Daily Archives: November 6, 2018

Mauritanian Activists Cheer US Move to End Trade Deal Over Slavery

Mauritanian activists Tuesday praised the United States’ decision to end trade benefits over the practice of slavery and called on other states to follow suit with sanctions.
U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that Mauritania was no longer eligible for the benefits, citing insufficient progress last year in eradicating forced labor and hereditary slavery.
Historical practice
Slavery is a historical practice in Mauritania, which became the last country to abolish it in 1981. Today more than two in every 100 people, 90,000 in all, live as slaves, according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index.
The Mauritanian government denies that slavery is widespread and said the U.S. decision was based on misinformation.
“This decision … is surprising to say the least,” said Mauritania’s foreign ministry Monday.
“This phenomenon (slavery) has disappeared from Mauritanian society and the after-effects of the practice are being eradicated due to … government policies,” the statement said.
There have been only four prosecutions of slave-owners since Mauritania criminalized the practice in 2007, and dozens of cases are languishing in the courts. Anti-slavery activists have been jailed on several occasions.
Europe urged to follow US
“Pressuring them (the government) by economic means is very important,” said Salimata Lam, national coordinator for the anti-slavery group SOS Esclaves.
“If European states followed this path … a lot of things could change in Mauritania,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Mauritania has a national agency dedicated to fighting the aftereffects of slavery, poverty and integration that has set up schools and social housing and distributed agricultural equipment to former slaves.
But activists say the laws against slavery are not respected and the punishments not harsh enough.
“The fact that there is international pressure will push Mauritania to take things seriously,” said Moussa Biram, a member of the anti-slavery group the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA).
Eligibility for funding under the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which provides duty-free treatment for certain goods, is reviewed every year and can be restored at any time.
Mauritania will still receive trade benefits under another U.S. program, the Generalized System of Preferences.
“This is a struggle that Americans understand all too well,” said Michael Dodman, the U.S. ambassador to Mauritania.
“That is one reason that American law requires my government to take difficult decisions when we assess that a country is not making continual progress towards the protection of human rights,” he said in a statement.

Source: Voice of America

Charity: Thousands Hiding in Central African Republic Hospital Risk Attack

Some 5,000 people seeking refuge in a hospital in Central African Republic (CAR) risk being attacked by armed groups, a medical charity said Tuesday, amid ongoing clashes.
About 10,000 people ran to the hospital in Batangafo, some 400 km (250 miles) north of the capital Bangui, last week, after armed groups looted and burned thousands of homes, three camps hosting 27,000 displaced and a market in the city.
Half of those camped out in the hospital grounds have since joined others hiding in the bush or other villages, Omar Ahmed Abenza, head of mission for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in CAR, told Reuters from Bangui.
“People don’t feel safe anywhere in the city,” he said, adding that MSF staff working in the town regularly heard gunshots and grenades in and around Batangafo.
CAR has faced near-constant armed conflict since 2013, when a mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition overthrew then-president Francois Bozize, prompting reprisals from Christian and animist “anti-balaka” militias.
Despite electing a new leader in 2016, the country has been mired in tit-for-tat inter-communal violence and political instability.
CAR is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for humanitarian workers, with MSF suffering an average of three attacks a month on its facilities, vehicles and staff last year.
Abenza said the hospital cannot guarantee the safety of the thousands of people sleeping on the grounds in temporary shelters hastily built from carpets, clothing and other belongings.
“For us, it’s almost impossible to control who goes in and out. We can’t deny access to the population,” he said. “Our security is basically ensured through the constant conversations with the leaders of the armed groups.”
The situation is also dire in Bambari, in central CAR, where there were also clashes last week, with many people “too scared to leave their homes to seek medical treatment,” he said.
The World Food Program (WFP) said Tuesday that 1.9 million people in CAR do not have enough to eat — the highest figure since 2014, when the country was rocked by widespread sectarian violence.
“Fresh, ever more harrowing, reports continue to emerge suggesting only continuing exacerbation of an already profoundly grave situation,” WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said.
“Prompt international and regional attention and action are urgently needed to ward off a human tragedy.”

Source: Voice of America

Cision Unveils Global Innovation Lab to Transform Communications Industry

LONDON, Nov. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — CISION COMMSCON — Cision® (NYSE: CISN) today announced the opening of a new global innovation and research centre to fuel the ongoing development of groundbreaking technology for the communications industry. The Cision Innovation Lab, with locations in New York City and Berlin, is designed to build, test, and launch cutting-edge technology that helps communicators unify data, processes and analysis to transform the comms function. The Lab will serve as a testing ground for integration of acquired technology into the Cision Communications Cloud®, as well as the integration of the Cision Comms Cloud with industry-leading marketing and advertising technology from around the world. The research centre will also focus on the creation of industry-standard frameworks and approaches that follow the best practices of Earned Media Management, helping to transform the comms function into a business driver.

Cision logo. (PRNewsFoto/Cision) (PRNewsFoto/Cision)

“Cision is building transformative technology to enable a modern communications industry – one where comms is realised as one of the most valuable assets within an organisation,” said Kevin Akeroyd, Cision CEO. “We led the charge for a new era with our breakthrough Communications Cloud,  and the Cision Innovation Lab is an important component to achieving our vision for the future of comms. We’re taking a new approach to innovation, helping global communications professionals to more holistically connect earned media with paid and owned media.”

The Cision Innovation Lab will be led by David Barker, the company’s President of Data and Innovation. Under Barker’s leadership, the Lab will focus on anticipating and solving the communication industry’s challenges through product development, strategic acquisitions, and select partnerships with organisations in the paid and owned media spaces, including MediaMath® and LiveRamp®.

The research centre will be used to build and beta-test different communications use cases and solutions. Four primary centres of testing and development within the Lab environment include:

  • Quants: Enabling communicators to access data, metrics and measurement to validate the importance of earned media as a business driver.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Bringing efficiency, scalability, and deep insights to both the day-to-day functions and overarching comms strategies.
  • Graph: Allowing communicators to visualise and act on the interconnectivity of key influencers, content and target audiences.
  • Media: Integrating with the broader martech environment to extend and connect earned media to paid and owned channels.

“Communications and public relations are rapidly evolving,” noted Barker. “Today, more than ever, comms and PR professionals are being asked to produce data-driven results that align with core business metrics. The Cision Innovation Lab will provide the ongoing development and innovation needed to set new standards of measurement and integration to continue validating the importance of earned media.”

About Cision
Cision Ltd. (NYSE: CISN) is a leading global provider of earned media software and services to public relations and marketing communications professionals. Cision’s software allows users to identify key influencers, craft and distribute strategic content, and measure meaningful impact. Cision has over 4,000 employees with offices in 19 countries throughout the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. For more information about its award-winning products and services, including the Cision Communications Cloud®, visit www.cision.com and follow Cision on Twitter @Cision.

Media contacts:
US
Laura Roman
Director of Corporate Communications, Cision
cisionpr@cision.com

Kate Walker
McGrath|Power for Cision
cision@mcgrathpower.com

Europe
Steph Macleod
Kaizo for Cision
cision@kaizo.co.uk

Logo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/467136/cision_logo.jpg

 

Bill Gates Launches Reinvented Toilet Expo Showcasing New Pathogen-Killing Sanitation Products That Don’t Require Sewers or Water Lines

Gates Foundation and Global Partners Announce Commitments to Advance Commercialization of Disruptive, Off-Grid Toilet Technologies

BEIJING, Nov. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and the China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC), today joined global innovators, development banks, private-sector players, and governments at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing. Together, they committed to accelerate the commercialization and adoption of disruptive sanitation technologies world-wide over the next decade. Rapid expansion of new, off-grid sanitation products and systems could dramatically reduce the global human and economic toll of unsafe sanitation, including the deaths of half a million children under the age of 5 each year and the more than $200 billion that is lost due to health care costs and decreased income and productivity.

A range of companies from around the world came together at the Expo to display a new class of sanitation solutions that eliminate harmful pathogens and convert waste into by-products like clean water and fertilizer—all without connections to sewers or water lines. Companies from China (Clear, CRRC, EcoSan), the United States (Sedron Technologies), India (Eram Scientific, Ankur Scientific, Tide Technocrats), and Thailand (SCG Chemicals) announced the availability of the world’s first pathogen-killing reinvented toilets and small-scale waste treatment plants (called omni-processors), which are now ready for sale to municipal and private entities. LIXIL, headquartered in Japan, announced plans to bring to pilot a household-level reinvented toilet based on a leading prototype.

“This Expo showcases, for the first time, radically new, decentralized sanitation technologies and products that are business-ready,” said Bill Gates during the opening plenary of the Reinvented Toilet Expo. “It’s no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems. It’s a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale.”

Development finance institutions at the Expo—including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the African Development Bank—announced commitments with the potential to unlock $2.5 billion in financing for City-Wide Inclusive Sanitation projects that provide people in all parts of a city—including the poorest neighborhoods—with safely managed sanitation services. The banks’ pledges represent the biggest-ever coordinated set of commitments exclusively for urban sanitation. Significantly, these efforts will accelerate the adoption of novel non-sewered sanitation solutions in low- and middle-income countries. UNICEF announced an ambitious, new sanitation market-shaping strategy to help scale and deploy product and service innovations and increase private-sector engagement. The French Development Agency committed to double its funding for sanitation work globally by 2022, up to 600 million euros (US $683 million) per year.

“Rapidly scalable systems that can deliver safe, sustainable sanitation to communities is fundamental to quality of life and the development of human capital,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, who participated in the Expo plenary. “Sanitation is a growing priority for the World Bank Group and many global leaders. I’m pleased to announce our new partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will help catalyze a new generation of solutions that can bring safe sanitation to everyone, everywhere on earth.”

According to a recent Boston Consulting Group analysis, there are considerable untapped opportunities for companies that come early to the new non-sewered sanitation category. The reinvented toilet market alone is conservatively estimated to become a $6 billion global annual revenue opportunity by 2030. It could help open the door to a new, potentially larger sanitation sector and value chain supported by private and public investments in products, jobs, and services. A World Health Organization study showed an even bigger return on investment for broadly advancing safe sanitation globally: Every dollar invested in sanitation provides, on average, an economic return of $5.50.1

LIXIL’s announcement of its entry into the reinvented toilet market at the Expo signalled an important milestone for sanitation industry leaders. “Now is the time,” said Kinya Seto, president of LIXIL. “Innovative companies have a golden opportunity to do well by doing good. We can help jumpstart a new era of safe sanitation for the 21st century by developing solutions that can leapfrog today’s existing infrastructure, functioning anywhere and everywhere.”

More than half of the world’s population, 4.5 billion people, continue to live without access to safely managed sanitation. In many cities in the global south, more than 50 percent of human waste escapes into the environment untreated.

Emerging trends, from climate change to demographic shifts, signal an intensification of the sanitation crisis and a need for faster progress. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, close to 70 percent of the world’s population will live in dense urban areas, putting a strain on already-inadequate city-level sanitation systems and infrastructure. Much of the growth will occur in low-income countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where water scarcity is likely to hit hardest.

Off-grid innovations such as mobile phones have dramatically improved economic opportunity, safety, and quality of life for billions of the world’s poorest in recent decades. But while global leaders hasten investments in smart sustainable cities, the global sanitation sector—from utilities to products and services—risks lagging far behind unless concerted action is taken.

Senegal’s minister for water and sanitation, Mansour Faye, who has supported early piloting and development of the Gates Foundation-funded omni-processor, commented on the progress demonstrated at the Expo: “Visionary governments that welcome these new, non-sewered sanitation solutions into communities and cities will help people live healthier and more prosperous lives. There has never been this much opportunity for countries to use innovation to improve sanitation, and to partner with the private sector to deliver it effectively to people who need it most.”

“Thanks to the joint effort of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, the China Chamber of International Commerce and the Gates Foundation, the Expo aims to showcase and promote a new generation of toilet technologies, concepts, materials, equipment and management systems that are both revolutionary and innovative. Together, we aim to accelerate the application of these new concepts, materials and technologies, and promote the wide adoption and commercialization of new toilet technologies,” said Chen Zhou, vice chairman of the CCPIT.

The Gates Foundation has invested more than $200 million since 2011 in early-stage reinvented toilet and omni-processor R&D aimed at lowering barriers and risk for the private sector and governments to adopt new sanitation solutions. At the Expo, the foundation shared its plans to invest an additional $200 million to support continued R&D that can help bring down the costs of new sanitation products for the poor and bolster market development in regions where new, non-sewered sanitation products can have the greatest impact.

Twenty reinvented toilet and omni-processor technologies and products rooted in the foundation’s portfolio of investments are now available for commercial licencing and production. Many are expected to meet newly published international standards, known as International Organization for Standardization 30500, created to define the operational requirements for the reinvented toilet, as well as other existing and future stand-alone, non-sewered sanitation technologies. The standards set targets for safety, processing capability, operational performance, and waste by-products to ensure product safety for users.

Information about available reinvented toilet and omni-processor technologies and products can be found at: www.stepsforsanitation.org/rte .

For more information about the Reinvented Toilet Expo, please contact: media@gatesfoundation.org.

A digital press box with press materials, b-roll, and images for publication is available at RTE Beijing 2018.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. www.gatesfoundation.org / @gatesfoundation

1 5  WHO, “Global Costs and Benefits of Drinking-water Supply and Sanitation Interventions to Reach the MDG Target and Universal Coverage,” 2012, http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/2012/globalcosts.pdf