links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

Nairobi will be the site for COP12 of the UNFCCC. It can be expected that the issue will shift to tracks of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Will it be possible to turn this also into a tool for a post-2012 phase of the Kyoto Protocol? In any case - this section will emphasize Africa in general.


 
Kenya:

 

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

South Sudan’s road to independence.

By Barney Jopson

Published: March 20 2010

Thomas Bakata on his bike and wielding a gun in south  Sudan
Second lieutenant Thomas Bakata

 www.southsudan.net

 happyarabnews.blogspot.com/2006/1…

Barely an hour into a journey that was about to get longer and second lieutenant Thomas Bakata’s Chinese motorbike was handling as it usually does on the route from Juba to Yei: like a bucking bronco. It jerked and jolted over sandy ridges and stony pits as the rabbit-ear flaps on his green hat flailed in the wind, and the Wellington boots trussed to boxes on the back wriggled to get free.

On Bakata’s number plate was a flag belonging to a land-locked country-in-waiting at the rawest end of Africa’s ­wilderness spectrum. This is south Sudan, and the dirt track its lifeline to civilisation – a road so rough that drivers say taking it more than three times a week will scramble your ­internal organs.

Bakata, a regular traveller, lurched around another bend and squinted through his counterfeit Ray-Bans: a rope-and-streamer roadblock had been thrown up. He sighed and applied the brake, bringing the Senke 125cc to a halt. “How long will we wait here?” he asked, showing off a gap between his front teeth. The answer was 30 minutes, time enough to talk. “This land of ours,” he told me, “we have been many years fighting. Some of our fathers fought, so we have been fighting too.” He became a soldier 20 years ago, joining the then-guerrilla ranks of the Sudan People’s ­Liberation Army (SPLA) six years into the second phase of Africa’s longest civil war. The marginalised south was rebelling against a brutal Arab-led regime in Khartoum – the latest in a succession – and the bullets and flames of a scorched-earth campaign had arrived in Bakata’s village. He was 18 years old.

It was a war that killed two million people – equivalent to 20-25 per cent of the region’s population today – either in raids or battles, or through the hunger and disease that spread around them. The road where Bakata had stopped was a key fighting ground in the mid-1990s, when Juba was a garrison town controlled by Khartoum and surrounded by the SPLA. That is how the path and its hinterland came to be peppered with landmines – and why Bakata’s journey had been delayed. On the other side of the ­barrier, personnel from MineWolf Systems, a Swiss-­German demining company, clomped forward in suits that were half-astronaut, half-­beekeeper, clearing the last vestiges of the civil war from beneath the soil.

The conflict began in late 1955, a few months before Sudan gained independence from colonial Britain, and was passed down through generations. It was in part about race and religion, about the people of the south asserting that they were different from but equal to northerners. This came in the face of racist Islamist campaigns to impose Arab culture, Islam and sharia law across Sudan. Most southerners are Christian or have traditional beliefs that imbue the natural world with spiritual power. “We worship the ostrich, but we consider it like Jesus, like a ­mediator,” one man explained. “It is not a God itself.”

There were also issues of poverty and injustice: there are huge disparities in income and living standards within Sudan and a key reason, beyond the effects of the war, is the economic exploitation of the south by the north, which came to be symbolized by northern slave-raiding. “It’s Sudan: it means ‘the black people’,” says Bakata. “We are the real Sudanese. Those who are brown, they came like the Arabs. They came from the north to sit with us and we the black people got annoyed because there was no ­development. If you go to Khartoum, you see lots of things.”

Strapped over Bakata’s shoulder was the same Kalashnikov rifle he was given when he joined the liberation struggle, its butt chipped and scratched. “It is working okay,” he said, “because we don’t use it anyhow. It is only for protection. Last time was when we were fighting.” In 2005, after three years of intense negotiations and international pressure, the war ended with a peace deal between the SPLA and the Khartoum regime of president Omar al-Bashir. The deal gave the south partial autonomy and provided for a six-year interim period in which attempts would be made to heal the north-south rift through a more equitable distribution of power and resources. That has not succeeded. “The Arabs, we are over with them,” Bakata said dismissively. Instead, attention has shifted to the peace deal’s get-out clause: a referendum on southern self-determination due next January in which an ­overwhelming majority of southerners are expected to vote for secession.

It’s possible the referendum will be delayed; it’s possible Khartoum will choose to fight another war rather than let the south go; it’s possible the international community will get last-minute jitters over the rupture and try to thwart it. If none of that happens, south Sudan will become the world’s newest country as early as next July (following a six-month transitional period). But what kind of country? Plenty of places have been rebuilt after devastating wars, but nowhere has a nation-state been built from nothing in six years. “This is still bare-bones stuff,” said one British aid worker. “You’re looking at society before civilisation.”

An aerial view of houses in Juba, south Sudan
Juba, future capital city of an independent southern Sudan

The future capital of any future country is Juba, situated on the Bahr el-Jebel stretch of the White Nile river, a boom town in a region also known as the Wild South. The main unit of construction here is the shipping container; there is no public water supply; electricity comes from personal ­diesel generators; and only last year did the length of its paved roads surpass four miles. Yet it is home to a circus cast of outsiders who have flocked here since 2005: roughshod profiteers, UN drones in pressed shirts, bleeding heart aid workers, insta-fix briefcase consultants. They are attracted by its danger and its desperation and they have given Juba its signature impermanence and incoherence. “There’s this sense that everything arrived ­yesterday and that it’s changing before your eyes,” said one man on the payroll of a European government.



The area is the ancestral home of the Bari people and that’s why you can turn a corner and stumble across a community of tukul mud huts with conical straw roofs, or a team of hammer swingers making one of the region’s few indigenous products: broken rocks. This is the thing about Juba: it’s got bits of the pre-industrial era and it’s got bits of the ­21st-century, but there’s a gap where the western 20th century could have been. So it has mass illiteracy and US aid workers carrying Kindles – but precious few school textbooks. It has inter-tukul rumour mills and a “3.75G” mobile phone network – but no landlines. It has women fetching river water by hand and a few dust-churning Hummers – but no donkey-drawn carts. It also has oil – lots of it. Ninety-eight per cent of its non-aid budget this year comes from crude, so a future country is likely to be the world’s most oil-dependent. It is also headed towards being more dependent than anywhere else on aid agencies: they are estimated to provide 85 per cent of both education and health services in the region. During the war, the south’s main settlements had been garrison towns controlled by Khartoum whose economies were run by white-robed merchants from the north. Those merchants fled after the 2005 peace deal and left an ­economic vacuum that only risk-taking outsiders could fill: Ugandan steel suppliers, a Chinese mineral water trader, Eritrean hotel owners, a ­Canadian farmer, and so on. They got the region working but they have also stoked resentment at profiteering. Indeed, business people told me they were pocketing profit margins of 50, 100 or even 200 per cent. Evan Hadji­michael, a Greek born in Egypt and joint owner of Notos, a Mediterranean ­restaurant that tries to be different by offering “value”, said: “Everyone here tries to make a quick buck. They have an absurd pricing structure.”


Part of that is because no one knows whether national elections scheduled next month or the referendum next January will trigger renewed ­conflict, or whether the tenuous rule of law will protect them from land and tax grabs. Stories circulate of businesses that lost out in disputes with locals who got their way through brute force – for example, KK Security of Kenya, whose operation was violently seized.

Then there are the businesses that signed contracts with the government and ran off with the money. Yar Manoa Majek, a south Sudanese construction entrepreneur and member of the chamber of commerce, fumed about the lack of long-term investment. “Is the profit going to stay here?” she asked me, jabbing her notepad with a pen. “No. Every week, they take the money. Every week, they are sending money out by Western Union. How is that going to benefit the economy?”
. . .

Nestled among rolls of chain-link fencing and ­spaghetti-like stacks of steel cables, Chesta Musoke reclined at a “technology hub” grafted on to the side of a corrugated iron kiosk, reading an old copy of Red ­Pepper, a scandal-sheet from his native Uganda. A laid-back sophisticate, he looked out of place among the ­grizzled traders and truckers who have made Juba’s Mawunna trading centre the drop-off point for goods at the end of the Yei road. But they appreciate him for charging their mobile phone batteries – using a bank of sockets available for two ­Sudanese pounds (60p) a go – and for injecting some cheer into the grim workaday scene by pumping out music from his computer.

He tossed down his newspaper as I approached to chat. When I asked about the locals, he jabbed a finger at a picture on his computer screen of Destiny’s Child, the female R&B group, and told me about the reaction of his archetypal south Sudanese man. “He sees her here and he says he wants to talk to her. Now. Now. He is not yet aware of technology,” he said. “You bring the radio, he listens, then he comes back with money and says he wants to buy the songs inside. He sees the mirror and he wants to pass through it because he sees the traffic moving inside.”

The long civil war left most of the people frozen in time for 50 years while the rest of the world – including city dwellers in neighbouring ­African countries – raced ahead. Now they have been asked to cover in six years the ground that took the rest of us decades, centuries. “It’s a culture of no exposure to so many things,” says Suzanne Jambo, the garrulous head of external relations for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the political wing of the former rebel army, which rules the south. “It’s like baby steps. You have to take people on baby steps.”

The lack of familiarity with the modern world extends to concepts such as work, employment, commerce – even farming. South Sudan oozes fertility, but during mango ­season an overpowering stench assails parts of the region because heaps of the fruit are left rotting where they fall. Meanwhile, expats in Juba drink Ceres-branded mango juice imported from Uganda. “There’s a culture of dependency, a culture of not taking pride in earning your own income,” says Jambo. “It’s a way of thinking. It’s like an entitlement. Do you know? That’s how it is.”

Beyond war itself, such attitudes have their roots in Operation Lifeline Sudan, a food relief effort run by the UN and aid agencies during the conflict; it kept hundreds of thousands of civilians alive, but is now criticised for having pulled them into garrison towns and killed off agriculture and self-reliance. Members of the diaspora returning to south Sudan are helping to counteract this but they are often overpowered by a postwar indigenous economy that can be summarised as “oil revenues in, state salaries out”. South Sudan’s former guerrilla leaders turned public sector employment into a patronage tool, creating a state payroll of more than 300,000, including the army. It is as messy as it is unproductive: there are drivers with no cars, schools with more cleaners than teachers. But via hand-outs given to relatives the salaries probably support up to half the population.

One of the rooms of Juba Teaching  Hospital
Juba Teaching Hospital

The labels have been stuck on the store-room shelves – ampicillin, flagil, septazole – but the spaces above them are empty. The adjustable baby-delivery chairs gleam after a scrub, but some do not work because their screws have fallen out. The amateur midwives are literate and hard-working, but they tend to panic when a labour doesn’t go according to plan. This is the maternity ward in the Juba Teaching Hospital; too often it is also the scene of avoidable tragedy.

“Recognising complications during birth is an issue,” Sake Jemelia, head of the ward, told me. “Most of the mothers die because of that … The community midwives run up and down calling for the doctor. But the doctor is not there and there is no blood to replace what is lost.” South Sudan’s human development indicators are among the worst in the world. The UN spells them out on a list entitled “Scary Statistics”. Under maternal mortality it says: “One out of seven women who become pregnant in ­S Sudan will probably die of pregnancy-related causes.” Babies are only in marginally less danger: 102 die per 1,000 live births. A non-Sudanese doctor who had visited the maternity ward told me: “You see the babies are pulled out like logs, they are convulsing, and you ask the midwife and she doesn’t know ­anything. I just made the sign of the cross. I don’t want to go there again.”

The hospital’s reliance on amateur staff is explained by another statistic on the UN list: there are only 100 certified midwives in the whole of the south Sudan, or roughly one per 100,000 people. The picture for water, sanitation and education – the other basic services – is equally grim. Luka Biong Deng, minister of presidential affairs, said the figures were better than five years ago but had been adversely affected by a decision to focus public spending on roads and buildings. Yet south Sudan has also received just over $2bn in foreign aid since 2005. Why has it made so little difference? The region seems to embody two of aid’s recurring weaknesses: short-termism and a failure to understand local circumstances. “It’s inter-generational change you need in south Sudan,” said Allan Duncan, a former aid worker who, as a KPMG consultant, became the new government’s Mr Fix-it in its early days. “It’s not a five to 10-year time frame. That’s where a lot of people had ­unrealistic ­expectations about what they could achieve.”

Young men doing  carpentry at the Ganji Institute of Vocational Education
The Ganji Institute of Vocational Education

Rather than building the country methodically, he said donors and NGOs had set time horizons that end at next year’s referendum, triggering a rush to launch dozens of over-optimistic and ill-considered projects. “It’s been like an end-of-the-world party,” Duncan told me in his Nairobi office. “2011 became this cliff and everyone knew you’d have to step off it. But no one knew if it was 1ft high or 100ft high. So there’s never been any form of institution-building for 2011 and beyond.”

Members of the aid brigade in Juba spend a lot of time blaming one another for what’s gone wrong, but the most popular punchbag is the World Bank, which was chosen to administer a flagship recovery fund into which western governments poured $524m. The bank had little experience of post-conflict zones, it could not attract good staff to Juba, and it applied criteria that were ludicrously stringent in a place as raw as south Sudan. The result: by the end of last year, little more than a third of the money had been spent, leaving donors furious.

Most of the money that has got out has gone to aid agencies. Some of their staff reminded me with pride that they provide the bulk of health services in south Sudan. “We are basically the ministry of health,” said a worker with Médecins Sans Frontières. But others voiced the ­criticisms that come with that. “They set up completely parallel systems and they have reacted very self-righteously when someone in the SPLM tries to control them,” said John Ashworth, a Sudan veteran who heads the Nairobi office of IKV Pax Christi, a Christian campaign group.

Aid agencies get barbs elsewhere in Africa for letting governments ignore their responsibility to provide services to their citizens. But in south Sudan, the international community made the opposite error: it tried to manage too much in partnership with a novice government that knew as little about governing as its people did about farming or computers. One World Bank official told me wearily about “weeks and weeks” that had been lost as the ministry of legal affairs vetted agreements for recovery fund projects. “The concept of general conditions of contracts seemed not to be known,” he said. “Guys were trying to ­negotiate what is force majeure, which the whole world has accepted.”

Duncan, the Mr Fix-it from KPMG, recalled his realisation in 2005 that some of the finance ministry officials who were due to be trained in ­budgets, procurement and auditing would first need remedial maths classes.

Pastor Basil ’Buga Nyama
Pastor Basil ’Buga Nyama, director of the Ganji Institute of Vocational Education

When 2nd Lt Thomas Bakata was joining the struggle, eight-year old Philip Achuoth had already been in a refugee camp for two years. He was another face of the civil war, a Lost Boy: one of thousands who trekked more than 1,000 miles to safety, losing touch with their families and seeing friends picked off by air force bombers and Arab militias, lions and crocodiles, exhaustion and starvation.

“A lot of my colleagues died,” Achuoth told me. “You would see them lying by the path. Or you would say, ‘Wake up, wake up,’ to the one next to you in the morning, you would push him, and he was dead. You would feel like you would be the next.”

Today he is a towering man with a domed forehead framed by an Afro. I met him at a Juba restaurant whose scattershot menu offered rogan josh and pizzas, chicken chow mein and vegetable quesadillas. He didn’t smile once. His earnestness was overpowering and his angst about south Sudan obvious. What bothered him above all was cronyism, corruption and the inaction of the government. “For we who assess development in terms of quality of life, it has not done anything,” he said.

That sentiment is common, and although the former rebels are unlikely to lose power in national elections next month, they are braced to be chastised by the people. The SPLM itself is split along policy lines, between radicals who want to spurn the north after referendum day, pragmatists who see a need to co-operate with it and unionists who still want Sudan to remain as one.

It is also divided between leaders from the south’s largest tribe, the Dinka, and those from the Nuer tribe, notably the vice-president and the army’s deputy commander-in-chief: they both fought against the SPLM in a war within the civil war and they control former militias imperfectly integrated into the southern army. Indeed, the army as a whole is still fragmented into a series of half-reformed guerrilla groups, which are often reviled by the local populations they prey on and not disciplined by an effective command structure.

As for the people themselves, ethnic violence surged last year as more than 2,000 people were killed by rival tribes in disputes over cattle, water and grazing land. The upheaval of the civil war has created lingering suspicions, too – between those who were in garrison towns during the war, those who lived in rebel-held territory and those who fled the country.

What has held the fractious south together in the past five years has been its need to manage Khartoum’s political chicanery, get to the referendum and prepare for the contingency of renewed war. If it becomes independent without conflict, the “Arabs” against whom it has defined itself will be diminished as a common enemy. That is when the south’s internal divisions could come to the fore, threatening the security and cohesion of a place where guns are everywhere and belligerence hangs in the air. It is not the foreigners who will determine its future; that will hinge on the ability of the south Sudanese to find mutual interests and a unified identity.

Achuoth said that, having cheated death and the circling vultures who feasted on fallen Lost Boys during their long march, he now wanted to help other survivors return home. But at the very least, that home must be safe. “This liberation struggle,” he said, “I have seen too much. I want to see a good outcome. I don’t want to see other people experiencing the same, going back to square zero.”

Barney Jopson is the FT’s East Africa correspondent

###

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

Richard Attias (born 1959 in Morocc) – he is a  global events producer. As chairman of PublicisLive Attias was the producer of the World Economic Forum in Davos for over fifteen years. His personal history and the history of the organizations he was involved with are plainly fascinating and we write this longer posting because we feel that he is embarking now upon even a greater voyage with his new NEW YORK FORUM, then in his previous activities.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Geneva-based non-profit foundation best known for its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which brings together top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world, including health and the environment. Beside meetings, the WEF produces a series of research reports, and engages its members in sector specific initiatives. WEF also organizes the “Annual Meeting of the New Champions” in China, and a series of regional meetings throughout the year. In 2008 those regional meetings included meetings on Europe and Central Asia, East Asia, the Russia CEO Roundtable, Africa, the Middle East, and the World Economic Forum on Latin America. In 2008 it launched the “Summit on the Global Agenda” in Dubai.

The WEF was founded in 1971 by Klaus Martin Schwab, a German-born business professor at the University of Geneva. Originally named the European Management Forum, it changed its name to the World Economic Forum in 1987 and sought to broaden its vision further to include providing a platform for resolving international conflicts.

In the summer of 1971 Schwab invited 444 executives from Western European firms to the first European Management Symposium held in the Davos Congress Centre, under the patronage of the European Commission and European industrial associations, where Schwab sought to introduce European firms to US management practices. He then founded the WEF as a non-profit organization based in Cologny, Geneva, and drew European business leaders to Davos for their annual meetings each January.

Schwab developed the “stakeholder” management approach which based corporate success on managers taking account of all interests: not merely shareholders, clients and customers, but employees and the communities within which the firm is situated, and governments. Events in 1973 including the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate mechanism, and the Arab-Israeli War, saw the annual meeting expand its focus from management to economic and social issues, and political leaders were invited for the first time to Davos in January 1974.

As the years went by, political leaders began to use Davos as a neutral platform to resolve their differences. The Davos Declaration was signed in 1988 by Greece and Turkey, helping them turn back from the brink of war. In 1992 South African President F. W. de Klerk met with Nelson Mandela and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the Annual Meeting, their first joint appearance outside South Africa. At the 1994 Annual Meeting, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat reached a draft agreement on Gaza and Jericho. In 2008 Bill Gates gave a keynote speech on Creative Capitalism, a form of capitalism that works both to generate profits and solve the world’s inequities, using market forces to better address the needs of the poor.

Frederik de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 1992.

During the five-day Annual meeting in 2009, over 2,500 participants from 91 countries gathered in Davos. Around 75% (1,170) were business leaders, drawn principally from its members, 1,000 of world’s top companies. Besides these, participants included 219 public figures, including 40 heads of state or government, 64 cabinet ministers, 30 heads or senior officials of international organizations and 10 ambassadors. More than 432 participants were from civil society, including 32 heads or representatives of non-governmental organizations, 225 media leaders, 149 leaders from academic institutions and think tanks, 15 religious leaders of different faiths and 11 union leaders.
During the 1990s, Attias founded an Event Management Company and produced various global events including the Zurich Insurances Convention and Boris Yeltsin‘s visit to France. Richard was awarded the contract for the signature of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) signature agreements in Marrakesh and for the Middle East and North Africa summit meeting in Casablanca.

A brief encounter with Klaus Schwab, President of the World Economic Forum, resulted in a long-standing partnership and the eventual creation of the Global Event Management Company. This joint venture agency went on to manage international conferences, including the International Telecoms Union Congress and the Middle East Peace Summit in Jordan and the World Economic Forum in Davos.


Richard joined Publicis Groupe in 1998 and established a global enterprise producing events for various clients including IBM, l’Oreal, Uniliver, BT, Avaya, Lenovo, EDF, Sanofi-Aventis, etc.

Richard was named Chairman of the Board of Publicis Dialog which combined the operations of Publicis Events and a range of marketing services. In 2004, Richard moved to New York and became chairman of Publicis Events Worldwide, the first world wide events network with over 600 employees.

At PublicisLive Richard combined the events company and team to form PublicisLive that specialized in the conception and production of international conferences and very high profile events such as the Clinton Global Initiative Forum, the Islamic Conference, The Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates, the Dalian Economic Summit in China, and the Monaco Media Forum.

On March 23, 2008, Richard Attias married in New York’s Rockefeller Centre the ex-wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy     Former French First Lady Mme. Cécilia María Sara Isabel Ciganer-Albéniz (a descendent of the composer).

Cécilia Sarkozy visited Libya twice in July 2007 to visit Muammar al-Gaddafi and helped in securing the release of five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor who had all spent years on Libya‘s death row after allegedly being tortured into confessing to infecting Libyan babies with the HIV virus. The French left asked for Cécilia Sarkozy to be heard by the Parliamentary Commission expected to be created in October 2007 concerning the terms of the release of the six, as she had played an “important role” in their liberation. A Newspaper interview with Cécilia Sarkozy on October 19, 2007, made it known that she is leaving the President.


Current work

In 2008 Richard Attias created the Experience Corporation – a U.S. based full service event management and strategic consulting company with offices in New York, Paris, Jeddah and Dubai, that supports government and non-governmental organizations worldwide. As Executive Chairman, Richard oversees the execution and management of global events. Two major recent productions have been the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the accession to the throne of the King of Jordan and the launching of the Bahrain Education Project in Manama on October 10, 2009. The Experience Corporation has also executed more than a dozen corporate and governmental events since its inception in March, 2008.

Richard Attias is the Executive Chairman of  the Experience Corporation and works there with his wife.

Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women, In October 2008, Cecilia Attias announced the launch of her Foundation for women’s rights. The Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women actualizes concrete improvement in the lives of women worldwide by serving as a strategic, media, and financial platform for small and moderate sized, established non-governmental organizations, associations and foundations who champion the cause of women’s equality and well-being. Recently, Cecilia Attias delivered the keynote address at the ARISE Africa Fashion Awards entitled “The Promise of Africa.”

2008, Richard Attias sold the Global Event Management Company and with it the contract with the World Economic Forum. Richard is named special advisor to the Emirate of Dubai to provide a comprehensive strategy to make the city a destination for major conferences, and cultural and sporting events and spends a year and a half in Dubai.

Richard Attias is the Chairman the Advisory Board of the Center on Capitalism and Society, directed by Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps.

Currently, The Experience is making preparations for its New York Forum, the first summit to unite business leaders, sovereign funds and all major players in the global economy for an open, action oriented debate to foster ideas for improvement and reinvent current business models.

This brings us to what goes on right now – right here in New York, and we got wind of this from the New York Foreign Press Center where Richard Attias gave a Briefing on-The-Record, June 2, 2010.
We learned that this was the launching announcement for the FIRST ANNUAL NEW YORK FORUM, and we bet, in an age of contraction and increased interest in the real world, with demands that go beyond what a resort can provide, the location in New York City might make it possible that the meeting will become even more important then those Davos meetings.
The First Meeting will be held June 22-23, 2010, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on East 42nd Street in Manhattan.
If you check the dates – you find that this fits neatly before the G-20 meeting – June 26 – 27, 2010 in Toronto. And as such, we already learned, that a main attraction of this meeting will be Christine Lagarde, Finance Minister of France will be the featured speaker at the closing session June 23, 2010.

Lagarde is the first woman ever to become minister of Economic Affairs of a G8 economy.  In 2008, Lagarde was ranked the 14th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine.  A noted antitrust and labor lawyer, Lagarde made history as the first female chairman of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie. She has been awarded France’s highest honor, the Légion d’honneur. In 2009, the Financial Times ranked her the best Minister of Finance of the Eurozone.
Further we learned that to date, Vikram Pandit, CEO, Citigroup; Edmund Phelps, Nobel Prize in Economics, 2006; Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman and Publisher of The New York Times; Robert Wolf, CEO, UBS Americas; Jonathan Miller, CEO, News Corp Digital; Cathie Black, President, Hearst Magazines; and S.D. Shibulal, Co-Founder of Infosys Technologies, are among the people who have confirmed their attendance.
The New York Forum is a call for action by the business community to reinvigorate the global economy and to find new confidence and credibility. Initial support came from the following Forum partners: The Boston Consulting Group, The New York Times, Partnership for New York City, and the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University.

The Forum’s distinguished Advisory Board includes Nobel Prize-winning economist and Director of The Center for Capitalism and Society, Edmund Phelps; Partnership for New York City CEO Kathy Wylde; Economist and Planet Finance Founder, Jacques Attali; and Scott-Heekin-Canedy, President and General Manager, The New York Times.

—————
WHY NEW YORK?

From Mr. Attias we learned that his love affair with New York started at 9/11. He saw then how “UNITED WE STAND” was something real in this city. That is how he decided to make it his main home.

When the financial crisis struck he was in Dubai – he realized that the economic crisis will follow. He saw there the workers from India losing their jobs without understanding what it is all about. He came back to New York with the intent to create this new platform – the New York Forum with people who really run the show – the business people rather then the politicians. He talks as stakeholders – of NGOs, academics, besides the business people, and he wants them to come up with actual proposals. He will keep them in the discussion groups and wait for solutions. He talks of a call to action and is not shy to say that the problems were started right here in New York, and solutions should come from New York and applied directly in New York.
Richard Attias thinks the Financial Crisis is behind us – but we have the Economic Crisis and we must have jobs for people.
The 2010 New York Forum will have a total of only 320-360 participants – just 3 plenaries with CEOs and attendees. Also many smaller group meetings, Mr. Attias said that 60 people in a group is the maximum. Further, as he said, at the end there must be a road map on regulations and transparency as needed to create renewed trust in the system. For years we had the feeling of credibility, what happened recently made us lose that feeling and we must restore it.
Several days after the meeting there will be a “white book” – 100% transparent, open to the media – at least to the web – and press releases.
Three days after the meeting Rubinstein Communications Inc. will have the result of the dialogue in the form of a document – “REINVENTING THE BUSINESS MODEL.”
We got enthused by the fact that Mr. Attias said that while now there are 600,000 cars on the global roads every day, when China matches us in the ratio of cars per people, there might be 2 billion cars on the roads of the planet – and this is not negotiable. Different transportation systems must be established.
indeed, in his briefing Mr. Attias did not go into details of a green economy, or of the actual alternatives that must evolve. We realized that in ways he wants to keep his neutrality before the dialogue, but it is clear that no results are possible if all our favorite arguments will not be part of this dialogue. Therefore we are confident that the Forum can be the answer to just what the doctor found in his diagnosis: The crisis started in New York and the road map will be drawn in New York in order to effect the financial institutions, that will from now on, have to handle with complete transparency the requirements of sustainability.

He picked New York also because its rich cultural life, in this respect it might be more to the point then going away to a retreat.
With a composition as diverse as including people from South Africa, India, Dubai, Korea, etc. a process of innovation may be started at this forum. He has extended invitations to Sovereign Funds- so governments like Saudi Arabia will be present.
Problems started as for years political leaders were out to reduce costs, but the problem that in the real world it led to the Greece crisis. Something has to change. Mme. Legarde is expected to address tis problem

———————-

For The New York Forum

Contact:         Rubenstein Communications, Inc.

Iva Benson (212) 843-8271,  ibenson at rubenstein.com

Thomas Chiodo (212) 843-8289,  tchiodo at rubenstein.com

——————–

 www.NY-FORUM.Com

________________________________________________________________________

###

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

from Jessica Boyle <jboyle@iisd.ca>
date Thu, Jun 3, 2010
subject:
IISD Side Event in Bonn June 4: Improving the Effectiveness of International Climate Change Governance.

Improving the Effectiveness of International Climate Change Governance

Hosted by IISD

Side Event

Friday, 4 June 2010

18:00 – 19:30

Room Air (FIDMED)

IISD is undertaking research to examine an effective system of international governance to address the climate change challenge. Five experts will provide regional perspectives on critical issues, and exchange views on climate change governance. The discussion will focus on the following topics and questions:

The shift from a top-down (Kyoto) to a bottom-up approach

§             What are the advantages and disadvantages of the shift to a bottom-up regime?

§             How do we create incentives for broad participation in GHG mitigation?

§             How do we MRV action; connect commitments to actions?

§             What is the role of the UNFCCC?

Financing

  • How should funds be managed and accounted for under the UNFCCC?
  • What should be left to other processes?
  • What decision-making/governance models are needed for both the raising of funds and their distribution and use?
  • How to expand the limited space for non-national government actors (e.g., private sector, cities/states, NGOs)?
  • How can market-based instruments best be designed?
  • How do we account for the strong linkages between climate change and traditional development activities?

The side event will be facilitated by John Drexhage, IISD, who will provide opening comments.

The expert panel will include:

  • Jürgen Lefevere, Policy Coordinator, International Climate Change, European Commission
  • George Wamukoya , Climate Advisor, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
  • Fernado Tudela, Vice Minister for Planning and Environmental Policy and Principal Negotiator on Climate Change Issues in Mexico
  • Alden Meyer, Director of Strategy and Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C

The panel presentations will be followed by a discussion session with the audience.

For further information, please contact Jessica Boyle at jboyle@iisd.ca

###

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

from: Thomas Ochueng <ochiengt@yahoo.com>
to submissions@sustainabilitank.com
cc PJ@sustainabilitank.com
date Thu, May 20, 2010 at 2:15 AM
subject Opinion on post Copenhagen

POST COPENHAGEN
The central message that emerged from the Copenhagen conference on climate change last year was that addressing climate change will not be met by ad hoc actions. The action on climate change will require stronger efforts by the advanced nations to cut their emissions drastically.However, even if the developed countries start to match their actions with deeds the desired goals will only be met if the developing countries become active partners towards this ends. This will include switching to low emissions high growth pathways in order to meet the goal of development and growth in a sustainable climatic condition. This is
both a necessity and feasible.

It is imperative to note that, combating the global warming will not be achieved without the eventual reduction of emissions from developing countries, which will lead to adjustments that will require sustained commitments and solidarity mustered during wars times and calamities. Indeed for the developing countries to adopt less emission strategies for their development, a new thinking has to be employed that is capable of raising investments levels and channeling resources towards lowering the carbon contents of the overall economic activities. Taking note that most of the developing nations lack the technological and financial capacities to shift gear at the speed consummate with the enormity of the challenge the issue of climate change poses, hence the developed world must appreciate that in line with common but differentiated responsibilities the means and ways will mostly differ looking at both historical, financial and technical factors.

In conclusion, it is important to note that in this endeavor
of tackling climate change, there should be an atmosphere of mutual
understanding and trust, which will ensure fair and inclusive responses to this
great challenge. Both the developed and developing countries need to develop an
integrated work plan approach that encompasses climate adaptation, energy
access and poverty reduction, thus starting to view the agenda of climate
change as an economic and development issue.

Thomas Ochieng, is a freelance writer.
ochiengt@yahoo.com

###

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

Colombia Minister of Environment, Housing and Social Development Carlos Rufino Costa Posada – in short H.E. Carlos Costa is the fourth Latin America/Caribbean nominee out of the eleven nominees for the post of Executive-Secretary of  the UNFCCC – the position so called Climate Chief. With such eagerness on the part of Latin America it is quite clear why Brazil preferred not to put forward a delegate.

—————-

Adopt A Negotiator UNFCCC Perspectives: Grace Akumu, Kenya Delegate – see vodpod.com/watch/2454614-grace-ak… {How to read Africa’s move trackback from post: Many of you might have heard of the African Group’s strategic move to block the Kyoto track of negotiations on Monday afternoon. Yesterday’s press conference and some interviews revealed, how this can be understood. Nov 5, 2009} is the Kenya recommendation.

That is the second African we know about besides the South African nominee who is a Cabinet Minister.

An outspoken Kenyan, Akumu’s work has focused on the disproportionate effects that global warming is having on African nations. Akumu is executive director for Climate Network Africa, where she has worked since 1992. In her role, Akumu has witnessed firsthand the way climate change has blindsided African states through floods, drought, and famine – affecting every aspect of life, industry and interstate relations.

The unintended consequences are many. Akumu says the snow on Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro is melting away. By 2015, there will be no snow on Mt Kenya. That’s not only an aesthetic and spiritual loss – it’s a threat to Kenya’s way of life.

Hydroelectric power, which is how 70 percent of Kenya’s electricity is generated, is threatened. As the snowmelt continues, the streams fed by Mt. Kenya – which power the plants – are drying up.

“Agricultural communities, who are 80 percent of Kenya’s population, have become seriously water stressed,” Akumu says. “Rivers are drying up and their survival is our top priority, considering that they also live on less than $1 per day.”

Through her work with Climate Network Africa, Akumu has coordinated efforts to raise and address these issues over the past two decades.

Years of work  earned a Webster University, Geneva, Switzerland, campus 1986 alumna, the Nobel Peace Prize. Grace Akumu, who earned her B.A. in international relations, she was, a member and lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 prize with former U.S. vice president Al Gore.

Climate Network Africa (CNA) is a Non-profit Non-governmental Organization registered in Kenya. Started in 1991, CNA seeks to improve the chances for environmentally sustainable and socially equitable development in Africa in light of the serious danger of climate change, desertification and biodiversity loss. Among CNA’s major activities are policy analysis, research, EIA, public education and awareness, advocacy, campaigns, CDM training, natural resources management, promotion of sustainable energy development and services with the objective of poverty alleviation. CNA also facilitates information exchange with the aim of strengthening Africa’s many voices at local, national and international fora. CNA targets policymakers, researchers, scientists and key NGOs working on environment and development issues. Membership to CNA is open to all NGOs and any institution which subscribes to its objectives. CNA information services are available to all groups and individuals interested in environment and development issues.

An NGO is a very unusual nominee, but then Ahim Steiner, now the very successful head of UNEP, was also a very unusual nominee at the time. Perhaps this might turn out to be a winning formula? This time it may turn out that Africa is the winner after all.

—————-

Despite what was said previously by others – not by us – Indonesia was believed to have a nominee – as per official words they have  not provided a name to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s office for a nominee to the UNFCCC position.

This, in addition to the previously SustainabiliTank.info posted seven nominees leaves us now with a total of 9 nominees.

WE ARE STILL MISSING TWO NOMINEES AND THEREFORE WE WILL EVENTUALLY HAVE TO RESORT  TO MAKING WILDEST GUESSES FOR WHO ARE THE FURTHER TWO STEALTH NOMINEES. WE SAY STEALTH BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT THE UN DOES NOT RELEASE ANY NAMES OF NOMINEES OR OF THE COUNTRIES THAT DID THE NOMINATIONS.

Judging from the presence of Colombia on the list, and our recent posting on the Washington meeting of the  Major Economies Forum

 www.sustainabilitank.info/2010/04…

we are now taking the guess that Yemen might be one of the missing two, but then looking also at the list of the 11 members of the Bureau of the UNFCCC, we might be inclined to think that Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, or Korea might be the missing two. Saudi Arabia has moved  to institute nuclear energy and renewable energy activities, while South Korea is taking green business initiatives.

Yemen is the chair of the G-77 and could claim interest in all of the above. Iran has had people involved in Sustainable Development and with its involvement in nuclear issues might also believe to have a claim to this position. As said – our guess is wild.

The eleven Bureau-of-the-COP of UNFCCC members are from:
Australia, Bahamas, Denmark, South Korea, Mali, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Sudan and Russia.

—————-

Also, we learned that the travel itinerary of the UNFCCC COPs from Poznan (COP 14), Copemhagen (COP15),  Cancun (COP16), is now causing a fight on Asia’s turn of this circus – between Doha, Qatar and Seoul, Korea for the COP17 show.

————–

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 16th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

African Ministers responsible for meteorology will meet in Nairobi, Kenya, to address ways of strengthening weather, climate and water information for decision-making. Recognizing the needs to strengthen the role and contribution of African National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) to Government policies and initiatives for mitigating and adapting to climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in partnership with the African Union, is organizing the First Conference of Ministers Responsible for Meteorology in Africa, from 12 to 16 April 2010, with the support of the Government of Kenya, in Nairobi.
Please find attached the press release “Ministers Responsible for Meteorology in Africa to meet for the first time – Nairobi, Kenya – 12 – 16 April 2010”.
More information: www.wmo.int
———————

from:   CPA <ipa@wmo.int>

date:    March 12, 2010


Subject: Invitation: Announcement of the African Ministerial Conference

Dear All,

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in partnership with the African Union, is organizing the First Conference of Ministers Responsible for Meteorology in Africa, in order to maximise the potential of weather and climate information for societal benefits.

The Conference will be hosted by the Government of Kenya from 12 to 16 April 2010, in Nairobi.

Journalists are cordially invited to a press conference about this event.

Date and Time: Tuesday 16 March 2010 at 12h00 Venue: Palais des Nations, Room III, Geneva, Switzerland.

—-

Speakers:    Mr Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General, WMO

Mrs Khadija Rachida Masri, Permanent Observer, African Union

Mr Philip Richard Owade, Permanent Representative of Kenya

Ms Shree Badoo Chekitan Servansing, Permanent Representative of Mauritius and Coordinator of the African Group

will be represented at the press conference. Mr Jeremiah Lengoasa, Deputy-Secretary General, and Mr Alioune N’Diaye, Director of the Regional Office for Africa, WMO, will also be present.

Journalists not accredited to the United Nations Office at Geneva but who wish to participate in the press conference are kindly requested to contact Ms Catherine Fegli: tel: +41 22 917 23 13; fax: +41 22 917 00 73; e-mail: cfegli@unog.ch, and visit the following link:

www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpPages)/70991F6887C73B2280256EE700379C58?Open

For information about the African Ministerial Conference:

www.wmo.int/pages/africaconf/index_en.html

For more information please contact the Communications and Public Affairs Office, WMO

Ms Carine Richard-Van Maele, Chief, Tel: +41 (0)22 730 83 15, E-mail: cpa@wmo.int ,

Ms Marie Heuzé, Special Advisor, Tel: + 41 (0)22 730 84 78, E-mail: mheuze@wmo.int

Ms Gaëlle Sévenier, Press Officer, Tel: +41 (0) 22 730 8417, E-mail: gsevenier@wmo.int

Internet website: www.wmo.int

###

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

from:     sniakan at worldbank.org

date:    Thu, Feb 25, 2010
subject:    World Bank participates in the Africa Carbon Forum

Africa Carbon Forum – March 3-5, Nairobi, Kenya

The World Bank Group is pleased to support the Africa Carbon Forum taking place in Gigiri, right outside Nairobi on March 3-5. Bank staff will be participating in a number of plenary sessions as well as side events.
Furthermore, a press conference will be held on March 3, briefing media on the recently registered Humbo Assisted Natural Regeneration Project. The press conference will take place at 1pm in the UNEP Press Room (Lower Library) in Gigiri – that is the location of the UNEP headqarters near Nairobi. Transportation from downtown Nairobi will be provided.

The Humbo Assisted Natural Regeneration Project is located in Ethiopia and is Africa’s first large-scale forestry project under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). It was recently registered under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The project, developed by World Vision, brings both economic and social benefits to poor communities in Ethiopia as well as environmental benefits, cutting an estimated 880,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 30 years. The future sales of carbon credits will bring more than US$700,000 to the local communities over ten years.

At the press conference, the National Director of World Vision Ethiopia, Mrs. Tenagne Lemma, will present the project together with Ms. Ellysar Baroudy, the manager of the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund, which is purchasing a share of the carbon credits generated by this project.

For more information, please contact sniakan@worldbank.org by email.

For more information on the World Bank BioCarbon Fund, please see: wbcarbonfinance.org/Router.cfm?Pa…

For more information on World Vision, please see: www.wvi.org/wvi/wviweb.nsf

For more information on and registration for the Africa Carbon Forum, please see their website: www.africacarbonforum.com/2009/en…. Registration is free.

_______________________________________________
Isabel Hagbrink
Senior Communications Officer
Carbon Finance Unit
Environment Department, The World Bank Group
1818 H Street, NW, Washington D.C. 20433

Tel : 202 458 0422 Fax : 202 522 7432
email :  ihagbrink at worldbank.org
Web : www.CarbonFinance.org (See attached file: Africa Carbon Forum Events Booklet external.pdf)

###

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

Kenya to get ¥29 billion in Yen – for power plants. (about $213 million, at today’s exchange rate, out of a $5 billion foreign aid allocation for 2010 climate expenditure by Japan.)
Kyodo News, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has unveiled plans to provide Kenyawith ¥29.5 billion in yen-denominated loans for a thermal power plant project there as part of Tokyo’s support for the east African country’s efforts on climate change.

Hatoyama and visiting Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed Friday in their talks in Tokyo to cooperate in building momentum for the next key U.N. climate conference to be held in Mexico from late November to early December.

Japan plans to implement the loan by the end of next month, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Odinga praised Hatoyama for Tokyo’s $15 billion offer for poor, vulnerable nations to tackle climate change over the three years through 2012 under the Hatoyama Initiative, calling it a voice of reason that emerged amid clashing interests and discord.

He said a nonbinding accord reached at the key U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen in December has become a good starting point and the foundation for the next round of talks in Mexico.

“I was very encouraged by hearing that Kenya approved the Copenhagen accord,” Hatoyama was quoted by the official as telling his Kenyan counterpart, adding he wants to cooperate with Odinga in working to produce a binding accord at the next talks.

Odinga said in June Kenya plans to host the next summit of the so-called Climate Vulnerable Forum, which groups 25 countries facing the threat of climate change impacts such as rising sea levels.

The Kenyan leader called for Japanese support and invited Hatoyama to take part in the June event.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

South-South Cooperation Key to MDGs
IPS Correspondents

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 7 (IPS) – Member states meeting here Thursday called for the immediate implementation of development commitments made during the Nairobi high-level U.N. conference on cooperation between developing countries.

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark highlighted the importance of the Nairobi meeting on South-South cooperation in sharing information, technologies, and experiences across the South. The Nairobi outcome document calls for concrete measures to mainstream support for South-South and triangular cooperation in the U.N.’s work.

“I can assure you that we in UNDP have received that loud and clear message,” Clark said. “We have long proudly hosted the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and fully supported its work.” On the heels of Thursday’s General Assembly High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation (HLC) meeting, focal points of South-South cooperation at 29 U.N. agencies met Friday at headquarters to discuss follow-up to the Nairobi conference.

“South-South cooperation is an expression of solidarity that has proven its relevance by a rapid growth,” said Ambassador Abdullah M. Alsaidi of Yemen, the chair of the Group of 77 developing countries.

“Cooperation across the South has been transformed by the growth of the emerging economies,” Clark explained.

The share of global GDP generated by low and middle income countries has grown from 15 percent to 25 percent over the last 50 years according to UNDP estimates, and analysts predict that emerging markets will outperform developed markets over the course of the next decade.

“Strengthening of regional integration and improved networking among members of regional blocs and organisations has a multiplier effect to South-South cooperation,” said Ambassador Zachary Muburi-Muita of Kenya, who was elected president of the HLC meeting here.

“The emerging economies in the South are attracting international attention and will increasingly acquire the muscle to influence the course of economic growth and development,” said Ambassador Gyan Chandra Acharya of Nepal, stressing that the recent successes of the developing world are in danger of being reversed and are not being felt equally across countries or regions.

Despite the gains achieved through trade and finance, delegations noted the deepening economic asymmetries among developing countries, particularly in regard to the least developed countries (LDCs) and landlocked developing countries.

The HLC stressed that the current financial, food and energy crises have exacerbated the vulnerabilities of developing countries that lack the capacity to withstand shocks.

There is an “implementation gap” that has been looming over the recommendations of the major U.N. conferences in the economic and social areas, delegates agreed.

It is only with “political will towards fulfilling the commitments that parties have undertaken in Nairobi that we can make real progress,” an Egyptian delegate stressed.

“South-South cooperation is immensely important at this time for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed goals, and for tackling climate change,” said Clark.

Clark urged delegations to take a particularly close look at the gender aspects of achieving the MDGs.

“Progress is lagging behind particularly on MDG5 on maternal health; on MDG3 on empowering women; and on MDG2 with respect to gender parity in access to education,” Clark said, “To achieve the MDGs and indeed other internationally agreed development goals, women have to be an equal part of the equation.”

In order to effectively implement the Nairobi outcome with demonstrable results, stakeholders need to identify “quick wins” whose implementation should be devoid of unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy, said Muburi-Muita.

The government of Brazil and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have signed agreements on South-South cooperation to prevent and combat child labour and to promote good practices and lessons learned in Latin America and Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa and Asia.

“This is an excellent example of how member states are able to engage entities of the U.N. system through a South-South and triangular partnership in support of their national development strategies,” according to the ILO delegation.

The HLC stressed local ownership of solutions as a key component of South-South cooperation.

“Now, as UNDP positions itself to be of the greatest possible relevance and support to developing countries in the 21st century, we see facilitating South-South exchanges of experience and knowledge as absolutely central to what we do,” Clark explained.

A growing priority of the U.N. will be to share experience on climate change adaptation and mitigation. This could include sharing knowledge on growing drought-tolerant crops, on reforestation, or on providing low-cost access to clean energy and transport technology.

Clark emphasised that a very wide range of developing countries make contributions to South-South cooperation. In the recent weeks “we have seen least developed and low-income countries, along with middle-income and net-contributing countries, digging deep into their pockets for Haiti,” she said.

###

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

The kernel of the future – the projected five world leaders – are in trouble. With the US and China in a tiff because of Taiwan (arm sales by US manufacturers) and Tibet (a visit with the Dalai Lama), now South Africa, one of the three IBSAs that met with the G2 in Copenhagen, shows sings of 21st century immaturity. You just cannot go on living by Zulu rules if you want to lead your people out of poverty. Tiger Woods learned that very very fast that the limelight of world media will do you in, and even oil rich monarchs do not father now 20 children anymore. The stories about Zuma’s ascent in South Africa were plenty and his people we know told us so when it was rumored that he is in line to take over his country’s helm. It seems that Mandela’s South Africa deserves better – so does the 15 States group of Southern Africa { www.sadc.int }, and black Sub-Sahara Africa at large. We said before, South Africa is the third IBSA not alone, but as the symbol of all that immense Sub-Sahara black chunk of resources rich land and its one billion people that have the potential of evolving into next great consumers market to drive their own economy and the world economy. To this mass of people, the South African President must be an example and our prejudice that we knowingly attempt to show by this posting, calls for an exemplary leader for South Africa – someone fit to try on Mandela’s shoes.

This week the African Union rejected the attempt of Libya’s rambling Gaddafi to hold on to the chairmanship of Africa for another year, and voted instead to give the position to Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika. We attach the story about that event at the end of this posting, as we focus on the further ramblings by a Libyan-sponsored group of African traditional leaders from an unnamed French speaking African country, who crowned Qaddafi “King of Kings.” Africa seems to react indeed with understanding to the fact that the world is changing into a 7 to 10 countries structure and that Africa wants one of its own, and that means not Qaddafi, to be part of this structure – a modern man rather then a traditional chieftain – neither do they think anymore that the position of leader in Addis Ababa belongs to a Mediterranean North African settler. They want a black leader – but hiding under a Zulu mantle, and invoking rules of the desert, simply  can not do anymore.

——————–
South Africa’s President Sows (Another) Sex Scandal.

Theunis Bates
 aol.com Contributor, February 2, 2010.
John Edwards might have reason to feel a little jealous of Jacob Zuma right now. The South African president has faced many accusations of sleazy behavior during his 20-year-long political career, from corrupt business dealings (the charges were withdrawn) to having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman (which he admitted). Yet his popularity in South Africa appears to be surviving even the latest addition to his scandal sheet: the revelation that last year he fathered a child – rumored to be his 20th – with a woman who is neither his fiancee nor one of his three current wives.

According to South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, Sonono Khoza, 39 – the daughter of Irvin Khoza, the chief organizer of the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa and a close friend of Zuma’s – gave birth to a girl in October, three months before the president wed for the fifth time. The paper added that Zuma was believed to have paid his former lover “inhlawulo,” a traditional Zulu form of compensation handed over when a child is born out of wedlock.

The African National Congress issued a statement Monday confirming that Jacob Zuma, pictured, fathered a daughter out of wedlock. The child, born last year, is rumored to be the South African president’s 20th offspring.

Opposition politicians condemned the African National Congress leader’s bed-hopping antics as unpresidential. “We recommend Zuma goes for sex addiction therapy as Tiger Woods did,” said Christian Democrat Kenneth Meshoe.

Other parliamentarians pointed out that Zuma is sending the wrong message to his fellow countrymen and women, about 5 million of whom are infected with HIV/AIDS – the highest number of any nation in the world. Although the president was praised for increasing the availability of lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs after his election last year, opposition parties say his behavior is now undermining campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of condom use and faithfulness.

“South Africa now has a president who, both through his words and actions, is doing similar damage to the struggle against HIV/AIDS – a life-and-death struggle for millions of South Africans,” said Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance. “President Zuma’s behavior directly contradicts the government’s campaign against multiple sexual partners, and the inherent AIDS risk in having unprotected sex.”

Zuma, who defends his right to have more than one wife as part of his Zulu culture, has yet to comment on the revelations, although the ANC issued a statement Monday confirming that he had fathered a child.

“There is nothing wrong that the president has done. There is nothing shameful when two adults have a relationship,” said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu. “By being involved with any other person, President Zuma is not guilty of any offense and he has not breached our constitution or any of our laws.”

With Zuma’s approval ratings still sitting comfortably above 50 percent, most ordinary South Africans seem disposed, at least for now, to agree with that verdict.

————–

After Losing a Post, Qaddafi Rebukes the African Union
February 1st, 2010, abbaymedia.com/News/?p=3699
By JASON McLURE

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, delivered a rambling rebuke of fellow African heads of state Sunday after they chose to replace him as chairman of the African Union and failed to endorse his push for the creation of a United States of Africa.

“I do not believe we can achieve something concrete in the coming future,” said Colonel Qaddafi, before introducing President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi as his successor at the African Union’s annual summit meeting, held in Addis Ababa. “The political elite of our continent lacks political awareness and political determination. The world is changing into 7 or 10 countries, and we are not even aware of it.”

South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria were among the countries opposing Colonel Qaddafi’s attempts to form a continental government, which many view as impractical given the political and economic disparities in Africa.

Colonel Qaddafi argued that individual African states are too weak to negotiate with major powers like the European Union, the United States and China. His efforts to become the first African leader to win another one-year term as chairman of the African Union were thwarted by a push for Mr. Mutharika, 75, by the 15-member Southern African Development Community.

The Libyan leader also complained that such summit meetings were boring, that his colleagues were too long-winded and that he often was not informed of African Union decisions.

Colonel Qaddafi did not leave the lectern before giving the microphone to an unnamed representative of a Libyan-sponsored group of African traditional leaders who had crowned him “King of Kings” in a ceremony in 2008.

The representative, bearing a golden scepter and trailed by an aide fanning him with a large feather, spent much of his address praising Colonel Qaddafi.

“You have the African people with you,” said the man, who spoke in French and did not identify himself. “This is what is important, not politicking. It is politicians who have destroyed us.”

###

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

From Kim Coetze

You are invited to apply to attend the conference: “PUTTING A PRICE ON CARBON: Economic instruments to mitigate climate change in South Africa and other developing countries” to be held at the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa on 23 and 24 March 2010.

The objectives of this conference are to:
* Build on discussions undertaken at a side-event and a workshop at the Climate Change Summit 2009
* Contribute to the development of climate policy in South Africa, by further exploring practical options for putting a price on carbon,
* Deepen the understanding of economic instruments, through a conference with peer-reviewed papers,
* Broaden the community of experts working in this emerging field, by having attracted papers from researchers and analysts in cognate disciplines that are not currently working on carbon pricing
* including economics and environmental economics, but also
* researchers working on institutional and political dimensions
* Draw on experiences and lessons from other countries, in particular
* other developing countries in their exploration of the same issues in similar contexts, and
* experiences of implementation in developed countries examining the applicability in the context of development.

Further details can be found on the conference website – a link to which is on the ERC website www.erc.uct.ac.za. Or direct queries to Meagan Jooste at  erc-climatechange at uct.ac.za.
Participation is free, but no costs will be covered.

Regards,
Kim Coetzee
Energy Research Centre
University of Cape Town

###

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

Foreign Drillers Rush at Uganda’s Promising Oil Reserves.

By GUY CHAZAN in London And NICHOLAS BARIYO in Kampala, Uganda

 online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424…

A skirmish over an oil field on the shores of Africa’s Lake Albert highlights Big Oil’s intense interest in Uganda—a rising star of African energy. Tullow Oil is competing with Eni, Total and Cnooc to secure an oilfield stake owned by partner Heritage.

The battle centers on the Ugandan assets of Heritage Oil PLC, a small U.K.-based explorer, which is selling its stakes in the much-coveted Lake Albert Rift Basin. The area has yielded some of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest onshore oil discoveries of recent years.

Big energy companies like Italy’s Eni SpA, France’s Total SA and China National Offshore Oil Co. all are vying for access to Uganda’s oil wealth. Uganda’s onshore oil is particularly appealing because it is relatively inexpensive to produce. That sets it apart from other frontier provinces, like the deep waters off Brazil’s coast and the Arctic Ocean, where the majors require an oil price of around $60 a barrel just to break even.

Initially, Eni looked to be the likely winner, announcing in November that it was buying Heritage’s stakes for $1.5 billion in cash and assets. But Tullow Oil PLC, Heritage’s partner in the oil field, exercised its contractual right to block the sale and acquire the stakes itself at the same price. Tullow’s purchase, however, is subject to approval by the Ugandan government. The initial reaction was negative, with the country’s energy minister saying the government didn’t want one company to end up with control of the whole oil field and would prevent the sale if necessary. Heritage and Tullow share ownership of two blocks in the oil field, while Tullow owns all of a third. Acquiring Heritage’s stakes would give Tullow full ownership of all three blocks, covering 10,000 square kilometers—about one-third the size of Belgium.

The government’s position appeared to soften after Tullow Chief Executive Aidan Heavey met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala recently. Tullow said that once in full possession of the oil field it would sell half to either Cnooc or Total to help finance the construction of a refinery and a 1,300-kilometer pipeline that would carry Uganda’s oil to world markets.

Such an arrangement would allow Tullow to control who it works with as well as concentrate on its core activities—exploring for and pumping oil, rather than refining and transporting it to market.

Tullow also announced plans last Wednesday to raise around $1.6 billion in a rights issue to help it develop Uganda’s oil.

Tullow now is the favorite to take the Heritage stakes, with Cnooc edging out Total as Tullow’s most-likely partner, a person familiar with the matter said. Mr. Museveni met with Cnooc executives in Kampala last week and is expected to meet them again this week to finalize details, the person said. Cnooc and Total declined to comment.

Eni hasn’t given up, however, and last week sweetened its package. The company’s CEO, Paolo Scaroni, said in a newspaper interview that Eni would not only develop the Lake Albert field and build a refinery and pipeline to the Indian Ocean, but also would construct an electricity plant in Uganda and upgrade a railway line from Kampala to the Kenyan port of Mombasa. He said Eni would invest $13 billion in the “integrated development plan.” Eni declined to comment for this article.

Tullow declined to comment on Eni’s new offer.

What has attracted companies like Eni to Uganda is the one billion barrels of crude already discovered in the Lake Albert Rift Basin, a vast, oil-rich area close to Uganda’s border with Congo to the west, and the huge untapped potential of the region. Tullow estimates that about 1.5 billion barrels, roughly the same amount as Yemen’s oil reserves, remain to be discovered in the basin.

Uganda also is seen as more stable politically than many of its neighbors, though the north of the country is wracked by armed conflict between the army and a rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Some of the most promising prospects are in Lake Albert itself, however, and will require offshore drilling using floating platforms. Industry experts have said there could be large amounts of oil on the Congo side of the lake, which remains largely unexplored.

Uganda plans to produce around 150,000 barrels of oil a day in four to six years, most of which will be exported. For comparison, that is slightly less than the output of Brunei. The steady revenue stream from oil could radically change the fortunes of the east African country, one of the world’s poorest.

“It doesn’t move the needle in terms of global oil supply, but it’s one of the few countries that will see growth in the coming years in a world of shrinking opportunity,” said Bob McKnight, an oil expert at consulting firm PFC Energy.

Tullow and Heritage have had an almost unbroken run of successes since they started drilling for oil in the Lake Albert area five years ago, with most of their wells encountering crude. Tullow’s share price nearly doubled last year on the back of the discoveries.

Write to Guy Chazan at  guy.chazan at wsj.com and Nicholas Bariyoat  nicholas.bariyo at dowjones.com

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From the latest news coming from Washington – “Under the new airport
rules, all citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen must receive a pat
down and an extra check of their carry-on bags before boarding a plane
bound for the United States, officials said. Citizens of Cuba, Iran,
Sudan and Syria — nations considered ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ —
face the same requirement.”

That means Cuba and thirteen Muslim states: Afghanistan, Algeria,
Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia,
Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

These news caused a lot of comments, but we think the wrong comments.

We assume obviously that Washington is ready finally to address the
terrorism issue. Airplane terrorism, as we learned on 9/11, is not
about transport of weapons but about terrorists – to be specific since
9/11 – we speak here about Islamic terrorists. If you want to catch
terrorists you must look for terrorists. Looking for baby formula is
not the answer – but looking for those passengers whose profiles are
suspicious might be a better bet. Sure, obviously, not all Muslims are
terrorists, and profiling is terrible – even illegal, but if you want
to catch terrorists you start with the profile that most fits Islamic
terrorists, and you bet – they are Muslims of any color. Even though
they may be traveling with documents issued by non-Islamic States,
i.e. the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Switzerland, or even the
US.

So, it is not easy to define exactly what papers are carried by the
terrorists, but you can have some guidelines to increase your chance
of catching them. looking for a profile of an Asian or African Muslim.
Then, learn from the Israelis how to talk to them – you may even find
out that they are so convinced that their cause is the right one, that
they will lower their guard and just plainly disclose that what you
see is all they got.

There may be a Jamaican convert to Islam who preached terrorism in the UK
and resides now in Kenya – a case in point. Kenya does want him either and
he will be sent back to Jamaica a second time. yes, this is a problem if you
are American and Jamaica does not cooperate – but he is a Muslim and no
Anti-Defamation league is enrtitled to tell you Mr. President that he should
not be stripped and searched if he wants to travel via the US to Jamaica.
This is simple.

But what about Cuba? Fidel Castro is more atheist then Catholic, surely
no Muslim. Whatever went on in the past is history to me and I do not believe
prologue to Mr. Castro. So why mix him and his country up with 13 Islamic
States involved in Islamic Terrorism? That is unless someone in the US longs
to see him give cover to such terrorists in the future so they get new reasons
to be after him? If the Jamaica case has anything to teach us – it is that the
US is better off reinsuring its rear parts from anger caused by mistreatment
and friendship is not achieved by mulling over past grief. Specially, as several
hundred former sugar baron families living in Florida should not be allowed to
hold hostage the US when it comes to real US interests.

Mr. President, I watched Bolivia and Venezuela leaders speak in Copenhagen,
they fumed and brimmed with words – no stones or missiles. Their ALBA is,
I think, the natural ally of a US that manages to disengage from the Islamic
world of oil. So, it is the US self interest that calls for you, Mr. President, to
invite Fidel Castro to Washington for a tete-a-tete and start on a way that
eventually will give the US the wall of safety it needs when addressing the 21st
Century centers of terror – the Islamists’ terror cancer that will continue to ooze
as long as we use oil.

Please start by taking him of that list!

The thirteen on that list include the obvious Iran – Syria – Lebanon
trio of the Shii’a Islam, it includes the Afghanistan/Pakistan US
theater of operations and Iraq, as well as the other US theater Saudi
Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan that misses Egypt and the Gaza strip. A
fourth historic region includes Libya and Algeria, then with Nigeria,
these are newer sources of oil for the US, and as such clear potential
sources of unhappy Islamists who complain about the changes in their
countries as fueled by oil money. In very few countries terrorism
against the US was actually started by rulers decree. Libya, Iran,
Syria, Sudan, Somalia may be the exceptions, but Saudi Arabia and
Yemen may have seen rulers who deflected anger against themselves into
anger against foreigners. In the majority of cases the terrorist is a
person of convictions and the situation could have been avoided had
the US and the rest of the Western World, tried to be less squanderous
with the oil we got addicted to.

Having said the above – let us get now to the point – MR PRESIDENT –
PLEASE – TAKE CUBA OFF THAT LIST BECAUSE THEY DO NOT BELONG ON THAT
LIST IN 2010.

* * * *

Please look – I am posting here four reference – links to news
articles of today’s New York Times.

 www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/us/05t…
New Air Security Checks From 14 Nations to U.S. Draw Criticism

 www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/…
In Yemen, U.S. Faces Leader Who Puts Family First

 www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/…
Behind Afghan Bombing, an Agent With Many Loyalties

 www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/…
Kenya Seeks to Deport Muslim Cleric to Jamaica

————————

THE UPDATE:

We have received a comment on this post and it presents a very valid point supposedly made at the UN General Assembly by the Foreign Minister of Cuba: “I mean if they were going to include us, then they should have at least thrown in North Korea.”

Even if the e-mail we received from ajay –   akazif at gmail.com  as presented by www. eggplantpost.com in eggplantpost.com/2010/01/05/cuba-… were a made up story, the argument holds water nevertheless. DID THE US INCLUDE CUBA ON THAT LIST BECAUSE IT WANTED TO AVOID BEING SEEN AS GOING AFTER A RAG-TAG OF ISLANIC COUNTRIES? Now, we believe that US security should be spoken here – not again US appeasement-for-oil please!

###

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

Geothermal Power: Chinese Lead African Geothermal Exploration.

By Sam Hopkins
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

China built its Great Wall to keep foreigners out…
But Chinese company Great Wall Drilling is now making itself a foreign force in Africa, where a dire need to develop domestic energy resources means companies from the Middle Kingdom are moving in steadily.
Kenya’s state-run Geothermal Development Company (GDC) recently committed $240 million per year to the expansion of the national geothermal power resource.

Kenya is reliant on hydropower for most of its electricity, and droughts consistently threaten that resource and subsequent power delivery.

With its landscape cut across by the Great Rift Valley, which is in the process of splitting two parts of the tectonic African Plate, Kenya holds a geothermal output potential of 7000 megawatts (7 GW). Currently, only 167 MW of that has been tapped.
By 2030, the Kenyan government has set the goal of bringing 4000 MW of geothermal power online to serve one of Africa’s most promising developing nations.

Great Wall Drilling is furthering the recent trend of Chinese companies moving into African resource markets by launching a massive exploration and production campaign. Great Wall Drilling has 47 wells in Kenya either planned or already dug.
Those pilot wells will serve to give Kenyan officials in the capital Nairobi and throughout the country more of an idea of how to maximize official funds and draw investment from global geothermal leaders like Ormat Technologies (NYSE:ORA).
Great Wall Drilling will be just one of many international companies Kenya needs to get 72 wells drilled per year to reach 4 GW by 2030.

Stay with Green Chip Stocks to learn more about how the development of alternative energy resources in developing countries like Kenya could help them “leapfrog” fossil fuel. The same has already happened with telecoms, as Kenya bypassed fixed-line infrastructure for wireless communication.
-Sam Hopkins of www.greenchipstocks.com

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 18th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

We had the following as a posting on our future events button. Now we update after the events.

——————

Posted on October 12, 2009:

Dr. Perkins, a student of leadership, to speak October 15th at the Explorers Club annual Dinner.

Dr. Dennis Perkins is Keynote Speaker at the Explorers’ Club,
Lowell Thomas Annual Awards Dinner,
October 15th, 2009 Cipriani Wall Street, NY, NY

Dr. Perkins is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, served as a Marine infantry officer in Vietnam and subsequently received an MBA from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Perkins has spent his lifetime evaluating and analyzing leadership and teamwork of successful and doomed expeditions, first as a front line military leader and subsequently in the field and as faculty at our nation’s top universities. Dr. Perkins’ passion to experience and understand risk has taken him to disparate places including Antarctica, where he retraced the footsteps of famed explorer, Ernest Shackleton; and to Australia, where he sailed the Midnight Rambler, winning the challenging Sydney to Hobart Race, a 628 nautical mile race — often called “the Everest” of offshore racing – using a Volvo 60 racing boat.

Dr. Perkins has written extensively on leadership and organizational effectiveness all in the context of risk assessment and optimization.

——————–

I was intrigued by the interest in risk as described in the Explorers Club info material. Indeed, now I can report that both events did indeed stand in the shadow of the RISK idea – but please mind – this was not in the sense of getting involved in adventures for the sake of adventure, but rather the cold assessment of risk, and the intelligent process of learning how to get out from under dangerous conditions. You get to risks at the edge and might look at the brink – said one speaker.

The speakers were all old style explorers and by nature of this concept – risk takers. Those that were honored at the dinner were obviously members of the older generation, but at the Saturday “Mountain Stories” event we saw also younger people – so there is still a future for those that want to allow for risk taking. Now the problem is to find places to explore – but I learned that there is no shortage of such possibilities. Climbing new peaks in areas that were less accessible in the past is just one possibility, but going back to mountain peaks that have been explored many times in the past, but using new equipment, it is possible to open up new roots and even get a minor peak called by your name.

Going in the foots of Shackleton in the Antarctica, Dr. Perkins said that the good news was that we have been there before and we know how to do it.

Perkins speaks of “Balanced optimism grounded in reality – you damn well got to be optimistic to go on such a trip.” You must be wiling to take the big risk – not the unnecessary risk.”

What the explorer must do is to look calmly at the situation and step up to the risk worth taking. The challenge is to find innovative solutions to problems under least favorable conditions.

Dr. Perkins, when he speaks, he peppers his mental pictures with ideas from the world of business and policy – such as: “The IMF says global recovery has begun – but does not say when things will get better – so may be we cannot predict the future.”

We know we will have bad days, but we must be ready to take the worthwhile risk, and ended by saying “Thank you very much – go for the edge.”

Yvon Choinard, a Patagonian man, climed mountains on every continent. Long time ago, he looked for the true source of the Nile at Mt. Stanley in Uganda. He said that he never goes on an adventure trip – it just happens when you take small risks on the way.

Richard Wilson, told about racing a boat for 120 days and 28,000 miles, from Port la Foret, Brittany. 

Eventually someone defined the topic of risk as – “Risk is to take new exploration and the unknown, and this without knowing about success.”

—————

The Saturday event was set up to honor further six outstanding explorers and mountain climbers. I was there for three of the six.

The last presenter was Jennifer Loew-Anker – born in Montana to the outdoors from birth – she sounded like a proof that genetics, or call it upbringing – have something to do with it. When you ride a horse at two years of age, and horse-riding is in effect more dangerous then mountain climbing … you get my point.

Jennifer is an artist with wildlife her major topic. She presented to us her book “Forget Me Not” about her first husband – her childhood friend from Montana – Alex Lowe, who died in 1999, in an avalanche on the Himalayan mountain Shishapangma. Alex was considered one of the greatest modern climbers. Jennifer showed us a movie about their lives – she herself also a great climber. After 18 years of marriage, she was left with three children. Eventually, two years later she remarried another climber who worked with Alex.

Jennifer told us about climbing done in the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba, and of philanthropic work she does now with the Alex foundation. They built a climbing wall in Mongolia and established a school for sherpas when they realized that the sherpas actually never learned to take care for themselves, and the number of casualties among the sherpas is so much higher then among the foreign climbers.

The other two – actually three speakers – were the pair Freddie Wilkenson & Janet Bergman, and Kevin Mahoney. All of them from the Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, Mountain Climber community.  All of them connected to the Dartmouth Club and to “Mountain Hardware,” and from their base they work as guides and climbers all over the world.

Kevin Mahoney sees his job as a “mitigator of risk – so people discover their own worth.” He defined himself as a winter person – he climbs ice. He said that skying has many more accidents then ice climbing.

Freddie Wilkinson and Janet Bergman are young people from Kevin Mahoney’s group. They gave us a run down on today’s ice climbing – mentioning that 95% of climbing is done in a handful of peaks in the Himalayas. They described themselves as a great team as Freddie looks for opportunities and Janet for barriers – this when trying to identify new targets for climbing or new ways of climbing in areas that have been covered earlier.

——-

Now I come to the real reason why I looked at these two fascinating programs at the Explorers Club – this because of an obsession I developed at the UN when I realized that the New York based Explorers Club is an NGO affiliated to the UN, but not part of the environmental NGOs active at the UN. I realized at the time that the Club was dominated by people that would rather shoot an elephant and turn it over to a taxidermist so it be a trophy for them. Could they find the last dinosaur, they would have stuffed him also. That might have been right for the days of President Theodore Roosevelt, but I thought that today you ought  not love the outdoors in order to kill them. Also climate change is a rather important issue and I saw tremendous potential here to get the Explorers involved. Eventually I approached a young new President of the Club, we met but nothing happened.

Now, at the Saturday event I spoke with some of those that were honored at the event. These were young people and clearly not of the riffle kind, but still did not find a feel for activism present on our kind of issues. Nevertheless, I found hope for change.

When I asked Kevin Mahoney if he found signs of climate change in Nepal, he started to tell me about the farmer who complained that he has to go higher uphill with the sheep he owns, because there is no grass for them as there is a lack of water. So he goes up higher to areas that used to be covered snow! This clearly gave me the opening to talk a little about the melting glaciers, and I found real interest among the young climbers. So there may be hope that someday the Explorers might indeed become Environmentalists as well – provided by that time there will still be left some  environment to explore. Just think of the snow caps of Kenya and Tanzania and my statement above might not sound absurd at all. 

Is this a different meaning for RISK?





###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

This posting comes as a correction of our previous postings that said that President Obama had in reality only three choices when trying to show solidarity with African democrats. now we are left only with two SubSaharan States that qualify – this at a time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is trying to drum up interest in democracy by traveling through further seven states that showed once promise for democracy but have hit harder times now.
Also, western interest in stable governments in Africa should not be viewed as merely an economist’s decision on who provides safety for his investments. This is the view that allowed China to look away from the Sudanese atrocities – will this sort of thinking provide excuse now for French views about Niger?
The remarks come after Niger authorities said 92.5 percent of people in a recent referendum voted in favour of keeping the president in power until at least 2012 and potentially for life.

 

Opposition groups say just five percent of the population even took part. But pro-democracy campaigner Morou Amadou has landed in jail after calling for a general strike.”

 

The seven states visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton are: Kenya, South Africa, Congo (DRC), Angola, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde. We wish to note that only two of the seven, Angola and Nigeria, export oil to the US.


 

###

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

The US Chamber of Commerce has commissioned from Baird’s Communications Management Consultants (Baird’s CMC) in partnership with the Africa Business Initiative, an “inside-the-boardroom survey of attitudes toward corporate investment in Africa among leading U.S. corporations.” The information was gathered between January and November 2008 in a series of closed door interviews with senior officers of 30 American Fortune 100 corporations.

The report can be found at:   www.usafricainvestment.com

Among the conclusions I found:

“USA Inc. is more interested in Africa than before, because the African market appears increasingly attractive, but Africa has tough competition and high hurdles for US investment. Education is at the top of the US corporate wish list for Africa; ‘educate your people so that we can employ them.’

The African countries that hold most interest are South Africa and some countries in the North, like Egypt; there are also some pockets of interest in West Africa, most notably Ghana, Nigeria and to some extent Angola; while some in the South (Botswana and Mozambique) and East (Uganda and Kenya), are also being watched.”

——-

The report is in two parts:

Part One: Understand how US corporations view Africa as an investment destination and what their requirements are for investing in Africa on the same scale as their investments in the rest of the developing world.

Part Two: The response of African political and government leaders to these private sector views will be telling; what is the conversation about FDI behind government’s closed doors, when policy is made?

——-

Why has Africa not attracted more interest from the U.S. business community?

Rule of law — The rule of law does not prevail to the degree required to make Africa an attractive investment destination. This applies to corporate, societal, and criminal law

Attraction — While the enormous natural resources are an attraction, Africa does not offer a sufficiently large middle class of consumers or show consistent economic growth that could promise a future market. Most African countries are small and have poor markets, and there are barriers to regional markets–such as taxes and the freedom of movement of people and goods

Risks versus rewards— Given the currently perceived risks in Africa, the rewards have to be very high to make it worthwhile to invest. Presently, U.S. corporations say that there are very few visible promises of future returns high enough to justify significant interest in investing

Supportive business framework–Transportation and communications infrastructure, trained or trainable human resources, and equitable trade and employment practices are insufficient to support corporate investment

A welcoming environment— African countries are not doing a sufficient job of providing education and health services to the potential workforce, which makes the potential hire-able local insufficient to support investment.

———

From the www.SustainabiliTank.info   angle we found the most important comment to be:  

“Africa may want to consider the benefits of encouraging US Corporations whose stated desire is to employ Africans, unlike others who merely exploit African mineral resources without contributing to local employment. Africa may also benefit in the long term from the US approach of skills transfer and technology development, provided that its intellectual property is protected.” This obviously requires African leaders to help educate their people which might then also lead to the obvious requirement to allow in new spirits such as more democratic stiles of government and distribution of wealth produced from this more intimate interaction with the outside world and we hope that this can be agreed upon for a true benefit of Africa.

If this study could open African eyes to such potentialities, then the study might indeed provide the positive basis for moving Africa away from the present dead point where the export of commodities such as oil, minerals, and diamonds, are the one way connections that masquerades as business relations between African governments and US corporations. On the other hand, the US public will have to allow also the opening of the US market to goods manufactured in Africa.All of this while US corporations become also investors in the creation of a more developed African internal market.

The report was brought to our attention by   Fabiane Dal-Ri   –  fabianedalri at usafricainvestment.com

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

January 29, 2009

Contact: ATA Communications
Tel: (212) 447-1357
 info at africatravelassociation.org
www.africatravelassociation.org

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S ELECTION SPARKS INTEREST IN TOURISM TO AFRICA

Africa Travel Association (ATA) Opens Registration for its Second Annual
U.S.-Africa Tourism Seminar in Washington, D.C. from February 19-20, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 29, 2009 – The recent inauguration of President Barack Obama is more than a landmark in America’s political history, it is also an opportunity for the travel and tourism industry to take a more focused approach to increasing visitors and investment in Africa from the U.S.

“All over Africa, we can see how excited everyone is about President Obama’s connection to the continent,” said Edward Bergman, ATA Executive Director. “We have already seen a surge in interest about travel specials to Africa not only to Kenya, where President Obama traces his roots, but also throughout East Africa.”

ATA, the world’s leading global travel trade organization, is gearing up for its Second Annual U.S.-Africa Tourism Seminar. The two-day event takes place at the Washington Convention Center from February 19-20, immediately prior to the Adventures in Travel Expo (ATE). The seminar’s timing and location affords ATA an opportunity to build on the recent historic events, including President Obama’s commitment to service.

With travel to Africa on the rise and an emerging interest in Africa as a culture and heritage destination, Africa is garnering more and more attention from American tourists as one of the world’s premier travel destinations.

Focusing on sports, adventure and diaspora travel and tourism, the seminar will showcase Africa as a top tourism destination from the U.S., as well as a site for investment and business opportunity in one of the world’s fastest growing tourism markets.

Manute Bol, former NBA star and Ethiopian Airlines official spokesperson, will speak about different possibilities for responsible tourism and sports tourism in Africa.

Stephen Hayes, President of the Corporate Council on Africa, and Edward Bergman, among other travel professionals, will speak about tourism policy choices at the opening plenary session.

Sthu Zungu, President of South African Tourism-USA, will speak about travel trends, relating to who is traveling to Africa, why they are going, and what can be improved on the travel front to increase tourism to the continent. Alongside experts in sports tourism in Africa, she will also address how mega sporting events, such as 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa, can be leveraged to increase tourism to and within Africa.

The timely topic of responsible tourism and how the industry and the individual tourist can make a difference in local communities will be explored by senior representatives from the Center for Ecotourism and Sustainable Development, Africare, and the African Wildlife Foundation.

Senior representatives from the World Bank, IFC (International Finance Corporation), and US Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, will explore entrepreneurship, finance and investment opportunities, as well as travel trends in separate workshops.

South African Airways representatives will participate in a workshop on the growth and modernization of travel to Africa and the growth and modernization of intra-Africa air service. Representatives from other airlines serving Africa and Boeing will also participate in the seminar.

Another workshop on African diaspora tourism will examine the role of the diaspora in changing perceptions of Africa in the US market and emerging African diaspora tourism products, such as cultural and heritage tours. Panelists will also explore how the African diaspora and immigrant communities can serve as Africa’s tourism ambassadors in the U.S. tourism markets.

Panelists will also speak about branding and marketing Destination Africa and Africa’s newest travel products, particularly in the areas of sports tourism, and adventure travel.

Tourism experts and industry professionals from the U.S. and Africa, particularly travel agents and tour operators who market, sell and specialize in Africa, are expected to attend the seminar, as well as ministers of tourism, representatives from Washington D.C.’s diplomatic community, and Africa’s national tourism offices.

Representatives of the Spring Bank, Virginia Quanders family (1684), referred to as – America’s oldest documented African American family’ by Ebony and Jet magazines, will attend the event. Henderson Travel Services, the first African American travel agency in the U.S. to specialize in sending visitors to Africa, will also participate.

Public relations firms specializing in marketing Africa destinations, such as the Bradford Group, will participate in the seminar, alongside faculty and students from George Washington University.

ATA welcomes travel industry professionals to participate in the ATE expo immediately following the seminar. ATA members should contact ATA for discounts to exhibit.

To register and to find more information on the seminar, as well as sponsorship opportunities, visit www.africatravelassociation.org/a….

About the Africa Travel Association (ATA) The Africa Travel Association, a U.S.-based non-profit, is the world’s premier travel industry trade association promoting tourism to Africa and intra-Africa travel and partnership since 1975. ATA members include ministries of tourism and culture, national tourism boards, airlines, hoteliers, travel agents, tour operators, travel trade media, public relations firms, NGOs, and SME’s. For more on ATA, visit www.africatravelassociation.org.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

FRIDAY, JANUARY 30, 2009

Q&A: World Social Forum is Not a Static Platform.
Terna Gyuse interviews ONYANGO OLOO, activist

CAPE TOWN, Jan 29 (IPS) – Onyango Oloo was the national coordinator of the Kenyan Social Forum in 2007 when the last global World Social Forum (WSF)took place in Nairobi. As another gathering of activists from around the world unfolds in Belem, Brazil, IPS asked Oloo for his views on the Forum’s past and future.

IPS: Two years on from Nairobi, how would you evaluate the last WSF? What were the successes? What were the shortcomings?

Oloo: WSF Nairobi 2007 was a groundbreaking event. The fact that it took place at all given its myriad challenges, was definitely an indicator of success. We were able to bring thousands of activists from around Africa and across the world together on Kenyan soil.

Issues to do with climate change, food sovereignty, awareness about GMOs, South-South solidarity, campaigns against the EPAs to cite a few were foregrounded and later on became a basis of pan-African initiatives across the continent. Locally, the emergence of the Kenyan gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community was a dramatic manifestation how the WSF can strengthen the struggles of marginalized social groups.

One of the key shortcomings had to with locking poor communities out of the event. Another drawback was how elements within the organising committee fostered the privatisation and commercialisation of the WSF space. Unfortunately, corruption – which is endemic in Kenyan society – reared its ugly head at the 2007 event.

IPS: There were many who expressed disappointment after Nairobi, who suggested the WSF may have outlived its purpose as an alternative to the very different ideas and networking at the World Economic Forum, and has been domesticated into a trade fair for NGOs and the better-funded sections of civil society – what’s your view?

OO: While I sympathized with the essence of the sentiments described above, I do not fully share that pessimistic assessment.

As a social justice activist, I firmly believe that cynicism is a luxury we can ill afford. The World Social Forum is an arena of struggle, not just between the big imperialist forces and those working for fundamental transformation, but also of contestation within and among progressive forces. It is not a static platform.

From time to time, negative tendencies will appear in the WSF process. It is our responsibility to combat and transcend these reactionary tendencies within our movements and communities.

IPS: How has the WSF been good for African civil society?

OO: I strongly feel that activists should challenge the very definition of “African civil society”. Is it limited just to the NGO community and those organisations associated with the African petit-bourgeois elite? Or does it extend to embrace social movements, radical and revolutionary forces (some of them in the anti-establishment political arena) and other spheres?

I am conscious that I am pushing the envelope here since the WSF process is quite wary about including organised political actors [ie. political parties] within its milieu.

IPS: “Another world is possible” – it feels like a limited set of those possibilities have been absorbed into mainstream.

Africa is maybe just past the crest of a wave of elections, of the steady consolidation of bodies like the AU and regional bodies. The continent is in the relative aftermath of the IMF’s economic prescriptions to liberalise and privatise, cut back on government spending and instead recover costs from citizens-as-clients – the casualties of structural adjustment have been buried and now we see solid macro-economic numbers in Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa…

And it seems some of the passion and effectiveness of the Jubilee campaigns, of various pro-democracy movements, the urgent and organised demands for things like free anti-retrovirals has subsided.

Is this it? Are we already living in the other possible world? Who and how is pushing beyond this?

OO: As a slogan, “Another World Is Possible” is woefully inadequate with its core assumption that all possible worlds can only be better than the existing one.

Yet the experience of Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, Bush in the USA, Idi Amin in Uganda, Pinochet in Chile, Papa Doc in Haiti, Suharto in Indonesia and a slew of blood stained dictators and despots across the globe attests that for every utopia, there is a nightmarish dystopia waiting in the wings.

We need to define the contents and parameters of these other possible worlds.

It is a weakness of the WSF process that over the years it has valorised ideologically ambiguous terminology that seems, in my view, calculated to mollify the waffling liberals and right-leaning social democrats. What happened to old-fashioned terms like imperialism, socialism, revolutionary transformation and so on?

I am saying that the WSF will eventually lose relevance as long as it is unable to frontally confront global monopoly capitalism and suggest clear socialist alternatives and organize progressive humanity to defeat this imperialist monster.

————-

FRIDAY, JANUARY 30, 2009

Makers and Shakers of the Post-Crisis World.
Gustavo Capdevila

GENEVA, Jan 29 (IPS) – Of all the questions raised by the global economic crisis, one that is by no means insignificant may be answered this week: How will the pressure groups that influenced the policies that led to the present chaos adapt to the new world situation?

Clues to their behaviour will begin to be revealed from Wednesday, as the annual session of the World Economic Forum (WEF), a think-tank for the elite that looks to the interests of transnational companies and is regularly attended by executives, experts and government officials from rich countries, kicks off at the winter resort of Davos in Switzerland.

At first sight it would appear that nothing has changed, as the WEF founder and chairman Klaus Schwab has already forthrightly announced that the first goal of this Davos Forum will be “to assist the G20 process”. Schwab was referring to the group of more than 20 large and emerging economies which began examining ways of reforming the world’s financial architecture and policies to revitalise the global economy in Washington in November 2008. Leaders of the G20 are due to meet again on Apr. 2 in London.


Even more unambiguously, Schwab said “what we want is to allow business leaders and ‘stakeholders’ such as trade unionists and non-governmental organisations to contribute to the G20’s goals.” This is sheer arrogance, Swiss academic Jean Ziegler told IPS.

It demonstrates that the Davos Forum will once again “be simply an exercise in cynicism, arrogance and blindness,” Ziegler said in an interview with IPS between sessions of the consultative committee of the United Nations Human Rights Council, meeting this week in Geneva.

Some 2,500 people are expected to attend the Davos Forum, over half of them representatives of the business community, but also members of governments, politicians, trade unionists, religious leaders and members of non-governmental organisations.

As happens every year, press accreditation is largely confined to journalists representing media that are in sympathy with the liberal (free market) ideology of the WEF.

The organisers of the Davos Forum have underscored the secrecy surrounding some sessions by prohibiting writers of press releases, who attend the closed meetings, from having any personal contact with journalists.

Schwab has recently been at pains to deny the idea that the WEF has an ideology, saying that the Davos Forum does not express opinions, it just provides a platform.

Neither did he accept that the Davos Forum has embraced certain economic dogmas, such as complete rejection of state intervention and regulations. It was individual participants at the meetings who promoted these ideas, he said.

Some programmes developed by the WEF have always called for a coordinated system of global regulation, he said.

At a press conference, Schwab expressed the view that “a reform of capitalism” is necessary. He said there was a need to return to certain values that had been lost in the past 10 years because of too much greed and too little regulation.

The WEF chairman acknowledged that after 39 annual meetings of the Davos Forum, this year’s session will be one of the most challenging and significant. Titled “Shaping the Post-Crisis World,” the central topic for debate is what kind of world the forum wants to see emerging when the crisis is over, and how to design it.

Ziegler criticised the conspicuous spending by WEF participants. For example, the delegates of UBS (United Bank of Switzerland) are staying in luxury hotels in Davos.

UBS was one of the financial institutions hardest hit by the crisis, so much so that the Swiss government had to bail it out to the tune of 64 billion Swiss francs (56.3 million dollars) to save it from bankruptcy.

“The Swiss taxpayer is paying for these luxuries. It’s disgusting,” Ziegler told IPS.

“Half the bankers and industrialists at Davos should have been sent to prison a long time ago,” he said. “All these years, the Davos Forum has provided the ideological basis for plundering the world.”

Twenty years ago, the Davos Forum was celebrating deregulation, headlong liberalisation of the markets, privatisations and the heyday of profit, Ziegler said.

Former president of the World Bank James Wolfensohn coined the phrase: “The end of history is a world government without a state,” which was roundly applauded by participants at the WEF, Ziegler said.

Their unrestrained neoliberal ideology has landed the world in its worst economic crisis since 1929, and those responsible are the very same people who are here at Davos squandering money, he concluded.

———-

UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
29 January,  2009
=========================================================================


BAN Ki-MOON URGES LEADERS AT DAVOS TO FORGE ‘GREEN NEW DEAL’ TO FIGHT WORLD
RECESSION

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the world’s business and
other leaders to use the current economic crisis to launch a new Global
Compact entailing
a “Green New Deal” that creates jobs and fights climate
change by investing in renewable energy and technological development.

“Climate change threatens all our goals for development and social
progress. Indeed, it is the one true existential threat to the planet,” he
told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in a speech that drew
parallels from the Global Compact of corporate responsibility launched 10
years ago by then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the same hall.

“On the other hand, it also presents us with a gilt-edged opportunity. By
tackling climate change head-on we can solve many of our current troubles,
including the threat of global recession. We stand at a crossroads. It is
important that we realize we have a choice. We can choose short-sighted
unilateralism and business as usual. Or we can grasp global cooperation and
partnership on a scale never before seen.”

Just as Mr. Annan had launched a Compact that sought to give a human face
to the global market, challenging business to embrace universal principles
and partner with the UN on big issues, such as the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) that seek to slash poverty, hunger, lack of access to health
care and education and a host of other social ills by 2015, so now the time
has came for what Mr. Ban called “Global Compact 2.0.”

“We live in a new era. Its challenges can all be solved by cooperation –
and only by cooperation,” he said, stressing how the earlier compact, the
world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, involves over 6,000
business participants in more than 130 countries, pioneering new standards
of “best practice” in human rights and labour law, helping to protect the
environment, fight against corruption and promote health, education and
infrastructure.

“Now, a new set of crises prompts a renewed sense of mission,” he declared.
“Our times demand a new definition of leadership – global leadership. They
demand a new constellation of international cooperation – governments,
civil society and the private sector, working together for a collective
global good.

“Some might say such a vision is naïve. That it is wishful thinking. Yet we
have inspiring examples proving the contrary,” he added, citing the
critical role of business in the 1960s Green Revolution that lifted
hundreds of millions out of poverty in Asia, the global vaccination
campaign that eradicated smallpox by 1979, and solid progress in the fight
against AIDS, tuberculosis, polio and malaria.

“But we must break the tyranny of short-term thinking in favour of
long-term solutions. This will demand a renewed commitment to core
principles. A new Global Compact,” he added, noting new United States
President Barack Obama has made a clear commitment to re-energizing the
American economy by boosting the “green economy.”

Mr. Ban cited initiatives already underway under the old Global Compact,
such as “Caring for Climate,” the world’s largest business-led project on
climate change in which chief executives disclose their carbon emissions
and commit to comprehensive climate policies, and the “CEO Water Mandate”
advancing water stewardship through drip irrigation and water harvesting.

“Today with the economic downturn and climate change, the stakes for
companies have never been higher. But for businesses with vision, the
rewards are equally high,” he said. “The green economy is low-carbon and
energy-efficient. It creates jobs. Investment in sustainable technologies
will turn today’s crisis into tomorrow’s sustainable growth.”

At another session in Davos, Mr. Ban pushed for a climate change
communication initiative that will explain, educate and ask for global
engagement, leading to success at the UN climate change conference slated
to be held in December in Copenhagen, where negotiations on a successor
pact to the Kyoto Protocol are slated to end.

Addressing another event called “Managing our Water Needs,” he called on
participants to make water security one of the top issues for climate
change adaptation discussions for this year.

“The problem is that we have no coordinated global [water] management
authority in the UN system or the world at large,” the Secretary-General
said. “There is no overall responsibility, accountability or vision for how
to address the related problems of climate change, agricultural stress and
water technology.”

While in Davos, the Secretary-General also met, last night and today, with
a number of leaders. He discussed climate change and the Middle East peace
process with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

In addition, he discussed Haiti with former United States President Bill
Clinton. And in a bilateral meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon,
he talked about climate change, food security, the MDGs and Haiti.

From Davos the Secretary-General will travel to Addis Ababa for the African
Union Summit, followed by an official visit to the United Arab Emirates.
Thereafter, he will travel to Islamabad on an official trip to Pakistan,
and then on to New Delhi, India, to attend the Delhi Sustainable
Development Summit 2009.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 21st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


What will Obama do with Churchill’s bust?

Srdjan Vucetic, 20 – 01 – 2009   www.opendemocracy.net/usa/article/srdjan_vucetic/churchill_bust_oval_office

The task of redecorating the Oval Office includes remembering and re-imagining trans-Atlantic relations
One of the first jobs of an American president is to redecorate the Oval Office. Each new president is expected to update the furniture, replace the carpet, repaint the walls and woodwork as well as add some new paintings. There are also the sculptures, usually three or four. So when he moves in today, President Barack Obama will have to decide what to do with a bronze bust of Winston Churchill.
The bust is on loan from the British government and was installed by his predecessor, President George W Bush in 2001. Bush explains it in an official White House tour video [my transcript]: “my friend the prime minister of Great Britain heard me say that I greatly admired Winston Churchill and so he saw to it that the government loaned me this and I am most honored to have this Jacob Epstein bust of Winston Churchill. I like Churchill because he was a great war leader. He was resolute, he was tough, he knew what he believed, and he had a fabulous sense of humor. And in this job, believe me, you’ve gotta have a sense of humor. Otherwise it makes for the days awfully long and for the nights awfully short.” (Predictably, the video inspired a spoof.)
Officially, Her Majesty’s government loaned the bust to Bush for the duration of his term. At the end of this month, the bust can therefore go back to the Government Art Collection on Cockspur Street. But there is little to prevent Obama from retaining the sculpture, just like there was little that prevented him from retaining Bush’s Defense Secretary and several other “holdover” officials.
Downing Street, always ready to cultivate Britain’s “special relationship” with America, would probably happily extend the loan to another four to eight years. After all, no figure in the world better symbolizes the “special relationship” than Churchill. In his last Lord Mayor’s Banquet Speech, Prime Minister Gordon Brown explained it yet again: “Winston Churchill described the joint inheritance of Britain and America as not just a shared history but a shared belief in the great principles of freedom, and the rights of man – of what Barack Obama described in his election night speech as the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.”
Will Obama keep his Churchill? Obama’s speech writers would certainly appreciate it. In the United States, the signifier “Churchill” is as positively evaluated as “Obama” in the United Kingdom right now. As Christopher Hitchens observes, in America, Churchill “occupies an unrivaled place in the common stock of reference, ranging from the mock-heroic to the downright kitsch.” The man voted the Greatest Briton in a 2002, argues Hitchens, “can be quoted even more safely than Lincoln in that he was never a member of any American faction.”
Good politics is not the only reason for Obama to retain the bust. Last year, the New England Historic Genealogical Society discovered that Obama is in fact related to Churchill. (The researchers also found that Obama is a ninth cousin of Brad Pitt and a distant relative to five former U.S. presidents, including George W Bush.) So why not keep a bust of a distant family member which happens to be a great war leader that most Americans love?
As it is often the case, family history cuts both ways. In Kenya, the land of Obama’s father, the signifier “Churchill” carries nothing but negative connotations. Several times in his long political career, Churchill was responsible for Britain’s empire, which until 1963 included Kenya. It was his government which in 1952 declared the so-called Kenya Emergency – an attempt to quash a rebellion against colonial rule known as Mau Mau. For the next eight years, suspected rebels were routinely detained, tortured, hanged and shot. According to Caroline Elkins, the colonial soldiers killed between fifteen and twenty thousand Kenyans in combat, while up to one hundred thousand perished in the detention camps. One of those who endured torture in a British prison was Hussein Onyango Obama, US president’s Kenyan grandfather. Traces of this story can be found in Obama’s memoir Dreams from my Father as well as in a few interviews; much more is sure to come. For now, it behooves us to remember it when Obama sends his Churchill packing. The time for the Anglo-American “special relationship” to move beyond Churchill is long overdue.
Srdjan Vucetic is Dillard Fellow in International Studies at Pembroke College, Cambridge

###