through FoodSECuRE in areas where drought risk is high due to El Niño. Farmers have been trained to grow drought-resistant crops and to change their agricultural practices to conserve both soil and water, so that even if the harvest is bad, people will still have food on the table.

Increasing climate disasters, humanitarian needs and short-term financing mechanisms mean that new approaches are urgently required. FoodSECuRE blends scientific forecasting mechanisms with flexible long-term financing that helps people build their resilience.

The Red Cross Red Crescent has seven operational pilot projects of this new approach around the world. “Using state-of-the-art weather and climate forecasts, we can trigger action to prepare for disaster,” says Garry Conille, Under Secretary General of the IFRC. “Now, what is needed is a comprehensive strategy to fund the development and operationalization of forecast-based finance systems at the national and international level.”

In Uganda, funds were released from a novel German Red Cross (GRC) preparedness fund to allow the Uganda Red Cross to distribute items based on a flood forecast. With a few days’ anticipation of rising water levels, Red Cross volunteers distributed water purification tablets and flood protection items to hundreds of vulnerable families. This is part of a project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“Because of this El Niño that is battering this country, the Ugandan Government and the Uganda Red Cross were able to do some pre-emptive interventions in Uganda,” said Minister Musa Ecweru of Uganda at the Understanding Risk and Finance conference in Addis Ababa. “This is a real departure from our tradition of waiting until it arrives and then we act.”

The German Federal Foreign Office’s Action Plan on Climate, coordinated by the GRC, meanwhile, centres on forecast-based financing pilots by WFP or National Societies in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mozambique, Nepal, Peru and the Philippines.

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Environment

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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