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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 23rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

The New York event took place at the Austrian Consulate General, Monday,  October 21, 2013, and was hosted by Consul General, Ambassador Georg Heidl.

Leader of the group was Josef Mantl, the Editor of the “Communicating Sustainability” volume published in Austria, CEO of JMC – Communications that Moves – and a spokesman for the Al Gore campaign for Sustainability.

With him came to the US Mr. Mario J Mueller, General Manager of SFL Technologies (Green Tech Valley of Styria based in Graz); Klaus Tritscher, CEO of EnTri Consulting (Environmental and Infrastructure Services) & Co-initiator of Vienna based “Green Tech Bridge USA-Austria; Gery Keszler, Founder of the Vienna Life Ball – an organization that has a US admirer in the personality of former President Bill Clinton; they were joined on the panel by American partners – Robert Bell, Co-Founder of the Intelligent Community Forum & Co-Author of the volume “Seizing Our Destiny” – Helen Todd, CEO of Socially Squared Social Media Management, a Media Consulting firm – and Leo Borchardt, a New York and London Attorney an associate in Davis Polk’s Corporate Department assigned to the Mergers and Acquisitions Group and for the panel tried to analyze the difficulties that sustainable development encountered .

While most of the speakers dealt with communication issues – two of the Austrian members of the panel are represent active technology companies.

SFL is a company that looks at buildings’ envelope for potential to save energy in passive ways, but also with photovoltaics in order to find new ways to provide for the structure’s energy needs. I understood they are active in Hungary as well. Mueller spoke of Smart Cities of the future and the fact that we do not have an energy problem but an energy harvesting problem. Ultimately all energy comes from the sun and it is good for millions of years.

ENTRI are Project Financing specialists and moved into the Renewable energy area. Sustainability makes economic sense and Dr. Tritscher told us about the example of Haiti that was the sugar supplier of France. People made a lot of money in Haiti and France from the sugar cane industry but the clearing of forests in order to have more sugar producing land has impoverished this wrong headed economy and turned Haiti from a rich island to one of the poorest countries in the world. The lesson is that it is not only environmentally wise, but also economically wise to invest in Sustainability. His company just helped organize financing for photovoltaics in Senegal.

Robert Bell was the first to speak after the host and Mr. Mantl. He introduced the concept of Sustainability and what we can do with it. We want to learn to create growth by using less resources and creating less waste. He as well spoke of homes and cities and the vision that people who care for their homes are stronger people. The volume he co-authored with John Jung and Louis Zacharilla  – “Seizing Our Destiny” – tells the story of seven cities that managed to keep pace with a more innovative world. In the process, they offer lessons on how to innovate in governing, how to build political will for change, and how to understand and adapt creatively to the demands of the new century. The seven cities are Quebbec City, Riverside Californis, Saint John New Brunswick, Stratford Ontario, Oulu Finland, and Tuichung City Taiwan.  None of these are big cities in their respective countries, but they have been able to grow against the world trends.

With the UN making Vienna to its hub for SUSTAINABLE ENERGY 4 ALL Austria will become a focal point for above topics.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

HELEN CLARK – Biography of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.

Helen Clark

Helen Clark got her appointment for four years to be the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme in April 2009. She is the first woman to lead the organization. She is also the Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programmes and departments working on development issues.

Prior to her appointment with UNDP, Helen Clark served for nine years as Prime Minister of New Zealand, serving three successive terms from 1999 – 2008. Throughout her tenure as Prime Minister, Helen Clark engaged widely in policy development and advocacy across the international, economic, social and cultural spheres.

Under her leadership, New Zealand achieved significant economic growth, low levels of unemployment, and high levels of investment in education and health, and in the well-being of families and older citizens. She and her government prioritized reconciliation and the settlement of historical grievances with New Zealand’s indigenous people and the development of an inclusive multicultural and multi-faith society.

Helen Clark advocated strongly for New Zealand’s comprehensive programme on sustainability and for tackling the problems of climate change. Her objectives have been to establish New Zealand as being among the world’s leading nations in dealing with these challenges. Helen Clark was also an active leader of her country’s foreign relations and policies, engaging in a wide range of international issues. As Prime Minister, Helen Clark was a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

Helen Clark held ministerial responsibility during her nine years as Prime Minister for New Zealand’s intelligence agencies and for the portfolio of arts, culture and heritage. She has seen the promotion of this latter portfolio as important in expressing the unique identity of her nation in a positive way.

Helen Clark came to the role of Prime Minister after an extensive parliamentary and ministerial career. First elected to Parliament in 1981, Helen Clark was re-elected to her multicultural Auckland constituency for the tenth time in November 2008. Earlier in her career, she chaired Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

Between 1987 and 1990, she was a Minister responsible for first, the portfolios of Conservation and Housing, and then Health and Labour. She was Deputy Prime Minister between August 1989 and November 1990. From that date until December 1993 she served as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and then as Leader of the Opposition until winning the election in November 1999.

Prior to entering the New Zealand Parliament, Helen Clark taught in the Political Studies Department of the University of Auckland. She graduated with a BA in 1971 and an MA with First Class Honours in 1974. She is married to Peter Davis, a Professor at Auckland University.

The Post of the UNDP Administrator:

The UNDP Administrator is appointed by the Secretary-General and confirmed by the General Assembly for a term of four years.

Paul G. Hoffman was appointed as the first Administrator of UNDP in 1966 and served until retirement in 1972. David Owen, who led UNDP’s predecessor organization, the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA), was appointed as Mr. Hoffman’s Co-Administrator.

Rudolph A. Peterson was appointed Administrator in 1972 followed by Bradford Morse in 1976; William H. Draper lll, 1986; James Gustave Speth, 1993 to 30 June 1999; Mark Malloch Brown, 1999-2005; and Kemal Dervi?, 2005-2009.

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Helen Clark: “What does Rio+20 mean for sustainable development?”

20 August 2012

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator – State of the Nation’s Environment
What does Rio+20 mean for sustainable development?”
Lincoln University, New Zealand, 20 August 2012, 7:30pm

I thank Lincoln University for the invitation to deliver this year’s State of the Nation’s Environment address. I commend both the University and the Isaac Centre for Nature Conservation for establishing and supporting this annual lecture as a way of drawing attention to the environmental and sustainability issues New Zealand faces.

This year’s address takes place in the 25th anniversary year of the release of the Brundtland Report – the UN Report which, in defining sustainable development, helped facilitate a global consensus on its importance. We also meet just two months after world leaders gathered in Rio de Janeiro to agree on steps to advance sustainable development at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20.

Advancing sustainable development worldwide is central to the mandate of the UN Development Programme which I lead, and it is also of critical importance for both the health of New Zealand’s environment and the well-being of its people. No country is truly an island: the state of New Zealand’s environment and the well-being of its people are also related to the willingness and capabilities of those outside our borders to make the right decisions and take collective action to implement them.

I am especially pleased, therefore to join you today to examine what the Rio+20 Conference means for sustainable development for all of us.

My lecture tonight will address three issues:

  • First:The background to Rio+20, and what happened at the conference
  • Second:What Rio+20 means for engagement in and leadership of sustainable development.
  • Third: How the outcome of Rio+20 could be translated into policy solutions to pressing global challenges.

First, the background to Rio+20, and what happened at the conference.

Many of you will have seen the somewhat mixed media accounts of the conference outcome – some are hopeful, while others are rather dour and pessimistic. Before drawing conclusions about its success or failure, however, let’s look at what the Conference was intended to achieve, and what it actually did accomplish. We also need to consider the context in which it took place.

The negotiations of UN member states on the outcome document for Rio+20 occurred against the backdrop of significant political and economic tension in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. Economic uncertainty and the prospect of slow growth polarized the political discourse on growth and austerity, and left leaders reluctant to be proactive in addressing global challenges, including through development assistance and environmental protection.

Development co-operation does have a vital and catalytic role to play in advancing sustainable development. If traditional donors are reducing the quantity of aid, that does not help the atmospherics around a conference like Rio+20. Indeed, the volume of official development assistance, as measured in real terms by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), dropped last year for the first time since 1997. That is not the ideal backdrop for a major UN conference related to development.

For these and other reasons, failure to agree on any outcome whatsoever at Rio+20 remained a distinct possibility up until the arrival of high-level delegations at the conference itself. Months of negotiations in New York had produced few results. No outcome would have been disastrous, making it more difficult to generate the momentum needed to address the linked challenges of environmental degradation, social inequity, and economic volatility.

Unfortunately it is not unknown for major multilateral meetings to fail to produce significant outcomes: the UN Committee on the Status of Women could not agree this year; the Commission for Sustainable Development struggled last year; and the Copenhagen Climate Conference struggled the year before. As New Zealanders are acutely aware, the WTO’s Doha Development Round has been in trouble for years.

After much debate and late night negotiations, however, the 193 UN member states at Rio+20 adopted the compromise outcome document submitted by the host, Brazil. Its title, “The Future We Want”, restates the global commitment to achieve sustainable development, and calls on all actors to reinvigorate their efforts. Considering the global political context, this outcome must be seen as a glass at least half full.

To assess the value of the agreement, we should also view it in a longer term historical context, and consider what the Conference was established to achieve.

The Rio+20 outcome document concludes that sustainable development is the only viable path for development, and, therefore, that for development to be effective it must be sustainable. It highlights how environmental protection and economic development are linked, and gives, for the first time at a global conference of this kind, equal emphasis to the social – or people-centered – dimension of sustainable development. This is of great importance to UNDP, which both promotes human development and works across the three strands of sustainable development, seeking synergies between them.

Thus the Rio+20 outcome reflects an advance in thinking which brings the consensus of member states closer to the conclusions of the Brundtland Report 25 years ago.

In 1983, the UN Secretary General had asked Gro Harlem Brundtland to chair a World Commission on Environment and Development, citing her experience as Norway’s Prime Minister and Environment Minister. The Commission’s Report gave us the concept of sustainable development, which is widely used today.

It defined sustainable development as “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. This definition linked the concept to a fundamental tenet of justice and to human development: that no one should be denied the ability or opportunity to live lives they value because of their gender, ethnicity, or any other factor, including, in this case, the generation in which they happen to be born.

The Brundtland Report argued that sustainable development was about both advancing social justice and human progress and about maintaining the integrity of ecosystems. The Report went further to suggest that the economic, social, and environmental strands of sustainable development represent interconnected objectives which countries can and should pursue together.

The Report’s powerful and compelling ideas popularized sustainable development, bringing the term and concept into mainstream development discourse in developed and developing countries. It also laid the ground for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

That Conference, commonly referred to as the Earth Summit, focused mainly on moving the environmental agenda forward -which it did in powerful ways. It agreed on Agenda 21, the Global Environment Facility, and UN conventions on climate change, biodiversity, and desertification, thereby establishing a strong foundation for sustainable development. Its implementation, however, has been uneven.

Rio+20 this year was intended to be a “review” conference which would assess the progress made since 1992. As such, its aims, on paper at least, were more limited than those of its predecessor.

The opportunity offered by a major global conference to advance sustainable development, however was one not to be missed. Many argued that to tackle growing global challenges of inequity and unsustainability, quick, bold, & concerted action was needed from Rio+20. It was hoped that leaders might re-create the ‘spirit of the Earth Summit’, and determine to move past short-term, sectoral thinking; learn from best practice on sustainability; and make commitments to tackle the pressing challenges – from ocean acidification and diminishing biodiversity to food insecurity, entrenched poverty and much more. In so doing, the misconception that sustainable development is only or mainly about the environment could be dispelled.

In the third week of June, some 100 Heads of State and Government, many ministers, and more than 40,000 other representatives of governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and civil society gathered at Rio+20, making it the largest ever UN gathering.

It is true that the agreed outcome document included no new binding targets, few concrete initiatives, and little new financial and institutional support. That left many activists, NGOs, scientists, and development actors disappointed. That is understandable, as, measured against the scale of the global challenges – including environmental degradation, growing inequality, and economic volatility, the outcome document does fall short.

But it is also true that the outcome document has wise things to say about every aspect of sustainable development, and provides a platform to which to link action by all who want to act, from citizens to governments.  The challenge arising from Rio+20 is how to advance economic, social, and environmental objectives simultaneously, lifting integrated policy-making to new levels.

The outcome signals a broad understanding that the systems and behaviours which have brought us to this point in history –reaching planetary boundaries and societal breaking points – must change. The document:

(1) calls on governments and the UN system to work across sectors to identify the policies and programmes which will grow economies and reduce inequities, while also protecting the environment.

In some quarters, economic growth is looked at as antithetical to environmental protection. Rio turns such thinking on its head – encouraging us all to identify how entrepreneurship, job creation, and social protection can be generated through and linked to environmental protection.

In my work, I encounter countless examples of such action – for example, just last month in Senegal, meeting local women committed to replanting and protecting the mangrove forests, which, once re-established, nurture fish and shell fish stocks, thus generating new sources of incomes for families.

In this spirit, UNDP is committed to help countries learn from and scale up ‘triple-win’ policies and programmes, which many countries are already employing and which are designed to advance economic, social, and environment objectives together.

(2) emphasises that economies must be made both green and inclusive.  It singles out poverty eradication as the world’s most pressing challenge, and calls for targeted efforts to reach the poor and vulnerable, including by creating jobs and opportunities.Negotiations on the green economy were particularly heated, due to the fears of developing countries that the term could be code for new conditions on trade and aid. It was agreed that the green economy should be seen as an important tool for sustainable development, rather than as a rigid set of rules. In other words, no firm pathway was agreed on. There is much which can be done, however, to identify locally appropriate ways to generate green jobs and incentivize shifts to sustainable production and consumption. UNDP and sister agencies expect to be heavily engaged in supporting developing countries to do that.

(3) calls for continued efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by their 2015 target date. Looking beyond 2015, Rio+20 also agreed to craft “sustainable development goals” – which should:

    (a) build on the significant success of the MDGs in focusing development efforts and mobilising diverse actors around a common cause;

    (b) fully reflect all three strands of sustainable development; and

    (c) raise the level of global ambition to eradicate extreme poverty.

Overall, while the agreements reached at Rio are voluntary, not binding, and overarching, not specific, they do strengthen the international community’s commitment to implement sustainable development and provide a platform for action by those willing to act.

It should not surprise us that the concerns raised by the Brundtland report 25 years ago found more resonance with world leaders gathered in Rio this June. The more polluted and unequal our world becomes, the more governments will tend to view environmental and social protection systems not as luxuries to be acquired when countries become wealthy, but as necessities, vital to sustain development and meet the needs of citizens.

This conclusion is increasingly compelling for developing countries with restless young populations, overstretched services, and rapidly expanding cities. The challenges are especially daunting for small island countries faced with obliteration from rising sea levels, and for other poor countries also bearing the brunt of extreme climate events – including through the deadly droughts affecting parts of Africa and the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Second, what Rio+20 means for engagement in and leadership of sustainable development. Some observations:

1. The role played by developing countries. It was evident in Rio that new groupings of countries have realized the importance and relevance of pursuing sustainable development at home and through global collaboration and international action. Alongside the Conference’s official proceedings, developing and emerging market countries met in side events and shared success stories. Many revealed new and innovative policy approaches, and displayed their willingness to collaborate across borders for sustainable development.  Through south-south co-operation, developing countries are sharing best practice and lessons learned.  It was notable that while the majority of the G8’s leaders stayed away, emerging economies were generally represented at a very high level, strengthening their voice in proceedings.

2. The role of Brazil. Brazil played a major role as host in steering the conference, and is determined that there will be a legacy from it. As part of that, an announcement was made during the conference by Brazil’s Minister for the Environment and me that Brazil and UNDP will establish the “Rio+20 World Centre for Sustainable Development”. Located in Rio, the Centre will promote implementation of the outcome of Rio+20, share best practice, and support countries’ efforts to adopt integrated policy-making and pursue objectives across the three strands of sustainable development.

3. A new member state forum at the United Nations. At the global level, member states at Rio+20 agreed to establish a universal membership, intergovernmental, high-level political forum for sustainable development at the UN, which builds on the strengths, experiences, resources, and inclusive ways of working of the current Commission on Sustainable Development, and subsequently replaces the Commission. An intergovernmental process will define the features of the new forum which is expected to convene at the beginning of the 68th session of the General Assembly in September 2013.

The overall mandate of the High Level Political Forum will be to help countries implement the outcome of Rio+20.  It could do this by reviewing and monitoring progress on sustainable development, and by providing a platform for countries to share their experiences on implementation, rather as the Development Co-operation Forum associated with the UN’s Economic and Social Council does. It could also promote co-ordination across the UN system on sustainable development programming and policies, and seek to strengthen the science-policy interface.

4. The level of engagement beyond the UN’s member states. UN global conferences like Rio+20 traditionally work through the good faith, legitimacy, common understandings, and shared principles generated in inter-governmental negotiations and dialogue. But Rio + 20 broke the usual mould with the very large presence of civil society, business people, and local governments.

The voluntary commitments made by businesses, development banks, cities and regions, UN agencies, and NGOs and civil society activists were among Rio’s most significant outcomes. More than 700 formal commitments were registered, and more than $500 billion dollars were pledged. For example:

  • Unilever, Tesco, and Johnson and Johnson committed to end deforestation in their supply chains for beef, soy, paper, and palm oil by 2020,
  • The 1800 largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange committed to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions,
  • The cities of Beijing, Cairo, Delhi, London, Moscow, New York, and Sydney, among others, committed to reducing a gigaton of carbon emission reductions, and agreed to report on their progress through an annual report card, and
  • Eight development banks committed to spending $175 billion in grant and loan funding by 2020 to support sustainable low carbon transportation.

This outcome suggests that motivated leaders from across the economic and social sectors and subnational governments can help accelerate sustainable development. Many of these are well ahead of many governments at the national level, and certainly well ahead of what UN member states can agree on. They are not waiting for governments to act – nor should they. The need to act is urgent.

Progress on implementing the more than 700 voluntary commitments made at Rio+20 needs to be monitored. UNDP will be working with civil society partners and in-country networks to support such monitoring, which can also help grow constituencies for sustainable development by raising awareness of what can and should be done.

5. Social media engagement on a global scale. Global constituencies for change can also be built, following on from the successful “Rio dialogues”. Held in the lead up to the Conference, these were a series of structured on-line discussions, which originated from the Government of Brazil and UNDP’s drive to consult citizens on what should happen at Rio+20. The initiative engaged 60,000 people around the world in voting for the specific sustainable development actions which were most important to them. The results were presented to the leaders attending Rio, setting precedents for new levels of citizen engagement and offering a glimpse of what future of UN summitry could be.

The UN Charter begins with the words “we the peoples”. Through the strategic use of new media, the UN can convey the message that the capacity to expand peace, freedom, and sustainability does not rest in the hands of diplomats in meetings in New York alone, but with all of us – the citizens. We are all the shareholders of Planet Earth.

Third, how Rio+20 could be translated into policy solutions to pressing global challenges?

1. Rio+20 drew attention to the pressing need for universal access to modern and reliable energy services, at the same time as there is also a need to move away from the high level of dependence on fossil fuels which the world currently has.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that in 2011, 1.3 billion people lacked access to electricity. Without access to clean fuels, 2.3 billion people use traditional biomass for heating and cooking. An estimated two million people, mainly women and children, die each year as a result of exposure to indoor smoke from such fuels. Reliable access to energy is essential for providing basic health, education, and sanitation services. It also lightens the domestic burden of women.

At Rio+20, member states noted the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s  “Sustainable Energy for All”  initiative, and expressed their “determination to act to make sustainable energy for all a reality”.

The Secretary-General’s initiative has set three targets for 2030:

  • achieving universal access to modern energy services;
  • doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix; and
  • doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency worldwide.

Of the US$500 billion pledged through voluntary commitments at Rio+20, more than sixty per cent were dedicated to this initiative. UNDP is helping take the Sustainable Energy for All initiative forward in the 55 countries which have signed on thus far, using the convening power of UN Resident Co-ordinators, who are also the UNDP Representatives, to bring stakeholders together to identify how to overcome barriers to achieving sustainable energy for all, and to act to do so.

2. At Rio+20 the UN Secretary-General also issued an ambitious challenge to achieve “zero hunger” in his lifetime.

Specifically he called for a world in which:

  • everyone has access to sufficient levels of nutritious food all year round;
  • there is no malnutrition in pregnancy and early childhood;
  • all food systems are sustainable;
  • smallholder farmers have the inputs and opportunities they need to double their productivity and income; and
  • food losses stemming from waste, poor storage capacity, and infrastructure are brought to an end.

Food is produced today in quantities which could feed everyone; yet the FAO estimates that in 2010 925 million people were undernourished.  Nearly a quarter of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is affected by hunger. This means children are denied the opportunity to reach their full potential, and adults suffer from lifelong poor health and low productivity.

About a third of global food production intended for human consumption is lost or wasted each year. In developing countries, more than forty per cent of food losses occur post-harvest. Grains are eaten by vermin, and fruits and vegetables rot before they can be sold or eaten.

Reliable electricity for cold storage and local processing facilities, and better rural infrastructure, are essential for expanding food security in the developing world. New Zealand’s expertise in the science and technology of agriculture, including here at Lincoln University, can be employed not only to make the shift to more sustainable production methods here at home, but also to support developing countries to increase the productivity of small farmers.

Investments in sustainable agriculture have the potential to alleviate food insecurity and malnutrition, mitigate climate change, and protect the environment. As well, UNEP estimates that these investments have the potential to create up to fifty million more jobs by 2050.  The growing numbers of young people in Sub-Saharan Africa in will need these opportunities in agriculture.

3. Rio+20 has given impetus to finding new ways of measuring development progress, and ending the tyranny of measurement by GDP. UNDP has for 22 years produced the Human Development Index, which encompasses health and education components alongside income. Yet, still today, countries are more likely to be judged by the speed at which their economies grow – rather than by the education or health status of their populations, or by their ability to reduce chronic hunger and provide work.

This year, the UN Statistical Commission adopted a System of Environmental-Economic Accounting to monitor progress on increasing green investment, creating green jobs, improving energy and resource efficiency, and recycling.

UNDP is exploring the possibilities of adapting the Human Development Index to reflect environmental and other sustainability indicators better.

4. Rio+20 showcased innovative social protection systems which are designed to have environmental benefits. Brazil’s Bolsa Verde, South Africa’s “Working for Water”, and India’s National Employment Guarantee scheme, are all good examples. Brazil, for example, established an environmental conservation support initiative which employs impoverished families living by forests in support of their protection.

These are just some of many examples of “triple win” policies of the kind which UNDP supports around the world, showing that economic, social, and environmental objectives can be advanced together.

5. Rio+20 called on member states to eliminate, or at least seriously reduce “harmful and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and undermine sustainable development”. A grassroots campaign against fossil fuel subsidies went viral in social media before and during Rio+20, and had an impact on negotiators.

The IEA estimates that in 2010 the world spent roughly $409 billion in subsidies on the sale of fossil fuels. In some countries, fossil fuel subsidies now exceed the total budget allocated to education, health, and social programmes – one reason why finance ministers are increasingly supportive of their removal.

Ending or reducing such subsidies would promote energy conservation, investments in renewables, and free up significant funding for policies which meet the needs of the poor and advance sustainable development, such as social protection, mass transit systems, or renewable energy.

While fossil fuel subsidies disproportionately benefit wealthy households which consume more energy, strategies to remove or reduce subsidies need to mitigate the impact on the poor. Without a commitment to such measures, governments can expect savage reactions, as seen in Nigeria a few months ago.

Effective mitigation might involve directing energy subsidies away from energy companies towards vulnerable households. To do this, however, countries must have the institutional capacity to identify vulnerable households and compensate for the estimated impact of higher energy prices. Public awareness campaigns and revisions to the underlying social compact may also be needed to convince sceptical publics.

A large share of the world’s fossil fuel subsidies are provided by G20 countries — which have pledged to phase them out. In Rio, a petition with one million signatures was presented to the G20, asking them to make good on their pledge.

6. Rio can make good on its promise if increasing numbers of governments meet their Rio+20 obligations through integrated and low-carbon development planning. The Resilient People, Resilient Planet report of the Secretary General’s High Level Global Sustainability panel suggested that “most economic decision makers still regard sustainable development as extraneous to their core responsibilities.” Yet we know the contrary can be true: that integrating environmental and social issues can be vital to the success of economic decisions.

Strong leadership is required to build broad constituencies for sustainable development. International development assistance, climate funds, and other sources of investment are needed to help overcome the capacity deficit most developing countries face.

Cross-sectoral co-operation and integrated approaches to policy-making require effective public administrations and governance systems. UNDP is committed to supporting countries to develop these capacities and implement low carbon development plans, which can achieve national development priorities, while limiting future emissions and responding to the needs of vulnerable, poor, and excluded groups and communities.

Last year at the Durban climate conference, Ethiopia launched its low carbon, climate resilient, green economy strategy. Ethiopia aims to lifts its people out of poverty, but to do so in a way which does not wreck the environment. If one of the world’s poorest countries is determined to act in this way, surely all countries can?

Conclusion:

The significance and relevance of global summits like Rio+20 ultimately lie in their ability to connect with and influence what people are doing on the ground around the world to “think globally while acting locally”.

This brings us back home to New Zealand. Our country is more heavily reliant on the earth’s bounty than are most developed countries. Our land- and sea-based industries thrive when the climate is benign, and when ecosystems are healthy.

Lincoln University, the Crown Research Institutes, and the Isaac Centre for Nature Conservation can all play an advocacy role for the importance of New Zealand seeking sustainability at home and doing what it takes to create a more sustainable world.

Rio+20, with its huge engagement of sub-national governments, NGOs, communities, and businesses, can be seen as promoting  bottom-up leadership for sustainable development, based on pragmatic, multi-sectoral, issue-based coalitions. In the end, what will motivate governments to act is the knowledge that there is a groundswell for change.

The outcome document from Rio+20 is a solid foundation on which to build.  To paraphrase Winston Churchill: Rio+20 was not the end for sustainable development, nor was it the beginning of the end. It may, however, have been the end of the beginning. It does not mince words on the seriousness of the challenges our world faces. It challenges us all in our various capacities to act to put our world on a more sustainable course.

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UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, the organization offers global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.
www.undp.org.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

5th Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers adopts the Islamic Declaration on Sustainable Development

The 5th Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers (ICEM) concluded with the adoption of the Islamic Declaration on Sustainable Development. The Conference jointly organized by the ISESCO and the OIC was held from 17-18 May 2012 in Astana, Kazakhstan, under the High Patronage of His Excellency Mr. Karim Massimov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Conference  was inaugurated by Mr. Serik Ahmetov, First Deputy Prime Minster of the Republic of Kazakhstan and chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Turki bin Nasser bin Abdul Aziz, President of the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment of Saudi Arabia.

It was addressed by the Environment Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Director General of ISESCO and attended by Ministers of Environment of the OIC Member States, high-level officials, representatives of relevant OIC institutions and international agencies and organizations. The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the current Chairman of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers also graced the occasion.

The OIC Secretary General was represented at the Conference by Ambassador Abdul Moiz Bokhari, Assistant Secretary General. Delivering the Secretary General’s message, Ambassador Bokhari underscored the centrality of sustainable development to the overall agenda of the OIC which encompass, inter alia, economic development, poverty alleviation, trade enhancement, environmental protection and health. Referring to the OIC Ten Year Programme of Action and the corresponding transformation in the OIC to make it more relevant to the contemporary challenges, he drew the attention of the participants to the efforts of the OIC including the adoption of the OIC Water Vision 2025, preparation of the OIC Green Technology Blue Print and the establishment of a mechanism for regular consultations among OIC Member States on environment and climate change related issues.

The Islamic Declaration on Sustainable Development adopted by the 5th ICEM reaffirms the commitment of the OIC Member States to the principles and objectives adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992.

It calls upon the international community to renew its efforts to meet the goals defined by the UNCED through strengthened international cooperation, more robust and effective institutional framework for sustainable development backed by the necessary financial and technical resources. It further calls upon the developed countries to honor their financial commitments for sustainable development and take concrete steps towards debt cancellation, easy access to markets, technology transfer and capacity-building assistance.

The Declaration cautions against narrow focus on specific technologies or prescriptions which could lead to the creation of new technology dependence, erection of trade barriers or conditionalities on development finance. It emphasizes the necessity for the developed countries to assume their responsibilities in terms of reduction of emissions in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

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At the “Africa Day” ceremony Ihsanoglu: I dream of the day when I may see the Port-Sudan/Dakar railway project, a reality on the ground.

Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation indicated that the OIC was striving hard for the realization of the major project consisting in the railway line which would link the Sudanese city of Port Sudan in East Africa to the Senegalese capital Dakar in the west of the continent. This megaproject, he was to add, will be one of the greatest development projects in Africa and will change the face of economic life in the entire African continent. “This is a project I hold dear and I dream of the happy day when I may see it a reality on the ground”, he said.

During the ceremony organized in his honor by the Jeddah-based consuls of African states (24th May 2012) the Secretary General pointed out that the African Group was one of the most active regional groups of the OIC, for which reason the General Secretariat wished to appreciate and commend the African role in the OIC in general, a role that has recently become even greater and wider.

Ihsanoglu went on to say: “Since I came to office at the head of the OIC, I made a point of paying a visit to African Member States and attached special attention to African Islamic action aimed at achieving sustainable development and creating the necessary conditions for peace and harmony throughout the continent.”

He further added: “As we meet today on this happy occasion, the chairmanship of the OIC is assumed by Senegal since March 2008. The meeting of the OIC Ministers of Information was held a few weeks ago in Libreville, Gabon, and in a few months, Djibouti is expected to play host for the coming Council of Foreign Ministers. In addition, another African country i.e. Guinea, will host the next CFM after Djibouti, all of which is indicative of Africa’s focal position in the OIC’s action.”

The Secretary General also noted that by the end of 2011, the funding of OIC Africa Development Programme had reached US$.3.9 billion, mainly allocated to housing, health, food security, agriculture and education. As for the Islamic Fund for Development (ISFD) and the Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF), their total funding had reached one billion US$ which were allocated to poverty alleviation programmes and to infrastructural  development, particularly in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

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Expressing Gratitude to Donor Countries, KSA and UAE, Ihsanoglu Calls for a Remedy to “Severe Shortage” in ISF Resources

Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), called for appropriate solutions to be explored to expand the sources of for the Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF) which has been suffering a severe and unprecedented shortage in its resources for a number of years.

In an opening address delivered at the Fifty-sixth Session of Permanent Council of the Islamic Solidarity Fund (attached to the OIC), at the General Secretariat in Jeddah on 22 May 2012, the Secretary General said that a quick look through the Fund’s achievements and activities over the recent past, gives one pride and prompts us to gear up our efforts in favor of the ISF mobilizing further support and assistance, diversifying its revenues and assuming its tasks at all levels in the face of the events which some of the Islamic States are going through and whose management needs our enhanced cooperation.

The Secretary General went on to say: My communication with H.R.H. Prince Saud Al Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has born fruit, as the Kingdom has graciously responded with a generous gift to the ISF. Indeed I have recently learnt that the Kingdom has decided to allocate a plot of land for the ISF in the city of Jeddah, and this matter is now in its final process for submission to the high consideration of the Custodian of Two Holy Mosque King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz for approval.

Ihsanoglu extended his heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their generous donations in support of the resources of the ISF and its Waqf this year. He also extended his thanks to the Member States that made donations to the Fund over the past and expressed the hope that this support will continue such as to give the Fund access to diverse sources of revenue that would enable it to duly assume its tasks. The Secretary General closed his remarks by wishing the participants full success in their deliberations and noble action.

On his part, Ambassador Naser Abdullah Bin Hamdan Al-Za’aby, Chairman of the ISF Permanent Council, indicated that the Fund’s history is filled with achievements over the past 38 years and that it has extended assistance to 80 projects, which include, amongst others, a number of universities, assistance to the victims of the floods in Bangladesh, to the Eye Hospital in Gaza, and to the victims of the Washi typhoon in the Philippines.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Israel and France signed (September 5, 2011) a declaration of intent for cooperation in extending aid to Haiti and to emerging countries in Africa. The agreement includes joint actions in the fields of agriculture and irrigation, public health and gender.  Implementation of the agreement will be through MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, at the Foreign Ministry.

Development is an important subject on the international agenda, especially against the backdrop of recent global crises (food, climate change, energy, etc.), which mainly hurt developing countries, many of which suffer from extreme poverty and hunger. Both Israel and France view this joint activity as adding a new phase to their relationship.

The Israeli-French cooperation will focus on sending experts, counseling, professional training and the like, appropriate to the needs and desires of the country receiving the aid. In the first stage, the countries designated to receive aid are Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Haiti.

A steering committee composed of representatives from Israel and France, charged with monitoring implementation of the agreement and approving the work plans, will meet once a year.

Dep.DG Carmon and HE Christophe Bigot sign aid cooperation agreement
MASHAV Dep.Dir-Gen Danny Carmon (right) and HE Christophe Bigot sign aid cooperation agreement.

Danny Carmon used to be #2 at the Israel Mission to the UN in New York and has long had contacts with Developing Countries’ representatives.

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

Overcoming rural poverty depends on a healthy environment, where local people can find sustainable solutions to their challenges. The Equator Initiative was launched in 2002 by UNDP’s Jim McNeil in order to help the search for sustainability by safeguarding biodiversity resources.

Every two years, the Equator Initiative partnership awards prizes to the 25 outstanding community efforts each of which receives $5,000 with five selected for special recognition and an additional $15,000 each. The recipients come from three groups:

AFRICA, ASIA-PACIFIC, and LATIN AMERICA – CARIBBEAN regions.

The announcement was “After an extensive process of evaluation, the Equator Initiative’s Technical Advisory Committee has selected an exceptional subset of 25 winning initiatives, from a total pool of nearly 300 nominations from 66 different countries.”

Africa:

Asia & the Pacific:

Latin America & the Caribbean:

Obviously, we have no problem with the choices, nor with the fact that the large countries of Kenya, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, and Mexico got two prizes each, nor that the two Mega-States got next to nothing – China nothing and India one – but we do wonder how it is that the Independent Pacific Island States, and the Independent Caribbean Island States, coincidentally both groups, got absolutely nothing. Does this mean that the rebelious SIDS and AOSIS, as groups, are in UN disfavor? They happen to be in the Tropics and quite a few are biodiversity very rich!

———-

The judges were:
Her Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan
Robert Edward “ted” Turner III, The father of it all and benefactor of The UN Foundation
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Third World Tebtebba Foundation
M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of the MSSRF Resarch Foundation
Steven J.McCormick, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Dr. Gro Brubdtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and mother of it all
Professor Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate.
————–
The two specially honored NGO individuals:
Philippe Cousteau, third generation to the famous family,
Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General of IUCN.
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The three specially honored communities:
Mavis Hatlane for Makuleke Community of Pafuri Camp, South Africa,
Maria Alejandra Velasco for Consejo Regional Tsimane’ Mosetene of Pilon Lajas, Bolivia,
Diep Thi My Hanh for Bambu Village of Phu An, Viet Nam.
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To increase our “puzzlement” – here the announcement how the UN General Assembly intends to treat this year the Small Island States in their deliberations – this was the only time we found a notion for their special problems:
Saturday, 25 September:
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Round table 2 — Enhancing international support for small island developing States.

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

RECEIVED FROM: Editeur : RIAED | Réseau international d’accès aux énergies durables
www.riaed.net/portail

from RIAED | Réseau international d’accès aux énergies durables
reply-to dufail@gret.org
date Mon, Jul 19, 2010
subject: La lettre d’information du RIAED, n°41

THIS IS THE INFORMATION No. 41 from RIAED WHICH IS THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK FOR ACCESS TO SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR THE FRENCH SPEAKING COUNTRIES OF WEST AFRICA, BUT THEY HAVE ALSO A LINK TO THE ENGLISH FORM OF THIS LETTER. THE POSTING IS INTERESTING AS IT SHOWS LOTS OF ACTIVITIES THAT GO ON IN THE REGION SINCE 2006 AND CONTINUE TO DATE.

Voici la lettre d’information du site RIAED | Réseau international d’accès aux énergies durables.

A la Une

Un inventaire des opportunités de réduction d’émissions de GES en Afrique subsaharienne

Un rapport de la Banque mondiale détaille, sur 44 pays d’Afrique subsaharienne, les opportunités de réduction d’émissions de gaz à effet de serre dans 22 domaines. Au travers de l’approche MDP, cette étude a pour objectif d’explorer le potentiel offert par les projets énergétiques à faible contenu en carbone qui peuvent contribuer au développement de l’Afrique subsaharienne. Dans ce but, l’équipe de réalisation de l’étude a identifié les technologies pour lesquelles il existe déjà des méthodologies MDP et qui ont déjà donné lieu à projets MDP dans d’autres régions en voie de développement.

Actualités

Liberia : deux firmes américaines financent la construction d’une centrale hydroélectrique Les firmes Buchanan Renewable Energies (BRE) et Overseas Private Investment Company (OPIC) basées aux États-Unis, ont déboursé 150 millions de dollars pour la construction d’une centrale hydro-électrique à Kakata, dans la région de Margibi (environ 45 kilomètres de la capitale Monrovia).

Maroc : lancement du plus grand parc éolien en Afrique Le Maroc a lancé le 28 juin 2010, au nord du pays, le plus grand parc éolien en Afrique, pour une enveloppe de 2,75 milliards de dirhams (400 millions de dollars) soit une des étapes – clés du Programme marocain intégré de l’énergie éolienne, qui table sur un investissement d’environ 31,5 milliards de dirhams (4 milliards de dollars).

Cap Vert : la CEDEAO ouvre un centre des énergies renouvelables La Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique d l’Ouest (CEDEAO) a ouvert un nouveau centre pour les énergies renouvelable (ECREEE) aux Iles du Cap Vert pour développer le potentiel de la région en énergies renouvelables.

Côte d’Ivoire : l’état relance le barrage de Soubré Dans le cadre des mesures annoncées pour palier aux difficultés dans le secteur de l’énergie électrique, l’état ivoirien va relancer le projet de construction du barrage hydroélectrique de Soubré.

Malawi : un projet de biogaz mène à d’autres services Une unité de production de biogaz de petite échelle au Malawi, récemment créée dans le but d’atténuer le changement climatique, peut également, si elle est bien exploitée, améliorer la sécurité alimentaire et les moyens de subsistance dans les régions rurales du Malawi.

Afrique sub-saharienne : les meilleurs produits d’éclairage hors réseau gagnent le soutien de Lighting AfricaCinq produits innovants ont été sélectionnés lors de la conférence de Lighting Africa et du commerce équitable à Nairobi en mai dernier.

Bénin : projet d’amélioration de l’acccès à l’énergie moderne Le Gouvernement de la République du Bénin a obtenu un crédit auprès de l’Association Internationale de Développement (IDA) d’un montant équivalant à quarante sept millions cinq cent mille Droits de Tirages Spéciaux (47 500 000 DTS) soit soixante dix millions de dollars US (70 000 000 USD) pour financer le Projet de Développement de l’Accès à l’énergie Moderne (DAEM).

Afrique de l’Est : Les micro-entrepreneurs font leurs entrées dans le marché de l’énergie, à temps pour la coupe du monde Un groupe de 20 micro-entrepreneurs originaires de Ranen, un marché local de l’ouest de Kenya, sont les premiers entrepreneurs DEEP formés et mis en relation avec les institutions financières pour obtenir des facilités de crédits et développer leurs affaires dans le secteur énergétique.

L’Égypte compte ouvrir sa première centrale à énergie solaire fin 2010 L’Égypte compte mettre en service sa première centrale électrique à énergie solaire d’ici la fin de l’année 2010, a indiqué lundi 14 juin 2010 le ministère égyptien de l’Énergie.

Accord entre le Pool d’énergie ouest-africain et la BEI Le président de la BEI (Banque Européenne d’Investissement) se félicite de la seconde révision de l’Accord de Cotonou et signe avec le Pool d’énergie ouest-africain un accord d’assistance technique en faveur d’un projet dans le secteur libérien de l’énergie.

Colloques, conférences, rencontres, forum…

France : Forum EURAFRIC 2010 La 10ème édition du Forum EURAFRIC « Eau et Énergie en Afrique » se tiendra du 18 au 21 octobre 2010 au Centre des Congrès de Lyon (France).(29/06/2010)

Sénégal : salon ENERBATIM 2011 La deuxième édition du Salon International des Energies Renouvelables et du Bâtiment ENERBATIM en Afrique se tiendra du 6 au 9 avril 2011 au CICES (Dakar).

Tunisie : Congrès international sur les Énergies Renouvelables et l’Environnement Ce congrès aura lieu du 4 au 6 novembre 2010 à Sousse (Tunisie).

Algérie : salon international des énergies renouvelables ERA 2010 Le Salon international des énergies renouvelables, des énergies propres et du développement durable, se tiendra les 19, 20 et 21 octobre 2010 à Tamanrasset (Algérie).

Afrique du Sud : forum Hydropower Africa 2010 Ce forum sur l’hydroélectricité en Afrique aura lieu du 16 au 20 août 2010 à Johannesburg (Afrique du Sud)

Ressources

Derniers documents (études, applications…) proposés en libre téléchargement :

La revue de Proparco – n°6 – mai 2010 Cette revue bimestrielle n°6 de Proparco (groupe AFD) a pour thème : « Capital-investissement et énergies propres : catalyser les financements dans les pays émergents »

Les petits systèmes PV font la différence dans les pays en développement La coopération technique allemande (GTZ), a publié une étude qui fait le point sur l’impact des petites installations photovoltaïques sur le processus d’électrification rurale hors réseau, dans les pays en développement.

L’électricité au cœur des défis africains Manuel sur l’électrification en Afrique – Auteur Christine Heuraux

Interactions bioénergie et sécurité alimentaire Ce document de la FAO fournit un cadre quantitatif et qualitatif pour analyser l’interaction entre la bioénergie et la sécurité alimentaire.

Blogues du Riaed

Petit site dédié à un projet, une rencontre, une institution… Vous pouvez présenter vos connaissances et proposer des ressources en libre téléchargement.

Accès aux blogues hébergés par le Riaed : www.riaed.net/spip.php?rubrique41

Annuaire du Riaed

Inscrivez vous en qualité d’expert, ou inscrivez votre entreprise / institution / projet, etc. dans l’annuaire du Riaed pour être facilement identifiable et joignable. Vous le ferez en ligne, en quelques minutes, à la page www.riaed.net/spip.php?breve6. Vous pouvez aussi le faire en adhérant au réseau du Riaed, en qualité de membre, à la page www.riaed.net/spip.php?breve11 et en précisant à la fin votre souhait d’être aussi présenté publiquement dans l’annuaire (cocher la case ad hoc).

ASAPE ASAPE ou Association de solidarité et d’appui pour l’environnement

Burkina énergies et technologies appropriées (BETA) BETA est une entreprise solidaire qui a fait le choix de s’investir dans la promotion de l’accès à l’énergie en milieu rural.

Opportunités de financement de projets

EuropeAid – Facilité Énergie n°39 – Newsletter de juin 2010 Ce numéro de la lettre de la Facilité Énergie de la Commission Européenne nous fournit les statistiques sur l’évaluation des notes succinctes.

Formation, stages, partenariat, bourse d’échanges

Maroc : formation continue « La pérennisation des systèmes énergétiques décentralisés » L’objectif de cette session est la formation d’un groupe de techniciens impliqués dans les aspects techniques et socio-économiques de l’introduction de l’énergie solaire photovoltaïque dans l’électrification des zones rurales et isolées.

Burkina Faso : formation continue « Développer son expertise pour économiser l’énergie dans les bâtiments climatisés » L’IEPF et 2iE ont développé une formule qui comprend non seulement la formation proprement dite, mais également le suivi des bénéficiaires de cette formation (en particulier les entreprises industrielles), avec un engagement de leur part à mettre en oeuvre les recommandations des audits, en finançant tout ou partie des coûts.

Sites francophones sur l’énergie

Une liste de sites francophones et de réseaux sur l’énergie est proposée à la page www.riaed.net/spip.php?rubrique=34

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(Autres liens et réseaux)

THAT IS – THE SIMILAR TEXT IN ENGLISH FROM THE FRENCH SPEAKING COUNTRIES OF AFRICA SEEMS TO BE AVAILABLE AT:

Une liste de sites anglophones et de réseaux internationaux sur l’énergie est proposée à la page www.riaed.net/spip.php?rubrique=35

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THE BLOGGS LINK IS THE FOLLOWING BUT IT SEEMS  OLD: www.riaed.net/spip.php?rubrique41

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

Quatre programmes de développement, le Programme national de développement local (Pndl), Enda Energie, le Programme National de Plates formes Multifonctionnelles pour la réduction de la pauvreté et du Programme National de Biogaz, vont mettre en exergue leur dimension énergétique pour la promotion économique et sociale des populations de Kaolack, Kaffrine Fatick, Thiès et Diourbel. Four development programs, the National Programme for Local Development (PNDL), Enda Energy, the National Program of Multifunctional Platforms forms for poverty reduction and the National Programme of Biogas, will highlight their energy dimension to the economic and social populations of Kaolack, Kaffrine Fatick, Thies and Diourbel. Le partenariat entre ces structures a été signé vendredi dernier. The partnership between these structures was signed last Friday.

Ce partenariat va permettre ainsi d’initier une coalition locale pour la promotion des services à haut potentiel énergétique dans les collectivités locales. This partnership will enable and initiate a local coalition for the promotion of high-energy services in local communities. Ce qui constitue un engagement solidaire de plusieurs structures intervenant en milieu rural sénégalais. This is a joint commitment of several structures involved in rural Senegal.

Pour définir les modalités pratiques d’interventions au profit des collectivités locales, ces quatre acteurs vont unir leurs efforts pour promouvoir le développement économique et social par l’intégration des dimensions telles que l’énergie, le Genre et les changements climatiques dans les actions de développement local, notamment au niveau de la planification locale, le renforcement des capacités et les actions de communication. To define the practical interventions for the benefit of local communities, these four players will join their efforts to promote economic and social development through the integration of dimensions such as energy, Gender and climate change actions local development, particularly in terms of local planning, capacity building and communication activities. Chacun des programmes présente, dans une de ses composantes, des missions spécifiques devant répondre aux préoccupations d’ordre énergétique. Each program presents, in one of its components, specific tasks to meet the concerns energy.

Selon le Secrétaire exécutif du Pndl, Samba Guèye, définir un cadre stratégique devant assister les collectivités locales dans le processus d’intégration de la dimension énergétique dans la priorisation des besoins essentiels, devra être considérée par tous comme une nécessité. The Executive Secretary of PNDL, Samba Gueye, a strategic framework to assist local authorities in the process of mainstreaming energy in the prioritization of basic needs, should be considered by all as a necessity. « Le principe de multi sectorialité prônée par le Pndl impose une démarche de partage et une mutualisation de nos approches. “The principle of multi sectoriality advocated by PNDL requires a process of sharing and pooling of our approaches. En décidant de passer par des documents validés de part et d’autres, nos différentes structures améliorent le niveau d’harmonisation, tant souhaité » souligne Samba Guèye. In deciding to go through documents and validated by others, our different structures improve the level of harmonization, as desired “said Samba Gueye. Il ne doute pas aussi que les bonnes intentions annoncées par les différentes structures se concrétisent. He had no doubt that the good intentions announced by the different structures are realized. Ainsi, ils comptent tous contribuer positivement à l’avènement d’une conscience plus affirmées dans les entités territoriales que sont les collectivités locales, avec des élus locaux plus engagés dans la prise en compte optimale des préoccupations énergétiques. Thus, they count all contribute positively to the emergence of a consciousness more assertive in territorial entities that are local, with local elected officials more engaged in the consideration of optimum energy concerns. « Si nous voulons que les collectivités locales participent durablement à la promotion des activités qui garantissent la préservation de nos ressources énergétiques, il nous faut collectivement et stratégiquement une démarche et une approche innovante » estime Samba Guèye. “If we want the local authorities involved in the promotion of sustainable activities to ensure the preservation of energy resources, we must collectively and strategically approach and an innovative approach” says Samba Gueye. Pour sa part, Jean Diouf, représentant du Pnb-Sn, a affirmé que cette convention est le fruit d’un long processus de négociation entre les structures partenaires. For his part, Jean Diouf, representing the GNP-Sn, said the agreement is the fruit of a long process of negotiation between the partner structures. C’est pourquoi tous les acteurs se sont investi corps et âmes pour arriver à un tel résultat qui doit faire tache d’huile dans tous les secteurs du développement local. Therefore, all actors have invested body and soul to achieve this result which is spreading to all sectors of local development. Selon tous les acteurs de ce partenariat, en termes de développement rural et de réduction de la pauvreté, le cloisonnement sectoriel a longtemps limité les impacts des différents modèles développés en matière de promotion énergétique. According to all involved in this partnership in terms of rural development and poverty reduction, the sectoral compartmentalization has long limited the impact of different models in promoting energy.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 26th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

We just received :  La lettre d’information du Riaed, n °30
 and – Le Riaed – is the French speaking, very active, network for sustainable energy.


Réseau international d’accès aux énergies durables (RIAED)

Le RIAED a pour objectifs de :

  • Renforcer la capacité et le savoir faire des experts francophones qui opèrent sur le thème de l’accès à l’énergie, dans les secteurs de l’électrification comme aussi dans celui des combustibles domestiques ;
  • Promouvoir, dans les pays en développement, de nouvelles capacités d’expertise francophone en énergie, et
  • Faciliter une meilleure prise en compte de cette expertise nationale dans la définition des nouveaux concepts et des futurs programmes d’accès à l’énergie.

Le RIAED est un projet soutenu pendant ses trois premières années par le programme Intelligent Energy de la Commission européenne, l’IEPF (Institut de l’énergie et de l’environnement de la francophonie) et l’ADEME (Agence de l’environnement et de la maîtrise de l’énergie).


for the lettter please go to: mail.google.com/mail/#inbox/1221c190e433e2b2

it deals with cases of rural electrification in Africa that is both – decentralized and based on renewable sources.

it also announces a series of 2009 conferences in Marocco, Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire.:


Maroc : formation sur les énergies renouvelables (systèmes énergétiques) Cette formation est organisée par l’IEPF du 12 octobre au 21 octobre 2009, à Marrakech (Maroc).(23/06/2009)

Burkina Faso : formation continue « Développer son expertise pour économiser l’énergie dans les bâtiments climatisés  » Cette formation est organisée par l’IEPF du 26 octobre au 6 novembre 2009, à Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).

Côte d’Ivoire : formation « La maîtrise des dépenses énergétiques dans l’industrie et le rôle du responsable énergie  » Cette formation est organisée par l’IEPF du 7 septembre au 18 septembre 2009, à Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire).

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Water Wars

By Jeffrey Sachs

May 1, 2009

Many conflicts are caused or inflamed by water scarcity. The conflicts from Chad to Darfur, Sudan, to the Ogaden Desert in Ethiopia, to Somalia and its pirates, and across to Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, lie in a great arc of arid lands where water scarcity is leading to failed crops, dying livestock, extreme poverty, and desperation.

Extremist groups like the Taliban find ample recruitment possibilities in such impoverished communities. Governments lose their legitimacy when they cannot guarantee their populations’ most basic needs: safe drinking water, staple food crops, and fodder and water for the animal herds on which communities depend for their meager livelihoods.

Politicians, diplomats, and generals in conflict-ridden countries typically treat these crises as they would any other political or military challenge. They mobilize armies, organize political factions, combat warlords, or try to grapple with religious extremism.

But these responses overlook the underlying challenge of helping communities meet their urgent needs for water, food, and livelihoods. As a result, the United States and Europe often spend tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars to send troops or bombers to quell uprisings or target “failed states,” but do not send one-tenth or even one-hundredth of that amount to address the underlying crises of water scarcity and under-development.

Water problems will not go away by themselves. On the contrary, they will worsen unless we, as a global community, respond. A series of recent studies shows how fragile the water balance is for many impoverished and unstable parts of the world. The United Nations agency UNESCO recently issued the UN World Water Development Report 2009; the World Bank issued powerful studies on India and Pakistan; and the Asia Society issued an overview of Asia’s water crises.

These reports tell a similar story. Water supplies are increasingly under stress in large parts of the world, especially in the world’s arid regions. Rapidly intensifying water scarcity reflects bulging populations, depletion of groundwater, waste and pollution, and the enormous and increasingly dire effects of manmade climate change.

The consequences are harrowing: drought and famine, loss of livelihood, the spread of water-borne diseases, forced migrations, and even open conflict. Practical solutions will include many components, including better water management, improved technologies to increase the efficiency of water use, and new investments undertaken jointly by governments, the business sector, and civic organizations.

I have seen such solutions in the Millennium Villages in rural Africa, a project in which my colleagues and I are working with poor communities, governments, and businesses to find practical solutions to the challenges of extreme rural poverty. In Senegal, for example, a world-leading pipe manufacturer, JM Eagle, donated more than 100 kilometers of piping to enable an impoverished community to join forces with the government water agency PEPAM to bring safe water to tens of thousands of people. The overall project is so cost effective, replicable, and sustainable that JM Eagle and other corporate partners will now undertake similar efforts elsewhere in Africa.

But future water stresses will be widespread, including both rich and poor countries. The United States, for example, encouraged a population boom in its arid southwestern states in recent decades, despite water scarcity that climate change is likely to intensify. Australia, too, is grappling with serious droughts in the agricultural heartland of the Murray-Darling River basin. The Mediterranean Basin, including Southern Europe and North Africa is also likely to experience serious drying as a result of climate change.

However, the precise nature of the water crisis will vary, with different pressure points in different regions. For example, Pakistan, an already arid country, will suffer under the pressures of a rapidly rising population, which has grown from 42 million in 1950 to 184 million in 2010, and may increase further to 335 million in 2050, according to the UN’s “medium” scenario. Even worse, farmers are now relying on groundwater that is being depleted by over-pumping. Moreover, the Himalayan glaciers that feed Pakistan’s rivers may melt by 2050, owing to global warming.

Solutions will have to be found at all “scales,” meaning that we will need water solutions within individual communities (as in the piped-water project in Senegal), along the length of a river (even as it crosses national boundaries), and globally, for example, to head off the worst effects of global climate change. Lasting solutions will require partnerships between government, business, and civil society, which can be hard to negotiate and manage, since these different sectors of society often have little or no experience in dealing with each other and may mistrust each other considerably.

Most governments are poorly equipped to deal with serious water challenges. Water ministries are typically staffed with engineers and generalist civil servants. Yet lasting solutions to water challenges require a broad range of expert knowledge about climate, ecology, farming, population, engineering, economics, community politics, and local cultures. Government officials also need the skill and flexibility to work with local communities, private businesses, international organizations, and potential donors.

A crucial next step is to bring together scientific, political, and business leaders from societies that share the problems of water scarcity—for example, Sudan, Pakistan, the United States, Australia, Spain, and Mexico—to brainstorm about creative approaches to overcoming them. Such a gathering would enable information-sharing, which could save lives and economies. It would also underscore a basic truth: The common challenge of sustainable development should unify a world divided by income, religion, and geography.


Related Resources:

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 17th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

EU facing ‘slow motion crisis’ in UN.

 euobserver.com/9/26757/?rk=1
PHILIPPA RUNNER, Brussels, for EUobserver, September 17, 2008.

The EU is losing its ability to push through human rights projects at the UN, with Islamic, African and Latin American states increasingly alienated from Europe while Russia and China play a more assertive role, a new study says.

EU human rights positions gained over 70 percent support in the UN general assembly in the 1990s but just 48 to 55 percent in 2007 and 2008, while Russia and China have gone from less than 50 percent to over 80 percent in the same time, the report by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) shows.

In what it calls the EU’s “slow motion crisis,” the ECFR highlights EU defeats on recent Iran, Burma and Belarus votes, where just 80 out of a potential other 165 UN member countries joined the EU position.

Russia and China’s doctrine of non-interference in sovereign states has also attracted support in the UN security council, leading to EU setbacks on Sudan, Burma and Zimbabwe in the past year.

 {we wonder about this conclusion whenviewing Russia’s actions in Georgia, and China’s “resource colonialism” in Africa.}

 

“If Europe can no longer win support at the UN for international action on human rights and justice, overriding national sovereignty in extreme cases, it will have been defeated over one of its deepest convictions about international politics as a whole,” the study says.

At the UN level, the ECFR links the problem to confrontations between Europe and the Bush-era US as well as growing EU introversion, with European diplomats in New York holding over 1,000 internal meetings a year instead of focusing on outward diplomacy.

Looking beyond the UN, the think-tank points to EU foreign and immigration policies as bigger stumbling blocks, with Afghanistan, Bosnia and Turkey the only Muslim-majority states which still vote with the EU.

“This reflects not only disputes over the Middle East, but a fundamental clash over cultural and religious values,” the ECFR says. “The EU needs an engagement strategy to win back the support of the African and Latin American countries that it has lost, and win over more moderate members of the Islamic bloc.”

The report suggests a mixed bag of initiatives, including transparency-building measures such as an annual European Commission report on EU voting and coalition-building at the UN.

It also pushes for the appointment of two or three new EU officials to co-ordinate UN diplomacy with third countries, backed up by a panel of “senior Europeans” to draft and review strategies.

The EU’s Cotonou Agreement – a long-standing development accord with African and Caribbean countries – should be used to expand coalitions on the model of old French and UK colonial ties, while moderate Islamic states such as Jordan and Senegal could help build new relationships in the Muslim bloc.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From:      Jeremy.Houssin at erm.com
Subject: CASCADe – Call for projects (CDM & Voluntary Carbon Market) for Senegal – Technical support and training co-finaced by the UNEP – Dakar from the 8th to the 12th of september
Date: August 27, 2008

ERM and UNEP organise a training workshop in Dakar, Senegal, from the 8th to 12th of September 2008, to help African project sponsors. You will find below and attached to the mail a call for CDM projects and projects in the Voluntary Market.

 CASCADe Workshops in SENEGAL – From the 8th to 12th of September 2008

A Call for CDM projects and projects in the Voluntary Carbon Market for project sponsors in Senegal who want to participate in a Capacity Building workshop.

Types of projects eligible:
The workshop is open to project sponsors who work on Agro forestry, reforestation, avoided deforestation, and bioenergy (e.g., cogeneration, renewable energy linked to agriculture and reforestation).

The workshops
The workshops are composed of three training days focusing on CDM (Clean Development Mechanism in Kyoto protocol) and the Voluntary Carbon Market; followed by two days devoted to face to face discussion with experts to provide technical support.

Workshop financing:
The workshop is financed by the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme).

Registration:
As a result of a limited number of spaces available for project sponsors, registration is to be done by sending a file introducing the project, to:
Jeremy Houssin:  Jeremy.Houssin at erm.com
or
to the Senegalese Designated National Authority of (DNA) : Miss Madeleine Diouf Sarr –  mad1 at sentoo.sn

For the project sponsors who are already registered by the UNEP for the Africa Carbon Forum, please indicate your UNEP registration number.

Programme objectives:
CASCADe primarily aims at enhancing expertise to generate African carbon credits in LULUCF as well as bioenergy activities. The programme will provide institutional support, training workshops, and both regional and international knowledge transfer.

Pilot projects and case studies in asset classes such as plantation forestry, agro forestry, and bio fuels will open up opportunities for African participation in the CDM and the voluntary carbon markets. In addition, the project will facilitate the establishment of a stakeholder network for technical cooperation and linkages between carbon buyers and sellers. The programme’s findings will also serve to contribute to the policy debate towards a post-2012 climate regime, casting light on key issues such as eligibility of avoided deforestation and land degradation projects in CDM-type initiatives.

CASCADe Project in Senegal and Benin:
As far as Senegal and Benin are concerned, the CASCADe project is managed by ERM France and in particular by its Energy and Climate Change team leader, Robert Vergnes supported by his teams in France, Senegal, and Benin. In the sixteen months that follow, ERM France and UNEP, working in partnership with local governments, NGOs, and industry will organise training modules, workshops and provide technical support to help local actors to develop PDDs (CDM and Voluntary Projects in AFOLU (Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Uses), Energy and Bioenergy).

For more information :
>> www.unep.fr/energy
>> www.uneprisoe.org
>> www.cd4cdm.org

Houssin Jérémy
Energy and Climate Change consultant

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Global Markets – latest news

No formal greenhouse targets at G8 summit.
Bush: Call for reductions marks ‘significant progress’

By William L. Watts & Chris Oliver, MarketWatch. a Wall Street Journal Blog.
July 9, 2008

LONDON (MarketWatch) — Leaders of 16 nations at a multilateral gathering in Japan agreed to back a plan for making long-term reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, although the deal fell short of establishing formal reduction targets.

“We, the leaders of the world’s major economies, both developed and developing, commit to combat climate change in accordance with our common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” the nations said Wednesday in a communiqué at the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido.

The G8 nations include the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy Canada and Russia.

Backers included Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico and South Africa, in addition to the G8.

But the joint statement didn’t include language from Tuesday’s statement issued by the G8 leaders, in which they said they shared a vision to cut greenhouse emissions in half by 2050. See full story.

Only three of the non-G8 countries in attendance — South Korea, Australia and Indonesia — backed the 50% reduction, Reuters reported, and this prevented inclusion of the language in Wednesday’s statement.

Leaders of emerging economies have argued that developed countries should first spell out their own goals for emissions reductions.

All the same, President Bush hailed the final statement as a sign of “significant progress.”
“The G8 expressed our desire to have a significant reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. We made it clear and the other nations agreed that they must also participate in an ambitious goal, with interim goals and interim plans to enable the world to successfully address climate change,” Bush said. “And we made progress, significant progress, toward a comprehensive approach.”

In the end, Wednesday’s statement said the leaders shared a vision for “long-term cooperative action, including a long-term global goal for emission reductions that assures growth, prosperity, and other aspects of sustainable development, including major efforts towards sustainable consumption and production, all aimed at achieving a low-carbon society.”

William L. Watts is a reporter for MarketWatch in London.
Chris Oliver is MarketWatch’s Asia bureau chief, based in Hong Kong.

So both gentlemen were not in Hokkaido – their reporting is based on material they read on the web – Did the WSJ really see it like we did – that this G8 exercize, under Japan leadership subservient to the US wishes, will not come up with real and meaningful results?

——————

If it was a G8 meeting – why not take as final decision what was decided already on Friday without the participation of the other 8?

Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa – the remaining 5 out of the additional 8 – plain and simple said that they do not participate in games when the G8 do not have the stomach for real figures put down in real time. By saying that they want first to see a real offer from the G8, before putting on the record their own participation in emissions reduction, they are actually in full rights and have done nothing worse then pointing flashlights at the meager document of the G8.

As we said already in another posting today, it was the Bush, Harper Fukuda position that doomed these 2008 G8 meetings under Japan leadership. President Bush won this battle.

Our only remaining question is – why did Fukuda invite the other 8 to participate? Had the G8 met in their own closed cocoon and come up with a final declaration, was that not expected to be better then having a bigger show with folks to be held later as responsible for this failure? What does now Fukuda frame next to his Prime Minister chair in order to say that the meeting he chaired was a success?

—————–

And the previous article – a day earlier – that was referenced in the July 9, 2008 article – The VISION thing that came to nothing a day later:

G8 leaders share ‘vision’ on emission cuts.
By MarketWatch
July 8, 2008

LONDON (MarketWatch) – Leaders of the Group of Eight wealthy nations on Tuesday said they shared a “vision” to cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.

In a joint statement on the environment and climate change, the G8 leaders said they “seek to share” with all parties involved in U.N.-brokered talks “the vision of … the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050, recognizing that this global challenge can only be met by a global response.”
Leaders of the G8 nations – the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia – are meeting in Toyako, Japan.

Japan and the European Union are seeking to formalized emission-reduction targets, building on last year’s general agreement among the G-8 nations to “consider seriously” the reductions.
Senior officials held a late-night session Monday to iron out the wording behind the agreement that would allow leaders to sign onto the deal without committing to a numerical target, a Reuters report said.

The U.S. and several other developed countries { read here Canada and Japan } have said they will not enter an agreement to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions which does not include binding commitments by growing industrial powers such as China and India to cut carbon.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was pleased with progress made toward climate change and other issues following a morning meeting with President Bush.

“As always, we’ve had a very interesting exchange of view, very intensive exchange of view, and let me tell you that I’m very satisfied with the work that has gone on, on the G8 documents, as regards progress on the issue of climate change, cooperation in the area of food and oil,” Merkel said at a photo opportunity with Bush.

This year’s summit, held at a lakeside resort on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, brought together leaders from 22 nations, including the top G8 officials.

{ 8+8+5 – the last five are Africans in need and they were not even deemed a reference in the article the following day that speaks of 16 – so, our question is even more to the point – if you had no intention in bringing these other 13 into the decision making process, except for eventually blaming the first 5 from among the second group of 8 for the failure, who needed here also the second group of five that did not even get invited to dinner? All of this is part of our various postings these last few days. We predicted disaster – and here it is starring at us }

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Let Us Look Closely At Some Of The UN DAILY NEWS from the UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
28 April, 2008 =========================================================================
Analyzing the news we find that now even the UN makes clear prediction that climate change in Africa is bound to become a security problem with the Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal among the first that must address this inevitable danger. All these countries belong to the Arabized Africa.

But Mr. Ziegler of the UN “Right to Food” Program just shoots his mouth at the US and at the EU for trying to decrease their dependence on imported oil by emulating the great Brazilian experience with biofuels. Rather then being helpful, Mr. Ziegler calls for a moratorium that could only benefit his Arab friends.

Mr. Ban Ki-moon visits now the economic offices of the UN in Vienna and Geneva, and speaks up about the real World needs. He will then meet high level UN officials from Economic and Human Rights offices. He will also meet the foreign ministers of Austria and Slovenia, and the President of Switzerland. Our main attention is drawn to this last meeting and we think that the best reason for his trip could come true if he were to negotiate with the Swiss President’s removing Mr. Ziegler from his UN related functions, as he did enough damage by now. Also, perhaps, if needed, Switzerland could take over from South Africa the hosting of that Durban II event. By bringing the hotheads of that planned disaster to their senses, Switzerland could have the chance to redeem itself from all these other problems that its citizen, Ziegler, managed to create on the world stage. We really do not want to see that the Swiss flag will remain stained for any further length of time.

Further, While in Vienna, in his meetings there, Mr. Ban could obtain further information about farm policy and biofuels. The Austrians were very good at that. When “Gemma Brott Verbrennen” was the anti-ethanol call that was all over the frontpage of the daily “Kurrier” – the Austrians moved to the production of biodiesel made from oil of the ricinus plant in order to avoid the Food-for-fuel misrepresentation of the European agriculture. The Slovenians think in this respect like the Austrians.

UN TO ASSIST AFRICAN FARMERS THREATENED BY CLIMATE CHANGE

Some 10,000 farmers in five African countries, where crops are expected to be badly affected by climate change, are to receive help from the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in the form of low-cost rain gauge equipment and roving seminars provided by agricultural experts.

With the help of Spain, WMO will distribute the rain gauges to volunteer farmers in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, and train them in using rainfall data to plan sowing, fertilizer application and harvesting.

The goal of the roving seminars is to support farmers’ self-reliance by supplying them with information on weather and climate risk management.

In West Africa, the area suitable for agriculture, the length of the growing season, and crop yields, especially along the margins of arid and semi-arid areas, are all expected to decrease, according to projections by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In some African countries, yield from rain-fed farming could be reduced by up to 50 per cent by 2020.

The assistance plan was announced on Friday after a meeting in Niamey, Niger, which was organized by WMO and the State Meteorological Agency of Spain.

* * *

BIOFUEL PRODUCTION IS ‘CRIMINAL PATH’ LEADING TO GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS – UN EXPERT

The United States and the European Union have taken a “criminal path” by contributing to an explosive rise in global food prices through using food crops to produce biofuels, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

Speaking at a press conference today in Geneva, Jean Ziegler said that fuel policies pursued by the US and the EU were one of the main causes of the current worldwide food crisis. Mr. Ziegler said that last year the US used a third of its corn crop to create biofuels, while the European Union is planning to have 10 per cent of its petrol supplied by biofuels. The Special Rapporteur has called for a five-year moratorium on the production of biofuels.

Mr. Ziegler also said that speculation on international markets was behind 30 per cent of the increase in food prices. He said that companies such as Cargill, which controls a quarter of all cereal production, have enormous power over the market. He added that hedge funds are also making huge profits from raw materials markets, and called for new financial regulations to prevent such speculation.

The Special Rapporteur warned of worsening food riots and a “horrifying” increase in deaths by starvation before reforms could take effect. Mr. Ziegler was speaking before a meeting today in Bern, Switzerland, between Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of key UN agencies.

Meanwhile, speaking in Rome today, a nutritionist with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said that “global price rises mean that food is literally being taken out of the mouths of hungry children whose parents can no longer afford to feed them.”

Andrew Thorne-Lyman said that even temporarily depriving children of the nutrients they need to grow and thrive can leave permanent scars in terms of stunting their physical growth and intellectual potential. He said that families in the developing world are “finding their buying power has been slashed by food price rises, meaning that they can buy less food or food which isn’t as nutritious.”

* * *

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN CHAIRS MEETING OF TOP OFFICIALS FROM ACROSS THE UN

The current global food crisis triggered by soaring prices, the safety and security of United Nations personnel and climate change dominated talks today involving Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other senior officials from the world body.

The topics were discussed at the spring session of the Chief Executives Board, which brings together the heads of the world body’s various entities for regular meetings, in Bern, the Swiss capital, where Mr. Ban is on an official visit.

At a panel in Vienna last Friday, the Secretary-General stressed the urgency of tackling the food issue, noting that it is “very closely interlinked with development issues, climate change, food prices, our fight against disease and other equally important areas.”

He noted that the food crisis has hurt the world’s poorest and pushed 100 million people further into poverty, impeding the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight targets to slash a host of social ills by 2015.

“This has been a global challenge, so we need to address it in a collective way – globally,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks to a forum entitled “The United Nations and the European Union: Joining Forces for the Challenges of the 21st Century.”

Also participating in the events were Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik of Austria and Dimitrij Rupel, Foreign Minister of Slovenia, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

Speaking to reporters in Vienna, the Secretary-General said that as a short-run response to the food crises, all humanitarian crises must be addressed.

“In the longer term, the international community, particularly the leaders of the international community, should sit down together on an urgent basis and address how we can, first of all, improve these economic systems, distributions systems, as well as how we can promote the improved production of agricultural products,” he added.

Later today, Mr. Ban is scheduled to meet with Pascal Couchepin, the President of Switzerland.

* * *

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

International Conference on Renewable Energy in Africa
16-18 April 2008 | Dakar, Senegal

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

EU aid chief says rising food prices risk African ‘humanitarian tsunami:’ As food riots sweep the developing world, the EU’s foreign aid chief has warned that sky-rocketing food price rises threaten a “humanitarian tsunami” in Africa, and has promised a boost in aid to support food security.

“A global food crisis is becoming apparent,” said EU humanitarian aid commissioner Louis Michel after a meeting with African Union Commission President Jean Ping, “less visible than the oil crisis, but with the potential effect of a real economic and humanitarian tsunami in Africa.”

By Leigh Phillips, April 9, 2008, the EUobserver, Brussels.

The commissioner said that the EU would boost emergency food aid from the European Development Funds from its current €650 million to €1.2 billion.

In recent weeks, food riots have swept the developing world as UN World Food Programme officials warn that a ‘perfect storm’ of poor harvests, rising fuel prices, the growth of biofuels and increased pressure from a growing middle class in China and India is rapidly increasing world hunger.

The last two days have seen food riots in Egypt over a doubling of the price of staple food items in the past year. Some 40 people died in similar riots in Cameroon in February, with violent demonstrations also recently taking place in Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and Mauritania.

Less deadly protests in the last week have also occurred in Cambodia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Bolivia.

In the last week in Haiti, five people have been killed in riots over price rises for rice, beans and fruit, with protesters attempting to storm the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday (8 April), while UN staff in Jordan have gone on a one-day strike this week asking for a pay rise to deal with the 50 percent increase in prices.

Elsewhere, China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan are introducing restrictions on rice exports.

The UN’s undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator, John Holmes, on Tuesday said that rising food prices are threatening political stability throughout the developing world.

“The security implications [of the food crisis] should also not be underestimated as food riots are already being reported across the globe,” said Mr Holmes, speaking at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development (DIHAD) Conference, according to the Guardian. “Current food price trends are likely to increase sharply both the incidence and depth of food insecurity,” he added.

Kanayo Nwanza, vice president of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said on Tuesday: “Escalating social unrest as we have seen in Cameroon, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and in Senegal could spread to other countries,” reports AFP.

African finance ministers met last week in Addis Ababa to consider the food crisis. In a statement, the ministers warned that food price rises “pose significant threats to Africa’s growth, peace and security.”

Last month, the head of the UN World Food Programme, Josette Sheeran, said that high oil prices, low food stocks, growing demand from China and the push for biofuels are causing a food crisis around the world.

“We are seeing a new face of hunger,” she said. “We are seeing more urban hunger than ever before. We are seeing food on the shelves but people being unable to afford it.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 19th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UN Human Rights Council, 7th Session
Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political,
economic social and cultural rights, including the right to development

UN Watch Statement Delivered by Hillel Neuer, March 13, 2008

Thank you, Mr. President.

The nations represented here gather at a momentous time — the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In what manner can we pay tribute?

We can pay tribute by protecting the most fundamental of all human rights — the right to life.

Mr. President, nowhere is this right being violated more than in Darfur — as well as every other right guaranteed in the Declaration — and by no one more than the government of Sudan.

In Senegal there is now a critical summit underway to address Darfur. But yesterday U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and African, U.S. and European diplomats were kept waiting for hours with no sign of Sudan’s President Bashir. In a phone call to the president of Senegal, President Bashir said he “had a headache.”

Mr. President, who will tell the victims of Darfur that their suffering will be prolonged because the president said he “had a headache”?

As many as 400,000 people have been killed in Darfur. Another two and a half million have been driven from their homes and into danger. The threat of rape, torture, murder and malnutrition pursue the women and children of Darfur wherever they flee. World leaders must unite now to end the atrocities and establish a lasting peace in Darfur.

We urge this Council to take action:

To make ending the massive crimes in Darfur one of its top priorities;

To push for the fastest and fullest deployment of the peacekeeping force authorized by the U.N. Security Council in July;

To pressure contributing nations to fully and immediately meet their pledges of troops, funding, equipment, and logistical support;

To ensure the Sudanese government’s full participation in a just and inclusive peace process, and to overcome any attempts to obstruct or delay the protection of civilians or the peace process;

To increase humanitarian aid and ensure access for its safe delivery.

Mr. President, this Council must send a powerful message to Sudan that the killings, the burnings, the rape of its own citizens — all of this must end.

We ask Sudan: For how long will “headaches” and other excuses continue to afflict the lives of the men, women, and children of Darfur?

Mr. President, we need action.

If not from the highest forum of human rights, then from who?

If not now, when?

Thank you, Mr. President.

Sudan Responds: UN Watch director “lives in a world
of media exaggeration on the subject of Darfur”

Statement by Sudanese Ambassador Omer Dahab Fadol Mohamed

Thank you Mr. President.

I’d like to comment on the statement of United Nations Watch. I think the representative of this organization is continuing to live in a world of media exaggeration on the subject of Darfur, where the sufferings of people are exploited for an agenda which has nothing to do with Darfur.

The government knows that the armed rebellion is the primary party responsible for suffering in Darfur. The rebels have caused many people to leave their villages. The government of Sudan has done a lot of humanitarian work in order to reduce the sufferings of persons, and has allowed all necessary facilities. The government at the same time realizes that it is only a political solution which will put an end to all these sufferings.

Accordingly, the government has been working very hard to deal with the rebels. It signed the Abuja agreement with some of them. But certain others refuse because they were given support by countries giving shelter to them. These countries seem to be nevertheless expressing sympathy for people in Darfur.

The government, however, has continued to work for a solution that will restore peace and stability in that region, and calls upon the international community to assume its obligations against those who refuse solutions, and notes that countries give media coverage to this situation while refusing to sit down to work on a peaceful agreement to this situation.

Thank you.

———————

And the UN Secretary-General probably was the subject of a UN press release saying how great his achievements were in his trip to Dakar, Senegal, to meet there with the Organization of Islamic Countries’ Leadership. This must have created Sudan’s headache.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 The intenational press was made to believe that the Dakar Summit was called in order to talk down Israel and to talk about the state of Muslim Immigrants to Europe. But see – there are other real problems that have to be looked at.

IOM –   International Organization for Migration –   Press Briefing Notes from:  unobserver at iom.int                                                               Friday 14 March 2008,   Spokesperson: Jemini Pandya
SENEGAL – IOM Director General At OIC Summit – At the invitation of the government of Senegal and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), IOM Director General Brunson McKinley is attending the OIC summit in Dakar, where he has also held talks with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and other heads of governments and ministers.

Migration and its consequences are top policy issues for the Islamic world and IOM in recent years has made a broad and concerted effort at close cooperation with OIC member states and its Secretariat. IOM has operational agreements with the OIC and with several of its constituent bodies such as the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO).

In his statement to the OIC summit, McKinley expressed his concern that migrants from Muslim countries are often at the receiving end of anti-Islamic sentiments in destination countries where stereotyping can lead to social exclusion.

McKinley also expressed support for an initiative of President Wade to organize a global conference promoting inter-religious dialogue to enhance greater understanding among different faiths and communities as a way of helping migrant integration.

The two-day summit, which began yesterday and which is attended by heads of state and representatives   from the 57-member organization is looking at how to combat ‘Islamaphobia’ in the West as one of the key issues to be addressed.

McKinley who has participated in many previous meetings of the OIC, both at the summit and ministerial level, witnessed the signing late last night of a peace agreement between Sudan and Chad.



OIC countries represent a significant number of IOM’s 122 member states, having increased over the past decade from 11 to 40 with another three currently holding Observer status.

“The increase in representation of OIC countries within IOM membership during the past few years from all parts of the world is a reflection of the successful relations and cooperation that have been established with this important group,” said McKinley.

IOM has been active in assisting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to improve the system of overseas contract work that is of great importance to many developing countries, OIC member states among them.

“The OIC and its member states can count on IOM for continued support in the many tasks they must accomplish to make migration and overseas work an engine for prosperity and better international relations,” McKinley added.


 
An important new area of cooperation between IOM and the OIC is climate change and environmental degradation. Many Islamic states face strong migration pressures because of desertification, rising sea levels, loss of agricultural capacity and other environmental problems.

For further information, please contact Abye Makkonnen, IOM Dakar, Tel: +221 33 8696200, email:  amakkonnen at iom.int

For more information please contact Public Information Officer Angela Sherwood at  asherwood at iom.int   or +670 723 1576, or Counter-Trafficking Project Manager Heather Komenda at  hkomenda at iom.int   or +670.723.0810.
For additional information:

USA
Office of the Permanent Observer to the United Nations Ÿ 122 East 42nd Street, Suite 1610, New York, NY 10168
Tel: 1(212) 681 7000 – Fax: 1(212) 867-5887 – E-mail:  unobserver at iom.int – Internet: www.iom.int or www.un.int/iom
Geneva
Jean-Philippe Chauzy ŸTel: 41 22 717 9361 – Mobile: 41 79 285 4366 Ÿ E-mail:  pchauzy at iom.int
Jemini Pandya Ÿ Tel 41 22 717 9486 – Mobile : 41 79 217 3374 Ÿ E-mail :  jpandya at iom.int

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

GATES FOUNDATION AND UN JOIN FORCES TO MECHANIZE WOMEN’S WORK IN French Speaking WEST AFRICA (Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal) – says a UN Press Release.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said today it had joined forces with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in an effort to empower rural West African women with diesel engines, and, in doing so, boost their incomes.

The centrepiece of the project is a diesel-run engine mounted on a chassis, called a multifunctional platform, or MFP, to which a variety of processing equipment can be attached, including a cereal mill, husker, battery charger, and joinery and carpentry equipment, according to a UNDP press release.

The MFP takes domestic tasks such as milling and husking sorghum, millet, maize and other grains, normally done with a mortar and pestle or a grinding stone, and mechanises them, making them profitable economic activities.

The machine, which the project will distribute in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, can also generate electricity for lighting, refrigeration and water pumps.

“By investing in this simple power source for rural communities, women no longer need to spend all their time grinding grains or pumping water,” UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis said as he announced the initiative in Dakar, Senegal. “They have more hours in the day to develop profitable activities that could boost their productivity, enabling them to sell better quality products and increase their income using low-cost, effective technology,” he added.

A $19 million, four-year grant from the Gates Foundation will help establish 600 new sustainable, rural agro-enterprises based on the machine in West Africa, with at least 24 of the MFPs to be biofuel-based, according to UNDP.

As part of the enterprise projects, UNDP and its extensive network of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will back the women’s groups with literacy and management training and support.

The benefits of the MFP have already been proven in parts of West Africa, the agency said. In Senegal, S. Sakho of Batantinty explained that before the platform was introduced in her village she rarely earned more than 25,000 CFA ($55) from processing and selling shea butter from nuts.

“With the platform I easily earn 100,000 CFA ($220) at the end of the harvest,” Mrs Sakho said. The yield is high because the time is there. The platform has improved my life. I spend the earnings for the children’s education and clothing; I no longer look like a peasant,” she said.

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We have seen models of the MFPs at UN Commission for Sustainable Development events in the UN basement. Those days the accent was on improving conditions in rural areas of poor countries, and pushed by the Tata Affiliated Institute from India, this was to be done by supplying oil products – diesel, kerosene and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to those on these programs. We thought then that this was nothing less then an attempt to increase the market for oil by making the rural poor, who were not yet buyers of petroleum products, get also into the addiction to an oil economy. We, obviously were skeptical at that time. Now it seems UNDP is ready to move on with the times and think of biofuels. This is progress indeed. We hope that the Tata folks can drop their – “we are different – we have have other priorities for development for the poor” – rhetoric.  www.SustainabiliTank.info comment)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 22nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20071222a1.html
Saturday, Dec. 22, 2007, WRONG APPROACH TO AFRICA, by David Howell, former UK Minister and Now Member Of The House of Lords, for The Japan Times.

LONDON — An acrimonious summit meeting between EU leaders and the leaders of African countries ended last week in Lisbon. The EU was trying to offer the Africans a new trade deal, but many of the African representatives argued that the deal would make them worse off, not better off. They denounced European efforts as a continuation of colonialism that would “amputate” African state budgets and ruin African industries.

The atmosphere was further soured by the presence of Robert Mugabe, who has brought his own nation of Zimbabwe to its knees in a frenzy of repression — a living symbol of human rights abuse who ought never to have been invited to the gathering. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stayed away from the event in protest.

It was not meant to be like this. The declared intention of the European Union policymakers in Brussels was to wash away postcolonial guilt, forge a new strategic partnership and open a new development chapter for the peoples of 76 former European colonies, 40 of them former British colonies and the others mostly part of the Francophone group.

The central idea was to offer these countries better preferential tariffs on their exports into EU states than what they’ve enjoyed for more than 40 years and, in return, to require the African economies to cut their tariffs on the import of European goods. The new deals were to be presented as so-called Economic Partnership Agreements.

This stuck in African throats. They did not see the concept as one of partnership, and 10 of them refused point-blank to sign up, including major participants South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia and Senegal. For them it was tantamount to exposing their infant industries to fierce European competition and, in the words of one leader, “slamming the door on development.”

Poorer countries of Africa, they insisted, with their weak and fledgling economies, need more protection, not less. They also claimed that the EPAs would damage African trade with Pacific countries.

Behind the European approach was a deeper fear — namely that Europe is losing its influence on the African continent to the Chinese. The Chinese are indeed everywhere in Africa these days with ready cash and no strings attached, “sweet” and easy agreements to provide infrastructure, as well as weapons and military support. Their products are also highly competitive with European goods.

As one delegate put it “For the price of one European car, you can buy two Chinese cars.”

Why was the European approach so clumsy? At root are two major flaws in EU policy. The first is to push the theory of absolutely free trade too far and too fast and to ignore the practical realities of development in very impoverished economies. A belief lingers in official minds in Europe that protection in all circumstances is bad and must be swept aside. Inequalities in trade relations, they appear to believe, can be compensated for with large aid packages.

This completely overlooks the fact that much of Europe’s own industry grew under cover of protective tariffs and that without a certain amount of well-focused tariff protection, the infant industries in Africa’s struggling economies will just never take off. It also overlooks the glaring fact that most of Europe’s agriculture is still protected by high tariffs, subsidies and quotas.

The second and much deeper fallacy is that Africa is a bloc or that Europe is a bloc, and that by putting the two together, face to face, trade and development solutions can be found.

Not only is the geographical continent of Africa a conglomeration of vastly diverse societies and cultures, each with its own unique problems that require understanding and solutions. But on the European side interests vary and a real unity of approach is lacking.

The proposition that if the EU countries all stick together they will always carry greater weight in trade negotiations — with America, China, Japan or anybody else — sounds superficially true.

In practice, and in the modern global context, it could well be that bilateral negotiations and bargains — say between Britain and Nigeria, or France and Senegal, or Germany and South Africa — could create more business opportunities and generate more growth than mighty deals between the whole of Europe and the whole of Africa — which anyway are proving impossible to achieve except in general, watered-down terms that have little impact on Africa’s starving millions.

The one area where a united European approach might really help African states is in promoting techniques of plain good governance and in standing up strongly for human rights at every opportunity. That would at least help distinguish European engagement from Chinese involvement, which hitherto has shown itself to be somewhat blind to human rights matters and to the records of regimes being assisted and supported.

By letting Mugabe come to the Lisbon table, the Portuguese government, the summit host as holder of the EU presidency (shortly to pass to Slovenia), made a colossal error of judgment. They have sent the clear signal that even in this vital area the EU, while it may talk of putting human rights at the top of the agenda, in practice has no principled position and is ready to hob-nob with dictators and men of darkness. The misplaced ambition to show that the EU is a big shot and has a central place on the world stage has pushed aside common sense and practical measures.

And that is a tragedy both for Africa and for Europe.

David Howell is a former British Cabinet minister and former chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He is now a member of the House of Lords  www.lordhowell.com).

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

A Presentation of The Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asia Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC. The book, just of the printing press, is volume No. 1 in the Asia-Pacific Leadership Series of SAIS, and was initiated by Professor Kent E. Calder, the Director of the Reischauer Center, who also wrote the Forward to this volume. The book is an abridged, updated, focused, translation into English of memoirs Dr. Han Seung-soo wrote in Japanese while a Senior Fellow at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo, 2004-2006, upon retirement from Korean politics. Dr. Han kept a diary during his events-rich year as UNGA President, and his writings, amazingly, are literally the only record about the UN, to-date, written by a person in high position who was not the UN Secretary-General, and as such is an excellent recording of the functioning mechanism of the UN.

The book has 111 pages plus 36 pages of major speeches of the President of UNGA, 19 pages of the listing of major events during that year, and 15 pages of the index. The book can be obtained from SAIS or the UN bookstore and costs $25.

Dr. Han did not write this because he had anything to defend, this is rather a gallant attempt to explain to the reader how the UN functions, and as it happened his year was a very eventful year, so it makes objectively for interesting reading.

As we shall see, Dr. Han had a very interesting career, and he is still active today. His year as UNGA President may not even have been the high-point of his career, and as said he might yet be slated for future high positions. This just to say that we highly recommend this book as what seems to us a very frank recording of the UN with many of its warts exposed, but also with the high potential of the organization being pointed out.

We went to the book-signing event that was held on October 22, 2007, at the UN Bookstore in the basement of the UN Headquarters, because we knew that Dr. Han Seung-soo was one of the three Special Envoys on Climate Change appointed by the current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (The other two were Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway, the person that made famous the concept of Sustainable Development and is now involved in issues of the environment and climate change, and Dr. Ricardo Lagos of Chile, who now is President of the Club of Madrid and President of the Foundation for Democracy and Development that he created after stepping down from the Presidency of Chile.)

In this position as Special Envoy of the UNSG, Dr. Han is a roving Ambassador to UN Member States in the Secretary-General’s effort to drum up a solid program for this year’s meeting in Bali. We wanted to ask him questions on this topic, and so we did; but we will not write about this in the present posting – this because we intended this posting merely as an introduction of our readers to this book, which we are convinced is a MUST READ for anyone interested in the UN – its promise and also the dangers from irrational expectations.

Korea became independent of Japan in 1945, the nation then fell into the 1950-1954 tragedy of becoming first active battle ground between the two ideologies that survived the World War, and stayed divided since. Dr. Han points out that it was the UN Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK), founded by a UN resolution of November 14, 1947, that supervised the democratic election of Korea’s first National Assembly, and the formal establishment of the Republic of Korea on August 15, 1948. Then it was UN resolutions that provided the basis for 16 nations, including the US, to enter the Korean War and fight on the side of the South Korean forces. It was the UN Korean Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA) that helped Korea after the war; thus Korea fully appreciates the UN and Korea is one of the few countries where the day of the founding of the UN – United Nations Day – October 24 – is a National Holiday.

The Republic of Korea (ROK) became a member of the UN in 1991, so it was only ten years after admission to the UN that the Asian Regional group backed the Korean Foreign Minister, Dr. Han, to become UNGA President.

Dr. Han was born born on December 28, 1936 in Gangwon Province in a remote village in the mountainside. He had to cross two rivers by ferry to go to school in Chuncheon City, but his hopes were to become part of the world that was symbolized by the UN. He reminds us of a popular song, the United Nations Song, that everybody in Korea knew its lyrics.

He got a Master in Public Administration from Seoul National university and a PH.D. in Economics from York University, York, England where he staid on to teach, and moved later to the Department of Applied Economics at Cambridge. His doctoral dissertation, titled “The Growth and the Function of the European Budget,” was awarded by the Commission of European Communities, in 1971, the Prize as the best doctoral thesis on the European economic integration.

He returned to Seoul National University in 1970 and taught until 1988 and in parallel started work as Financial Adviser on secondment of the World Bank, holding also appointments at the Univerity of Tokyo and at Harvard University.

From 1987 to 1988 Dr. Han served as the first Chairman of the Korea Trade Commission and helped with Tax Reform, Bank Reform, and Tariff Reform. He was also adviser to quite an array of public and private-sector financial and trade organizations.

In 1988 he entered political life winning a place in the Korean National Assembly, assuming an array of functions: Minister of Trade and Industry (1988-90), Ambasador to the US (1993-94), Chief of Staff to the President (1994-95), Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy (1996-97), Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2001-02) . It was from this last position that he was catapulted to the UN.

Among his many achievements in those years are most notable his leadership in bringing Korea into the OECD (1996) and in smoothing out relations with the US in an attempt to deflect the North Korean nuclear ambitions (1994).

After his stint at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN, (2001-2002), he staid in politics until 2004, when after 18 years he retired from political life and accepted the invitation by National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo (2004-2006), which resulted in his writing the book we are reviewing now. All these years he was helped along by his wife, Soja, to whom he dedicates this book. She was present at the book signing event and I appreciated her interest in my questions on climate change. It was clear to me that she intended to convey later to her husband the things I mentioned to her.

Further, his book, among the many truths it conveys, is indeed also an eye opener in explaining the function of a President of UNGA. Many times the President is the Foreign Minister of a country that belongs to a rotating roster of the five regional groups that were created informally at the UN. So, it was the turn of the Asian Regional Group to suggest a candidate for the Presidency, and their decision was to put up for the negotiations with the other regional groups the candidacy of Korea. After the agreement between the five groups, the decision is then to approve the candidacy unanimously. Korea then made Dr. Han its Foreign Minister, and he had to provide assurances to the Koreans that he will be able to juggle the two positions simultaneously. Dr. Han does not hide that the matter was something of a personal ambition of his, and that this was the dream position – President of the UNGA – that he always aspired to. A further point was that in 2001 the US – ROK relations started to fray because of overtures South Korea was making to North Korea. Dr. Han thought that with his experience he could help defuse the situation.

The President’s physical presence at the UN is not necessarily required at all times throughout the year, except for the four months September – December. So, this makes it possible for Ministers to hold the job while continuing to hold on to their regular job. In his case, seemingly there were folks back home that thought he will be neglecting his Korean position, so Dr. Han, was pushed, despite the fact that even during those four months he shuttled back and forth, to bring to New York a large group of Koreans he would trust to run things while he is away. The stuff provided by the UN to the office of UNGA President is in any case ridiculously small. It amounts to four staff personnel – to the Office of the President: two secretaries, one security person, and driver and car for the President’s exclusive use.

Among the people Dr. Han brought to New York was Ambassador Ban Ki-moon, a former Vice Foreign Minister, whom he asked to become his Chef de Cabinet. That is how the UN learned to appreciate the man who is now Secretay-General and who did a lot of “stand in” for his boss. Today, after Dr. Han’s retirement from service to ROK, it is his former protege, now UN Secretary-General, who makes offers to Dr. Han to keep him active in UN affairs.

UNGA is one of six major organs that were created by the UN Charter. The others are The UN Security Council, The UN Trusteeship Council, The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the International Court of Justice, and The Secretariat.

The Trusteeship Council has pretty much ended its functions and staid on as a fossil. On the other hand, the UN has not made it clear who is the UN Boss – is it the President of UNGA or the Secretary-General. One could assume that the head of the collective of UN Member States is the head of the UN, but then he is appointed only for one year, and mainly as a part-time job. So, the UN Secretary-General, whose appointment to a full-time job extending for five years, has the obvious advantage. Dr. Han, with full frankness, describes his relations with Mr. Kofi Annan – though friendly they had their frictions, in many cases resulting from frictions between staff members. In some cases, there were clear difficulties because the UN Charter was not more explicit. Whatever the stories, cases of previous UN Secretary-Generals were much worse – such a difficulty resulted in the expulsion of the President of UNGA’s office from the glamorous 38th floor of the Secretariat. To his credit, Dr. Han did not ask to return to that floor, but was happier expanding the new location that is on the 2nd floor.

Having been agreed upon to become President of the General Assembly, the actual ceremony of the handover of the job to him was slated for September 11, 2001 – and this was nixed by the events of that day. In effect the UN was without a head of the GA for a full day, and the ceremony was held on the 12th. Was that event what the terrorists had in mind when they chose to attack on 9/11?

The book presents many interesting details of what went on at the UN those days – of extremely interest to us was what is presented in Chapter 2 – specifically sentences on page 31:

“This was a glimpse of the political machinations that go on within the United Nations. I felt as if everyone was testing the resolve of the new President. Discussions within the UN about whether to schedule the General Debate for 10 to 16, 12 to 18, or 14 to 20 November were spinning out of control. There was growing confusion and discord among the Member States.

I believed that if I, the President, did not exercise strong leadership, the carefully achieved concensus would evaporate…”

All of this came about after an agreed set of dates – 10-16 November – and an after the fact intervention by the Vietnamese Ambassador, who acting as Regional Chairman for Asia for the month of September, brought up an Arab opposition to those dates because of a WTO meeting that was scheduled for Doha, Qatar, for 9 to 14 of November. This in full knowledge that there could not be found alternate dates before the end of 2001 – this in part also because of the Ramadan that is important to Muslims.

The use of the appropriate words “POLITICAL MACHINATIONS” and “Testing the Resolve” – this in relation to Arab Member States of the UN at this time of 9/11 is what shows that Dr. Han is out there to describe the UN as it really is – warts and all. This gets further amplified in Chapter 3 when he writes on The Challenges of International Terrorism, when the Ambassador of Sri Lanka, the October Chairman of the Asia Regional Group, backed by the Ambassador from Sudan, the Chairman for October of the African Regional Group, was set up by the Arab States, to interfere with the discussion on terrorism under the pretext that the only resolution that had a chance to pass was too weak – and it had to be “strengthened” in order to make it really unacceptable. Dr. Ban was also confronted by a direct Arab delegation made up of four Ambassadors of the Arab League – one Syrian, two Lybians, and Ambassador Husein Hassouna of the Arab League itself, who using code language of “national liberation movements” made it clear that Palestinians should not be considered terrorists (see page 48 of the book). Dr. Han did not take the bait and was nobody’s fool. Cudos to him and thanks for putting this material in the book.

Chapter 4 of the book deals with “Reform or Not to Reform the Security Cuncil,” and Chapter 6 deals with “Revitalizing the General Assembly.” – both topics of extreme relevance for an organization that grew from an original number of 45 members in 1945 , to 189 members by 2001.

In 1945, with a Security Council that numbered 11 Member States, it was close to 25% of the membership, in 2001, with a total of 15 members of the UNSC – this was only 8% of the membership. That was all old hat to us, but what the book tells us in very clear words is about the existence at the UN of a “Coffee Club” to which belong some 30 countries including – Pakistan, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Korea … who oppose increasing the number of permanent members of the Security Council, and by doing so have blocked by then for 10 years the expansion of the UNSC. This opposition is against the front runners, Germany and Japan who are surpassed only by the US in the financial support they give to the UN – in effect each one of them contributes more then the total of the four remaining present permanent members, subtracting the US. What the Coffee Club does, besides Italy and Spain blocking Germany and Japan, seemingly for historic reasons of having also lost in WWII, but they also block the three front runners among the developing countries, those we like to call IBSA at www.SustainabiliTank.com (India, Brazil, South Africa) – with Spanish Latins objecting Brazil, Pakistan objecting India, and Egypt objecting anyone who is not an Arab. The Arab nations, because they comprise 12% of UN Member States, contend that this gives them the automatic right at a permanent seat at the UNSC. Now – that is a further example in the book of “machinations at the UN.” This is a clearly hopeless situation and the Coffee Club wins.

In 2001, Africa counted for 53 UN Member States, Asia for 50, Latin America and the Caribbean for 33, The “Western Europe and Others” group for 27, and the US, Estonia, Kiribati, Palau and Tuvalu not belonging to any group. The rotation for choosing the UNGA President is between the 5 groups and as a result there have been, including Dr. Ban, by 2001, 13 presidents from Asia. The President is supported by 21 Vice-Presidents, such as one from each one of the five Permanent members with one additional from Eastern Europe and two additional from Western Europe – with further 4 from Asia, 6 from Africa, and 3 from Latin America and the Caribbean. It is these Vice-Presidents that actually know the workings of the UN. Dr. Han is not shy to say that the outsider that was parachuted from his capital into the presidency chair, besides the fact that he is part-time only, in many cases he, or she as it lately happened, might not even know the UN, and has thus to “learn on the job.” Dr. Han arranged for meetings on May 16, 2002, chaired by Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdez of Chile, and including Ambassadors from France, Singapore, the Czech Republic, and South Africa, to look into how the UNGA can be “revitalized.” Brazil suggested to move the inauguration of a new UNGA President to January 1st – this so the new learning experience of the new President does not start at the busiest time of year at UNGA – the time of the meetings that include the high-level meetings. Another proposal would have started the year several month ahead of the year’s session so there is no need to change the official date of the take-over. The second alternative was agreed upon, and accordingly on July 8, 2002, the next incoming President, who happened to be Deputy Prime Minister Kaban of the Czech Republic, arrived in New York to start his learning experience for his Presidency of UNGA. This change at the UN is clearly an achievement that Dr. Han can be proud off.

At the book release /book signing event at the UN bookstore, Dr. Han was introduced by Mr. Kiyotaka Kiyo Akasaka and before the book signing event ended, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon dropped in to congratulate Mr. Ban.

Further events that are memorable from the 2001- 2002 “Han Year” at the UNGA:

9/11, the day without an UNGA President, the opening of the 56th session, the delayed General Debate of November 2001, we mentioned already.

October 1, 2007, Mayor Giuliani speaks at the UN – this is the first time a New York City Mayor spoke at the UN.

October 8, 2007, while visiting with his wife and with Mr. Ban Ki-moon and his wife, the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, a touristic trip that is a must to any economist, he learned about the US attack on Afghanistan.

WTO at the Doha meeting approved the accession of China on November 11, 2001, and of Taiwan on November 12. Proof that China can be reasonable when it fits its interests.

December 10, 2001, the Nobel Prize for Peace is awarded in Oslo, in equal parts, to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to the UN organization as a whole. Dr. Han represents the UN at the ceremonies but agrees that Mr. Annan be the only speaker-recipient at the event. The November-December bimonthly publication of the World Economic Forum – “Economic Link” – publishes their yearly “Dream Cabinet” and mentions Dr. Han, together with Secretary of State Colin Powell, as Foreign Ministers in the Dream Cabinet of the year.

January 29, 2002, President Bush makes the “axis of evil” speech that includes North Korea, Iran, Iraq and February 1 suggests talks with North Korea if the latter reduces its conventional weapons deployed around the demilitarized zone. Dr. Hahn is in the middle of things. He also re-engages Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri.

January 31, 2002, The World Economic Forum of Davos, Switzerland, in solidarity with New York City, starts its yearly meeting in New York rather then Davos. February 1st there is a symposium on “Constructing Solidarity for a Stable World” at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Dr. Hahn is on the panel together with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Secretary-General of NATO, the EU High Representative for the common foreign and security policy, and the Foreign Ministers of Australia, France, and Turkey. (At SustainabiliTank.info we remember the event as we were there) Dr. Han talked about the UN activities following the September 11 attacks including the UNGA debate in which 167 countries spoke, the speech by Mayor Giuliani, the UNSC resolution “authorizing intervention in Afghanistan to punish the Taliban regime, which was aiding and refusing to turn over al-Qaeda terrorists,” and the general UN aggressive response to terrorism – referring also to the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded the UN. He obviously had to pass over the fact that the UNGA debate on “Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism” had to end with a “Presidential Statement” because of the objections put up by the Arab States.

March 21, 2002 the summit-level meeting Financing for Development at Monterrey, Mexico.

April 2002 Dr. Han makes his only official tour of Africa – Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal. He saw a war ravaged Sierra Leone, and was present in Dakar, Senegal, at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) meeting with the leaders of 53 African States present. He saw the worst and what should become the best – but was told that the African’s were disappointed that UNSG Kofi Annan did not attend the NEPAD meeting. President Obasanjo of Nigeria wanted to know why does Africa attract so little investments, despite a high rate of return? Dr. Han was not politically affraid to comment on this question.

May 19-20, 2002 – The Independence Ceremonies of East Timor.

May 31, 2002 – The World Cup of soccer is co-hosted by Japan and the ROC. It is a first for cooperation and for Asia.

July 1, 2002 – The Rome statute of the International Criminal Court to deal with genocide and war crimes takes effect.

August 26, 2007 – the start of the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development (Environment and Development Summit) – that is 10 years since the 1992 UNCED in Rio de Janeiro.

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two photos taken by Pincas Jawetz at the book-signing event, at the bookstore in the UN basement – October 2007.

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The UnderSecretary-General for Information and Communication, Mr. Akasaka, announcing the previously unannounced drop-in of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moom at the book-signing event with Dr. Han Seung-soo.

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Looking at the book is UN Spokesperson, Michelle Montas, from Haiti, and watching is the Korean member of the Spokesperson’s office.

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