People planning to attend AIDS conference in Montreal still struggling to get visas
MONTREAL — International AIDS organizations say people from Africa, South America and Asia who are planning to attend a major AIDS conference in Montreal are still struggling to get visas from the Canadian government.
The groups say a growing number of activists — including some who were scheduled to speak at the conference which begins at the end of the month — are having their visa applications denied, often on the grounds that the Canadian government doesn’t believe they’ll return home after the event.
Tinashe Rufurwadzo, the director of programs, management and governance at Y+ Global, an international organization of HIV+ youth, said the chair of his organization’s board and another of its employees, who are based in Malawi and Kenya, are among the young activists who have been denied visas to attend the conference.
He said both have travelled extensively to speak at AIDS-related events.
“Personally, I’m sick and tired of seeing young people from Africa mostly portrayed on PowerPoint slides as pictures, as photos on banners, as footnotes on case studies. Why can we not have them at conferences to share their lived experiences of what exactly is happening?” he said in an interview Friday.
Rufurwadzo said representatives of populations most at risk of HIV — such as people who inject drugs, transgender women, sex workers and gay men — need to be able to participate, as do adolescent girls, who are increasingly affected by HIV.
If people from the most affected countries aren’t able to attend, he said he doesn’t know how realistic the learning at the conference will be.
While those whose applications are denied will be able to attend the conference virtually, Rufurwadzo said that won’t allow the same level of participation. He also said young people, especially those from rural areas, may not have consistent access to the internet.
Last week, almost 250 organizations from around the world sent a joint letter to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser calling on him to take action to ensure participants can attend the International AIDS conference.
Aidan Strickland, a spokesman for Fraser, said in response to earlier questions from The Canadian Press that the department has been working closely with event organizers and that applications “have been assessed in a timely manner.”
“While we cannot comment on the admissibility of any particular individual, we can say that, in general, all visitors to Canada must meet the requirements for temporary residence in Canada, as set out in Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,” Strickland said in an email. “All applications from around the world are assessed equally against the same criteria.”
Javier Bellocq, an Argentine who runs a community journalism project called the Key Correspondent Team which focuses on people living with HIV and high-risk groups, said from the stories he’s heard, it seems like each Canadian consulate is applying different rules.
In some places, he said, applicants have been required to pay for medical examinations as part of the visa process.
“The conference, in theory, arranged with the Canadian government that there will not be medical examinations, but there are, there are many medical examinations.”
Of a group of 40 Argentines, including Bellocq, who are planning to participate in pre-conference activities, only two have received visas so far, he said.
Tumie Komanyane, who runs programs for international NGO Frontline AIDS in South Africa, said groups she works with were planning to help more than a dozen young people attend the conference, but decided not to even bother applying for 10 visas after the first four applications were rejected.
Komanyane said she’s aware of other young people from the region, including some who had scholarships to attend the conference funded by the Canadian government, who have had their visa applications denied.
“It’s incoherent,” she said in an interview Saturday. “With the strides that Africa is making in the HIV field, all the lessons and evidence that could be coming from the beneficiaries directly is going to be lost.”
While she works with young people, she said, she doesn’t want to speak for them.
“They have agency, they have voice, and they shouldn’t be represented by people like me. They should be able to go and share what this work means for them,” she said.
Bellocq said he’s not worried about himself, noting the Argentine passport is relatively powerful and he’s a professional who has been travelling internationally form more than 30 years. But he worries about people from countries with less passport privilege and members of marginalized groups who are at high risk of HIV.
With pre-conference events starting in just over three weeks, he said, “time is not on our side.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2022.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
Canadian Energy Centre
Mexico leapfrogging Canada on LNG and six other global oil and gas megaprojects
By Deborah Jaremko of the Canadian Energy Centre Ltd.
Major investments in countries like the United States, Norway, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are being made to meet world demand
New major oil and gas megaprojects around the world are proceeding amid concern about underinvestment in conventional energy leading to painful supply shortages.
“The energy future must be secure and affordable, as well as sustainable,” said Daniel Yergin, vice-chairman of S&P Global, earlier this year.
“Adequate investment that avoids shortages and price spikes, and the economic hardship and social turbulence that they bring, is essential to that future.”
Even if oil and gas demand growth slows, a cumulative $4.9 trillion will be needed between 2023 and 2030 to prevent a supply shortfall, according to a report by the International Energy Forum and S&P Global Commodity Insights.
Major investments in countries like the United States, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Mexico are being made to meet world demand.
Meanwhile, due to regulatory uncertainty and concerns over proposed policies like an emissions cap for oil and gas production, Canada’s vast resources – produced with among the world’s highest standards for environmental protection and social progress – are being left behind.
Here’s a look at just a handful of global oil and gas megaprojects, listed in rising order of development cost.
Mexico: Altamira LNG
New Fortress Energy
Mexico is leapfrogging over Canada to become an LNG exporter.
While Canada’s first LNG export project is expected to start operating in 2025, Mexico’s could come online this August – less than 10 months after Mexico’s government finalized a deal with U.S.-based New Fortress Energy to make it happen.
While relatively small at 1.4 million tonnes of LNG per year (LNG Canada’s first phase will have capacity of 14 million tonnes per year), under Mexico’s agreement the Altamira site is to become an LNG hub.
New Fortress Energy is to deploy multiple same-sized floating LNG units to produce LNG from natural gas transported through TC Energy’s Sur de Texas-Tuxpan pipeline.
An existing LNG import terminal at Altamira is also expected to be converted into a 2.8-million-tonne-per-year export facility.
United States: Willow Oil Project
The U.S. government granted approval this March for the giant Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope to proceed.
The project, owned by ConocoPhillips, is designed to produce 180,000 barrels per day at peak and operate for 30 years. It includes a processing facility, operations centre, and three drilling sites.
The Willow leases are inside the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, which was established in 1923 as an emergency oil supply for the U.S. Navy. It is now administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Willow would occupy about 385 acres (around half the area of Central Park in New York City) in the northeast portion of the 23-million-acre reserve. It is expected to deliver nearly US$9 billion in government revenue, creating about 2,500 jobs during construction and 300 long-term positions.
ConocoPhillips has yet to make a final investment decision, but is anticipating starting production in 2029, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
United States: Golden Pass LNG
QatarEnergy, Exxon Mobil
Golden Pass LNG is one of four natural gas export terminals under construction on the U.S. Gulf Coast as the United States continues to build its platform as an LNG powerhouse.
With about 90 million tonnes per year of LNG export capacity today, analysts with Wood Mackenzie expect that if current momentum continues, another 190 million tonnes per year could come online by the end of this decade.
The US$10-billion Golden Pass project owned by QatarEnergy and Exxon Mobil will have three production trains with total export capacity of about 18 million tonnes of LNG per year.
The U.S. began exporting LNG in 2016 and has since built more LNG capacity than anywhere else in the world, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
First LNG exports from Golden Pass are planned for 2024.
Norway: Njord Field Restart
Wintershall Dea, Equinor, Neptune Energy
Norway has officially reopened a major offshore oil and gas field, with the goal to extend its life beyond 2040 and double its total production.
Nearly US$30 billion in upgrades to the Njord project’s production platform and offloading vessel started in 2016, after nearly 20 years of operations. It was originally only expected to run until 2013, but improvements in recovery technology have opened the door to accessing substantially more resources.
Production restarted in December 2022, just in time to help address Europe’s energy crisis.
“With the war in Ukraine, the export of Norwegian oil and gas to Europe has never been more important than now. Reopening Njord contributes to Norway remaining a stable supplier of gas to Europe for many years to come,” Norway’s oil and energy minister Terje Aasland said in a statement.
The project will drill 10 new wells and tie in two new subsea oil and gas fields, with the work expected to add approximately 250 million barrels of oil equivalent to the European market. Partial electrification of equipment is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Qatar: North Field East LNG expansion
Qatar Energy, Shell, TotalEnergies, Eni, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Sinopec
The largest LNG project ever built is underway in Qatar.
State-owned QatarEnergy’s US$29 billion North Field East Expansion will increase the country’s LNG export capacity to 110 million tonnes per year, from 77 million tonnes per year today. Startup is planned in 2025.
A planned second phase of the project will further increase capacity to 126 million tonnes per year.
World LNG demand reached a record 409 million tonnes in 2022, according to data provider Revintiv. It’s expected to rise to over 700 million tonnes by 2040, according to Shell’s most recent industry outlook.
Saudi Arabia: Jafurah Gas Project
State-owned Saudi Aramco is moving ahead with development of the massive Jafurah gas project, which it says will help meet growing energy demand and provide feedstock for hydrogen production.
First gas from the $110-billion project is expected in 2025, rising to reach two billion cubic feet per day by 2030. That’s about one-third the volume of all the natural gas produced in British Columbia. Saudi Aramco produced 10.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2022, or more than half the gas produced in Canada.
Last year the company started construction work on the gas processing facility that is the anchor of the Jafurah project. Aramco is reportedly in talkswith potential partners to back the US$110 billion development.
Russia: Vostok Oil
Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft continues to barrel ahead with the massive Vostok oil project in the country’s arctic, which Rosneft calls the largest investment in the world.
The US$170 billion project will use the Northern Sea Route to export about 600,000 barrels per day by 2024. Production is expected to increase to two million barrels per day after the second phase. For comparison, Canada’s entire oil sands industry produces about three million barrels per day.
The main problem the energy industry faces is global underinvestment in conventional sources, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin said earlier this year. He stressed the importance of Vostok’s oil supply for growing Asian economies.
“Vostok Oil project will provide long-term, reliable, and guaranteed energy supplies,” Sechin said.
Two new icebreaker vessels recently helped deliver 4,600 tonnes of cargo including oil pipes for the project to the arctic development sites, the Barents Observer reported.
WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network
From the youtube channel of Dr. John Campbell
With notes from the World Health Organization website, Dr. John Campbell explains the WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network.
Dr. John Campbell’s Presentation notes:
WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network https://www.who.int/initiatives/globa…
WHO has established the Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN). Open-source platform, built on robust & transparent standards, that establishes the first building block of digital public health infrastructure, for developing a wide range of digital products, for strengthening pandemic preparedness
Background Member States used digital COVID-19 test and vaccine certificates As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, at the onset of the pandemic, WHO engaged with all WHO Regions to define overall guidance for such certificates and published the Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates
https://www.who.int/publications/i/it… https://www.who.int/publications/i/it… there is a recognition of an existing gap, and continued need for a global mechanism, that can support bilateral verification of the provenance of health documents
The GDHCN may include Digitisation of the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, verification of prescriptions across borders
International Patient Summary Verification of vaccination certificates within and across borders Certification of public health professionals (through WHO Academy) Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for people across the globe.
The GDHCN has been designed to be interoperable with other existing regional networks EU-WHO digital partnership https://www.who.int/news/item/05-06-2… • LIVE: WHO and @EU… https://commission.europa.eu/strategy… WHO and the European Commission have agreed to partner in digital health.
This partnership will work to technically develop the WHO system with a staged approach to cover additional use cases, In June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union (EU) system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system, that will help facilitate global mobility
This is the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN)
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO aims to offer all WHO Member States access, On the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
This partnership is an important step for the digital action plan of the EU Global Health Strategy, we contribute to digital health standards and interoperability globally
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market The EU certificate … has also facilitated international travel and tourism I am pleased that the WHO will build on …. cutting-edge technology … to create a global tool against future pandemics
One of the key elements in the European Union’s work against the COVID-19 pandemic has been digital COVID-19 certificates. WHO will facilitate this process globally under its own structure … allow the world to benefit from convergence of digital certificates. Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for citizens across the globe.
The WHO and the European Commission will work together to encourage maximum global uptake and participation.
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