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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of fifteen countries, founded in 1975. Its mission is to promote economic integration in “all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions, social and cultural matters”

Barely finished with its 40th birtday, IIASA together with Vienna based UNIDO and GFSE (Global Forum on Sustainable Energy) these institutions will have people travel t0 Accra, Ghana in order to team up with ECOWAS in order to launch the SE4All project that is spearheaded for the UN by Mr. Yumkella – the Director of UNIDO.

This summer we received the following:

It said – Before the Austrian summer is over I would like to inform you about recent developments and major up-coming events –

  • The GFSE continues to support the UN-SG’s Initiative “Sustainable Energy for All” ad has entered a commitment at www.sustainableenergyforall.org
  • One important way of making good on this commitment will be the ECOWAS High Level Forum “Towards Sustainable Energy For All in West Africa”,
    29 – 31 October in Accra, Ghana
    . GFSE partners with ECREEE (the Ecowas Centre on Rnewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and UNIDO to launch the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative in the ECOWAS region and establish an implementation framework for the ECOWAS region. The HLF will see the adoption by ECOWAS Energy Ministers of the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy and its corresponding Action Plan; adopt the ECOWAS Small Scale Hydro Power Program; present ECOWAS energy efficiency initiatives on standards and labeling, lighting, electricity distribution, financing and report on the progress of the GEF-UNIDO Strategic Program for West Africa (SPWA) and launch the ECOWAS Observatory on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECOREX).
  • Upon the encouragement of Executive Secretary Christine Lins, GFSE will join the REN21 network in the rubric of CSO.
  • Building on the successful 2009 Vienna Energy Conference and the 2011 Vienna Energy Forum, GFSE will cooperate with Austrian and partners to organize the 2013 Vienna Energy Forum in late spring 2013. Announcements on the date and major thematic thrust will follow in early fall.

Many good wishes and best regards

Irene Giner-Reichl

President, GFSE


GFSE has entered a commitment to “Sustainable Energy For All”
The GFSE continues to support the UN-SG’s Initiative “Sustainable Energy for All” and has entered a commitment at www.sustainableenergyforall.org . The commitment is “to raise awareness for and commitment to SE4ALL in Austria, to lobby for an Austrian nation SE4ALL action plan, to foster partnerships around concrete implementation proposals and to liaise with international processes”.

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ECOWAS High Level Forum: “Towards Sustainable Energy for All in West Africa” 29 – 31 October 2012 , Accra
The ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the Global Forum for Sustainable Energy (GSFE), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) are jointly organizing a three-day High Level Forum “Towards Sustainable Energy for All in West Africa” from 29 to 31 of October 2012, in Accra, Ghana.

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SE4ALL press release: UN Secretary-General Announces Significant Commitments to Action in support of Achieving Sustainable Energy for All
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that more than one hundred commitments and actions have been already mobilized in support of his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, demonstrating powerful early momentum from governments, private sector companies and civil society organizations to achieve Sustainable Energy for All by 2030.

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Imprint:

Österreichische Energieagentur – Austrian Energy Agency
Mariahilferstraße 136
1150 Vienna
Phone: +43 1 586 15 24-0
Fax: +43 1 586 15 24-40
Internet: www.energyagency.at

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 www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/research…

29 October 2012 – 31 October 2012

The Accra International Conference Centre, Accra, Ghana

ECOWAS-GFSE-GEF-UNIDO High Level Energy Forum

The Energy Forum, organized jointly by ECOWAS, GFSE and UNIDO, will feature the Global Energy Assessment from the 29-31 October, 2012 in Accra, Ghana.


The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the Global Forum for Sustainable Energy (GSFE), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) are jointly organizing an ECOWAS-GFSE-UNIDO High Level Energy Forum on “Paving the Way for Sustainable Energy for All in West Africa through Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency” from the 29–31 October 2012, in Accra, Ghana. The event is hosted by the Government of Ghana.

The  High Level Energy Forum aims at the following objectives:

  1. launch the UN Sustainable Energy For All Initiative (SE4All) in the ECOWAS region and establish an implementation framework of for the ECOWAS region;
  2. adopt the ECOWAS Renewable Energy Policy and  its corresponding Action Plan by the ECOWAS Energy Ministers;
  3. adopt the ECOWAS Energy Efficiency Policy and its corresponding Action Plan by the ECOWAS Energy Ministers;
  4. adopt the ECOWAS Small Scale Hydro Power Program;
  5. present the ECOWAS energy efficiency initiatives on standards and labelling, lighting, electricity distribution, financing and efficient cooking; and
  6. report on the progress of theGEF-UNIDO Strategic Program for West Africa (SPWA)andlaunch the ECOWAS Observatory for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECOREX).

For further information and registration to the Forum, please visit the ECREEE website.

 www.ecowas.int/

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

NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED   May 26, 2009.


What Will Happen When the Baobab Goes Global?

By DAWN STARIN
Published: May 25, 2009

IT’s known as the baobab in English, sito in Mandinka, gwi in Wolof and Adansonia digitata in botanical circles. Sometimes it’s called the upside-down tree, because its weirdly shaped branches resemble roots. It was made famous in the West by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s fable “The Little Prince.”

26oped190v.jpg
Guido Scarabottolo

In Africa, the baobab tree is steeped in mystique and surrounded by superstition. Many people believe that its spirit protects the community around it, and its tangible properties certainly nourish those who live near it. Parts of the tree are used to make rope and fishing line; to feed goats, sheep and cows; and to provide shelter, food and medicine.

While living in Gambia I saw parts of the baobab used to treat everything from malarial fever, infertility and asthma to headaches and toothaches. I have no idea if and how these local remedies worked, but all of a sudden the rest of the world — Western health food companies included — is catching on. There’s a growing belief that the baobab may be the world’s newest super food.

The tree’s white, powdery fruit is rich in antioxidants, potassium and phosphorus, and has six times as much vitamin C as oranges and twice as much calcium as milk. The leaves are an excellent source of iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum and phosphorus, and the seeds are packed with protein.

The baobab was approved for European markets last year, and the Food and Drug Administration is expected to follow suit soon. The fruit’s dry pulp will be sold as an ingredient in smoothies and cereal bars. Already, a small jar of African baobab jam made in England sells for around $11. According to the Natural Resources Institute in Britain, an international baobab industry could bring in about $1 billion a year and provide jobs for 2.5 million African families. On paper this sounds great, but there’s another side to the picture.

The baobab has never been a plantation tree; it grows wild in arid regions. (It can also be found in Australia, but it thrives in few other places outside Africa.) Presently people harvest only what they need and maybe a bit more to sell at local markets. If it becomes an international commodity, the baobab probably would need to be planted as a crop, even though arable soil is limited. The open land where local people now freely harvest wild baobab could be developed by agribusinesses into plantations, or else precious forests or farmland used to grow everyday staple crops could be turned over to the baobab export industry.

Although local people would probably find jobs on such farms, their ability to harvest or purchase the baobab themselves would be limited. They wouldn’t be able to pay as much as London dealers could. This means that some Africans could lose a source of household wealth, an important part of their diet and an essential pharmaceutical resource.

These possibilities — not to mention the threat of corruption, poor wages and genetic modification leading to a loss of the tree’s biodiversity — are not random predictions. Africa is no stranger to the overexploitation of its natural resources. But the solution isn’t necessarily to cut the baobab off from international markets. Regulations could be put in place to protect the tree, its environment and the people who depend on it — and still allow for profitable production.

The coffee trade provides a model. It’s clear that many consumers are willing to pay more for fairly traded coffee — which costs enough to provide the growers a decent wage for their labor. This bottom-up pricing should be applied to the baobab market, even if it means European health nuts have to pay a lot for their smoothies.

The baobab’s new popularity is exciting, but the European Union, the United States and African exporters should decide on regulations before the baobab is rushed to European and North American markets.

In Saint-Exupéry’s story, the planet the Little Prince lives on is too small to support the baobab. This is hardly our situation, but the Little Prince still has some useful advice for us: Taking care of your planet, he says, “is very tedious work, but very easy.”

Dawn Starin is an anthropologist.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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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