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What happens to a government-based economy in a global pandemic? – CBC.ca

Last month the N.W.T. government passed a "status quo" $1.96 billion budget.

Caucus leader Rylund Johnson characterized the funding as "pretty stable," and assured people there would be no "austerity" to be found.

That's because about 80 per cent of the revenue comes in the form of federal government transfers.

So while the private sector began layoffs, and business owners watched their revenue rocket to zero, government employees continued to enjoy regular paychecks, even those whose jobs were deemed inessential enough to be redeployed to work on the response to COVID-19.

That's a good thing, according to Ken Coates, a historian at the University of Saskatchewanwhere he studies Indigenous and northern Canadian issues.

"The saving grace of the three northern territories is the fact they're so government dependent," he says. He saw the budget as the work of a government trying to reassure and calm its citizens.

But what does that mean for the future of the territory?

Nearly everything about what happens next is an unknown. "Nothing even remotely close to this" has ever happened, says Coates.

And while Coates grants that "the idea of extremely well-funded territories is kinda new," he also believes it's not threatened for example, by a federal government looking to balance its own badly battered budget.

"This is a tiny drop in the bucket so they can continue to be generous and kind to the N.W.T.," Coates says. "They're not gonna walk away from this."

"If you compare how much the federal government transfers to Toronto compared to how much they transfer to the N.W.T., it pales in comparison," Coates adds. "So I don't see this as being at risk."

The trouble is, he says, "government spending is supposed to be the foundation for long-term economic stability. Not the core of it."

One Yellowknife-based economist argues the N.W.T. has done little to build that foundation.

"The N.W.T. has failed to nurture the growth and development of its economy," wrote Graeme Clinton in the opening sentence of a report prepared last year for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. "As a result, the territory will experience a major setback where the disadvantaged among us will suffer most."

Long before COVID-19, Clinton diagnosed a future economy still heavily reliant on government.

"These economies can be incredibly stable," he concludes, "but when pressures emerge in the form of growing unemployment and widening infrastructure gaps, greater demand for public programs and spending, and an aging population, the community finds it has no means to respond effectively without additional support."

That support, he notes, often doesn't come, as governments tend to invest just enough to maintain the status quo (see above).

"If the N.W.T. cannot maintain the quality of life of residents today in a period of relative economic stability and on the heels of a decade of economic growth and transformation, how can it possibly achieve such a goal during a period of economic decline?

"The answer is it cannot."

The solution, Clinton writes, has been "discussed and debated and discussed some more" for twenty years: the territory needs to invest in infrastructure that can support future growth.

Why hasn't that happened already?

"Vision is what's missing," writes Clinton.

His report says leaders in the N.W.T. have spent 20 years debating whether or not to embrace resource extraction as part of the economy. That decision, he says, needs to be made so the territory can begin "purpose-driven investments and action."

Without growth and returning to page one of his concise 23-page snapshot on the territory's economic future Clinton quotes the N.W.T. Bureau of Statistics, which predicts that up to 3,200 people will simply move away, lessening future opportunity and future government spending (which is based on population) as well.

"The people most negatively affected in this scenario will be those without the freedom of choice, who don't have the option to relocate, are unable to retrain or find new work in their community, and don't have a savings account to see them through hard times."

The hard times have arrived.

A territorial snapshot released by the Conference Board of Canada last month was titled "Shielded from the Worst," a reference to that continued government spending.

It predicts the economy will shrink by 3.3 per cent this year, down from the 5.5 per cent expansion predicted in February.

Unemployment will spike to 13.5 per cent, the highest on record, as about 1,200 jobs are lost in all sectors, and that number will stay at 11.9 per cent in 2021.

"That's pretty high," says Richard Forbes, who wrote the report, though "not completely out of the realm for what we're expecting in other provinces and territories."

The biggest difference Forbes sees is that the territories have been slower to allow visitors back in, "so that may delay the recovery," particularly when it comes to jobs in the tourism, accommodations and food service sectors.

But he thinks people may have more agency than they realize.

"No matter how much the government pumps into the Northwest Territories, it's going to come down to whether consumers feel comfortable traveling there and feel comfortable going to hotels and eating out," says Forbes.

"Unfortunately, it's very much a wait and see type of thing."

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What happens to a government-based economy in a global pandemic? - CBC.ca

The Oil Price Crash: Will the Kremlin’s Policies Change? – Russia Matters

How serious a challenge will fallout from the coronavirus pose to Russias long-standing economic model, which remains heavily dependent on oil and gas exports? The first phase of the global pandemic and lockdown measures froze much of the economic activity around the world. In turn, energy demand dropped virtually overnight, and oil and gas prices plummeted.

The scale of the disruption was truly staggering. As a significant part of the global economy is starting to reopen in places like China, the United States, the European Union, and Russia, the key question for Russian policymakers is whether this shock should prompt a rethink about radically reducing Russias income from energy exports and the prospect of fundamental changes to global energy markets over the long term.

The global oil industry is undergoing the biggest crisis it has ever seen, thanks to an unprecedented 30 percent year-on-year fall in demand in April 2020. That drop led to a dramatic oversupply of oil in storage, which is part of the reason why West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil futures prices in the United States briefly traded below $0 per barrel in April. Spot prices for Brent fell by 87 percent from year-end 2019 through mid-April 2020. (Prices have partially recovered since then, but are still down 50 percent as of end-May 2020.)

The so-called OPEC Plus group of leading oil-producing countries, which includes Russia, agreed on emergency production cuts to stabilize prices in early April. That agreement has started to pay off, and demand has started to recover somewhat with the understandable exceptions of important sectors such as aviation and U.S. domestic transportation. The leaders of OPEC Plus, Saudi Arabia and Russia, along with their U.S. counterparts, are now thinking through a complicated challenge: how best to avoid further turmoil in oil markets as some economic activity comes back online even though there is still great uncertainty about a possible second wave of the pandemic.

Still, it seems reasonable to expect that prices in 20202021 will stay far below $60 a barrel, which was the annual average price during 2019. Russian producers remain perfectly competitive even at lower price levels. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that during the Saudi-Russian price war just a few months ago, Urals crude fell to levels at which budget revenues were wiped out, new projects became unprofitable, and even current ones just barely made economic sense.

The gas industry has not experienced a comparable drop in demand during this crisis. The brunt of the pandemic-induced drop in demand has largely been concentrated in the industrial and commercial sectors, resulting in a 4 percent average annual global decrease, according to International Energy Agency estimates. In Europe, the gas market was oversupplied, and a buildup in storage facilities resulted in sharp declines in exports from countries like Russia and Norway. But globally the situation has been far less dramatic than the disruptions experienced by the oil industry.

For Russia, the turmoil in energy markets created a large reduction in export revenues, lower profits for energy companies, and reduced funding for the state budget. Even in the most optimistic scenario, oil export revenues will be approximately half of what they were pre-crisis. Its entirely possible that the picture will be gloomier still, with budget revenues in 2020 falling to a quarter of what was envisioned before the crisis. In an extreme scenario caused by a severe resurgence of the virus, the Russian oil industry could find itself teetering on the brink of operating at a loss, virtually depriving the state budget of revenues from export and extraction taxes.

The fallout is also already being felt by Russian gas exports, though their impact on the budget is far smaller. Judging by the results of the first quarter and the decrease in European demand, by the end of the year, deliveries of Russian pipeline gas to Europe may drop by 2530 billion cubic meters. The remaining deliveries will have to be supplied amid significantly lower prices. Market oversaturation, warmer weather, and ongoing lockdown measures will all drag gas prices in Europe down even further.

Were looking at gas prices halving and oil prices reducing by one-third. All told, that means a combined 2025 percent decrease in volumes of Russian exports of oil, gas, and coal, which is equivalent to a 50 percent loss of export revenues. For the budget, this means a sharp fall in income (of about 25 percent), just as the public and private sector are experiencing the greatest need for state support.

For fuel and energy companies, all of this will mean adopting strict cost-cutting measures and making cuts to capital investment programs, which will in turn impact other companies that serve the oil and gas sector. According to our calculations, this could lead to an additional fall in GDP of 513 percent in 2020 (on top of the 5 percent reduction in GDP caused by the coronavirus and lockdown measures).

Still, the current shocks faced by Russian energy markets, serious as they are, may pale in comparison to their potential long-term consequences. It is highly likely that the coronavirus crisis will amplify and accelerate trends for decarbonization, decentralization, and digitalization, especially in Europe, Russias main market. There are already increasingly vocal calls from governments and international organizations to adopt a low-carbon approach to getting the economy going again. The instability on the oil market only strengthens the hand of renewable energy, which is attracting increasing attention from investors.

Economic revival could follow the traditional trajectory, or it could take the form of an accelerated transition to other forms of energy. In the first scenario, low oil prices will spur demand for energy commodities, and demand will start rising again fast. Then the failure to invest during the crisis will make itself felt, leading eventually to higher oil and gas prices, which will in turn again revive interest in alternative energy sources and increasing energy efficiency.

In the second scenario, the state will make a more decisive choice in favor of green energy, which hands a significant advantage to sectors that compete with oil and gas. Energy-importing countries could come out of the crisis with transformed energy systems, strict carbon footprint restrictions on any imported raw materials, and permanently reduced demand for hydrocarbons.

In the current conditions, the Russian oil and gas sector must not only survive, but also think about long-term options for restructuring the entire industry and integrating hydrocarbons into the green agenda. A key role in this could be played by the trend for decarbonizing oil and gas: a complex, expensive process that requires new technologies and skills that Russia currently doesnt have. For now, however, there are no other options in sight for securing the long-term stability of Russias export-focused resource-based economy.

Also on Carnegie.ru:

Russia and Ukraine in the Age of Coronavirus,Konstantin Skorkin, July 08, 2020.

RussiaU.S.: No Reset, Just Guardrails, Dimitri Trenin, July 08, 2020.

Western Sanctions on Russias Oil and Gas Sector: a Damage Assessment, Tatiana Mitrova, July 25, 2018.

Photo by Kiril Aristov shared in the public domain.

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The Oil Price Crash: Will the Kremlin's Policies Change? - Russia Matters

Africa’s economy will recover slower than expected – IMF – Quartz Africa

Making estimates is always a difficult task. This is especially true when it comes to economic forecasts for African countries. One of many reasons is large portions of the economies are in the informal sector and by definition offer fewer reliable data sources with which to make estimates.

But when it comes to the global economic crisis in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, even a reliably conservative institution like the IMF has been forced to revise its estimates just two months after its first prognosis.

On the top line, it now estimates the Sub-Saharan Africa regions economy will shrink by -3.2% this year, thats 1.6 percentage points more than it said in April. Growth is now expected to collapse in many countries especially those dependent on tourism and resources, such as oil and mineral exporters. Growth in more diversified non-resource based economies is expected to come to a near standstill.

Some of this might haveseemed likely in April when IMF forecast 1.6% shrinkage, World Bank estimated a -2.1% to -5.1% recession. But as IMF Africa director Abebe Aemro Selassie explains to Quartz Africa this update better captures the realities of the fast-changing events on the ground in Africa and elsewhere in the world. We realized the global economic environment was much weaker than we were expecting and that the periods of lockdowns in some African countries were even longer than we were envisaging.

Indeed, IMF now forecasts the global economy to shrink by -4.9%, revised down from -3%.

While Sub Saharan Africas growth projection looks bad, a key longer-term concern is how real per capita GDP in the region is expected to contract by as much as -5.4% this year. The IMF says this will take the per capita GDP 7 percentage points below the level projected last October. In fact, it could effectively wipe out nearly ten years of progress made in reducing poverty in the region.

Growth in Sub Saharan Africa is expected to gradually recover if the pandemic slows down in the second half of 2020 with the IMF forecasting a return to 3.4% growth next year (it previously projected 4% growth). One of the reasons for Africas shallower growth than the global 2021 forecast of 5.4% is that Sub Saharan Africa countries have fewer and smaller policy options than more advanced economies. This is why the regions largest economies Angola, Nigeria and South Africa will not see real GDP growth return to pre-crisis levels till 2023 or 2024.

The challenge for the IMF and other economic prognosticators is its very difficult to say with any degree of confidence the pandemic will be under control anytime soon, especially in Africa. A common feature across several African countries is even as theyve ended lockdowns or opened up, the Covid-19 case load numbers have accelerated. The numbers in Africa are still relatively lowlower on a per million basis than Europe and Latin America (though higher than Asia).

But while its often said Africas economic crisis could be worse than the pandemic health crisis, IMFs Abebe Selassie calls this a false dichotomy. If you dont have the disease under control youre not going to have an economic recovery, its not going to be durable.

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Africa's economy will recover slower than expected - IMF - Quartz Africa

Reality check: A look at Trumps claims on coronavirus, the U.S. economy and Biden – Globalnews.ca

If saying things 100 times could make them true, U.S. President Donald Trumps account of how the U.S. is doing with the coronavirus would be true.

COVID-19 testing would be the envy of the world, the economy would be on the cusp of roaring back, the threat would be receding in a pandemic that has sickened more than 3.1 million Americans and killed more than 133,000.

But repetition doesnt make for reality. The U.S. is taking a disproportionate hit from the coronavirus globally and does not have it under control.

A look at how rhetoric from the past week compares with the facts on various fronts:

TRUMP: For the 1/100th time, the reason we show so many Cases, compared to other countries that havent done nearly as well as we have, is that our TESTING is much bigger and better. We have tested 40,000,000 people. If we did 20,000,000 instead, Cases would be half, etc. NOT REPORTED! tweet Thursday.

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THE FACTS: His notion that infections are high only because the U.S. diagnostic testing has increased is false. His own top public health officials have shot down this line of thinking. Infections are rising because people are infecting each other more than they were when most everyone was hunkered down.

Its true that increased testing also contributes to the higher numbers. When you look harder, youre going to see more. But the testing has uncovered a worrisome trend: The percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is on the rise across nearly the entire country.

Thats a clear demonstration that sickness is spreading and that the U.S. testing system is falling short.

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A high rate of positive tests indicates a government is only testing the sickest patients who seek out medical attention and is not casting a wide enough net, says the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, a primary source of updated information on the pandemic.

Americans are being confronted with long lines at testing sites, often disqualified if they are not showing symptoms and, if tested, forced to wait many days for results.

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TRUMP on the coronavirus: We have the lowest Mortality Rate in the World. tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: This statement is wholly unsupported.

An accurate death rate is impossible to know. Every country tests and counts people differently, and some are unreliable in reporting cases. Without knowing the true number of people who become infected, it cannot be determined what portion of them die.

Using a count kept by Johns Hopkins University, you can compare the number of recorded deaths with the number of reported cases. That count shows the U.S. experiencing more deaths as a percentage of cases than most other countries now being hit hard with the pandemic. The statistics look better for the U.S. when the list is expanded to include European countries that were slammed early on by the virus but now appear to have it under control. Even then, the U.S. is not shown to be among the best in avoiding death.

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Such calculations, though, do not provide a reliable measurement of actual death rates, because of the variations in testing and reporting, and the Johns Hopkins tally is not meant to be such a measure.

The only way to tell how many cases have gone uncounted, and therefore what percentage of infected people have died from the disease, is to do another kind of test comprehensively, of peoples blood, to find how many people bear immune system antibodies to the virus. Globally, that is only being done in select places.

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TRUMP: Deaths in the U.S. are way down. tweet Monday, one of at least a half dozen heralding a drop in daily deaths from the virus.

THE FACTS: Its true that deaths dipped even as infections spiked in many parts of the country. But deaths lag sickness and the spikes have not played out.

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Its a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday. He advised Americans: Dont get yourself into false complacency.

Trending Stories

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TRUMP: Job growth is biggest in history. tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Yes, but only because it is following the greatest job losses in history, by far.

The U.S. economy shed more than 22 million jobs in March and April, wiping out nearly a decade of job growth in just two months, as the viral outbreak intensified and nearly all states shut down nonessential businesses. Since then, 7.5 million, or about one-third, of those jobs have been recovered as businesses reopened. Even after those gains, the unemployment rate is 11.1%, down from April and May but otherwise higher than at any point since the Depression.

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TRUMP: Economy and Jobs are growing MUCH faster than anyone (except me!) expected. tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Not really. Its true that Mays gain of 2.7 million jobs was unexpected. Economists had forecast another month of job losses. But most economists projected hiring would sharply rebound by June or at the latest July, once businesses began to reopen. The gains kicked in a month earlier than forecast.

Now, though, coronavirus cases are rising in most states, imperiling the climb back. In six states representing one-third of the economy Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and Texas governors are reversing their reopening plans, and the restart is on pause in 15 other states. Such reversals are keeping layoffs elevated and threatening to weaken hiring.

TRUMP campaign ad, playing out a scenario where a person needing help calls the police in a Biden presidency and gets a voice recording: You have reached the 911 police emergency line. Due to defunding of the police department, were sorry but no one is here to take your call. The ad closes with the message: You wont be safe in Joe Bidens America.

THE FACTS: Biden has not joined the call of protesters who demanded defund the police after Floyds killing. Hes proposed more money for police, conditioned to improvements in their practices.

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I dont support defunding the police, Biden said last month in a CBS interview. But he said he would support tying federal aid to police based on whether they meet certain basic standards of decency, honourableness and, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community, everybody in the community.

Bidens criminal justice agenda, released long before he became the Democrats presumptive presidential nominee, proposes more federal money for training that is needed to avert tragic, unjustifiable deaths and hiring more officers to ensure that departments are racially and ethnically reflective of the populations they serve.

Specifically, he calls for a $300 million infusion into existing federal community policing grant programs.

That adds up to more money for police, not defunding law enforcement.

Biden also wants the federal government to spend more on education, social services and struggling areas of cities and rural America, to address root causes of crime.

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Democrats, meanwhile, have pointed to Trumps repeated proposals in the administrations budget to cut community policing and mediation programs at the Justice Department. Congressional Republicans say the program can be effectively merged with other divisions, but Democrats have repeatedly blocked the effort. The program has been used to help provide federal oversight of local police departments.

Despite proposed cuts, Attorney General William Barr last month said that the department would use the COPS program funding to hire over 2,700 police officers at nearly 600 departments across the country.

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REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE email: In the wake of rioting, looting, and tragic murders ripping apart communities across the country, Joe Biden said `Yes, absolutely he wants to defund the police. email Wednesday from Steve Guest, RNCs rapid response director.

THE FACTS: Thats misleading, a selective use of Bidens words on the subject.

The email links to an excerpted video clip of Bidens conversation with liberal activist Ady Barkan, who endorsed Biden on Wednesday after supporting Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries. A full recording of that conversation, provided by the Biden campaign to The Associated Press, shows he again declined to support defunding police,

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Barkan raises the issue of police reform and asks whether Biden would funnel money into social services, mental health counselling and affordable housing to help reduce civilian interactions with police.

Biden responds that he is calling for increased funding for mental health providers but thats not the same as getting rid of or defunding all the police and that both approaches are needed, including more money for community police.

Asked again by Barkan, so we agree that we can redirect some of the funding, Biden then answers absolutely yes.

Biden then gives the caveat that he means not just redirect federal money potentially but condition it on police improvements.

If they dont eliminate choke holds, they dont get (federal) grants, if they dont do the following, they dont get any help, Biden replied.

The vast majority of all police departments are funded by the locality, funded by the municipality, funded by the state, he added. Its only the federal government comes in on top of that, and so it says you want help, you have to do the following reforms,.

BIDEN: President Trump claimed to the American people that he was a wartime leader, but instead of taking responsibility, Trump has waved a white flag, revealing that he ordered the slowing of testing and having his administration tell Americans that they simply need to `live with it. statement Wednesday marking the rise in U.S. coronavirus infections to more than 3 million.

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THE FACTS: To be clear, the government did not slow testing on the orders of the president.

Trump at first denied he was joking when he told a Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally on June 20 that he said to my people, `Slow the testing down, please because they test and they test. Days later he said he didnt really mean it.

In any event, a succession of his public-health officials testified to Congress that the president never asked them to slow testing and that they were doing all they could to increase it. But testing remains markedly insufficient.

2020 The Canadian Press

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Reality check: A look at Trumps claims on coronavirus, the U.S. economy and Biden - Globalnews.ca

Herald: Perspective: Unlocking the economy safely – Oherald

12 Jul 2020 | 04:59am IST

Deepak G. Tripathi

A midst rising cases of COVID-19 globally, there is an urgent need to unlock the economies so that governmental and personal incomes can be restored hopefully to pre-COVID levels as soon as possible. A balance needs to be achieved to protect health and economic well-being. Current methods deployed for capacity-building at hospitals and keeping the population safe have outlived their utility. There is a need to confront the new challenges with a new strategy during Unlock 2.0, especially by exponentially increasing the current volumes of testing.

RT-PCR tests that detect the viral RNA of SARS-CoV-2 are extremely sensitive tests, and have emerged as the mainstay of disease diagnosis during the pandemic. However, they come with severe limitations: high cost, requirement of labs, lab equipment, and expertise to run the test correctly. Expansion of testing based on this technology alone has posed technological, economical and logistical challenges, especially to mid-income countries. Anecdotally, there is a significantly high rate of false negative results of about 35% due to poor sample collection techniques of the nasal and oral swab. Experience abroad shows that only one out of three swabs taken on three sequential days is positive. The limit of detection of various tests differ by a factor of 100 times between manufacturers. Nearing the onset of symptoms of the disease, the RT-PCR test itself starts to lose sensitivity and reaches around 60% a week after onset of symptoms. Though a gold-standard, RT-PCR cannot claim a 100% performance in pandemic situations, especially in resource poor settings. False positive PCR results are not unknown too. A supplemental test to the RT-PCR is required to validate its findings.

Once a person is infected, from the day of appearance of symptoms, the patient starts to form anti-bodies to SARS-CoV-2. The anti-bodies are of the types, namely, IgA, IgM, and IgG, where the IgA appears by Day-7 of onset of symptoms, followed by IgM, around Day 10-14, and IgG, around Day 10-21. Since IgA anti-bodies appear first, and in higher concentrations, an anti-body test would not function efficiently if it only detects IgM and IgG as most countries have experienced during the pandemic. Total anti-body tests are available that can detect all three types of antibodies simultaneously, giving sensitivity from Day-7 of symptom onset.

It must be remembered clearly that infection will almost always produce an anti-body response. In RT-PCR positive asymptomatic cases, a rapid antibody test provides proof of seroconversion, and indirect evidence of infection. In sero-prevalence studies where, total antibody tests are performed on a random population, a positive test result indicates that the person was exposed to the virus at least a week earlier since antibodies appear after 7 days. One-week additional time in self-isolation, or home quarantine would suffice for the person to resume normal life, as, post-infection, the virus-shedding reportedly stops after Day-12 of the infection, and, immunity would have developed.

The role of anti-body as a protective tool is the basis of plasma-therapy and vaccination, towards which, there is a race amongst manufacturers around the world. The role of these anti-bodies as a diagnostic marker needs to be understood, explored, and used during the pandemic, as:

a) A companion test to the RT-PCR (b)a test for serodiagnosis of SARS CoV-2 infections (c)a means to conduct sero-prevalence surveys.

This will not only reduce the costs associated with SARS-CoV-2 testing, but, also, increase the number of tests that could be done in a day, and help cover larger populations in a short time to know their seroconversion status. As compared to a standard RT-PCR which takes about 24 hours from swab-collection to report, these tests can be performed in 20 minutes at the street-level without laboratory expertise or cold-storage requirements using finger prick blood!

The industry, doctors in clinics, private laboratories, dentists, corporate houses, airlines, and hospital staff are clamouring for the availability of such tests nationally, to reduce anxiety amongst employees and to know the sero-status of the unknown customer. A sensitive and specific rapid antibody-based test, when used appropriately can help open up our economies. Policy makers must make efforts in this direction so as to create an appropriate advisory for use of total antibody tests.

Lastly, RT PCR tests can only shut down economies whereas total antibody tests only can help it unlock!

The above article draws heavily from scientific literature published in internationally acclaimed medical journals/press. A sincere attempt has been made to accurately present simplified information for the benefit of readers.

(The author is President, Tulip Diagnostics Pvt. Ltd., an IVD Major, based at Goa, India.)

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Herald: Perspective: Unlocking the economy safely - Oherald

Johns Hopkins’ dashboard: The people behind the pandemic’s most visited site – CNN

"We were collecting data on a new virus that nobody understood at a time [when] there was not a single web page dedicated to Covid-19 case count," said Lauren Gardner, the project's chief and an associate professor in, and codirector of, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering.

From December 2019 to January 2020, Ensheng Dong, Gardner's first-year PhD student, heard from family in China who regularly reported how the outbreak was worsening and upending their lives. After passing an exam that cleared him to earn his PhD, tracking confirmed cases in China was what he wanted to tackle next.

On January 21, over coffee during a weekly research meeting, Dong proposed this idea to Gardner.

"He's gotten to play some pretty major roles in some really central problems to the society for someone that's six months into a degree program," Gardner said. "I keep telling him that he needs to not get used to this and it's not normal. And [that] the rest of his PhD experience is going to be really boring, but I don't think he believes me."

For two weeks from dawn till dusk, Dong lived and breathed the dashboard; it took precedence over his free time outside of class and soon the classes themselves. With Gardner's blessing, he pushed back a required course until the fall semester.

Has maintaining those responsibilities affected his health in any way? "Not really," he said. "I think this is what the research should do. The responsibility for this dashboard gives me energy."

But as cases became globally widespread, they needed help.

"Initially, [I worried about my family]; right now, it's their time to worry about my situation in the US," Dong said.

What was once a modest goal to fill a research gap in a field with antiquated methods for disease tracking is now a tool widely used around the world.

They had no idea "that it would evolve into something that literally impacts almost everybody's life on the planet," Gardner said.

From erratic data to the map on our screens

About 25 people from multiple disciplines now support the dashboard, including graduate students and senior software developers and research scientists primarily based in Maryland, California and England.

Like a lot of people, they're working from home. Their days begin with Zoom calls during which they hash out to-do lists and pressing issues. The conversation continues through a myriad of Slack channels, emails and phone calls.

"It's efficient, but it's boring," Gardner said. "I really miss a bit of the real, in-person world."

Gardner is in charge, so everyone involved reports to her. Her daily to-do list involves running a research group of PhD students, overseeing data additions and design for the dashboard and making strategic decisions for the development of the dashboard. She spends about half of her time on research based on data from the map.

Because they update the dashboard at least hourly, they've had to shift from manual data collection to leaning more on automatic culling the team praised data wizards at the university's Applied Physics Laboratory for creating a code that periodically travels to trusted websites and scrapes for data. For independent research and the US government, the APL provides technological systems engineering, development and analysis.

"Not to be cliche, but a picture is worth a thousand words," Lau said. The APL team works on building and maintaining the automated capabilities of the data-pulling code.

Frequent updates and data from multiple sources is what makes the dashboard different from the World Health Organization's tracker, which counts only states and nations, said Beth Blauer, executive director of the university's Centers for Civic Impact, which supports governments and nonprofits aiming to make data-driven change.

Blauer's work with the Centers for Civic Impact is her day job, but she also began working with the data in March after she used the map to assess the risk of traveling.

She's also a single mom. "[My kids] deserve some kind of an award for the way that they've been able to stick with me through this," Blauer said.

The map places at people's fingertips "information upon which they can make really important decisions," said Jennifer Nuzzo, who works on projects similar to Blauer's, but for the Coronavirus Resource Center. Nuzzo is an associate professor in the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

"For governments, it's about very high consequence decisions about protecting health and supporting the economy. And for people, it's about how to protect yourself and your loved ones."

The challenges of informing the world

Work that relays ever-changing information from thousands of places comes with hurdles. There's no international modus operandi for how to count coronavirus infections and deaths.

The dashboard's infrastructure is more stable these days, but the "sources and information coming in are still changing quite a bit," Gardner said.

And sometimes the numbers between state and county health departments don't match up they report differently or at varying times.

Each time these transitions happen, the team has to figure out how to handle them.

The biggest challenge is trying to collect data "from multiple locations simultaneously and provide it in real time while all of those dynamics are at play," Gardner said. Knowing there are so many eyes on it and having to explain it is difficult, too, she added.

Lessons on human behavior and how a virus travels

A county's health care capacity and access, demographics and disease data in comparison to its state are three factors starting to reveal those disparities.

Data on testing and contact tracing could illuminate long-term patterns regarding race, socioeconomic status and systemic barriers to testing access an effort headed by Blauer and Nuzzo.

"There is nothing so stark than looking at the disproportionate amount of Black and Latino people that are [contracting and] dying from this disease, knowing there is no medical safety net for them and also understanding that there are deliberate decisions that aren't taking their best interests in mind," Blauer said.

"This is the piece that I think has been the most difficult for me."

How they're coping during the pandemic

For a long time, Gardner felt removed from reality since busyness left no time for reflection on what was happening around her. Since the dashboard processes have stabilized, she's been able to focus more on the circumstances.

"I would say that I'm probably one of the more frustrated people with the situation, because I am just so well aware of the patterns, the trends, the direction we're going and mistakes we're making," she said. "Watching that happen ... it's extra frustrating."

Seeing the contextual reality of the data and thus being able to understand relative risks helps Nuzzo cope with what might otherwise be constant worry. But she also "can't shut off the pandemic."

"It's both my job and my life in a way that usually at the end of your workday, you get a break from what you're working on," she said. "We don't escape it at all. That can be just emotionally exhausting."

What the future holds

The need for this kind of data and analysis isn't going away any time soon, Nuzzo presumed.

Considering how the dashboard will be used during and after the pandemic has been fruitful.

"I believe there's a vision of the world in which if outbreaks of a new virus happen, we can also have the public health capabilities to stop the virus in its place, to prevent it from becoming a global pandemic," Nuzzo said. "But as we're seeing now, we have more work to do in order to make that happen."

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Beth Blauer's current title and job description.

Excerpt from:

Johns Hopkins' dashboard: The people behind the pandemic's most visited site - CNN

Govt must rescue and revive mining sector to boost economic recovery; heres what needs to be done – The Financial Express

The mining sector is a core driver of a nations economic development. The sector is a significant contributor to GDP, a major source of employment, and a catalyst of growth in other vital industries (such as power, steel, cement, etc.) that are, in turn, critical for overall economic development. As aptly stated in the National Mineral Policy, 2019 (NMP): Minerals are a valuable natural resource being the vital raw material for the core sectors of the economy. Exploration, extraction and management of minerals have to be guided by national goals and perspectives, to be integrated into the overall strategy of the countrys economic development. Endeavour shall be to promote domestic industry, reduce import dependency, and feed into Make in India initiative.

India is richly endowed with metallic and non-metallic mineral resources the country produces as many as 95 minerals, which includes 4 fuel, 10 metallic, 23 non-metallic, 3 atomic and 55 minor minerals. Considering this abundance of minerals in India, the mining sector has huge economic potential. However, this potential is yet to be fully realised.

Reform to Rebound

India, like much of the world, has been left reeling as a result of the black swan impact of COVID-19.Ensuring economic rebound is now an issue of high priority. The mining sector has the potential to play a crucial role in making this aspiration a reality both in terms of its own economic output as well as in responding to the demands of other allied/ dependent industries. Additionally, the sector has the capacity to create over 5 crore jobs directly and indirectly which will be vital given the widescale unemployment that has been brought about by the current crisis. However, for the sector to do so efficaciously, there is a need to address the clear and present fallout of the pandemic, as well as the various issues that have hampered and hamstrung its growth.

This article proposes measures to suitably address identified challenges unique to the mining industry, both in general and as a result of the present crisis. In doing so, the article builds on the reform initiatives outlined in the NMP, viz., incentivising exploration through seamless transmission to mining, pre-identification of no-go areas, simpler and time-bound procedures for granting permits, harmonising royalty rates with international standards, and assuring security of tenure.

Immediate Relief Measures

At the outset, in order to grant relief from the plunging prices of minerals and slumping demand, it should be considered to offer rebates or reductions in royalty payments and contributions to the District Mineral Fund and National Mineral Exploration Trust. Another urgent relief measure to be considered is waiving the GST compensation cess on coking-coal for power intensive industries such as aluminium and streel.

Addressing Systemic Issues

New Exploration Framework

Exploration is an expensive and high-risk proposition with an extremely low success rate. The currentdispensation for exploration contemplates a non-exclusive reconnaissance permit, and a compositelicence (i.e., a prospecting licence cum mining lease). However, the present dispensation leaves a lot to be desired.

For starters, the non-exclusivity of the reconnaissance permit and the lack of in-built transition to mineral exploitation make the concession unattractive to the industry. With respect to composite licences, since it is the State Government that is responsible for notifying mineral blocks for auction, there is often undue delay in initiation of auctions, and the very real risk of blocks being considered sub-optimal by bidders. Another challenge is that of the mineral auction process being completed, only for environmental clearances to be refused this results in much time, effort and investment being wastefully expended.

In order to address these issues, it may be considered for the Central Government and State Governments to work together to develop a mineral exploration atlas that divides the geography of India into grids. Based on the mineral atlas, applicants should be permitted to freely carve out an areaand seek a composite license in respect of the same. Upon receipt of an application, the State Government should put up for auction the area so carved out by the applicant. The applicant may be given an incentive in the auction process (e.g., a right to match). The grant of the concession may be subject to checks in the form of periodic relinquishment and minimum investment requirements. This approach would be in line with the Open Acreage Licensing Policy currently in vogue in the Oil & Gas industry.

As an immediate measure, the Central Government should hasten the issuance of rules laying down requisite bidding parameters necessary to operationalise the newly introduced Section 10C of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (whereby holders of non-exclusive reconnaissance permits for deep-seated minerals (i.e., minerals which occur at a depth of more than300 meters, with poor surface manifestations) may be granted composite licences or mining leases).

Simplifying Approvals Framework

Presently, developers may expend considerable time and effort on a mineral block, only for environmental clearances to be subsequently denied. In this regard, the atlas described above should set out predefined no-go areas where reconnaissance, prospecting or mining operations cannot be undertaken. Such areas may be identified based on the presence of reserve forests, sensitive eco-zones, coastal areas, defence land, et al.

Additionally, there are currently multiple permits that have to be variously obtained under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (and the rules and notifications issued thereunder). Thiscreates multiple overlapping applications processes, despite mostly involving the same grantingauthority, i.e., the respective pollution control board.

In this regard, taking cue from this Governments earlier successful attempts to consolidate and streamline laws (e.g., labour, bankruptcy, etc.), the legislations and executive rules relating to environmental protection should be consolidated in a comprehensive code. In doing so, care should also be taken to restructure and rationalize the approvals process in a manner that avoids overlap and repetition, particularly when the granting authority is one and the same.

Rationalising Royalty

Indias rates of royalty are amongst the highest in the world. This royalty plays a substantial part in driving up costs of production as well as the cost of end-use products produced from the mineral. The high incidence of royalties coupled with the flat structure of royalty discourages investment in mineral processing and value addition, which, in turn, impedes uptake of new technologies which may enhance sustainability and economic growth. Further, there are presently 60 different royalty rates for 55 minerals with varied bases, making Indias royalty regime amongst the worlds most cumbersome.

The rates of royalty should be rationalised by way of benchmarking the same with other mining jurisdictions, and ensuring appropriate incentives for efficiency, economical use of the resources, good performance and optimum investments. In particular, the constituent components of the base value on which royalty is charged should be reconsidered to avoid a situation of a royalty on royalty. Further, to encourage competition amongst the states to attract investments, State Governments should be allowed to offer concessional rates of royalty similar to the practice in Australia and Canada.

Tenure of Leases

Currently, the law prescribes a fixed tenure of mining concessions that is unrelated to the actual mineral potential and realisable ore in a block. Such prescribed tenure of leases causes manifold problems. Firstly, it leads to closure of mine prior to complete exhaustion of mineral resources, which runs contrary to the objective of mineral development and conservation. Secondly, reauctioning the block to a new lessee requires existing lessee to remove all the equipment thereby allowing the former to invest anew in requisite equipment/labour. This is time consuming and inefficient.

In order to avoid the above stated issues, the tenure of all the mining leases should be linked to exhaustion or depletion of minerals to such an extent that it is no longer economical to work the mineral. For existing leases, a similar allowance may be made subject to prescribed conditions, including payment of additional dues by the lessee over and above the existing royalties.

The Road Ahead

The world presently faces an unprecedented economic challenge, and it is incumbent on governments to respond responsibly and demonstrably. To this end, policy makers and industry players should work together and put in concerted efforts to revive, rescue and rebuild the mining sector, thus aiding the countrys overall economic recovery.

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Letters to the editor: On international students at NMSU – Las Cruces Sun-News

New Mexico State University system leaders this week released a comprehensive plan for the universitys return to campus operations for the fall 2020 semester. Prepared by the universitys COVID-19 Rapid Response Team and titled NMSU Ready, the document outlines the steps the university will take to ensure a welcoming and functional campus environment when classes begin on Aug. 19.(Photo: Derek Flodmand / New Mexico State University)

These letters published in the July 12, 2020,print edition of the Las Cruces Sun-News.

I feel immense pain for my international student peers here at NMSU.

The new regulations released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are not merely discriminatory they threaten student well-being, undermine the American economy, erode fragile university budgets, and exacerbate the COVID-19 crisis.

First, our international students have formed deep friendships here at NMSU. They work hard. They contribute to the local economy. Forcing them to leave the U.S. not only jeopardizes their future but tears at the fabric of the student community.

Second, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, international students contributed $45 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018. Furthermore, our international students here in Las Cruces contribute to the rich cultural diversity of our community. We, as a community, benefit when we protect them against this #StudentBan.

Third, there are over 1,200 international degree-seeking and exchange students at NMSU. Assuming no grants or scholarships, and using the most recent tuition rates for the Las Cruces campus, that means that NMSU will lose over $15,399,600 in Fall 2020.

Fourth, by forcing our international students to travel, the chance for spreading COVID-19 remains high. This does not only affect essential workers in the travel industry. Our international students, many of whom are self-isolating to protect all of us, may contract the coronavirus as they comply with this harmful regulation.

As an NMSU grad student, I am calling on the people of Las Cruces to oppose this #StudentBan and protect our international students from this callous regulation. Please contact your representatives and senators.

Cory Cascalheira, Las Cruces

Just wanted to say Sandra Crane'sletter in last Sundays paper ("Unintended consequences") was spot on. My husband was in the hospital and/or rehab from Jan. 18,2020 to May 26,2020.

He finally came home but within two weeks he was back in the hospital and passed away. The isolation I'm sure had a huge impact on him. He was not the same when he came home. I don't know what would help these patients other then more phone calls, cards etc.

Let's all do our part to help end this pandemic, wear masks, stay home as much as possible and pray it gets over with soon.

Mickey Rowlands, Las Cruces

The COVID-19 experience has been an extraordinary, stressful time. The state/governor has imposed unprecedented restrictions on work, traveland religious activities. Lately she has imposed a $100 fine for not wearing a mask in public places.

I have reviewed the legal authorities cited by the governor which she claims allows her to impose these restrictions. Im not a lawyer (and individual lawyers will differ) so I dont know if her interpretation is valid.

However, it is clear to me that this was not/should not have been the intention of the laws cited. Some date back to 1978 (40+ years ago). The general framework of laws in our system is to have checks and balances. The laws should be constructed to prevent any single individual from imposing rules/laws without review. Generally, this is done by limiting the governors authority.

I sense that the governor believes there is no limit to her authority and has acted accordingly. I seriously doubt the law passed in 1978 granted the governor alone the right to close private businesses; to close churches, etc. If it does, then we need to correct the laws.

Realizing it may be impractical to convene a special session of the Legislature for health emergencies, I propose that the Legislature severely restrict the governors authority while simultaneously creating a bipartisan Emergency Review Board. All members of the board would be appointed by the Legislature, not the governor (perhaps 5 members 3 from one party; 2 from the other party). If the governor wishes to exceed her newly restricted authority in an emergency, she would need to get the approval of the board.

Robert Loveless, Las Cruces

On June 28, Grover Norquist and Paul Gessing had a commentary strongly recommending that the New Mexico Legislature not raise taxes in their special session to cover reduction in tax revenue due to the coronavirus and falling oil prices. On June 30 Gov. Grisham signed a budget bill that vetoed $30 million in budget cuts for public school support, but reduced 2021 fiscal year appropriations by about $415 million dollars. Proposed salary increases for teachers were reduced from 4% to 1%. Taxes were not raised.

What is wrong with this picture? For over 50 years, conservative policy proposals have been reducing taxes and regulations, destroying unions and building wealth for billionaires on the backs of average workers. Businesses do a good job of producing and selling everyday goods and services but do not provide resources for good education for all students; physical and mental health access; infrastructure like roads, bridges and broadband internet for rural and poor families; and support for people that need a helping hand. We use to do this back in the 50s, 60s and 70s but no longer. Top-down tax and other policies have created economic inequality in the U.S. that does not exist in other developed countries around the world. Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps doesnt work if you have no straps, e.g. wealth, education or contacts.

New Mexico is one of the largest tax havens in the U.S., offering numerous economic incentives and tax breaks for personal and corporate income. Some examples: a person with a million-dollar income pays the same tax rate as someone payed $16,000; there is no inheritance tax, estate tax or franchise tax; and businesses are constantly receiving tax incentives to come to the state. What happen to the progressive tax system based on ability to pay?

Paul O Connell, Las Cruces

The recent US Supreme Court ruling on its interpretation of the establishment and procedures surrounding the Electoral College captured my attention. This ruling is seen by many to have finally, and deservedly so, initiated the disbanding of this outmoded apparatus which according to the US Constitution does officially cast the votes that elect the US president and vice president.

The Electoral College is part of the US Constitution. Its inclusion was a result of a compromising lengthy debate among our early legislators. The legislators from states that allowed human beings to be considered as slave labor and to be bought and sold as chattel feared fellow legislators representing larger states would eventually force dispensing with this immoral practice. Additionally, the relative policy making power of smaller states could have been swamped in the overall grand scheme if our executive branch leaders had been elected solely by popular vote. Thus, the compromise resulting in its inclusion in the US Constitution.

Although currently many appear to be in favor of eliminating this clumsy apparatus for selecting a president and vice-president, I am not. My view is that the Electoral College should be preserved in some form as our smaller more rural states need to maintain a share of the overall system for developing US policy.

As an agricultural economist focusing my career on issues of food supply, natural resource conservation, energy creation and distribution, and rural development, it is apparent that these increasingly critical policy topics are geographically centered in our smaller more rural states.

Roger Beck, Las Cruces

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Letters to the editor: On international students at NMSU - Las Cruces Sun-News

Strategy to spur the rural economy: Creating value and sustainable livelihood for migrants – The Financial Express

By GR Chintala

Roti, Kapda and Makan symbolise the essential requirements for a decent living with the absolute basic being food (roti). The question of lives and livelihood is inextricably linked to food. Perhaps, the most disruptive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the forced return of migrants to their native states. It is estimated that at least 10 million (of 60 million) inter-state migrant labourers have returned home. The obvious reason for return migration is lack of earnings and inadequate savings to tide over the lockdown period. Majority of the migrants have returned to states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan from metros like Delhi, Mumbai and other States (Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala). The government, through its various interventions specifically through the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana, MNREGA has provided timely relief to migrants in these difficult times.

The PM has also extended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) till the end of November. The safety net of free rations is perhaps the best way of immediately reaching out. This will not only provide minimum food but also provide the bandwidth to look for alternate livelihood options.

We need to capitalise on this and build a development paradigm which ensures that additional and sustainable livelihoods are created in rural areas, especially in the reverse migration states. As per Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2018-19, the average monthly earnings of the self-employed men and women are in the range of Rs 9,100-9,600 and Rs 3,800-4,400, respectively. Quick surveys, though thin on the sample, carried out by some voluntary organisations, indicate an unwillingness to return to cities. These also report that migrants have indicated an income of anywhere between Rs 5,000 Rs 15,000 per month, depending on the state and size of family as adequate for them to remain in their native place.

Cash transfers might alleviate immediate stress, but longer-term measures are needed. This maybe an opportunity to rethink the whole aspect of migration and reconfigure it in a way that it improves the prospects of migrants and also entail solutions to some of the long vexing issues facing rural areas by using the innate or acquired skills of the migrants who have moved back. For example, the marketing of agriculture and horticulture products and non-farm produce has been an area of concern and calls for new arrangements involving local resources and institutions.

In many parts of the country, FPOs stepped in successfully creating supply chains in the Covid scenario. There are also numerous examples across metros in the way groups of farmers took the initiative to ensure direct delivery of produce to gated communities and societies for products ranging from exotic avocados to perishables like regular fruits and vegetables. The entire logistics chain has been set in motion, but it currently lacks depth and width. Individual enterprise combined with modern communication tools has facilitated outreach. An institutional fillip which builds on this with expertise can generate livelihoods at various levels. Some of the migrants working in the food and vegetable supply chain in big cities can be engaged with FPOs on the marketing side as they have a fair understanding of the nuances of marketing and consumer preferences in urban areas. There are close to 6,000 FPOs in the country and growing. These can be ideal institutions to absorb them gainfully. If this new institutional supply chain gains traction, a variety of jobs around packing, sorting, grading, etc, can be created in rural areas in a much more permanent way. This will help in addressing two challengescreating employment and reduction in wastage of perishables. Small-sized transport logistics (small vehicles, vans, cold storage vans) also can be gainfully absorbed as drivers. The growing infrastructure of FPOs can be used to become the fulcrum of triggering and shaping value chains in rural areas.

To enable this, various actors will need to rethink their roles and envisage the support needed. Banks will need to ensure credit for these supply chains right from working capital to vehicles, logistics service providers, infrastructure, etc. Organisations like NABARD will need to ensure that the necessary hand-holding happens. Resource centres for FPOs are in fact being envisaged, which can be fast-tracked to provide the much-needed expertise to FPOs on these aspects. There also exists a case for tweaking some of the skilling programmes in a manner that recognises the prior learning and experiences of these migrant workers in various sectors and not necessarily link it with fixed tenure placement based trainings/skilling programmes. For example, a migrant worker who has been engaged in the vegetable supply chain need not have a requirement of a fixed tenure training but can quickly be trained (re-skilled) in terms of FPOs requirement which will give him/her quicker access to find a job locally. So certain tailoring and flexibility of the existing skills programme taking into account this new reality depending on the state can be thought of.

Local institutions and decentralised development needs to be strengthened. They are better equipped to absorb the shocks and disruptions that are created in the supply chain. The Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) can function at the village level in a multifarious roleaggregator, supplier of credit, forging marketing linkages etc. One of the critical gaps in this scheme of things is these are infrastructure deficient. Our experience shows wherever PACS are well endowed with infrastructure, they have led to positive externalities. We need to strengthen the infrastructure of good PACS.

As part of the strategy to spur the rural economy, migrants should be encouraged to invest in the medium-term and long-term livelihood options.

This will entail demand for credit which banks, financial institutions, SHGs and their networks must fulfil. It may require these agencies to create tailor-made changes in terms of collateral security, repayment terms, customised loan product, the concessional interest rate, which they should be willing to offer. There is a demand for credit provided lending institutions are willing to look beyond the routine trodden path.

A similar case exists in the case of handlooms & handicrafts. The urban consumer is looking to source quality products from weavers and artisans, but options for a real connect are few. Here again, a plethora of employment opportunities exist from packing for delivery to digital marketingeven taking good quality photos for an artisan in many states is a challenge. For this, co-operative societies need to be re-energised, or an alternate structure similar to FPOs needs to be set up quickly. This will require a separate column.

We have already started working on some of the above and NABARDs forthcoming Foundation Day will see us put forward some concrete plans in this context.

The canvas is huge, and there are immense possibilities to collaborate with other stakeholders in this task. We intend seizing this opportunity to play an important role in ensuring that agriculture and rural development will emerge as powerhouses in the years to come.

The author is Chairman, NABARD. Views are personal

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Room for more fiscal support in India in near term given severity of economic situation: IMF – The Financial Express

A top IMF official has said that there is room for more fiscal support in India in the near term, particularly for vulnerable households and SMEs, given the severity of the countrys economic situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vitor Gaspar, Director of the International Monetary Funds Fiscal Affairs Department, told PTI that a complete and successful implementation of the existing support measures (in particular, food provision to households) is of paramount importance.

Given the severity of the economic situation, in the near-term there is room for more fiscal support, particularly for vulnerable households and SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises), he said.

Over the medium-term, India will continue to have a very limited fiscal space, and a credible and well-communicated consolidation plan will be urgently needed once the coronavirus pandemic subsides, Gasper said.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 in India has been substantial and broad-based, he said, adding that high frequency indicators point to a sharp decline in economic activity, as reflected in the industrial production, business sentiment (in the purchasing managers index), vehicle sales and trade.

In the June World Economic Outlook (WEO), growth in fiscal year 20/21 was revised down to -4.5 per cent, he said.

The downward revision compared with the April WEO was driven primarily by the continued rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in India.

This led the International Monetary Fund to make specific two adjustments. First, the assumed length of the partial lockdown was extended somewhat. Second, and more important, we made more conservative assumptions about the speed of recovery given that the health crisis has not yet been contained, Gasper said in response to a question.

He said that the near-term growth outlook in India continues to be clouded by the global and domestic slowdown and uncertainties relating to the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the senior IMF official, Indias general government fiscal deficit is projected to reach 12.1 per cent of the GDP in fiscal year 20/21, primarily due to weak tax revenues, as well as a denominator effect associated with the negative projected nominal GDP growth as with all other macro variables, estimates are highly uncertain.

Consistent with this, and the deterioration in economic activity, Indias public debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to reach about 84 per cent this fiscal year, Gasper added.

According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the contagion has infected over 12 million people and killed more than 554,000 across the world.

The US is the worst affected country with over 3.1 million cases and more than 1,33,000 deaths. Indias COVID-19 caseload stands at 7,93,802 with 21,604 deaths.

The COVID-19, which originated in Chinas Wuhan city in December last year, has also battered the world economy with the International Monetary Fund saying that the global economy is bound to suffer a severe recession.

Scientists are racing against time to find a vaccine or medicine for its treatment.

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Room for more fiscal support in India in near term given severity of economic situation: IMF - The Financial Express

The costed 175bn green revolution for Scotland that creates 100000 jobs and pays for itself – HeraldScotland

A 175bn green overhaul of the economy is needed in a post-coronavirus Scotland which will generate 100,000 new jobs and pay for itself, according to a major report from a influential think tank.

The call is made in the a major new analysis by the Common Weal, setting out a vision of an alternative economic recovery strategy for the country in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

It says the 25-year costed plan will take place only once and will then serve "many generations".

Spreading the cost over 50 years would cost approximately 5 billion a year, it says.

But apart from its "conservative" estimate on jobs, it will also create 4 billion of additional tax revenue each year and an additional 2.5 billion of additional direct income annually.

"This means that the investment not only pays for itself but generates a very substantial annual surplus," it said.

It comes after the Herald revealed that some of Scotlands rural and most affluent areas are being badly hit by the coronavirus economic crisis, with unemployment nearly trebling in parts during lockdown as concerns grow about the future financial shock from Covid-19.

Data from the end of June shows nearly one in three Scots able to work were unemployed or on furlough.

Scotlands more affluent areas with historically lower levels of deprivation have seen the biggest rise in the numbers claiming either Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) or Universal Credit (UC) being hit up to five times harder than those areas that are less well off.

At least 843,240 Scots were either claiming unemployment benefits or have been furloughed under the UK Governments job retention scheme, which is nearly one-third of the population who are available for work.

READ MORE:Coronavirus - Bus firms call for green revolution amid social distancing concerns

And the Scottish Government has been urged to use additional funding from the Treasury to invest in creating jobs after Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a plan to underpin employment as Britain emerges from the devastation caused by the coronavirus.

A temporary cut in VAT from 20% to 5%, and a scheme offering discounted meals at restaurants, is aimed at supporting the hard-hit hospitality industry.

There are also new subsidies to ensure young furloughed workers are retained by companies, and cuts to the cost of buying a home in England and Northern Ireland.

The Chancellor said Scotland would now receive a total of 4.6bn in additional Barnett funding from the UK government.

Dr Craig Dalzell, Common Weal head of policy said: That we are still in the midst of this current crisis cannot distract us from the fact that we have only ten years left to make serious changes to our economy to avert the worst impacts of the climate emergency.

We do not have time to spend a "lost decade" rebuilding back to pre-crisis "normal" and then trying to change everything again. We certainly cannot rebuild in a way that leaves us vulnerable to the next pandemic or other crisis that will inevitably come.

The solutions to the Covid crisis must be the same solutions that lead to a zero-carbon economy and create for Scotland an economy that is resilient to the next shock and which works for all of us both now and into the future.

Common Weal said their Green New Deal plan would reduce Scotland's "negative environmental impact" to zero while creating a "transformed economy."

It would also result in the rapid growith of a wide range of industry sectors in Scotland - particularly the production of wood-based construction materials, a large land management industry, significant increases in food production and processing and the establishment of a lot of light industry.

On top of this, it says, there will be a substantial increase in component supply and heavy manufacturing.

"It would end resource waste, regenerate land and soil, enable the re-establishment of wildlife populations and greatly decrease the reliance on biocides," the think tanks said. "This would all have a positive impact on Scotlands urban and rural landscape, making the nation more beautiful.

It said of its overall plan that it was based on the principle that the causes of the environmental crisis are "structural and collective not individual and personal which means the solutions cannot be individual but must be collective and must change not just the technologies we use but the structural causes of the harm being done".

"This has an immediate consequence there is zero additional cost to citizens for this entire transformation," it said. "Everyone gets a very substantial upgrade to their house without having to pay anything extra, no-one has to spend their own money to bring about a circular economy, no-ones electricity bills will rise to pay for decarbonisation. Every single thing that has to be done to make the green transition we need to make is covered in the above costs."

It has already suggested as part of the plan that oil and gas extraction should be phased out and be replaced by a raft of low-carbon initiatives aimed at tackling climate change as part of the transformation.

It has also suggested a 50bn scheme to build a low-carbon district heating scheme, connected to every house on the gas grid where technically possible, and power it with large-scale renewable heat generation.

District heating is the supply of heating and hot water to multiple buildings from a centralised generation source, through insulated underground pipes. This system is widely developed in the Nordic countries, but less so in the UK, and reduces the carbon emissions produced in supplying heat to homes.

It has been suggesting taking all energy into public ownership, and moving to the production of hydrogen, seen as a versatile fuel capable of powering everything from household appliances to transport to industrial processes.

Common Weal says hydrogen itself will become a "large industry in Scotland with the potential to leadEurope and become its largest hydrogen exporter".

It also calls for the biggest overhaul of housing since the Second World War, with a plan to have greener homes by installing loft installation, double glazing and renewable technologies - at a cost of 40bn.

That would involve setting up a national housing company and spend 40 billion to make every home in Scotland more thermally efficient, saving 40% off heating bills.

It also foresees a decarbonised transport plan where small vehicles will be predominantly battery-electric powered while larger vehicles will be hydrogen fuel-cell powered.

There will then need to be investment in converting trains, buses and ferries and commissioning new ones.

It suggests there are is unlinkely to be a technical solution for "air transport" some work-arounds are proposed like offering families which take summer holidays by hydrogen ferry extra days of holiday entitlement to cover the longer journey times.

"There will be a substantial impact on our individual lifestyles," the think tank says. "People will have warmer homes at less cost, gain access to better quality food, be protected from the impacts of pollution, have easier access to a fast and efficient transport system, be able to own land and much more.

"The goods that people use will be of a higher quality but will cost them less over all because many more products will be borrowed, rented or leased, they will last much longer and be entirely repairable. Spending will shift from shopping to participation, relaxation and socialising, improving quality of life."

It concluded: "This is a historic moment, a moment when everything has to change. If we have learned anything through the Covid crisis it is that half measures and hoping for the best achieve next to nothing. You do it or you dont do it. This Plan is something serious we can do. So will we do it? Its up to us."

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The costed 175bn green revolution for Scotland that creates 100000 jobs and pays for itself - HeraldScotland

Trust in Resilience: Empowering businesses to boost the economy – The Edge Markets MY

The Covid-19 pandemic started out as a public healthcare problem, but its aftershocks are expected to be felt across business and society for a prolonged period. The scope of these challenges are top of mind for leaders of organisations of all types governments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

Building trust needs to go hand in hand, so no one gets left behind. After all, businesses need to trust in the stability of the supply chain, and consumers need to trust that they have a safe environment in which to stimulate the economy. But beyond restart and recovery, we need to implement systemic changes that allow us to navigate inevitable future disruptions to transition to become a high-income nation within the decade.

In this series of articles, we will be sharing our views on the five key priorities in our journey economy and finance; international affairs and security; infrastructure; society and living together; and education.

Fundamental to the first priority in the series economy and finance is the need to restore private consumption and our contribution to the global supply chain. Private consumption accounted for 59% of the countrys gross domestic product in 2019, according to Bank Negara Malaysia.

Keeping businesses in business

The stabilisation wave of many countries responses to Covid-19 is likely to take longer than expected. This is a time in which governments and organisations learn to operate in the new normal while continuing to respond to immediate challenges. In Malaysia, 23% of chief financial officers surveyed in PwCs Covid-19 CFO Pulse survey in May estimated that they would take 12 months to get back to business as usual.

During this time, economic initiatives have been important in keeping businesses liquid and retaining employment for many Malaysians, through income assistance or capital funds. Concerns have been expressed, however, particularly by small and medium enterprises, that there just is not enough to go around. Our SMEs contribute to more than two-thirds of total employment in our country and almost 40% to the economy.

Competition for funds is intense. In the Laksana report on June 30, of 300,000 of the countrys SMEs that qualify, only 19,539 applications for the SME Soft Loan Funds were approved. For SMEs, whose main sources of financing are banks and financial institutions, the limited funding available and tighter approval process mean their access to funds may be delayed or become out of reach. There may be contagion effects to larger organisations, because small businesses are most often primary customers and a third or fourth tier in their supply chain.

To maintain supply chain stability, the call for government-linked companies and large corporates to accelerate payment to their vendors, many of whom are SMEs, has been highly welcomed. Supply chain finance (SCF) could be a win-win solution for these corporations to provide cash-flow relief and support this initiative in a sustainable way.

SME closures and the resulting job lay-offs will have a negative impact directly on consumer purchasing power and indirectly on consumer confidence. Aid can help cushion the impact of Covid-19 for businesses so they have time to consider their next steps. Some may be agile in exploring new revenue opportunities, while others may cut their losses by exiting altogether. But the objective here is to keep as many companies in business and people at work for as long as possible to avoid further impact to the economy.

Invigorating entrepreneurialism

Inevitably, some businesses or, rather, the old ways of doing things will not survive the crisis. Organisations and leaders need to force themselves to be strategic. Redesigning a boat while bailing water from the hull may sound ambitious. But it must happen.

And where businesses exit, there is now room for new businesses to operate. With contact tracing and standard operating procedures in place to manage public health risks, this could be the right time to invest in new businesses as confidence returns.

There is also an opportunity to build trust, whether by solving an important issue faced by their customers through new product or service offerings or addressing a newly identified gap in the market. Suppliers are hungry for business, and people are looking for new ways to participate in the economy.

For example, gastronomic and health/wellness industries are operating at a reduced capacity for the foreseeable future. They now have to diversify their service offerings and tailor the customer experience for people who are engaging with their products in new ways.

Innovation-based funding may be beneficial to help existing businesses pivot, or new businesses start up, to play a role in boosting economic activity. After all, entrepreneurialism is a natural strength of Malaysians. We see a role for businesses in harder-hit industries, such as tourism, where the RM1 billion Penjana Tourism Financing (PTF) can help finance transformative initiatives.

New ways of working

Businesses may come to realise that future-proofing efforts would have been best undertaken during good times. After all, these investments are time- and resource-intensive even in the best of times. However, there is no better time than the present to start equipping themselves with the tools they would need to withstand future challenges.

According to PwCs Digital resilience in a new world report, 70% of Malaysians believe technology will change their current jobs in three to five years. The current and future workforce need to be employed, productive and equipped with the right skills if we are to reboot the economy effectively and prepare for a digital future.

A fundamental shift in the skills required of employees means that technical-scientific expertise as well as soft skills and aptitudes need to be developed. There is clearly an appetite for upskilling among Malaysians 85% of survey respondents in the Digital resilience in a new world report said they would learn new skills or completely retrain as a means to improve their future employability.

Strategic partnerships can help accelerate this move by promoting the use of self-learning tools. The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is working with Coursera to provide free access to courses, including professional certificates for unemployed workers, until year-end. PwCs Digital Fitness app is also currently available for free and offers a library of resources to help users deepen their knowledge of the latest digital trends and adapt to new ways of working and learning.

Conclusion

I hope that the points raised can lead to a collaborative effort to realise our ambitions of becoming a high-income nation. Businesses and individuals should take this opportunity to invest for the future, whether through new business models and ideas, or by reskilling and upskilling for a digital world.

The pandemic has prompted the need for a new way of living, where businesses and the government collectively do the right thing for their stakeholders to rebuild trust in the institutions that make society work, and at the same time rebuild our businesses, our work and our lives.

Patrick Tay is deals partner of economics and policy at PwC Malaysia. This is the first of a five-part series.

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Trust in Resilience: Empowering businesses to boost the economy - The Edge Markets MY

Which international destinations are reopening to tourists? – Wink News

ATLANTA (CNN)

Although many governments are still advising against nonessential internationaltravel, a host of populardestinationsare beginning to ease their Covid-19 lockdown measures and border restrictions and are moving toward welcoming tourists back.

On July 1, the European Union announced it would be reopening its external border to 15 countries outside of the bloc in a bid to boost its travel industry.

Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay areall included in the list,along with China, provided it agrees to lift restrictions on EU citizens.

However, the United States, which now has thehighest number of confirmed Covid-19 infectionsin the world, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, was not included.

Travel bubbles are also becoming more popular, with the likes of Fiji, Australia and New Zealand considering following the lead of Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who have lifted restrictions for each others citizens.

Meanwhile, the UK has formed travel corridors with 59 different countries, while popular destinations like Dubai and Jamaica have already opened their doors to foreign visitors again.

If youre one of many travelers eagerly awaiting news on where you can travel to this year, heres a guide to the top destinations making plans to reopen, as well as some of those that are keeping their borders firmly closed for now.

Aruba will slowly reopen to tourists betweenJune 15 and July 10.

Visitors from nearby Caribbean islands Curacao and Bonaire will be permitted to enter first, followed by travelers from Canada and Europe on July 1.

Tourists from the United States will be allowed to visit from July 10.

While it was previously suggested travelers would not be required to take a Covid-19 test on arrival or prior to travel, it seems this is no longer the case.

Like many other destinations, Aruba is giving visitors the option to either provide a negative test result taken no more than 72 hours before their visit or receive a test on arrival.

However, the cost of the test, which must be paid for in advance, is the responsibility of the traveler.

The island has also introduced mandatory insurance coverage, theAruba Visitors Insurance, which will cover any expenses if visitors test positive for the virus during their trip.

Nonessential businesses including shopping malls, cinemas, beauty salons and outdoor restaurants were allowed to reopen on May 25, while the island countrys 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew was completely lifted earlier this month.

Restaurants with indoor seating have now been allowed to reopen, although diners must leave before 10 p.m., along with spas, and saunas.

In addition, the Department of Public Health has introduced theAruba Health & Happiness Code,a mandatory cleaning and hygiene certification program for all businesses related to tourism in the country.

Bali has been relatively successful in containing its coronavirus outbreak, with less than1,500 confirmed casesand, at the time of writing, a total of 11 deaths.

The Indonesian island now hopes to welcome tourists back by October, provided its infection rates stay low.

Accordingto a statement from Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani, secretary of the ministry, Yogyakarta, situated on the island of Java, is likely to reopen first, along with the Riau Islands province.

Balis economy is hugely dependent on tourism and visitor numbers have been rising in recent years, with around 6.3 million people visiting in 2019.

The coronavirus has collapsed the Balinese economy its been a steep drop since [mid-March] when social-distancing measures were put in place, Mangku Nyoman Kandia, a Bali tour guide, told ABC Newsin April. No tourist, no money.

All foreign nationals, except for diplomats, permanent residents and humanitarian workers, are currently banned from Indonesia, and anyone entering the island must undergo a swab test and provide a letter stating they are free of Covid-19.

Its unclear what the entry requirements will be if restrictions are lifted later this year, or whether Bali will accept travelers from regions badly affected by the pandemic.

However, tourism officials have been calling for atravel bubble to be implementedbetween Bali and Australia.

Barbados has announced it will be reopening its borders to international travelers from July 12.

However, visitors will have to adhere to a number of strict requirements.

All tourists from high risk countries will be strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 test at least 72 hours before departing for Barbados, according to a recent press release from the Barbados Tourist Board.

Meanwhile, those from low risk destinations can be tested a week before visiting the Caribbean island.

Visitors also need to complete an online Embarkation/Disembarkation Card (ED card), which asks a series of health questions connected to Covid-19 symptoms.

Those who dont provide a negative test result from an accredited or recognized laboratory in advance will take one on arrival and will be placed in quarantine at their own expense until the results come through. This is likely to take up to 48 hours.

While visiting the island, travelers must comply with local protocols, including keeping a physical distance of one-meter away from others and wearing face masks in public.

Barbados nationwide curfew isdue to be lifted on July 1, while commercial air traffic will resume 11 days later.

UK flag carrier British Airways will restart services to Barbados on July 18, with US airline JetBlue following suit on July 25 and Virgin Atlantic on August 1.

Cyprus is so keen to get its tourism industry back on track, officials are offering to cover the costs of any travelers who test positive for Covid-19 while on vacation in the Mediterranean island nation.

According to a letter shared with CNN, the Cypriot government will pay for lodging, as well as food, drink and medication for tourists who are taken ill with coronavirus during their visit.

The detailed plan was set out in a five-page letter issued to governments, airlines and tour operators on May 26.

Officials have also earmarked a 100-bed hospital for foreign travelers who test positive, while a 500-room quarantine hotel will be available to patients families and close contacts.

The traveler will only need to bear the cost of their airport transfer and repatriation flight, in collaboration with their agent and/or airline, states the letter.

The countrys hotels began to reopen on June 1, while international air travel restarted on June 9.

Once the destination reopens, visitors from only chosen countries will be allowed to enter.

Officialshave issued a list of countriesto be granted access to Cyprus in two separate stages.

Incoming flights from Greece, Malta, Bulgaria, Norway, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia and Lithuania will be authorized first.

From June 20, Cyprus will also permit incoming flights from Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic.

The UK and the US, bothlisted among the nations with the highest numberof confirmed Covid-19 deaths, are noticeably absent.

However, the list is to be expanded to include further countries in the coming months.

Travelers heading to Cyprus will need to provide a valid certificate proving theyve tested negative for Covid-19, while theyll be subject to temperature checks on arrival as well as testing at random during the course of their trip.

The destination has already put measures in place to protect travelers and residents, such as ensuring hotel staff wear masks and gloves, regularly disinfecting sunbeds and keeping tables at restaurants, bars, cafs, and pubs at least two meters (6.5 feet) apart.

Tourism accounts for at least 15% of Cypruss economy.

Tourism brings in around $1 billion in revenue for Egypt each month, so the impact of thetravel restrictionscaused by the pandemic has been significant.

The government suspended passenger flights back in March, while all hotels, restaurants and cafes were closed and a night curfew imposed.

These measures are currently being relaxed, with hotels that meet certain requirements, such as having a clinic with a resident doctor on-site, being granted permission to reopen for domestic visitors at a reduced capacity.

But acurfew remains in placebetween 8p.m. and 5 a.m although this isdue to be lifted on June 27 andthe government has made wearing masks mandatoryin public places and public transport.

Although international flights are yet to begin operating again bar a select few routes the cabinet has indicatedscheduled international flights will be allowed to enter from July 1, while foreign tourists will be permitted at the resorts least affected by Covid-19.

We have to prepare, cabinet spokesman Nader Saad saidduring a televised interview last month.

A number of global carriers have expressed willingness to resume flights to Egypt in July, and as a result, we are considering a gradual resumption of international flights beginning towards the end of this month and in the first half of July.

France was the most visited country in the world before the coronavirus pandemic.

While restrictions were previously in place on all nonessential travel from outside the Schengen Zone (a grouping of 26 countries which normally have open borders), the measures are due to be lifted for 15 countries outside of the EU, including Australia, Canada and Japan.

At present all travelers who enter France, with the exception of EU citizens, are subject to a compulsory 14-day quarantine.

UK citizens were previously exempt from this measure. However, this was recently amended in response to the UKs decision to apply its mandatory 14-day quarantine, which isset to be amended soon, to arrivals from France.

Although the government has been slowly lifting lockdown measures, withcar journeys of up to 100 kilometers now allowed and beaches beginning to reopen, officials have previously made it clear the country is in no hurry to ease border restrictions for international travelers.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe recently announced a$19.4 billion stimulus packageto boost Frances ailing tourism sector.

What is good for tourism is often good for France, what strikes tourism strikes France, he said during a news conference.

The countrys hotels, bars, restaurants and cafs were granted permission to reopen on June 2.

Meanwhile, Paris was downgraded from a red zone to a green zone in mid-June and the city has now reopened.

Frances most visited museum, the Louvre, will reopen on July 6.

Tourism is facing what is probably its worst challenge in modern history, added Philippe. Because this is one of the crown jewels of the French economy, rescuing it is a national priority.

He went on to state that residents can take holidays within France during July and August.

The countrys hotels will be reliant on domestic tourism once they do reopen, as all signs suggest international travelers will not be able to enter for the foreseeable future.

When the lockdown measures soften, French tourists are likely to want to stay close to home in the short term, a spokesperson for French hotel chain Accor told CNN Travel earlier this month.

It will be the moment for them to rediscover their own country and we will be there to welcome them.

Georgia was experiencing a tourism boom before the coronavirus pandemic, withfive million travelers visiting in 2019,a 7% increase on the previous year.

But the country was forced to close its winter resorts and place a ban on all foreign visitors back in March because of the crisis.

Eager to revive its tourism sector, the countrys government had previously said it planned to reopen to international travelers on July 1, but this has beenpushed back until July 31due to a rapid increase in the number of new coronavirus cases in the partner and neighboring countries.

Officials have brought in athree-stage anti-crisis plan, which includes a marketing campaign designed to promote Georgia as a safe destination.

The next stage will allow for domestic travel in special safe tourism zones, while the final stage involves reopening borders and resuming some flights.

We are transitioning to the third stage [of Covid-19 response], which means post-crisis management of the economy and devising plans [on] how to kickstart different sectors, Prime MinisterGiorgi Gakharia said at a council meeting focusedon fighting Covid-19.

[The] tourism sector will be first to which emergency relief measures will apply.

The land of poets and thinkers lifted travel restrictions for travelers from 31 different countries on June 15.

The approved destinations included the 26 EU member states, as well as the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

The revitalization of tourism is important both for travelers and the German travel industry, as well as for the economic stability of the respective target countries, read a statement from a paper calledCriteria for the Enabling of intra-European Tourism,which was issued last month.

The Austria/Germany land border has also reopened travel between Austria and Germany is possible as of June 15 and restrictions around the country are being relaxed.

Visitors from destinations such as Australia and Canada will also be allowed to enter soon due to the EUs decision to lift restrictions on various countries outside of the bloc.

Bars, restaurants and museums have reopened, while some hotels have begun to resume business.

Chancellor Angela Merkel recently announcedsocial distancing rules would continueuntil at least October.

International direct flights to Greeces many holiday destinations restarted on July 1 for travelers from most of the EU and a list of 14 additional EU-approved countries, with travelers subject only to random checks.

Greece has also extended its travel ban on direct flights from the UK and Sweden until July 15. All information is expected to be updated by mid-July.

The US, Greeces third-largest market, is not included on the EU list. Nearly 2 million Americans visited Greece in 2019. The country has been attracting a growing number of US travelers in recent years and was projected to grow further in 2020.

Russia also failed to make the EU list meaning that Greece will enter its peak season without the three countries that in 2019 accounted for about 20% of its tourism revenue.

Greece is also opening its international ports and some border crossings for the first time since the country imposed a strict lockdown over three months ago.

The country is being hailed as one of the safest destinations for holidaymakers in the Mediterranean this summer with under 200 deaths from Covid-19 and less than 3,500 cases in a population of 11 million.

As part of the measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, international travelers are required to fill in a detailed passenger form. The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) will have to be completed online at least 48 hours before entering the country and includes information such as duration of previous stays in other countries during the two weeks prior to travel, and the address of stay in Greece.

Travelers will receive QR codes based on an algorithm that will calculate those most at risk of spreading a coronavirus infection. Authorities will use the QR code to identify passengers who need to be tested upon arrival, Greeces Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said.

Those tested must quarantine overnight pending results. Those who test positive will be quarantined for up to 14 days.

Travelers from outside the European Union hoping to visit Hungary this summer will have to wait a little longer.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced Thursday that the Central European countrywould only be reopening its bordersto one of the 14 EU-approved safe countries in order to protect the health interests of residents.

Its southern neighbor Serbia, home to a large ethnic Hungarian minority, was the sole non-EU country to make the cut.

The decision came just days after theEUs request for its member states to lift travel restrictionsfor various countries outside the bloc, including China, provided it reciprocates the move, Australia and Japan.

For the time being, with the exception of Serbia, we cant comply with the EUs request that we allow entry to citizens from outside the bloc because that would be contrary to the health interests of the Hungarian people, Orban said in a videoposted on his Facebook page.

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Which international destinations are reopening to tourists? - Wink News

Six candidates will face off in primary for Kitsap County Commissioner District 2 position – Kitsap Sun

The county administration building in Port Orchard. Voters in South Kitsap will see six candidates in the primary for Kitsap County Commissioner District 2.(Photo: Jessie Darland / Kitsap Sun)

Charlotte Garrido, the incumbent Kitsap County Commissioner for District 2, is seeking a fourth consecutive term as she faces off against five challengers in the Aug. 4 primary election.

Although the seat is sometimes referred to as "South Kitsap Commissioner," District 2 encompasses a portion of Bremerton along with all of South Kitsap.

Garrido, a longtime South Kitsap resident and civic activist, served a single term as South Kitsap commissioner from 1997 through 2000. She regained the seat in 2008 and held onto it in 2012 and 2016.

Her opponents include Republicans Oran Root and Marcus Carter, along with two fellow Democrats, Paul Nuchims and Stacey Smith. All including Garrido live in South Kitsap. Bob Perkins, the lone candidate from Bremerton, states no party preference.

The top two candidates, regardless of party, will move on to the general election.

Candidates were asked the following questions:

Their responses are in the order in which they appear in the Kitsap County Voter's Pamphlet.

Paul Nuchims:Democrat, 86, of Manchester

Campaign finance: Mini-reporting (candidates who choose this option pledge to raise and spend no more than $5,000 and so are exempt from filing detailed reports with the Public Disclosure Commission.)

Career experience: Professional artist, gallery owner and tenured art professor at West Virginia State University

Nuchims said he was motivated to run for county commissioner because of an ongoing dispute he's had with the county over a stormwater pipe that, according toNuchims, regularly floods his property. He ran for the office once before in 2008 (years before the pipe issue) but withdrew just before the primary.

Nuchims is a member of the Manchester Citizens Advisory Committee, a group of volunteers that meets with county officials to discuss community needs. If elected, hewill take aim at what he describes as inefficient and unresponsive bureaucracy in the county government.

"The county hierarchy is locked in a struggle with the bureaucracy and they both have no fear and will keep drawing their paychecks because the taxpaying people are caught themselves between their indifference and their morbidity," he said. "I should leave but I'm an optimist and want to save them and our species."

Paul Nuchims(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)

To address the problem of homelessness, Nuchims would enact incentives for the use of vacant buildings, including commercial properties and the homes of snowbirds who depart for the winter while leaving the heat on. Nuchims says that's a "shameful"waste of resources. He said the county should consider exercising eminent domain in the case of commercial buildings that sit vacant for years.

Nuchims sees the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity for the county (and the world) to rethink the conservation of resources. He said sheltering in place has reduced pollution, a trend the county should encourage. "It really helps to solve the problem of pollution and use of fossil fuels. ... I'm saving my life and helping others save the planet," Nuchims said. "Everyone should do that."

He also thinks county buildings such as the administration building should be outfitted with cots for workers to cut down on commuting.

"The county because it's publiclyfunded from taxpayers should not be allowed to have their workers go back and forth over three miles when they could stay at least a week at a time in the buildings because the buildings are heated in the wintertime and they're empty at night," Nuchims said. "I know this is radical, but it's what we have to do to save our planet."

Regarding the question of defunding the police, Nuchims said, "The police have to be re-educated." He recommends that the county form an advisory committee to oversee racial equity that includes representatives from the NAACP Bremerton Unit and local Native American tribes. He also advocates initiatives to hire more peopleof color to administrativepositions within the county.

Charlotte Garrido: Democrat, 74, of Olalla

Campaign finance: Raised $17,671 (including a $15,000 loan from the candidate to the campaign); spent to date $15.73.

Career experience: Small business owner, community activist andvolunteer who helped found groups such as the South Kitsap Community Council and Port Orchard Farmer's Market; Kitsap County commissioner, 2008-present

"Kitsap County is a wonderful place to live and work," said Garrido. "I strive to provide the best public service to all citizens and to welcome community and neighborhood participation with their government.This work builds a better community, and that is what motivates me."

Garrido said she supports the "housing first" model as one way among an array of services to address homelessness. The late Lloyd Pendleton, after whom Bremerton's low-barrier housing project in the works is named, visited Kitsap in 2016 and provided helpful suggestions for a broad community support coalition to help people transition to self-sufficiency, she said.

Charlotte Garrido, 2020(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)

The threat of COVID-19 spurred the county to provide temporary supportive housingto prevent the spread of coronavirus among people living on the streets, which gave county officials insight into needs and possible long-term solutions,Garrido said."Great strides were made in coordinating across agencies.Andservice agencies are enthusiastic about ways to improve the system even further."

To relieve the economic impact of COVID-19, the county is seeking federal CARES Act small business assistance funding,Garrido said. "If this is received, we have discussed a program to reimburse small businesses that have experienced a documented loss of income due to COVID-19 for business-related rent or leases."

As for cuts to county government, the board of commissioners has asked departments to reduce their budgets by 5% across the board.

"We will continue to review the economic realities and what strategies or responses are necessary for the final budget," she said. "Our experience with the economic downturn in 2009 also provides valuable insights."

Regarding the Black Lives Matter movementand its implications for Kitsap County, Garrido said, "These recent events have been a wakeup call to most of us."

Garrido has met and will continue to meet with community members who are people of color to learn how the county government can serve them better. The county is considering a request to form a race equity task force.

"I agree with Sheriff (Gary) Simpson when he says, 'Today, being a police officer in America is hard,'" Garrido said."So is living in America as a person of color.We can do better, and we must do better if we want to overcome the divide between people."

During the budget process the county looks at new initiatives in and across departments, she said.

"While 'defund the police'can mean divesting funds from one program to another, it also can foster new collaborations, such as for public safety and community support links with social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources," Garrido said.

Oran Root:Republican, 48, South Kitsap

Campaign finance: Raised $17,084 (including loans tothe campaign totaling $662); spent to date, $4,164

Career experience: Marine Corps Special Operations combat veteran, owns and operates OSCAR 6, providing specialized military trainingto Air Force and Navy personnel; volunteer youth mentor, self-defense trainer to domestic violence survivors; alumnus South Kitsap High School and Olympic College

Root in the voter's pamphlet describes himself as a fiscally conservative small-business owner with leadership experience that will serve the county well in challenging times ahead.

Oran Root, 2020(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)

"Im running to provide some desperately needed leadership for South Kitsap on our County Commission," he said in a statement to the Kitsap Sun. "For too long our taxpayers and local small businesses have been low on the list of priorities for the incumbent and I plan to change that."

Root in general supports homeless programs and servicesthat require accountability, although "a small percentageof individuals with mental illness will not be able to live independently and will require assistance like the Pendleton (Place)to help curb the downward cycle."

Root says county fundsshould be directed toward "those truly in need, including those with mental illness or in dire circumstances due to events beyond their control." He said his mother has been inthat risk category."She is on a very narrow fixed income and was approximately two days from being homeless recently. This is very real for me."

Root notes District 2 has the highest reported percentage of homeless people in thecounty, according to most recent counts, 31% in Port Orchard, 38% in Bremerton.He cites about $1.3 million in taxpayer-supported programs administered by the county to address homelessness and saysthe county should not at this time take on more programs, andthat faith-based and private organizations should be the primary sources of support.

To stimulate the economy in the face of COVID-19 impacts, Kitsap should direct most of its CARES Act funding (Root estimates nearly $15 million) toward supporting small businesses.

"Hundreds of small businesses and their employees are facing dire times and many are in jeopardy of failure," Root said. "We can help offset future social service costs by supporting those who are working to provide businesses and jobs that pay taxes and employees."

In considering cuts to the county budget, Root would prioritize funding of essential services, "public safety, infrastructure and health/welfare." He does not support calls to defund the police.

"I believe that our law enforcement agencies across Kitsap, from the county to the local

jurisdictions, are in large part performing admirably and if anything may need additional

resources to navigate these challenging times," he said. "We all need to recognize that our police are critical to not just our personal public safety and well-being, but to our businesses and a recovering economy that has the confidence in protection from

property crimes and from those who might threaten customers and employees. Defunding our police is a poorly considered and destructive plan.

Bob Perkins:No party preference, 72, of Bremerton

Campaign finance: Mini-reporting

Career experience: Engineer and program manager for more than 30 years as a contractor to N.A.S.A., with experience in personnel management, budgetingand contract negotiation; small business owner, Navy veteran, community volunteer

"I am here to provide a service to our community by way of commerce, recreation, environmental protectionand educational opportunities," Perkins said in the voter's pamphlet."I am committed to represent the public interest using thoughtful, practical processes, seeking multiple perspectives and to be a good steward of the publics funds."

Perkins ran in 2017 for Port of Bremerton commissioner, losing to incumbent Axel Strakeljahn.

A priority for Perkins would be improving infrastructure, including roads and Internet connectivity throughout Kitsap County. Perkins cites his work with federal and state agencies, including regulatory agencies, as relevant to project development.

"I am a strong supporter of youth mentorship, work-based learning and summer employment opportunities," he said.

Bob Perkins, 2020(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)

Perkins supports a housing-first model to address homelessness with conditions.

"You've got to have a home before you do anything," he said. "I'm for that, but it's not going to be a free ride. People have got to contribute. If you contribute, you've got dignity."

Perkins was involved in early discussions about plans for a low-barrier homeless housing project that is now taking shape in Bremerton as Pendleton Place. He says the county should wait and see how that project functions before attempting to expand low-barrier housing.

Perkins thinks the county should look at undeveloped areas and vacant buildings in need of renovation as potential homes for those in need. The county needs to prioritize spending and should look at government grants and philanthropic grants as sources of funding for any new project.

Regarding budget cuts coming as a result of the pandemic, Perkins said all budgets have contingencies built-in. The county should look at each department to eliminate non-essential spending to weather the economic downturn.

Perkins is not a proponent of defunding the police, who are essential "first-line social workers" and perform other critical functions. Police officers provide 24/7 mental health services, he said. He would consider increased funding for mental health to support the sheriff's office but not with concurrent cuts to the sheriff's office budget.

Stacey (Spencer) Smith:Democrat, 50, Waterman

Campaign finance: raised $19,865 (including loans to the campaign totaling $10,000); expenditures, $7,396

Career experience: Currentdirector of Kitsap County Division of Aging and Long-term Care; board president of the Washington Association of Area Agencieson Aging;former Kitsap County Mental Health Program resource manager (2007-2014);youth mental health therapist (1995-2000);juvenile detention officer (1995-1997)

Smith cites her lengthy career in Kitsap County serving residents of diverse ages and backgrounds as her qualification to lead the county. She is the first member of her family to graduate from college and says she understands the importance of opportunity for all.

"I feel like I've demonstrated leadership in my time here in Kitsap, and Kitsap County taxpayers have invested in me and I'm ready to lead," Smith said. "I care about Kitsap, being raised here my entire life, and Kitsap has really signaled it's ready for change. ... We've had the incumbent for some time and it's just time for a change of leadership."

Smith's top three priorities are: housing, COVID-19 recovery (with a focus on vulnerable populations and small business recovery)and "opportunity for all to thrive."

Stacey (Spencer) Smith, 2020(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)

Regarding opportunity, she said, "It really is that theme of racial equity and social justice we're living in today." That includeschanges to the justice system among other reforms Smith would support.

Smith supports low-barrier models of treatment and support to serve people who are homeless. And she said the county needs to adequately fund human services that aidhomeless and vulnerable populations.

Beyond that, the county needs a long-range plan for affordable housing, she said. Smith advocates that 10% of all new housing be set aside as affordable housing for people on fixed incomes and young families. She says Kitsap should look to other counties for models to incentivize and/or publicly fund new development or redevelopment of blighted properties.

The county should explore rezoning to encourage a range of housing options, she said, and it should take advantage of all opportunities to raise funds for affordable housing, such as grants through the Department of Commerce.

"County commissioners who are looking for solutions keep an eye on when solutions come forward," she said. "I don't study a problem. I get to work. I'm very solution-focused."

In response to COVID-19, the county should look for areas that are underspent because of the pandemic, Smith said. She thinks the county budget should be reviewedmonthly so the board has current information on which to base decisions and budget adjustments.

As strategies to save money, she'dlook at the voluntary reduction of hours, with layoffs as a last resort. Programs serving vulnerable people need to be preserved, she said.

Smith does not advocate cuts to the sheriff's office but would shift the focus of its duties to providing public resources. "Law enforcement is paramount in Kitsap County," she said. "We need the patrol officers. We need public safety."

Marcus Carter:Republican, 59, of Burley

Campaign finance: Raised $7,325; spent to date, $1,452

Career experience: Kitsap Rifle & Revolver Club executive officer (1998-present), former union journeyman carpenter, business owner (Abba First Enterprises, Bayside Shooters Supply, Firepower Munitions, National Firearms Institute); Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission instructor

Carter ran for county commissioner in 1996, the same year Garrido won her first term.

Carter, through his involvement with the KRRC, has been embroiled in a lengthy legal battle with Kitsap County stemming from complaints about noise and allegations that work done on the shooting rangein years past was not properly permitted. The club remains under a court injunction prohibiting firearms discharge, but the club is open for othertypes of target shooting such as air rifles (which use compressed air, not gunpower) and archery, Carter said.

Because of the gun club's legal dispute, Carter said, he's heard from other people examples of the county reportedly overstepping its authority.If elected, he would advocate for the rights of individuals and property owners by rolling back regulations he described as arbitrary and stifling

"It is imperative that we return Kitsap County to its proper role of protecting individual rights by following mandated constitutional provisions and purpose," he said. "I want to restore confidence that county government will be a help not a hindrance to those who live here. Reducing government interference will be the best way to reinvigorate the economy and unleash solutions to the issues we face."

Marcus Carter, 2020(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)

Carter supports the housing-first model to address homelessness. Churches, civic groups and individuals could help if the county would get out of the way, he said. "The concept is sound and should be encouraged. Kitsap County has implemented regulations that make it very hard for those that want to help those who are troubled, and those barriers must be removed."

Regarding the economic downturn, Carter said the county should have been protecting the right of business owners to operate safely during the pandemic. He said the state overstepped in defining what was an essential business, and a legal challenge by thecounty to the state's mandates should be considered.

Carter said commissioners' salaries should be frozen, reduced and tied to the county's median wage. "You lead by example," he said.

Carter said the county should prioritize fundingto departments that provide infrastructure and "essential"services, including the sheriff's office. The county should provide incentives for departments that underspend, instead of a "use it or lose it" mentality, Carter said, and the county should consider rezoning to encourage redevelopment as part of its economic recovery strategy.

Carter does not support defunding the police. He does think the concept of "qualified immunity" on the part of the justice system should be challenged. Carter strongly advocatesde-escalation training not only for law enforcement but also for members of the public to advance public safety. Carter has experiencein the "use of lethal force" training for members of law enforcement and the military.

"When emotions get flying and you've just seen or witnessed a horrific event, it's hard to downshift, but that's something that can be taught."

Chris Henry reports on education and community news for the Kitsap Sun. Reachher at (360) 792-9219 or christina.henry@kitsapsun.com. Support coverage of local news by signing up today for a digital subscription.

Read or Share this story: https://www.kitsapsun.com/story/news/local/2020/07/11/six-candidates-running-kitsap-county-commissioner-district-2/5409273002/

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Six candidates will face off in primary for Kitsap County Commissioner District 2 position - Kitsap Sun

Turning on the Lights for 450000 People in Rural Myanmar – Modern Diplomacy

What is energy system integration?

Energy system integration refers to the planning and operating of the energy system as a whole, across multiple energy carriers, infrastructures, and consumption sectors. It creates stronger links between them with the objective of delivering low-carbon, reliable and resource-efficient energy services, at the least possible cost for society. Energy system integration is the pathway towards an effective, affordable and deep decarbonisation of the European economy.

The current energy system is still built on parallel and vertical energy value chains, which rigidly link specific energy resources with specific end-use sectors. This model of separate silos cannot deliver a climate neutral economy. It is technically and economically inefficient, and leads to substantial losses in the form of waste heat and low energy efficiency.

The Energy System Integration Strategy sets out a vision on how to accelerate the transition towards a more integrated energy system, in support of clean energy and a climate neutral economy while strengthening energy security, protecting health and the environment, and promoting growth and global industrial leadership.

The Strategy sets out 38 actions to implement the necessary reforms. These include the revision of existing energy legislation, financial support or research and deployment of new technologies and digital tools, guidance to Member States on fiscal measures and phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, market governance reform and holistic infrastructure planning, and improved information to consumers.

What are the main elements of the strategy?

The strategy is built on three complementary and mutually reinforcing elements:

Finally, the strategy will be pro-consumer, providing clear and easily accessible information on the cleanest solutions and climate-friendly choices in the market, enabling and encouraging smarter and more sustainable energy use. It will rely on an increased use of digitalisation to connect consumers, producers and energy system operators with each other. This will also contribute to the fight against energy poverty.

The strategy lays down concrete policy proposals that the Commission will present over the coming months and years to deliver on these objectives.

Does this strategy help to reach the goals of the European Green Deal?

Yes. Energy production and consumption account for 75% of our greenhouse gas emissions. The energy system is therefore crucial to delivering on the European Green Deals objective of reaching climate neutrality by 2050. The energy system also underpins our economy and our daily lives. It provides jobs and livelihoods and strengthens European competitiveness and innovation.

Energy sector integration enables to combine decarbonised and renewable energy supply with efficient demand side technologies such as electric motors, heat pumps and fuel cells. Deep greenhouse gas emission reductions can only be reached through a combination of energy efficiency and very high shares of renewable energy. And both energy efficiency and renewables penetration can be facilitated by a more integrated energy system.

A new inter-connected system will be more efficient and circular, capturing and re-using waste energy. It will be cleaner, with increased use of heat and electricity produced from renewable sources applied in efficient demand side applications in industry, transport and heating. And for those sectors where electrification is difficult, the strategy proposes steps to promote cleaner fuels, including sustainable biofuels and biogas, and renewable hydrogen.

All this will contribute to combatting climate change and reach the goals of the European Green Deal while keeping the costs of the energy transition under control, thus contributing to a fair and just transition.

Will the strategy help Europes economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis?

Yes. The strategy will be another building block of the economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. The transition to a more integrated energy system is of crucial importance for Europe, now more than ever. The Commissions Next Generation EU recovery plan presented on 27 May 2020 highlights the need to better integrate the energy system, as part of its efforts to unlock investment in key clean technologies and value chains. By relying on greater use of clean and innovative processes and tools, the path towards system integration will also trigger new investments, jobs and growth, and strengthen EU industrial leadership at a global level, contributing to the economic recovery.

Does the strategy continue to support fossil fuels such as gas and coal?

On the contrary, the strategy is a roadmap to accelerate the phasing out of fossil fuels through 3 levels:

As regards to gas, the strategy proposes a pathway to replace natural gas with sustainable renewable gas and new synthetic gases based on renewable sources such as hydrogen and synthetic methane.

Does the strategy contribute to the goal of a just transition?

The objective of the strategy is to reach our climate objectives at the lowest possible cost for consumers and public budgets. The strategy also proposes to reinforce the role of consumers in driving the transition to a decarbonised, decentralised energy system. Providing clear and easily accessible information will enable citizens to make climate-friendly choices, change energy consumption patterns and be informed about the best technology options available to them.

The strategy also takes advantage of the rapidly decreasing costs of renewable energy across the EU, which results in lower prices for the consumers, increased energy security, and a more inclusive energy system. In addition, this strategy aims at strengthening the competitiveness of the European economy by promoting growth and technological innovation across the whole EU.

Does the strategy respect the energy-efficiency-first principle?

Yes. The energy-efficiency-first principle is at the core of energy system integration. Energy efficiency reduces the overall investment needs and costs associated with energy production, infrastructure and use. It also reduces the related land and materials use, and the associated pollution and biodiversity losses.

Energy system integration can help the EU achieve greater energy efficiency through a more circular use of available resources and by switching to more efficient energy technologies. For example, electric vehicles are much more energy efficient than combustion engines. Applying this energy-efficiency-first principle consistently across the whole energy system will be done by giving priority to demand-side solutions whenever they are more cost effective than investments in energy supply infrastructure in meeting policy objectives.

Other measures will ensure that customers decisions to save, switch or share energy properly reflect the life cycle energy use and footprint of the different energy carriers, including extraction, production and reuse or recycling of raw materials, conversion, transformation, transportation and storage of energy, and the growing share of renewables in electricity supply.

How does the strategy support EU leadership in clean energy technology?

The strategy aims to ensure that the EU fully exploits its head-start and expertise in renewable and smart energy technologies. Specific sectors and value chains that are expected to have a central importance and where the EU is well positioned for global leadership include:

How does the strategy affect the EUs security of energy supply?

The EU is currently importing 58% of its energy needs, mostly in the form of oil and gas. With the clean energy transition, the EU will decrease its dependence on fossil fuels and fossil fuel imports. The Energy system integration strategy will facilitate this process. The EU will consume less energy overall, increasingly rely on domestic renewable resources and gradually diversify its energy imports towards cleaner energy carriers, such as renewable hydrogen. These energy savings, diversification and domestic production will help to build a more resilient European economy.

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Turning on the Lights for 450000 People in Rural Myanmar - Modern Diplomacy

LOOMING FREE FALL: How to save the Naira Experts – Vanguard

On Tuesday, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, adjusted the value of the Naira to exchange to the dollar at N381, as part of the measures to unify the rate at the foreign exchange spot.

In March, the CBN had adjusted the official exchange rate to N360/$ from N307/$ and abolished the N325 and N330 concessionary rates.

Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, had explained, recently, that the bank was making efforts towards a unification of the multiple exchange rates.

What we mean by exchange rate unification is moving towards NAFEX, he had said.

Only last week, the Economic Sustainability Committee, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, also proposed a unified exchange rate to increase FAAC payments to address the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.Economic analysts, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard, opined that a cocktail of factors, which include pressure from World Bank and

IMF, alarming depletion of foreign reserves as the Federal Government struggles to meet balance of trade obligations, and especially as the former multiple exchange rates regime created confusion, and deterred foreign investments, influenced the latest CBN policy.

Dr Muda Yusuf, the Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry LCCI, said the rate adjustment would impact positively on the remittance to the federation account.

It could also, according to him, marginally reduce the deficit in the budget.

To the LCCI boss, for the few firms that have been able to access forex at official rates, the adjustment would mean an added pressure on costs.

His words, But rate adjustment is not a one directional phenomenon. If supply improves, the rate will appreciate. It is a dynamic thing.

Yusuf explained that multiple exchange rates could be a major source of distortion in the foreign exchange market as they complicate the management of the forex market.

The regime perpetuates a rent economy, creates opportunities for arbitrage, engenders resource misallocation, impedes the inflow of investment, inhibits the inflow of forex, and creates transparency issues in the allocation of forex.

Multiplicity of rates is inimical to sustainable economic diversification and self-reliance as it penalizes domestic production and incentivizes imports.

Yusuf maintained that it is imperative for the exchange rate to reflect the market fundamentals in order to ensure sustainability and promote efficiency in allocation mechanism.

This is also critical for investors confidence. This should however be complemented with appropriate trade policy regime, fiscal policy measures, and institutional strengthening to achieve the objective of heightened self-reliance and economic diversification.

Prof. Ken Ife, Chief Economic Strategist in ECOWAS Commission, said against the backdrop of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has more than halved oil revenue, raising pressure on the currencies of crude oil-dependent economies like Nigeria, the CBN had been forced to move, more so because the inefficiencies and complexity of Nigerias exchange rate system made it prone to corruption.

Ife, also the Co-Chair of European Union Africa Business Task Force, noted that investors and the IMF have said the absence of a single rate creates confusion and deters foreign investment, adding that transition to a simpler, flexible rate is the right step in unpicking the trade-destroying policies that have held back growth in recent years.

Ife explained: Note that crude oil sector provides around 90% of Nigerias foreign exchange earnings and around 70% of its budgetary revenues, thereby helping to boost Nigerias monetary assets and providing the needed ammunition to stabilize the naira.

The CBN stated that it would use all the monetary tools it had to rescue the Nigerian economy from the fallouts of the COVID-19 induced global economic strain and stabilize the naira with some concrete steps it had taken to tackle currency speculators.

This, however, is not without prejudice to what really obtains in the forex market.

To Mr Seye Adetunmbi, Chief Responsibility Officer of Value Investing Limited, the action of the CBN becomes inevitable due to the reality of the pressure on foreign reserves towards meeting the federal balance of trade obligations.

Many factors are responsible for the situation we find ourselves as a nation today. In the first instance Nigeria was far more productive in the 1980s when a dollar exchanged for less than 70 kobo than the prevailing situation in the present setting, Adetunmbi said.

Nigeria is no longer a net exporter of refined petroleum products as it used to be in the 1980s. As a matter of fact, the country has been importing all refined petroleum products we consume for years till now.

Adetunmbi, who is the convener of Capital Market Roundtable in Nigeria, maintained that the solution to the foreign exchange challenges in Nigeria today is a collective responsibility. The country needs a progressive and purpose-driven leadership to pilot the structured solution coupled with a strong political will, he said

The Value Investing boss added that Nigeria needs to rejig the national policy on productivity drive.

What are we producing now and what are we set or planning to produce that will be backed with measurable action?

It becomes imperative to set out clear incentives for local resource-based manufacturing companies.

This will be implemented with a combination of example setting and trade instruments.

There is need for a deliberate national orientation structured to change the consumption culture of Nigerians.

This is not just going to be about food but in all things, by consuming what Nigerians produce and shunning what we do not produce.

Public policy analyst, Mr. Alex Ogundadegbe, said the devaluation of the naira to N381 to $1is long overdue, saying it came as a result on pressure on government by the IMF and World Bank to unify exchange rates in the market as a precondition to receiving loans from the international bodies.

Ogundadegbe explained that with the current economic realities, Nigeria can no longer manage to prop the Naira at the forex market by using income from the oil market to stabilize the currency.

There has been a shift in product levels as well as price of oil from 2.3 million barrels a day (mbd) and $57/b to 1.9mbd and $28/b, the analyst said.

Oil prices might stay below pre-pandemic levels in 202021 because of slowed economic activity and a persistent supply glut, he said.

He added that whichever way it goes, there will be pressure on the Naira henceforth and government might be pushed to allow the Naira to float to market forces.

The implication is that goods imported will cost more because of the exchange rate and therefore become more expensive in the retail markets

Nigeria has been unable to fulfill the conditions which would enable the value of the currency to rise at the exchange rate market.

One of these major conditions is to level the balance of trade, which means Nigeria has to improve on her export of finished goods instead of relying solely on crude oil as an export commodity. The journey to improving Naira could be long and difficult.

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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LOOMING FREE FALL: How to save the Naira Experts - Vanguard

Ecosystem stability and Native American oyster harvesting along the Atlantic Coast of the United States – Science Advances

Abstract

The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is an important proxy for examining historical trajectories of coastal ecosystems. Measurement of ~40,000 oyster shells from archaeological sites along the Atlantic Coast of the United States provides a long-term record of oyster abundance and size. The data demonstrate increases in oyster size across time and a nonrandom pattern in their distributions across sites. We attribute this variation to processes related to Native American fishing rights and environmental variability. Mean oyster length is correlated with total oyster bed length within foraging radii (5 and 10 km) as mapped in 1889 and 1890. These data demonstrate the stability of oyster reefs despite different population densities and environmental shifts and have implications for oyster reef restoration in an age of global climate change.

Anthropologists and historians are increasingly critical of the long-held and widely shared view of non-European peoples as isolated entities before the advent of European colonialism. This perspective is rooted in the mistaken assumption that indigenous people and their institutions were unchanging, as the noted anthropologist Wolf put it: people without history (1). Here, we argue that increasingly fine-grained archaeology, paleobiology, and 19th century cartography provide a deep history that can inform biological conservation by providing critical historical baselines that document the processes responsible for ongoing changes in coastal ecosystems, including the collapse of fisheries (2).

Identifying the core social and environmental processes responsible for resource depletion is critical for management decisions regarding particular resources or attempts at ecosystem restoration. Oysters (Ostreidae) are valuable proxies for past human-induced and ecological change (2) and, along with other mollusks, have been used by some as a marker of the Anthropocene (3). However, if we rely on keystone species like oysters as proxies for investigating historical trajectories of past ecosystems, it is critical to understand the social and environmental factors that condition their productivity at both local and regional scales across long periods.

Thus, we explore the deep history of harvesting eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in the American South to investigate the structure of oyster reef ecosystems from initial human harvesting to the modern era, i.e., from the early Late Archaic [ca. 4500 to 3500 calibrated years before the present (cal. BP)], the Mississippian period (ca. 1000 to 500 cal. BP), and into the late 1800s and 1970s. Tracking changes in oyster size provides insight into the health of reefs, as shifts in size have been directly correlated to environmental change, including human predation (4, 5). Specifically, the size of oysters and the main drivers of their ecology are determined by the age of the animal, environmental variability, ontogenetic growth rates, and the structure of the reef and the oysters location within it (6, 7). Therefore, large samples from multiple sites are needed to evaluate shifts in oyster paleobiology. Understanding these past dynamics can help prepare for future oyster reef ecosystem management. We focus on four interrelated questions: (i) Did oyster size vary from the Late Archaic to the Mississippian periods into the 1800s (a roughly 5000-year period of intensive harvest)? (ii) Did oyster size vary latitudinally across the southeastern United States? (iii) To what extent are observed variations in oyster size across space and time linked to environmental and social drivers? (iv) How can such historical and paleobiological studies inform modern restoration and conservation of oyster fisheries?

The Georgia Bight extends from present-day South Carolina to northern Florida along the Atlantic coast of the United States and is home to some of the most productive estuaries in the world (Fig. 1) (8). These estuaries have undergone and continue to experience marked changes due to human exploitation and climate change. The harvesting of eastern oysters as a food resource and possible building material began along the Georgia Bight almost 5000 years ago. Oysters and other coastal species continue to be commercially harvested from the region, raising increased concerns for sustainable management (9). Here, we use three different datasets to examine the long-term stability/resilience in oyster fisheries over time and how social factors and environmental changes affected these fisheries. These include oyster measurements (n = 37,805) from archaeological sites dated to two critical periods with different modes of food production: the Late Archaic (ca. 4500 to 3500 cal. BP) and the Mississippian period (ca. 1000 to 500 cal. BP), as well as the distribution of oyster beds as mapped in the late 1800s (and again in the 1970s). These data reveal long-term temporal trends in oyster sizes and latitudinal variation in the mean size of oysters. These results demonstrate that at a regional level, oyster fisheries were resilient and experienced multiple stable states over the last 5000 years before the 1900s. This is although the population grew exponentially from the Late Archaic to the Mississippian period and experienced shifts in political organization (e.g., from egalitarian to ranked systems) and changing economies (e.g., from foraging to a mixed economy that included some maize agriculture). Beginning in the 1900s, the oyster fishery experienced a marked collapse and has yet to return to its pre-1800 productivity (10). We believe that the archaeological evidence provides critical insights for ecosystem restoration by demonstrating where such fisheries are most resilient to long-term human influence.

Digitation of the oyster reef locations (in blue) was performed by M. Strickland for South Carolina and Clark Alexanders Laboratory for Georgia. All sites are located on barrier islands; however, exact locations are not provided to protect site locations from looting.

The Native Americans who harvested oysters and other shellfish of the Georgia Bight were variously organized from small egalitarian villages to large stratified polities, yet all relied on estuaries and oysters in their economic pursuits (11). The earliest substantial occupation of the coast begins during the Late Archaic, followed by Native American occupation during the Woodland and Mississippian periods (detailed below). In middens found throughout these various periods, oyster was the most common invertebrate taxon regardless of the time period in linear sheet middens (i.e., refuse shell deposits) and midden-mounds, large mounded deposits of shell and other sediments. Perhaps, the most famous of the regions archaeological sites are its shell rings, massive circular ring formations of midden-mound deposits, some over 3- m tall. These shell rings, composed of oyster, other mollusks, vertebrate faunal remains, and artifacts, are thought to represent some of the earliest coastally adapted, pottery producing, egalitarian, sedentary villages in the United States (12, 13). Around 3500 cal. BP, in some areas, there appears to have been a disruption in the fishery, and many sites were abandoned, possibly due to lowering sea levels (14). Despite the hiatus in shellfishing in some areas, people still resided along the coast, and when sea levels shifted again to favorable conditions, Native Americans reoccupied many of these areas, harvesting oysters and creating middens once again (15). While shell middens dating to the Woodland period (ca. 3100 to 1000 cal. BP) exist, few of these have appropriately collected samples similar to the other two time periods represented in our study and are thus not present in the current study. By around 1500 cal. BP, Native American groups increasingly focused on areas closer to estuaries and the coast in general (15).

By the Mississippian period (ca. 1000 to 500 cal. BP), the Georgia Bight saw exponential growth in population, possibly due to in-migration from other regions, the establishment of a regional settlement system, and eventually, the adoption of maize agriculture (16). During this time, the Guale (the 16th century historically known people of the northern Georgia Coast) were organized into expansive multitown polities with ranked systems of inherited asymmetry in leadership and social prestige (16). This likely played out as social status ascribed at birth determined by the genealogical distance from a single noble ancestor. Thus, the egalitarian social network of the Late Archaic (with leadership lacking inherited authority) shifted to one that was characterized by increased competition between groups. The resulting status competition with other groups led to proprietorship over key resource areas, including oyster reefs. With more people to feed, nearby shellfish beds inevitably experienced more substantial harvesting pressures, forcing increased reliance on harvesting eastern oysters from more distant intertidal habitats and/or substrates. At many of these sites, archaeologists have documented hundreds of individual household midden mounds typically dominated by oysters. At some sites, up to 600 midden mounds have been recognized. On the basis of studies of extant midden mounds, many of these would have been a meter high and 10 m in diameter before being reduced in height by historic agriculturally practices (17, 18). Thus, the harvesting of oysters, even in the context of a limited degree of maize agriculture, still contributed to the overall Mississippian diet. Isotopic analysis of oysters and clams from both Late Archaic and Mississippian period sites from the Georgia Coast suggests that Native peoples harvested these resources throughout the year with a preference for oysters during the cooler months (12, 19).

Isotopic studies of Late Archaic and Mississippian period oysters from the Georgia Coast indicate that Native American groups used a wide range of oyster reef habitats (19, 20), based on the understanding that d18O water trends covary with salinity and that the absolute values reflect the range of habitat (20). These results suggest that the foraging areas for oysters were quite large; given the nature of canoe technology and knowledge of the twice-daily high-amplitude tides (ca. 3 m) for the Georgia Bight, distant beds could be traveled to daily, and a foraging radius of 10 km or possibly larger would not have been out of the question (20).

During the early 16th century, Spanish explorers, colonists, and Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries arrived on the Georgia and South Carolina coasts, significantly changing Native American lifeways (21). Indigenous population density plummeted, and villages sometimes congregated in mission towns, which were threatened by attacks and slave raids in the late 17th century. Spanish towns and missions contracted and were then abandoned (22). Although mission period populations continued to use oyster reefs, the resulting middens are more constricted across the landscape, mostly located near the mission towns (16, 23). The intervening years saw the development of the plantation period with the legalization of slavery in Georgia in the 1750s (24). During the time that the plantations on the Georgia and South Carolina coast operated, oysters continued to be harvested; however, in much-reduced numbers compared to the time frames that Native Americans lived in these regions. This changed markedly in the early 1900s when the Georgia Coast became one of the leading producers of the worlds canned oysters (25).

Given the trends that we describe above in shifts from the Late Archaic to the Mississippian period, we might expect that the size of the oysters harvested over time would diminish with increased harvesting pressures. In sum, there are several trends that suggest that this might be something that we would expect. First is the sheer nature of population growth and the number of people that would have needed to be fed during the Mississippian period versus the Late Archaic period sites. Second, given that we believe that there was greater territoriality among groups during the Mississippian period, then access to oyster reefs was likely more restrictive. Third, although there are some changes in subsistence, the timing of seasonal harvesting of oysters remained consistent over time. Thus, similar harvesting pressures, at least in terms of the timing of harvesting, existed for the Late Archaic and Mississippian periods. As a result of colonization and Native American depopulation, oyster reefs likely experienced fewer harvesting pressures during the period between the 1700s and late 1800s; however, during the late 1800s and early 1900s, these reefs were heavily harvested for canning and likely experienced greater pressure than ever before.

The results of our study of 37,805 eastern oysters from 15 Mississippian and Late Archaic sites from the South Carolina and Georgia coasts document both continuity and changes in size and their distributions along the coast over time. These trends, as we discuss below, do not conform to the expectations of reduced size of oysters during the time that Native Americans harvested oysters. The data do show that historic period exploitation resulted in significant reduction in live oyster reefs. This work highlights trends that can inform research regarding the stability of oyster reefs over time and how Native Americans communities along South Atlantic Coast may have contributed to the long-term stability of these oyster reefs.

Left valve height (LVH) and left valve length (LVL) increase in the archaeological oyster shell sample between the Late Archaic and Mississippian periods: mean LVH significantly increases from 72.9 to 75.6 mm, and mean LVL significantly increases from 38.2 to 41.4 mm (Table 1). Late Archaic and Mississippian samples are statistically different for both mean LVL [95% confidence interval (CI) = 3.43 to 2.93; P < 0.001] and mean LVH (95% CI = 3.28 to 2.09; P < 0.001). In general, this pattern holds when comparing oyster size between Late Archaic and Mississippian sites within the same foraging radius. Mississippian sites have statistically larger oyster shells than Late Archaic sites in the same foraging radii on both St. Catherines Island (LVH: 95% CI = 7.3 to 5.2, P < 0.001; LVL: 95% CI = 0.1 to 1.0, P = 0.01) and Sapelo Island (LVH: 95% CI = 8.9 to 1.9, P < 0.01; LVL: 95% CI = 9.1 to 6.6, P < 0.001). Ossabaw Island is of exception as it witnessed a statistically significant decrease in oyster size across time (LVH: 95% CI = 16.5 to 20.8, P < 0.05; LVL: 95% CI = 2.0 to 3.5, P < 0.05). Oyster size also varies between levels within single sites. At McQueen Shell Ring (LVH: X2 = 76.1, P < 0.001; LVL: X2 = 58.1, P < 0.001), St. Catherines Shell Ring (LVH: X2 = 30.4, P < 0.001; LVL: X2 = 22.4, P = 0.004), and Sapelo Shell Ring 3 (LVH: X2 = 90.9, P < 0.001; LVL: X2 = 76.7, P < 0.001), there is a small yet statistically significant temporal decrease in oyster shell size through time during the Late Archaic Period (Figs. 2 and 3 and tables S5 to S8).

LVH measurements, top; LVL measurements, bottom.

LVH measurements, top; LVL measurements, bottom. Radiocarbon dates are shown below box plots.

Oyster size also varies latitudinally, as indicated by a nonrandom pattern moving north to south, often clustering by island (Fig. 4 and Table 1). Tests for equality of variance find a significant difference among the variances of LVL and LVH for each site (LVL, P < 0.001; LVH, P < 0.001). At the mean level, sites are significantly different in regard to both LVH and LVL (LVH: X2 = 2092, P < 0.001; LVL: X2 = 3057.9, P < 0.001). A post hoc Mann-Whitney U test, however, shows that many but not all sites are distinguishable regarding these measurements. Much of the difference in oyster size variation is between islands. A geographical comparison of oyster size shows that sites grouped by island are significantly different regarding mean LVH and LVL (LVH: X2 = 2120, P < 0.05; LVL: X2 = 782, P < 0.05) (fig. S1), and a post hoc pairwise Mann-Whitney U test indicates that all islands are distinguishable, except for LVL between Edisto and Ossabaw islands (P < 0.05) (table S4).

Mean LVH, top; mean LVL, bottom. Gray boxes are Late Archaic period sites, and blue boxes are Mississippian period sites. Sites are organized from north to south starting at the left.

The mean oyster length (LVH) was compared to the total length of oyster beds as mapped in 1889 and 1890 within a foraging radius of both 5 and 10 km from each site. We assume that oyster bed length correlates with density, productivity, and abundance of past oysters. A Spearmans correlation test shows a moderate and statistically significant correlation between LVH measurements and total oyster bed lengths in both 5 and 10 km foraging radii (5 km: R = 0.58, P = 0.04; 10 km: R = 0.62, P = 0.03) (Fig. 5 and table S3).

Diamonds represent Mississippian period sites and circles represent Late Archaic period sites. Inset oyster drawing shows measurement locations on C. virginica [adapted from (5, 6)]. Drawing by E. R. Parham. ASH, anterior scar height; LHL, left hinge length.

Late Archaic and Mississippian period oyster measurements correlate with the size of oyster reef habitat as mapped in 1889 and 1890 within site foraging radii (26), suggesting long-term stability in estuarine and marine habitats despite variable human harvesting practices. In addition, oyster size measurements at individual sites demonstrate that some oyster populations experienced harvesting pressure at the outset of human occupation during the Late Archaic. In the southern part of Ossabaw Island, the mean oyster size decreases for several periods (6). Overall, however, our data show growth in oyster size through time, implying localized increases in ecosystem productivity, either through human management practices or environmental change.

How do we account for this long-term stability? On the basis of our results, we suggest that when Native Americans used oyster reef ecosystems that there existed some kind of territoriality in fishing rights. Mississippian populations likely maintained considerable hierarchical control over oyster reef harvesting, and these territorial practices might have begun much earlier, perhaps parallel to ethnographic and archaeological evidence from fisher-hunter-gatherers elsewhere in the world (27). Along the Northwestern coast of North America, for instance, long-term property rights likely endured and were linked intimately with social institutions revolving around kinship and affiliation (28). Although technologies and environments probably shifted through time, Reitz (29) found considerable continuity in the kinds of estuarine fishes captured by Native Americans in Georgia from the Late Archaic through the Mississippian period, consistent with the findings reported here.

Overall, these data suggest that fishing/shellfish harvesting territories and governing practices may have had considerable antiquity. Larger regional systems of fisheries management could have functioned as ways to overcome collective action problems at both local and regional scales. Reitz (29) argues that common pool management might have governed where fishing and shellfish collection could take place and by whom, mitigating resource depression problems at both local and regional scales. Her study of fishes found that Native Americans and subsequently Euroamericans continued to harvest core species in the region from 2400 B.C. until the 16th century and, in some cases, at postcolonial sites harvesting persisted into the 19th century. In general, Native Americans captured fishes using mass capture technologies (e.g., nets and weirs). Despite intensive harvesting of these fishes, for the most part, such practices were sustainable over long periods, indicating to Reitz (29) that some form of social control and management of resources occurred along the coast. Adaptive controls, such as common pool management and proprietorship over beds, likely emerged with the onset of village formation along the coast as populations moved into productive new areas where resources could be procured (29, 30). Villages were dependent, to a large extent, on local resources, therefore, and likely enacted practices to encourage the health and productivity of nearby reefs (e.g., perhaps seeding them with old oyster shells). Precisely what these practices were that promoted sustainability in oyster reefs is difficult to discern at this point; however, the patterns identified here point to such practices. In addition, each site and subregion experienced unique local histories, and these interactions reflect an overarching complex adaptive system that may have emerged early on in the regions history. While such practices were likely concerned overall with local-level resources, they would have nonetheless contributed to larger regional sustainability. Thus, this common pool management system likely had lasting effects on the oyster reef community. In the interim 200 years from the reduction in Native American populations to the rise of the market economy in the 1800s and 1900s, there is considerable continuity in oyster productivity. This suggests that Native American management of these resources has lasting legacy effects on the ecosystem, not unlike those observed elsewhere in the American South (31).

Beyond suggesting some mechanisms of Native American resource management, this research also has implications for modern oyster conservation and management. The Georgia Bight ecosystem evolved in concert with human use of estuarine and terrestrial resources over 5000 yearsunderscoring the fallacy of any purportedly pristine environment inhabited by people without history (29). Instead, the archaeological and paleoecological findings suggest a highly resilient pattern of harvesting practices and possible reef management of oyster use over this time frame. Such a perspective would not have been possible without the data provided by the archaeological samples from shell middens in the region. Furthermore, these data indicate that large-scale harvesting of oysters from the region can be sustained with proper institutions in place to protect against overexploitation. With the emergence of market-based exploitation in the late 1800s and 1900s, millions of pounds of oysters were harvested from the Georgia Bight (25, 32), resulting in an overall ~86% decline in the areal extent of oyster reef habitat as measured by the 1889 survey (10, 17, 26). By 1974 to 1977, many of the beds documented in 1889 survey no longer support living reefs, and with the demise of industrialized harvesting, only a few thousand pounds were being collected per year (26, 32). Only 8% of live oyster beds documented in 1889 were live oyster beds in 2018 (33). Beyond overexploitation, the loss of freshwater input has affected the salinity along parts of the coast and may be partially responsible for the shifts in some beds (32).

New legislation and costly conservation programs today encourage the restoration of oyster reef farming on the Georgia Bight (34). We argue that the paleobiological record from archaeological sites in the region can help managers make informed decisions about such ecosystem restoration, using 5000 years of oyster reef history to pinpoint places where oyster farming may be more efficiently practiced. This, of course, is more complicated than merely looking at the data in the present study and must be coupled with current localized environmental data to provide a comprehensive picture of oyster restoration. Nevertheless, the long-term history of oyster productivity demonstrates that not all parts of the Georgia Bight have equal potential as oyster habitat, particularly with regard to the mean size of individuals harvested, to say nothing of the dependent estuaries. In coastal California, long-term archaeological datasets of red and black abalones (Haliotis rufescens and Haliotis cracherodii) have helped identify important past nursery sites and highlight places for habitat restoration (35, 36). In the Pacific Northwest, similar archaeological research on Native American clam gardens and clam management systems demonstrates the relevance of past human subsistence, land use, and management practices for informing modern nearshore ecological productivity (37). Our work in coastal Georgia further demonstrates how deep historical data can provide concrete metrics for restoration, including site selection, past environmental productivity, and suitability for sustained human harvest. The next step will be to incorporate these data along with information on modern ecosystem services in discussions between scientists, resource managers, local stakeholders, and the descendent communities whose ancestral lands are the Georgia and South Carolina coasts.

Shellfishing has been a critical human subsistence strategy around the world for thousands of years (38). This was never a matter of merely picking up mollusks for food but a practice governed by a diversity of social rules that operated at the community, individual, and regional levels. Then and now, human survival is governed by complex behaviors regarding key subsistence resources. Kirby (25) underscores the importance of documenting historical sequences of expanding and collapsing oyster fisheries to define which parts of the coast are in the greatest danger. The long-term histories buried in shell middens on the Georgia Bight may hold a key to its future, provided we factor in the social and environmental forces that have affected oyster and human populations alike.

A total of 37,805 eastern oysters (C. virginica) were measured from 15 Late Archaic and Mississippian period sites situated along the South Atlantic Coast (Fig. 2). LVL and LVH measurements (millimeters) were taken following a standard method outlined by Lulewicz et al. (6). Although LVH is more commonly used in oyster paleobiology studies, we also include LVL measurements because it too is an important proxy for paleoenvironment and human population pressures (5). All data analyses were conducted using the statistical software R (39). A Bartlett and Shapiro-Wilk test were first used to examine homogeneity of variance and normality of the data, respectively. Since the data are not normally distributed or homoscedastic, a nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis test was used to compare mean LVH and LVL between sites, and a post hoc pairwise Mann-Whitney U test was used to examine which sites are distinguishable in regard to mean LVL and LVH. To reduce the possibility of type I errors associated with multiple comparisons, a Holm correction was added to all Mann-Whitney U tests. Emphasis was placed on differences between islands and between Late Archaic and Mississippian period sites within the same 5- and 10-km foraging radius. A Kruskal-Wallis test and a Mann-Whitney U test were also used to compare oyster size between different levels at McQueen Shell Ring, Sapelo Shell Ring 3, St. Catherines Shell Ring, and Ossabaw Shell Ring and between sites clustered on Edisto Island, Ossabaw Island, St. Catherines Island, and Sapelo Island. A Students t test was used to compare mean LVH and LVL between all Late Archaic and Mississippian sites. Differences were considered statistically significant when P 0.05. A Spearmans rank correlation test was used to examine the strength of the relationship between LVH and total oyster bed lengths (meters) in 5- and 10-km foraging radii of 10 sites. Two Late Archaic sites (Spanish Mount and Cane Patch) were excluded from the correlation analysis, as these sites appear to be mounds, as opposed to rings, and thus likely aggregation sites rather than habitation sites. Data on oyster bed length were collected from oyster bed maps made in an 1889 survey of Georgia (10, 33) and from 1890 in South Carolina (40). These were then georeferenced and digitized in ArcGIS by Alexanders Laboratory and M. Strickland, respectively, for the current analysis.

E. R. Wolf, Europe and the People without History (University of California Press, 2010).

C. Claassen, Shells (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1998).

O. H. Pilkey, M. E. Fraser, A Celebration of the Worlds Barrier Islands (Columbia Univ. Press, 2003).

C. D. Harris, Survey of the Intertidal and Subtidal Oyster Resources of the Georgia coast (Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division, 1980).

D. H. Thomas, Synthesis and implications, in Native American Landscapes of St. Catherines Island Georgia III, D. H. Thomas, Ed. (American Museum of Natural History, 2008), pp. 10461065.

J. E. Worth, The Sruggle for the Georgia Coast (University of Alabama Press, 2007).

M. A. Stewart, What Nature Suffers to Groe: Life, Labor, and Landscape on the Georgia Coast, 1680-1920 (University of Georgia Press, 2002).

J. C. Drake, On the Sounds and Estuaries of Georgia: With Reference to Oyster Culture (US Government Printing Office, 1891).

L. R. Binford, Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building Using Ethnographic and Environmental Data Sets (University of California Press, 2001).

V. Thompson, in The Archaeology of Villages in Eastern North America, J. Birch, V. Thompson, Eds. (University of Florida Press, 2018), pp. 2035.

R. L. Walker, C. Cotton, Oyster bed distribution as a long term environmental indicator for the Duplin River, Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (2001).

C. R. Alexander, Geospatial Integration to Advance Management in Coastal Georgia (Georgia Department of Natural Resources, 2018).

A. J. Gallant, A High Low Tide: The Revival of a Southern Oyster (University of Georgia Press, 2018).

R. C. Team, R: A language and environment for statistical computing (2013).

V. G. Burrell, South Carolina Oyster Industry: A History (University of South Carolina, Thomas Cooper Library, Digital Collections, 2009).

Acknowledgments: We thank the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve, the University of Georgia Marine Institute, the Department of Anthropology and Laboratory of Archaeology at the University of Georgia, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Museum of Natural History, the Edward John Noble Foundation, and the St. Catherines Island Foundation for institutional support. We thank the Historic and Cultural Preservation Department of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, especially R. Butler, for commenting on this manuscript and for allowing us to conduct research on their ancestral lands. We also thank C. Rodning, D. G. Anderson, C. Giovas, D. Sandweiss, N. Hausmann, and four anonymous reviewers for their comments on this manuscript. Funding: This research was supported, in part, in association with the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER project, NSF grants (NSF grant numbers OCE- 0620959 and OCE- OCE-123714). Research at Spanish Mount was supported, in part, by a contract with the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism for Data Recovery at Spanish Mount Point (38CH62), award number 21300-GA24, 2016-2018. Author contributions: Designed research: V.D.T. and T.R. Performed research: V.D.T., T.R., C.J.G., K.Y.S., S.B., M.S., B.T., I.L., C.A., and B.T.R. Analyzed data: V.D.T., C.J.G., T.R., J.S., and C.H. Wrote paper: V.D.T., T.R., C.J.G., and D.H.T. Edited final draft: All authors. Competing interests: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Data and materials availability: All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials. All raw data measurements are available through the Georgia Coastal Ecosystem Long Term Ecological Research Network website: https://gce-lter.marsci.uga.edu/. DOI: 10.6073/pasta/581d10fe0cd0d1d87b1d0742d1f84ad0. Additional data related to this paper may be requested from the authors.

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Ecosystem stability and Native American oyster harvesting along the Atlantic Coast of the United States - Science Advances

LOOMING FREE FALL: How to save the Naira, by Yusuf, Ife, Ogundadegbe – Vanguard

Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor.By Victor Tunde Oso

On Tuesday, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, adjusted the value of the Naira to exchange to the dollar at N381, as part of the measures to unify the rate at the foreign exchange spot.

In March, the CBN had adjusted the official exchange rate to N360/$ from N307/$ and abolished the N325 and N330 concessionary rates.

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, had explained, recently, that the bank was making efforts towards a unification of the multiple exchange rates.

What we mean by exchange rate unification is moving towards NAFEX, he had said.

Only last week, the Economic Sustainability Committee, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, also proposed a unified exchange rate to increase FAAC payments to address the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economic analysts, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard, opined that a cocktail of factors, which include pressure from World Bank and IMF, alarming depletion of foreign reserves as the Federal Government struggles to meet balance of trade obligations, and especially as the former multiple exchange rates regime created confusion, and deterred foreign investments, influenced the latest CBN policy.

Policy ll boost remittances to federation account Yusuf, LCCI D-G

Dr. Muda Yusuf, the Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry LCCI, said the rate adjustment would impact positively on the remittance to the federation account. It could also, according to him, marginally reduce the deficit in the budget.

To the LCCI boss, for the few firms that have been able to access forex at official rates, the adjustment would mean an added pressure on costs.

His words, But rate adjustment is not a one directional phenomenon. If supply improves, the rate will appreciate. It is a dynamic thing.

Yusuf explained that multiple exchange rates could be a major source of distortion in the foreign exchange market as they complicate the management of the forex market.

The regime perpetuates a rent economy, creates opportunities for arbitrage, engenders resource misallocation, impedes the inflow of investment, inhibits the inflow of forex, and creates transparency issues in the allocation of forex.

Multiplicity of rates is inimical to sustainable economic diversification and self-reliance as it penalizes domestic production and incentivizes imports.

Yusuf maintained that it is imperative for the exchange rate to reflect the market fundamentals in order to ensure sustainability and promote efficiency in allocation mechanism.

This is also critical for investors confidence. This should however be complemented with appropriate trade policy regime, fiscal policy measures and institutional strengthening to achieve the objective of heightened self-reliance and economic diversification.

Complexity of exchange rate system prone to corruption Ife, ECOWAS Chief Economic Strategist

Prof. Ken Ife, Chief Economic Strategist in ECOWAS Commission, said against the backdrop of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has more than halved oil revenue, raising pressure on the currencies of crude oil-dependent economies like Nigeria, the CBN had been forced to move, more so because the inefficiencies and complexity of Nigerias exchange rate system made it prone to corruption.

Ife, also the Co-Chair of European Union Africa Business Task Force, noted that investors and the IMF have said the absence of a single rate creates confusion and deters foreign investment, adding that transition to a simpler, flexible rate is the right step in unpicking the trade-destroying policies that have held back growth in recent years.

Ife explained: Note that crude oil sector provides around 90% of Nigerias foreign exchange earnings and around 70% of its budgetary revenues, thereby helping to boost Nigerias monetary assets and providing the needed ammunition to stabilize the naira.

The CBN stated that it would use all the monetary tools it had to rescue the Nigerian economy from the fallouts of the COVID-19 induced global economic strain and stabilize the naira with some concrete steps it had taken to tackle currency speculators.

This however, is not without prejudice to what really obtains in the forex market.

Fast depleting national reserves, reason for devaluation -Adetunmbi, Value Investing boss

To Mr. Seye Adetunmbi, Chief Responsibility Officer of Value Investing Limited, the action of the CBN becomes inevitable due to the reality of the pressure on foreign reserves towards meeting the federal balance of trade obligations.

Many factors are responsible for the situation we find ourselves as a nation today. In the first instance Nigeria was far more productive in the 1980s when a dollar exchanged for less than 70 kobo than the prevailing situation in the present setting, Adetunmbi said.

Nigeria is no longer a net exporter of refined petroleum products as it used to be in the 1980s. As a matter of fact, the country has been importing all refined petroleum products we consume for years till now.

Adetunmbi, who is the convener of Capital Market Roundtable in Nigeria, maintained that the solution to the foreign exchange challenges in Nigeria today is a collective responsibility. The country needs a progressive and purpose-driven leadership to pilot the structured solution coupled with a strong political will, he said

The Value Investing boss added that Nigeria needs to rejig the national policy on productivity drive.

What are we producing now and what are we set or planning to produce that will be backed with measurable action?

It becomes imperative to set out clear incentives for local resource-based manufacturing companies.

This will be implemented with a combination of example setting and trade instruments.

There is need for a deliberate national orientation structured to change the consumption culture of Nigerians.

This is not just going to be about food but in all things, by consuming what Nigerians produce and shunning what we do not produce.

World Bank, IMF influenced policy Ogundadegbe, public policy analyst

Public policy analyst, Mr. Alex Ogundadegbe, said the devaluation of the naira to N381 to $1is long overdue, saying it came as a result on pressure on government by the IMF and World Bank to unify exchange rates in the market as a precondition to receiving loans from the international bodies.

Ogundadegbe explained that with the current economic realities, Nigeria can no longer manage to prop the Naira at the forex market by using income from the oil market to stabilize the currency.

There has been a shift in product levels as well as price of oil from 2.3 million barrels a day (mbd) and $57/b to 1.9mbd and $28/b, the analyst said.

Oil prices might stay below pre-pandemic levels in 202021 because of slowed economic activity and a persistent supply glut, he said.

He added that whichever way it goes, there will be pressure on the Naira henceforth and government might be pushed to allow the Naira to float to market forces.

The implication is that goods imported will cost more because of the exchange rate and therefore become more expensive in the retail markets

Nigeria has been unable to fulfill the conditions which would enable the value of the currency to rise at the exchange rate market.

One of these major conditions is to level the balance of trade, which means Nigeria has to improve on her export of finished goods instead of relying solely on crude oil as an export commodity. The journey to improving the Naira could be long and difficult.

Vanguard

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LOOMING FREE FALL: How to save the Naira, by Yusuf, Ife, Ogundadegbe - Vanguard

ASEAN delves into economics of conserving biodiversity – Philippine Information Agency

QUEZON CITY, July 9 -- Biodiverse areas produce ecosystem services that are indispensable to economic and social development. Assessing them informs decision-makers better about the value and priorities for conserving natural capital.

Newly released policy briefs of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), in collaboration with the European Union under the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) project, underscore the need to address knowledge and research gaps in ecosystems services valuation in ASEAN Member States.

The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Assessment and Economic Analysis for Management, Policy and Innovative Financing Applications (BESA++) policy briefs present the results of national and site-level stock-taking activities conducted in five ASEAN Member States, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand, as part of the interventions of the BCAMP project. These activities assessed the existing knowledge and awareness of protected area managers and policymakers and managers, on BESA and other economic analysis applications in biodiversity conservation.

Knowing the full and true economic value of ecosystem services will help decision-makers arrive at win-win solutions both for the economy and the environment. This knowledge provides a deeper understanding of what a nation stands to lose from activities that alter, if not destroy, natural ecosystems, ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim said.

Consultation workshops on the results of the stocktaking activities in the five ASEAN Member States were held from July to September 2019 to gather inputs from the government, academic institutions, and nongovernment organisations.

Wealth of research data

In Thailand, data and information have been used to support studies addressing specific policy issues, the BESA++ brief said.

A 2019 mangrove study,[1] for example, looked into the changes in land use and mangrove coverage using the baseline data of Thailands Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR). Opportunity costs of conserving mangroves, or the costs incurred when mangroves are not conserved, were also analysed based on the land price data from Thailands Department of Treasury.

Results of the study helped determine the effectiveness of preventing the conversion of mangroves to alternative uses.

While there is a wealth of data and studies, the policy brief noted that researchers and protected area managers and policymakers must closely collaborate to maximise the uptake of existing research.

Research results can be used to inform more realistic conservation, sustainable development planning, and target setting, the brief said.

Thailand has a combined 107,290.35 square kilometres of protected areas, equivalent to 21 per cent of the total land area of the country.

Role in establishing protected areas

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, valuation studies have been used to support the establishment of new state parks, such as the case of the establishment of the Selangor State Park, which is the third largest in Peninsular Malaysia, covering 108,000 hectares.

Established as a state park in 2007 under the National Forestry Act Enactment 2005 of Selangor, and managed by the Forestry Department of Selangor, this natural forested area protects some of Selangors most vital resources.

Prior to the parks establishment, various uses of the forest areas were valued, and a trade-off analysis between protective forest reserve, particularly as water catchment functions, versus production forest reserve options, was undertaken.

While there are many studies on value estimates of ecosystem services in protected areas, few of them have led to substantial increases in the rates for the enjoyment of these services, or the sharing of excess profits among natural resource-based producers, the government, and communities.

For instance, despite consumers willingness to pay higher rates, prescribed entrance fees in protected areas have not increased. Other factors, however, come into play, such as the approval process for raising fees in forest recreational areas at the state government level.

Malaysia has established networks of both terrestrial and marine protected areas with a total size of 5.87 million hectares to conserve nationally and globally significant biodiversity.

Wider scope of assessment

The policy brief on the Philippines noted that ecosystem services assessments conducted in the country are narrow in breadth and indicate a limited capacity at the protected area level.

Based on the review of 768 publications in the Philippines, studies were found to be disposed towards resource use assessment and recreation services. The published studies mostly considered a few ecosystem services instead of the ideal system-wide approach of looking into multiple uses and assessing their trade-offs.

Recent development of tools for ecosystem services accounting should now provide the basis for protected area managers to start accounting for these various ecosystem services, it said.

According to the policy brief, capacity building in the use of these tools should be undertaken in collaboration with academic institutions, which are in a better position to invest in training their constituents and establish information systems.

The Philippines has 526 identified protected areas, of which 240 covering 7.15 million hectares are managed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The rest are under different types of authority and management.

Knowledge, capacity gaps

Assessments in the five ASEAN Member States showed key actors working to improve management and financing of protected areas have limited knowledge on ecosystem services valuation, economic analysis, and innovative financing mechanisms.

In the Philippines, an online survey for protected area managers, researchers, government officers, and faculty and staff of academic institutions, yielded a low response rate due to the lack of knowledge on the topics presented. Of the 317 potential respondents, 37 participated in the survey. The overall knowledge and skill on ecosystems valuation was found to be below that of a novice.

Similarly, results of a survey conducted in Cambodia showed most of the respondents are either novices (35 to 46%) or have no knowledge (31 to 36%) on ecosystem services measurement and accounting.

More than 50 per cent of the government officers in the survey expressed the need to understand how to account for and value cultural, provisioning, and supporting services of ecosystems. Government officers also expressed the need for training on conservation financing, especially on regulatory instruments of financing and fiscal financing.

The researcher respondents, on the other hand, said that greater knowledge on the standardised methodologies and approaches is required.

Cambodia has a large remaining expanse of tropical forests, and its system of protected areas and corridors covers 42 per cent of the country.

According to the Lao PDR policy brief, on the other hand, insufficient knowledge and skills on assessing economic values of biodiversity and ecosystem services were one of the most important factors accounting for the loss of forestry resources and biodiversity.

Lao PDR has rich forest resources and biodiversity, with one of the highest proportions of forest cover in Southeast Asia.

In a similar survey, most Lao respondents indicated that they have limited knowledge and skills on BESA, including baseline inventory and species-specific, change, indicator, and resource assessment.

Lao respondents have some knowledge and skills in provisioning services and the estimation of their market price, but little on regulating, cultural, and habitat services. They also said they possess some knowledge and skills in conservation financing. However, most lack experience in developing financing mechanisms.

Commenting on the BESA++ briefs, Enrico Strampelli, Head of Cooperation for the EU delegation in the Philippines, said: The true value of biodiversity and ecosystem services to the wealth of a nation and to the well-being of future generations is often overlooked by decision makers, or underestimated against immediate economic interests. In the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, we know, now more than ever, what could be the final price to pay for forest degradation and wildlife trafficking.

Lim said the ACB will consider the recommendations from the BESA++ policy briefs in its future policy actions with ASEAN Member States.

What is common in the reports is the need to improve the competency and skills in valuing biodiversity and ecosystem services, and effective communication of data and information to policymakers and stakeholders, Lim said.

To download all BESA++ policy briefs, click this link: https://bit.ly/3f9qxGI. (ACB)

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[1] Nabangchang, O. and Vincent, J.R. (2019). The Economic Value of Mangroves Ecosystem in Thailand. [A study commissioned by the Thailand Research Fund].

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ASEAN delves into economics of conserving biodiversity - Philippine Information Agency

The wild economy: Changing the way we see and use wildlife and natural resources – Daily Maverick

This article was first published on Roving Reporters.

Young black South Africans are challenging the way we look at our planet and how best to use its natural resources. A new generation on the continent and elsewhere are questioning the way we do things, including deeply ingrained racial bias.

Merlyn Nomsa Nkomo, an aspirant ornithologist and Conservation Biology Masters student at UCT, reminds us of a prevailing stereotype that black people in South Africa believe that the love of nature and wildlife is a white thing.

In a recent article in the student publication iLizwi, Nkomo makes the point that conservationists are frequently detached from social realities. They are, she says, focused on being published in academic journals and travelling and working in remote and picturesque places at the expense of grappling with real problems which threaten the entire conservation project.

These include poverty, social inequality and a prevailing system dating back to the colonial era when parks were fortresses to protect nature from black communities that had lived with it in harmony for centuries before.

This is indeed a tragedy which only a few seem committed to addressing.

With the multiple threats of the Covid-19 pandemic, drought, human population growth, habitat loss and increasing human/wildlife conflict, what we require now, more than ever are African solutions for Africas problems, by African people.

The new generation of youth and leaders in Africa understand and value a growing wild economy that drives rural development through the sustainable use of wildlife, the socioeconomic benefits of ecotourism and co-managed conservation areas.

It creates more jobs than any other sector and is growing at a higher rate than any other. It now needs to become an all-encompassing economy that is generational, responsible and sustainable.

Many of us see this value, but empty stomachs have no ears. We have real pressing issues of poverty, unemployment and hunger to address. Yet, we are blessed with the last remaining megafauna and vast open spaces that exist only in many peoples wildest imagination or on Nat Geo channels.

Yet, for most, the debate on sustainable use and, in fact, the wildlife economy, pivots around hunting, tourism and trade. You are either for hunting or against it. You are either for trade or against it. Why not responsible use? If it is not ethical, equitable, ecologically and economically sound, it shouldnt be permitted. Its as simple as that. In my eyes, a high-end, luxury photographic safari, using thousands of litres of water per person per night, creating only a few jobs falls into the same category as captive lion breeding.

The wildlife economy is not only about hunting, tourism and bioprospecting the use of plants and animal species for medicinal drugs and other commercially valuable products. It is far broader than that diverse, domestic, and demand driven.

And pangolin, rhino, and elephant poaching and foreign vessels raping our shorelines are all symptomatic of a deeper ill that includes poor service delivery and corruption.

People starve while cash-fat tourists photograph or hunt game that indigenous communities rightly have a stake in. Nkomo is on the money when she fingers our colonial history and exclusivity of our parks. Our new wildlife economy needs to start with basic needs.

Why are we not farming diversity? Well-managed rangelands supported many people in the past and ecological agriculture or wild management could well prove the provider. Game meat has massive potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs alongside a vibrant red meat industry and a self-sustaining ecological approach to landscape management.

And, most importantly, how do we make the wild economy attractive to our next generation, our youth?

What if we really invested in this wild economy? Created roads and infrastructure, and bursaries and discounted tertiary education to support it? Cleaned up our act, removed aliens and cleaned water courses because it makes economic and ecological sense?

We need interventions as simple as homestead gardens, collaborative and large-scaled beekeeping enterprises, job creation through guiding, hunting, tourism development and maintenance. And we need to embrace age-old traditional income generation and practices in iconic locations.

What if we created a 50-year vision to grow our entire economy on the back of a wild economy? Link it to renewables, to clean water, air and soil, to carbon sequestration, to the red meat industry, grazing on open grasslands, not factory farmed via feedlots, but responsible, ethical, equitable, economic and ecologically sound use a natural resource-based economy.

If you had to make a choice between oil, gas and coal or clean air, clean water and clean soil what would you choose? The answer is obvious. It is our constitutional responsibility to look after this for future generations. Lets start talking about responsibility rather than rights.

Too often we turn to international experts for answers. We tend to forget that local is lekker. While international tourists generate fantastic local benefits, jobs and income, the pandemic has taught us just how vulnerable we are. We need to become more self-sufficient. We need to feed ourselves first.

Amid this, our new wild economy must compete with vested commercial economic interests and extractive industries that have decimated landscapes, wetlands and forests in the name of progress.

Our goal should be to foster resilient, empowered, enterprising communities who understand, cherish, own, manage and protect the wild economy, reducing the need for donor and government support, enabling strong, responsible and sustainable communities.

That is what we should aim for, not cheap political points, or short-term economic gain. When the value on the inside of our wildlife reserves is appreciated and benefits realised (economically and socially), then we reduce conflict and begin to move in the right direction.

We need interventions as simple as homestead gardens, collaborative and large-scaled beekeeping enterprises, job creation through guiding, hunting, tourism development and maintenance. And we need to embrace age-old traditional income generation and practices in iconic locations.

In her article, Nkomo quoted Zimbabwean writer, author and publisher Pathisa Nyathi: Keep frowning on African culture and your birds will be driven extinct by what you call myths and superstitions. Beliefs are as real as their consequences.

Last time I checked, we only have one Earth, one Africa, one South Africa. Isnt it time we started looking after it and investing in it, instead of blaming each other for destroying it or worse, tearing it apart for personal gain? DM

Francois du Toit is the CEO of African Conservation Trust, an organisation that envisages a world that is able to sustain human life with abundant natural resources, which people can use not only to survive, but to flourish.

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The wild economy: Changing the way we see and use wildlife and natural resources - Daily Maverick


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