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Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Monday, 19 November 2018
With over two million tonnes of pesticides produced annually worldwide containing 900 active ingredients, keeping check on the potential risks to human health and the environment is a monumental task. But one European project, called GIMMI, is helping risk assessors by improving accessibility to data on the many products and applications of these chemicals.
Pesticides – chemical products used to control pests and other harmful organisms – play an important economic role in agiculture, but they also raise concern about human health and environmental risks. The problem is finding a uniform way to assess the risk is not easy because of incompatible databases, varying types and quality of data, and the fact that different bodies maintain the data across Europe.

Partners in the EU’s GIMMI (Geographical Information and Mathematical Model Interoperability) project, funded this project under the Informaiton Society Technologies (IST) programme, aimed to find ways to overcome such data inconsistencies and to develop a way of making it more widely available. Carrying out pesticide impact assessment involves several actors, including data collectors in different fields (i.e. soil testing, meteorology, agronomy); scientists who analyse the data; and government bodies, public administrations and the pesticide manufacturing industry which use the data.
According to IST Results, the project has developed a web and WAP-interfaced geographical information system (GIS) which makes agronomic data available to users – other than data sources – across Europe. By using the GIMMI website, a public administration in the UK, for example, can gain access to soil sample data maintained by one of the regional governments in Italy.

CTA is co-financing an international conference on Participatory Spatial Information Management and Communication
PGIS '05 - KCCT, which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, 7-10 Sept 2005.The focus of the event will be on sharing experiences and defining good practices for making geographic information technologies and systems available to less-favoured groups in society in order to enhance their capacity in managing and communicating spatial information in the contexts of:
- asserting ancestral land and resource rights and entitlements;
- supporting collaborative planning and management of lands and natural resources;
- promoting equity in terms of ethnicity, culture, gender, environmental justice, hazard mitigation, etc;
- managing and ameliorating conflicts amongst and between local community groups, and between communities and higher-level authorities or economic forces; and
- supporting cultural heritage preservation and identity building among indigenous peoples and rural communities.
The conference's objectives are to develop and share a knowledge base on PGIS practice. The event will lay the foundations for the development of regional networks and resource centres.
Extensive inetresting material is available in the website http://pgis2005.cta.int
CONCORD, the European NGOs Confederation for Relief and Development, decided to create a Gender & Development taskforce in 2004 following the initiative of the European Commission (EuropeAid) to launch a dialogue and consultation process with Civil Society, the Parliament and Member States on a horizontal approach (mainstreaming) on gender issues. This task force involves both CONCORD members actively working in this field and collaboration with other European networks specialising in Gender and Development and its primary role is to strengthen Gender & development advocacy work and dialogue with the EU by broadening the Gender coalition. In particular, the task force aims to to respond, facilitate and ensure a permanent and structured civil society dialogue towards EU institutions on gender mainstreaming and related activities and to raise awareness of gender and development issues at EU level and within CONCORD.
The task force's 2005 priorities are:
• The 2005 reviews of Beijing+ 10 & MDG+5
• Development Policy Statement
• Financial Perspectives
• Gender in Practice: Country Strategy Papers (CSPs) & deconcentration

WIDE (Network Women in Development Europe is a European network of development NGOs, gender specialists and human rights activists) and the Concord Gender Task Force respond to the Commission review of the Development Policy Statement. The Concord Gender Task Force (of which WIDE is a member) recently provided a written response to the EU Development Policy: Section 4: Issues 8. The Commission had sought responses to its policies via an on-line consultation process. However the Concord Policy Working group and the Gender Task Force did not think the on-line consultation provided an appropriate or sufficient way to address issues of concern and therefore decided against responding on-line. Rather, it was decided to provide a written response that more comprehensively addressed a number of issues and included a recommendation to set up a cross instrument programme promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
What is nanotechnology?
Originating from the Greek word meaning “dwarf”, in science and technology the prefix “nano” signifies 10-9, i.e. one billionth (= 0.000000001). One nanometre (nm)is one billionth of a metre, tens of thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. The term “nanotechnology” will be used here as a collective term,encompassing the various branches of nanosciences and nanotechnologies. Conceptually, nanotechnology refers to science and technology at the nano-scale of atoms and molecules, and to the scientific principles and new properties that can be understood and mastered when operating in this domain. Such properties can then be observed and exploited at the micro- or macro-scale, for example, for the development of materials and devices with novel functions and performance.
Food, water and environmental research can advance via nanotechnology based
developments including tools to detect and neutralise the presence of
micro organisms or pesticides. The origin of imported foods could be traced
via novel miniaturised nano-labelling. The development of nanotechnology based
remediation methods (e.g. photo-catalytic techniques) can repair and clean–up environmental damage and pollution (e.g. oil in water or soil).
Delegates at a recent Commission-hosted workshop on nanotechnology and nanoparticle research revealed the large demand for research and tools in this field which are targeted, certified, easy to use and shared freely and quickly among stakeholders. But all agreed that the risks and drawbacks of such developments should be openly and carefully analysed.
Those new applications will certaily be of interest to developing countries. See resource documents in the development gateway portal.
The European Commission releases today a major new study on how biometric technologies – including fingerprint, iris and face recognition – will impact on our daily lives. Following an EU decision to introduce biometrics in passports, visas and residence permits starting in 2006, biometrics will become increasingly common in our daily lives. Costs will come down, people will become used to them through their travels and further commercial and civil applications will undoubtedly follow. Therefore the report recommends that policy-makers should act now to shape the use of biometrics rather than waiting and being reactive. The development and application of biometrics poses a number of challenges:
- On the economic side, the report points out the role EU Member States can play in assisting the emergence of a vibrant European biometrics industry. As the launch customers of the first major application of biometrics worldwide, they can push industry towards interoperability and the establishment of common standards that will promote competition and job creation.
- On the legal side, the report concludes that Member States will have to provide the appropriate safeguards for privacy and data protection, thus controlling the use and preventing abuse of biometric data.
- On the technological side, the report has identified the lack of independent empirical data. Hence, there is an urgent need to conduct large-scale field trials to ensure the successful deployment of biometric systems.
- On the social side, the Report raises the need to focus attention on making biometric applications acceptable to citizens, by clearly setting out their purpose and limitations. At the same time, it points out the risk of creating social exclusion for a small but significant part of the population. This could be because citizens choose not to use the required biometrics or are prevented from doing so by factors such as age or disability. Future systems should endeavour to minimise social exclusion.
Prices for wholesale leased lines, which are a key source of broadband services for businesses, should reflect the real cost of supplying them, says the European Commission. In a recommendation to Member States today, the Commission reports on best current practices in wholesale leased line pricing and provides competitive market benchmark prices for the entire EU, in order to help Member States to devise regulatory remedies for leased line markets that are not effectively competitive on their territory. The EU single market for electronic communication services is distorted by substantial variations in leased line prices (for a 2 Mbit/s line, 5 km long, the price in the most expensive Member State is seven times higher than in the cheapest), which are hard to explain in terms of possible underlying costs.