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Humanitarian Issues to Figure Prominently At The World Economic Forum

The head of the U.N. Children’s Fund, Henrietta Fore will champion the needs of children and young people who are caught up in humanitarian crises

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World Economic Forum
People walk up stairs at the congress center where the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum 2019, WEF, take place in Davos, Jan. 20, 2019. VOA

Heads of U.N. and international aid agencies will use the World Economic Forum’s influential platform to present humanitarian and human rights issues on behalf of millions of people caught in conflict, poverty and natural disasters. The Forum begins its annual weeklong meeting in the plush Swiss Alpine resort of Davos on Monday.

The World Economic Forum is best known for the many high-powered government and business leaders who make the annual pilgrimage to Davos to acquire lucrative deals and shape geopolitical events.

But the annual event also presents a robust humanitarian agenda. This year, the Forum, World Bank and International Committee of the Red Cross will launch a humanitarian Investing Initiative. The aim is to seek new solutions for protracted humanitarian crises by moving from short-term to long-term funding to support fragile communities.

United Nations aid agencies will feature prominently during the week-long meeting. The World Food Program’s executive director, David Beasley, will co-host events, such as ‘conflict and hunger’ and ‘the use of digital technology in the humanitarian sector.’

World Economic Forum
Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum holds the meeting’s manifesto as he addresses a news conference ahead of the Davos annual meeting in Cologny near Geneva. VOA

Global Tensions

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel says the group will be seeking support for its operations. He says many of the companies attending Davos understand that investments in food security are fundamental to business success.

“It saves lives and builds stronger markets around the world. In fact, it can increase GDPs by up to 16.5 percent and a person’s lifetime earnings by 46 percent,” he said.

With more than 3,000 of the world’s movers and shakers from 110 countries present, aid agencies see the Forum as a valuable opportunity to strengthen relationships with world leaders and keep their life-saving missions on the world’s agenda.

World Economic Forum
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 5, 2018. VOA

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet will be attending events on a wide range of topics. Her spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, says these include LGBTI or Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex standards in businesses, and human rights and democracy in a changing world.

“A couple of events on women’s rights as human rights and female leadership. The importance of women playing a role in global affairs by creating a new architecture that allows them to fully participate as leaders and shapers,” she said.

Also Read: The World Economic Forum To Discuss Globalization, Climate Change

The head of the U.N. Children’s Fund, Henrietta Fore will champion the needs of children and young people who are caught up in humanitarian crises or are being left behind because of extreme poverty and lack of development.

U.N. Development Program Administrator, Achim Steiner will seek to raise $100 million from Davos’ wealthy clientele to protect wild animals and their habitats. (VOA)

Next Story

As Climate Change Brings Extreme Heat Waves around The World, Demand for Air Conditioners Soaring

“By the end of the century, global energy demand for cooling will be more than it is for heating,” said Radhika Khosla

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Climate Change, Heat Waves, World
FILE - People cool off by the Vistula River during a heatwave in Warsaw, Poland, June 30, 2019. VOA

As climate change brings more frequent and extreme heat waves around the world, demand for air conditioners is soaring, with 10 new units sold every second on average, but the poor may be left to swelter, said a University of Oxford researcher.

By 2050, energy use for cooling is projected to triple, while in hot countries like India, China, Brazil and Indonesia, it is expected to grow five-fold, the World Bank has said.

“By the end of the century, global energy demand for cooling will be more than it is for heating,” said Radhika Khosla, who leads an Oxford Martin School program on future cooling.

But not everyone will be able to afford to beat the heat.

Climate Change, Heat Waves, World
As climate change brings more frequent and extreme heat waves around the world, demand for air conditioners is soaring, with 10 new units sold every second. Pixabay

“Traditionally, energy poverty has been defined as people not having heating. Now that is potentially going to shift, and we could have cooling poverty,” Khosla warned on the sidelines of a conference on efforts to slash planet-warming emissions.

Health risks of heat waves

Rising heat is having a huge impact on health — deaths and hospital admissions jump in heat waves — but also on productivity as workers struggle to cope, climate scientists say.

A 2018 report from Sustainable Energy for All, a U.N.-backed organization, said more than 1.1 billion people globally faced immediate risks from lack of access to cooling.

Also Read- Nano and Microplastics Harming Drinking Water for Humans, Says Study

On a warming planet, cooling is not a luxury but “essential for everyday life,” said the organization’s CEO Rachel Kyte.

Better buildings

But because air conditioners use 20 times as much power as running a fan, their growing popularity could fuel demand for fossil fuel-based electricity that exacerbates climate change.

Rather than relying entirely on air conditioning, buildings should be designed so they are easier to keep cool, which is still rare, said Khosla, who also directs research at the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development.

Climate Change, Heat Waves, World
By 2050, energy use for cooling is projected to triple, while in hot countries like India, China, Brazil and Indonesia, it is expected to grow five-fold, the World Bank has said. Pixabay

Her modern apartment has windows that open just a few inches, making it hard to keep cool on hot days, she said.

“Net zero” buildings, designed partly to stay cool without heavy use of air conditioning, are popping up around the world, from Southeast Asia to the United States and Europe, but remain the exception, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Khosla, who has herself lived in a range of hot cities from New Delhi to Chicago, predicted that in the future, housing that cannot be kept cool or have air conditioning installed could see a drop in value, even in relatively cool places such as Britain.

New technology

Also Read- Netflix inks Multi-year Exclusive Deal with Karan Johar for New Series, Films

In some developing nations with rising incomes, buying an air conditioner is also a status symbol, which could make any push for lower-energy alternatives challenging, she said.

Making less power-hungry, affordable air conditioners will be crucial, Khosla believes.

Most machines for sale now, the majority built in China, are half as energy-efficient as they could be, she said.

But researchers are working on more efficient cooling technologies that could hit the market in as little as two years, Khosla said.

Judges are now looking at entries for a $3 million global cooling prize, launched by the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, aimed at developing an affordable window air conditioning unit that is at least five times more efficient than current models.

Amory Lovins, co-founder of the institute, said designing cheaper, greener air conditioning was “extremely important.”

Getting manufacturers to ramp up production fast, partly by putting in place policies that require greater energy efficiency, will also be key, Khosla said.

Greener cooling

Greener cooling is “one of the levers we have left” to hold the line on climate change, and using less energy for cooling would help avert power blackouts in cities on sizzling days, she said.

Cities face an “awful feedback loop” as air conditioners churn out hot exhaust, boosting temperatures further, she said.

All these risks mean smarter cooling must be figured out quickly, before the world gets even hotter and more families rush to appliance shops, she said.

“It’s a future we can’t afford to get wrong,” she warned. (VOA)