Next Einstein Forum 2018: What renewable energies to secure the future of Africa?

What sources of energy to ensure economic but sustainable development for Africa? The question was asked at Next Einstein Forum (NEF), held in Kigali (Rwanda) from March 26 to 28, 2018 and attended by Sciences et Avenir. "We must not forget that only 40% of Africans have access to electricity," recalls Wilfrid Lauriano do Rego, vice president of the Terawat Initiative . The answer ? It will go through the development of solar, but also by that of short circuits for the transport of biomass, as part of a circular economy. But photovoltaics, energy available in abundance from the geographical location of the continent can only exist through the development of expensive infrastructure ( smart grids but also storage batteries, even of hydrogen fuel cells), which raises questions about their financing

"The potential of the African continent for solar energy is 10 terrawatts"

"More than 600 million Africans still do not have access to electricity. Electricity "says Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, director of UNESCO's East Africa office. The potential of the continent for renewable energies is colossal however: "in all, 10 terawatts for the solar, 300 gigawatts (GW) for the hydroeléctrique, 110 GW for the wind and finally 15 GW for the geothermique" details Wilfried Lauriano, citing a report by IRENA . A hope for the director of UNESCO: "Solar energy has the potential to reduce poverty by democratizing access to energy, and improving health. poorly supplied and have to deal with power cuts. "

GOVERNANCE. A potential still largely untapped. The problem is not so much technological as political, says Dutch economist Hans Bolscher. "German photovoltaics are often used as a model, while in Africa there is more sun" adds the NEF laureate Justus Masa, electrochemistry specialist. The main issue is the financing of energy transport and storage infrastructure. "These infrastructure projects are difficult to finance because they do not provide direct income for investors" says Gadi Ndahumba, Legal Counsel for the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF). Governments, rather than private actors, are then preferred investors, either directly or through public subsidies.

Promoting Circular Economy Including Energy Supply

But the way is long . "80% of the energy consumed in Africa comes from wood", continues the director of the East Africa Office of Unesco. "The effect of fine particles from combustion on the health of populations is worrying." Riicro Diaz-Chavez, researcher at Imperial College London, adds that it is "essential to improve the way of which biomass is used in Africa. " An example: the manufacture of wood pellets from agricultural residues of eucalyptus. "Biomass is then more easily transportable to places of energy consumption" hence shorter supply circuits.

CIRCULAR ECONOMY. So many ways to share the interests of sustainable development and renewable energies. "Rwanda is very much in favor of the circular economy and its prospects for economic growth" explains Vincent Biruta, Minister of Environment of Rwanda. "We see it as a new concept, but in Africa the practice has always been there!" Here, objects are repaired so that they last longer and the sharing economy is already a reality. And initiatives are already flourishing, as shown by J-Palm Libera, a start-up founded by the Liberian Mahmud Johnson.The idea: mutualize the exploitation of wild palms, which grow on land devoted to other cultures, to make palm oil and sell it locally.

World Water Day: International Forum Focuses on Water Use in Agriculture

"Making every drop count" . The slogan carried by the last report of the UN is at the heart of International Water Forum from March 18 to 23, 2018. In Brasilia, it brings together nearly 40,000 people Heads of State, mayors of cities around the world, as well as scientists and environmental activists. The purpose of the second day of the event is as ambitious as it is necessary: ​​to rationalize the use of water in agricultural practices.

The report of the UN estimates that by 2050, about 5.7 billion people could run out of water. We know that agriculture is particularly greedy for this resource. "At a time when we are under constant pressure on the quantity of water available, it is important to do everything possible to use these resources in the most efficient way" stressed Claudia Sadoff, Director of the International Institute for Water Management, with headquarters in Sri Lanka . She participated in a round table on how we consume the available water.

Visitors to the Citizen Village, on the sidelines of the Forum in Brasilia, where we discover the need to clean the oceans. © AFP – Sergio LIMA

Brazil is home to 18% of the world's drinking water

It is divided into two categories: "blue" water, which is found in lakes and rivers, and "green" water, contained in soils and woods. The Brazil devotes for example 50% of the water of its rivers and lakes for agriculture. He is one of the world's leading suppliers of foods. Between 1990 and 2015, the total volume of agricultural production more than doubled, and that of animal production tripled, according to the report "OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2015-2024" of ONU. This therefore represents an increase in water consumption. "We want to reduce this quantity, develop more efficient plants, improve production systems and create more efficient equipment" explained to AFP Mauricio Lopes, President of Embrapa, the National Institute of Agricultural Research. According to him, "there is a boom in water management practices to save this resource, and also in plant genetics" "this revolution is already here"

Visitors discover a reenactment of life on the Brazilian base in Antarctica, on the sidelines of the Forum in Brasilia. © AFP – Sergio LIMA

Brazil's agro-industrial sector remains highly criticized by conservationists. The country practices a massive deforestation : nearly 8000 km² disappeared in 2016 according to the National Research Institute in the Amazon. Mr. Lopes wished to emphasize that 66% of its territory remains "still" covered with native plants. The stakes are high: the South American giant has the richest biodiversity in the world and is home to 18% of the world's drinking water. Biodiversity and water are deeply linked to each other. "Brazil is an extremely diverse country, there are six biomasses, we have very sensitive areas and to maintain this biological wealth, we need water". "We must lead an intelligent management of the water resource in order not to lose (this) equilibrium" however, he acknowledged.

Technology to improve uses

The drone is increasingly used by farmers. © AFP – François Nascimbeni

In the face of criticism, Brazil's Confederation of Agriculture and Fisheries (CNA) President Joao Marins also defended himself on the occasion of the International Water Forum . "We want to take advantage of this moment to demystify these subjects and prove that the rural producer takes care of the water and the earth more than anyone, because in the end, if it destroys the sources of water, he will destroy his own heritage "he pleaded, unveiling a new irrigation program.

In order to preserve water, technology can also be useful. Isabel Garcia Tejerina, the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, spoke of her use as a means of revitalizing the rural world, essential for food production. The tools it offers are varied: intelligent irrigation systems, drones satellites or agricultural machinery connected to databases. However, they remain little deployed on a global scale.

Water Forum in Brasilia: Cultivating without thirsting the Earth, a challenge

Rationalizing the use of water for food production, when the Earth is thirsty more than ever: specialists and politicians are addressing the issue on the second day of the International Water Forum in Brasilia.

In the wake of the publication of a worrying UN report that 5.7 billion people may be short of water by 2050, agriculture must learn to be less greedy in this area. [19659002] For this, technology provides valuable assistance, with intelligent irrigation systems, drones, satellites or agricultural machinery connected to databases. The idea is to take advantage of each drop of water at the time of cultivating the land.

Perfect example of this concern: Brazil, the host country of this 8th edition of the Forum, which brings together 40,000 people including fifteen heads of state, 300 mayors of cities around the world, dozens of scientists and environmental activists.

The Latin American giant, one of the world's leading suppliers of food, spends more than 50% of water from rivers and lakes to the agricultural sector

"We want to reduce this quantity, develop more efficient plants, improve production systems and create more efficient equipment", explains to AFP Mauricio Lopes, president of Embrapa, the National Institute of Agricultural Research

"There is a boom in water management practices to save this resource, and also in plant genetics," he adds, and "this revolution is already here. "

Forum, Mr. Lopes participated in a roundtable on how the available water is consumed: "blue water", that of natural reserves like lakes, traditional source of crop irrigation, and "water green ", captured in soils and woods.

– Agriculture defends itself –

 Visitors to the Citizen Village, on the sidelines of the Water Forum in Brasilia, where we discover the need to clean the oceans. March 20, 2018. (AFP - Sergio LIMA)

Visitors to the Citizen Village, on the sidelines of the Water Forum in Brasilia, where we discover the need to clean the oceans. March 20, 2018. (AFP – Sergio LIMA)

"At a time when we are under constant pressure on the quantity of water available, it is important to do everything possible to use these resources in the most Claudia Sadoff, director of the International Water Management Institute, headquartered in Sri Lanka.

"There will be places where traditional watering will be essential. and very effective and others where soil water and biomass will be the best option.This is a subject we will need to pay more attention to in the future, "she warned.

Another aspect of the complex relationship between water use and food production is the impact on the environment.

M. Lopes stresses that Brazil, a country with the richest biodiversity in the world and whose territory is home to nearly 18% of the world's drinking water, has "still" 66% of its territory covered by native plants.

" It is very important to discuss the link between water, nature and foods.Brazil is an extremely diverse country, there are six biomass, we have very sensitive areas and to maintain this biological richness, it is necessary to water, "points out the agronomist.

" We must lead an intelligent management of the water resource in order not to lose (this) balance, "he adds.

 Visitors discover a reconstitution of life on the Brazilian base in Antarctica, on the sidelines of the Water Forum in Brasilia. March 20, 2018. (AFP - Sergio LIMA)

Visitors discover a recreation of life on the Brazilian base in Antarctica, on the sidelines of the Water Forum in Brasilia. March 20, 2018. (AFP – Sergio LIMA)

Preserving the water does not prevent to watch also the farmers: the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Isabel Garcia Tejerina, thus evoked the use of the technology like a way to revitalize the rural world, essential for food production.

"We are implementing an ambitious broadband satellite internet coverage program across Spain as a way of to have a more connected campaign, which is crucial to give the same opportunities to young farmers and to keep them in rural areas, "she said.

The all-powerful agro-sector -industrialist, criticized by environmental advocates for his responsibility in deforestation, seized the opportunity of the Brasilia Forum to ensure his defense.

"We want to take advantage of this moment to demystify these topics and prove that the producer ru he takes care of the water and the land more than anyone, because in the end, if he destroys the water sources, he will destroy his own heritage ", pleaded the president of the Confederation of Agriculture and Fisheries ( CNA), Joao Marins, by unveiling a new irrigation program.

8th World Water Forum in Brasilia: towards nature-based solutions

SHARING. This Monday, March 19, 2018 opens in Brasilia ( Brazil ) an 8 e World Water Forum that proves strategic. Titled "the sharing of water", this triennial meeting takes place just before two crucial meetings: the political forum next July (it will gather in New York most of the leaders on the objectives of access to the drinking water and sanitation by 2030) and December COP 24 in Poland on the climate where water appears as a priority in 93% of national contributions to the fight against global warming . This is the moment also chosen by Unesco to publish its world report 2018 . This sum of data gives an idea of ​​the challenges facing humanity.

World water consumption increases by 1% per year

Men currently harvest 4600 billion m 3 d water per year. Domestic use accounts for 10% against 60% for agriculture and 30% for industry. This world consumption increases by 1% per year and should reach 6000 billion m 3 per year in 2050. But access to the resource should undergo major upheavals. First, the increase in the population will increase the needs of agriculture, particularly in groundwater, which is more difficult to renew. 800 billion m 3 are now collected in the groundwater. Excessive pumping could lead to severe shortages in already stressed areas. The management of domestic water will be impacted by the growth of cities, 66% of men living in urban areas in 2050 against 54% today.

In red, areas where water shortages are already noted . The impacted areas will be more extensive in 2050, particularly in India and China. © Unesco.

80% of industrial and municipal wastewater discharged into rivers without treatment

" The deterioration of water quality is expected to intensify over the next few years decades, which would increase threats to human health, the environment and development "says Unesco citing a report of the multinational Veolia. Currently 80% of all industrial and municipal wastewater is discharged into rivers without any prior treatment. Agriculture remains the main source of nitrate increases in the natural environment and the use of chemical pesticides increases by about 2 million tonnes per year. In Europe, where the situation is much more favorable than in the rest of the world, 30% of the rivers and 40% of the lakes harbor too much phosphorus.

The evolution of the quality of water in the world. The situation is worsening mainly in East Africa, India and China. © Unesco

If the participants of the Brasilia Forum are preparing for the climate change negotiations (COP24) at the end of 2018 in Poland, it is because the issue of water is central for many states on at least two plans: rising temperatures are disrupting water availability and global warming will disrupt the water cycle and increase droughts and floods. Already, 1.8 billion people live in regions affected by desertification and drought, making it the most serious "natural disaster" for humanity. Floods have affected 2.3 billion people since 1995. Between 2005 and 2014, there was an average of 171 floods per year compared with 127 in the previous decade.

Focusing "green" infrastructures on infrastructure " "

It is these new and distressing situations that are studied throughout the week in Brasilia. With, however, reasons for hope. First, there is enough fresh water on the planet to water 10 billion people. Then, management techniques (rational irrigation, water distribution, savings in industry) exist and can be deployed quickly. Finally, the preservation of the quality of the resource uses simple and inexpensive techniques. It is on this aspect that Unesco emphasizes. " There will always be need to build dikes, to make pipes and purification plants, statue and Richard Connor, editor-in-chief of the report of Unesco. But next to these "gray" infrastructures, we have a whole panoply of "green" infrastructures relying on the ecological engineering and the use of the role played by the ecosystems "

The protection of the catchment areas of its drinking water This allows New York City to save 25 million euros a year in the cost of potabilization. In Madagascar, the "intensification system of rice" which favors a better management of water and soil has saved 25 to 50% of water and 80% of seeds while increasing the production of 25 to 50%. " Worldwide, it is estimated that agricultural production could increase by almost 20% thanks to greener practices of water management ," says Richard Connor. The margin of progress is immense. According to a report cited by UNESCO on agricultural development projects in 57 low-income countries, more efficient use of water and improved plant cover, particularly through agroforestry, have improved agricultural yields. 79% without increasing the use of pesticides

Earth could soon run out of water, warns Brasilia Forum

The UN and many scholars and politicians gathered in Brasilia on Monday urged action as soon as possible to prevent the Earth from running out of water on the first day of the International Water Forum.

" There is simply no time to lose, "Brazilian President Michel Temer, whose country, which has 18% of the country's drinking water, said in its opening speech at the 8th edition of the Forum. planet, is affected since 2012, in the Northeast, by the longest drought in its history.

"There is a consensus," added the head of state, "life on Earth is threatened if we do not respect the limits of nature. "

The UN unveiled a particularly troubling report that nearly half of the world's population – 3.6 billion people – live in areas where may be at least one month a year, up to 5.7 billion by 2050.

t of "Share Water" order, 40,000 people attend the Forum until Friday, including some fifteen heads of state, 300 mayors of cities around the world, several dozens of scientists and environmental activists.

"Nearly 97% of the world's available water resources are in trans-boundary water tables", hence the need for "effective management of shared waters," said Benedito Braga, president of the World Water Council. water, institution headquartered in Marseille (France) and organizer of the event.

– Taking inspiration from nature –

The forum meets at a time when large cities, such as Cape Town , face a dramatic lack of water. The South African metropolis has been threatened with running water in the coming months due to drought.

In the face of climate change and demographic pressure on water resources, the UN recommends that countries focus on "green solutions", taking inspiration from nature rather than building new dams and sewage treatment plants.

Natural processes can "act as regulators, cleaners and water suppliers" Richard Connor, editor-in-chief of the United Nations annual report, said in a press conference in Paris.

In Brazil, the government has launched since 2005 the largest project of its history in this field, the deviation of the San Francisco River to combat the traditional aridity of the Northeast region.

The monumental construction project, with a budget of some $ 3 billion, will bring by 2019 fresh water to four states of the region. 12 million Brazilians.

"The transformation of the region is absolutely fantastic," said Minister of National Integration Helder Barbalho.

– "Profitable Solutions" –

While demand for water is increasing, underground reserves are being depleted, pumped mainly for irrigation, and the quality of water is deteriorating, polluted by industrial and municipal wastewater and agricultural chemicals, warns the UN. 19659002] For two decades, the New York City Municipality has developed an original policy to protect the three watersheds that supply the city and its 8.5 million inhabitants: it participates in forest preservation programs and remunerates farmers for their good practices.

Result: New York "receives one of the cleanest waters in the United States," according to Richard Connor, while saving $ 300 million a year on his treatment.

For example, in Egypt, a pilot wetland project in Bilbeis, 55 kilometers north of Cairo, has treated wastewater and irrigated eucalyptus trees, while being "less expensive" than conventional solutions.

"These solutions are cost-effective" and "do not cost more," insisted Mr. Connor

The main sectors where they could be deployed are agriculture, but also "growing cities ", especially in developing countries, said the scientist.

The use of natural or semi-natural systems offers many other advantages. In addition to improving water availability and quality, "it is possible to increase agricultural production per hectare with better water management" and thus feed more people, said program coordinator Stefan Uhlenbrook United Nations World Water Assessment Agency (WWAP).

"Green" infrastructure also plays on erosion and soil quality, vegetation, drought and flood risk, even though for the moment, recourse to these solutions "remains marginal".