By Sharon Kimathi, Energy and ESG Editor, Reuters Digital
Today’s newsletter focuses on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as Palestinians face worsening living conditions from a lack of clean water, shortage of food and poor sanitation.
Although conflict and war are not the primary focus of Sustainable Switch, human rights issues are covered under the ‘s’, or ‘social’ in environment, social and governance (ESG) developments, which this falls under.
Additionally, the United Nations’ sustainable development goal (SDG) 16 specifically addresses peace, justice, and strong institutions. While it doesn’t explicitly mention humanitarian issues under conflict, it emphasizes the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, reducing violence, ending abuse, and guaranteeing access to justice for all. Click here for more on SDG 16.
Global calls for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Hamas war have gone unheeded, preventing anything more than a trickle of humanitarian aid from entering Israeli-besieged Gaza as shortages of food, fuel, drinking water and medicine worsen.
Click here for a Reuters rundown of what some U.N. agencies call a “humanitarian catastrophe” enveloping the tiny enclave of 2.3 million people.
Palestinians react at the site of Israeli strikes on a residential building in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot
“Water is being used as a weapon of war”
Gaza residents are facing severe water shortages. One of two plants to desalinate seawater is shut down for lack of fuel with the other operating at minimum levels, the U.N. for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. Two of three water pipelines from Israel are operating.
Israel initially severed all water supply to Gaza after Oct. 7, when Hamas gunmen rampaged through southern Israel killing around 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostage. But it says it has restored supplies in southern areas by reopening lines that provide 28.5 million liters of water a day.
“Water is being used as a weapon of war. Many people are resorting to unsafe sources of water…Clean water in Gaza is either unavailable or available in very, very small quantities,” said Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA.
“The water is salty. On normal days you wouldn’t give it to a donkey to drink. But nowadays you must drink it and let your children drink it,” said Ibrahim Al-Jabalawy, 60. “There’s no medicine to treat them if they get sick from the polluted water,” he added.
Israeli military officials insist there is enough available water and other supplies for all Gazans, and they were in touch with all U.N. agencies to track the humanitarian situation.
In Khan Younis, in the south of the tiny, crowded enclave, nine-year-old Rafif Abu Ziyada said she was drinking dirty water and getting stomach pains and headaches.
“There is no cooking gas, there is no water, we don’t eat well. We are getting sick,” she said. “There’s garbage on the ground and the whole place is polluted.”
Washing facilities have little water. Toilets get filthier every day. At Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, people said they struggled to find a working toilet within hundreds of meters of the facility. Those they find are dirty.
Basic sanitation is deteriorating with bags of rubbish piling up in the streets between mounds of debris from the rising number of bomb sites.
Garbage workers fear being out in the streets and are unable to reach the main landfills near the frontier with Israel. People forage for firewood to cook depleting reserves of rice and vegetables, near mounds of rubbish.
Outside a U.N.-run school operating as a shelter in Khan Younis, Majeda Abu Rjaila said the pollution and stink was so bad that she could not stand it during the day and would find a place away from the shelter to sit by a road.
U.N. agency leaders saying “enough is enough” demanded a humanitarian ceasefire on Monday nearly a month into Gaza’s war, as health authorities in the enclave said the death toll from Israeli strikes now exceeded 10,000.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would consider “tactical little pauses” in fighting in the Gaza Strip to let hostages leave or aid get through, but again rejected calls for a ceasefire despite international pressure.
Isabel Apaza shows the area of Lake Titicaca without water in drought season, in Huarina, Bolivia. REUTERS/Claudia Morales
The water level at Lake Titicaca on the Peru-Bolivia border is edging towards a record low, exacerbated by the weather phenomenon known as El Nino that is expected to get even more intense in coming months. Click here for more.
Floods caused by heavy rains across parts of Somalia have displaced more than 113,000 people and “temporarily affected” hundreds of thousands, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said.
Countries moved a step closer to getting a fund off the ground to help poor states damaged by climate disasters, despite reservations from some countries, including the United States. The deal to create a “loss and damage” fund was hailed as a breakthrough for developing country negotiators at United Nations climate talks in Egypt last year, overcoming years of resistance from wealthy nations.
Leaders from 28 nations – including China – signed the Bletchley Declaration, a joint statement acknowledging artificial intelligence’s (AI) risks, while the United States and Britain both announced plans to launch their own AI safety institutes, as two more similar summits were announced to take place in South Korea and France next year.
Half of the world’s 2,000 biggest listed companies have set a target to get to net-zero emissions by mid-century, but just a fraction meet tough United Nations guidelines for what constitutes a quality pledge, a report on Monday showed. Click here for more on the report.
India’s Supreme Court ordered authorities in the states surrounding New Delhi to stop farmers burning crop residue, as the air quality from smog engulfing the world’s most polluted capital during the past week reached hazardous levels.
Pakistan opened more border centers to speed up the return of tens of thousands of undocumented Afghans, an official said, two days after a deadline to leave or face expulsion expired and ignoring pleas to give the plan a rethink.
The U.N. refugee agency, the International Organisation for Migration and the U.N. Children’s Fund expressed concern for the safety of children and families affected by the expulsion, saying a humanitarian crisis was unfolding with winter on the way.
Actors Sabrina Ali, Faduma Issa, and Susu Ahmed, perform a scene from ‘Dugsi Dayz’, at the New Diorama Theatre in London, Britain. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
In keeping with the ‘s’ in ESG, today’s spotlight reflects a shared commitment to social responsibility, equity, and fostering inclusive environments in cultural expression and access to dining experiences.
Members of Britain’s community of Somali women have cast aside the conventional roles they say are expected of them with the help of a theater company set up to combat exclusion in performing arts.
Artistic director Hannah Abdule, a civil servant, co-founded Side eYe Productions in 2019 to create opportunities she felt were denied to people like her.
Those stories have complex characters that are not defined only by culture or Muslim faith.
“Dugsi Dayz”, a comedy about dugsi, or Islamic school, by writer and actor Sabrina Ali, won an award at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in August and will tour England this month, from Sheffield in the north to Bristol in the southwest.
A waiter holds a point-of-sale (POS) device at a restaurant near the Pantheon, in Rome, Italy. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
Over in continental Europe, the Italian government plans talks with restaurant owners in order to control prices and help large families to eat out, a government document seen by Reuters showed.
Industry Minister Adolfo Urso has summoned several associations from the catering and food sector to a meeting in Rome, the document showed.
The initiative stems from a desire to boost the Italian catering sector and consumption by families, “especially large families who, in a period of persistent inflationary pressures, have had to review their habits,” it said.
Quote of the Day
“We cannot remain silent as crimes against journalists are committed and perpetrators evade justice. We call for an end to the targeting of all journalists and will continue our campaigns on behalf of our members and work to ensure that those who commit these crimes are brought to justice.”
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary at the National Union of Journalists, a trade union for journalists in the United Kingdom and Ireland
Nov. 8-9, New York, United States: Reuters NEXT, the annual leadership summit, takes place this week. Led by Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni, Reuters correspondents speak to global policymakers and business leaders to tackle the greatest challenges and opportunities facing the world. Register here for the live broadcasts.
Nov. 8, Michigan, United States: Reuters Events will host a North American automotive conference in Detroit, with such speakers as United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain, Chrysler Brand CEO Christine Feuell, Ford sustainability chief Bob Holycross and more.
Nov. 8, London, United Kingdom: More than 1,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Britain will strike for four days, including on the typically busy Black Friday shopping day.
Nov. 8, Paris, France: Scientists and researchers from more than 40 nations gather in Paris for a three-day summit dedicated to glaciers and poles. French President Emmanuel Macron is set to attend the summit.
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