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8th September Current Affairs

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has released its latest Red List of Threatened Species.

Key facts:

Some 902 species are officially extinct.

30 per cent of the species (38,543) that it assessed (138,374) face the threat of extinction.

Some 80 species are extinct in the wild, 8,404 are critically endangered, 14,647 are endangered, 15,492 are vulnerable and 8,127 are near threatened.

Some 71,148 species are of least concern, while 19,404 are data deficient.

Important Species mentioned in the report:

The Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) moved from endangered to least concern while the Southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) moved from critically endangered to endangered.

The world’s largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), has been moved from vulnerable to endangered. The species is endemic to Indonesia and occurs only in the World Heritage-listed Komodo National Park and neighbouring Flores.

What is IUCN red list of threatened species?

It is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.

How are species categorised?

It uses a set of quantitative criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species.

The IUCN Red List Categories:

The IUCN Red List Categories define the extinction risk of species assessed. Nine categories extend from NE (Not Evaluated) to EX (Extinct).

Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) and Vulnerable (VU) species are considered to be threatened with extinction.

Utility of the red list:

It brings into focus the ongoing decline of Earth’s biodiversity and the influence humans have on life on the planet. It provides a globally accepted standard with which to measure the conservation status of species over time.

Scientists can analyze the percentage of species in a given category and how these percentages change over time; they can also analyze the threats and conservation measures that underpin the observed trends.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

Sri Lanka and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are working together to promote the island’s agriculture-based economy.

Details:

They are now partnering to create the Smallholder Agribusiness and Resilience Project (SARP) to combat poverty, food insecurity and gender inequality.

How SARP Will Prevent Food Insecurity?

Part of food insecurity goes hand in hand with poverty. Farmers who cannot afford to manage their land or crops cannot produce an adequate supply of food. In turn, many of SARP’s poverty reduction efforts will ultimately improve food production levels.

About IFAD:

It is a specialized United Nations agency created in 1977 engaged in providing grants and loans with low interest for allied projects.

The IFAD works with rural people allowing them to enhance their food security, improve nutrition and raise their incomes.

It also helps people to expand their businesses.

The organization is an outcome of the World Food Conference of 1974.

It is headquartered in Rome and headed by a President.

It has 177 member countries.

IFAD brings out the Rural Development Report every year.

The objectives of the IFAD are three-fold:

  • To increase the productive capacity of poor people.
  • To increase benefits for them from market participation.
  • To strengthen the environmental sustainability & climate resilience of their economic activities.

Impact of climate change on El Niño-Southern Oscillation

(GS-I: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.)

In News:

There is a growing body of research suggesting that climate change can cause extreme and more frequent El Niño and La Niña events.

Details:

A study was conducted recently on this using one of South Korea’s fastest supercomputers,

Findings of the latest study:

Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide can cause a “weakening of future simulated ENSO sea surface temperature variability.”

Future El Niño events will lose heat to the atmosphere more quickly due to the evaporation of water vapour.

In the future there will be a reduced temperature difference between the eastern and western tropical Pacific, inhibiting the development of temperature extremes during the ENSO cycle.

Also, there can be a weakening of tropical instability waves in the projected future, which can cause a disruption of the La Niña event.

What are the Niño and La Niña?

They are two natural climate phenomena occurring across the tropical Pacific Ocean and influence the weather conditions all over the world.

While the El Niño period is characterised by warming or increased sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, a La Niña event causes the water in the eastern Pacific Ocean to be colder than usual.

Together, they are called ENSO or El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

What causes El Nino?

El Nino sets in when there is an anomaly in the pattern.

The westward-blowing trade winds weaken along the Equator and due to changes in air pressure, the surface water moves eastwards to the coast of northern South America.

The central and eastern Pacific regions warm up for over six months and result in an El Nino condition.

What are Account Aggregators?

(GS-III: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment)

In News:

The account aggregator system in banking has kicked off with eight of India’s largest banks, including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.

Details:

When fully functional, the system can make lending and wealth management a lot faster and cheaper.

What are account aggregators?

An Account Aggregator is a non-banking financial company engaged in the business of providing, under a contract, the service of retrieving or collecting financial information pertaining to its customer.

It is also engaged in consolidating, organising and presenting such information to the customer or any other financial information user as may be specified by the bank.

How does an AA work?

It has a three-tier structure: Account Aggregator, FIP (Financial Information Provider) and FIU (Financial Information User).

An FIP is the data fiduciary, which holds customers’ data. It can be a bank, NBFC, mutual fund, insurance repository or pension fund repository.

An FIU consumes the data from an FIP to provide various services to the consumer. An FIU is a lending bank that wants access to the borrower’s data to determine if the borrower qualifies for a loan.

Banks play a dual role – as an FIP and as an FIU.

Benefits:

The new system makes it possible for banks, tax authorities, insurers and other finance firms to aggregate data of customers — who have provided their consent — to get a better understanding about their potential customers, make informed decisions and ensure smoother transactions.

This will also enable customers to easily access and share their financial data. It allows customers to avail various financial services from a host of providers on a single portal based on a consent method.

It reduces the need for individuals to wait in long bank queues, use Internet banking portals, share their passwords, or seek out physical notarisation to access and share their financial documents.

This will help banks reduce transaction costs, which will enable us to offer lower ticket size loans and more tailored products and services to our customers.

The AA framework:

The AA framework was created through an inter-regulatory decision by RBI and other regulators including Securities and Exchange Board of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) through an initiative of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).

The licence for AAs is issued by the RBI, and the financial sector will have many AAs.