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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

For the full article please see: www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/d…

in summary it says:  In the midst of chaotic upheavals in neighboring countries like Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, and local conflicts of smaller or greater degree in Russia, what Lukashenka offered his people was an oasis of financial and political stability with guaranteed wages and pensions: what he termed the “social contract.”  In short, they could live life as in the past without resorting to such evils as shock therapy or military alliances with either NATO or the CIS.

Today that oasis has been transformed into the most arid part of the desert, from which Belarus lacks the resources to extricate itself.  Lukashenka’s position might make sense if the Communist Party controlled Russia, but Moscow’s rulers are committed capitalists. All he can do henceforth, unless he concedes completely to Russia’s economic barons, is postpone the inevitable through more loans and short-term crisis measures, and specifically from the IMF, one organization that has not infrequently emphasized financial stringency and economic pragmatism rather than a free or democratic society.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 11th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) says it has a membership of 57 States on four continents with a total population of 1.3 billion people. Having seen its map we realize it has also at least three “blocked States” – India, Thailand, and The Philippines  though it has the Moro National Liberation Front as an observer State, a withdrawn State – Zimbabwe, and at least one non-State – Israel that was replaced by Palestine as a member State. Cote d’Ivoire was the last member to enter – it joined in 2001. Russia became an Observer in 2005.

Afghanistan was suspended during the years of Soviet occupation 1980 – March 1989 and Egypt, the fifth largest Islamic population, was suspended May 1979 – March 1984 when it tried for peace in the Middle East.

The organisation attempts to be the collective voice of the Muslim world (Ummah) and the official languages of the organisation are ArabicEnglish, and French.

The flag of the OIC has an overall green background (symbolic of Islam). In the centre, there is an upward-facing red crescent enveloped in a white disc. On the disc the words “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “The Almighty God”) are written in Arabic calligraphy.

 

The OIC attracted attention at the opening session of the meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on 16 October 2003, where Prime MinisterMahathir Mohamad of Malaysia in his speech argued that the Jews control the world: “They invented socialismcommunismhuman rights, and democracy, so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power.” He also said that “the Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” The speech was very well received by the delegates, including many high ranking politicians, who responded with standing ovations.”

India, a country that has 161 million Muslim, only Indonesia with 203 million and Pakistan with 174 million have larger Muslim populations then India, was not welcome even as an observer to OIC – this because of its conflict with Pakistan where India would like to have a referendum of the local population as a means to decide the future of Kashmir.

Most OIC member countries are non-democratic. There are no OIC countries which are rated as a “Full Democracy” under the Democracy Index guidelines, and only 3 of the 57 members are rated as high as a “Flawed Democracy.” The rest are rated either an “Authoritarian Regime” or a “Hybrid Regime.”

Only 3 OIC member states were rated as Free in the Freedom in the World report in 2010 based on Political Rights and Civil Liberties in the member countries.

Reporters Without Borders in its 2011 Press Freedom Index rated only Mali and Suriname among the OIC members as having a Satisfactory Situation. All other members had worse ratings ranging from Noticeable Problems to Very Serious Situation.

Freedom of religion is severely restricted in most OIC member states. In 2009, the US Department of State cited OIC members Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan as being Countries of Particular Concern, where religious freedom is severely violated.

On August 5, 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the OIC adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to serve as a guidance for the member states in the matters of human rights in as much as they are compatible with the Sharia, or Quranic Law  www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/cai… )

OIC created the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. While proponents claim it is not an alternative to the UDHR, but rather complementary, Article 24 states, “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.” and Article 25 follows that with “The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.” Attempts to have it adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council have met increasing criticism, because of its contradiction of the UDHR, including from liberal Muslim groups.  Critics of the CDHR state bluntly that it is “manipulation and hypocrisy,” “designed to dilute, if not altogether eliminate, civil and political rights protected by international law” and attempts to “circumvent these principles [of freedom and equality].”

Human Rights Watch says that OIC has “fought doggedly” and successfully within the United Nations Human Rights Council to shield states from criticism, except when it comes to criticism of Israel. For example, when independent experts reported violations of human rights in the 2006 Lebanon War, “state after state from the OIC took the floor to denounce the experts for daring to look beyond Israeli violations to discuss Hezbollah’s as well.” OIC demands that the council “should work cooperatively with abusive governments rather than condemn them.” HRW responds that this works only with those who are willing to cooperate; others exploit the passivity.

The OIC has been criticised for diverting its activities solely on Muslim minorities within majority non-Muslim countries but putting a taboo on the plight, the treatment of ethnic minorities within Muslim-majority countries, such as the oppression of the Kurds in Syria, the Ahwaz inIran, the Hazars in Afghanistan, the Baluchis in Pakistan, the ‘Al-Akhdam‘ in Yemen, or the Berbers in Algeria.

The formation of the OIC happened shortly after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Leaders of Muslim nations met in Rabat to establish the OIC on September 25, 1969.

OIC is run out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, its first Secretary General was Tunku Abdul Ramman of Malaysia (1971-1973) and its current Secretary General, since 2005, is Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu of Turkey.

 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organisatio…

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Muslim_population

We found the following map of substantial interest for understanding if there is a realistic chance for change in the Arab world and in the Islamic world at large.

Much of the attention of observers of UN debates on terrorism was on how Contradictions between OIC’s and other U.N. member’s understanding of terrorism has stymied efforts at the U.N. to produce a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The world must be reassured that new leaderships of Islamic States will not equivocate on terrorism – whatever true sentiments they may harbor – it is important to agree that terrorism is not an acceptable tool for attainment of political goals.

 upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/OIC_map.png

The list of OIC Member States: Afghanistan · Albania · Algeria · Azerbaijan · Bahrain · Bangladesh · Benin · Burkina Faso · Brunei ·

 Cameroon · Chad · Comoros · Côted’ Ivoire · Djibouti · Egypt · Gabon · Gambia · Guinea · 
Guinea Bissau · Guyana · Indonesia · Iran · Iraq ·
 Jordan · Kuwait ·Kazakhstan · Kyrgyzstan · Lebanon · Libya · 

Maldives · Malaysia · Mali · Mauritania · Morocco · Mozambique · Niger · Nigeria ·Oman · Pakistan · 

Palestine · Qatar · Saudi Arabia · Senegal · SierraLeone ·

 Somalia · Sudan · Suriname · Syria · Tajikistan ·Turkey · Tunisia · Togo · Turkmenistan · Uganda · 

Uzbekistan · United Arab Emirates · Yemen

The Observers are: Bosnia and Herzegovina · Central African Republic · Russia · Thailand · Northern Cyprus (asTurkish Cypriot State), Moro National Liberation Front, Russia.



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

9/11 of 2001 caused nearly 3,000 death and plunged America into three wars, but we have a proposition that 9/15 – the day two years ago – when the House of Lehman Brothers collapsed – will prove being a much greater turning point in global history.

Indeed, 9/11 ended the US euphoria with the end of the Cold War against the now defunct Soviet Empire, but even though no Great Depression resulted from the Lehman Brothers collapse the suggestion is that the event pointed out that it is not military power, but economic power, that eventually gets the upper hand. This observation results from the simple truth that though the US is still the only military superpower, it is being constraint nevertheless by the lack of financing capacity of the military. If nothing else, the retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan comes because of the large expense of these wars. The US must make defense cuts if it is to avoid other financial cuts that might undercut much more seriously its preferred status among nations.

The US economy was once based on manufacturing and industry but now it was left to consumerism – and if nothing else – the US does not get anywhere close to the consumers numbers of a China, an India, and perhaps if that of the Islamic World at large.

With the large hole in its foreign trade, caused in large part by the outflow of money for imports of oil, the US is now aware of the power of China’s monetary reserves that have been called to help pay for the US financial excesses – be those from imports or wars.

What is worse, the world has learned to do well without a US order-making role, and the formerly budding South-South connections have bloomed into a real China-India-Brazil  trading pattern that might even lead to the displacement of the US dollar in this new international trade.

A Chinese hegemony in the Pacific is just a question of time, even though it is possible still to believe that for the time being there is a US-Chinese symbiotic relationship. But with the growth of further emerging economic powers – at first Brazil and India – then South Africa, Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia, Turkey and others, eventually the US might find its role changing from the one Super-power to one of two, three, four, or five large powers.

The truth seems that the bloated figure of a Bin Laden has come and mostly gone. The idea that an extremist Caliphate is in the making is being undone now by the evidence that countries like Indonesia, Turkey, now even Saudi Arabia, and the Muslim population of India, the bloc of Central Asia countries, and in many ways even the changing Iraq and Afghanistan, are much less inclined to line up behind centralized Islamic militancy, even if propelled by nationalistic feelings, may point to the fact that much of the post-9/11 activities have been misplaced, and could have been handled much better had the US taken the path of disengaging itself from the dependence on the addiction to oil.

Clearly 9/15 was not the date of the start of the financial reduction of the stature of the US, but if a single date is needed by history to point at as the moment the changes in the global structure became evident, it will be 9/15 2008 rather then 9/11 2011.

In context of what we said above, I would like to point out an April 2010 published volume of which we heard from Dr. Amelia Santos-Paulino at a presentation at the UNU in New York. The book is titled – “Southern Engines of Global Growth.”

The book is a result of a UN University – WIDER research project and was published by the Oxford University Press and edited by Amelia U. Santos-Paulino and Guanghua Wan, and it deals with the spectacular performance of the Asian Giants – China and India and the further contributions of Brazil and South Africa under a CIBS hat.

In her presentation, and in the Q&A part, we also heard of other countries lined up to join this new emerging South, and the book and presentation will be subject of a further posting of ours. In this posting, all what I was trying to say is that these changes in the US and Global Economy, with all due respect to the people that died on 9/11 – their families and the whole grieving world – it is these changes in the economy following the emergence of China as the second Superpower, and further large economic powers from among the emerging South, this was rather the defining moment of real global change.

—————-

Regarding the spread of the economic crisis – We learned that one of the UAE’s leading businessmen, Khalaf Al Habtoor, has said he doesn’t think the collapse of US financial services giant Lehman Brothers marked a turning point in the Gulf’s financial fortunes. Instead Al Habtoor, founder and chairman of the UAE-based conglomerate Al Habtoor Group, said the region was let down by poor management in the wake of years of unprecedented growth.

“I don’t think Lehman Brothers affected the Gulf,” he told Arabian Business in an interview. “Unfortunately several organisations in the GCC and the Arab world were not well structured – we were fragile already,” he continued.

We find these comments not to be in any contradiction to what we said above – they suggest rather that the Gulf State, and others,  effectively committed the same transgressions of going over-board, as the US and Lehman Brothers.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

August 19, 2010, before the UN started its meetings, the Asia Society in New York opened the discussion on the Pakistan Flood response by diving right to the bottom truth – the latest mega-disasters have one common cause – human induced climate change. It was Financier George Soros who injected the topic and the media was allowed by Ambassador Holbrooke to follow up. See what you can do when you go outside the UN!

Ambassador Dr. Richard C. Holbrooke, former Chairman of the Board of the Asia Society, and now US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan,  chaired the 8:30 am event at his New York home – the Asia Society – on the day when for 3:00 pm the UN General Assembly scheduled a pledging event for funding Pakistan relief. At the UN, for the US, spoke Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, and I saw on TV  the complete  Asia Society American team sitting in the hall. The team included also Judith A. McHale, US Department of State Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Dr. George Erik Rupp, a theologian, President of the International Rescue Committee and former President of Rice University and Columbia University, and Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America.

The opening speaker after Ambassador Holbrooke was Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and the panel included also USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. Then there was a list of guests that made their comments, followed by questions from the floor and answers from Administrator Dr. Shah and Ambassador Qureshi.

100819_Holbrooke.jpg

enlarge image
L to R: USAID’s Dr. Rajiv Shah, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke. (Else Ruiz/Asia Society)
Judith A. McHale, a former media head herself ( President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Communications – 1987 to 2006), and now with the US Government, said that information is critical. “We work with the government of Pakistan to provide the critical information on the ground. It is posted on www.State.gov

Among the guests were Financier George Soros, whose Open Society Institute and Soros Foundations work on the ground in Pakistan – he announced that he adds another $5 million to the funds that his foundation will work with in helping directly civil society in Pakistan,  Christopher MacCormac of the Asian Development Bank, which is leading the effort to assess the flood damage, said much of the economic infrastructure of the area has been destroyed. 2 million ha. of crops were lost and livestock have been devastated, which has taken a large toll on Pakistan farmers. ADB has said that after the immediate contribution of $3 million from the ASia-Pacific Disaster Fund, it would loan Pakistan $2 billion to help the country rebuild, and Pakistan’s rock star turned political activist Salman Ahmad, known as Pakistan’s Bono, or as Holbrooke pointed out, “Bono is the Irish Salman Ahmad,” pointed out a very important topic:

“This is a defining moment in Pakistan,” Ahmad said. “This flood has set back Pakistan in a huge way. Out of 175 million people, 100 million are under 25. Those young people are skeptical, and they feel abandoned by the world. The international community has to win hearts and minds of those 100 million youth in Pakistan.” “If there is a sluggish response the terrorists/extremists win.” He also said that last year he had a concert at the UN to show to the young people in Pakistan that there was hope – he said that he is sure the international community will react positively.

Ambassador Holbrooke said that in the catastrophe there is also an opportunity, that we should not miss –  the people in Pakistan should see that the world is ready to help. He found that these elements of hope in opportunity were missing in the day’s article in The New York Times.

For the US the strategic implications are clear. The US pulled out helicopters from the military effort in order to help in the rescue effort. Will the Taliban take advantage of this? A US transport ship with materials arrived to Karachi, and Japan will now also send helicopters to help in the rescue effort.

The meeting was summarized by The Asia Society and there is also the full tape at –

 asiasociety.org/policy-politics/e…

Further, Ms. Nafis Sadik from the UN, now a Trustee Emeritus of the Asia Society and Chair of the Pakistan Foundation at the Asia Society called for Ramadan giving to the Foundation. Other Pakistan-Americans spoke and told of their own efforts to raise funds for the Pakistan relief program as the State’s capacity to meet the challenge has been overstretched. Today Pakistan , one fifth of its territory submerged, 68 million of its people affected, and 1,600 people dead, crops, animal stock, and infrastructure devastated – Pakistan is calling – humanity is calling they said. We saw a video proving every point. The Pakistan-American Foundation was inspired by Hilary Clinton’s “Pakistani Peacebuilders.”

Oxfam America was joined by “Save the Chidren” NGO  representative Gorel Bogarde said the obvious – what children most need is food, clean drinking water and shelter. She is most concerned for the moment about the outbreak of water-bourne diseases, such as cholera.

We will not repeat here further figures of loss and the size of the calamity. We assume that these are known by our readers by now – we want rather to point out the blunt comments that resulted from the statement by Mr. Soros who linked what happens to our lack of readiness to do something about the human-made climate change. Pakistan is the biggest of the recent disasters he said and we must deal with the root causes he continued. CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE ROOT CAUSE FOR ALL THESE RECENT DISASTERS. Mr. Soros spoke of the coincidence of the Himalaya glaciers melting and the monsoons getting stronger at the same time.

He also said “there is a certain amount of fatigue in responding to these disasters… [but] we have to come to terms with the fact that they are in fact connected, that there is climate change.”

At the Q & A part of the program, I asked the last question that was intended to bring the attention back to what Mr. Soros said.
My question was something like – I am with Sustainable Development Media and I wonder what Pakistan thinks about Mr. Soros’ statement about climate change – the reason being that the present calamity will repeat itself, so how does one do reconstruction work that makes sense?

Ambassador Holbrooke said Thank You and addressed the question first to Mr. Rajiv Shah.

When asked if there was a connection between the floods and climate change, USAID’s Shah said “while it’s very hard to attribute any single event to what we’re doing to our global environment it is very clear that that trend is leading to a greater number of large hurricanes, a greater number of floods, hotter and dryer conditions in places that are dependent on weather and rainfall for agriculture, and it’s making it very difficult for the least resilient, the most lower income communities of the world to survive.”

We heard from Mr. Christopher MacCormac that after the Earth Quake of 2005 the rebuilding of houses was done according to higher standards – so what we need here in the response to the present calamity is also to build better – but he did not specify, neither did Mr. Holbrooke. This, with the understanding that the increased monsoon floods,  joined with the melting of the Himalaya Glaciers, is indeed not a one time shot – but the beginning of a trend – leaves us with very bad premonitions about the future of Pakistan and other low lying lands of the region. This  has  clearly left me thinking about what means building better? Are we going to take into account these new phenomena resulting from global use of fossil fuels when going from the immediate reaction to the suffering from the floods to the longer range rebuilding stage? This is clearly an area that will be written up much more in the foreseeable future.

Ambassador Qurashi was asked by Mr. Holbrooke to react to the climate change implications. Are there additional run-off from the Himalayas?

The answer included: The Glaciers melt and what we have in Pakistan are Monsoon water plus glacier melts combined. We have above normal moisture.

He also said that “There are local NGOs in Pakistan that help push back the extremists and you have shown the world that you are a helping Nation.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from: K N Vajpai (Climate Himalaya Initiative) <knvajpai@gmail.com>

August 19, 2010

Climate Change Updates from Himalayan Mountains on Various Climate Change Issues.

For your information, the Climate Himalaya Initiative www.climatehimalaya.net has a dedicated news portal chimalaya.org/ , that updates the Climate Change related news on regular basis from Himalayan Mountains.

Those interested in Climate Change related issues and Mountains, can get regular updates by subscribing or becoming member.

The ongoing issues includes; Pakistan Floods, Leh Cloud Burst, Climate Change Modeling, Domestic Actions by countries, Actions by Asian countries, Cancun Climate Summit, Criticism of IPCC, etc…..!

There are options for subscription, membership, tweeting, facebook, among others….!

You can visit and explore at www.climatehimalaya.net

from – K N Vajpai
Convener and Theme Leader

Climate Himalaya Initiative
www.climatehimalaya.net
chimalaya.org
C/O Prakriti a mountain environment group
P.O. Silli, Agastyamuni, Rudraprayag
Uttarakhand, India PIN 246421
info@climatehimalaya.net
knvajpai@prakriti-india.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The ordeal in Pakistan reminded us of the –

Climate Himalaya Initiative.

An Initiative Towards Sustainable Development in Himalayan Mountains.
{This is linked to the reality of melting glaciers and increased severity of monsoon rains. Understanding the underlying causes of the present calamity is needed in order to go for long term help to the region. Talking of return to previous lives is not realistic.}

June 2, 2010

Himalayan countries must set aside their differences and  collaborate on science in order to avoid a common water crisis, says a report.

Environmental pressures, including those from climate change, could have unprecedented effects on the livelihoods of millions of people in the Hindu-Kush Himalaya region, according to the study, published by the UK-based Humanitarian Futures Programme, the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, and China Dialogue. Yet scientific research is either non-existent or, where it exists, is not shared beyond a country’s borders, said the report, ‘The Waters of the Third Pole: Sources of Threat, Sources of Survival’. And scientists are failing to communicate what they do know to the public and policymakers, it added.

The Hindu-Kush Himalaya region provides water for one fifth of the world’s population including countries stretching from Pakistan to Myanmar. “This region is a black hole for data,” said Isabelle Hilton, editor of China Dialogue and a contributor to the report.

“Managing this water requires knowledge and cooperation,” she said at the launch of the report last week (19 May) in the United Kingdom. But the region “lacks the institutions and in some cases the political will to address issues cooperatively”. History, diverse languages and cultures, and military conflicts are behind the lack of a concerted effort to study the waters, she said, and now “a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach is needed” to catch up. But this is not high on the public agenda, she said.

Stephen Edwards, an earth scientist and research manager at the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, called for more high-quality, peer-reviewed data. “We need to understand problems before we know how to manage them,” he said. But science itself is not enough, he added, “scientists have to interact with economists and policymakers — we need proper dialogue”.

Andreas Schild, director general of the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, agreed with the report’s conclusions.”Water is one of the most important resources,” he said. “Traditionally there has been no free exchange of information on water discharge and this is practically still the case today. “It is not just a concern between countries, but even within countries, as between the individual states of India.

“Researchers in all concerned countries are very interested in having cross-border collaboration and exchange of information,” he told  SciDev.Net. “But when it comes to cooperation on concrete issues at the level of government institutions, we face a completely different situation, where agreements with various other partners in the country are required.”If you want to close the knowledge gap here in the Himalayas then you have to strengthen the institutions [there].”

Otherwise, short-term foreign development funds mean there is no consistent long-term data and continuity in research by the institutions based in the region, said Schild. But he added that European organisations, with “Europe-centric” research methods, must share the blame.

“A lot of research conducted on this region by European universities and other institutions is often not shared. Sometimes we even get the impression that they are only looking for a partner in the South to use as Sherpas.”

Link to full ‘The Waters of the Third Pole: Sources of Threat, Sources of Survival’ report
[2MB]

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

China’s State Capitalism Poses Ethical Challenges.

By Ian Bremmer, Devin T. Stewart

GlobalPost, August 10, 2010

CREDIT: Bert van Dijk (CC).

Earlier this summer, a company owned in part by the Chinese government bought a 5.1 percent stake in the only American-owned provider of enriched uranium for use in civilian nuclear reactors.

The stake is small, but its implications are considerable. The American company, USEC, was involved with the original development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Chinese involvement could raise concerns about national security in Washington, and given China’s opaque form of economic management, the transaction raises other ethical issues around transparency and fairness.

In the long run, however, free market economies like the United States would best serve the cause of individual freedom worldwide by practicing what they preach. They should keep the global flow of money, ideas, and goods open.

As China’s economy grows, its political influence will expand, bringing Beijing into ever-closer contact with the interests of others. As the world’s largest exporter, for example, China will find itself in competition (and sometimes conflict) with a diverse set of multinational companies and governments. Within China, there will be more clashes involving the collision of local rules with foreigners and their business models.

Beijing continues to welcome foreign investment, but recent labor disputes at a Honda Motor factory and a spate of suicides involving workers at Foxconn, a Taiwanese-invested Chinese company that manufactures the Apple iPhone, underline the clash of political and commercial cultures. Sometimes these confrontations produce compromise or even a convergence of standards. At other times, open conflict is the likelier scenario.

China is the world’s leading practitioner of state capitalism, a system in which governments use state-owned companies and investment vehicles to dominate market activity. The primary difference between this form of capitalism and the Western, more market-driven variety, is that decisions on how assets should be valued and resources allocated are made by political officials (not market forces) with political goals in mind.

In China, robust growth is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t have second-order effects that undermine the leadership’s monopoly hold on political power. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other governments practice various forms of this system, but China gives state capitalism its global significance.

The political agenda behind China’s state capitalist development is a complicated one. On the one hand, the financial crisis and global market meltdown have bolstered the arguments of those within the Chinese leadership who warn that reliance for economic growth on exports to Europe, America, and Japan exposes China to Western market volatility. In response, Beijing will gradually work to increase domestic demand for Chinese products and to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign consumers. On the other hand, the leadership knows that Chinese companies must adopt Western working standards and management techniques if labor unrest is to be contained.

The cases of Honda and Foxconn, which employs some 800,000 people in China, underline a remarkable trend: Chinese workers are demanding and receiving better working conditions and wages. For example, the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress may give workers the officially sanctioned right to strike. This marks a positive development in the interaction of state capitalist and market-driven economics, but continued progress won’t come easy. The Chinese leadership will respect labor rights when necessary and ignore them when possible.

The financial crisis and BP’s oil spill remind us that excessive focus on near-term profits continue to plague market-driven capitalism. Yet, state capitalism poses profound ethical challenges of its own.

First, when state-owned companies go abroad in search of new contracts, they are not bound by shareholder opinion or reputational risk. As a result, they can do business in places and with people that their private-sector rivals cannot—and with a high degree of secrecy.

There are familiar examples like Iran, Sudan, and Myanmar. In Guinea last year, just 15 days after soldiers shot down 157 pro-democracy demonstrators, an unnamed Chinese company signed a $7 billion mining contract with the Guinean government. Multinational companies can no longer afford such transactions.

In addition, within free market democracies, courts exist to safeguard the rights of individuals and companies. In state capitalist countries, they exist to legitimize the state’s hold on political power. As a result, when the White House pressures BP to pay damages, the company knows it will have its day in court. In China, a foreign company is unlikely to win a ruling against the government.

In the United States, companies “lawyer up.” In China, they are “Googled out.”

Take Google, for example. When Google executives decided that cyber-attacks on its Gmail accounts from inside China could no longer be tolerated, they decided on open confrontation with China’s government over censorship issues. Google remains a relatively popular brand with Chinese internet users, but there were several reasons why Beijing would rather force Google out than compromise with it.

First, there are other search engine firms that do not challenge the leadership’s right to restrict the flow of information. Second, one of those firms is Baidu, a Chinese company with friends in government and a much larger Chinese market share than Google. The message sent to Google was clear: Lawyer up if you want to, but you have started a war you cannot win.

The clash of market-driven and state-driven capitalism poses other questions. Should U.S. lawmakers allow a company or investment fund owned by a foreign government to own significant stakes in a U.S. financial firm or oil company?

On the one hand, the political firestorm that erupted in Washington when China National Offshore Oil Corporation tried to buy U.S.-owned Unocal in 2005 generated plenty of friction in U.S.-Chinese relations and did lasting damage to America’s reputation as a destination for foreign investment.

Yet, there are good reasons to scrutinize these kinds of proposals. State-owned companies and sovereign wealth funds based in authoritarian countries are often as opaque as their governments. Is it not reasonable to wonder how such a company or fund will manage its new assets before approving a sale with potential security implications?

On the other hand, if relatively free market countries are to compete successfully with state capitalist systems, it won’t be by trying to beat them at their own protectionist game.

The unprecedented cross-border flows of ideas, information, people, money, goods, and services have already done a lot of good for a lot of people. If allowed to develop further, they will eventually open state capitalist systems to a degree of free market competition that will force them to change.

Not all trades are good ones. Some foreign investment might legitimately compromise U.S. national security. But if the goal is to shift power and wealth from authoritarian governments into the hands of private citizens, the game must be played on free market terms.

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Ian Bremmer is president of Eurasia Group and author of The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? Devin Stewart is program director and senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, where Bremmer is a trustee.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Be’chol Lashon is the Hebrew for “In Every Tongue” and it advocates for the Growth & Diversity of the Jewish People. Today Jews come indeed in every color and every stripes and some leaders do the outreach to embrace them all. Just look at Dr. Lewis Gordon of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Mr. Romiel Daniel of Queens, New York, The head of Jews of India in our region, Dr. Ephraim Isaac, of the institute for Semitic Studies. They do not look like your stereotype Jew. I met them and was impressed – the latter actually for the first time as we both visited Addis Ababa at the time of the delayed Ethiopian Millennium. Then Rabbi Hailu Paris with his communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx, Ethiopian born and graduae of Yeshiva University, and his Assistant Monica Wiggan (www.blackjews.org/Essays/RabbiParisEthiopianTrip.html), and Rabbi Gershom Sizomu of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda from whom I got a very distinctive kippah with the menorah – of the old temple worked in. Then Dr. Rabson Wuriga of the Hamisi Lemba clan in South Africa and Zimbabwe and so on – in Nigeria, in Peru, in India, in China.

And who has not heard by now of the present White House Rabbi – Cappers Funnye – the cousin of Michelle Obama – and associate director of Bechol Lashon and spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B’nei Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of Chicago?

The New York regional director of DiverseJews.org is Lacey Schwartz who is also National Outreach Director of BecholLashon.org, assisted by Collier Meyerson and to top it all Davi Cheng, Director of the Los Angeles region is Jewish, Chinese, and Lesbian. As I said it is all a new image of the Jew.

Last night, at the Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard St., NYC there was a Shemspeed Summer Music Festival event.

The two further upcoming events in New York will be on:

Monday, August 2nd – the Shemspeed Hip Hop Fest at Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleeker Street NYC Featuring Tes Uno, Ted King & guest Geng Grizlee and others with CD Release parties for “A Tribe Called Tes” and “Move On.”

Thursday, August 5th – Shemspeed Jewish Punk Fest at Pianos, 158 Ludlow Street, NYC Featuring Moshiach Oil & The Groggers.

info on each event above and at shemspeed.com/fest

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Mona Eltahawy
A Jewish Woman Living in Ethiopia


Rethinking How U.S. Jews Fund Communities Around the World.

The Forward
Published: May 27, 2010

For more than half a century, North America’s Jewish federation system has divided its overseas allocations between the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Joint Distribution Committee. The Jewish Agency has been dedicated to building up Israel and encouraging aliyah, while the Joint has focused on aiding Jewish communities in need around the globe.

Today, both agencies are working to assert their continued relevance in a changing Jewish world. With aliyah slowing, the Jewish Agency is moving toward embracing a new agenda: promoting the concept of Jewish peoplehood. The JDC, meanwhile, has sought to claim a larger share of the communal pie, which had long been split 75%-25% in the Jewish Agency’s favor.

After a recent round of sniping over the funding issue, the two sides are now stepping back from their public confrontation and recommitting to negotiations over the future of the collective funding arrangement. Underlying this fight, however, is a more fundamental tension over communal funding priorities: Should overseas aid be focused on helping needy Jews and assisting communities that have few resources of their own, or should it be used to bolster Jewish identity?

With this debate raging, the Forward asked a diverse group of Jewish thinkers and communal activists from around the world to weigh in and address the following question: How should North America’s Jewish community be thinking about its priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad?

New Century, New Priorities

By Yossi Beilin

During the 20th century, the challenges facing world Jewry were the following: rescue of Jews who encountered existential danger, assistance to Israel, helping with the absorption of those who immigrated to new countries and opening the gates for those who were denied the right to emigrate. In the 21st century, ensuring Jewish continuity is the greatest challenge facing the Jewish people.

Yet too often Jewish organizations in the United States and elsewhere remain focused on the challenges of the previous century. (Indeed, Jewish groups were not very receptive when I first proposed the idea for Birthright Israel 17 years ago.)

Ensuring the existence of Jewish life (religious and secular) throughout the world via Jewish education, encounters between young Israeli and Diaspora Jews, creating a virtual Jewish community using new technologies — these must be at the top of the global Jewish agenda. This requires American Jewish philanthropy and leadership, which in turn requires discerning between past and present priorities.

Yossi Beilin, a former justice minister of Israel, is president of the international consulting firm Beilink.

Reviving Polish Jewry

By Konstanty Gebert

The rebirth of Central European Jewish communities after 1989, though numerically not very impressive, remains significant for moral and historical reasons. It is also crucial for Jewish self-understanding. An enormous proportion of American Jews can trace their origins to what used to be Poland alone. This is where much of Diaspora history happened.

Alongside the courage and determination of local Jews, the far-sighted support of several American Jewish organizations and philanthropies made this rebirth possible. In Poland the Joint Distribution Committee, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and the Taube Foundation played key roles. Their support has translated not only into Jewish schools and festivals in places once believed to be Jewish-ly dead, but also in most cases into changed relations between local Jewish communities and their fellow citizens as well as clear support for Israel on the part of these countries’ governments.

Yet for all this progress, Central European Jewish communities might never become self-financing. The support given them by American Jewry remains a vital Jewish interest. It must be strengthened.

Konstanty Gebert, a former underground journalist, is a columnist at the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza and founder of the Polish-language Jewish monthly Midrasz.

What We Give Ourselves

By Lisa Leff

More than any Jewish community in history, postwar American Jews have used our prosperity to help Jewish communities around the world. On one level, the greatest beneficiaries of this support have been Jews abroad. But we should also recognize that these philanthropic efforts have shaped our communal values and identity.

Through our international aid, we have dedicated ourselves to universalist and cosmopolitan ideas like tikkun olam and solidarity across borders. In helping disadvantaged and oppressed Jews abroad, we have also deepened our community’s commitments to democracy, human rights and economic justice for all. It’s only natural that Jewish groups pitch in on Haitian earthquake relief and advocate on behalf of oppressed people of all backgrounds.

Whatever the outcome of the federations’ deliberations over how to divide allocations between the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, it is imperative that American Jewry maintain its commitment to our values through supporting international philanthropy.

Lisa Leff is an associate professor of history at American University and the author of “Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France” (Stanford University Press, 2006).

Putting Identity First

By Jonathan S. Tobin

The choices we face are not between good causes and bad or even indifferent ones but between vital Jewish obligations. But since the decline in giving to Jewish causes means that we must make tough decisions, programs that reinforce Jewish identity and support Zionism both in the Diaspora and in Israel must be accorded a higher priority.

At this point in our history, with assimilation thinning the ranks of Diaspora Jewry and with continuity problems arising even in Israel, the need to instill a sense of membership in the Jewish people is an imperative that cannot be pushed aside. Under the current circumstances, absent an effort that will make Jewish and Zionist education the keynote of our communal life, the notion that Jewish philanthropies or support for Israel can be adequately sustained in the future is simply a fantasy.

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Commentary magazine.

Collective Responsibility

By Richard Wexler

One cannot have a meaningful discussion about framing the national Jewish community’s priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad without first asking the question: Is there actually a collective “North American Jewish community” today?

Collective responsibility has been and remains the foundation upon which the federation system and, therefore, the national Jewish community are built. It is what distinguishes the federations from all other charities. It is embodied in our participation in the adventure of building Israel and in meeting overseas needs through the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, in the dues that federations pay to the Jewish Federations of North America and so much more. But today, federations “bowl alone.”

Collective responsibility gives meaning to kol Yisrael arevim zeh l’zeh — all Jews are responsible for one another. Until federations understand once again that Jewish needs extend beyond the borders of any one community, we cannot have a meaningful priority-setting process for funding Jewish needs abroad.

Richard Wexler is a former chairman of the United Israel Appeal.

Originally published here: www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/rethinking-how-u-s-jews-fund-communities-around-the-world-1.292527

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Avi Rosenblum
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu and Be’chol Lashon director Diane Tobin at the opening of the Health Center.


Gary Tobin’s Legacy Lives on in New Ugandan Health Center

By Amanda Pazornik

The J Weekly
Published: July 22, 2010

On the day of the grand opening of the Tobin Health Center in Mbale, Uganda, health professionals were already hard at work treating patients inside.

The center was open for business, but that didn’t slow down the lively June 18 celebration, which featured song and dance performances and speakers. About 3,000 people gathered at the center’s grounds to mark the occasion.

Seated under colorful tents was Diane Tobin, director of S.F.-based Be’chol Lashon and wife of the late Gary Tobin, for whom the center is named, along with three of their children, Aryeh, Mia and Jonah.

“Everyone was amazing, friendly and so generous of spirit,” said Tobin, who was visiting Uganda and its Abayudaya Jewish community for the first time. “They were so appreciative of having the center and demonstrated a tremendous willingness to work together. It’s a great model for the rest of the world.”

Andrew Esensten, Be’chol Lashon program coordinator, and Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jews and the first chief rabbi of Uganda, joined them, in addition to government and medical officials, and representatives from Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities.

The Tobin Health Center is named for Gary Tobin, the founder of the S.F.-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research, of which Be’chol Lashon (“In Every Tongue”) is an initiative. Tobin died one year ago after a long battle with cancer. He was 59.

“He really has left a legacy,” said Debra Weinberg of Baltimore, who attended the opening with her husband, Joe, and their 14-year-old son, Ben. The couple also helped fund the project. “I think he would feel deeply comforted to know it’s improving the lives of people.”

The 4,000-square-foot facility is a major component of the ongoing Abayudaya Community Health and Development Project undertaken by the Abayudaya Executive Council and Be’chol Lashon, a nonprofit that reaches out to Jews of color and helps educate the mainstream community about Jewish diversity.

It cost approximately $250,000 to erect the two-story center, using donations collected over five years. While patients pay for their services, continuous fundraising is a necessity, Tobin said.

Construction began in July 2009, enabling more than 50 Africans from diverse ethnic backgrounds to earn a living.

Stars of David are featured in the window grids, ceilings and floors of the health center, a “lovely expression of their Judaism,” Tobin said. Private rooms make up most of the top floor, with patient wards on the ground floor. A mezuzah is affixed to every door.

A large portrait of Gary Tobin hangs in the lobby.

“It’s so heartwarming,” Diane Tobin said of the visual tribute. “Gary would be so honored to have this health center in the middle of Africa named after him.”

Prior to the opening of the Tobin Health Center, the nearest medical facility to the Abayudaya Jews was Mbale Hospital, an overcrowded and understaffed institution not accessible to all the residents of the region. Tobin said there are other clinics in the area, but they lack the preventive health care measures necessary to respond to the community’s needs.

The Tobin Health Center is licensed by the Ministry of Health and is certified to operate a pharmacy and laboratory. It serves all who seek basic medical care in the region, providing life-saving health services and simultaneously creating jobs.

“The goal is to raise the standard of medical care,” Tobin said.

In addition, rental units on the bottom and top floors of the center will provide more job opportunities for locals. The first business recently opened — a hardware store that sells bags of cement, plumbing equipment and sheet metal — with a beauty salon and video rental outlet in the works.

The center “is rewarding on a number of levels,” said Steven Edwards of Laguna Beach, who, along with his wife, Jill, has been involved with the Abayudaya for six years. “The most obvious is to see this beautiful, clean building. On top of that, local dignitaries noted how lucky Mbale is to have the Jewish community and how much they contribute to the larger community by bringing jobs.”

The Abayudaya Jews comprise a growing, 100-year-old community of more than 1,000 Jews living among 10,000 Christians and Muslims. They live in scattered villages in the rolling, green hills of eastern Uganda. The largest Abayudaya village, Nabagoye, is near Mbale, the seventh-largest city in Uganda and the location of the center.

Research conducted by Be’chol Lashon in 2006 showed that contaminated water and malaria-carrying mosquitoes pose the biggest health risks to the community. A year later, the organization launched the Abayudaya Community Health and Development Project with the drilling of the first well in Nabagoye.

Since then, nearly 1,000 mosquito nets have been purchased and distributed throughout the community.

“Our goal is to respond to the needs of communities,” Tobin said. “If there are other communities that need health centers, we will be there.”

Originally published here: www.jweekly.com/article/full/58727/s.f.-researchers-legacy-lives-on-in-new-ugandan-health-center/

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Power Plant Attacked in Caucasus

Yevgeny Kayudin/Reuters

The damaged turbine hall of Baksanskaya hydroelectric power station after it was attacked by militants Russia’s restive North Caucasus region on Wednesday.

By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: July 21, 2010

MOSCOW — Militants attacked a hydroelectric power plant in Russia’s restive North Caucasus region on Wednesday, killing two guards before setting off several bombs that forced the facility to be shut down, Russian investigators said.

Between three and five armed men raided the plant, a small station in the southern Russian region of Kabardino-Balkaria, around 5:30 a.m. local time, the investigators said. They said the attackers shot the two guards, then broke into the engine room of the plant, the Baksanskaya station.

“Unknown men in masks broke into the power plant, broke down a closed door, then tied up the employees,” Valery Shigenov, the plant’s director, told Russian television. Two of the employees were injured and had to be hospitalized.

The militants then set and detonated at least four bombs, which destroyed three generators, but failed to cause a breach in the dam, officials said. A fire caused by the explosions had been extinguished by midday, and no power failures were reported in the region.

Russian forces have for years been struggling to quash a simmering Muslim insurgency in the region, which includes Chechnya.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

87 states join forces to fight antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

21 July 2010
The cooperation agreement between the ITF and the ODIHR gives an enormous boost to Holocaust remembrance and the fight against antisemitism.


www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/MFA+Spokesman/2010/Cooperation_agreement_signed_Holocaust_remembrancae_fight_against_antisemitism_21-Jul-2010.htm

This morning (21 July 2010), a cooperation agreement between the ITF (Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research) and the ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) was signed at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, in the presence of Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon.

The ODIHR – Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – is an operative branch of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).

This year, Israel was chosen for the first time to head the ITF. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an agreement was signed today that boosts the strength of the forces in the global arena fighting against antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

The agreement will bring about cooperation among 87 countries.

ITF Chairman Dan Tichon – an Israeli – and ODIHR Director Janez Lenarcic – a Slovenian – signed the memorandum of understanding. DFM Ayalon welcomed the signing of the agreement and said that it gives an enormous boost to the fight against the delegitimization of Israel and antisemitism in the world, bringing 87 states for the first time into cooperation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has acted, and will continue to act, against these manifestations of hate and will promote any initiative whose purpose is to eliminate them. Ayalon added that there are elements that deny the Holocaust and are preparing the next one. We must preserve the memory of the Holocaust so that similar horrors and hatred will never be repeated and the world will become a safer place.

The ITF was founded about ten years ago at the initiative of the Swedish government. Israel is heading the task force this year, with Mr. Dan Tichon, past Speaker of the Knesset, serving as the chairman and Ambassador Yakov Rozen as the political coordinator. The ITF, which has as its purpose the preservation of Holocaust remembrance through education, research and memorial sites, currently has 27 members, mostly European, and sees the cooperation agreement as very important.

The ODIHR, which has 57 members, deals with educational programs and follows up on instances of xenophobic, primarily antisemitic, hatred. For this reason, the cooperation agreement is likely to help promote Holocaust remembrance, including the uniqueness of the Holocaust, and the fight against antisemitism.

Ambassador Janez Lenarcic is a senior diplomat who in the past was advisor to the prime minister of Slovenia.

The ODIHR joins six other organizations belonging to the Task Force whose representatives serve as observers: the UN, DPI, UNESCO, the EU, FRA, and the European Council.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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BIDR Homepage | Albert Katz International School of Desert Studies | Drylands, Deserts and Desertification 2010
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Drylands, Deserts and Desertification:The Route to Restoration.


The Third International Conference on
Drylands, Deserts and Desertification:
The Route to Restoration
November 8-11, 2010
Sede Boqer Campus, Israel


www.desertification.bgu.ac.il



Drylands, Deserts and Desertification: The Route to Restoration

The Third International Conference on
Drylands, Deserts and Desertification:
The Route to Restoration.
———————-
DDD  2010 Poster
November 8-11, 2010
Sede Boqer Campus, Israel
Please note that we offer some great pre & post conference tours!
5-7 Nov – pre conference tours
11-14 Nov – post conference tours

Please note that: Registration, Abstract Submission and Grant Application are all conducted Online.

NEW!! Abstract Submission (for lectures) extended to July 20

“Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.” (Leviticus 25:19)

Overview:

The International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (DDD) has emerged as an important global gathering of scientists, field workers, industry, government, NGO and international aid agency officials from over 50 countries. The conference brings together experts, officials and lay people concerned about land degradation and development. The presentations consider practical solutions for sustainable and prosperous livelihoods in the drylands. The rich variety of perspectives creates a stimulating, interdisciplinary and compelling meeting.

The program combines plenary lectures and panels, parallel sessions, workshops, field trips and social events. The four day conference provides an opportunity for a diverse group of experts, policy makers and land managers to consider a range of theoretical and practical issues associated with combating desertification and living sustainably in the drylands.

The thematic focus of the 3rd conference will consider the restoration of degraded drylands. This “positive” orientation embraces the notion that trend need not be destiny, and that most desertified lands, ecosystems and economies can at least rehabilitated. Local case studies will be highlighted along side of success stories from around the world with an emphasis on quantitative indicators of progress. In addition additional sessions will be held considering a broad range of topics associated with sustainable living in the drylands and desertification.

Please check the www.desertification.bgu.ac.il website periodically.
Up-to-date information on deadlines and procedures will be posted as it becomes available.
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Contact Information

Ms. Dorit Korine, Conference Coordinator
Drylands, Deserts & Desertification Conference
The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Sede Boqer Campus
84990 Midreshet Ben Gurion, ISRAEL

Tel: +972 (8) 659 6781
Fax: +972 (8) 659 6772
Email: desertification@bgu.ac.il

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from U.S. Department of State

Sat, 03 Jul 2010 18:29:32 -0500

“Civil Society: Supporting Democracy in the 21st Century,” at the Community of Democracies.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Slowacki Theater
Krakow, Poland
July 3, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted to be here with all of you. And I thank my friend, Foreign Minister Sikorski, for hosting us here in this absolutely magnificent setting, and for an excellent speech that so well summarized what the agenda for all of us who are members of the Community of Democracies should be.
The idea of bringing together free nations to strengthen democratic norms and institutions began as a joint venture between one of Radek’s predecessors and one of mine: Minister Geremek and Madeleine Albright. And they were visionaries 10 years ago. And it was initially a joint American-Polish enterprise. And I cannot think of a better place for us to mark this occasion than right here in Krakow. Thank you, Madeleine, and thanks to the memory of Minister Geremek.
(Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think you heard from Foreign Minister Sikorski some of the reasons why Poland is an example of what democracies can accomplish. After four decades of privation, stagnation, and fear under Communism, freedom dawned. And it was not only the personal freedoms that people were once again able to claim for their own, but Poland’s per capital GDP today is nine times what it was in 1990. And in the middle of a deep, global recession, the Polish economy has continued to expand.
By any measure, Poland is stronger politically, as well. We all mourned with Poland in April when a plane crash claimed the lives of Poland’s president, the first lady, and many other national officials. It was one of the greatest single losses of leadership suffered by any country in modern history. But it is a tribute to Poland’s political evolution that, in the aftermath of that accident, the country’s institutions never faltered. And tomorrow polls will move forward with selecting a president through free and fair elections.
Now, I would argue that this progress was neither accidental nor inevitable. It came about through a generation of work to improve governance, grow the private sector, and strengthen civil society. These three essential elements of a free nation — representative government, a well-functioning market, and civil society — work like three legs of a stool. They lift and support nations as they reach for higher standards of progress and prosperity.
Now, I would be the first to admit that no democracy is perfect. In fact, our founders were smart enough to enshrine in our founding documents the idea that we had to keep moving toward a more perfect union. Because, after all, democracies rely on the wisdom and judgment of flawed human beings. But real democracies recognize the necessity of each side of that three-legged stool. And democracies that strengthen these three segments of society can deliver extraordinary results for their people.
Today I would like to focus on one leg of that stool: civil society. Now, markets and politics usually receive more attention. But civil society is every bit as important. And it undergirds both democratic governance and broad-based prosperity. Poland actually is a case study in how a vibrant civil society can produce progress. The heroes of the solidarity movement, people like Geremek and Lech Walesa and Adam Michnik, and millions of others laid the foundation for the Poland we see today. They knew that the Polish people desired and deserved more from their country. And they transformed that knowledge into one of history’s greatest movements for positive change.
Now, not every nation has a civil society movement on the scale of Solidarity. But most countries do have a collection of activists, organizations, congregations, writers, and reporters that work through peaceful means to encourage governments to do better, to do better by their own people. Not all of these organizations or individuals are equally effective, of course. And they do represent a broad range of opinions. And, having been both in an NGO and led NGOs and been in government, I know that it’s sometimes tough to deal with NGOs when you are in the government.

But it doesn’t matter whether the goal is better laws or lower crime or cleaner air or social justice or consumer protection or entrepreneurship and innovation, societies move forward when the citizens that make up these groups are empowered to transform common interests into common actions that serve the common good.

As we meet here on the eve of our American Fourth of July celebration, the day when we commemorate our independence, I want to say a word about why the issue of civil society is so important to Americans. Our independence was a product of our civil society. Our civil society was pre-political. And it was only through debate, discussion, and civic activism that the United States of America came into being. We were a people before we were a nation. And civil society not only helped create our nation, it helped sustain and power our nation into the future. It was representatives of civil society who were the first to recognize that the American colonies could not continue without democratic governance. And after we won our independence, it was activists who helped establish our democracy. And they quickly recognized that they were a part of a broader struggle for human rights, human dignity, human progress.

Civil society has played an essential role in identifying and eradicating the injustices that have, throughout our history, separated our nation from the principles on which it was founded. It was civil society, after all, that gave us the abolitionists who fought the evils of slavery, the suffragettes who campaigned for women’s rights, the freedom marchers who demanded racial equality, the unions that championed the rights of labor, the conservationists who worked to protect our planet and climate.

I did begin my professional life in civil society. The NGO I worked for, the Children’s Defense Fund, helped expand educational opportunities for poor children and children with disabilities, and tried to address the challenges faced by young people in prison.

Now, I would be the first to say that our work did not transform our nation or remake our government overnight. But when that kind of activism is multiplied across an entire country through the work of hundreds, even thousands of NGOs, it does produce real and lasting positive change. So a commitment to strengthening civil society has been one of my constants throughout my public career as First Lady, Senator, and now Secretary of State. I was able to work with Slovakian NGOs that stood up to and ultimately helped bring down an authoritarian government. I have seen civil society groups in India bring the benefits of economic empowerment to the most marginalized women in that society. I have watched in wonder as a small group of women activists in South Africa begin with nothing and went on to build a community of 50,000 homes.

President Obama shares this commitment. In his case, it led him to become a community organizer in Chicago. Both of us joined in the work of civil society because we believe that when citizens nudge leaders in the right direction, our country grows stronger. The greatness of the United States depends on our willingness to seek out and set right the areas where we fall short. For us and for every country, civil society is essential to political and economic progress. Even in the most challenging environments, civil society can help improve lives and empower citizens.

In fact, I want to recognize two women activists who are with us today from Afghanistan and Iran. If Faiza Babakan and Afifa Azim would stand up, I would just like to thank you for your courage and your willingness to be here.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Now, it may seem to some of us like a very nice, but perhaps not essential presence to have just one woman from each country be here. But I can speak from personal experience that, just as civil society is essential to democracy, women are essential to civil society. And these women speak for so many who have never had a chance to have their voices heard.

So, along with well-functioning markets and responsible, accountable government, progress in the 21st century depends on the ability of individuals to coalesce around shared goals, and harness the power of their convictions. But when governments crack down on the right of citizens to work together, as they have throughout history, societies fall into stagnation and decay.
North Korea, a country that cannot even feed its own people, has banned all civil society. In Cuba and Belarus, as Radek said, civil society operates under extreme pressure. The Government of Iran has turned its back on a rich tradition of civil society, perpetrating human rights abuses against many activists and ordinary citizens who just wanted the right to be heard.
There is also a broader group of countries where the walls are closing in on civic organizations.

Over the last 6 years, 50 governments have issued new restrictions against NGOs, and the list of countries where civil society faces resistance is growing longer. In Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, physical violence directed against individual activists has been used to intimidate and silence entire sectors of civil society. Last year, Ethiopia imposed a series of strict new rules on NGOs. Very few groups have been able to re-register under this new framework, particularly organizations working on sensitive issues like human rights. The Middle East and North Africa are home to a diverse collection of civil society groups. But too many governments in the region still resort to intimidation, questionable legal practices, restrictions on NGO registration, efforts to silence bloggers.

I hope we will see progress on this issue, and especially in Egypt, where that country’s vibrant civil society has often been subjected to government pressure in the form of canceled conferences, harassing phone calls, frequent reminders that the government can close organizations down, even detention and long-term imprisonment and exile.

In Central Asian countries, constitutions actually guarantee the right of association. But governments still place onerous restrictions on NGO activity, often through legislation or stringent registration requirements. Venezuela’s leaders have tried to silence independent voices that seek to hold that government accountable. In Russia, while we welcome President Medvedev’s statements in support of the rule of law, human rights activities and journalists have been targeted for assassination, and virtually none of these crimes have been solved.

And we continue to engage on civil society issues with China, where writer Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year prison sentence because he co-authored a document calling for respect for human rights and democratic reform. Too many governments are seeing civic activists as opponents, rather than partners. And as democracies, we must recognize that this trend is taking place against a broader backdrop.

In the 20th century, crackdowns against civil society frequently occurred under the guise of ideology. Since the demise of Communism, most crackdowns seem to be motivated instead by sheer power politics. But behind these actions, there is an idea, an alternative conception of how societies should be organized. And it is an idea that democracies must challenge. It is a belief that people are subservient to their government, rather than government being subservient to their people.

Now, this idea does not necessarily preclude citizens from forming groups that help their communities or promote their culture, or even support political causes. But it requires these private organizations to seek the state’s approval, and to serve the states and the states’ leaderships’ larger agenda.

Think for a moment about the civil society activists around the world who have recently been harassed, censored, cut off from funding, arrested, prosecuted, even killed. Why did they provoke such persecution?

Some weren’t engaged in political work at all. Some were not trying to change how their countries were governed. Most were simply getting help to people in need, like the Burmese activists imprisoned for organizing relief for victims of Cyclone Nargis. Some of them were exposing problems like corruption that their own governments claim they want to root out. Their offense was not just what they did, but the fact that they did it independently of their government. They were out doing what we would call good deeds, but doing them without permission. That refusal to allow people the chance to organize in support of a cause larger than themselves, but separate from the state, represents an assault on one of our fundamental democratic values.

The idea of pluralism is integral to our understanding of what it means to be a democracy. Democracies recognize that no one entity — no state, no political party, no leader — will ever have all the answers to the challenges we face. And, depending on their circumstances and traditions, people need the latitude to work toward and select their own solutions. Our democracies do not and should not look the same. Governments by the people, for the people, and of the people will look like the people they represent. But we all recognize the reality and importance of these differences. Pluralism flows from these differences. And because crackdowns on NGOs are a direct threat to pluralism, they also endanger democracy.

More than 60 years ago, Winston Churchill came to the United States to warn the world’s democracies of an iron curtain descending across Europe. Today, thankfully, thanks to some of you in this room, that iron curtain has fallen. But we must be wary of the steel vise in which many governments around the world are slowly crushing civil society and the human spirit.
Today, meeting together as a community of democracies, it is our responsibility to address this crisis. Some of the countries engaging in these behaviors still claim to be democracies because they have elections. But, as I have said before, democracy requires far more than an election. It has to be a 365-day-a-year commitment, by government and citizens alike, to live up to the fundamental values of democracy, and accept the responsibilities of self government.

Democracies don’t fear their own people. They recognize that citizens must be free to come together to advocate and agitate, to remind those entrusted with governance that they derive their authority from the governed. Restrictions on these rights only demonstrate the fear of illegitimate rulers, the cowardice of those who deny their citizens the protections they deserve. An attack on civic activism and civil society is an attack on democracy.

Now, sometimes I think that the leaders who are engaging in these actions truly believe they are acting in the best interests of their country. But they begin to inflate their own political interests, the interests of that country, and they begin to believe that they must stay in office by any means necessary, because only they can protect their country from all manner of danger.
Part of what it requires to be a true democracy is to understand that political power must be passed on, and that despite the intensity of elections, once the elections are over, whoever is elected fairly and freely must then try to unify the country, despite the political division.

I ran a very hard race against President Obama. I tried with all my might to beat him. I was not successful. And when he won, much to my surprise, he asked me to join his Administration to serve as Secretary of State. Well, in many countries, I learned as I began traveling, that was a matter of great curiosity. How could I work with someone whom I had tried to deprive of the office that he currently holds? But the answer for both President Obama and I was very simple. We both love our country. Politics is an important part of the lifeblood of a democracy. But governing, changing people’s lives for the better, is the purpose one runs for office.

In the Community of Democracies, we have to begin asking the hard questions, whether countries that follow the example of authoritarian states and participate in this assault on civil society can truly call themselves democracies. And to address this challenge, civil society groups and democratic governments must come together around some common goals. The Community of Democracies is already bringing together governments and civil society organizations, some of whom are represented here. And it is well suited to lead these efforts. I know that the Community of Democracies working group on enabling and protecting civil society is already working to turn this vision into a reality. The United States pledges to work with this community to develop initiatives that support civil society and strengthen governments committed to democracy.

With the leadership and support of countries like Lithuania, Poland, Canada, and Mongolia, I believe that the Community’s 20th anniversary could be a celebration of the expanding strength of civil society, and the true institutionalization of the habits of the heart that undergird democracy. To make that happen, our joint efforts, I believe, should include at least four elements. First, the Community of Democracies should work to establish, as Radek recommended, an objective, independent mechanism for monitoring repressive measures against NGOs.

Second, the United Nations Human Rights Council needs to do more to protect civil society. Freedom of association is the only freedom defined in the United Nations declaration of human rights that does not enjoy specific attention from the UN human rights machinery. That must change.

Third, we will be working with regional and other organizations, such as the OAS, the EU, the OIC, the African Union, the Arab League, others, to do more to defend the freedom of association. Many of these groups are already committed to upholding democratic principles on paper. But we need to make sure words are matched by actions.

And, fourth, we should coordinate our diplomatic pressure. I know that the Community of Democracies working group is focused on developing a rapid response mechanism to address situations where freedom of association comes under attack. Well, that can’t happen soon enough. When NGOs come under threat, we should provide protection where we can, and amplify the voices of activists by meeting with them publicly at home and abroad, and citing their work in what we say and do. We can also provide technical training that will help activists make use of new technologies such as social networks. When possible, we should also work together to provide deserving organizations with financial support for their efforts.

Now, there are some misconceptions around this issue, and I would like to address it. In the United States, as in many other democracies, it is legal and acceptable for private organizations to raise money abroad and receive grants from foreign governments, so long as the activities do not involve specifically banned sources, such as terrorist groups. Civic organizations in our country do not need the approval of the United States Government to receive funds from overseas. And foreign NGOs are active inside the United States. We welcome these groups in the belief that they make our nation stronger and deepen relationships between America and the rest of the world. And it is in that same spirit that the United States provides funding to foreign civil society organizations that are engaged in important work in their own countries. And we will continue this practice, and we would like to do more of it in partnership with other democracies.

As part of that commitment, today I am announcing the creation of a new fund to support the work of embattled NGOs. We hope this fund will be used to provide legal representation, communication technology such as cell phone and Internet access, and other forms of quick support to NGOs that are under siege. The United States will be contributing $2 million to this effort, and we welcome participation and contribution from like-minded countries, as well as private, not-for-profit organizations.
The persecution of civil society activists and organizations, whether they are fighting for justice and law, or clean and open government, or public health, or a safe environment, or honest elections, it’s not just an attack against people we admire, it’s an attack against our own fundamental beliefs. So when we defend these great people, we are defending an idea that has been and will remain essential to the success of every democracy. So the stakes are high for us, not just them.

For the United States, supporting civil society groups is a critical part of our work to advance democracy. But it’s not the only part. Our national security strategy reaffirms that democratic values are a cornerstone of our foreign policy. Over time, as President Obama has said, America’s values have been our best national security asset. I emphasized this point in December and January, when I delivered speeches on human rights and Internet freedom. And it is a guiding principle in every meeting I hold and every country I visit.

My current trip is a good example. I have just come from Ukraine, where I had the opportunity not only to meet with the foreign minister and the president, but with a wonderful group of young, bright Ukrainian students, where I discussed the importance of media freedom, the importance of freedom of assembly, and of human rights. Tonight I will leave for Azerbaijan, where I will meet with youth activists to discuss Internet freedom, and to raise the issue of the two imprisoned bloggers, and to discuss civil liberties. From there I will go to Armenia and Georgia, where I will be similarly raising these issues, and sitting down with leaders from women’s groups and other NGOs. This is what we all have to do, day in and day out around the world.

So, let me return to that three-legged stool. Civil society is important for its own sake. But it also helps prop up and stabilize the other legs of the stool, governments and markets. Without the work of civic activists and pluralistic political discourse, governments grow brittle and may even topple. And without consumer advocates, unions, and social organizations that look out for the needs of societies’ weakest members, markets can run wild and fail to generate broad-based prosperity.

We see all three legs of the stool as vital to progress in the 21st century. So we will continue raising democracy and human rights issues at the highest levels in our contacts with foreign governments, and we will continue promoting economic openness and competition as a means of spreading broad-based prosperity and shoring up representative governments who know they have to deliver results for democracy.

But we also believe that the principles that bring us here together represent humanity’s brightest hope for a better future. As Foreign Minister Geremek wrote in his invitation to the inaugural meeting of the Community of Democracies 10 years ago, “Regardless of the problems inseparably associated with democracy, it is a system which best fulfills the aspirations of individuals, societies, and entire peoples, and most fully satisfies their needs of development, empowerment, and creativity.”
So, ultimately, our work on these issues is about the type of future we want to leave to our children and grandchildren. And anyone who doubts this should look at Poland. The world we live in is more open, more secure, and more prosperous because of individuals like Lech Walesa, Adam Michnik, others who worked through the solidarity movement to improve conditions in their own country, and who stand for freedom and democracy.

I think often about the role of journalists. Journalists are under tremendous pressure. But a journalist like Jerse Tarovich, a son of Krakow, asked tough questions that challenged Poland to do better. And Pope John Paul II, who, as Stalin would have noted, had no battalions, marshaled moral authority that was as strong as any army. We all have inherited that legacy of courage. It is now up to us.

Every Fourth of July Americans affirm their belief that all human beings are created equal, that we are endowed by our creator with unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Today, as a community of democracies, let us make it our mission to secure those rights. We owe it to our forebears, and we owe it to future generations to continue the fight for these ideals.

Thank you all very much.
(Applause.)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

www.unece.org/oes/disc_papers/climat_change.html

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UNECE climate change activities[1]

Table of Contents:

Introduction
Conventions
Vehicle regulations
Energy efficiency in production
Energy-efficient housing
Sustainable forestry
Sustainable biomass
Other related UNECE areas of work

Introduction

Climate change is a human-induced process of global warming, largely resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and fluorocarbons.[2] Countries are under increasing pressure to curb their emissions of these gases and to enhance carbon sinks in a drive to mitigate the effects of climate change. However, combating the threats of human-induced global warming requires more than mitigation; it is equally important to reduce society’s vulnerability to climate change through adaptation, as established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, launched in 2005. Adaptation addresses the impacts of climate change, including climate variability and weather extremes.[3]

The United Nations Secretary-General has put climate change at the top of the United Nations agenda, ensuring that the “United Nations system will continue … to bring to bear the collective strength of all its entities as an integral part of the international community’s response to climate change.”[4] The five regional commissions have assumed an active role in coordinating United Nations support for action on climate change at the regional level through the regional coordination mechanisms mandated by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1998/46 (annex III).[5] The five commissions are seen as conveners to support global, regional and national action on climate change, while coordinating their workplans and implementation efforts with other organizations that have significant mandates in their respective areas.[6]

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is a key driving force in combating climate change in the pan-European region and beyond. The UNECE region comprises 56 member States, spanning the whole European continent, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and also including Israel, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America. The region has a crucial role in contributing to the local and regional success of UNFCCC, as was noted by UNECE member States at the “Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” (Belgrade, 10–12 October 2007).[7] UNECE has spearheaded the region’s efforts to achieve the targets of United Nations Millennium Development Goal 7, especially to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and to reverse the losses of environmental resources.

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Conventions

Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution

The 1979 UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), and its protocols aim to cut emissions of air pollutants, inter alia, sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs). Such pollutants can either directly influence global warming, by affecting the cooling or absorptive characteristics of the atmosphere, or indirectly influence it through, for example, ozone formation. Recent studies have shown important synergies in addressing air pollution control and climate change mitigation and have highlighted the economic and environmental co-benefits that are possible by tackling these issues in an integrated way.

The Convention has 51 Parties and eight protocols, which are all in force. The most recent of these, the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol, is currently under revision. It targets the environmental effects of acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone through emission cuts for SO2, NOx, NMVOCs and ammonia. Such cuts are known to mitigate global warming.

A recent major conference and workshop entitled “Air Pollution and Climate Change: Developing a Framework for Integrated Co-benefit Strategies” was held in September 2008 in Stockholm under the auspices of the Convention and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and in consultation with the UNFCCC secretariat. It brought together policymakers and scientists from all United Nations regions to consider ways to develop and implement integrated programmes for decreasing emissions of both air pollutants and GHGs. The conclusions stressed the importance of using integrated strategies. Of special note was the possible “buying of time” in GHG mitigation through cuts in such air pollutants as black carbon and ozone, and air pollutants with a strong radiative forcing effect, which might be cut more readily than CO2 and achieve some GHG mitigation in the short term. The conference agreed there was a need to strengthen air pollution abatement efforts as well as climate change mitigation to achieve better health and environmental protection. It also noted the significant cost savings of using integrated approaches. The conclusions and recommendations of the workshop will be considered by the Convention’s Executive Body (Meeting of the Parties) in December 2008.

The Convention is using different models and methods to analyse environmental effects and to calculate the necessary emission abatement and related costs. In this way, cost-effective pollution control strategies can achieve the desired environmental targets with the least overall expenditure. Recent use of the Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) integrated assessment model, developed by the Convention’s Centre for Integrated Assessment Modelling, has explored synergies and trade-offs between emissions of air pollutants and GHGs, for current and projected energy use. The model includes both end-of-pipe controls and non-technical measures, such as behavioural changes in traffic or economic instruments.

The Convention’s scientific bodies are also incorporating climate change issues into their programmes of work. The European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP), which monitors and models air quality, is involved in reporting and estimating emissions. Reporting requirements of the Parties have been harmonized with those of UNFCCC. EMEP is also responsible for the integrated assessment modelling work described above. The international programmes of the Working Group on Effects monitor and model environmental and human health effects of air pollution. Increasingly, these need to take account of the links to observed or predicted changes in climatic conditions. They also provide long-term monitoring of data that can identify changes that might be associated with a changing climate.

Discussions in the Convention’s bodies have drawn attention to the strong links between air pollutant and GHG emissions and have highlighted specific issues where integration of strategies is needed. For example, the current emphasis on renewable energy is leading to increased use of wood as a fuel. However, unless appropriate boiler technology is used, this can also lead to increased air pollution.

Water

The intrinsic relation of the hydrological cycle – and thus water availability, quality, and services – to climate change makes adaptation critical for water management and the water sector in general. The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) is an important legal framework for the development of adaptation strategies, in particular in the transboundary context.

At their fourth meeting in Bonn, Germany, in 2006, the Parties to the Water Convention took a decisive step to supporting the development of adaptation strategies by agreeing to elaborate a guidance document on water and adaptation to climate change. A draft has now been prepared by the Task Forces on Water and Climate and on Extreme Weather Events, both under the Convention’s Protocol on Water and Health. This marks the first attempt under any convention to flesh out a climate change adaptation strategy in the water sector with a particular emphasis on transboundary issues. Based on the concept of integrated water resources management, the Guidance will “provide advice on how to assess impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality, how to perform risk assessment, including health risk assessment, how to gauge vulnerability, and how to design and implement appropriate adaptation measures” [ibid. p. 8]. The Guidance is expected to be formally adopted in November 2009 at the next meeting of the Parties.

One important step in the Guidance’s preparation was a workshop on climate change adaptation in the water sector organized under the Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health (Amsterdam, 1–2 July 2008). The workshop, which allowed for an exchange of experience in the region, an assessment of information needs for adaptation strategies and a discussion of the benefits of and mechanisms for transboundary cooperation, touched upon the institutional, policy, legal, scientific and financial aspects of adaptation in the water sector and included cross-cutting issues such as education. The workshop highlighted current challenges such as still limited transboundary cooperation, the focus on short-term rather than long-term measures, and the need to consider climate change together with other global drivers of change, e.g. the energy and food crises and changes in production and consumption patterns.

The Protocol on Water and Health, the first legally binding instrument aimed to achieve the sustainable management of water resources and the reduction of water-related disease, is also highly relevant to climate change adaptation. It establishes joint or coordinated surveillance and early-warning systems, contingency plans and response capacities, as well as mutual assistance to respond to outbreaks or incidents of water-related disease, especially those arising from extreme weather events. The Protocol’s Ad Hoc Project Facilitation Mechanism is a funding tool for implementation of the Protocol at the national level; its provisions on safe drinking water and sanitation are also of relevance to climate change.

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Access to information, public participation and justice

The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) constitutes the only legally binding instrument so far to implement principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which provides for the participation of citizens in environmental issues by giving them appropriate access to the information concerning the environment held by public authorities, including access to judicial or administrative proceedings, redress and remedy. Access to scientifically based information and public participation in decision-making on environmental issues – as provided by the Convention – are widely recognized as an important foundation for climate change mitigation efforts. UNFCCC, for example, underlined the importance of these principles at its thirteenth session, encouraging Parties to facilitate access to data and information and to promote public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and in developing adequate responses.[8] Environmental information can help to raise awareness about climate change issues and to strengthen synergies between mitigation and adaptation needs. Public participation in this process ensures that social values and trade-offs are represented in political decisions on climate-related issues.

UNECE is a co-organizer of the international conference, “The Role of Information in an Age of Climate Change” (Aarhus, Denmark, 13–14 November 2008). The event, marking the Aarhus Convention’s tenth anniversary, brings together leading scientists, policymakers, government authorities, non-governmental organizations, and representatives of the private sector to promote public access to information and public participation in addressing climate change.

The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR), adopted in May 2003, is the first legally binding international instrument on PRTRs. PRTRs assist governments in collecting information on the emission of GHGs and toxic or hazardous substances from industrial facilities and other sources. By making this information available to decision makers and the wider public, PRTRs contribute to enhancing companies’ environmental performance, regional mitigation efforts and the fight against global warming and climate change.

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Vehicle regulations

Transport is a significant and growing contributor to global climate change. According to some estimates, it is responsible for 13 per cent of all anthropogenic emissions of GHGs and for almost one quarter of the world’s total CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.[9]

In May 2008 in Leipzig, Germany, UNECE took part in the OECD International Transport Forum Ministerial Session, “The Challenge of Climate Change”, the first global meeting of transport ministers that focused on energy and climate change challenges relevant to the transport sector. Climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in the transport sector focus on different means of CO2 abatement: (a) innovative engine technologies to increase fuel efficiency; (b) use of sustainable biofuels; (c) improved transport infrastructure, including inter-modal transport and logistics to avoid road congestion; (d) dissemination of consumer information on eco-driving; and (e) implementation of legal instruments. In their key messages, transport ministers urged UNECE World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) to “accelerate the work to develop common methodologies, test cycles and measurement methods for [light] vehicles” [ibid. p. 5], including CO2 emissions. For over 50 years, the World Forum has served as a platform for developing harmonized global regulations for vehicle construction, thus increasing their environmental performance and safety.

The World Forum agreed that a possible strategy for the automotive sector to contribute to the abatement of emissions was to pursue: (a) improved energy efficiency and the use of sustainable biofuels as a short-term objective (2015); (b) the development and introduction into the market of plug-in hybrid vehicles as a mid-term objective (2015–2025); and (c) the development and introduction into the market of electric vehicles as a long-term objective (2025–2040). This strategy would shift the automotive sector from the use of fossil energy to the use of hydrogen and electric energy. To be effective, this strategy needs to rely on the sustainable production of electricity and hydrogen, a crucial policy issue identified for future discussions on global warming and the reduction of CO2 emissions.

The World Forum previously adopted amendments to UNECE regulations to limit the maximum admissible level of vehicle emissions for various gaseous pollutants (e.g. carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, NOx) and particulate matter. These have resulted in a substantial abatement of the emissions limits for new private cars and commercial vehicles. Moreover, UNECE Regulations were amended to include electric and hybrid vehicles as well as vehicles with engines fuelled with liquefied petroleum gas or compressed natural gas. At the present time, the World Forum is considering a number of energy efficiency measures, such as the development of a common methodology and measurement method to evaluate environmentally friendly vehicles, hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles, the use of other alternative energy sources such as biofuels including biogas, the installation in vehicles of engine management systems (e.g. the stop-and-go function), intelligent transport systems, tyre-pressure monitoring systems and the development of tyres with low rolling resistance. Once a consensus is reached, many of these measures are likely to be added to the UNECE regulations, which will help increase vehicles’ energy efficiency.

As concerns fuel-quality standards, in 2007 the World Forum demonstrated the close link between the market fuel quality and the emissions of pollutants from motor vehicles.  It recognized that further reduction of emissions required that cleaner fuel be available to consumers.  The lack of harmonized fuel quality standards was seen to hamper the development of the new vehicle technologies. Supported by UNEP and the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association, the World Forum is committed to developing a necessary standard on market fuel quality, thus enabling vehicles to use fuels that minimize vehicle emission levels.

The Transport Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP), a joint project of UNECE and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, was initiated to help achieve more sustainable transport patterns and a better reflection of environmental and health concerns in transport policy. In particular, THE PEP also promotes sustainable urban transport, including alternative modes of transport, in the region.

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Energy efficiency in production

As energy is a major market in the UNECE region, which contains 40 per cent of the world’s natural gas reserves and 60 per cent of its coal reserves, a number of UNECE activities promote a sustainable energy development strategy, a key to the region’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. The combustion of fossil fuels, the mainstay of the region’s electricity generation, is also a major source of GHG emissions. The sustainable energy projects of UNECE aim to facilitate the transition to a more sustainable and secure energy future by optimizing operating efficiencies and conservation, including through energy restructuring and legal, regulatory or energy pricing reforms. UNECE projects also encourage the introduction of renewable energy sources and the use of natural gas until cleaner energy sources are developed and commercially available, as well as the greening of the coal-to-energy chain.

For the period 2006–2009, the UNECE Energy Efficiency 21 (EE21) programme is working to promote regional cooperation to enhance countries’ energy efficiency and to reduce their GHG emissions, thus helping them meet their international treaty obligations under UNFCCC and the UNECE conventions. Energy efficiency is achieved by focusing on more efficient production, conservation and use of all energy sources in order to minimize GHG emissions.

Within the overall EE21 programme, UNECE manages the Financing Energy Efficiency Investments for Climate Change Mitigation project, with a budget of approximately US$ 7.5 million, financed by the Global Environment Fund, Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial and the European Business Congress. This project is currently establishing a privately managed equity fund with private and public sector partners. The fund, which will benefit from both public and private sources, will target energy efficiency and renewable investment projects in 12 countries in Central Asia and Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.

Another project within the EE21 programme is RENEUER, a regional activity supported by the United States Agency for International Development, the United States Department of Energy, France and other bilateral donors. RENEUER promotes sustainable development in the region by overcoming regional barriers and creating favourable conditions for the introduction of advanced technologies for the efficient use of local energy resources.

Outreach activities to other regional commissions in the context of energy efficiency for climate change mitigation are being organized under the Global Energy Efficiency 21 (GEE21) project. This project, to be launched in December 2008 in Poznan, Poland, will develop a systematic exchange of information on capacity-building, policy reform and investment project financing to promote cost-effective energy efficiency improvements that will reduce air pollution, including GHGs.

The work of two expert groups under the Committee on Sustainable Energy relates to climate change mitigation. The Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane (CMM) promote the recovery and use of methane gas from coal mines to minimize GHG emissions. In February 2008 in Szczyrk, Poland, a UNECE-supported workshop assessed prospects for CMM recovery and use, noting that “Global potential for CMM projects to contribute to climate change mitigation and take advantage of the carbon markets is very strong because a reduction of one ton of methane yields reductions of 18 to 23 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent”.[10] However, economic feasibility of such projects typically requires a clear regulatory and legal framework, reasonable access to markets and relatively stable prices.

The Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Cleaner Electricity Production from Coal and Other Fossil Fuels held its first meeting in November 2007. Its programme of work includes reviewing the prospects for cleaner electricity production from fossil fuels and measures or incentives to promote investment in cleaner electricity production. The Group also assesses the regulatory needs for promoting investment in cleaner electricity production from fossil fuels, appraises the comparative advantages of investments in new capacities and analyses issues related to carbon capture and storage technologies, especially in the context of emerging economies in the UNECE region.[11]

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Energy-efficient housing

Due to both its high GHG emissions and its large potential for energy-saving measures, the housing sector plays a critical role in climate change mitigation. IPCC estimates that the global potential to reduce emissions at roughly 29 per cent for the residential and commercial sectors.[12] The energy-saving potential in this sector is also considerable: UNEP estimates that in Europe, buildings account for roughly 40 to 45 per cent of energy consumption, emitting significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). Residential buildings account for the lion’s share of these emissions.[13]

Energy-efficient buildings can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation by reducing buildings’ energy consumption as well as by making them more resistant to severe weather events. Improving energy efficiency is especially important in the UNECE region, where projected increased housing construction and homeownership are likely to be accompanied by higher electricity consumption and thus growing emissions. UNECE has a programme geared to achieving maximal energy efficiency in the region’s housing, which will allow countries to share experience and good practice in reducing energy consumption in the residential sector, both vis-à-vis existing housing stock and new residential housing construction. This is expected to especially improve energy performance in parts of the region where progress is hampered by low innovation capacity and by a lack of knowledge about technical options to improve the thermal efficiency of existing buildings, and by outdated building codes that prevent countries from embracing the latest energy-efficient construction techniques. The programme will also include a wide-ranging regional assessment – featuring financing mechanisms, case studies, workshops and seminars for policymakers – and will benefit from close collaboration with above-mentioned EE21 project.

To date, UNECE has published country profiles on the housing sectors of Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia Lithuania, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation and Serbia and Montenegro. In 2009, two workshops (in Sofia and Vienna) will address the issue of energy efficiency in housing. A group of interested experts will assist the host countries in shaping the programme of the events and will provide the necessary expertise. In September 2008, the Committee on Housing and Land Management addressed energy efficiency in housing in the region, focusing on the legislative framework and incentives.[14]

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Sustainable forestry

Forests and wood are integrally linked to climate change and have an important role to play in mitigation and adaptation. Forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere when they grow, thereby offsetting a significant part of GHG emissions. According to the forthcoming UNECE Annual Report, the annual increase of carbon in EU-27 forests is equivalent to 8.6 per cent of GHG emissions in the European Union (EU). In Europe, forests sequester approximately 140 million tons of carbon a year. Wood products are a store of carbon, keeping it from release to the atmosphere. Forests store more than 80 per cent of terrestrial aboveground carbon and more than 70 per cent of soil organic carbon. They are also the source of wood energy that can substitute fossil energy, thereby reducing GHG emissions.[15] Wood can also be a substitute for non-renewable construction materials such as plastics, steel or concrete.

The UNECE Timber Committee has an active role in monitoring these trends and in promoting sustainable forest management. It collects basic data on forest resource assessment (e.g. carbon sequestration and storage in forests) and the production of and trade in forest products (e.g. harvested wood products, substitution of other materials). It contributes to policy monitoring by reporting on qualitative indicators of sustainable forest management and by publishing a chapter in the Forest Products Annual Market Review. It is currently developing a database on forest sector policies and institutions. In September 2008, UNECE hosted a workshop on “Harvested Wood Products in the Context of Climate Change Policies” to discuss different approaches to account for carbon stored in wood products and their economic, social and ecological impacts. It will also participate in the plenary session on Forest and Climate Change during European Forest Week (Rome, 21–24 October 2008). Finally, the UNECE Timber Committee provided an analytical contribution to the European Forest Sector Outlook Study in 2005 and has authored various papers on wood availability and the market for wood.

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Sustainable biomass

Since 1998, UNECE has been directing a major cross-sectoral project for enterprises in the biomass sector in the region. One of the central tasks of climate change mitigation is to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy. The project aims to strengthen sustainable biomass supply from selected countries in the UNECE region to energy producers in the EU, with a focus on agro- and wood residues, whose use is an important alternative to the use of (food) crops for fuel. The project also seeks to improve the logistics chain of biomass trade from producer to the end-user through improved inland transportation, port and trade logistics, and customs cooperation with respect to imports and exports of biomass. Two further aims of the project are facilitating the exchange of good practice with the private sector and exploring cross-sectoral approaches that take into account environment, energy, trade and transport issues.

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Other related UNECE areas of work

The “Environment for Europe” ministerial process

The “Environment for Europe” process provides a pan-European political framework for the discussion of key policy issues, development of programmes and launching of initiatives to improve the region’s environment and harmonize environmental policies. At the Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” (Belgrade, 10–12 October 2007), environment ministers explicitly recognized the urgent need to address climate change in the UNECE region. The Conference saw the launch of the Belgrade Initiative[16], a subregional effort in South-Eastern Europe to support subregional implementation of the UNFCCC through a Climate Change Framework Action Plan and a virtual climate change-related centre in Belgrade designed to help raise awareness and build capacity.

UNECE Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development

The UNECE Strategy of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), adopted in 2005 by ministers and other officials from education and environment ministries across the UNECE region, endeavours to integrate key themes of sustainable development into all education systems. It constitutes the regional pillar of implementation of the United Nations Decade of ESD. At the joint session on ESD held during the Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe”, environment and education ministers referred to the problems posed by climate change as a “leading example of where ESD could be applied to daily life, as climate change affects everyone and ESD offers an essential way to shape knowledge and attitudes, and hence could help us to address these problems” [17]

Modifying transport policies based on traffic-based information about carbon dioxide emissions

In order to evaluate the implementation of new national or regional measures to reduce their contributions to the global warming, Governments must analyse different possible strategies, especially those that address the total energy consumption of the transport sector. To make the right policy decisions and to optimize their strategies to attain CO2 reduction targets, an assessment and analysis tool is needed that integrates the most recent developments in transportation. This tool should be transparent so as to ensure that decisions overly swayed by special-interest groups. Such an information tool is currently under consideration. It is based on a uniform methodology for evaluating CO2 emissions in the land transport sector, and incorporates climate-relevant indicators as well as new transportation trends.

Environmental Performance Reviews

The UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews (EPRs), based on the OECD/DAC peer review process, aim to improve individual and collective environmental management. Since 1996, Central, South-East and Eastern European as well as Central Asian countries have been reviewed by UNECE, in addition to a few countries in transition that were reviewed in cooperation with OECD (Bulgaria, Belarus, Poland and the Russian Federation). A second round of EPRs have already been carried out for Belarus (2005), Bulgaria (2000), Estonia (2001), Republic of Moldova (2005), Ukraine (2006), Montenegro and Serbia and (2007) and Kazakhstan (2008), and are in process for Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

By disseminating relevant information, they contribute to enhancing public access to information about the environment and environmental issues and thus to more informed decision-making, relevant to the climate change debate. In future, they can provide a comprehensive analysis of instruments used in the context of regional climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, a means to share good practice and highlight gaps in this area, and a way to offer important policy recommendations.

Strategic environment assessment

The UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) provides a framework for considering transboundary environmental impacts in national decision-making processes.

The Convention’s Protocol on Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA), not yet in force, will ensure that Parties integrate consideration of the environment into their plans and programmes at a very early planning stage. SEA can be used to introduce climate change considerations into development planning. This is in line with the conclusions reached at the high-level event “The Future in Our Hands”, convened by the Secretary-General in September 2007, as well as the recommendation of IPCC[18] that climate change mitigation and adaptation be integrated into an overarching sustainable development strategy. The IPCC also concluded that consideration of climate change impacts in development planning, as might be provided by SEA, is important for boosting adaptive capacity, e.g. by including adaptation measures in land-use planning and infrastructure design or by reducing vulnerability through existing disaster risk reduction strategies.[19]

Statistics related to climate change

The global official statistics community still only engages in an ad hoc way with the issues of climate change. UNECE is reviewing the possibility of setting up a joint task force (subject to the approval of the Bureau of the Conference of European Statisticians) to explore statistical activities related to the UNFCCC guidelines on the compilation of emission inventories. The task force will also take into account the recommendations that are expected to be developed at a forthcoming conference on statistics of climate change in the Republic of Korea. In June 2008, the meeting of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA) recommended that statistics on emissions should become part of the regular production and dissemination process of official statistics at the national level. In this context, national statistical offices should gradually take on the responsibility for regularly compiling emission statistics and contributing to the review of the guidelines to assembling emission registers.

This is expected to contribute to a better understanding of how official statistics can contribute to the understanding, measurement and monitoring of the different aspects of climate change as well as to bring together all current activities in a coherent framework.

Innovation and financing

UNECE has organized workshops and seminars with a view to enhancing the understanding of the process of technology diffusion, identifying possible barriers to take-up, and providing training and technical assistance to the region’s Governments on their innovation policies. This includes a financing dimension, in particular regarding early-stage financing of innovative enterprises. During the International Conference Investing in Innovation, which took place in Geneva in April 2008, a session on how environmental challenges can be addressed through innovation brought together policy makers and specialized financial intermediaries to discuss emerging trends in the allocation of risk capital for eco-investing and the type of policies required to encourage the mobilization of private financing in this area.

Efforts to mitigate or adapt to climate change are significantly boosted by the diffusion of existing technologies but also by the introduction of new ones. Given the scale and systemic nature of the necessary shift towards low carbon technologies, there is a clear link between the challenges posed by climate change mitigation and innovation policies.  In future, work on innovation and its related financing and intellectual property aspects could help to inform policies in relation to climate change.


[1] This note, prepared by Laura Altinger, has benefited from valuable inputs by Ella Behlyarova, Francesca Bernardini, Nicholas Bonvoisin, Lidia Bratanova, Keith Bull, Paola Deda, George Georgiadis, Franziska Hirsch, Romain Hubert, Matti Johansson, Albena Karadjova, Marco Keiner, Monika Linn, Eva Molnar, José Palacin, Kit Prins, Juraj Riecan, Patrice Robineau, Gianluca Sambucini, Angela Sochirca and Michael Stanley-Jones.

[2] More formally, climate change is defined as “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods” (UNFCCC, art. 1).

[3] According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Climate Change 2007 Synthesis Report (p. 76), adaptation relates to the ‘initiatives and measures aimed at reducing the vulnerability of natural and human systems against actual or expected climate change effects. Various types of adaptation exist, e.g. anticipatory and reactive, private and public, and autonomous and planned. Examples are raising river or coastal dykes, the substitution of more temperature-shock resistant plants for sensitive ones”.

[4] A/62/644 , para. 11.

[5] E/2008/SR.38 , para. 25.

[6] Letter by United Nations Secretary-General to the members of the Chief Executives Board and the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, 30 May 2008.

[8] Decision 9/CP.13, annex, paras. 14 and 15 (FCCC/CP/2007/6/Add.1), amended the New Delhi Work Programme on article 6 of the UNFCCC. The thirteenth session was held from 3 to 15 December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia.

[9] OECD (2008), The Challenges of climate change, key messages, International Transport Forum, Ministerial Session, 29 May, p. 2.

[12] Quoted in Deda, P. and G. Georgiadis, “Tackling climate change ‘at home’: trends and challenges in enhancing energy efficiency in buildings in the ECE region”, in UNECE Annual Report 2009.

[13] Ibid. p. 3.

[14] ECE/HBP/2008/2 of 7 July 2008.

[15] Prins, Kit et al (2008), “Forests, wood and climate change: challenges and opportunities in the UNECE region”, in UNECE Annual Report 2009.

[18] Ibid.

[19] IPCC, WG II, Summary for policymakers.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

<temptc@rubenstein.com>
Takla Boujaoude <tboujaoude@rubenstein.com>

FROM:            Women’s Dialogue for Action / Cecilia Attias Foundation

CONTACT:     Rubenstein Commuications

Tom Chiodo (212) 843.8289 tchiodo@rubenstein.com

Iva Benson (212) 843.8271  ibenson@rubenstein.com

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

More than 100 NGO’s,

50 Public & Private Sector Executives,

20 Media Leaders

Including Cindi Leive of Glamour Magazine,

Sade Baderinwa of ABC News,

Alison Smale of the International Herald Tribune,

Gisel Khoury of Al Arabiya and

Pamela Gross of Avenue Magazine

To Participate In

Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women’s Dialogue for Action

***

Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women’s Inaugural gathering will unite NGO’s, media, civic and business leaders from around the world to define and work towards solving the most pressing issues affecting women across all five continents.

***

www.ceciliaattiasfoundation.org

New York, NY – (June 10, 2010) – The Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women’s Dialogue for Action, being held June 24 in New York City, today announced that Cindi Leive, Editor, Glamour Magazine, Dina Powell, Chairwoman, Goldman Sachs Foundation, Sila Calderon, Former Governor of Puerto Rico, Minister of State Innocence Ntap, Senegal, Zeinab Salbi, President, Women for Women International and Dr Edit Schlaffer, President, Women Without Borders will join the many other leaders who be taking part of the Round Table discussions at the inaugural Dialogue for Action.

“I am pleased that so many prominent individuals have recognized the need to immediately gather around the same table and collaborate to find solutions to the many dire issues affecting women,” said former First Lady of France and Foundation President Cecilia Attias, “We need to work now to find implementable solutions and give a voice to the millions of women who are not able to speak out on their own.”

The first annual Dialogue for Action to take place in conjunction with the New York Forum (www.ny-forum.com) will bring together an exceptional group of NGO leaders, experts and influencers from the private and public sectors.  This unique, interactive format provides a new platform, where action-driven discussions will focus exclusively on identifying and finding solutions to the main issues facing women per continent.

Following the Dialogue for Action, The Cécilia Attias Foundation for Women will see that dedicated initiatives are implemented where needed.  Local regional meetings will be organized as part of the follow-up in the field to assess the progress of each initiative.

The International Herald Tribune is the Official Media Sponsor of The Dialogue for Action. WANGO, The World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations is the strategic partner of the Dialogue for Action whose global network of NGOs and affiliates has become an international leader in tackling issues of serious global concern.

——————————————–

THE PROGRAM

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23
2:00 – 6:00pm
Registration
Park Avenue Room, Mezzanine Level
109 East 42nd Street at Grand Central Terminal  Tel: +1 212 883 1234

THURSDAY, JUNE 24
7:00am
Registration
Park Avenue Room, Mezzanine Level

7:15am
Welcome Coffee
Ballroom Level

ALL SESSIONS TO TAKE PLACE IN THE EMPIRE STATE BALLROOM

8:00am
Key Note Address by Cecilia Attias, Founder and President, The Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women

8:30-10:00am
AFRICA ROUND TABLE

Facilitated by Sade Baderinwa, Anchor/Reporter WABC-TV

NGOs:
· Bazaiba Masudi Eve, Senator and President of Congolese Women League for Election
· Esther Ibanga, Pastor Women on the Plateau Peace Initiative
· Molly Melching, Executive Director Tostan
· Promise Mthembu, Executive Director Her Rights Initiative

EXPERT RESPONSES:
· Letty Chiwara, Chief of the Africa Division for UNIFEM
· Innocence Ntap, Minister of Civil Service, Labor and Professional Organizations, Senegal
· Prinitha Pillay, Medical Doctor, Doctors without Borders

With the Support of:
· Fatou Sow Sarr, Professor at Dakar University

Special Closing Address by: Sophie Delaunay, Executive Director Doctors Without Borders

10:30-12:00pm
AMERICAS ROUND TABLE

Facilitated by Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief Glamour Magazine

NGOs:
· Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Hour Children
· Rosario Perez, CEO, Pro Mujer
· Sima Quraishi, Executive Director, Muslim Women Resource Center
· Dale Standifer, Executive Director, Metropolitan Center for Women and Children

EXPERT RESPONSES:
· Adrienne Germain, President of the International Women’s Health Coalition
· Pamela Gross, Editor at Large, The Hill
· Ambassador Craig Stapleton, Former Ambassador to France
· Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of Partnership for New York City

Special Closing Address by: Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking

12:30-2:00pm LUNCH BALLROOM I

2:30-4:00pm
ASIA AND MIDDLE EAST ROUND TABLE

Facilitated by Anita Pratap, Documentary Filmmaker, Author, Journalist
NGOs:
· Sakena Yacoobi, Executive Director, Afghan Institute of Learning
· Dr. Basmah Omair, CEO of Khadija Bint Khawilid Center for Businesswomen
· Manju Kochar, Chairman, Prasad Chikitsa
· Guy Jacobsen, Founder Redlight Children

With the Support of:
· Lucky Chherti, Founder and Program Director, Empowering Women of Nepal
· Bandana Rana, President, SAATHI

EXPERT RESPONSES:
· Chékéba Hachemi, President, Afghanistan Libre
· Dina Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation and Global Head of the Office of Corporate Engagement
· Zainab Salbi, Founder of Women for Women International
· Mu Sochua, Member of Cambodian Parliament and Human Rights Advocate

4:30-6:00pm
EUROPE ROUND TABLE

Facilitated by Alison Smale, Executive Editor, International Herald Tribune

NGOs:
· Sophie Romana, Executive Director, PlaNet Finance
· Edit Schlaffer, Chairman and Founder, Women Without Borders, SAVE – Sisters Against Violent Extremism
· May de Silva, Director, Women into Politics
· Inna Tymchyk, Board Member, Faith, Hope and Love

EXPERT RESPONSES:
· David Arkless, President, Global Corporate & Government Affairs, Manpower Inc.
· Kat Rohrer, Director/Producer, GreenKat Productions
· Fernando Villalonga, Consul General of Spain

6:00pm
Closing remarks Cecilia Attias, Founder and President, The Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Press Conference at the UN

World Water Day

Monday, 22 March, 2010
12:30 p.m.
Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium

H.E. President of the UN General Assembly , H.E. Prime Minister of Tajikistan

H.E. Jan Eliasson
Chair of WaterAid Sweden, Former President of the UN General Assembly,
Former Foreign Minister of Sweden

With almost 884 million people lacking access to safe drinking water, and over 2.6 billion people, or almost 39 per cent of the world’s population, living without improved sanitation facilities, the issue of water is critical for tackling today’s challenges related to health, food security, and sustainable development.

To promote the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life 2005 – 2015”, the United Nations General Assembly is holding a special high-level interactive dialogue on water and its implications for the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, disasters, peace and security.

This high-level dialogue provides an important input to the preparatory process for the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals to be held on 20-22 September 2010, and feeds into the High-Level International Conference on water to be hosted by Tajikistan in June 2010.

General Assembly President Ali Treki, General Assembly President Ali Treki, Prime Minister Oqilov, and WaterAid Sweden Chair Jan Eliasson will brief the press on the significance of water-related issues and highlight the urgent need for action to fulfill international commitments on water by 2015.

————————-

The problem with the above press conference, which is part of the daily UN Spokesperson’s Briefing to the Press, is that the UN General Assembly President is Ali Treki, the Foreign Minister of Libya who was declared practically non-person by the Schengen countries, so he is unwelcome to Europe {a President of the UNGA – mind you – no less}, and Oqil Ghaybulloyevich Oqilov, Prime Minister of Tajikistan, just recently host to Ahmedi-Nejad of Iran,  and whose country is turning  into a pro-Iranian satellite. The fact that the UN water conference will be held in Tajikistan must have to do something with the push for legitimization by some of the world’s less palatable regimes.

That leaves the Honorable Jan Eliason, a friend from the days he served at the UN, and a friend of humanity, the only person worthwhile on that UN panel. We say this with full knowledge that water and climate change are indeed main problems for Libya and Tajikistan, but we just do not believe that the other two speakers on that dais have shown politically real interest in this topic.

We are curious what journalists will show up and how far can questioning be allowed by the UN,  and by the UN General Assembly,  Spokesmen.

————————-

Monday 04 January 2010
President Ahmadinejad lays wreath at Ismail Samani’s statue

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad laid wreath at the statue of Ismail Samani a former king here on Monday.
President Ahmadinejad arrived in Dushanbe Monday morning for a two-day stay in Tajikistan.

After welcome ceremony held by Tajikistan’s Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov, Ahmadinejad started talks with his Tajik counterpart Imomali Rakhmon.

During the talks, the two presidents signed three memoranda of understanding, two documents on cooperation and a statement on expansion of bilateral relations.

Later in the day, Ahmadinejad is planned to deliver speech to a group of resident Iranians at Ibn Sina Hospital, built by Iran’s private sector in the country. He is also due to inaugurate an Iranology center in the Tajikistan’s medical university.

——

Saturday 09 January 2010
President Ahmadinejad ends Central Asian tour


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left Turkmenistan for Iran Wednesday afternoon at the end of his two-nation tour to the Central Asia region.

The Iranian president was officially seen off by his Turkmen counterpart Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

He was in Turkmenistan to attend the inaugural ceremony of the first phase of Iran-Turkmenistan’s second gas pipeline project.

The 182-km pipeline was inaugurated by the Iranian and Turkmen presidents earlier on Wednesday.

President Ahmadinejad was in the region on a three-day visit which had brought him earlier to Tajikistan.

He discussed major bilateral, regional and international developments with senior Tajik and Turkmen officials.

A number of agreements were also signed by Iranian officials and their Tajik and Turkmen counterparts for promotion of bilateral cooperation between Tehran and the two Central Asian capitals.

—–

Saturday 09 January 2010
President Ahmadinejad returns home

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad concluded his two-nation tour to the Central Asian region and arrived in Tehran on Wednesday afternoon.

Upon his arrival, the Iranian president was welcomed by Supreme Leader’s Advisor for International Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati, 1st Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi as well as a number of high ranking officials and ministers.

Speaking to reporters at the airport, President Ahmadinejad described his visits to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as very fruitful and promising.

He discussed major bilateral, regional and international developments with senior Tajik and Turkmen officials.

A number of agreements were also signed by Iranian officials and their Tajik and Turkmen counterparts for promotion of bilateral cooperation between Tehran and the two Central Asian capital cities.

—–

Saturday 09 January 2010
President:
World’s fate to be decided in Middle East.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Thursday that world’s destiny will be decided in the Middle East.

“Iran and Syria should in a joint mission establish new world order based on monotheism, justice and humanity,” President Ahmadinejad told Syrian parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Abrash.

He said the world is on verge of big developments and the tyrannical systems are fading.

“Iran and Syria shoulder a crucial role in present juncture and their cooperation should further expand,” he added.

The 30-year resistance of Iran and Syria is almost close to the victory stage, said the President, adding, “Resistance of nations, including Iran and Syria, has thwarted all the conspiracies of the imperialistic system in the political, economic, military and ideological domains.”

The President went on to say that construction of the wall of separation in the occupied lands and of the steel war in Gaza all show the Zionist regime’s vulnerability. “The US government too will have to end up its interventions in the region and get its forces out of there.”

Al-Abrash said in return that expansion of relations and cooperation among Muslim states, including Iran and Syria, has nullified enemy conspiracies.
He said that Iran and Syria will as before move in the front of perseverance and campaign against global arrogance.


————————————

For more information and the full programme of the day, please see: www.un.org

Jonathan Rich, WaterAid, Tel.: +1 347 262 9115, Email:  jonathan at jcrcommunications.com

————————————-

Let the clean water flow

By CAROLINE BOIN, The Japan Times online, Saturday, March 20, 2010

LONDON — The 18th annual World Water Day (March 22) offers the same old problems and rejects the practical solutions. On Monday, 1 billion people will, as usual, spend the day without clean water and a third of humanity without adequate sanitation. As usual, some 3.5 million men, women and children will die from related diseases this year. Yet many nongovernment organizations and politicians still prefer ideology to ideas, spurning what the private sector delivers to the world’s poor.

Activists often claim to be defending the poor from profit-maximizing corporations. But this has more to do with dogma than reality. Given that less than 10 percent of world water management is private, it is hard to see how they can blame corporations for poor supply.

In fact, it is governments that mismanage water and misallocate it to political cronies and powerful lobbies such as farmers. The poor, in rural areas or slums, are left unconnected and unable to do much about it. Anti-privatization groups keep repeating that water should be provided by government but ignore that government has been the worst enemy of the poor.

On another tack, the World Development Movement and similar groups claim that the private sector has done little for the poor, having connected only three million people in developing countries over the past 15 years. But this figure excludes Latin America and Southeast Asia where private water management — and the number of people getting water — has boomed since the 1990s. In Argentina, for example, privately managed areas got lower water prices, more connections and a drop in infectious diseases and child deaths.

Activists have further misrepresented private supply by focusing on multinationals while ignoring the small-scale water vendors who get water to people whom governments have abandoned. In many African cities, they sell plastic water sachets to passersby, while in Paraguay 500 aguateros supply nearly half a million people using tankers and piped water.

A World Bank researcher found in 1998 that “in most cities in developing countries, more than half the population gets basic water service from suppliers other than the incumbent official utility.” Country surveys suggest that the situation has changed little since then.

The World Health Organization, like activists, disregards these “informal” water vendors, bottled water and tankers. It refuses to consider them as “improved water sources” as they are unregulated, unpredictable and allegedly incapable of serving a mass market.

But to the hundreds of millions of people who rely on them, there is nothing incapable about private water providers. For many, they are the difference between life and death.

Informal water vendors come in all types, but they all provide water for profit. Their clients are among the most poorly prepared to pay to protect their families from disease and to put their time to better use than searching for clean water.

The success of these private water services throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia disproves the claim that the poor are too poor to pay for water and that the private sector has no incentive to serve them. In fact, the poor often pay more for water than those in prosperous areas with “formal” supplies. A World Bank survey of South American cities found that, on average, trucked water costs four to 10 times more than the public network’s price. In Kibera, the Nairobi slum of about 1 million people, jerry-can water sells at four times the average price in Kenya.

Activists who accuse the private sector of putting profits before people should realize three things. First, water vendors would stop providing water and sanitation if they did not make a profit. Second, governments are largely to blame for the higher prices because they constrain or outlaw private supply. Finally, people buy from vendors willingly, often with a choice of suppliers.

Water is severely under-priced in China, at around a third of the world average. As a consequence 300 million rural people have no safe drinking water. Where vendors do operate, people are prepared to pay up to 10 times the connected cost.

The theme of this year’s World Water Day is quality, so legalizing the work of water vendors should be a priority. They could then own sources, land and infrastructure, get credit and expand operations, serving more people at cheaper rates with cleaner water. It is these small-scale ventures — not empty government promises — that can quickly improve water supplies for the poor.

Caroline Boin is a project director at International Policy Network, London, which focuses on economic development.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

e-consultation on setting of an independent scientific body on land degradation/desertification

from: Pam Chasek

Dear Colleagues,

We invite you to participate in a global scientific e.consultation on the needs, usefulness and options of an independent, international, interdisciplinary scientific advisory body on land degradation/desertification. The proposed body would primarily provide scientific advice to the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD) to aid decision-making to combat land degradation and to achieve sustainable land management and development in drylands. It may also be relevant to various on-going efforts to harmonize knowledge on land matters.

DesertNet International and UNU-INWEH have developed this e.forum to canvass contributions from different regions and interested parties on this issue and as an input into the decision made at COP9 that requests the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) to assess how to organise international, interdisciplinary scientific advice. This activity thus, supports the follow-up of the first scientific-style UNCCD conference to the CST SS-2 in 2010 which will be making recommendations to COP10 of the UNCCD.

You can register to participate in the e.forum at: redmine at example.net. You will have to activate your account by clicking on the link that is given in this e.mail.

If you have any problems registering or answering the questions please let us know.

Please note that in the e.forum survey questionnaire you have to press the <save> button before proceeding to the next question!

Please forward this e.mail also to other experts.

The e.forum starts on 25 January 2010 and will end on 25 March 2010.

We acknowledge the generous assistance and sponsorship of the GTZ CCD Project in this exercise.

Best regards,
also on behalf of the DNI Bureau members Richard Escadafal and Giuseppe Enne who are members of the international steering committee of the E.forum.
Mariam Akhtar-Schuster and Richard Thomas

********************************************************************
Dr. Mariam Akhtar-Schuster
Sekretariat DesertNet International (DNI)
c/o Biocentre Klein Flottbek and Botanical Garden
University of Hamburg
Ohnhorststr. 18, 22609 Hamburg, Germany
Tel  +49 (0)40 42816 – 533
Fax +49 (0)40 42816 – 539
E-mail:  makhtar-schuster at botanik.uni-hamburg….
********************************************************************

Richard Thomas
Assistant Director (Drylands)
United Nations University
Institute for Water, Environment and Health
(UNU-INWEH)
175 Longwood Road South, Suite 204
Hamilton, ON  L8P 0A1
CANADA
Tel: +1 905 667 5511
Tel: +1 905 667 5490 (direct)
Fax: +1 905 667 5510
Email:  rthomas at inweh.unu.edu
Web: www.inweh.unu.edu

Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D.
Executive Editor, Earth Negotiations Bulletin
IISD Reporting Services

300 East 56th Street #11A New York, NY 10022 USA
Tel: +1 212-888-2737- Fax: +1 646 219 0955
E-mail:  pam at iisd.org
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
 www.iisd.org
IISD Reporting Services – Earth Negotiations Bulletin
www.iisd.ca
Subscribe for free to our publications
 www.iisd.ca/email/subscribe.htm

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;www.theglobeandmail.com/news/tech…

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton urges China to probe Google case.
U.S. Secretary of State calls for consequences and condemnation of those who carry out cyberattacks.

Robert Burns, Washington — The Associated Press, Published on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010 in Globe and Mail of Canada.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday urged China to investigate cyber intrusions that led Google Inc. GOOG-Q to threaten to pull out of that country – and challenged Beijing to openly publish its findings.

“Countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century,” she said, adding that the U.S. and China “have different views on this issue, and we intend to address those differences candidly and consistently.”

She cited China as among a number of countries where there has been “a spike in threats to the free flow of information” over the past year. She also named Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Egypt and Vietnam.

Ms. Clinton made her remarks in a wide-ranging speech about Internet freedom and its place in U.S. foreign policy.

“Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks,” she said.

“They have expunged words, names and phrases from search engine results,” Ms. Clinton said. “They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in nonviolent political speech.”

State Department officials have said they intend soon to lodge a formal complaint with Chinese officials over the Google matter, which a senior Chinese government official said Thursday should not affect U.S.-China relations.

Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei said in Beijing, “The Google case should not be linked with relations between the two governments and countries; otherwise, it’s an over-interpretation,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The Xinhua report did not mention censorship, instead referring to Google’s “disagreements with government policies.”

In a passage of her speech before she explicitly mentioned the Google matter, Ms. Clinton spoke broadly about the connection between information freedom and international business.

“Countries that censor news and information must recognize that, from an economic standpoint, there is no distinction between censoring political speech and commercial speech,” she said. “If businesses in your nation are denied access to either type of information, it will inevitably reduce growth.”

“Increasingly, U.S. companies are making the issue of information freedom a greater consideration in their business decisions,” she added. “I hope that their competitors and foreign governments will pay close attention to this trend.”

She then raised the Google case.

“We look to Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the cyber intrusions that led Google to make its announcement,” she said, referring to Google’s recent statement that it is reconsidering its business operations in China. “We also look for that investigation and its results to be transparent.”

—————-

Further – Ms. Clinton wants to see INTERNET FREEDOM AS A PLANK OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY – she says that an attack on one Nation’s computer network should be seen, what it really is, an attack on all!

Censorship should not be accepted by any company, and American companies must take a principled stand she further said.

The US will place a “demarche” with China – a diplomatic move of protest showing its displeasure with the way China treated Google. The US is not ready to accept that this is a mere business squabble. We follow this logic and think the US should also express its displeasure the way certain well placed UN Department of Public Information officials use their positions to intefere with the dissemination of news at the UN. One outside the UN New York Times investigative reporter had looked into this three years ago, but her worldwide distributed article had no impact on the UN, neither did we see the US making a “demarche” to Mr. Ban Ki-moon. Could the State Department under the Hillary Clinton baton have a look there too?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Finally a second shoe comes of at the UN Department of Public Information that services the Ban Ki-moon UN Administration. After the replacement of the officer in charge of Media Accreditation, now also a new Spokesperson.

November 30, 2009 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is getting a new Spokesperson – a real professional – Martin Nesirky – that will hail from Vienna where he was not just spokesman for over three years at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) but was also Head of Press and Public Information.

Nesirky will replace Michele Montas of Haiti who served since the beginning of the term of Mr. Ban Ki-moon, January 1, 2007, till now, November 30, 2009, thus leaving one month ahead of the end of a three years contract. Ms. Montas is retiring from the UN.

Mr. Nesirky came to OSCE from Reuters where he served over two decades as an international correspondent and editor. He covered issues the like of  the fall of the  Berlin Wall, events in the Balkans, and nuclear non-proliferation issues. Further, he had a stint as the Moscow Bureau Chief of Reuters with responsibility for coverage of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and as senior editor in London handling political stories, including the Middle East and Africa. He has been posted in Berlin, The Hague, and Seoul, though it is not known if he also speaks Korean, the language of the current UN Secretary- General – the subject of a question from one of the correspondents that remained unanswered.

More recently Mr. Nesirky in his Spokesman capacity at OSCE was instrumental in navigating the Russia backed OSCE Chairmanship for Kazakhstan for 2010. At the UN he may find his personal talents helpful in creating a new persona for the UN Secretary-General whose popularity with parts of the UN have hit a low, at a time that his reelection for a second term will be put on the table.

Ms. Montas whom he replaces had none of such credentials. Prior to her appointment, Montas headed the French unit of UN Radio. From 2003 to 2004, she served as the Spokesperson for UN General Assembly President Julian Robert Hunte, of Saint Lucia, soon after she fled to New York from Haiti. In Haiti, she and her husband were also radio journalists and activists. Her husband was killed in Haiti, and she escaped to New York. We can vouch that in her first several months in the job Mr. Ban Ki-moon set her up, she had no understanding or patience for subjects of climate change – not even when the subject was raised in connection to killings going on in Africa, or the dangers to Small Island Member States of the UN. Not even in matters of the Middle East – she seemed as a fish out of water and effectively harming  positions that the SG might have been more forthcoming. In press conferences of the SG she allowed only questions that she thought he would be interested in while guarding him from such questions as climate change.

The real question is now if Mr. Martin Nesirky will find it acceptable to fit in her shoes and submit to further layers of UN functionaries in a UN Department of Public Information where the Director of News and Media Division is Mr. Ahmad Fawzi who acts as a factotum on Press Accreditation and also whenever there is the need to talk to the press upon fighting in the Middle East. We feel that Mr. Nesirky may be inclined to become his own man in those areas while serving the needs of the Secretary-General.

The announcement about the new Spokesperson was made by Mr. Farhan Haq, of Pakistan, an Associated Spokesperson, third in the ranking below Mr. Nesirky (The second ranking Spokesperson is the Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe of Japan). Farhan started the announcement by saying: “And finally, a message that you’ve been waiting for some time. The Secretary-General today has named Martin Nesirky of the United Kingdom as the new Spokesperson for the Secretary-General,” but when asked by a correspondent if there will be in parallel an appointment for a position called Strategic Communications, he also gave no answer and showed impatience by mentioning that “our guests are here.”

Another correspondent asked nevertheless about the Small Pacific Developing Island States that called upon the Security Council to take up the issue of climate change “as a matter of security, because they say that their islands, their countries, could potentially disappear together for the first time in history, and they’re looking for the Council to develop enforceable emission targets. What does the SG think of this call to the SC to take up the Climate Change issue?”

The anemic answer was: “As you know, the SG has been encouraging all of the relevant bodies to deal with climate change and its effects across a variety of fields.At this stage, however, what the SG is concerned with is making sure that Member states and leaders at the highest level will come to Copenhagen to deal precisely with all of the challenges of climate change and seal a deal that can help resolve all the various problems that member States face.” That was quite a lame answer from the source of “Hopenhagen” and a clear show why finally the UN deserves a professional Spokesperson it was denied during the first three years of the Ban Ki-moon Administration of the UN.

The Correspondent continued with his insistence for an answer:
“There is nothing about the council taking up this matter?”

Final answer from the Associate Spokesperson: “It’s always up to the Security Council which matters it chooses to take up under rubric of peace and security issues.”

From our point of view, will Mr. Martin Nersirky accompany Mr. Ban Ki-moon to Copenhagen, or will it be Marie Okabe?

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N.B. – to be fair to Michele Montas –
Montas was one of the producers of Jonathan Demme’s documentary, The Agronomist, which depicted the life and death of her husband Jean Dominique and his career at Radio Haiti-Inter, the radio station that he founded. She was also involved with MINUTASH – the UN mission to Haiti. Montas worked  as a journalist at that Radio-station and has been  a human rights activist in Haiti and later a consistent international lecturer on Haiti – but the subject matter of the UN extends beyond Haiti and the Aristide government interests.
We do not imply that Montas was a negative person as such, only that she was not the right person for her job which allowed Mr. Ahmad Fawzi of Egypt to take over some of the responsibilitires that were hers, and the Under Secretary-General for the UN DPI, Mr. Kyotaka Akasaka, another strange appointment in the Ban Ki-moon cabinet, could really not care less.

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P.S. – On November 23, 2009 Martin Nesirky met the media correspondents to the UN and said:

A couple of things I just wanted to mention.  First of all, I’m really looking forward to working with all of you; getting to know you.  This is a huge challenge, of course, and I’m very keen to try to get to know you so I can help you the best that I can.  That’s the first thing.

The second thing is that, needless to say, I do read what’s being written.  And I think there are a couple of things I’d like to make absolutely clear and very straight at the beginning.  My language skills: I speak German, I speak Russian, I speak English after a fashion, I speak a little bit of Korean and an even smaller amount of French.  I realize that it’s very, very important to be able to speak French. I’m going to be doing as the Secretary-General has done, which is to take extra French classes to improve on that. And that’s really all I wanted to say on that matter.

The other is that I really believe that coming from outside the UN has advantages and disadvantages.  You will have to bear with me as I get to know the system that you, many of you, know far better than I probably will ever do.  But I am very keen to work with you so that you can help me to help you to have the stories that you need to write.

Also, it seems that the UN expects Mr. Nesirky to start his work at the UN on only December 7th, which is coincidentally the day the Copenhagen Conference opens officially, does it mean that he will be there, or it means that Marie Okabe will be there and he will be in New York? We shall see!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world – equal in size to all of Western Europe, four times the size of Texas, five times the size of France, and has 16.5 million people. Its present GNP per capita is $6,140. It passed  a Sovereignty Declaration October 25, 1990 and became an Independent State December 16, 1991 claiming to be a fledgling secular democracy – true enough when one judges by it having become a hub where various religions can meet freely – that is like having at the same table leading Jews from Israel, Shiia from Iran, Sunni from Saudi Arabia, and every Christian Denomination, with further participants from the various religions of East and South Asia.

Kazakhstan attracted our attention early and our website has had several articles regarding Kazakhstan.

Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev is elected President of Kazakhstan since independence, and after the Constitution reform of 1995, his first constitutional term started in 1999 and was then reelected for further 7 years term December 4, 2007.

Kazakhstan exports Oil. gas, uranium, ferrous and nonferrous metals, coal, chemicals, wool, meat and grain.

From our website’s angle, we are thinking of the terrible environmental problems that Kazakhstan inherited from the Soviet rulers, the awareness of its people of this environmental damage, and a high potential for the introduction of renewable energy to the country, while at the same time aiming at becoming a hub of peace in its region. Kazakhstan is an important US ally in that part of the world. A Kazakh woman is the head of the Asian Environmental Journalists group.

When we learned about the November 23-24, 2009 New York City, Harvard Club, Conference, we made it a point of interest that we wanted to participate. For those interested in further information beyond what we will be able to bring forward – please look up www.kazakhhembus.com and www.newsdeskmedia.com – organization headed by Alan Spence, that put together this conference – and www.kazakhinvest.com

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This was a pure economic encounter with many companies that already do business in Kazakhstan, in attendance, i.e. IBM, GE, CONOCO Phillips (the President and COO), and Federal Express, and with quite a few officials of Kazakhstan present – Galymzhan Primatov the Vice-President, Bolat Zhamishev, the Minister of Finance, Daniyar Akishev, Deputy Chairman of the National Bank, Nurbek Rayev, Vice-minister of Industry and Trade, Asset Magauov the Vice-minster of Energy and Mineral Resources, Erlan S. Kozhasbay the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kairat Umarov, the Deputy Foreign Minister, Erlan Idrissov, the Ambassador to Washington and Richard Hoagland the US Ambassador to Kazakhstan. Also, Mr. Daniel Poneman, the US Deputy Secretary of Energy and Edward Chow, Senior Fellow, Energy and National Security Program at CSIS in Washington DC.

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In these days when everyone thinks about the economic crises first let us see what that meant to Kazakhstan:

“Kazakhstan has stepped into the global economic crisis together with the Western countries and taken steps to come out at the same time with the Western Countries” – told me one of the Kazakh officials.

Today, even in the most prosperous nations, the largest financial and industrial giants are distressed, hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs, and many businesses are closed. Kazakhstan didn’t stay apart from the adverse effect of the crisis, however, it adequately has been coping with its impact.

Similar to the actions of Obama Administration, and earlier Bush Administration, leadership of Kazakhstan is fully aware of global vital risk affecting every single country without exception.
Since crisis is systemic, it is fought on a system basis, requiring program and target approaches.  The key factor is the effectiveness of anti-crisis policy successfully being implemented by the State. The impact of the crisis considerably reduced the possibility of Kazakhstani banks to attract external financial resources, thus, affecting the level of lending in the domestic economy. In addition, sharp jump in world prices of food significantly increased inflationary pressure on the economy.

In fact, in January 2009, immediately responding to the warning signals of global markets, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has developed and adopted  an anti-crisis program. Further, government has actively pursued its implementation.  The anti-crisis program is focused on five main directions:

– Stabilizing the financial sector;
– Solving problems in real estate;
– Support for small and medium business;
– Development of  the agro-industrial complex;
– Implementation of innovative, industrial and infrastructure projects.

Since the beginning of 2009 the Government of Kazakhstan has spent $15 billion for these purposes.  This amount equals 14% of GDP in Kazakhstan. Globally, the figure amounts 15% of GDP in many countries. So, Kazakhstan is implementing its anti-crisis measures at the level of the developed countries. It is important to draw attention to Kazakhstan’s “know-how” entitled Roadmap Program, which is already bearing fruits. The program contains around 5,000 projects addressing issues of unemployment –  creating new jobs, improving education, supporting youth, food security, etc.

2,203 projects have been implemented to date, and 70% of funds pledged to the anti-crisis measures have been absorbed. As the result of the project 256,000 jobs were created and 231,000 people were employed. Compared with last year the volume of social benefits has significantly increased. Government has signed 8,000 memorandums with private companies, saving jobs to a million people.

Agriculture is one of the priority sectors of the economy. Since the beginning of the year farmers have implemented development projects in amount of $420 million.  The area under cultivation has increased by 1.7 million hectares. The government has secured the country from  food crisis. 40,000 tons of grain are stored in the state granaries. These actions were directed to support macroeconomic stability, business activity in the economy, and the financial system of the country. Decrease in GDP because of worsening inflation, and unemployment, has been stopped.  It is fair to say that Kazakhstan has managed to avoid the worst-case economic scenario, and create the preconditions for post-crisis development.

International experts and analysts have agreed with the anti-crisis measures undertaken by the Government of Kazakhstan.  Rating agency Standard & Poor’s raised the outlook of the Republic of Kazakhstan from “negative” to “stable” followed by the ensuing public policy of banking system stabilization.  According to the analysts of the agency, outlook revision reflects the new strategy of the government to restrict the amount of potential contingent liabilities arising from problems in the banking sector, and providing adequate resources to maintain the confidence of customers, and to enable the banking system to function, supporting the economy, despite any difficulties that may arise in the nearest future.

Director of the Strategic Analysis at the Russian Consulting Company FBK, Igor Nikolayev, believes that timeliness played an important role in the effectiveness of the Anti-crisis Program in Kazakhstan.  “The fact that the program was adopted on 13 January, and not 19 June, as in Russia, already has a great significance as six months delay is fraught with many consequences,” – said the economist. Some of the positive directions of the Kazakh program are saving government investment in infrastructure, support of consumer demand, as well as establishment of a special fund which deals with the purchase of “bad” assets from lending institutions, noted Nikolaev.

Work of the Government of Kazakhstan to support the banking system of the republic has been frequently commended by the international expert community – Kazakhstani Anti-crisis Program is a milestone in the development of the economy. Thus, the current economic situation in Kazakhstan can be characterized by the process of overcoming the most acute phase of crisis, and the need to define a new range of problems – the transition from the rapid action to implementation of the activities in the long term.

It seems that Kazakhstan has stepped into the crisis together with the western economies, and will together come out of it. The current situation proves that the country, having tried for principles based on  values of  democracy, which can be attributed to the Kazakhstan experience, has proven itself.  Decisions of the Kazakhstani leaders in terms of ensuring stable growth of the country’s economy, as a factor in the global economy, were well-timed, helping to establish a positive image of Kazakhstan as a responsible developing country.

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Chris Robbins, a travel writer who likes to write as literature, authored “Apples from Kazakhstan” and pointed out the importance of the Silk Roads, and when these were replaced by ships it lead to 450 years that Kazakhstan vanished from the West’s eye. Yes, apples came from Kazakhstan, but then nothing happened until the 19th century British push into the region – followed by Russia and eventually the Soviet 90 nuclear tests that chewed up the country. The Scythian gold, Genghis Khan and the Mongols originated from these steps. Now they had 50 synagogues in this basically Muslim country.

On the panel moderated by the Kazakhstan ambassador to Washington was Evan Feigenbaum of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, who pointed out the two main topics for the Kazakh development (a) Developing the Energy Resources and bringing them to the market, and Economic Diversification in such areas as urban transit and highways.

We learned that President Nazarbayev will come to meet President Obama in February 2010, and then again for a major meeting on nuclear issues in April 2010.

But we also learned that the US has moved the five Central Asian States away from the Russian desk at the Department of State, first to their own desk, but now to South Asia. This is significant as we see the attempt to create for these States a joint policy rather with India – and not Russia or China.

This panel was about The Obama’s Administration’s Policy Towards Central Asia. Other members of the panel were the US Ambassador to Astana and the Deputy Foreign Minister – the Kazakh Ambassador’s boss – so above ideas – as well as questions about the SCO, Eurasia, Turkey threw light on the high interest the US has in the region – which was then amplified in the following panel that had its title: “Kazakhstan-US Energy Partnership: From Oil to Renewables.”

On that panel was the President of CONOCOPhillips, John Craig, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Jonathan Elkind, and others mainly involved in oil. I was shocked, when despite the mention of renewables in the topic, and others having spoken on DIVERSIFICATION, this panel had no word for anything but oil. I heard – “oil and gas is “center of our interest.” Fair enough – the US must diversify its dependence on oil from the Gulf area, but why not mention something also about the potential of renewable energy in Kazakhstan – and potential there is indeed?

So I had to raise the question to the panel – “As we heard of concrete examples of US proposals to Kazakhstan in oil & gas, what are the concrete proposals the US took to Kazakhstan in renewables?” The answer made it clear that this panel was not prepared to answer such a question at a time the US has on its own to answer also this sort of “alternate questions” in other locations i.e. Copenhagen, and we know that Washington is working hard on making right this sort of proposals.

GE is developing locomotives in Astana, they work on energy efficiency and electricity. Kazakhstan is destined to develop a rail bridge between Europe and Asia – probably over the Black Sea.

Another energy area is the development of Uranium mines in Kazakhstan – hopefully this time less polluting then in the Soviet days. The Kazakh Vice-minister of Energy and Mineral Resources did say that he found here interest in developing wind energy in Kazakhstan – “someone connected to the UN told him so.” In the South of the country there is up to 3,000 hours solar/year. They have selected sites and work with Ambassadors back home. They also have potential for small hydro in the mountains, he said.

That sounded fine, but why was there no emphasis on this by the US side of the panel? We heard rather about the structure of the oil market the various ways one gets out the oil from Kazakhstan to markets, and about a future that will need also the country’s Uranium. The moderator, Tim Gitzel, Senior VP and COO, Cameco Corporation – a publicly traded nuclear company with 11 operating sites in 3 countries is obviously interested in Uranium.

Then one of the Kazakh delegates asked the President of Conoco about the Caspian Sea being a lake, and the oil project is not insured – what if there is a spill? Good question – not much of an answer!

So, rather then having a well rounded meeting, the US side had its tunnel vision directed to Kazakhstan Oil and Uranium, like it did in the past in countries of the Gulf region, and all we can is to point out to Kazakhstan – beware and diversify according to what you seemed to want to say. The nice volume the Embassy made available has a chapter about the “Curse of Oil” and the effort to avoid it. Yes – this must be part of the furniture at any negotiation table.

Kenneth Mack, the President of America Chamber of Commerce in Kazakhstan, spoke about how the energy of Kazakhstan will turn it into a global powerhouse, but he also spoke of major infrastructure programs to be executed with the help of the World Bank and the US Export-Import Bank. He spoke of efforts at diversification and the creation of a trans-corridor from Western China to Western Europe.

He also mentioned high octane fuel but did not say the word ethanol – something I hope the Kazakhs will   carefully study some more. The Export-Import Bank of the US must by law allocate funds to small businesses also (20%) so, here, there is a way to do some good perhaps?

Doris Bradbury of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kazakhstan told me that only a single one of the 255 members is interested in Renewable Energy  he looks into solar panels.

Lancaster Holding presented a series of industrial parks that are being developed, and FedEx is establishing its hub close to Almaty for the lines Shanghai – Frankfurt and Guangjou – Paris.

GE plans for Kazakhstan are amplified by an Azerbaijan firm planning for a Caspian – Black Sea transshipment Corridor.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Svetlana Dylevskaya, an experienced Central Asian senior environment journalist and Network Editor of the Green Women Environmental Media Agency, Kazakhstan and Central Asian Network for Ecological Journalists(CANEJ) has taken up the role of chair of the Asia Pacific forum of Environmental Journalists(APFEJ).She is also the first women president of APFEJ as well as the first person to become APFEJ president from Central Asia.
The APFEJ new secretariat based in Colombo- Sri Lanka  opens on November 19, 2009.

Following on from its 18th APFEJ World Congress of Environmental Journalists- Colombo,  Sri Lanka, October 19- 22, 2009, APFEJ, announced the newly elected 19-member Administrative Council who will serve for the term 3 year term(2009 October to 2012 October). APFEJ can be rightly proud of the active participation of the attendees, more than 103 Environmental Journalists, opinion makers from 34 countries.

A new APFEJ administrative Council is in place and ready to forward the APFEJ ‘s directives. At the meeting, a new structure for APFEJ  was proposed this includes appointing 45 country coordinators from Asia Pacific countries. As per the constitution of  APFEJ, the administrative Council is elected through its full, associate and individual membership categories. Of the 19 APFEJ administrative Council members there are 8 women representatives.

The Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists(APFEJ) is a network and regional association founded in 1988, dedicated to promoting education understanding and awareness of the environment through the honest and accurate reporting of local, regional and international environmental and development issues. It acted as the head of national environmental journalist forums or media organizations of 42 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The APFEJ ad hoc committee was formed in 1985 at a regional conference on media and environment in Delhi organized by UN-ESCAP in collaboration with the UNEP.Today, APFEJ,is the oldest and largest organization of professional environmental journalists, contacts over 12,000 members around the world. The mission of APFEJ to build into a strong,independent and committed to promote excellence in environmental journalism worldwide by supporting environmental journalists specially Asia pacific through Professionalism, Freedom of expression, Social responsibility, environmental justice, Networking and training.

The roles of APFEJ administrative Council members has been streamlined and the administrative Council  itself consists only of an administrative body, which co-opts or appoints other members as needed.This is quite a different formation of the APFEJ administrative Council and means that members can feel free to come aboard the Council for
short project specific periods.

The General assembly approved some amendments in the APFEJ constitution.

Secretary General of Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists -NEFEJ, which is a APFEJ founding member Tika Ram Rai says he is very pleased with the appointment of such an experienced and competent Central Asia media practitioner as
Svetlana and the sentiments are followed by APFEJ former chair and APFEJ founding member Dharman Wickremaratne. The new APFEJ administrative Council also sees the return of former APFEJ chair Dharman, who says that he is looking forward to getting involved again.

The new committee is formed by the core administrative group:
Chair: Green Women Environmental Media Agency, Kazakhstan
Vice Chair: Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists, Nepal
Secretary /Chief Executive- Sri Lanka Environmental Journalists Forum,Sri Lanka

Members of the APFEJ administrative Council are follows;
01).President – Ms.Svetlana Dylevskaya, Kazakhstan
(Network Editor of the  Green Women Environmental Media Agency*
and Central Asian Network for Ecological Journalists – CANEJ)

02).Deputy President – Mr.Tika Ram Rai, Nepal
(Convener of the Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists -NEFEJ)*

Regional Directors(5)
03).Central Asia  Director- Ms.Jamila Sujud, Tajikistan
(Coordinator of the Central Asian Journalistic Network on Environment
and Health)**

04).North East Asia Director – Mr.Yasuyoshi Tanaka, Japan
(President of the Japanese Forum of Environmental Journalists -JFEJ)*

05).South Asian Director – Mr.Aftab Zahoor, Pakistan
(Head of the Pakistan Forum for Environmental Journalists -PFEJ)*

06).South East Asia Director: Mr.Quoc Dzung, Vietnam
(Executive Vice President of the Vietnam Forum of Environmental
Journalists- VFEJ)*

07).South Pacific Director – Ms.Nina Ratulele, Fiji
(News correspondent of the Islands Business Magazine and Media consultant) ***

08).Secretary /Chief Executive – Mr.Dharman Wickremaratne, Sri Lanka
(Editor of the Sri Lanka Environmental  Journalists Forum-SLEJF) *

09).Deputy secretary General – Mr. Yang Ming-sen,  China
(Secretary General of the China Forum of Environmental Journalists -CFEJ) *

Executive Members (8)

10)Ms.Souparno Banerjee, India
(Coordinator of the Media Resource Centre, – Centre for Science and
Environment -CSE, Mumbai – India)*

11)Mr.Matai Akauol, Fiji
(Manager & Training Coordinator of the Pacific Island News Association -PINA)*

12)Mr.Owais Aslam Ali, Pakistan
(Secretary General of the Pakistan Press Foundation -PPF)*

13)Ms.Elizabeth Roxas, Philippines
(Executive Director of the Environmental Broadcast Circle, EBC)*

14)Mr. lya Gridneff, Australia***
(Papua New Guinea Correspondent of Australian Associated Press- APP)

15)Mr.Joseph Joh, South Korea***
(Managing Editor – The Seoul Times, South Korea)

16)Mr.Eurico Pereira, East Timor ***
(Senior  producer of Radio Rakambia- East Timor)

17)Ms.Ellaha Sadat, Afghanistan**
(Media Monitor/ Environmental Analyst of IFES/ ASA)

Auditors (2)
18)Mr.EK Visarakhun, Cambodia
(President of the Cambodia Media Forum on Environment, (CMFE)*

19)Ms.Silafaga Lalua, Tuvalu
(Publication Coordinator of the Tuvalu Media Department)**

* Full Member organisation Representatives – 12 (Minimum 10)
** Associate member organisation Representatives -03 (Maximum 05)
*** Individual member Representatives – 04 (Maximum 04)

****APFEJ Past President’s – Year 1985 to 2009
01).Forum of Environmental Journalists of India – FEJI
(February 1985 to January 1988)
Representative: Chanchal Sakar, India – South Asia
Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee

02). Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists -NEFEJ
(January 1988 to October 1990)
Representative: Aditya Man Shrestha, Nepal – South Asia

03).Philippines Environmental Journalists Inc – PEJI
(October 1990 to August 08, 1991)
Representative: Adlai J Amor, Philippines – South East Asia

04) Malaysian forum of Environmental Journalists(MFEJ)- South East Asia
Chairman of the Steering Group
Representative: Philip Mathews, Malaysia
(August 09, 1991 to April, 1992)

05).Malaysian forum of Environmental Journalists – MFEJ
(April 1992 to November 1993)
Representative: Philip Mathews, Malaysia – South East Asia

06).Philippines Environmental Journalists Inc – PEJI
(November 1993 to November 1995)
Representative: Manuel Satorre Jr, Philippines – South East Asia

07).Singapore forum of Environmental Journalists – ECO
Representative: Ivan Lim Sin Chin, Singapore – South East Asia
(November 1995 to February 1998)

08)China Forum of Environmental Journalists -CFEJ, North East Asia
Chairman of the Steering Group
Representative: Yang Mao, China
(February 06, 1998 to October 17, 1998)

09).Sri Lanka Environmental Journalists Forum – SLEJF
(October 18, 1998 to October 26, 2002)
Representative: Dharman Wickremaratne, Sri Lanka – South Asia

10).Bangladesh Forum of Environmental Journalists (FEJB)
(October 27, 2002  to May 05, 2009)
Representative: Quamrul Islam Chowdhury, Bangladesh – South Asia

11)Sri Lanka Environmental Journalists Forum(SLEJF) – South Asia
Chairman of the Steering Group
Representative: Dharman Wickremaratne, Sri Lanka.
(May 06, 2009 to October 18, 2009)

12).Green Women Environmental Media Agency, Kazakhstan
Representative: Svetlana Dylevskaya, Kazakhstan – Central Asia
(October 19, 2009 to present)

For further information please visit:
 www.environmentaljournalists.org
or  contact,
Dharman Wickremaratne
Secretary /Chief Executive
Asia Pacific forum of Environmental Journalists(APFEJ) Secretariat
PO Box 26
434/3 Sri Jayawardenapura
Sri Lanka.
Skype: ejournalists
E-mail: <ejournalists@sltnet.lk>,<ejournalists@gmail.com>
 www.environmentaljournalists.org
 www.flickr.com/photos/ejournalist…

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