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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mona Eltahawy
A Jewish Woman Living in Ethiopia


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

The Forward
Published: May 27, 2010

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

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

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

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

New Century, New Priorities

By Yossi Beilin

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

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

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

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

Reviving Polish Jewry

By Konstanty Gebert

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

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

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

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

What We Give Ourselves

By Lisa Leff

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

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

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

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

Putting Identity First

By Jonathan S. Tobin

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

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

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Commentary magazine.

Collective Responsibility

By Richard Wexler

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

By Amanda Pazornik

The J Weekly
Published: July 22, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A large portrait of Gary Tobin hangs in the lobby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Elephants or Ivory — Amazing response!

The worldwide UN ban on ivory trading could soon be lifted — a decision that could wipe out Africa’s vulnerable elephants. But a number of a African nations are pushing to uphold the ban. Let’s send them a stampede of support to save the elephants. Sign the skyrocketing petition below, and forward this email widely:

Wow — the petition to protect endangered elephants from ivory poachers is exploding — in just over 72 hours, more than 300,000 of us have signed the call to the UN to uphold the ban on ivory trading and save whole populations of these magnificent animals. The crucial UN vote is expected this week.

Tanzania and Zambia are lobbying the UN for special exemptions from the ban, but this would send a clear signal to the ivory crime syndicates that international protection is weakening and it’s open-season on elephants. Another group of African states have countered by calling to extend the trade ban for 20 years.

Our best chance to save the continent’s remaining elephants is to support African conservationists. We only have days left and the UN Endangered Species body only meets every 3 years. Click below to sign our urgent petition to protect elephants, and forward this email widely — the petition will be delivered to the UN meeting in Doha:

 www.avaaz.org/en/protect_the_elep…

Over 20 years ago, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) passed a worldwide ban on ivory trading. Poaching fell, and ivory prices slumped. But poor enforcement coupled with ‘experimental one-off sales’, like the one Tanzania and Zambia are seeking, drove poaching up and turned illegal trade into a lucrative business — poachers can launder their illegal ivory with the legal stockpiles.

Now, despite the worldwide ban, each year over 30,000 elephants are gunned down and their tusks hacked off by poachers with axes and chainsaws. If Tanzania and Zambia are successful in exploiting the loophole, this awful trade could get much worse.

We have a one-off chance this week to extend the worldwide ban and repress poaching and trade prices before we lose even more elephant populations — sign the petition now and then forward it widely:

 www.avaaz.org/en/protect_the_elep…

Across the world’s cultures and throughout our history elephants have been revered in religions and have captured our imagination — Babar, Dumbo, Ganesh, Airavata, Erawan. But today these beautiful and highly intelligent creatures are being annihilated.

As long as there is demand for ivory, elephants are at risk from poaching and smuggling — but this week we have a chance to protect them and crush the ivory criminals’ profits — sign the petition now:

 www.avaaz.org/en/protect_the_elep…

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Our idea – if Tanzania and Zambia get their way it would be right to start a campaign to boycott tourism to these countries.      Did anyone think that Canada and Japan might also be helped to changing behavior by similar means when traditional killing of seals and whales is what they do? The US has said that it will prosecute and penalize a sushi restaurant that served whale-meat, so invoking penalties might work. If nothing else it will make us feel good for having reacted to someone’s lack of honesty.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 2nd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Unknown-1

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From www.FT.com

Africa mourns loss of a leader unafraid to speak his mind

One Sunday in late June, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who died yesterday aged 59, was on the eve of the most momentous day of his career.He had been the first…
Aug 20 2008, By Tom Burgis, Financial Times
Zambian president dies in France

Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who was laid low by a stroke hours before he was…would like to inform the nation that our president, his Excellency Dr Levy Mwanawasa, died this morning at 10.30am at Percy Military Hospital,” Rupiah Banda…
Aug 19 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, FT.com site
Zambian leader’s health worsens

The health of Levy Mwanawasa, the ailing Zambian president who has been a sharp critic of Robert Mugabe, his Zimbabwean counterpart, has deteriorated, his deputy…
Aug 18 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, FT.com site
Zambian mystery

The fate of Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia’s president, was last night shrouded in confusion amid reports that he had died in a Paris hospital after suffering a stroke…
Jul 04 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, Financial Times
Zambia refutes rumours of president’s death

Zambia on Thursday moved to end the confusion surrounding the fate of Levy Mwanawasa, dismissing reports that the president had died in a Paris hospital after suffering a stroke.”These are false and malicious rumours…
Jul 04 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, FT.com site
International pressure on Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll.In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 24 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, Financial Times
International pressure to replace Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll.In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 24 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, Financial Times
Global pressure to replace Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll. In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 23 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, FT.com site
Africa must act to avoid being engulfed by Zimbabwe’s disaster

…President Paul Kagame is among the first to raise his head above the parapet, joining Botswana’s Ian Khama and Zambia’s Levy Mwanawasa in a growing band of African leaders who are prepared to condemn a tyrant. Not only has Robert Mugabe put southern…
Jun 25 2008, By Michael Holman and Greg Mills, FT.com site
Harare buffeted by winds of change blowing through region

…sea-change in the thinking of the 14- nation Southern African Development Community.Regional diplomats indicate that Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia’s president, and Ian Khama, Botswana’s new leader, are impatient with the region’s traditional reverence for…
May 01 2008, By Alec Russell in Cape Town, Financial Times

***

Africa mourns loss of a leader unafraid to speak his mind.

By Tom Burgis

Published: August 20 2008 03:00 | Last updated: August 20 2008 03:00

One Sunday in late June, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who died yesterday aged 59, was on the eve of the most momentous day of his career.

He had been the first to break the longstanding deference of African rulers towards Robert Mugabe, condemning the abuses that had culminated in the Zimbabwean autocrat claiming victory in a discredited election. As early as March last year, Mwanawasa had referred to the “sinking Ti-tanic” that was Zimbabwe’s inflation-battered economy.

Now, as the serving chair of the southern African bloc, the retiring former lawyer would carry the hopes of many Zimbabweans into an African Union summit in Egypt at which Mr Mugabe would try to stare down his counterparts into legitimising his flawed triumph.

For a man most at ease in small gatherings, assiduously reading his briefing papers or escaping to the family farm for the planting season, the ordeal ahead was immense. Alphabetical seating by country was to have put him next to Mr Mugabe.

It proved too much. Always in poor health since the car crash 17 years earlier that left him with slurred speech, Mwanawasa suffered a stroke. Even as he was flown to the Paris hospital where he would die seven weeks later, the summit was welcoming Mr Mugabe back to the fold, thwarting the efforts of a handful of Mwanawasa’s like-minded peers.

The second son of 10 siblings, Mwanawasa was born in Mufulira, near the Congolese border, in 1948, 16 years before Zambia’s independence from Britain.

A crusading legal career established his public profile. When the one-party state of Kenneth Kaunda unravelled into elections in 1991, Frederick Chiluba, the victorious leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, appointed Mwanawasa as vice-president.

In 2001, disillusioned with the pervasive corruption of the Chiluba regime, Mwanawasa turned on – and ousted – his mentor. Within weeks he had stripped his predecessor of immunity from prosecution. A London court later found that Mr Chiluba had salted away $46m (€31m, £25m) of public funds.

Mwanawasa’s anti-graft offensive won him the allegiance of international donors who flooded state coffers with aid. China came calling too, tempted by some of the world’s richest copper deposits. Economic growth rose from just over 3 per cent a year when he took office to 6 per cent last year.

Yet, as his critics point out, about seven in every 10 Zambians still live on less than $2 a day. “Wealth has trickled downwards but it has not trickled outwards to the rural areas,” said a European diplomat in Lusaka. “That challenge is only just beginning.”

It is not clear who will take up that challenge. Mwanawasa avoided anointing an heir. His death has thrown his party into turmoil as cabinet ministers who thought they had three more years to jockey for position face an election within three months. The discord may open a window for Michael Sata, the opposition leader who came second when Mwanawasa won a second term in 2006 and who has lambasted the government’s fiscal orthodoxy.

Those who knew Mwanawasa, who had six children with his wife Maureen and two from a previous marriage, describe a man whose unspectacular oratory masked a deep conviction.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition, yesterday lamented the death of “a good friend and comrade”. He added: “Sadly, he has left us at this most trying time.”

zambia032.gif

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE FOLLOWING IS EYE OPENING AND A FURTHER GOOD LAUNDRY-LIST OF WHAT IS WRONG WITH PROMISES OF FOREIGN AID THAT LEADS NOWHERE. THESE TWO PRESENTERS SHOW THAT AFRICA STARTS FROM POINTS BELLOW ZERO. BUT WHAT CAN THE G8 ACHIEVE IN THREE DAYS WHEN THE PROBLEMS ARE THAT THERE IS INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM NEGLECT, AND AFRICA’S OWN LEADERSHIP HAS NO CONSIDERATION FOR THE UN RULE   – “THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT.”

Sunday, July 6, 2008

G8 COUNTDOWN: G8 blind to Africa’s true needs, farmer says.

By JANICE TANG
Kyodo News

Zambian farmer Joyce Mwanje landed in Japan after a long journey across half the globe, leaving her husband and seven children to tend to the fields where they till the land with hand hoes to grow maize, soybeans, vegetables and other crops.

Mwanje has come with the important mission of representing fellow African peasant farmers to make their voices heard by the leaders of the Group of Eight countries who will meet in Hokkaido from Monday for their annual summit.

Mwanje, 47, who heads her community’s farmers development club in the rural area of Chibobo in Serenje, central Zambia, wants to ensure that the G8 nations not only live up to their aid pledges, but also realize Africa’s true needs.

“In my village, we produce mainly staple food with occasional or no surplus sold,” Mwanje said in an interview in Tokyo. “The majority of people cultivate less than 2 hectares of rain-fed land using simple techniques and cultivation practices, and produce mainly maize, groundnuts, roots and tubers for their own consumption.”

“The problem we have is we can only use hand hoes for plowing our land. We don’t manage to have much harvest for income,” she said.

Joseph Ssuuna, secretary general of nongovernmental organization PELUM Association, accompanied Mwanje to Japan. He said aid provision is complex and flawed.

“When world leaders meet to talk about the food crisis in the world, they have to look at the means of production that people have at their disposal,” he said.

Ssuuna, whose group promotes ecological land-use management, criticized the developed nations’ emphasis on introducing new seeds and increasing the amount of fertilizers and agrochemicals in their push for the so-called Green Revolution for Africa.

He said that what is really needed to transform the lives of African farmers is access to basic farming machinery and micro-financing.

“People don’t want aid as such. People want to live meaningful lives, to earn their own living,” said Ssuuna, a 46-year-old Ugandan residing in Zambia. “Farmers want to farm, but we need to make sure that the systems and institutions that support farming are functional.”

In Mwanje’s village, where the size of the average family is eight people and agriculture has been the source of livelihood for generations, a Zambian NGO called the Green Living Movement has been promoting sustainable agriculture since 2000.

Mwanje said she and other farmers have adopted the practice of agroforestry, in which nitrogen fixing tree legumes are planted in their fields for soil fertility instead of using synthetic fertilizers. The method has helped improve her productivity and her income base, she said.

Even so, efficiency is relatively low due to a lack of basic farming machinery, electricity and irrigation — she still has to draw water from a well and waters the crops with a jerrycan, and pound harvests of maize and soybeans manually with sticks.

Each year, she harvests about 25 to 30 bags of maize, the main crop for income, at 50 kg each. Most is consumed by her family with only an average of five bags left for sale, and each bag fetches 34,000 Zambian kwachas, or approximately $10.

Ssuuna explained that although the recent surge in global food prices should in theory be an opportunity for African farmers, in places like Zambia, where crop prices are set by the Food Reserve Agency and rural farmers have poor access to open markets, the price hikes only profit the agency and middlemen traders while farmers get paid little for their produce.

Japan, to show its leadership as this year’s G8 chair, has pledged to double aid to Africa by 2012 and help double rice production on the continent as part of medium- to long-term assistance in tackling the food security issue.

But both Mwanje and Ssuuna expressed doubt about promoting rice in Africa.

“I once tried to grow rice in our field, but the harvest was not good and we didn’t get any rice grains to eat. May be water was not enough,” Mwanje said. She added that while she tried for one season because she liked rice, she never went back to growing it again.



Ssuuna noted that while consumption of rice in Africa has risen in recent years, it was partly because rice producers like Japan and other Asian countries have offloaded their large surpluses in Africa. In some cases, the dependence on rice imports have triggered food riots, such as in Sierra Leone, amid the price surges.

“What do we learn from that? If you disrupt people’s production systems and you make them dependent on other production systems for their food, you are creating a catastrophe,” he said.

“I think a more sustainable support system should focus on African indigenous crops that have already been localized and are suitable to the ecosystem in these places,” Ssuuna added.

Mwanje and Ssuuna, with the support of Japanese NGOs, will be in Hokkaido to meet Japanese and international press when the three-day G8 summit begins Monday at the Lake Toya resort.



“We are here to remind the leaders of their failure to meet commitments made in the last several G8 summits,” Ssuuna said. “It’s also important for them to know that when they make these commitments, there are so many people’s hopes and lives that now focus on them.”

“A failure to meet those commitments means they are failing so many people who do not have the voice to represent themselves in the G8, who do not have the means to change their own lives.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 Just Got In:       Mugabe Skips Regional Summit on Zimbabwe.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: April 13, 2008
Filed at 2:28 a.m. ET

LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Southern African leaders discussed Zimbabwe’s deepening electoral crisis in a marathon summit that ended before dawn Sunday with a weak declaration that failed to criticize the absent President Robert Mugabe.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who claims to have won the March 29 election outright, had wanted the leaders to press Mugabe to resign after 28 years as Zimbabwe’s leader.

Western powers, the United Nations and regional church, democracy and human rights groups had called for the meeting to demand an immediate announcement of the long-delayed election results.

Instead, the declaration issued at the end of the 12-hour summit called for the expeditious verification of results in the presence of the candidates or their agents ”within the rule of law.” The declaration also urged ”all parties to accept the results when they are announced.”
Independent tallies indicate Mugabe lost the election, but garnered enough votes to force a runoff.
The summit promised to send observers if there were a second round of elections. The team it sent in March was led by a junior minister from Angola, a country that has not held elections since 1992.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa had called the emergency summit with 48 hours’ notice. Afterward, his foreign affairs minister told reporters there was no crisis in Zimbabwe, echoing statements made by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki said Saturday there was ”no crisis” after he had to fly to Zimbabwe before Saturday’s summit to engage Mugabe, who reportedly was not taking calls from African leaders last week.

Mbeki’s policy of ”quiet diplomacy” on Zimbabwe has been likened to appeasement that allows Mugabe to continue his autocratic rule unimpeded. The Southern African Development Community that held the summit has been accused of pandering to Mugabe with disregard for its own constitution to promote democracy.

Presidents at the conference rushed away when the meeting ended, refusing to answer questions. They left Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kabinga Pande to declare, ”We listened to both parties, the opposition and the government, and both have said there is no crisis.”

Tendai Biti, the secretary-general of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Party, denied that was what it said. Tsvangirai had hurriedly left the summit four hours before it closed and did not return as promised.

Biti repeated charges that Mugabe has orchestrated a campaign of violence to intimidate opponents who voted against him, with allegations of beatings and burnings of huts corroborated by local and international human rights groups.

”We have a militarized, polarized situation,” Biti said in a news conference. ”There is violence, intolerance, hate speech and vitriolic propaganda.”

Pande said the rival parties had agreed at the summit that the elections were free and fair.

Biti said, ”We maintain that Zimbabwe is not capable of producing a free and fair election.”

Still, he said, the leaders’ response was ”a major improvement” and that the economic bloc ”has acquitted itself relatively well.”

”The very fact that they had the guts to actually hold this extraordinary summit acknowledges that things are not right in Zimbabwe,” Biti added.

Inviting Tsvangirai to the meeting was an unprecedented move that probably accounted for Mugabe’s absence.



The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said it would conduct a full recount of the presidential and parliamentary vote on April 19, the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper reported. Commission chairman George Chiweshe said candidates, party representatives and observers would be allowed to witness the process, the paper said. Mugabe’s party had demanded a recount, even without results of presidential elections announced.

Pande said the summit could not demand election results while Zimbabwe’s High Court is considering opposition application asking a judge to order the immediate publication of results. The court, stacked with judges loyal to Mugabe, has dallied more than a week over the urgent appeal.

There was no comment from Mugabe or the three hard-line ministers he sent to represent him at the summit.

Mugabe’s allies indicated Saturday’s summit was part of a Western plot to overthrow him because of his land reform program, which was touted as an effort to redistribute the wide swathes of fertile land owned by the tiny white community to poor blacks. Instead, farms went to Mugabe’s relatives, friends and cronies and the economy of the former food exporter collapsed.

”This time, African leaders are supposed to do the bidding of the white West, that is to pressure Zimbabwe to abet regime change agenda,” said a column in the state-run Herald newspaper Saturday.

With Mugabe on the defensive after the election, ruling party officials have encouraged militants to invade the country’s few remaining white-owned farms and some farms owned by black opponents, saying they were trying to protect Zimbabweans from encroaching colonialism. Opposition officials say such attacks are a smoke screen for assaults on mainly black opposition supporters.

The summit was seen as a major test for the Southern African Development Community.

”The very integrity and utility of the SADC is at stake,” said New York-based Freedom House, which charts democracy’s progress around the world.



Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, of Ghana, warned the leaders they had ”a grave responsibility to act, not only because of the negative spillover effects on the region, but also to ensure that democracy, human rights and the rule of law are respected.”

An estimated one-third of Zimbabwe’s population has fled the country as it descended into political and economic chaos.

Before the summit declaration, U.S. Ambassador Carmen Martinez said the United States was looking for ”at least one step forward.”

”If SADC cannot even get a state to release their election results, it’s going to be very difficult for SADC,” she said.



The release of Zimbabwe’s election results ceased after results from legislative races held the same day as the presidential vote showed Mugabe’s party lost control of parliament for the first time.

Mwanawasa, the Zambian leader, had opened the summit with a reassuring message for Zimbabwe’s leaders, saying ”This summit is not intended to put President Robert Mugabe in the dock.”

——–

Associated Press writers Joseph J. Schatz in Lusaka, Zambia, and Angus Shaw in Harare, Zimbabwe, contributed to this report.

=========================

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT OF AFRICAN SUMMIT ON ZIMBABWE says the UN official UN News.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he is pleased that regional leaders in southern Africa are mobilizing to “help Zimbabwe overcome its post-electoral crisis through peaceful means.”

Through a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban congratulated the leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for arranging a summit of heads of State in Lusaka, Zambia, on 13 April to discuss the situation.

Earlier this week, Mr. Ban expressed concern that the results of presidential elections in Zimbabwe have not been released and urged the electoral authorities to do so “expeditiously and with transparency.”

“The situation in Zimbabwe could deteriorate if there is no prompt action to resolve this impasse,” he added in today’s statement.

In the presidential poll, the incumbent, Robert Mugabe, is facing Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni. If a winning candidate does not win more than 50 per cent of the total votes, a run-off race is required.

Mr Tsvangirai’s party, the Movement for Democratic Change, petitioned Zimbabwe’s High Court to demand the release of the election results. The electoral authorities have already announced the results of the Senate and parliamentary elections, which were held on the same day as the presidential vote.

———–

It seems that even in the tightly controlled Zimbabwe, the elections were won by Tsvangirai. Mugabe, who has outlived a long time ago his usefulness to his people, does not accept the end to his rule and called for new elections which he will now control better. Tsvangirai, in full right, does not want to go for new elections. Will now South Africa finally realize that the region has had enough of Zimbabwe? Previously South Africa chose to stab in the back all of Africa by supporting Mugabe’s Zimbabwe in its quest to chair the UN CSD and now can only blame themselves for having turned to shambles that UN outstretch to Africa.

Mugabe, who is Zimbabwe’s ruling President since Independence, has turned a country that was the bread-basket of its region to a perpetual needy country living now on food imported from Zambia. This must change if there is to be hope for Southern Africa.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 22nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

South Africa, With All Its Internal Squabbles, Has Fallen Far From The Example Mandela Set.
South Africa Of Today Endangers The Future Of Africa By Shooting At Africa’s Feet As We Witnessed
During the Night Of 5/11/2007 at the Time It Led The Election Of Zimbabwe To Chair The UN
Commission For Sustainable Development. As a Result The CSD Is Now Moribund and Has No
Secretary To Lead It Towards This Years Meeting That Was Supposed To Deal With Land Use.

The South Africans Showed Plain Chutzpah By Saying That If The Israelis Had Allowed their
Proposal To Be Presented By The Chairman Of The Second Committee, Rather Then Insisting
To Speak For Themselves As A Grown Up Member Of The UN, They And The Islamics Would
Not Have Abstained. So, If Today’s   South Africa Thinks That For Political Reasons They Are Clear
To Imply That One Sovereignty Is Less Then Another – That is Really No Less then A Suggestion
Advocating international Apartheid, and No Way That This Attitude Will be Accepted Outside The
Musty Corridors of The UN.

Ambassador Gillerman Was Fully Correct In Singling Out South Africa By Saying That He Honors
The Position Of Israel’s Self Appointed Arab Enemies, and That He Cannot See South Africa’s Position
Because there Is No South Africa-Israel Conflict – Except That, Seemingly, South Africa Is Just
Out There To Go Hand In Hand With Mugabe and Opt For Everything That Might Enrage The West.

We At www.SustainabiliTank.info have an IBSA Button for India, Brazil, and South Africa, as we
Considered These Three States As Potential Future Addition To The Present Five Permanent
Members Of The UN Security Council. We Expected These Three Countries, One From Each Of
The Under-Represented Continents, and Also With Potential For Becoming Economic Leaders
In The 21st Century, To Become Also Ethical Additions To A Reorganized UN. But 2007 Was A
Year When South Africa Has Done Most Everything Wrong – This Leaves Sub Sahara   Africa
Worse Off Then Leaderless. South Africa, For Reasons Unclear Does Harm To The Interests Of
The Poorer African States.

Israel Started Already In the 1970’s To Help African States Ny Bringing To Them Modern Agriculture,
And By Taking Their Technicians In For Training at Israeli Institutions. It Was Because of Arab
Interference That Africa Did Not Get Out More From The Israelis – Now It Is South Africa That Is
In The Way.

In UN Ag Tech Spat, Israel Calls “Shameful” Abstention by S. Africa, Which Feels Singled Out

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 — Verbal skirmishes between Israel and the Arab Group and vice versa are expected at the UN. Tuesday in connection with what Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman called a rare feel-good story, a less intuitive fight broke out, Israel versus South Africa. Amb. Gillerman summoned reporters to the microphone outside the Security Council chamber to highlight the passage in the General Assembly’s Second Committee of a resolution sponsored by Israel, on the use of agricultural technology for development. He said it was the first Israeli-sponsored resolution to pass the Committee, and he noted that there were no votes against it. There were 29 abstentions, “mostly Arab states,” he said, “which I do not understand but which I respect.” Then Amb. Gillerman singled out South Africa’s abstention, and called it “shameful… unless it was a mistake… pressed the wrong button.” South Africa calls itself the leader of Africa, making its abstention all the worse, he said. The implication was that South Africa has abstained for the same “political” reason as the Arab states, but with less justification, at least in Israel’s eyes.

Inner City Press, after asking Amb. Gillerman some questions (video here, from Minute 8:58), sought the South African mission’s reason for abstention. It was explained that the draft resolution had not included the Africa focus found in the Millennium Declaration and the 2005 World Summit Outcome documents, lacking provisions about intellectual property, for example. Amendments had been attempted but rejected. A suggestion had been made to have the resolution be a proposal of the Chairman of the committee, but Israel, the mission said, fought to retain ownership.

Amb. Gillerman said that Israel does not want to be a “one issue” country, that it has been very active in sharing its agricultural technology in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. He limited questions to issues of agriculture, “on this festive day,” he said. Inner City Press asked for details on Israel’s collaboration with the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization. Amb. Gillerman referred the question to his “expert,” Ilan Fluss, who answered that FAO had coordinated with Israel on the resolution throughout the process.

South Africa has been fingered, by the U.S. mission and the New York Times, for opposing an General Assembly resolution denouncing rape in the service of governmental or military goals. There is, of course, South Africa’s position on Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, previously covered by Inner City Press. But beyond that, Reuters highlighted earlier this year that on a Holocaust resolution adopted by consensus, the South African representative was not present in the meeting, along with Iran and the Sudan. One diplomat asked, Why are we being singled out? Especially by Israel, which complains of disparate treatment?

unagte1.jpg

In the UN General Assembly, Amb. Dan Gillerman in action

Ilan Fluss, who coordinated the resolution, was previously Israel’s acting Ambassador in South Africa. Clearly there’s some tension there, to single out one of the 29 abstentions. Other abstainers included Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It has been noted that the resolution still has to be considered by the full General Assembly, next week. Late Tuesday, Inner City Press asked the Permanent Observer of Palestine, Riyad Mansour, about the ag tech spat. Amb. Mansour riffed that “the Israeli delegate forgot the statement of his leaders in Annapolis, when they expressed thrills at seeing 16 Arab states there.” He suggested that Israel, if it was interested in more than “scoring political points… with a minor victory,” should have allowed the resolution to be converted into a consensus text sponsored by the Committee’s chair. Amb. Mansour specifically took issue with Amb. Gillerman having “lashed out” at South Africa, which he called “a country that no one can question their integrity with regard to justice and doing the right thing.” Video here. Afterwards, a Council diplomat mused that the tables were turned, with the Palestinians offering verbal defenses of South Africa. And so it goes at the UN.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 16th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 November 200 “Making of the New 7 Wonders” DVD Now Available!
New7Wonders Voting Analysis Now Online   – Nominate & Support New7Wonders of Nature Candidates NOW!
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Nominate New7Wonders of Nature Candidates NOW, get an Official Supporting Committee going!
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The new New7Wonders of Nature campaign was launched at the end of the Declaration gala on 07.07.07. Since then, we have received input from more than half a million people around the planet, and hundreds of natural sites have been nominated.

There is a wonderful diversity in the nominees. They include bodies of water such as Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia or the Dead Sea between Israel, Jordan and Palestine, canyons such as the Grand Canyon in the U.S. and Colca Canyon in Peru, waterfalls including Iguassu Falls in Brazil and Argentina, Victoria Falls in Zambia, Angel Falls in Venezuela and Niagara Falls between the U.S. and Canada, islands such as Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands and Yemen’s Socotra Island, as well as fjords such as Norway’s Geirangerfjord. Perhaps less easy to categorize but equally impressive are other natural marvels being nominated, such as Sunderbans, the largest mangrove forest in India and Bangladesh, the world’s largest salt flats, Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia, Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, Mongolia’s Flaming Cliffs and the submarine Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

Click here to nominate your favorite natural sites, or to support a favorite. We will soon be announcing the start of the first voting stage, during which we will have a live ranking of the Official Supported Nominees online. This phase will determine the Top 77 nominees, from which the 21 finalists will be chosen. So these steps are really important – think of all the beautiful places you know, and nominate them! Then, since only Official Supported Nominees will be able to receive votes, get an Official Supporting Committee going to support them! Spread the word to your family, friends and encourage them to get involved in the world’s only democratic campaign.


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The beat of the first-ever global election has people grooving from all four corners of the planet. Click here and experience the musical heart of the New 7 Wonders of the World – your feet will soon be tapping along.

Please see the diagram at the bottom of this newsletter for the stages and timing of the New7Wonders of Nature campaign.        The first-ever global election revealed some surprising insights, first and foremost that the largest group that took part in the campaign was – contrary to what you may think – not the Chinese or the Indians, but rather the children! Yes, kids worldwide participated by voting, campaigning, submitting artwork, showing how New7Wonders is stimulating intercultural dialogue and fostering an environment of mutual appreciation.
Unexpectedly to many, it was not the wealthy world, with its Internet connections and non-stop media access which played the key role in choosing the 7 symbols of global unity! Rather, it was people across Latin America, Asia and Africa who voted en masse.

In another interesting twist, monuments inspired real cross-cultural support – sometimes more than national! For example, more Koreans and Japanese voted for the Eiffel Tower than did people in France, and children everywhere cast their votes for fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle – more than people in Germany. In an African sprint, an avalanche of votes in support of Timbuktu were cast in the final weeks of the event from throughout Africa.

Founder and President of New7Wonders Bernard Weber says, “On a personal note, I am especially pleased to see that my two countries, Switzerland and Canada, were amongst the most active participants without having national candidates, along with some more exotic countries like Yemen, Albania and Afghanistan.” Read Bernard Weber’s fascinating, short analysis of the vote by clicking here.

The 07.07.07 celebration truly spanned the globe! Huge, often spontaneous parties were held in the winning countries, like those held to celebrate being named Olympic Games host or winning a major international sporting event.

The journey to the spectacular gala Declaration of the New 7 Wonders in Lisbon was full of exciting, thought-provoking and enlightening moments. Follow Bernard Weber and his team as they travel and work to fulfil the vision of bringing our world together to choose the New 7 Wonders of the World. See magnificent footage of many of the New7Wonders finalists, listen to rare music from many of the cultures represented, and enjoy interviews with people around the world who played a special part in the birth of the New 7 Wonders of the World. This is a great holiday gift, so order NOW!
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 www.new7wonders.com

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Commission on Sustainable Development Is It A Moribund UN Body Or Will It Be Revived Because It Is Needed After The Re-Engagement Hoopla That Happens Now At Bali?

Our Website was established in order to help create the awareness that there is no other development possible – not in the developing countries and not in the developed countries – that is not SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

We had experience starting from before the Brundtland Commission of 1987, we were engaged at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, and we wrote the “Promptbook on Sustainable Development for The World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg 2002. In short we are strong believers that if the UN CSD were not created in 1994, we would have had to create it now.

Why that? Simply, because as it is crystal clear now that the development of tomorrow cannot go on by rules of the development of yesterday – and this was given, right today, full global recognition in Oslo, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the scientists of the IPCC, and to Al Gore – whatever will come out from the Bali-Poznan-Copenhagen process will be clearly a final global landing on the runway that was built in Rio for Agenda 21. And as we keep saying – this will be a joint Sustainable Development for North and South, East and West. It will be a world were those that have the needed technologies will share them with those that are only trying out for their own National development. This will not be done because of altruism – it will be rather because of self interest that comes from the simple fact that we are all residents of planet earth, and we understand that we have caused the planet to be on a path of destruction that harms the continuation of life as nature or god created.

After UNCED, The UN created a Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Gali appointed Mr. Nitin Desai, at the Under-Secretary-General level to head the Department. 1994-1998 Joke Waller-Hunter from the Netherlands was the first Director of the Division for Sustainable Development and the head of the Commission on Sustainable Development – so the Commission itself dates back, for all practical purpose, to 1994 – even though it officially was started in 1992. In May 2007 we witnessed the CSD 15 (that is counting back to 1992!).

In 1997, Secretary-General Kofi, in an effort to reduce the number of UN Under-Secretary-Generals, consolidated three economic and social departments and created UN DESA (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and eventually put Mr. Desai as head of DESA where he was until he was replaced in 2003 with Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, the former Finance Minister of Colombia; the new Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, brought in, July 2007, Mr. Sha Zukang, the previous China Ambassador in Geneva. In 1998 Ms. JoAnne DiSano, with a background of having worked for the Canadian Government, and then for 11 years with the Australian Government, became the Director of the new Division of Sustainable Development within DESA. She held this position until September of 2007 and since then the position is VACANT, and it looks as if the UN does not care.

Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter, left her position with the CSD in 1998 in order to become the Executive Secretary of the of Bonn based   UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where she remained untill her death in 2006. She was replaced there in 2007, by Mr. Yvo de Boer, appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Yvo de Boer is also from the Netherlands, where he was Director for International Affairs of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment. He was in the Past Vice-Chair of the Commision on SD and Vice-Chair of the COP of the UNFCCC. Both, the CSD and the UNFCCC are outcomes of the 1992 UNCED. Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter’s departure from New York may have had something to do with the 1997 UN reorganization that replaced the Department of SD with a Division of SD within DESA. She may have sensed that her presence at UNFCCC will further SD goals easier then   at the new Division of SD – that its creation caused in effect a demotion in her position.

The present vacancy at the nerve-center of the CSD, at a time the CSD is needed indeed, following the latest push at the UNFCCC, on matters of climate change, that causes our renewed interest in the UN CSD and in the UN Division that was established specifically in order to run the CSD. We are afraid that it will be difficult to see progress on the UN level, in matters of climate change, without a functioning office that deals with sustainable development.

Now to be honest, our interest is not just because of curiosity – but rather because of the worry that we understand very well the reasons for the slow demise of the CSD – the factors that got it to start on what may be a path to extinction.

At CSD 9 it was decided that the CSD will discuss specific topics in cycles of two years. So the first cycle was Water for CSD11-CSD12, the second cycle Energy for CSD14-CSD15, the third cycle Land Use for CSD16-CSD17.

So 2006-2007 was the Energy cycle, and as in UN fashion it was supposed to be the turn to have a chair from Asia, it was the Asians that suggested Qatar to chair the energy subject. Now Qatar is a producer of gas rather then oil.

Some said that though sustainable development must help put forward development methods that are less dependent on oil and coal, this for reasons of global warming and climate change, nevertheless, recognizing the role of natural gas as a cleaner fuel and a potential intermediary fuel from an oil and coal economy to an economy that is starting to be based on renewable sources of energy, Qatar could have been acceptable also as a political peace-maker between the interests of conventional industry and the incoming new industry based on renewbles. But to the consternation of those optimists, we could see that behind the representative of Qatar, at the CSD sessions, there was always sitting a representative from Saudi Arabia, and in the end there was no resulting negotiated text for what is probably one of the most important topics of Sustainable Development – Energy.

Above was nothing yet when compared with what happened in the last day of CSD 15. As always, there are elections for the next CSD membership – the membership is held at 53 countries elected according to a regional key – and then there is the election of the “bureau” and the new chair. The turn according to UN habit was that next chair will be from Africa, and as said, the topic for CSD16 in 2008, and for CSD17 in 2009, will be Land Use. The Africans decided to put forward Zimbabwe as their choice and campaigned with the G77 that this is their wish. The UK did not want any part of this, and specially since the land policies of the Mugabe Government have run Zimbabwe agriculture from being a large agricultural exporter to becoming a starving nation, with an economy that was totally destroyed, a monetary situation that shows astronomic inflation rate, and human rights problems that clearly make it ineligible for a UN leadership position, it is this obstinacy that reduced the CSD to plain irrelevancy. We were there that night of Friday May 11, 2007, in room 4 in the UN basement, and watched in disbelief how the distinguished, low-key German Ambassador, head in New York of the EU presidency, with the German Minister of the Environment next to him, simply told the CSD Chair from Qatar that the EU cannot work with this sort of CSD.

If by any way I exaggerate now, 7 months later, please forgive my memory, but see what I, Pincas Jawetz, Inner City Press journalist Matthew Rusell Lee, and the EUobserver from Brussels, wrote about this – the references on the www.SustainabiliTank.info web are:

– EUobserver on the 5/11 Crash of CSD15 (May 14th, 2007)

– A First Analysis: From The Ashes of the CSD, Will We See A Rising Phoenix? A Brundtland II, To be Called – “OUR COMMON GROUND” ? (May 13th, 2007)

– The UN General Assembly Resolution of September 30, 1974 against South Africa was not Premised On Apartheid’s Threat To Security, But On Its Serious Violation Of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. WHY DOES
SOUTH AFRICA OF 2007 BACK MUGABE’s ZIMBABWE SAYING HE DOES NOT THREATEN INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY? (May 13th, 2007)

– 9/11 and 3/11 Have Become Symbols of what Oil Money Can Cause To Those Who Insist On Buying The Oil, Will 5/11 Become The Symbol of Awakening at the UN? This Because Of May 11, 2007 Late Evening Happenings At
The So Called UN Commission On Sustainable Development? (May 12th, 2007)

– At the UN, Zimbabwe Elected 26-21 to Sustainable Development Chair for CSD16, As EU and Others Reject Final Text of The Chairman from Qatar of CSD15. (May 12th, 2007)

I took then the 5/11 date and in ways of exaggeration tried to compare this with 9/11 in New York and 3/11 in Madrid. Was it really an exaggeration? Could we say that the backing Zimbabwe got from States with unresolved problems from colonial days, and oil states that think, completely wrong, that they have anything to gain from derailing the concept of sustainable development, sustainable energy, global warming, climate change…, from efforts to improve the life of billions of people?

Further, the UN recognizes three groups of States with greater needs – these are the Least Developed States (LDCs), the Small Island Independent States (SIDS), and the Landlocked States. These are the States within the UN system that are most in need of help via sustainable development. Why did the UN take them out from being under the Under-Secretary-General who heads DESA, and put them under a separate Under-Secretary-General? Does this not cause waste and decreased efficiency? Would they not be served better within a well functioning unified economic organization that takes, for instance, in account the interests of Island States when it comes to the subject of the effects of global warming/climate change?

Now, I was not going to allow myself to lose my hope for a functioning CSD. The articles I refer to above are actually articles of hope – that is I hope that from the ashes the CSD will rise, as a Phoenix, under the leadership of Brundtland II.

Does this look likely? I submit it is imperative, and by the end of this week, whatever wind will be blowing from Bali, people will see that it does not go without sustainable development. So why do the Africans not get together and try to rein in Mr. Mugabe? Again, just this week, the EU invited all Heads of State of Africa to Lisbon for discussions on trade that were needed in order to help restart the Doha trade round. The Europeans were ready to put aside the dispute with Mugabe, and he was also invited – then why did he have to show physically his raised fist? Is this the end of an EU-Africa relation? Clearly not. It was just a new beginning showing that rational people can try to restart negotiations even in the presence of a street-bully. And that brings me back to the UN DC-2 building – that is where one finds the CSD Secretariat.

CSD 16 will happen one way or another in May 5-16, 2008. The full list of topics is: “The Review Session of The Third Implementation Cycle that Will Focus on Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Desertification, and Africa.”

The CSD expects Germany to fund the bringing to New York of youth representatives from the developing countries. A main topic will be “Drought and Desertification and Africa” – this means effects of climate change that helped cause warfare in Africa. Will the world allow Africa to commit suicide through obstinacy, or is the world obliged to look into the mirror and say we cannot continue on this path? Mr. Baroso bit his lip and made an effort. We assume the EU will continue to try to find a way to keep the Commission in business, if at least the UN Secretariat helps reestablish a CSD Secretariat – and at the minimum there must be a functioning Director of the CSD Secretariat. That is the closing of the three month old vacancy that was created with the departure of Ms. JoAnne DiSano.

I understand that part of the nominating and election process involves the Commission itself. The present 53 members are:

African States: 12 besides Zimbabwe. They are – Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo/Kinshasa, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Tanzania, Zambia.

Asian States: 11 – Bahrain, China, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand.

Eastern Europe: 6 – Belarus, Croatia, Czech Rep., Poland, Russia, Serbia.

Latin America and Caribbean: 10 – Antigua and Barbuda (the incoming head of G-77), Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Haiti, Peru.

Western European and Others: 13 – Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK, US.

By looking through this list I clearly see that Poland, the host of next year’s follow up meeting to Bali, motors of the UNFCCC track like Germany, UK, Japan, Australia, India, even China, Antigua, Korea,Tunisia, Congo/Kinshasa, Tanzania, Croatia will want to see a functioning CSD. What is needed is a low key peace maker with vision who comes from inside the UN system, and who has a history of having seen the difficulties when working with developing countries that seem to have memories from colonial days that they apply to new situations that really are of a totally different nature. Finding such a person would help, we hope, revive the CSD, so it could continue its functions and prepare for much larger importance when the UNFCCC track finally starts sputtering.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 26th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Watching over the US from Vienna, we found that the Sunday before the opening of the meeting in Vienna that is bound to help the re-entry of the US into the climate negotiations process, The New York Times does not mention a word about the Vienna Workshop. Instead, the NYT is loaded with references to China’s transgressions, which to be honest, are very little more then China’s misguided effort at copying what the US was doing for years. Now, does the New York Times believe that the US should be given monopoly rights for humanities efforts at communal suicide? Will the NYT dispatch to Vienna its only reporter who truly understands the issues, its scientific reporter, Andrew Revkin? Will they commission their best columnist, Thomas Friedman, to analyze the outcome from this week-long meeting?

This Week in Vienna will have to prepare material for the September 2007 meeting at the UN General Assembly High Level Section in New York, that together with any outcome from the September meeting called by the Bush Administration, will be the two events to prepare “marching orders” to the country-delegations that meet in Baly – December 2007 – literally the last chance to start negotiations for the elusive post-2012 CO2 emissions’ regime.

With above in mind we look at this Sunday New York Times and find their QUOTATION OF THE DAY:

“China is making decisions today that will affect its energy use for next 30 or 40 years. Unfortunately, in some parts of the government the thinking is much more shortsighted.” This from Noureddine Berrah, an Energy Expert at the World Bank.

The NYT website contains a world -multimedia section that shows graphically China’s Pollution transgressions – “China’s Epic Environmental Crisis.

The NYT feels that as China “Roars” pollution reaches deadly extremes which is clearly true as it was true when the US had its industrialization binge, or when Austria started out before the formation of environmentalism. Oh! Yes! first environmentalism was about saving rainforests and elephants – right out there for “our” enjoyment at vacation time – the effort of the 1950s of the Naturamico friends, but things changed and the Austrian people voted to close an already built nuclear plant – yes – by then they understood that the environment, and thus our lives, are endangered by letting lose, from its safe bottle, the “development genie.” Unchecked Growth is unsafe – in Austria, in the US, and now in China. The New York Times might feel safe from the rage of some the US corporations – its advertisers that provide the NYT company profits – when they point a finger at China – the folks that sold lead containing toys to US children, and other poison containing tooth-paste material to the high profit US drugstore chains. What www.SustainabiliTank.info is waiting for are the New York Times articles that analyze the US stand in Vienna, the articles that show the NYT understands the place of OLD POLLUTION when we try to talk sense to the NEW POLLUTERS. This is the essence of the Vienna workshop – not the fight against the new polluters – but the working out of some sort of arrangement with them in the name of MOTHER EARTH – a corny concept but the only concept to go by – as it was clear to what we gloatingly call the primitive societies who still know a thing or two about PACHA MAMA.

Now, having unloaded some of our feelings – let us see first what the two NYT China experts say:

As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

China’s industrial growth depends on coal, plentiful but polluting, from mines like this one in Shenmu, Shaanxi Province, behind a village store.

Published: August 26, 2007

BEIJING, Aug. 25 — No country in history has emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and big dollops of public wealth to undo.

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

China’s cement factories, like this one in Ningxia Province, use 45 percent more power than the world average, and its steel makers use about 20 percent more.

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

China’s industrial growth depends on coal, plentiful but polluting, from coal mines like this one in Shaanxi Province behind a village store.

But just as the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.

Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. Beijing is frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.

Environmental woes that might be considered catastrophic in some countries can seem commonplace in China: industrial cities where people rarely see the sun; children killed or sickened by lead poisoning or other types of local pollution; a coastline so swamped by algal red tides that large sections of the ocean no longer sustain marine life.

China is choking on its own success. The economy is on a historic run, posting a succession of double-digit growth rates. But the growth derives, now more than at any time in the recent past, from a staggering expansion of heavy industry and urbanization that requires colossal inputs of energy, almost all from coal, the most readily available, and dirtiest, source.

“It is a very awkward situation for the country because our greatest achievement is also our biggest burden,” says Wang Jinnan, one of China’s leading environmental researchers. “There is pressure for change, but many people refuse to accept that we need a new approach so soon.”

China’s problem has become the world’s problem. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides spewed by China’s coal-fired power plants fall as acid rain on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo. Much of the particulate pollution over Los Angeles originates in China, according to the Journal of Geophysical Research.

More pressing still, China has entered the most robust stage of its industrial revolution, even as much of the outside world has become preoccupied with global warming.

Experts once thought China might overtake the United States as the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases by 2010, possibly later. Now, the International Energy Agency has said China could become the emissions leader by the end of this year, and the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency said China had already passed that level.

For the Communist Party, the political calculus is daunting. Reining in economic growth to alleviate pollution may seem logical, but the country’s authoritarian system is addicted to fast growth. Delivering prosperity placates the public, provides spoils for well-connected officials and forestalls demands for political change. A major slowdown could incite social unrest, alienate business interests and threaten the party’s rule.

But pollution poses its own threat. Officials blame fetid air and water for thousands of episodes of social unrest. Health care costs have climbed sharply. Severe water shortages could turn more farmland into desert. And the unconstrained expansion of energy-intensive industries creates greater dependence on imported oil and dirty coal, meaning that environmental problems get harder and more expensive to address the longer they are unresolved.

China’s leaders recognize that they must change course. They are vowing to overhaul the growth-first philosophy of the Deng Xiaoping era and embrace a new model that allows for steady growth while protecting the environment. In his equivalent of a State of the Union address this year, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao made 48 references to “environment,” “pollution” or “environmental protection.”

The government has numerical targets for reducing emissions and conserving energy. Export subsidies for polluting industries have been phased out. Different campaigns have been started to close illegal coal mines and shutter some heavily polluting factories. Major initiatives are under way to develop clean energy sources like solar and wind power. And environmental regulation in Beijing, Shanghai and other leading cities has been tightened ahead of the 2008 Olympics.

Yet most of the government’s targets for energy efficiency, as well as improving air and water quality, have gone unmet. And there are ample signs that the leadership is either unwilling or unable to make fundamental changes.

Land, water, electricity, oil and bank loans remain relatively inexpensive, even for heavy polluters. Beijing has declined to use the kind of tax policies and market-oriented incentives for conservation that have worked well in Japan and many European countries.

Provincial officials, who enjoy substantial autonomy, often ignore environmental edicts, helping to reopen mines or factories closed by central authorities. Over all, enforcement is often tinged with corruption. This spring, officials in Yunnan Province in southern China beautified Laoshou Mountain, which had been used as a quarry, by spraying green paint over acres of rock.

President Hu Jintao‘s most ambitious attempt to change the culture of fast-growth collapsed this year. The project, known as “Green G.D.P.,” was an effort to create an environmental yardstick for evaluating the performance of every official in China. It recalculated gross domestic product, or G.D.P., to reflect the cost of pollution.

But the early results were so sobering — in some provinces the pollution-adjusted growth rates were reduced almost to zero — that the project was banished to China’s ivory tower this spring and stripped of official influence.

Chinese leaders argue that the outside world is a partner in degrading the country’s environment. Chinese manufacturers that dump waste into rivers or pump smoke into the sky make the cheap products that fill stores in the United States and Europe. Often, these manufacturers subcontract for foreign companies — or are owned by them. In fact, foreign investment continues to rise as multinational corporations build more factories in China. Beijing also insists that it will accept no mandatory limits on its carbon dioxide emissions, which would almost certainly reduce its industrial growth. It argues that rich countries caused global warming and should find a way to solve it without impinging on China’s development.

Indeed, Britain, the United States and Japan polluted their way to prosperity and worried about environmental damage only after their economies matured and their urban middle classes demanded blue skies and safe drinking water.

But China is more like a teenage smoker with emphysema. The costs of pollution have mounted well before it is ready to curtail economic development. But the price of business as usual — including the predicted effects of global warming on China itself — strikes many of its own experts and some senior officials as intolerably high.

“Typically, industrial countries deal with green problems when they are rich,” said Ren Yong, a climate expert at the Center for Environment and Economy in Beijing. “We have to deal with them while we are still poor. There is no model for us to follow.”

In the face of past challenges, the Communist Party has usually responded with sweeping edicts from Beijing. Some environmentalists say they hope the top leadership has now made pollution control such a high priority that lower level officials will have no choice but to go along, just as Deng Xiaoping once forced China’s sluggish bureaucracy to fixate on growth.

But the environment may end up posing a different political challenge. A command-and-control political culture accustomed to issuing thundering directives is now under pressure, even from people in the ruling party, to submit to oversight from the public, for which pollution has become a daily — and increasingly deadly — reality.

Perpetual Haze

During the three decades since Deng set China on a course toward market-style growth, rapid industrialization and urbanization have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty and made the country the world’s largest producer of consumer goods. But there is little question that growth came at the expense of the country’s air, land and water, much of it already degraded by decades of Stalinist economic planning that emphasized the development of heavy industries in urban areas.

For air quality, a major culprit is coal, on which China relies for about two-thirds of its energy needs. It has abundant supplies of coal and already burns more of it than the United States, Europe and Japan combined. But even many of its newest coal-fired power plants and industrial furnaces operate inefficiently and use pollution controls considered inadequate in the West.

Expanding car ownership, heavy traffic and low-grade gasoline have made autos the leading source of air pollution in major Chinese cities. Only 1 percent of China’s urban population of 560 million now breathes air considered safe by the European Union, according to a World Bank study of Chinese pollution published this year. One major pollutant contributing to China’s bad air is particulate matter, which includes concentrations of fine dust, soot and aerosol particles less than 10 microns in diameter (known as PM 10).

The level of such particulates is measured in micrograms per cubic meter of air. The European Union stipulates that any reading above 40 micrograms is unsafe. The United States allows 50. In 2006, Beijing’s average PM 10 level was 141, according to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics. Only Cairo, among world capitals, had worse air quality as measured by particulates, according to the World Bank.

Emissions of sulfur dioxide from coal and fuel oil, which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as acid rain, are increasing even faster than China’s economic growth. In 2005, China became the leading source of sulfur dioxide pollution globally, the State Environmental Protection Administration, or SEPA, reported last year.

Other major air pollutants, including ozone, an important component of smog, and smaller particulate matter, called PM 2.5, emitted when gasoline is burned, are not widely monitored in China. Medical experts in China and in the West have argued that PM 2.5 causes more chronic diseases of the lung and heart than the more widely watched PM 10.

Perhaps an even more acute challenge is water. China has only one-fifth as much water per capita as the United States. But while southern China is relatively wet, the north, home to about half of China’s population, is an immense, parched region that now threatens to become the world’s biggest desert.

Farmers in the north once used shovels to dig their wells. Now, many aquifers have been so depleted that some wells in Beijing and Hebei must extend more than half a mile before they reach fresh water. Industry and agriculture use nearly all of the flow of the Yellow River, before it reaches the Bohai Sea.

In response, Chinese leaders have undertaken one of the most ambitious engineering projects in world history, a $60 billion network of canals, rivers and lakes to transport water from the flood-prone Yangtze River to the silt-choked Yellow River. But that effort, if successful, will still leave the north chronically thirsty.

This scarcity has not yet created a culture of conservation. Water remains inexpensive by global standards, and Chinese industry uses 4 to 10 times more water per unit of production than the average in industrialized nations, according to the World Bank.

In many parts of China, factories and farms dump waste into surface water with few repercussions. China’s environmental monitors say that one-third of all river water, and vast sections of China’s great lakes, the Tai, Chao and Dianchi, have water rated Grade V, the most degraded level, rendering it unfit for industrial or agricultural use.

Grim Statistics

The toll this pollution has taken on human health remains a delicate topic in China. The leadership has banned publication of data on the subject for fear of inciting social unrest, said scholars involved in the research. But the results of some research provide alarming evidence that the environment has become one of the biggest causes of death.

An internal, unpublicized report by the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning in 2003 estimated that 300,000 people die each year from ambient air pollution, mostly of heart disease and lung cancer. An additional 110,000 deaths could be attributed to indoor air pollution caused by poorly ventilated coal and wood stoves or toxic fumes from shoddy construction materials, said a person involved in that study.

Another report, prepared in 2005 by Chinese environmental experts, estimated that annual premature deaths attributable to outdoor air pollution were likely to reach 380,000 in 2010 and 550,000 in 2020.

This spring, a World Bank study done with SEPA, the national environmental agency, concluded that outdoor air pollution was already causing 350,000 to 400,000 premature deaths a year. Indoor pollution contributed to the deaths of an additional 300,000 people, while 60,000 died from diarrhea, bladder and stomach cancer and other diseases that can be caused by water-borne pollution.

China’s environmental agency insisted that the health statistics be removed from the published version of the report, citing the possible impact on “social stability,” World Bank officials said.

But other international organizations with access to Chinese data have published similar results. For example, the World Health Organization found that China suffered more deaths from water-related pollutants and fewer from bad air, but agreed with the World Bank that the total death toll had reached 750,000 a year. In comparison, 4,700 people died last year in China’s notoriously unsafe mines, and 89,000 people were killed in road accidents, the highest number of automobile-related deaths in the world. The Ministry of Health estimates that cigarette smoking takes a million Chinese lives each year.

Studies of Chinese environmental health mostly use statistical models developed in the United States and Europe and apply them to China, which has done little long-term research on the matter domestically. The results are more like plausible suppositions than conclusive findings.

But Chinese experts say that, if anything, the Western models probably understate the problems.

“China’s pollution is worse, the density of its population is greater and people do not protect themselves as well,” said Jin Yinlong, the director general of the Institute for Environmental Health and Related Product Safety in Beijing. “So the studies are not definitive. My assumption is that they will turn out to be conservative.”

Growth Run Amok

As gloomy as China’s pollution picture looks today, it is set to get significantly worse, because China has come to rely mainly on energy-intensive heavy industry and urbanization to fuel economic growth. In 2000, a team of economists and energy specialists at the Development Research Center, part of the State Council, set out to gauge how much energy China would need over the ensuing 20 years to achieve the leadership’s goal of quadrupling the size of the economy.

They based their projections on China’s experience during the first 20 years of economic reform, from 1980 to 2000. In that period, China relied mainly on light industry and small-scale private enterprise to spur growth. It made big improvements in energy efficiency even as the economy expanded rapidly. Gross domestic product quadrupled, while energy use only doubled.

The team projected that such efficiency gains would probably continue. But the experts also offered what they called a worst-case situation in which the most energy-hungry parts of the economy grew faster and efficiency gains fell short.

That worst-case situation now looks wildly optimistic. Last year, China burned the energy equivalent of 2.7 billion tons of coal, three-quarters of what the experts had said would be the maximum required in 2020. To put it another way, China now seems likely to need as much energy in 2010 as it thought it would need in 2020 under the most pessimistic assumptions.

“No one really knew what was driving the economy, which is why the predictions were so wrong,” said Yang Fuqiang, a former Chinese energy planner who is now the chief China representative of the Energy Foundation, an American group that supports energy-related research. “What I fear is that the trend is now basically irreversible.”

The ravenous appetite for fossil fuels traces partly to an economic stimulus program in 1997. The leadership, worried that China’s economy would fall into a steep recession as its East Asian neighbors had, provided generous state financing and tax incentives to support industrialization on a grand scale.

It worked well, possibly too well. In 1996, China and the United States each accounted for 13 percent of global steel production. By 2005, the United States share had dropped to 8 percent, while China’s share had risen to 35 percent, according to a study by Daniel H. Rosen and Trevor Houser of China Strategic Advisory, a group that analyzes the Chinese economy.

Similarly, China now makes half of the world’s cement and flat glass, and about a third of its aluminum. In 2006, China overtook Japan as the second-largest producer of cars and trucks after the United States.

Its energy needs are compounded because even some of its newest heavy industry plants do not operate as efficiently, or control pollution as effectively, as factories in other parts of the world, a recent World Bank report said.

Chinese steel makers, on average, use one-fifth more energy per ton than the international average. Cement manufacturers need 45 percent more power, and ethylene producers need 70 percent more than producers elsewhere, the World Bank says.

China’s aluminum industry alone consumes as much energy as the country’s commercial sector — all the hotels, restaurants, banks and shopping malls combined, Mr. Rosen and Mr. Houser reported.

Moreover, the boom is not limited to heavy industry. Each year for the past few years, China has built about 7.5 billion square feet of commercial and residential space, more than the combined floor space of all the malls and strip malls in the United States, according to data collected by the United States Energy Information Administration.

Chinese buildings rarely have thermal insulation. They require, on average, twice as much energy to heat and cool as those in similar climates in the United States and Europe, according to the World Bank. A vast majority of new buildings — 95 percent, the bank says — do not meet China’s own codes for energy efficiency.

All these new buildings require China to build power plants, which it has been doing prodigiously. In 2005 alone, China added 66 gigawatts of electricity to its power grid, about as much power as Britain generates in a year. Last year, it added an additional 102 gigawatts, as much as France.

That increase has come almost entirely from small- and medium-size coal-fired power plants that were built quickly and inexpensively. Only a few of them use modern, combined-cycle turbines, which increase efficiency, said Noureddine Berrah, an energy expert at the World Bank. He said Beijing had so far declined to use the most advanced type of combined-cycle turbines despite having completed a successful pilot project nearly a decade ago.

While over the long term, combined-cycle plants save money and reduce pollution, Mr. Berrah said, they cost more and take longer to build. For that reason, he said, central and provincial government officials prefer older technology.

“China is making decisions today that will affect its energy use for the next 30 or 40 years,” he said. “Unfortunately, in some parts of the government the thinking is much more shortsighted.”

The Politics of Pollution

Since Hu Jintao became the Communist Party chief in 2002 and Wen Jiabao became prime minister the next spring, China’s leadership has struck consistent themes. The economy must grow at a more sustainable, less bubbly pace. Environmental abuse has reached intolerable levels. Officials who ignore these principles will be called to account.

Five years later, it seems clear that these senior leaders are either too timid to enforce their orders, or the fast-growth political culture they preside over is too entrenched to heed them.

In the second quarter of this year, the economy expanded at a neck-snapping pace of 11.9 percent, its fastest in a decade. State-driven investment projects, state-backed heavy industry and a thriving export sector led the way. China burned 18 percent more coal than it did the year before.

China’s authoritarian system has repeatedly proved its ability to suppress political threats to Communist Party rule. But its failure to realize its avowed goals of balancing economic growth and environmental protection is a sign that the country’s environmental problems are at least partly systemic, many experts and some government officials say. China cannot go green, in other words, without political change.

In their efforts to free China of its socialist shackles in the 1980s and early 90s, Deng and his supporters gave lower-level officials the leeway, and the obligation, to increase economic growth.

Local party bosses gained broad powers over state bank lending, taxes, regulation and land use. In return, the party leadership graded them, first and foremost, on how much they expanded the economy in their domains.

To judge by its original goals — stimulating the economy, creating jobs and keeping the Communist Party in power — the system Deng put in place has few equals. But his approach eroded Beijing’s ability to fine-tune the economy. Today, a culture of collusion between government and business has made all but the most pro-growth government policies hard to enforce.

“The main reason behind the continued deterioration of the environment is a mistaken view of what counts as political achievement,” said Pan Yue, the deputy minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration. “The crazy expansion of high-polluting, high-energy industries has spawned special interests. Protected by local governments, some businesses treat the natural resources that belong to all the people as their own private property.”

Mr. Hu has tried to change the system. In an internal address in 2004, he endorsed “comprehensive environmental and economic accounting” — otherwise known as “Green G.D.P.” He said the “pioneering endeavor” would produce a new performance test for government and party officials that better reflected the leadership’s environmental priorities.

The Green G.D.P. team sought to calculate the yearly damage to the environment and human health in each province. Their first report, released last year, estimated that pollution in 2004 cost just over 3 percent of the gross domestic product, meaning that the pollution-adjusted growth rate that year would drop to about 7 percent from 10 percent. Officials said at the time that their formula used low estimates of environmental damage to health and did not assess the impact on China’s ecology. They would produce a more decisive formula, they said, the next year.

That did not happen. Mr. Hu’s plan died amid intense squabbling, people involved in the effort said. The Green G.D.P. group’s second report, originally scheduled for release in March, never materialized.

The official explanation was that the science behind the green index was immature. Wang Jinnan, the leading academic researcher on the Green G.D.P. team, said provincial leaders killed the project. “Officials do not like to be lined up and told how they are not meeting the leadership’s goals,” he said. “They found it difficult to accept this.”

Conflicting Pressures

Despite the demise of Green G.D.P., party leaders insist that they intend to restrain runaway energy use and emissions. The government last year mandated that the country use 20 percent less energy to achieve the same level of economic activity in 2010 compared with 2005. It also required that total emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants decline by 10 percent in the same period.

The program is a domestic imperative. But it has also become China’s main response to growing international pressure to combat global warming. Chinese leaders reject mandatory emissions caps, and they say the energy efficiency plan will slow growth in carbon dioxide emissions.

Even with the heavy pressure, though, the efficiency goals have been hard to achieve. In the first full year since the targets were set, emissions increased. Energy use for every dollar of economic output fell but by much less than the 4 percent interim goal.

In a public relations sense, the party’s commitment to conservation seems steadfast. Mr. Hu shunned his usual coat and tie at a meeting of the Central Committee this summer. State news media said the temperature in the Great Hall of the People was set at a balmy 79 degrees Fahrenheit to save energy, and officials have encouraged others to set thermostats at the same level.

By other measures, though, the leadership has moved slowly to address environmental and energy concerns.

The government rarely uses market-oriented incentives to reduce pollution. Officials have rejected proposals to introduce surcharges on electricity and coal to reflect the true cost to the environment. The state still controls the price of fuel oil, including gasoline, subsidizing the cost of driving.

Energy and environmental officials have little influence in the bureaucracy. The environmental agency still has only about 200 full-time employees, compared with 18,000 at the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States.

China has no Energy Ministry. The Energy Bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s central planning agency, has 100 full-time staff members. The Energy Department of the United States has 110,000 employees.

China does have an army of amateur regulators. Environmentalists expose pollution and press local government officials to enforce environmental laws. But private individuals and nongovernment organizations cannot cross the line between advocacy and political agitation without risking arrest.

At least two leading environmental organizers have been prosecuted in recent weeks, and several others have received sharp warnings to tone down their criticism of local officials. One reason the authorities have cited: the need for social stability before the 2008 Olympics, once viewed as an opportunity for China to improve the environment.

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SustainabiliTank: The US, the former prime country when it came to investments overseas, has now to watch how China has learned to do similar things that in the end, like the investments from the US, end up causing UNSUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. As an example we pick the New York Times well documented case of China-in-Zambia.

China has plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Zambia and will become an important economic partner of Zambia.
China will develop and lift the production of primary materials in Zambia, and export to Zambia cheap ready made products – now some in Zambia will hail this as a resulting increase in the standard of living. The Zambians will grow the cotton and will be able to buy cheap jeans. Really – no different from what the British did in the old days in Sudan or India.

The New York Times writes: “China’s investment in Africa comes with a price” and shows us a set of 10 photos taken in Kabwe, Zambia. We see factories that once processed traditional-patterned cloth that have been shut down as more affordable goods have flooded the market. The Mulugushi Textile Factory was set up to provide local jobs in Kabwe, but now it is closed. Some of the people have found jobs in providing the commodities for export to China. We wonder if this is really what the NYT found here to criticize – but we feel compelled to think about the search and lifting of oil and minerals. We have difficulty here seeing what the Chinese are doing in Zambia more shocking then what the Americans and the British have done in Nigeria.

Further – the Sunday New York Times takes us to the Beijing Olympics. One could actually think that the Olympics’ Committee has voted to hold the 2008 games in Beijing, in full knowledge of the miserable air quality of a city situated in between the sand storms coming from the desert, and the carbon particles spewed out from power plants, motor vehicles, and just any use of coal as an energy carrier. The air in Beijing, because of the proximity to the desert, like the air in Ber Sheba, Israel, was bad, on some days, even before the introduction of modern industrialization. Would it be sacrilegious to say that putting the Olympics in Beijing was for the purpose of having an international handle over China?

The President of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Jacques Rogg, declared now, according to the Sunday NYT, that “Beijing Air Raises Questions For Olympics.”

Beijing Air Raises Questions for Olympics

Adrian Bradshaw/European Pressphoto Agency

Smog and traffic returned to Beijing after a four-day experiment to reduce congestion.

Published: August 26, 2007
OSAKA, Japan, Aug. 25 — With temperatures rising into the low 90s and with the humidity closing in on 90 percent Saturday, some marathoners could not bear it at the track and field world championships.

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Luca Bruno/Associated Press

The marathoner Deena Kastor said she was confident that China would control pollution.

They staggered and collapsed. They were taken away on stretchers, soaked in sweat that had no chance of cooling them. Others simply stopped running, as their bodies failed to cope with the weather. Of the 85 runners who started, about a third failed to finish behind Luke Kibet of Kenya, who won in 2 hours 15 minutes 59 seconds.

"For me, it was the hardest race of my life because the condition is no good," said José Manuel Martínez of Spain, the 10th-place finisher, standing a few feet from where another competitor toppled over without warning. "I hope the Olympics will be better. If Beijing is going to be anything like this, I don't know what we will do."

At next year's Olympics in Beijing, if pollution levels in that city are not abated to limits acceptable for the athletes, experts say, conditions for the marathon and other endurance events will be much worse than they were here Saturday.

In a visit to China this month, Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said some Beijing Olympic events might be postponed if the pollution would put the athletes at risk.

Although Rogge was not panicking over the environmental issue, saying last week that he was "very confident" China would clean up Beijing, his suggestion to juggle the dates and the locations caused a stir. Some athletes and coaches said that moving those events, particularly at the last minute, could be a disaster.

"The Olympics should have a fixed time and place because the athletes and coaches train very specifically for the day and the course," said Yilma Berta, Ethiopia's national marathon coach. "If the race is changed, then we may travel to the site too early, and then we are not having the proper training for the days before the race. It would be a very, very big problem for us."

Some sports federations, like those of the United States, Australia and Britain, have decided to house some of their athletes away from Beijing until right before the competitions so they will not be exposed to poor air. That strategy has been used before.

For the 2004 Games, Deena Kastor stayed on the island of Crete with the United States team until two days before the Olympic marathon because of pollution concerns in Athens. It made all the difference, she said, because an athlete is so sensitive to change that even the smallest amount of pollutants has the potential to affect breathing.

"It's strange that we can be such powerful athletes, but be so fragile at the same time," said Kastor, who won a bronze medal in 2004. "I think we are, in every sense of the word, fine-tuned. We know if our food is too salty. We know if our bed is too stiff. We know if the turns of a track are too tight because it might lead to us pulling a tendon in our ankle. If it's something as big as pollution, I think that would definitely affect us pretty drastically."

When Kastor runs in air that is less than clean, she said, she immediately feels it. Her chest tightens, resulting in an inability to breathe deeply enough to get oxygen to her muscles. She also blows her nose often, as if she had a bad head cold.

Although she said she was convinced that Beijing will be ready for the Games, Kastor was still planning to take precautions against any possible pollution. She said she would travel to the event from an outside location, and even wear a surgical mask around town, if necessary.

"I could get one that matched my uniform," she joked.

The air quality in Beijing poses a triple risk to endurance athletes like marathoners, cyclists and triathletes who spend a prolonged time outdoors. In addition to the high heat and humidity that plagued the marathon in Osaka on Saturday, particulates, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide in the air can trigger exercise-induced asthma attacks in athletes who never had them.

It is also possible that athletes could have allergic reactions to specific pollutants, causing their air passages to become irritated and constricted.

But treating asthma or allergies can be a problem at the Olympics because some medications contain banned substances. To use inhalers legally, athletes must be evaluated by medical experts to document that they have asthma, said Dr. Juan Manuel Alonso, the head of the International Association of Athletics Federations' medical and antidoping committee.

"Those tests usually take some time, so if the situation happened all of a sudden in Beijing, it would be difficult to evaluate whether they really have exercise-induced asthma," Alonso said. "At the site, we would have to be prepared to test anyone at any time. It may be possible to obtain a temporary exemption, in an emergency."

Alonso said the track federation would receive a report in one or two months from the Beijing Olympic organizing committee with details on the city's pollution problem. Outside professionals will be called in to determine if the air-quality standards are good enough, he said.

That report will use data from this month, when city officials experimented with traffic restrictions, which kept about one million cars off the road each day but still left a haze over Beijing.

"In my opinion as a medical doctor, the sports authorities have to be more sensitive to the medical issues of athletes when they evaluate a location for the Olympics or world championships," Alonso said. "It's not a second priority. They should ask for medical opinions before they choose anything."

But now that it is too late, some sports federations are trying to figure out ways to overcome the air quality problem.

David Martin, an exercise physiologist with USA Track and Field, said he and Randy Wilber, an exercise physiologist with the United States Olympic Committee, tested the use of face masks during practices at the world junior track and field championships last year in Beijing.

Ideally, the masks would filter out harmful air particles, yet still allow the athletes to perform at maximum speed. They did not work as hoped, Martin said. Although the masks kept out particles like soot, they failed to allow the athletes to breathe naturally. But the research continues in an effort to find a mask that will be effective.

"Even if you have a healthy set of lungs," said Martin, who specializes in research on the marathon, "you still might be sensitive to foreign substances in the air, so we are trying to cope with a very serious issue."

He added: "The better choice right now is to just eliminate the pollution. I think the Chinese will do that because they have to do that. It would be embarrassing if they had a massive boycott because the athletes did not want to compete in those conditions. It would be embarrassing if they had dozens of athletes having asthma attacks or competing with face masks. China just doesn't want that as their legacy."

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