Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

January 2018
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Friday, 19 January 2018
The European Commission tabled, today, a Communication designed to launch a debate on the best way ahead regarding the eco-labelling of fisheries products. This initiative follows the growing interest by environmental Non-Governmental Organisations and increased public interest in food products associated with considerations related to environmental sustainability. A number of eco-labelling schemes have already been established with regard to fisheries products and other initiatives are being developed. It is not always easy to establish how reliable some eco-labelling claims are. International guidelines on eco-labelling have recently been adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and discussions on these issues and their potential effects on free trade areas are progressing in other international fora such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The European Commission is committed to the integration of the environmental dimension into fisheries and wants to make the most of eco-labelling of fish and fisheries products. The Commission, therefore, looks at three possible options to develop this concept further in the Union. The first involves retaining the status-quo and leaving these schemes develop freely. The second relates to the creation of a single EU eco-labelling scheme and the third would involve the establishment of EU minimum requirements for voluntary eco-labelling schemes. The Commission believes that the last one would be the most appropriate. The debate on these issues will now start with the other EU institutions and with stakeholders.

Joe Borg, Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, commented: “Such schemes have a positive role to play by helping to increase the integration of environmental protection into fisheries. This would benefit the fisheries sector itself as its future depends on a healthy and sustainable marine environment”.

The experience gained from existing private eco-labelling or equivalent schemes have shown the advantages and drawbacks of such labels in particular with respect to trade, consumer policy and sustainability impacts. This experience will be worth listening to in the forthcoming debate.

The Commission believes that the Union should have a coherent policy on eco-labelling for fish and fisheries products. The aims of this policy would be to further sustainable fisheries and adequate protection for the ecosystem, a harmonised approach to eco-labelling throughout the Union, the provision of transparent and objective information to consumers, fair competition, open access and development and trade.

Despite some advantages in leaving things as they are, the Commission believes that the potential risks arising from the absence of a clear Union approach should be addressed. It looks therefore at the possibility of setting a European Union eco-labelling scheme but concludes that it is neither appropriate nor practical at this point in time. It favours instead the establishment of minimum requirements for voluntary eco-labelling schemes.
Wednesday, 29 June 2005
Germany has questioned a British proposal that the G8 nations double their development aid. Chancellor Schröder's Africa advisor said that a sudden increase in foreign aid to African countries would be counterproductive.
Leaders at the upcoming G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland will also be discussing how to help Africa defeat poverty and embark on a journey of rapid growth. Britain is expected to put forward a plan envisaging the doubling of development aid to Africa to $25 billion (20.6 billion euros) in the near future.

But German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's advisor on Africa policy, Uschi Eid, said the plan does not come at the right time.

"Without strong institutions and professional capacities, a doubling of aid is not very useful," Eid said. "Of course, we want to double development assistance to Africa. But this must be done step by step to be able to make the reforms work and to make sure the necessary infrastructure is put in place."
Eid was speaking after a meeting with Wiseman Nkuhlu, the executive director of Africa's homegrown NEPAD initiative, in Berlin on Monday.

Fragile reforms in Africa
Founded in 2001, NEPAD aims to revitalize the continent's ailing economy by attracting private investors with progress in conflict resolution and improved transparency. The organization received full backing from the Group of Eight in 2002 and pledges from rich countries to support the initiative with billions of dollars in financial aid.
Eid said that enormous progress had been made in a number of countries under the NEPAD initiative. Germany's plan to double aid to Africa in the next 10 years, she said, was better suited to achieve the ambitious goals in health, education and poverty reduction. But Nkuhlu disagreed.
"I'm convinced that there's a large number of African countries that can absorb increased levels of development assistance," Nkuhlu said. He said it was critical that industrialized nations strongly aid those countries that are making progress.
"But the reforms in a number of countries in Africa are still very fragile because the majority of African countries are too poor to really deliver on promises to their people," he added.

Better access to markets
Nkuhlu said he hoped that the issue of increased assistance would be on the agenda in Gleneagles regardless of the resistance of some industrialized countries. He said it was now critically important that the G8 pledged further support for the reform process in Africa.
"The question of access to markets is also critical," Nkuhlu said. "Africa needs to increase production. That's a major issue in terms of progress."

Germany has supported NEPAD with 2.5 billion euros over the past three years. It is especially active in the field of conflict resolution, promoting good governance, water management and private sector investment.
The German government, however, wants to see greater progress in the field of political reforms and democracy. Eid praised NEPAD's peer review mechanism under which African countries assess each other's performance in these areas. She stressed, though, that recent delays in the publication of the first national reports regarding Ghana and Rwanda must be made up for quickly.
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United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the European Union (EU) to go further in its efforts to assist developing countries, as he continued to praise its recent initiatives increasing official development assistance, improving quality of aid, boosting assistance to Africa and relieving debt.

"Development is a continuous process," Mr. Annan told a lunch hosted by the EU, in conjunction with the General Assembly's two-day meeting on Financing for Development which has gathered finance ministers in New York to assess efforts to implement the Monterrey Consensus, the 2002 agreement through which donors would increase aid and the world's poor nations would carry out economic and political reforms to ensure that aid money gets spent effectively.

The Consensus, he said, encompasses broader development issues such as growing inequality, globalization, trade-related matters, coherence between financial, trade, aid and debt policies and other systemic questions.

"It also focuses on the long term," he said, "through its emphasis on human capital, which is any country's most abundant resource."

In that context, he asked the EU to complete its debt cancellation initiative, carried out within the G8 group of industrialized countries, and to ensure that goods from developing countries have wider access to European markets and no longer have to compete against subsidized products.He also noted that the EU is well-placed to increase the participation of developing countries in global economic decision-making, by agreeing to changes at the Bank and the International Monetary Fund.By asking for these steps, the Secretary-General stressed he is not losing sight of the responsibility that developing countries bear in their own progress. On the contrary, he said he aimed to improve both sides of the partnership begun at Monterrey. "That is why we are here," he concluded."To build the strong partnership for development that is itself the eighth Millennium Goal."
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The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States has today opened a Technical Mission to the WTO in Geneva with the support of the European Union, which will grant €238,000 through the European Development Fund. This mission will strengthen the representation of Eastern Caribbean States in the WTO by assisting their participation in the work of the WTO. It will also contribute to cementing regional economic and trade integration in the Eastern Caribbean region.
The mission of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will represent the ACP small islands which are members of the OECS, Antigua & Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The mission will help the small islands of the OECS participate in the work of the WTO and in particular in the specific work programme on issues relating to trade in small economies and islands. It is co-funded by the OECS and the EU through the European Development Fund.
EU support for the establishment of the OECS Mission in Geneva is part of a 10-million Euro EDF facility for assisting ACP countries in the WTO. The EU has previously supported the setting-up of an office of the Secretariat of the ACP group in Geneva (2002) and the opening of the Pacific ACP countries representation to the WTO. Under the Trade.Com programme, the EU covers the costs of a senior trade adviser supporting the OECS.
The EU has called for the special needs and constraints of small economies to be recognised and reflected in the various negotiating topics under the DDA. This objective is also central to the negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and 15 Caribbean countries.
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Trans-boundary animal diseases have marred developments in the livestock sector in the Southern African region during the 2003/2004, says a SADC annual report released in Gaborone recently. According to the report, four countries reported Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) cases in the region in 2003. The worst CBPP or cattle lung disease cases were reported in Tanzania (URT) with 20 outbreaks (314 cases and 125 deaths) and Zambia with 17 outbreaks involving 1 165 cases and 827 deaths.
The disease is also a problem in Angola and Namibia where both morbidity and mortality was reported. The disease threatens more than 30 50 per cent of the 47 million cattle population of SADC. Fresh outbreaks of CBPP continued to invade new areas after losing periods of absence and the reason has always been uncontrolled cattle movements. The CBPP situation in southern Tanzania and Zambia is at very high risk level. SADC is in the process of adopting a regional approach for surveillance and control of CBPP. Foot and mouth disease (FMD) was reported in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique in the 2003.
According to the 2003 livestock, food and agricultural statistics (FAOSAT), the SADC region had 51.9 million head of cattle, 41 million sheep, 34.6 million goats, 5.5 million pigs, 1.6 equines and about 293 million of poultry. The report says SADC member states have significantly improved their national animal disease surveillance systems and are using information available from the surveillance system to define trends of animal diseases occurrence, determinants and economic impact, determinants and economic impact.
Efforts are under way to establish regional animal health database as part of the global livestock information management system to be established in the course of implementing the Promotional Regional Integration (PRINT) in Livestock project funded by the European Union (EU)." On other issues, the report states an estimated total of eight million metric tonnes of high value food products of animal origin, including beef, mutton, goat meat, pork, milk, and eggs was produced in the region during the year for human consumption.
These had an estimated value of over US$8 billion on the assumption that one metric tonne is worth on average US$1000.
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