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Category Archives: Resource Based Economy

Nearly half of Canadians miss high school literacy grade and that’s bad for economy –

Posted: January 17, 2021 at 9:21 am

Nearly half of Canada's population has a big roadblock ahead of them when it comes to post-pandemic economic recovery and it's not the novel coronavirus buta fundamental set of skills for daily life.

Poor reading andwritingskills make up a literacy gap in Canada withconsequences for both democracy and the economy. Experts say the gap isdue in part to an abundance of jobs in the past that do not require the daily use of reading comprehension and information synthesis skills.

In short, literacy is not like riding a bike. It takes practice to retain thoseskills, and Canada's economy does not provide the opportunity to do that for manyworkers.

Despite relatively high education rates, an analysis of international assessments by Statistics Canada in 2013 showed that more thanone in six adult Canadians fell short of passing the most basic set of literacy tests.

TheProgramme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIACC) looks at how adults process information and how they use literacy, mathematics and problem solving both at home and at work.

Canada's results, which have not substantially changed since the first PIACC, show thatmany in this countryare unable to complete ordinary tasks, such as filling out a job application, reading a news article or sending an email.

About half the adult population fell short of passing ahigh school level of assessment, by testing the ability todigestlengthierand more complex textswhileprocessing the information accurately.

"Generally speaking, we're below average compared to other OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development]countries in terms of adult literacy, numeracy skills," said Michael Burt, an economist with the Conference Board of Canada.

The not-for-profit research organizationgave Canada a "C" grade in adult literacy back in 2014.

"I think it really boils down to[Canadians]have a competitiveness challenge," he told CBC Radio's Cost of Living. "We cannot stand still because our competitors certainly are not."

Countries that score higher than Canada inthe international skills assessment, whichStatistics Canada participates in, include Japan, Australia, Sweden, Finland and Holland.

Unsurprisingly, new Canadians with a native language other than English or French appear in thelowest literacy category at a higher ratethan their Canadian-born counterparts.

In some provinces, immigrants with a very high literacy score actually represented a higher proportion than the Canadian-born population. Statistics Canada's analysis of the PIAAC data indicated that more"established immigrants," who had been in Canada longer, were represented in the lowest literacy groups at roughlythe same proportion as those born in the country.

However, the lowest-scoring groupsalso includea significant number of Indigenous people in Canada, as well as English and French speakersborn in this country.

It's important to separate out those born in Canada fromthose born abroad, because while some immigrants may struggle with a new language, a significant number also have extensive job experience and educationand are highly skilled in their original languages.

Thoseborn and raised in Canada who struggle with language, math and computer proficiency, on the other hand, are less visible because, as advocates put it, they're very good at "faking it."

"They tend to hide this fact from everyone because of the fear of being called names," said Monica Das, executive director of Project Adult Literacy Society (PALS) in Edmonton.

"'Dumb, stupid, crazy, handicapped' and other words are used to describe you as soon as you identify yourself as someone who struggles with reading and writing."

Native English speakers make up about half of the clients who turn to PALS for help, Dassaid.

Eddy Pich, 59, is one of them.

The Edmontonian spent nearly 30 years driving trucks all over Ontario and Alberta before coming to terms with what he called his "shame."

"Some people, like, come out of college, university, they use big words and all that stuff," Pich said. "They make you feel you really can't do this, can't do that. You feel shame."

As a child, Pich said, it always took him 10 extra minutes to learn everything. He describes those extra minutes, every time,as enough to set him back for life.

"In the old days, like in the 1970s, if you had a hard time learning and stuff, like, they put you back. They put you in special ed classes," he recalled.

Pich said because he was in special education, no one ever bothered to teach him how to read and write.

As a truck driver, he excelled by memorizing landmarks instead of reading road signs.

At the age of 48, Pich decided to go back to school to become a social worker after overcoming significant setbacks in his life including mental illness and addiction.

At first,he relied on his wife to help write his papers.Eventually Pich enrolled in Edmonton's PALS programand met with a volunteer tutor each week to work on his reading comprehension and writing skills.

Today, he works with homeless and other marginalized populations.

"Some people never gave up on me, so I do the same thing. I don't give up," Pich told The Cost of Living. "My motto is never leave anybody behind. That's why I do social work."

Eddy Pich's ability to retrain and pivot is a success story, but on its own it does not scale up tosolve Canada's problem with literacy.

For years, Canada had an abundance of high-paying jobs that didn't require high levels of literacy, such as natural resource-based work, said the Conference Board of Canada's Burt.

"Because of the nature of our economy, things like mining and forestry are more prominent in our economy than some of our OECD peers," he explained in a comparison to countries such as Japan or Sweden.

Due to these economic factors, even if the Canadian education system is producing graduates with high enough literacy scores, these skills sets can atrophy.

"If you're working in a particular role, whatever it is, where reading and writing isn'tnecessarily a big part of the job, those skills may erode over time," Burt said.

Financial incentives also distort whether Canadians complete their education, which would impact the level of their literacy skills as they enter the workforce to try for higher wages.

At the height of the oil boom, Alberta had a higher high school dropout rate than severalother provinces. But the portionof the population with less education now has fewer places to go as changes to the economy accelerate, Burt said.

"The oil and gas sector is not the growth driver for the economy as it was five years ago," the economistsaid. "The dynamics around that have changed considerably in recent years. On top of that, we're looking at the impacts of digital technologies and automation on the workforce."

WATCH | How the next generation of robots could affect the labour market:

As many as one in five jobs in Canada are at risk of being automated, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

Some Canadians filling those"high-risk, low-mobility" jobs most susceptible to automation would have difficulty shifting to work that requires literacy; theytend to come from some of the country's largest industries, such as manufacturing, food services, accommodation, retail and construction.

"These are people whose jobs are at risk to automation, and they have limited ability to move over to other jobs that are at lower risk," Burt explained.

"Basically, there's a real need to to think about how skills requirements are changing in the workforce," he said. "How do we adequately prepare people for entering the workforce and how do we ensure that there are good transition pathways available for people already in the workforce today?"

Another challenge that comes with low literacy is the difficulty inunderstanding information needed tomakeinformed decisions, both indaily life and atthe ballot box.

Forty-nine per cent ofthe Canadianpopulation does not hit a level of literacythat can "disregard irrelevant or inappropriate content" to accurately answer questions about something they have read.

The impact of this has, perhaps, become more clear with the rise of online disinformation. Onthe internet, there's no shortage of bad information to push people into making badly informed decisions. Researchers say those who struggle with reading and writing tend to also perform poorly on the digital front.

Samantha Bradshaw, a a postdoctoral fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University in California,studies the impact of social media misinformation and told Cost of Livingthat tackling digital literacy is just as important as traditional books on paper.

"Consuming content digitally is increasingly more a part of our media diet and how we get information about politics,"Bradshaw said, addingthatbig tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter are likely to face more government scrutiny from regulators.

According to Bradshaw, it's critical for anyone making decisions affecting today's democratic institutions to understand both how the information they get online is delivered to them andthe biases that are present.

WATCH | Russia and China push coronavirus misinformation on social media:

"So being able to understand both the mechanisms through which information is delivered to us through these online systems, the biases that exist within the technology, as well as having the literacy skills to communicate, to interpret, to understand the argumentation and the ways in which content and narrations are being told through an online digital media," she said.

There's no magic solution to narrowing Canada's literacy gap.

Education and training play a role, but workers and employers also need to put a higher premium on soft skills, such as reading comprehension and communication, Burt said.

"I think part of it is understanding what skills make people more resilient," he said.

The good news is those with low literacy skills who are most at risk of losing their jobs have a lot of untapped potential, according to those working in the sector.

Eddy Pichserves as an example.

His skill set inproblem-solving was a great fit for social work, even before he returned to school to upgrade his credentials.

But because he was unable to fill out a job application, write a caseload report or respond to emails, his options to capitalize on those soft skills to gain employment were severely limited.

"People forget to realize that this adult has been able to support himself all this time without someone else knowing that he can't read or write," said Monica Das with PALS in Edmonton.

"You should appreciate the amount of skills that this person has."

Written and produced by Falice Chin.Click "listen" at the top of the page to hear this segment, ordownloadthe Cost of Livingpodcast.

The Cost of Livingairs every week on CBC Radio One, Sundays at12:00 p.m. (12:30 NT).

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Kazakhstan: With elections chore out of the way, it is time for politics – Eurasianet

Posted: at 9:21 am

Kazakhstan does elections by rote. The vote to pick members of a new parliament this weekend was no exception.

But that might be missing the point. Elections are but an incremental stage in a slow and ongoing political transition.

Preliminary resultspublishedon January 11 showed that the ruling Nur Otan party had got 71 percent of the vote.

Another two government-friendly parties got into the Majilis, as the lower chamber is known: the business-promotingAk Zholparty, with its 11 percent share of the vote, and the ersatz-leftPeoples Partyon 9 percent. Two more parties,Adal(Honesty) andAuyl(Village), did not make it past the 7 percent threshold.

That all translates into a Majilis almost identical in makeup to the one it is replacing.

Sure enough, former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is chairman of Nur Otan and still the ultimate power behind the throne, lingered on the theme of continuity and the need for monopolizing powerin remarks made late on January 10, as exit poll results were emerging.

Kazakhstanis link the future development of the country with our party, he said, adding that especially during a time of pandemic, only a consolidated society, united around a single political force, can succeed.

No real opposition parties were permitted to run, however, so the elections were a poor bar by which to measure the accuracy of that sweeping claim. And it is not exactly difficult these days to find members of the public willing to vent their spleen at the economic and social funk in which Kazakhstan has been mired for years now.

Why would I vote for Nur Otan? For a miserable pension? I very much doubt they have many supporters, Almaty pensioner Bolat Iskanderov fumed in remarks to Eurasianet. People have been wanting change for a long time.

The authorities are well aware of such frustrations.

Nur Otan attempted to liven its insipid brand ahead of the elections by having a portion of its candidates selected throughprimaries. Nazarbayev, the 80-year-old who has been at the helm of Nur Otan ever since its inception in 1999, talked without apparent awareness of the irony about how this process was a chance to reset the ruling party. Singers, sportspeople, businesspeople and social media trendsetters were enlisted to give the primaries some glamorous gloss.

And there was some tinkering to partially reflect evolving social and demographic trends. Nur Otan has, for example, proudly trumpeted the fact that almost one-third of the people on its party list were women and that the average age of candidates had dropped by four years, to 48, compared to the 2016 legislative election.

In the end, Nur Otans performance was comparatively weaker than at the last election. Then, they garnered 82 percent of the vote. Replicating that figure would have been harder for the public to swallow in light of the economic slump and concomitant drop in living standards brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Independent experts believe that even the 71 percent figure strains credibility, though.

The authorities should always get more than 70 percent. That is the psychological threshold below which they may not sink, and so they concoct the needed figure, political analyst Kazbek Beisebayev told Eurasianet.

The finger was accordingly kept on the scale, as the vote-monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe stated in a post-electionreport.

Notwithstanding some increasing scope for a plurality of opinions online, a subdued campaign further narrowed voters ability to make an informed choice, the report noted. Concerted measures in the run up to elections prevented some domestic observers from an effective oversight. While voting itself was generally organized efficiently, many procedural aspects on election day lacked full transparency.

In any case, the result is a Majilis again dominated by a Nur Otan filled with new and old blood alike. The latter category includes Nazarbayevs ultraloyalists, like his eldest daughter, Dariga, who was speaker of the upper house before beingshunted out of that job in May, Nur Otan first deputy chairman BauyrzhanBaibek, Majilis speaker Nurlan Nigmatulin, the head of the presidential administration Yerlan Koshanov and the chairman of the Samruk-Kazyna sovereign wealth fund, Akhmetzhan Yesimov.

There are some who forecast that now the parliamentary elections are over and done with, more fiddling with the constitutional order may be in the offing.

That process had already ostensibly begun in the spring of 2017, when then-President Nazarbayev rushed through reforms supposedly intended to balance power between the executive and parliament. Nazarbayev at the time hailed those changes as historic, but experts were less impressed.

The powers the president was willing to transfer to or share with the parliament and the government are mostly insignificant (in some cases even of cosmetic nature), scholar Zhenis Kembayev concluded in apaperwritten later that year. The president remains an absolutely dominating figure in the state machinery and over-centralization of political power continues to be a major feature of Kazakhstans political system.

With the benefit of hindsight, one might surmise that Nazarbayevs goal in pursuing this reform was to ensure that no president after him would be as powerful as he was.

But the tepidness of Nazarbayevs 2017 constitutional fix means more work will have to be done to turn the Majilis into a potent force piloted by his cronies instead of the somnolent rubber stamp chamber it is today. Political analyst Beisebayev has picked up on clues changes may be imminently afoot.

This idea is given weight by a November statement by the leader of the Ak Zhol party, Azat Peruashev, who said that when parliament reconvened, it would initiate laws to strengthen the role of parliament, Beisebayev said.

Petr Svoik, a political scientist and sometime opposition politician, is less categorical. Kazakhstans resource-based economy has run out of steam and the priority now is to maintain stability, not to effect major transformations to the system. That means Nazarbayevs successor, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, will cling on to his authority for the time being, he said.

Tokayev is not a nominal figure. He is a real president, Svoik told Eurasianet. But he is trying to maintain balance and continuity, and waiting for the transition of power to end naturally.

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Time to pivot: The role of the energy transition and investors in forging resilient resource-rich country outcomes – Brookings Institution

Posted: at 9:21 am

At a time when the world is confronting a global pandemic and unprecedented challenges related to climate change and inequality, the natural resource governance field must undertake concrete, urgent, and drastic changes in strategies and tactics to achieve much-needed progress. Here, we outline two core areas that demand focused attention and new ways of thinking: the energy transition and the role of investors.

Against the backdrop of the urgent realities of climate change, the pandemic, and the decline in oil prices, the necessity for oil- and gas-producing countries to immediately engage in the transition toward sustainable energy sources has come to the fore. This pivot must be central to a revamped natural resource governance field now and in the years to come. However, as needed as the transition is, it raises its own set of socio-economic challenges. It is imperative that the natural resource governance field addresses the issues which will result from reduced extractive revenue, stranded assets, and related risks. Moreover, the economic consequences of the transition will fall asymmetricallywith dramatic negative impacts on countries and communities dependent on oil, gas and coal revenues, and a rise in opportunities for those rich in transition minerals like copper, cobalt, and lithium.

Because many resource-rich countries struggle with effective governance, the natural resource governance field should support them with initiatives that build on past efforts and pivot to respond to current challenges. These include:

The central role of those working to improve governance in resource-rich countries will continue as those nations transition into a new energy realityone where there is a decarbonization imperative.

Just as misgovernance has impeded efforts in the past to translate extraction into development, it now threatens to stymie countries efforts to grapple with the decline of fossil fuels, take advantage of technological progress, and build economic resiliency in a low-carbon future. Unless critical issues of corruption, state capture, and mismanagement are addressed, a just energy transition will be impossible.

Consequently, activists, decisionmakers, funders, institutions, and researchers must work to realize a transition to a green economy in a way that does not widen inequality gaps either between resource-rich countries and others or between individuals in resource-rich countries.

As part of the energy transition, some levels of fossil fuel production will continue in the short term, while the demand for critical minerals for renewable energy generation will only increase moving forward. The natural resource governance field must therefore not abandon oversight and accountability efforts regarding mineral, oil, and gas extraction, which will continue to have a massive impact on the billions of people living in resource-rich countries.

At the same time, an accelerated rate of energy transition provides a moment for those working in the natural resource governance space to pivot as well. Activists, donors, and researchers should examine and probe how the expertise, lessons, and tools from extractives governance efforts might be applied to wind and solar energy and other sustainable resources.

The new challenges of the energy transition require a new perspective, including a revamped vocabulary and a new role for resource governance. This role must fully integrate economic and climate realities, address long-standing inequities and injustices, be mindful of politics, and (crucially) build resilience.

The natural resource governance field has a well of expertise that should not be left untapped. However, the levers that the field has historically relied on (technical advice, transparency, capacity building, and the like) have not always been enough to motivate changemakers around the world. Connecting the dots between current resource extraction, the energy transition, the extraction that will continue even in an energy system based on renewables, and the weak governance that can undermine each of those systems, will require new evidence for what works and new forms of coalition- and community-building.

Underpinning it all should be an awareness of the lessons the field has learned to date, how they can be applied in new contexts and with renewable energy sources to improve governance outcomes, and which revamped strategies are needed and new methods are most effective in promoting resilience and a sustainable energy future. Further, we need to be mindful that major geopolitical shifts will continue, with major implications for the energy field. In this context, the role of corporations and investors will also be key. We turn to the latter next.

Investors and international financial institutions (IFIs) are a priority audience for lessons learned and anticipated transitions ahead. Governance dimensions need to be an important consideration in their influential decisionmaking.

Investors and IFIs are central players in the energy transition. Today, private capital is migrating from fossil fuel companies to those positioned as more sustainable. This past summer, for example, the market valuation of the electric vehicle and clean energy company Tesla exceeded that of the oil and gas giant ExxonMobil.

Investors and IFIs, however, can do more than make market-moving investments. They can promote environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors; sustainable financing models; and the implementation of transparency and other good governance conditions when making loans or investments to mitigate structural factors that can undermine returns. Investors need to be attracted to the table for discussion and mutual learning, while IFIs need to further their work on governance throughout their funding.

This has never been more necessary given a recent explosion of interest from investors in ESG, especially decarbonization, not only in the United States and the European Union but also in emerging markets. Last year alone, the investment management giant BlackRock announced that it would put climate considerations at the heart of all investment strategies; more than two dozen institutional investors joined the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance to align with the Paris Agreement; and shareholders pushed for climate action even at ExxonMobil.

The natural resource governance community can further this movement by allying with investors. The push for effective ESG should focus not just on country- or macro-level factors but also on specific companies and deals. The natural resource governance community should apply pressure on investors to take a sophisticated approach to impactthat is, demonstrating ESG outcomes, not just inputs.

Although investors have the potential to influence positive change, public interests and the interests of investors are not always aligned. As such, ensuring effective oversight over investors and the transactions that they broker can be just as important to improving governance as leveraging their influence to shape commercial or government practices in the first place. Investors, if they are seeking to act responsibly and sustainably, have a responsibility to improve their own policies and practices. Notably, they must ensure adequate transparency and due diligence for corruption and governance risksboth in their own operations and in the deals they finance.

Investors also have a pivotal role to play in sustainable financing to create a more resilient and sustainable future. In addition, conditionality in IFI lending may have a role to play. The natural resource governance field is rife with standards and measurements for good governance, from the EITI Standard to the Resource Governance Index to the Open Contracting Data Standard, that could be considered as requirements for lending.

Some participants in the October 2020 dialogue argued that IFIs need to impose stronger governance conditions during sovereign debt restructuring. IFI governance pre-conditions could also include transparency in climate risk assessments, requirements for governments to stop investing in oil and gas companies, and other sustainability initiatives.

Conditions imposed by outside actors obviously cannot deliver lasting change. While IFIs need to step up regarding governance in the support and funds they provide, meaningful change in countries requires capacity-building, fostering political will, and addressing political economy constraints.

In the coming years, the energy transition and investor focus on ESG, particularly regarding decarbonization, will only strengthen and accelerate. Today, major oil and gas company Total announced that it will not be renewing its membership in the American Petroleum Institute, a powerful oil and gas lobbying group, as a result of the latters stance on climate, including its support for American political candidates who oppose the Paris Agreement.

The next decade will usher in staggering shifts in the political economy of energy as these trends continue. The natural resource governance field needs to transform itself as well: It must not miss the opportunity to proactively and positively shape these shifts by leveraging the lessons learned and expertise developed over the past three decades in new contexts. For this, we must also seize the opportunity to engage new actors and work in these new arenasas we will discuss further in our third installment of this series

Read the first entry of this series here.

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ADB, EIB Join Forces to Protect Oceans, Support the Blue Economy – India Education Diary

Posted: at 9:21 am

Manila: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) today formed a new Clean and Sustainable Ocean Partnership to support initiatives in Asia and the Pacific to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.

The partnership will strengthen the capacity of ADB and EIB to support high-impact projects. Both institutions will finance activities aimed at promoting cleaner oceans through the reduction of land-based plastics and other pollutants discharged into the ocean, as well as projects to improve the sustainability of socioeconomic activities that take place in oceans or use ocean-based resources.

Healthy oceans are critical to life across Asia and the Pacific, providing food security and climate resilience for hundreds of millions of people, said ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono. This Memorandum of Understanding between ADB and EIB will launch a framework for cooperation on clean and sustainable oceans, helping us to expand our pipeline of ocean projects in the region and widen their impacts.

Oceans play a vital role in the world economy and they are also the largest carbon sink on the planet, helping to regulate the global climate. But oceans are under enormous pressure, with implications for billions of people. The economic crisis caused by COVID-19 does not weaken our commitment to address global environmental and climate challenges, said EIB Vice-President Christian Kettel Thomsen. As the European Union (EU) climate bank, we are very proud to partner with ADB through this new Clean and Sustainable Ocean Partnership to further protect the oceans and preserve and promote the sustainable use of this precious natural resource.

The partnership provides a framework for ADB and EIB to expand inter-institutional cooperation and investments in ocean health and sustainable blue economy. The following principles will guide the ADB and EIB cooperation in jointly selected areas, including: (i) alignment with the country partnership strategies of both ADB and EIB; (ii) support for the achievement of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement by countries in Asia and the Pacific; (iii) encouragement of stakeholder participation and mobilization of third-party finance; (iv) environmental and social sustainability; and (v) country ownership of investment policies and programs. ADB and EIB will mutually benefit from organizational expertise in key investment areas as well as pool resources in emerging ocean issues and solutions and accelerate growth in the oceans project pipeline and development impact.

The partnership will support projects that reduce marine plastic pollution including integrated solid waste management projects, such as recycling; circular economy principles, such as designing out plastic waste; and promoting clean rivers and waterways, including through improved wastewater management and inclusive sanitation.

The partnership will also focus on sustainable fisheries management and sustainable seafood supply chains; sustainable management, protection, and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems and resources; integrated coastal protection activities; disaster risk preparedness; and green shipping, green ports, and maritime infrastructure, with a focus on increasing safety and environmental performance.

In addition, ADB and EIB will develop joint technical assistance programs and advisory support to help partners get sustainable blue economy and clean oceans projects off the ground.

Healthy oceans are a key priority of ADBs Strategy 2030. In 2019, ADB launched a $5 billion Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies (the Action Plan) to boost investment and technical assistance to protect and restore oceans in Asia and the Pacific. The Action Plan focuses on promoting action on ecosystem management, pollution control, and sustainable coastal and marine development, while supporting ADBs developing members to catalyze blue finance for projects through the Oceans Financing Initiative.

EIB is the long-term lending institution of the EU owned by its Member States. As the EU climate bank, the EIB is investing in the sustainable blue economy and supporting initiatives aiming at reducing pollution and preserving the oceans. Under its Blue Sustainable Ocean Strategy, the EIB committed to double its lending to sustainable ocean projects to 2.5 billion (around $3 billion) over the period 20192023 and expects to mobilize at least 5 billion of investments that will contribute to improve the health of the oceans and their resources.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members49 from the region.

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From the Group Publisher: As we prepare for a brighter 2021, an introduction – Crain’s Cleveland Business

Posted: at 9:20 am

As we turn the page on a year that many of us would like to forget, we here at Crain's Cleveland Business are focused and ready for a brighter 2021. We hope you are too.

We continue to strive to be your most important news and information resource keeping you up to date on the best and most relevant information on what drives this great economy here, while also giving you the tools you need to succeed.

It is with this mandate that I introduce myself to you as the new Group Publisher of Crain Communications' "city-book" publications in Chicago, New York, Detroit and, of course, Cleveland.

I'm assuming the position held for the last two-plus years by Mary Kramer, one of Michigan's top journalists, whose award-winning career included many years helming Crain's Detroit Business before paving a new, successful path for the Crain city books as they aggressively navigate the digital age.

Let's make no mistake. I'm attempting to fill some big shoes.

Under Mary's steady hand, the Crain city books, including Crain's Cleveland Business, are stronger and reaching more readers and serving more business partners than ever before. She is leaving the publications in spectacular shape. We are more ready than ever to capitalize on the changes in the media landscape, and I'm honored to take the baton.

The good news is Mary is not leaving Crain. She is moving into a new role working on exciting, big projects for Crain Communications, continuing to report to Crain Communications CEO and Crain's Detroit Business Publisher KC Crain. Look for more big news from Mary in the coming weeks and months.

As part of the changes in leadership, I'd also like to announce that Lisa Rudy, associate publisher of Crain's Detroit Business, will expand her duties to manage the day-to-day operations of Crain's Detroit. Lisa has spent the last 18 months working not only with Crain's partners in Detroit, but also Cleveland and New York, helping set all three publications on stronger footing.

In Cleveland, under Publisher Mike Schoenbrun and Executive Editor Elizabeth McIntyre, we are dedicated to delivering the best fact-based reporting and editing and new products to readers and business partners alike. Our mission to provide exclusive journalism from the best newsroom in the region will only grow stronger in 2021 and beyond.

This is an extraordinary time to be in the media business. We understand that change is constant in our industry. And we also understand the tremendous trust our readers and business partners put into us every day.

That's why we continue to get smarter about how we deliver our content to readers and are working hard to refine our platforms so that we successfully meet the challenge of the changing needs of our readers as technology evolves.

Additionally, we are listening to our business partners as they continue to look for ways to solve their unique problems. We are committed to be the right resource to help them navigate this more competitive landscape.

We know the last year has been tough. But we also know that from difficult times in the past, new opportunities arise. We know that 2021 will be better and stronger. And that great things lie ahead for Cleveland.

We thank you, always, for taking us with you on your journey.


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Use of electronic goods continues to grow but there’s no policy for its disposal – The Kathmandu Post

Posted: at 9:20 am

In the absence of dedicated policies to regulate and properly manage them, electronic waste (e-waste) has emerged as yet another menace for the country where more and more people are buying electronic gadgets such as smartphones.

Environmentalists, government officials, and experts on waste management have expressed concerns as people are using more and more electronic gadgets to meet their daily needs. Such items, once discarded, turn into e-waste.

From our morning alarm to the moment we go to bed, we are surrounded by electronic gadgets either at home or outdoors, said Jyoti Giri, assistant professor at Tri-Chandra Multiple College, during a virtual interaction organised by Tech Journos Forum.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we added more electronic gadgets such as ventilators, inhalers, thermometers, and more mobile phone sets and laptops as educational institutions and offices remained shut. In the next few years, these newly bought laptops and mobile phones will all end up as e-waste.

Step Initiative, an international organisation seeking solutions to e-waste issues, says e-waste refers to all electrical and electronic equipment and their parts that have been discarded by owners as waste without the intent of re-use.

It lists six e-waste categories: temperature exchange equipment, screens, lamps, large equipment, small equipment, and small information technology and telecommunication equipment.

According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020, which said a record 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste was generated globally in 2019, Nepal produced 28 metric kilotons of e-waste in the same year. The same report said that as global e-waste volumes have increased by 21 percent in the past five years, an average Nepali generated 900gm of e-waste in 2019.

Despite the massive generation of e-waste and its hazardous impact on public health and the environment, e-waste management has not blipped on the governments radar.

There is a lack of legislation for addressing e-waste-related problems and bringing the private sector in the e-waste recycling business. We also dont have adequate technology for its proper management, said Giri, who also researches on electronic and plastic waste. E-waste collection and its disposal is happening in the informal sector. Although Nepal is a signatory to the Basel Convention, which bars transboundary movement of hazardous waste and its disposal, e-waste is being sent to India through illegal channels.

The unsafe handling of used electronic devices and e-waste can lead to serious harm to human health and the environment. Open-air burning and disposal of e-waste, which also contains toxic materials, can pollute soil, water and air.

Such practices can expose workers to high levels of contaminants such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic, leading to irreversible health effects, including cancers, miscarriages, neurological damage, and diminished IQs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency of the US.

Despite its hazardous health and environmental impacts, e-waste is being handled carelessly and collected like ordinary solid garbage. Families dispose of e-waste in their household garbage. It ultimately reaches landfill sites, or is sold to scrap hawkers, said Giri. What we need to do is follow the sustainable and smart practice of 3Rreduce, reuse, and recycle. First, buy fewer electronic gadgets, repair them if broken, and recycle them if nothing can be done. Also, we can send them for re-design, making something new from the waste.

Giri pointed out that the Solid Waste Management Act, 2011 has provisions related to industrial and hazardous waste, but the law doesnt talk about e-waste, making it difficult for its overall management.

Indu Bikram Joshi, deputy director of the Department of Environment, the regulatory body overseeing waste management and environmental pollution, admitted that not much has been done for dealing with e-waste issues.

We have not done enough in the e-waste management sector. Through a study conducted in 2017, we realised the attention e-waste deserves, said Joshi. However, we have been mostly focused on industrial and air pollution, which could also be because of resources constraints.

According to Joshi, also the spokesperson for the Department of Environment, the government body has been studying other countries practices for dealing with chemical and hazardous e-wastes to learn what could be done to manage our e-waste effectively.

Participants of the discussion also highlighted the need for creating a waste-based economy for utilising e-waste before its haphazard dumping.

Before dumping e-waste, dismantling can be done, and valuable materials like gold, silver, copper and platinum extracted. This waste can be a resource, said Giri. In Nepal, some companies like Doko Recyclers are already doing this.

According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020, released by International Telecommunication Union and International Solid Waste Association, raw materials in the global e-waste generated in 2019 were worth approximately $57 billion. Iron, copper, and gold contribute mostly to this value.

Joshi, the government official, also pointed out that the country has been selling valuable resources at low prices.

Waste-based businesses are part of a multi-billion dollar economy. Some resources have been tapped, but most of it has been going outside, mostly to India. We are sending valuable materials, said Joshi. We are gearing up to organise a waste-based economy conference soon. Like tourism-based, agro-based, and mining-based economy, we can also have a waste-based economy. It can support not only our economy but also the development of technology.

Most of the e-waste generated in the country comes from television sets, computer display monitors, and refrigerators. According to a study by the Department of Environment on e-waste generation in 2016, cathode ray tube (CRT) desktop monitors (31 percent) and television sets (30 percent), refrigerators (16 percent) and washing machines (10 percent) were among the items discarded as waste. However, experts argue that mobile phones, liquid-crystal display (LCD) televisions, and laptop computers will constitute large volumes of e-waste in the future.

Mobile users and internet users have grown exponentially in the last decade. In the first four months of the fiscal year, 520,000 handsets have entered Nepal every month, said Min Kumar Aryal, director of the Nepal Telecom Authority. Even the government policies promote the use of information and communication technology, which is significant for development, but e-waste will be its byproduct.

Former science and technology minister Ganesh Shah said there has to be an extensive discussion on policies and laws required for regulating e-waste in the country.

Since there is no comprehensive policy, there should be consultation among stakeholders for drafting the policy, said Shah. There should be a provision to enforce polluters pay policy to make producers liable for the pollution their products cause.

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Sustainable ocean economy is the only way forward – The Phnom Penh Post

Posted: at 9:20 am

The ocean is indeed a great value to the world. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Global Change Institute, University of Queensland and Boston Consulting Group estimated the economic value of the ocean at $24 trillion in 2015, which came from marine resources, shipping lanes, productive coastline and carbon absorption.

However, the wealth of the ocean depends on its health. At the same time, climate change impacts, overexploitation of marine resources, destruction of habitats and ocean pollution all together compound stresses on ocean health. In order to effectively protect the ocean, while at the same time sustainably utilise the ocean resources and create equitable prosperity for the people, a new paradigm on sustainable ocean economy is key.

A sustainable ocean economy brings diverse stakeholders together to achieve common goals: effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity. This will mark a shift from the extractive approach to a degree where environmental protection, economic production and prosperity go hand in hand.

The result is a triple win for nature, people and the economy, according to the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (HLP SOE). The panel of 14 world leaders from Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau and Portugal was established in 2017 to build momentum for a sustainable ocean economy.

On December 3, 2020, the initiative, also called the Ocean Panel, launched a document titled Transformations for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. The document sets targets to be achieved by the panel members by 2030 in order to reinforce transformations in ocean wealth, ocean health, ocean equity, ocean knowledge and ocean finance.

Investments in sustainable ocean-based solutions offer very promising benefit-cost ratios that will yield high benefits. For example, the conservation and restoration of mangroves has a benefit-cost ratio of 3:1 and could raise $200 billion globally. Sustainable ocean-based food production has a ratio of 10:1 with $6.7 trillion in yield.

Blessed with a very vast and resource-rich ocean (6.4 million sq km of area and 108,000km of coastline), Indonesia can benefit immensely from such an ocean-based economy. Although there has been no formally accepted estimation of Indonesias ocean value, primary research shows that Indonesias ocean economy potential is estimated at $170 billion, according to the Indonesian Ocean Council in 2013 and $120 billion, according to the Indonesian Institute of Sciences in 2019.

Indonesias latest fisheries potential stood at 12.5 million tonnes per year with an actual production of 6.71 million tonnes in 2018, placing the country third globally after China and Peru (FAO, 2020). Indonesia is also home to the largest mangrove ecosystem that can store 3.14 million tonnes of carbon (Conservation International, 2019).

Meanwhile, the seagrass ecosystem in Indonesia can potentially store 7.4 megatonnes of carbon every year (Ocean Science Journal, 2019). If the average global value of carbon is $15 per metric tonne, the mangrove ecosystem in Indonesia could roughly yield $47.1 million and seagrass $111 million.

Indonesias ocean is also one of the busiest shipping lanes. Between 5,000 and 90,000 ships transited through the Archipelagic Sea Lanes (ALKI) 1 each year, more than 10,000 ships through ALKI 2 and less than 5,000 ships through ALKI III-A (Ahmad Irfan, 2020). Investment in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly maritime infrastructure within those shipping lanes could result in very high economic benefits.

Other sources of ocean-based income can also come from tourism and the energy sector. However, it should be emphasised that a healthy ocean is the key to a sustainable ocean economy. Indonesia ranks 137 out of 221 countries in the Ocean Health Index with a score of 65, which is still below the global average. Indonesias performance in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14 (life below water) is in the orange category, meaning that Indonesia is still facing some significant challenges to meet the goal. Illegal and destructive fishing remain serious threats to the fisheries sector. Indonesias fishermens exchange rate has been falling since February 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indonesia is also battling against 620,000 tonnes of plastic debris that polluted the ocean (National Plastic Action Partnership, 2020). At the same time, the state of the mangrove, seagrass and coral reef ecosystems in Indonesia was quite alarming. The consistent implementation of a sustainable ocean economy in Indonesia will have positive results.

First, the ocean will make a significant contribution to the national economy and the livelihood of the people. Second, environmental safeguards will be securely placed so that the needs of present and future generations can be met. Third, the considerable carbon absorption ability of Indonesias ocean resources will allow (green) fund compensation. Fourth, Indonesias reputation in the world will be elevated, which could positively affect Indonesias investment climate. Fifth, the involvement of marginalised communities and consideration toward the equitable distribution of the benefits from the ocean will be ensured.

Acknowledging the significant role of the ocean in Indonesias national development and livelihood of the people, while also understanding the importance of maintaining the health of the ocean, a sustainable ocean economy is the only way forward in respect of ocean management. Moreover, an extractive approach that prioritises the economy at the expense of environmental and social aspects is unconstitutional. Article 33 (4) of the Constitution, the Long-Term and Mid-Term National Development Plan and the 2017 National Maritime Policy give emphasis to environmental protection to ensure the sustainability of the resources. It is, therefore, time for President Joko Jokowi Widodo to take concrete measures to build a sustainable ocean economy.

Mas Achmad Santosa is CEO of the Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative, where Stephanie Juwana is the director.


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India, Australia will gain from expanded trade of lithium resources, says Aus High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell – Economic Times

Posted: January 9, 2021 at 3:12 pm

New Delhi: Australia and India both gain from the promise of expanding trade in lithium resources, said the Australian High Commissioner, Barry O'Farrell on Thursday.

While speaking at a session of the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce on 'Lithium: Powering a New Australia-India Partnership', he said both the countries stand to gain from the promise of expanding trade in lithium resources.

"Lithium, and Li-ion and other technologies, will can play a key role. Indeed, India's ambitious renewable energy targets have led to an expansion of its clean energy commitments," he said.

O'Farrell added, "Lithium metal-based battery technologies will form the key component of the push for the rollout of EV and hybrid vehicle--and Australia and India both stand to gain from the promise of expanding trade in lithium resources.

"As many of you are already aware, Australia is a reliable and cost-competitive supplier of resource and energy commodities. Australia is the world's largest producer of lithium--and has the second largest lithium reserves in the world. And, as a market leader in Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS), our firms can contribute to the development of India's own lithium resources," he said.

The Australian High Commissioner mentioned that India's ambitious renewable energy targets have led to an expansion of its clean energy commitments, recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambition to achieving 450-gigawatt renewable energy generation capacity by 2030, at the 4th India Energy Forum on 26 October last year.

He also said that there couldn't be better timing for lithium-related trade and investment, in view of the need for both nations to diversify and strengthen the supply chain, and in recognition of India's drive toward self-sufficiency and the remarkable growth of its new economy sectors.

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Aus, India both stand to gain from expanding trade in lithium resources: Australian High Commissioner – Republic World

Posted: at 3:12 pm

Australia and India both stand to gain from the promise of expanding trade in lithium resources, Canberra's envoy here Barry O'Farrell on Thursday said, noting that lithium metal-based battery technologies will form the key component of the roll-out of electric and hybrid vehicles.

O'Farrell said in view of the need for Australia to diversify and strengthen its supply chains, and in recognition of India's drive toward self-sufficiency and the "truly remarkable" growth of its new economy sectors, the timing couldn't be better for lithium-related trade and investment.

Addressing a session of the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce on 'Lithium: Powering a New Australia-India Partnership', he said both countries stand to gain from the promise of expanding trade in lithium resources.

"Lithium metal-based battery technologies will form the key component of the push for the roll-out of EV and hybrid vehicle, and Australia and India both stand to gain from the promise of expanding trade in lithium resources," O'Farrell said.

Noting that Australia is a reliable and cost-competitive supplier of resource and energy commodities, he said the Australian government is fully committed to driving strong outcomes on lithium trade and investment, and on critical minerals more broadly.

"Australia's resource endowment and our mining capabilities and expertise well place us to support Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi's ambitions around development of India's new economy sectors," he said.

He said this trade in lithium has the backing of the highest levels of leadership.

Noting that COVID-19 has impacted both the Australian and the Indian economies adversely, O'Farrell said it also provides the impetus to develop more resilient and robust supply chains as well as to collaborate in new areas.

The Australian government is fully committed to driving strong outcomes on lithium trade and investment, and on critical minerals more broadly,he said.

(IMAGE CREDITS:Twitter/@AusHCIndia)

(Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Michigan and Illinois agree to advance invasive carp prevention project – Marine Log

Posted: at 3:12 pm

Written byMarine LogStaff

The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is a critical pinch point for keeping nvasive Asian carp species out of the Great Lakes. [Photo: USACE]

The governors of Illinois and Michigan have agreed to work jointly to protect the Great Lakes from invasive Asian carp species.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker have announced an intergovernmental agreement between the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) that allows Illinois to use up to $8 million in funds appropriated in 2018 by the Michigan Legislature to support the pre-construction engineering and design (PED) phase of the Brandon Road Ecosystem Project.

Additionally, the state of Illinois also signed a separate PED agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the initial Brandon Road design. The state will serve as the non-federal sponsor, agreeing to help fund design of a portion of the project and to further advance full project design efforts to approximately 30% completion.

The Brandon Road Lock and Dam in the Chicago Area Waterway System near Joliet, Ill., is a critical pinch point for keeping bighead, silver and black carpthe invasive Asian carp species of greatest concernout of the Great Lakes.

The Brandon Road project would install layered technologies including an electric barrier, underwater sound, an air bubble curtain and a flushing lock in a newly engineered channel designed to prevent invasive carp movement while allowing barge passage.

Preventing invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes was a day one priority for my administration. We know its been a priority for a lot of others, but we needed to take action, and thats what todays action represents, said Whitmer. The Great Lakes support 1.3 million jobs, including over 350,000 jobs right here in Michigan. Thats why after decades of work, today Michigan, along with the state of Illinois and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has taken a historic step towards protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp. I am determined to continue to use every tool at my disposal to keep harmful invasive species from damaging the Great Lakes ecology and our economy.

The Great Lakes are a priceless natural resource that support the livelihoods of thousands of Illinoisans and attract visitors from across the globe. Protecting the lakes is a top priority for my administration, which is why I included funding for Asian Carp mitigation efforts in my bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan, said Pritzker. I am pleased to announce this new partnership with the State of Michigan which, along with additional support from the federal government, will allow the construction of protective measures to begin at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam.

The intergovernmental agreement, finalized on December 24, supports the State of Illinois role as the non-federal sponsor of the PED phase of this United States Army Corps of Engineers project and outlines a collaboration process allowing MDNRs input in decision-making regarding the design work.

The PED, finalized by both the State of Illinois and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on December 29, stipulates that Illinois cover 35%, of the projected PED costs. With Michigans $8 million financial commitment through the intergovernmental agreement, IDNR will contribute the remaining $2.5 million to complete the project. The funding was made possible by Pritzkers Rebuild Illinois bipartisan capital plan.

Michigan and Illinois agree on the importance of keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes, and natural resources staff from both states have been working together to support the Army Corps actions to deter and remove invasive carp in the waterway, said MDNR Director Dan Eichinger. This agreement is the natural progression of our existing partnership as we take steps toward a more permanent solution to prevent this serious threat to the economy and ecology of the Great Lakes.

Long in planning, were pleased to finally put these agreements into action, allowing us to move the project to its next stepsplanning and designand, ultimately, construction, said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan. While the process is still in its early stages, were pleased to be a part of this partnership and look forward to sharing updates with other Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces throughout the design process.

It is predicted that the arrival of live bighead, silver or black carp in the Great Lakes could have drastic effects on the regions $7 billion fishery, $16 billion boating industry and other tourism-based industries, property owners, recreationalists and others dependent on the Great Lakes and its tributaries.

An electric dispersal barrier installed in the waterway near Romeoville, Illinois in 2002 to prevent invasive species from moving into and out of the Great Lakes has since been supplemented by two additional electric barriers in the same location. A fourth more powerful barrier at the Romeoville site is expected to be operational in 2021.

Once federal funding is secured through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Work Plan, the Corps anticipates a three to four-year timeframe for completing the initial Brandon Road design before negotiating a Project Partnership Agreement with the State of Illinois (supported by other Great Lakes states and provinces) for the initial construction effort and the remainder of project design to reduce the possibility of invasive carp migration into Lake Michigan.

As the Brandon Road project moves forward, current efforts will continue, including the electric barriers near Romeoville and expanded nonstructural measures, including focused commercial fishing, monitoring and prescribed netting to reduce the risk of spawning or of small fish movement through the existing lock and dam.

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