Modern Conflicts Against the Backdrop of Climate Change, Inequalities, Injustice & Human Rights Violations

By Ambassador Jan Eliasson
STOCKHOLM, Oct 4 2019 – We will look at how modern conflicts will be affected by the recent unprecedented technological and societal developments. The nature of conflict is also changing. It is becoming more protracted, complex and unpredictable.

And let us not forget the wider picture – that modern conflicts are occuring against the backdrop of climate change, inequalities between and inside countries, injustice and human rights violations.

All this is already altering the way we live, work and relate to one another. It also profoundly impacts national and international security.

Artificial intelligence is all around us. From smartphones to smart cars, from drones to social media feeds, from streaming services to google translate software. In many ways, it does under the circumstances make our lives more comfortable.

Yet, the downside of advancing technology is the growing potential for harm. The same technology used in remote controls of home appliances may be used to “switch off” a power grid, a city or even a whole country.

“Cyber warfare”, “lethal autonomous weapons systems” – these expressions have already firmly entered our vocabulary. Even “space wars” might soon be more than just a product of once wild imagination.

Ambassador Jan Eliasson

In a way, this is not new. The history of warfare and international security is the history of technological innovation. From spear to rifle, from rifle to machine gun and from machine gun to drones. From conventional to nuclear. New technologies and new weapons have changed the conditions of warfare since prehistorical times.

As new technologies such as autonomous weapons become easier to use, small groups or even individuals may gain access to such weapons, using them to cause harm on a massive scale. This new vulnerability leads to new levels of risks and to new fears.

At the same time, advances in technology have the potential to reduce the scale or impact of violence through the development of new modes of protection. For example, greater precision in targeting should lead to less loss of civilian lives. Regretfully this is often not the case.

Digital connectivity, big data, high tech facial recognition technology – all these technologies are already used by humanitarian actors to provide a more efficient humanitarian response. Families separated by war have a chance to get reunited much faster thanks to new technologies.

So, is it a perfect storm or a window of opportunity?

Can the technological revolution bring us to catastrophes or will it offer innovative solutions? Will we lose human control over technology or will it become a tool of peace?

What if, one day human and artificial intelligence together could design formulas for prevention and conflict resolution?
Albert Einstein once said: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”. As an optimist – even though, lately, a worried optimist – I hope that we, together, can prove this to be wrong. It is our humanity that must prevail.

In the end, it all comes down to people and to values. To the fundamental principle of humanity. To “We, the peoples, …”. The first three words of the UN Charter.

Before I pass the floor to our distinguished key-note speaker and a dear friend of mine, UN USG Izumi Nakamitsu, I would like to say a few words of gratitude.

I would like to say Thank You to our partners and co-organisers of today´s event – Munich Security Conference, Crisis Management Initiative, MSB – The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and Mercy Corps.

A special thanks also to the Swedish Parliament that founded SIPRI as an international, independent organization in 1966 and to the speaker Norlén for being present here today.

Finally, I would also like to thank a special friend of SIPRI, Baron Per Taube, for his generous support of this conference and many other SIPRI initiatives and dialogues.

Can We Feed the World and Ensure No One Goes Hungry?

Credit: Mallika Aryal/IPS.

By External Source
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 4 2019 – Enough food is produced today to feed everyone on the planet, but hunger is on the rise in some parts of the world, and some 821 million people are considered to be “chronically undernourished”. What steps are being taken to ensure that everyone, worldwide, receives sufficient food?

Thanks to rapid economic growth, and increased agricultural productivity over the last two decades, the number of people in the world who aren’t getting enough to eat has dropped by almost a half, with regions such as Central and East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean making great strides in eradicating extreme hunger. However, that’s against a background of the global population rising by nearly two billion.

And now recent trends suggest that the hunger problem persists: particularly in Africa and South America, where there are new indications that undernourishment and severe food insecurity are on the rise.

In Sub-Saharan Africa the number of undernourished people has increased, from some 195 million in 2014, to 237 million in 2017. Poor nutrition causes nearly half of deaths in children under five in the region, some 3.1 million children per year.

Five solutions to Zero Hunger

Whilst there is no silver bullet to solving hunger, the World Food Programme has outlined a vision that breaks the issue down into five steps.

– More protection for the most vulnerable. Expanding social protection for the poorest would raise the purchasing power of the poorest two billion, kickstarting local economies

– Improve infrastructure. Ensure consumers and suppliers can more easily buy and sell, by building better roads, storage facilities and extending electrification

– Reduce food waste. Around one third of the food produced each year is loss or wasted, costing the global economy some $1 trillion per year

– Grow a wider variety of crops. Around 60 per cent of all calories consumed come from just four crops: rice, wheat corn and soy. Ensuring food access and availability in the face of climate change will require the production of a wider range of foods.

– Focus on child nutrition. Good health and nutrition in a child’s first 1,000 days is essential to prevent stunting and promote healthy development.

Achieving the 2030 goal of Zero Hunger, in other words ensuring that nobody goes hungry wherever they are in the world, remains a major challenge.

According to a recent World Food Programme (WFP) the causes of increased hunger include environmental degradation and drought – both of which are impacted by climate change – as well as conflict.

The lack of biodiversity in agriculture is also a cause for concern, and is held responsible for homogenous diets which limit access to food, leading to persistent malnutrition and poverty: current agricultural production revolves around just 12 crops, and around 60 per cent of all calories consumed come from just four crops: rice, wheat corn and soy, despite the wealth of potential foodstuffs around the world.

The good news is that, around the world, innovation and technology are being used to improve a wide range of food production challenges. Here are some examples:

 

Papuan Pigs in the cloud

In Papua New Guinea, where pigs play an important role in the country’s culture and economy, no celebration is complete without a pork roast. The rising global demand for the meat means that farmers now have the opportunity to sell to overseas, as well as local, markets.

However, to do so they need to prove that their livestock meets internationally recognised standards, and this is where the latest digital technology can help.

A digital tracking system has been deployed which for the first time, verifies important information about the pigs. It includes their pedigree, what they were fed and, if they feel sick, what medicines they were prescribed, giving importers and consumers confidence in the quality of the meat they buy.

The system, designed with the help of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and International Telecommunications Unit (ITU), is being piloted in the Jiwaka region.The broadband network there is being improved, so that farmers can more easily use subsidised smartphones to update livestock records, which is stored online, in the cloud.

 

Women farmers in India have made the shift to organic farming., by UNDP India.

 

Weeding out the chemicals in India

Although initially credited with boosting crop yields and saving millions from famine, fertilizers and other chemicals are now under scrutiny in India. Fertilizers are blamed with soil degradation, and resulting stagnant productivity; health issues; and high costs that push farmers into debt. A tragic consequence is the thousands of reported suicides each year in the farming community.

However, in Andhra Pradesh, the UN Environment Programme is supporting an initiative designed to remove chemicals from the farm, using a technique called “Zero Budget Natural Farming” (ZBNF) which it hopes will transform and protect local food systems, and the long-term well-being of farmers.

This form of agriculture takes advantage of the latest scientific knowledgeand eliminates the need for chemicals. The core principles of ZBNF involve coating seeds with formulas made from cow urine and dung; applying these ingredients to the soil; covering the ground with crops and crop residues; and ensuring the soil is aerated.

This reliance on home-grown and readily available resources, allows the farmers involved in the programme  to increase biodiversity and rejuvenate their soils, thus cutting costs and increasing incomes. The regional government of Andhra Pradesh plans to scale up the scheme to some six million farmers by 2024, which would make it India’s first “natural farming” state.

 

Waste not, want not in Egypt

Around one-third of all food produced globally is either lost or wasted, a staggeringly profligate situation that is estimated to cost the global economy some $1 trillion per year. WFP is trying to stem losses through initiatives such as its #StopTheWaste awareness campaign, launched in early October. The campaign aims to build a global movement and highlight simple solutions that we can all take to fight food waste.

In Egypt, where about half of tomatoes and a third of grapes are lost through inefficient practices before they reach the consumer, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has partnered with the Egyptian government and cooperatives to find ways to limit food losses caused by production surpluses and inefficient practices. This video outlines some of the pragmatic solutions that have resulted from this collaboration.

 

 

This story was originally published by UN News