The Guardian. January 15, 2014
Climate, food and trade initiatives by a Geneva-based organisation, CUTS International have triggered a number of positive improvements in East Africa in 2013, including the new draft agricultural policy and a potential review of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) policy.
CUTS International Geneva Assistant Programme Officer Julien Grollier said over the weekend that their Agriculture-Climate-Trade linkages in the EACâ€ (PACT EAC) project has strived to help East African stakeholders better understand and address the need for coherent policies at the interplay between climate, food and trade issues.
Grollier also said that last year, an impact evaluation revealed that the project has already influenced a number of policy improvements with linkage aspects now being reflected in the draft Kenya Environmental Policy and the new draft Agricultural Policy of Tanzania.
â€œWe helped Kenyan Households Cook Cleaner, Easier and Healthier, as we are concerned with the environmental footprint of our activities, we have embarked on a CO2 Balance carbon-offsetting programme that improves access of livelihoods to improved energy-efficient cook stoves in Kenya,â€ he said.
He added: â€œBy supporting the African Energy Efficient Stove Project, we help communities to replace indoor open fires with efficient enclosed stoves made from local materials that reduce the amount of firewood consumed by between 50 and 70per cent. This is critical as, according to the World Health Organisation, 1.9 million African people die each year from the effects of smoke from an unregulated (no chimney) three stone fire.â€
He pointed out that since the release of their book â€œReflections from the frontline: developing country negotiators in the WTOâ€ in English two years ago, French-speaking WTO negotiators had been requesting an edition in French that would fill their capacity gaps in the current Doha round negotiations.
â€œIn 2013, the launch of the French edition was praised for recording the experience of leading developing country negotiators who are best placed to bring a viewpoint from the frontline, and for adding a new chapter on the cotton initiative,â€ he said.
He noted: â€œThis book will not only serve as an invaluable source of knowledge for newcomers in trade negotiations, but also as a resource for capacity building initiatives in the French speaking regions of the worldâ€ The non-government organization has also strengthened developing country negotiators in a number of fronts at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
â€œWe remained an effective link to grassroots for EAC Negotiators in Geneva, Our bi-monthly EAC Geneva Forum provides a demand-driven support platform to trade negotiators of the East African Community while connecting them to stakeholders back home,â€ he insisted.
He underscored that in 2013, EAC Negotiators have used this CUTS facility extensively to request technical analysis on a number of complex trade-related issues such as plurilateral agreements to shape their positions, exchange views as a regional grouping and be updated on the latest developments at the grassroots in the region.
â€œDelegates expressed their appreciation of a bottom up, interactive approach that has in some cases enabled them to directly engage in consultations with country-based experts, interest groups and ministry representatives through CUTS,â€ he said.
CUTS International, Geneva, is a nongovernmental organisation (NGO), launched in July 2008 under the name of Geneva Resource Centre (GRC) as a part of the CUTS family of organisations to provide a credible pro-trade, pro-equity Southern NGO voice in the Geneva trade policy making circles.
Over the past years, the Centre has established itself and contributed effectively in the International and National policy making process, particularly in Eastern and Southern Africa. The strength of the organisation lies in its work methodology viz.organically linked research, advocacy, networking, as well as in its capacity to bridge existing gaps between all actors, from the grassroots to global leaders.
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