Rimba Raya is the world’s first forest conservation project to independently verify its contributions to environment, biodiversity and social SDGs under the newly created Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta).
Borneo, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, September 21 2020 – Everland llc, the agency exclusively representing InfiniteEARTH’s Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve in Borneo, is pleased to announce that Rimba Raya is the world’s first forest conservation project to independently verify its contributions to environment, biodiversity and social SDGs under the newly created Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta).
SD VISta was developed by Verra, a leading standards organization created to help countries, the private sector, and civil society to achieve ambitious sustainable development and climate action goals.
SD Vista enables projects to assess the sustainable development benefits they generate directly against the SDGs. Under SD VISta, projects must demonstrate to the satisfaction of a third-party assessor that they advance the SDGs. By successfully completing the SD Vista audit, Rimba Raya now brings a new level of quality assurance and transparency to the reporting of its project outcomes and impact claims.
Since 2009, the Rimba Raya project has successfully defended 64,500 hectares of carbon- and biodiversity-rich lowland peat forest from conversion to oil palm plantations, which surround the project area and the adjacent Tanjung Puting National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Rimba Raya protects over 120 threatened and endangered species in the project area and supports over 10,000 forest-dependent community members living in and along the boundaries of the project, who have traditionally held no formal land tenure. The project has been developed and managed since inception by InfiniteEARTH, a pioneering conservation project developer.
Oil palm concessions, which completely surround Rimba Raya and Tanjung Putting and which have destroyed 2.4 million hectares of Borneo’s forests since 2000, had been granted for the entire project area before the project successfully halted them. In recognition of the project’s success in halting deforestation, it achieved verification as a REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) project, under which it has generated over 33 million tonnes of verified CO2 emissions reductions since the start of the project. These verified emissions reductions are sold to corporations which voluntarily offset their unavoidable emissions as well as support meaningful social and biodiversity co-benefits.
Among these co-benefits, SD VISta auditors have verified Rimba Raya’s numerous contributions to the SDGs, including:
- Mangrove restoration and peat swamp reforestation: Rimba Raya has carried out significant restoration activities, providing educational opportunities, strengthening community resilience and capacity to respond to climate change, contributing to gainful employment throughout the project zone, increasing habitat for endangered species, and improving the integrity of water-related ecosystems. SD Vista auditors verified that that these activities will directly contribute to net positive impacts for SDGs 4, 13, 14, 15 and, indirectly, 6, 8 and 11.
- Orangutan Care Facility: A portion of the revenues from the sale of the project’s carbon credits are used to fund project partner Orangutan Foundation International’s ongoing activities, including new programs for reforestation of critical orangutan habitats and acquisition of viable habitat. In addition, the project will build three new orangutan release centers and six feeding platforms at strategic locations inside the Project Area. The auditors verified that this activity will generate net positive impacts for SDGs 11 and 15.
- Scholarships: A portion of the revenue from the sale of the project’s carbon credits goes toward educational scholarships, to create opportunities for students from less fortunate families to continue their education to senior high school level or equivalent for a period of 3 years. Auditors verified that these activities generate net positive impacts for SDG 4 through the increase in availability of higher education opportunities for children throughout the project zone.
- Floating Clinic: With a total absence of health care available in the project’s remote villages, the project constructed and operates a floating clinic, giving it the ability to deliver medical services up and down the Seruyan River, effectively servicing all the communities in the Project Zone. Auditors confirmed that this activity will directly contribute to net positive impacts for SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being.
“Buyers, now more than ever, seek projects that satisfy both environmental and social development goals. The SD VISta standard provides buyers of credits with a new standard to discern the specific impacts of a project.” said InfiniteEARTH Co-Founder Jim Procanik
“This is a crucial milestone. By completing the registration and successful verification of monitored results under SD VISta, Rimba Raya has demonstrated how projects can track progress against the SDGs in a rigorous and workable manner”, states David Antonioli, CEO of Verra. “Many corporations who rely on carbon credits to meet ambitious climate goals value knowing that the carbon credits they purchase and retire have additional benefits beyond reducing emissions – and Rimba Raya’s SD VISta certification demonstrates that this project has accomplished that.”
CAN Rejoices With Muslims at Sallah
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has felicitated with the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and all Muslims in the country as they celebrate this year’s Ramadan.
In a congratulatory message issued on Thursday by the General Secretary, Daramola Bade Joseph, CAN prayed that the aftermath of this year’s Ramadan will usher in peace and unity into the country.
“We are not unaware that your fasting was in obedience to the divine directive: ‘O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous’ — Surat Al-Baqarah 2:183. May God answer all your godly prayers offered throughout the month.
“We appeal to the leadership of NSCIA to continue to advise and caution the extremists who are not well-grounded in the faith and whose wicked and ungodly actions are giving bad names to Islam. It is trite to know that no godly person will engage in the promotion of violence, kidnapping, banditry and terrorism or identify with the perpetrators,” it said.
CAN said it recognises and appreciates the ‘efforts’ that are being made by the police and other security agencies towards ensuring peaceful celebrations.
It said that it will not relent in promoting religious tolerance, peace and unity in our country in collaboration with NSCIA genuinely.
“We remain partners in peacemaking. Let us continue working together for peace, unity and progress of the country.
“May God put His fears into the hearts of our leaders to promptly do what is right, justly and godly. We also pray that those who have compromised and are compromising the security in the country will have a change of mind and those who refused to change will be exposed and sanctioned by the Almighty God Himself,” CAN said.
UNICAF Sets Out Plan to Expand to 17 African Countries Following UN Call for Investment In Digital Education
The COVID-19 pandemic unearthed the fault lines for what could be a generational catastrophe in education.
Even before the pandemic resulted in school closures affecting over 1.6 billion students in at least 161 countries, more than 250 million school-age children were out of school globally.
In much of the developing world, the gap between the levels of learning that education systems provide, and the needs of students, communities and countries, has been steadily growing over the years.
Barriers to education in developing countries include political and security instability, costs, health and nutrition, distance to school, insufficient budgetary allocations to education, and poor-quality environments, content and processes. And now, even more school-age individuals are at risk of falling behind or dropping out of school permanently as the pandemic persists. This would widen inequality across an already unequal region with stark wealth, gender and social disparities, as well as stymie opportunity, innovation, and economic growth prospects—education is the cornerstone of building human capital.
In a recent interview with AfricaLive.net Dr Nicos Nicolaou, the founder and CEO of Unicaf, a leading higher education online platform with students in 158 countries, set out his vision for a more robust education sector supported by digital infrastructure.
“In August last year, the UN Secretary-General stated that the education sector must invest in digital literacy and infrastructure and look to evolve towards learning how to learn, rejuvenate lifelong learning, and strengthen links between formal and non-formal education,” said Dr Nicolaou.
“He suggested the need to draw on flexible delivery methods, digital technologies and modernised curricula while ensuring sustained support for teachers and communities.”
Optimising Higher Education
A sustained increase in demand for access to education across Africa is unavoidable as populations grow, and given the role of education in modernisation and development, it is critical that governments increase higher education opportunities.
“Central to the discussion on sustainable development is the imperative of equality in higher education opportunities. Universities should offer holistic and transformational education with high-level quality content. Learning should be stimulating, engaging and learner-centric, leading to successful outcomes for the learners. Universities should inspire learners to be global citizens, assume active roles in the society they live in, and contribute to a more peaceful and sustainable world,” says Dr Nicolaou.
“Taking into consideration that tens of millions of additional students will become of university age in the next decade and the fact that there are no plans to build hundreds of new universities in the continent, the only solution is online learning,” he adds.
“The skilful use of modern technologies can enhance teaching and learning effectiveness and, thus, may substantially contribute towards the goals and objectives associated with sustainable, inclusive growth and development.”
“Distance education can eliminate current barriers to higher education in Africa, imposed by space and time, and can dramatically expand access to lifelong learning. Using flexible delivery models, students will no longer have to visit a physical location at specific times and days. A modern higher education institution, such as Unicaf University, no longer has to be at any specific physical location but, through the use of technology, can exist anywhere, anytime for students who wish to access study materials and complete a particular academic programme fully online.”
COVID-19 Has Changed Education Forever
There has been a high growth and adoption in education technology around the world in recent years, with edtech investments of up to USD 18.66 billion in 2019, and projections for the online education market expected to reach USD 350 billion by 2025. COVID-19 has accelerated the transition to the wider use of technology in delivering education.
“Because of COVID-19 online learning expanded dramatically. Almost all universities had to shift to remote learning to serve their students. In a very short time, everyone had to shift from face-to-face teaching to online, using a variety of technologies. The pandemic provided the catalyst needed for universities to move online and to use digital platforms for teaching and learning,” says Dr Nicolaou.
“What was considered to be the future has been accelerated to become the present; and my expectation is that this shift is here to stay, in one form or another. Various technologies, which are employed for online teaching, will reshape learning, both inside the classroom and beyond, well after the present pandemic subsides. In the same token, regulators have realised how crucial online education is and started encouraging universities to offer online programmes,” he adds.
The Future of Online Education in Africa
Africa accounts for about 20 per cent of the world’s youth population (aged 15-24), which is also the fastest growing in the world; however, there is a dearth of quality and affordable higher education. School enrolment rates at the tertiary level stand at 8 per cent, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (https://bit.ly/3eGhkYq), significantly below the global average of 32 per cent. Online education has the potential to increase access to higher education, making it cheaper, more flexible and more accessible to a wider range of students, and that is what Unicaf does.
“Founded in 2012 and with headquarters in Europe, Unicaf is a leading higher education online platform with students in 158 countries, and also a scholarship programme, facilitating higher education studies at affordable cost. The state-of-the-art Unicaf digital platform provides access to quality university degree programmes and professional courses from reputable partner institutions in the UK, the USA and Africa, and is addressing an underserved part of the higher education market through an affordable and flexible online learning model,” says Dr Nicolaou.
The platform’s current partners (https://bit.ly/3eH3Snk) include Liverpool John Moores University (UK), the University of East London (UK), the University of Suffolk (UK), the University of California, Riverside Extension (USA), and a multi-campus Unicaf University in Africa—offering high-quality Bachelor, Master’s and Doctoral degrees at a fraction of the cost.
“During the pandemic, Unicaf has been able to demonstrate its capabilities and increase its reach. Unicaf’s state-of-the-art digital platform has helped thousands of students to study online towards an internationally recognised degree without being affected by lockdowns and other restrictive measures. Within the last 12 months, we have received thousands of applications from students interested to study through online programmes. This is additional proof of Unicaf’s dominance in Africa’s online education market and the strengthening of its brand and reach,” says Dr Nicolaou.
Spotlight on Africa’s Largest Online University
Developments in technology and changes to the global approach to teaching—including collaborative and project-based learning, mobile-friendly learning platforms, and adaptive personal learning—are not yet used at scale in Africa. Unicaf is expanding across the continent through a growing network of university campuses and learning centres offering blended and open learning options. Unicaf currently has a physical presence in 12 African countries and has plans to expand to five additional countries within the next two years.
“Unicaf and Unicaf University’s (www.UnicafUniversity.com) strategy is to continue expanding throughout Africa by obtaining additional university licences in new countries and enriching the portfolio of programmes they are offering. Along with its partner universities, Unicaf has already served more than 40,000 students, by awarding them over USD 100 million worth of scholarships to study for internationally recognised degrees at a fraction of the cost, and to positively transform their lives,” says Dr Nicolaou.
“Our software development team will continue developing new state-of-the-art technologies, aiming towards enhancing the existing technologies we use in our digital platform. Such technologies help all our operations become more efficient and more scalable,” he adds.
Unicaf’s platform provides students with several key benefits, including:
- Flexible delivery allows students to accommodate work and family responsibilities. Everything students need to complete their studies is embedded into the platform, including a digital library, e-books and other learning resources.
- Qualifications: Students can earn internationally recognised degrees from Unicaf University, or its British partner universities, at a fraction of the cost. It is accredited by the British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education in the UK as an Independent Higher Education Provider. Students are therefore given the opportunity to earn degrees with international recognition and obtain valuable skills and credentials to enrich their professional qualities and help them advance in their careers.
- Scholarships considerably reduce the cost of fees, and any remaining balance can be paid in easy monthly instalments.
- Employment: Most students declare that they were able to find a better job, get a promotion in their current job and/or earn more money as a result of their studies with Unicaf. Unicaf University programmes are developed in collaboration with employers to meet their specific needs.
Accelerating Online Teaching Through Partnerships Between Universities and EdTech Companies
Unicaf has been a pioneer in international partnerships to provide opportunities for students in Africa to earn internationally recognised degrees for almost a decade. Dr Nicolaou believes that the success of such partnerships depends on “a shared understanding of the market, goodwill, close collaboration and shared interests and goals.”
The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) this year will facilitate pan-African collaboration in higher education.
“With a population of 1.2 billion projected to reach 1.4 billion by 2040, Africa will become one of the biggest free trade areas with a very high commercial significance. This is good news for higher education too, and will heighten collaboration opportunities among universities in Africa in the areas of teaching, learning and research,” says Dr Nicolaou.
“For the African leaders of the future, Agenda 2063 sets out the need to refocus and reprioritise Africa’s agenda. Educating Africa’s future leaders is very important, as they are the ones who will strive to reposition Africa as a dominant global player. To support this goal, Unicaf continues to develop a suite of modern and affordable programmes, which offer specialist knowledge, underpinned by values-based ethical principles and practices.”
“Employability is vital for university students in Africa and is central to the mission and operation of Unicaf University.”
Playfre Wins “Best Music Streaming Platform – West Africa” at the Fourth Annual African Excellence Awards
African music streaming service Playfre wins “Best Music Streaming Platform – West Africa” at the fourth annual African Excellence Awards, hosted by MEA Markets.
“The recent months have undoubtedly brought about significant challenges for many industries across Africa, and therefore [We are] delighted to be the bearer of good news following Playfre’s 2021 nomination.” said Kaven Oscar Cooper, Awards Executive at MEA Markets.
“Over the past couple of weeks, our judging team have assessed the shortlist for MEA Markets’ African Excellence Awards. It is with absolute pleasure to confirm that Playfre has been successful, and have been awarded: Best Music Streaming Platform – West Africa” Cooper continued.
“We are delighted to be recognized in this way and it is such an honor and privilege to be bestowed with such a prestigious award.” says Chika Nwaogu, CEO of Playfre Music Group.
Available in 54 African countries and with operations in both Kenya and Nigeria, Playfre is an African music streaming platform that was launched on 1 May 2019. Since inception, Playfre has amassed over 70,000 registered users and over 100,000,000 streams.
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