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Working with nature, Colombia fights air pollution



Working with nature, Colombia fights air pollution
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Authors:Dr. Dmytro Cheberkus and Sophia Zherebchuk

In XXI century everyone in our planet become to understand how fragile the ecosystem is. The key words in every ecosystem description tie with equilibrium and stable balance. This equilibrium or stable balance could be destroyed due to the invasion of new species, the death of existing species, natural disasters or man-made causes. Advocates of an environmental ethic consider that the best way for protect ecosystem is to leave it alone, not interfere, and let nature follow its own course. Certainly, there are many cases of appropriate human interference. But the qualified assessment should be the obligatory component in every case, especially within the EU instruments or projects.

The Black sea basin is most contradicting regarding political and security issues and the most polluted sea basin in EU. Today, the Black sea has serious problems with eutrophication, pollution and colossal impact of the biota invaders of rapana, mnemiopsis and other species. Besides the Black sea suffers from exosystemic harm caused by human interference. In this regards, the Ukrainian authorities should take all necessary protection measures. 

But without deep scientific assessment any activity could become a disaster for the Black sea, like many years ago the human impact caused the death of Aral Sea.

If we are talking about case study, we need to put the stress on several projects that implement without any social and ecological assessment and in the same time could cause ecological disaster.

In the end of 2020, near Mykolaiv on the Kinburn spit on top of the allegedly existing natural mussel field “artificial reef” was created. Shells of imported oysters from the garbage heap of a restaurant selling live imported oysters in plastic bags have become one of the materials for this reef. But such a “unique” solution is extremely dangerous for the Black Sea ecosystem. Organisms, larvae and their eggs, as well as infectious diseases that live in the overgrowth of shells and oyster meat are alien to the local fauna and may become new harmful invaders – aliens for the Black Sea.

Besides 2.5 tons of oyster shells the project participants also dropped into sea the plastic bags and other garbage like rusty metal, which during decomposition will also pollute the Black Sea with extremely dangerous microplastics.

Thousands of Black sea mussels caused by this experiment are just died under the garbage bags that were placed over them. Thus, part of mussels that could cleanse the sea by filtering the water were blocked and became victims of rapana. 100 bags of garbage lay on the “carpet” of mussels and a pyramid on top of each other around the rusty pipes, blocking the possibility of filtering water on the mussels and leading to their partial death.

Also the plastic bags with a fine mesh were used for reef’s construction. No need to remind what is the ecologists opinion about the fact that abandoned (forgotten, lost) in water plastic fishing nets for years (until they collapse) continue to catch and destroy fish, crabs and other inhabitants of the sea, who become entangled in them and perish. Thousands aquatic organisms like crabs, shrimps, fish may be, and will be in this trap and die when will not be able to leave. This is not about biodiversity increasing of the Kinburn Spit.

At the same time, many unsuccessful construction attempts of reefs from unnatural materials are known: car tires, plastic waste etc. These reefs were destroyed and polluted the coast and sea-ocean. The material for sprouting (the plastic bag) is on the surface, the oyster’s shells are inside and they not sprout.

Also, we should remember that there is currently no oyster nursery in Ukraine; landing material (spat or grown juvenile oysters) is imported either from Europe (France, Spain, Ireland, England, etc.), or from the Far East (Sakhalin). Import to Black Sea associated with the risks of bringing dangerous infections into this region. It is known that state and industrial control over dangerous diseases of oysters is ineffective.

Oysters, like many other bivalve molluscs, are susceptible to various diseases. The causative agents of oyster diseases can be viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa, and also various types of worms and crustaceans. The degree of knowledge of diseases of different the types of oysters are significantly different. Usually oyster diseases are most commonfound in places of their mass concentration (oyster banks) and areas cultivation of molluscs. Mycoses are a serious danger to oysters, caused by parasitic fungi. The most dangerous and widespread disease of oysters of fungal etiology is shell disease, caused by the fungus (Ostracoblaba implexa).

Shell disease in the Black Sea for the first time registered in 1975, was found on all the largest oysters in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. Given the high degree of oyster infestation (up to 99 %) it, apparently, was one of the reasons for the mass degradation of natural populations of this species in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. Currently European oyster in the Black Sea is on the verge of extinction, listed in the Red book of Ukraine.

Other possible reasons for the decline in the number of European oysters in Black the sea is considered to be cumulative toxicosis caused by pollution of marine areas, deterioration of hydrochemical (oxygen) and hydrobiological (feed) conditions habitats due to the eutrophication of offshore areas, as well as a wide distribution in the Black Sea of ​​a predatory introduced species – the gastropod mollusk rapana (Rapana venosa).

Despite the extensive list of infectious diseases known in oysters we have a few experts in Ukraine regarding oysters’ diseases. Experience in oyster farming in the Black Sea has shown that some local diseases of molluscs, such as shell disease, clionosis, hexamitosis and others can also infect oysters imported into this region.

Accommodation in the water area of ​​the nature reserve fund of various types of adult oysters grown in areas remote from the Black Sea should be strictly prohibited due to the high risks of infectious diseases and harmful invaders.

Another example of harmful actions is the decision of Mykolaiv regional authority about lend sales in the Sviatoslav National Nature Park that included in the Emerald Network of Europe. In the case of the implementation of these plans the orchid field will be finally lost, millions of rare plants and animals listed in the Red Book of Ukraine will be under threat.

In this regard, the approach to the projects’ implementation should be changed on national and international level. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 already has the provisions regarding the protection and preservation of the marine environment as far as marine scientific research. Ukrainian authorities should apply these provision and guarantee that every interference into Back sea ecosystem should accompany with deep scientific assessment.

The in EMBLAS project in Ukraine. With the aim of strengthen the capacities of Georgia, Russia and Ukraine for biological and chemical monitoring of water quality in the Black Sea in line with EU water-related legislation EU and UNDP established the improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea (EMBLAS) project.

The international initiatives (within EMBLAS, UNDP, World Bank, CMA etc.) are really important and could be the powerful tool for ecological monitoring and capacity building I the Black sea.



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Inquiry on General Babangida’s Involvement in Conventional Banking despite Introduction of Islamic Finance in Nigeria




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Dear Editor,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to express my curiosity and seek clarification on a matter that has caught my attention, specifically pertaining to General Babangida’s involvement in the conventional banking industry despite his role in introducing Islamic finance during the financial reforms of his military government in Nigeria. Vide your special article commemorating his 81st Birthday published in your esteemed news website:

It is indeed noteworthy that General Ibrahim Babangida played a pivotal role in shaping the economic landscape of Nigeria by introducing Islamic finance principles. It is fascinating to witness the implementation of Islamic finance in Nigeria, as it promotes principles that align with religious and ethical values. General Babangida’s efforts to introduce this form of finance were undoubtedly commendable, reflecting his commitment to establishing an alternative financial system that adheres to Islamic principles.

However, recent observations suggest his active participation in the conventional banking sector in Nigeria. Certainly, it is intriguing to see General Babangida’s continued involvement in the conventional banking industry, which operates under different principles. While some may argue that his involvement in both sectors is simply a matter of personal choice, it raises questions about the compatibility of his actions with the ideals and principles of Islamic finance. While the former is interest driven, the latter prohibits interest related transactions completely.

I wonder if General Babangida has ever publicly addressed this matter or explained his reasoning behind being active in both sectors. It would be enlightening to hear his perspective on how he reconciles his involvement in conventional banking with his efforts towards promoting Islamic finance. This has raised questions in my mind and perhaps in the minds of others as well.

I am keen to understand the rationale behind General Babangida’s dual engagement in both Islamic finance and conventional banking. Does this reflect a strategic approach to diversify Nigeria’s financial sector, or are there specific reasons behind his involvement in conventional banking despite advocating for Islamic finance principles?

Additionally, it would be interesting to explore the potential impact of his dual involvement on the perception and growth of Islamic finance in Nigeria. Does his presence in the conventional banking industry hinder the progress of Islamic finance, or does it have the potential to bridge the gap between the two sectors?

I believe that delving into these questions could provide valuable insights and generate constructive discussions within the Islamic finance community in Nigeria. By shedding light on General Babangida’s dual involvement and the potential implications, we can further enhance our understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by the Islamic economy in our country.

Thank you for considering my questions, and I look forward to reading more about this topic in your esteemed Focus on Islamic Economy.



Abba Musa Mamman Lagos


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10 Megatrends Shaping the World in 2024




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The report, “Navigating Megatrends Shaping Our Future in 2024”, was launched during the first day of the World Governments Summit (WGS) 2024, being held under the theme “Shaping Future Governments” from 12th-14th February in Dubai. The report examines the indicators that shape these megatrends, supported by evidence from today as well as future expectations. These trends inform decision-makers and foresight experts about various sectors and the potential opportunities in each.

Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, said, “This report has been launched in line with DFF’s efforts to identify and communicate those trends with the most potential to shape opportunities and strengthen local and international partnerships to overcome current and future challenges.”

“The challenges that face us on our journey to the future require that we are agile enough to be able to adapt to rapid change. It is vital we pay attention to the signals we detect – only then can we be prepared to overcome challenges and seize opportunities. The World Governments Summit provides a platform for discussing these challenges and exploring the opportunities.”

Materials revolution

New types of materials will create a shift in the industry, with solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI) such as biopolymers, biorefineries, and chemical recycling paving the way. These solutions will facilitate the development of new biological and novel materials that could rival plastics.

Boundless Multidimensional Data

Enabled by developments such as 5G and 6G in addition to advanced connectivity, the availability of raw data will vastly increase. The Internet of Things (IoT) will continue being deployed in healthcare, agriculture, and smart cities, especially in the Middle East.

Technological Vulnerabilities

The cybersecurity sector will boom amid a sharp rise in smart home devices and wearable tech. According to a report by Allianz, the annual cost of ransomware is projected to reach around $265 billion by 2031. Meanwhile, the debate on the future of decentralised finance will continue.

Energy Boundaries

Advances in tech and the growing demand for energy will drive the pursuit of alternative sources of energy. Novel materials and machine intelligence will enhance current sources of energy, including their distribution around the world – and in space.

Saving Ecosystems

Approaches to conservation will be more interdisciplinary and future-focused, taking into account both societal and environmental factors. Driven by resource scarcity, climate change, and shifts in social values, environmental impact management will become increasingly holistic.

Borderless World – Fluid Economies

The world is witnessing a rise in unmediated transactions in finance, health, education, trade, services, and even space, which are blurring boundaries and creating more cross-border communities. Advances in communications, computing, and advanced machine intelligence will accelerate the creation of a borderless world that will change the way we work, live, and connect.

Digital Realities

The spread of 5G and 6G networks will enhance the applications of autonomous technologies and IoT. As quantum technologies become scalable and reliable, immersive experiences will become even more realistic.

Living with Autonomous Robots and Automation

Robotics and automation will increasingly be deployed across industries beyond automotive, manufacturing and supply chain logistics. This will provide opportunities for efficiency and innovation, although there will also be ethical challenges to address.

Future Humanity

New workplace norms will emerge, with people needing to adapt to non-traditional skill sets in areas such as digital literacy, communications, culture and sustainability.

Advanced Health and Nutrition

Accelerated progress in advanced machine intelligence, nano- and biotechnology, additive manufacturing, and IoT will transform health and nutrition, improving health and wellbeing for people of all ages. Technology will reduce, if not eradicate, some communicable and non-communicable diseases and enhance the sustainable use of and access to water and food.

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Africa’s New Online Foreign Exchange System will Enable Cross-border Payments in Local Currencies – what you need to know




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The high cost of making cross border payments on the African continent has driven governments on the continent to seek options of settling trade and other transactions in local currencies. This has given birth to the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System which was formally launched in Accra, Ghana, in January 2022.  Development economist Christopher Adam, who has studied the exchange rate policies of African countries, answers some key questions.

Why are African countries exposed in the international currency market?

Three main reasons. First, African economies are small and as such are highly dependent on trade with the rest of the world. Their exports are dominated by primary commodities including oil and gas, minerals and cash crop agriculture. On the import side, they purchase a whole range of goods – from essential commodities not produced at home such as fooddrugs and medicines, to capital goods and energy. A large proportion of these are sourced from China and other major economies of the global north. But because African countries are small relative to their trading partners they rarely have the power to determine the prices of imports and exports. They are “price takers” in world markets. And with world prices being set in the major reserve currencies of the world (the US dollar, euro, yen and renminbi), African countries are exposed to movements in these world prices. Second, “intra-African” trade is still a relatively small proportion of the total trade of African countries.

Finally, since African countries’ currencies mostly can’t be directly exchanged in international transactions, the dollar remains the most widely used currency in trade, even between African countries.

What’s required for the system to get off the ground?

The basic idea of the system is to be able to settle trade between African countries without having to use the US dollar.  There are two major challenges with that. First, intra-African trade accounts for less than 15% of Africa’s exports at present (although supporters of the African Continental Free Trade Area expect this to grow significantly over the coming decades). The African payment system therefore does not eliminate the role of the dollar (or other foreign currencies) in trade settlement entirely.

The second issue is that trade is not balanced between African countries. For example, Kenya exports goods of higher total value to Ethiopia than it imports from Ethiopia. If Ethiopia paid in its own currency, Kenya would end up with Ethiopian currency that it didn’t need. Some form of settlement currency that is acceptable to all is required – most likely the US dollar.

What are the challenges and potential risks?

Since trade rarely occurs instantaneously, some institution in the trade financing chain carries the exchange rate risk. Because of the gap between placing an order for imports and receiving them to sell in the local economy, there is a risk that the value of local currency will change relative to the currency in which the import is denominated.

In the “old” system, this risk is borne by the trader because everything is priced in dollars. The local currency value of the income from exports or the local currency cost of imports will change with movements between the local currency and the dollar, but the banks and those counterparts pricing in the dollar are protected.

Under the new system the same allocation of risk will remain in “external trade”. This currency risk is also present for intra-African trade.

An important question for the new African payment system is: who bears the exchange risk if one African currency depreciates relative to another? Should the importer carry the risk, or the exporter? Can and should the African payment system bear this risk of exchange rate movements itself? Where both currencies are volatile, traders might still prefer the relative stability of settlement through the US dollar.

The success of this system also depends on scale. The more trade settlement is routed through it, the easier it will be to settle in local currencies. Large currency imbalances will be less common. But until the system achieves this scale, the African payment system will need a strong balance sheet so that traders and participants can have confidence that settlement will be swift and risk free. It is unclear at the moment how this is to be achieved.

What is the best case scenario?

If the system can address the trade imbalance problem, provide clarity on risk management and reach scale, it could be very successful. But this is all going to be driven by underlying economic performance. Improved settlement will help but what is really driving this is the structure of trade. The more the economies of Africa can develop intra-African trade and the less dependent they are on extra-African trade, the less will be dollar dependence in trade. This growth in trade depends to some degree on trade settlement and trade financing but much more on production, consumption, trade policy and fiscal policy.

Christopher Adam is a Professor of Development Economics, University of Oxford

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