OBOR Cities Share Experience on Regenerative Urban Development at WUF 9
8th February 2018, at the 9th World Urban Forum in Kulua Lumpur Malaysia, the World Future Council in cooperation with the Energy Foundation organized a network event to facilitate cities from One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR) countries to exchange experience on regenerative city – regeneration of energy, resource, urban ecosystem and urban space in urban development.
Every year India struggles with natural conditions of drifting dust from the desert Thar which are aggravated by human impact and lead to environmentally, socially and economically costly air pollution. With the enabling policy framework, a proven technology could be part of a feasible scheme tackling all anthropogenic drivers at once – and ideally lead to a reduction of air pollution by up to 90%.
Starting a few months ago, India’s North has made headlines when air pollution reached an air quality index (AQI) of 1,001 – exceeding safe levels by a multitude of ten. In the national Capital Region of Delhi alone 45 million people have been affected, causing a spike in complaints of respiratory problems and an emergency state, declared by the Indian Medical Association.
Even though the news around the topic subsided, the officially monitored AQI which are even higher in the proximity of roads within major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, continue to range around hazardous levels. Inhalation of this air is comparable to smoking several packs of cigarettes a day  and serious respiratory effects in the general population can be expected while even putting susceptible groups at risk of premature death.
The death toll of air pollution in India was the highest of all countries around the world with 2,5 million in 2015. A global UNICEF study found recently, that over 90% of children are breathing polluted air not matching WHO guidelines and 17 million infants are exposed to levels six times the approved norms. Furthermore, household air pollution was recently discovered to be insalubrious even before birth, reducing birth weight, pregnancy duration and doubling perinatal mortality. This effect is owed to the burning of traditional fuels which exposes mostly women to pulmonary and vision hazards of indoor air pollution.
A study conducted by the World Bank concluded: The negative health impact of outdoor air pollution alone costs India 3% of its GDP which translates to an equivalent loss of roughly 35 billion Euros every year. Research found a direct impact of the atmospheric pollution on agriculture with wheat yields of 2010 being on average up to 36% lower than usual all over India due to reduced intensity of sunlight and toxic ozone reaching the plants. Additionally, increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contribute to the greenhouse effect leading to more extreme and destructive weather events.
Two main causes for a myriad of manmade emission sources
In agricultural areas such as Punjab, the breadbasket of India, which singlehandedly produces 20% of India’s wheat and 10% of its rice, smoke blankets rise seasonally for several weeks despite a governmental ban when leftover straw stubble from mechanical harvesting is burned openly in the fields to clean the soil for new seeding  (see fig. 2).
Then, metropolitan areas are covered by the drifting haze of crop burning in addition to the smoke of millions of wood cook stoves in and outside of the urban areas as well as countless emitters of sulfates, nitrates and black carbon such as automobiles, coal-fired power plants, incinerators, smelters or brick kilns.
A comparison of several studies of Delhi shows the difficulty of solving the problem due to the relatively equal share of the main human-made sources of urban air pollution: Open burning of garbage and other diffused emitters contribute on average about a quarter, domestic or biomass burning as well as dust ranges around 15% while both traffic and industry (including coal power plants) are responsible for approximately one third. 
However, understanding the reasons of air pollution, the interconnectedness of land and city and the amplification of fog and aerosol hazes permits a vision for a future of clear skies and fresh breath. The main detrimental causes showed to be unsolvable if tackled one by one which is demonstrated by governmental emergency measures falling short every year.
Multiplying the negative causes turns into a feasible opportunity
The usually unused agricultural leftover biomass like paddy straw suddenly becomes an additional source of income for farmers as it already begins to prove itself as a viable source for power generation in rural India, offering employment for thousands of people. The calorific value per kilogram of coal and paddy straw are comparable while it burns cleanly in boilers with an efficiency as high as 99%. Combustion technology is commercialized and alone in the state of Punjab 332.5 MW of agro-waste based power projects are planned.
These power plants can sell their power due to the “New & Renewable Sources of Energy Policy” and generate income under a Clean Development Mechanism while suppling millions of kWh to the grid for years.  Even individual households value the significant financial benefit of a carbon credit scheme which earns them up to 500 Rupees per month in a pilot project and convinces them to maintain the use of improved cook stoves.
There are numerous reasons aside from health benefits for extending the understanding of sustainable cooking beyond improved cook stoves. A new one is provided by a recent study, that noted villagers truly wish for cooking like in the cities – preferably with LPG which is out of reach for many due to its higher costs compared to wood. The so-called producer gas of low-cost straw-based power plants is an ideal replacement of a cleanly burning fuel, reducing indoor air pollution significantly in poor or disconnected rural and urban households alike.
Moreover, the processing of biomass and organic waste opens the opportunity of bio-oil production which can be handled exactly like a petroleum-based product to power suited diesel generators and fuel traffic in the cities. This not only reduces transport emissions greatly but adds value to the commonly high share of organic waste (~30%) in Indian cities, attracting the informal sector in waste collection and reducing open garbage burning.
If now the government would take a leap forward by providing legislative support for this scheme in a holistic framework and additionally phase out coal power plants, manmade air pollution could ideally be reduced by roughly up to 90% through counteracting the aforementioned emission sources. In addition to environmental and social health improvements, the positive economic impact would be substantial: An IRENA study estimated a total benefit of 59 to 224 billion USD in savings following a restructuring of the power sector. India’s INDC target of 40% renewable energy in 2030 is a promising step into the right direction.
– written by Lisa Harseim –
PRESS RELEASE – Study released during political conference in Dar Es Salaam
Dar Es Salam, Tanzania, 17th October 2017 – By deploying 100% renewable energy, Tanzania can provide access to reliable energy for all its citizens, while increasing living standards to the level of industrialized countries by 2050. This is the conclusion of a scientific study that is released today in Dar Es Salaam by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Climate Action Network Tanzania (CAN Tanzania), Bread for the World and the World Future Council (WFC). The study also reveals that generating electricity from renewable sources is about 30% cheaper than from fossil resources.
The Project’s Vision
The goal of the project is to develop a coherent strategy on how to implement 100% RE as part of Tanzania’s Sustainable Low Carbon Development and Poverty Reduction Goals.
Through an inclusive and interactive approach engaging local stakeholders and key decision-makers in the energy transformation process in Tanzania, this project intends to:
- Inspire stakeholders and build up hands-on knowledge on how 100% RE adds value to local economic development and community sustainability
- Strengthen synergies, networks and platforms for multi-stakeholder dialogue and follow up at the national level among government, parliamentary committees, policy-makers, civil society, trade unions, churches and media on LCD, poverty reduction and 100% RE.
- Identify necessary legislation and policy reforms.
Kick-off workshop / February 2016
On February 25, 2016 The World Future Council, Bread for the World and CAN-Tanzania hosted the kick-off workshop in Dar es Salaam for our 18-month program in Tanzania.
The kick-off workshop brought together 15 Tanzanian thought-leaders from government, academia and civil society to identify opportunities for policy change on the particular topic. Among the confirmed participants was Gertrude Mongella, WFC Councilor and Special Advisor to the ECA Executive Secretary and UNESCO Director General. The workshop helped to build capacity and create ownership among Tanzanian opinion leaders for 100% RE as a tool for poverty reduction, as well as to strengthen synergies, networks and platforms for multi-stakeholder dialogue.
The valuable contributions and expertise of the participants enabled us to compile a solid report which you can find here. It gathers and summarizes the main interventions, perspectives and outputs made by the participants of the workshop. Hereby, this report further provides a description of the current energy policy debate and defines the starting point for discussing how to scale up RE to spur sustainable development and eradicate poverty in Tanzania.
Study Tour to Bangladesh / April 2016
As a major opportunity to bring forward the dialogue which already started during the kick-off workshop in Dar es Salaam, a study tour to Bangladesh was organized from April 17-23, 2016, chaired by Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury Bir Bikram, Bangladesh Ministry of Energy. The study tour brought together a group of 10 representatives from Tanzania national government, parliamentarians and civil society leaders in the renewable energy field in Tanzania. The goal was to learn about the Bangladesh experience in rapidly expanding first time access to electricity among its citizens with 100% renewable energy.
The tour was organized with the support of Bright Green Energy Foundation (BGEF), a leading renewable energy organization in Bangladesh which has been successfully working with Solar Home System, Solar Irrigation Pump, bio-gas, Improve Cook Stove, and women empowerment since 2010.
“This study tour changed our minds about the potential of Renewable Energy as an effective tool to provide energy access to all people. We need to bring the experience from Bangladesh to Tanzania, especially on developing a comprehensive finance model. It is our hope that this trip has just opened our doors and starts a long journey of collaborations and working together”. This was the conclusion of our Tanzanian delegation visiting WFC Councillor Dipal Barua and his team, learning about solar-home-systems, solar irrigation systems as well as biogas plants for cooking.
Consultation workshop / July 2016
On July 12th, Can Tanzania, The World Future Council and Bread for the World organised a consultation workshop in Dar es Salaam on 100% Renewable Energy for Poverty Reduction in Tanzania. Around 50 stakeholders from the Parliament, Government, Civil Society and Academia participated in the consultation workshop, outlining the determinants of change and policy formulation in the RE sector in Tanzania, the challenges to policy reform, and providing recommendations for the development of RE legislation and implementation.
The development of a more comprehensive legislative framework would not only make a significant contribution to the existing country’s energy production and supply system, but would also move Tanzania quickly towards achieving the goal of becoming a middle income country, as envisioned in the Tanzania National Development Vision 2025.
“We want to tackle the challenges that so many people in our country are facing every day,” says Doto Mashaka Biteko, Member of the Tanzanian Parliament and Chair of the Energy and Minerals Committee. “Therefore, the government is aiming to provide access to 50% of the population by 2020.”
Further, on July 15th, Can Tanzania, The World Future Council and Bread for the World, together with civil society representatives and faith-based organisations visited some examples of Solar Home Systems in Mabwepande, a suburb of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
40 Chinese Mayors visit World Future Council Headquarters
As part of the Sino-German Mayor Exchange, over 40 mayors from different provinces of China visited the World Future Council in Hamburg last Friday, 22 September 2017. The workshop’s aim was to inform about the experience with cities’ resilience, building regenerative and climate resilient cities and to exchange views on sponge cities.
Focusing on the German experience on urban water sustainable management, Stefan Schurig from the World Future Council gave an introduction to regenerative cities in connection with sponge cities. Thereafter, Professor Ralf Otterpohl, Director of the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection, TUHH (Technical University) Hamburg-Harburg turned to the topic of combining food and water security. Mr Daniel Schumann-Hindenberg from the Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl, then spoke about urban planning of sponge cities.
After the workshop, the World Future Council invited the participants to a reception into the premises of the Council’s headquarters.
The event was hosted by the German Ministry for Environment, Nature, Building and Nuclear Safety and the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and carried out by GIZ and China Association of Mayors.
Ethiopia’s Tigray region has received the Future Policy Gold Award this year for their pioneering approach in successfully combatting desertification. Thanks to their policy, the region has made significant progress in restoring its degraded lands and improving its food and water security. The impressive results derived from the major land restoration undertaken by local communities and the regional government, with a unique combination of collective action, voluntary labour and the involvement of young people.
After the Award ceremony on 11th September during the UNCCD summit in Ordos, Inner Mongolia (China), the people of Tigray celebrated the Future Policy Gold Award in their own country. A colorful ceremony was held with 1500-2000 people at Hawelty Martyrs Hall with Tigray’s president, H.E. Abay Weldu, the Speaker of House of Representatives of Tigray region, H.E. Kidusan Nega, H.E. Dr. Eyasu Abraha, Minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources of Ethiopia and other high-level guests attending, followed by a parade through the Mek’ele, the capital of Tigray.
In conjunction with the celebration, the University of Mek’ele (MU), in collaboration with Bureau of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the Regional State of Tigray, organised a panel discussion at Desta Hotel, Mek’ele. The event was opened by a welcoming speech by Prof. Kindeya Gebrehiwot, MU’s President. The event was celebrating Tigray’s achievement, and the panelists were discussing how soil conservation towards land fertility and combating desertification can be further improved and maintained for the future.
Dear Colleagues and Friends, After ten years with the World Future Council, I will be moving on and will be leaving the organisation for a new career step. It was truly an honor for me to serve the organisation since April 2007…
The World Future Council at the Land for Life Day in Ordos, China
The World Future Council was honoured to hold its Future Policy Award ceremony during the thirteenth session of the Conference of State Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP13) in Ordos, China, the international summit on desertification and land degradation.
On 12th September 2017, we joined the summit’s Land for Life Day and organized a session on: Policies and land: Can good policies facilitate the achievement of Land Degradation Neutrality Goals? The event was designed to present the winning policies of the Future Policy Award 2017 to stakeholders from around the world.
Ms Jenny Choo from the UNCCD Secretariat introduced the Land for Life Day in a nutshell to participants and handed then the moderation over to Ms Boping Chen, China Director of the World Future Council, who highlighted
the significance of adequate policies for achieving land degradation neutrality and presented the panelists.
At first, Ms Alexandra Wandel, Director and Vice-Chair of the Management Board of the World Future Council, emphasized that the Future Policy Award is worldwide unique in honoring laws and policies at the international level. She gave a brief introduction to the Awardees 2017 and expressed also the Council’s gratitude to UNCCD for being this year’s partner of the award.
The winning policies were presented by Dr Atinkut Mezgeb who portrayed the large-scale land restoration efforts of the Tigray policy in Ethiopia (Gold Award), Ms Fernanda Cruz, who revealed how Brazil’s Cistern Programme mitigates effectively the drought in the Semiarid region (Silver Award), Dr Paul Luu presented on the innovative 4 per 1000 Initiative (Vision Award), whilst H.E. Ali Bety uncovered the success factors of the 3N Initiative from Niger (Bronze Award). A video tribute was also paid to the winning policies from China, Australia and Jordan.
After a lively Q&A round, Jakob von Uexkull, Founder of the World Future Council, offered some closing remarks.
The F20 Platform is looking back to a successful event in Hamburg
The F20 Foundations Platform is an alliance of more than 45 foundations and philanthropic organizations from twelve countries that have joined forces in order to further shape the political discourse on future sustainability measures.
Ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg, representatives from participating foundations got together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In a joint statement, they called upon the G20 states to confirm their commitment to the Paris Agreement.
During the event in the prestigious Hamburg Town Hall, which was mainly organised by the World Future Council, WFC-Councillor Dr. Auma Obama and Honorary Councillor Dr. Michael Otto took part in the press conference. Dr. Otto emphasised the importance of the implementation of the Paris Agreement and urged for more ambitious climate action, also in Germany: He pressed for a German withdrawal from fossile fuel and the promotion of renewable energies and carbon-neutral traffic.
During her speech at the event, Dr. Obama stressed that African people must be included when talking about climate action: They should not be doing the same mistakes as the industrialised countries, and would be able to leapfrog developments. Other speakers included Laurence Tubiana, the architect behind the Paris Agreement, the US-american physicist and environmentalist Amory B. Lovins, as well as the British economist Lord Nicholas Stern. Around 400 people attended the event; the side-events before and after the main event included an energy transition tour through Hamburg and other workshops organised by F20 foundations.
At the end of the main event in Hamburg, the German minister for the environment, Barbara Hendricks, received the F20 publication. Climate action and sustainable development must become core duties of the leading industrialised and threshold countries. The Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is “short sighted and irresponsible”, as the F20 members state. We are positive that the event on the 4th of July here in Hamburg was just the start of a success story for common and transnational action towards a zero carbon economy and a successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
For more information on the F20 Platform, please visit www.foundations-20.org
Martin Bosak, Coordinator Foundation Platform F20, World Future Council.