There is a statistic that both astonishes and troubles me: the leading cause of injury to women is not traffic accidents, crime or serious disease. It is domestic violence.
One in four women will fall victim to this type of violence in her lifetime. In other words, a quarter of the female population, a shocking figure that reminds us that these are not anonymous women, but rather acquaintances, colleagues, neighbors, people we run into on the subway every day.
So you may be wondering if those scenes from the movie 2012 are not too much of a stretch after all, huh?
In the Hollywood blockbuster, apocalyptic images of rising oceans, erupting volcanoes and crumbling cities prelude the end of the world as we know it. Well, let me tell you that even though I’m not a great fan of end-of-days films –I think they oversimplify issues and de-sensitize the public-- I do believe that the world as we know it is on a path to dangerous climate change
Since the Great Recession of 2008, there has been a widespread sense of malaise among the American middle class. Their incomes are close to stagnant, employment has not recovered, and the gap between them and the famously rich top 1% continues to grow. Look south of the Rio Grande, though, and it is quite a different picture. In the last decade, moderate poverty (under U$ 4 a day) in Latin America and the Caribbean fell from over 40% to 28%.
Thick cloudy skies subdued the sunlight on an autumnal day in Paris. That did not stop the group of representatives from the public and private sector attending the 5th Carbon Fund Meeting of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) from making a decision that is a major milestone. Costa Rica is set to become the first country to access performance-based payments through the FCPF. This is the first time a national program is being supported by carbon funds in this global initiative of 54 countries and organizations, heralding a new phase in forest carbon finance.
This decision is a strong vote of support for Costa Rica’s ambitious plan to become the first “carbon neutral” country by 2021. Conserving forests and planting trees that capture carbon dioxide plays a large role in the national endeavor.
An interesting feature of Costa Rica’s proposal to the Carbon Fund is the quasi-national scope of the program that would be implemented in a mosaic approach on additional 341,000 ha of mainly privately owned land. Two-thirds of the targeted area is degraded land that the country aims to restore with reforestation, secondary growth and agroforestry, and one-third is old growth forest that will be protected from deforestation. The resulting emission reductions are estimated at 29.5 million tons of CO2. Close to half of these emission reductions (12.6 million tons of CO2) would be offered to the Carbon Fund, and would require an estimated financing of $63 million (assuming a price of $5 per ton of CO2).
The earthquake in Costa Rica caused serious damage, including to major national utilities such as the water network. More than 1.3 million people in San Jose depend on this system for their daily water supply. The good news though, is that the supply of this vital resource is secure, thereby saving lives and inconvenience.
Although fictional, imagine receiving this piece of good news in the midst of a disaster, as described above.
What’s more. If you are an engineer like I am, imagine the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (s) (AyA or government water agency) reported that, while more than 15% of its infrastructure had been damaged extensively by this hypothetical earthquake, vital components such as water towers and pumping stations hadn’t been compromised.
Costa Rica has become the crown jewel of Latin America in terms of environmental protection and its respect for biodiversity. After more than 10 years of putting “green” policies in to practice to protect its forests – which cover 51% of its land mass- the Central American country aims to be fully carbon neutral by 2021, the first to reach this global milestone.
“In the 1970s, we destroyed much of the forest and now I want to reverse the damage we’ve done to humanity,” says Virgilio, owner of a 196-hectare lot in Puriscal and participant in an innovative program that provides money to small and mid-sized property owners to encourage them to take care of their land. So far, the program has managed to protect 12% of the country’s forests.
During my visit to Costa Rica to film this video on the country’s environmental advances, I also spoke with Sandra María, a woman who manages a small inn many would pay a fortune for the opportunity to visit. “Here we don’t cut trees down 3because trees give life,” she says with the confidence of one who knows she is doing the right thing.
A few weeks ago a rare storm event known as "Derecho" ravaged the Washington, DC area, claiming many lives and leaving 1.3 million homes and business without electricity. My house was unfortunately among those hit hard by the power outage and in an attempt to cope with the 90F+ temperatures unleashed by the storm, we moved down to the basement -- generally, the coolest part of the house.
For the first few days the novelty was fun for the kids, but as the days wore on, frustration grew, in part because we had no idea when the power would come back on.
For most countries, raising the minimum wage has long been considered a way to protect poor workers and their families. In fact, this active labor market intervention represents a common social protection policy in many Latin American countries. But how effective are minimum wages in protecting the poor? It’s a timely question as the debate heats up over whether minimum wages help avoid “the race to the bottom” or serve as a major impediment to greater labor market flexibility and competitiveness.
The global events of the last few years, beginning with the 2008 financial crisis, have revived the debate around job creation as a key element for economic recovery.
In Central America, the global financial crisis had a significant effect on production and employment, and even though the region has recovered, the debate regarding how to create better jobs is still going strong.