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Posted on on October 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

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
  • 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 . 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”.


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.


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.



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


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.


Posted on on July 12th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

We do find this to be an important event and wonder why it was being downplayed by its organizers who did not look much beyond the opening evening. Did the security demands overwhelm the organizers, or was there a lack of interest in what those games stood for in years past?

This was the 13th European Maccabiah (Jewish International Maccabi sports games) and it stretched over July 5-13, 2011. Whatever else you want to say about these games – you always have to come back to the fact that since 1932 – these 2011 competitions were the first time the games were held in Austria and are yet to be held in Germany. This fact was well covered in the run up to the games – in the Austrian papers of the July 2-3, 2011 weekend. Much was made of it that Austrian President  Heinz Fischer and Vienna’s Mayor Michael Haeupl will make welcome-presentations at the official opening that to be held in the public space behind the Vienna City-Hall (the Rathaus). The papers covered this as a political event – what it really was – with photos of political figures and religious leaders from among the Jewish Community of Vienna.  There was clearly a build-up to the event, but past this start there was hardly any mention of the games, in the following days. The games were presented as the Jewish Olympics and that was nearly accurate in terms of what these games stand for.

The Jews of Vienna numbered 190,000 before the Nazi takeover – today they number just 7,000 and the growing number is a cause of joy – but let us look at the sports side of the Vienna Jewish community/

Already in the 19th century, Jewish sports clubs were founded in Eastern and Central Europe. The first club was the Israelite Gymnastic Association Constantinople (today’s Istanbul)  That was with the “Israelitischer Turnverein Konstantinopel” founded in 1895 by Jews of German and Austrian extraction who had been rejected from participating in other social sport clubs of Istanbul. Two years later, haGibor was formed in Philipople, Bulgaria, and 1898 saw the founding of Bar Kochba in Berlin along with Vivó és Athletikai Club in Budapest.

Other clubs that followed were named after “Bar Kochba” or Hebrew names such as Hagibor.

In Vienna it was “Hakoah” which like “Hagibor” symbolized strength and heroism. One of the basic premises behind the founding of these clubs was pure Jewish Nationalism. The concept was that Jews were not only a religious entity, but also one based on a common historical and social background, having special cultural and psychological concepts that have been preserved to this day, resulting in a strong recognition of collective belonging. This was Jewish Nationalism within the context of the emerging Nation-States of Europe.

In 1906, the first Jewish Gymnastics club was formed in Palestine. Clubs later would spring up in different cities. By 1912, all of them joined the Maccabi Federation of Israel. That same year, the first relations were established between them and their European counterparts, when a decision was taken at the Maccabi Conference in Berlin to begin group trips to Palestine – the eventual National homeland of the Jews.

The Maccabi World Union was created at the 12th  World Jewish Congress in Karlovy Vary, Czechoslovakia in 1921. It was then decided by the secretariat of Jewish sport leaders to form one umbrella organization for all Jewish Sports associations. Its aims were defined as working to “foster physical education, belief in Jewish heritage and the Jewish nation, and to work actively for the rebuilding of our own country and for the preservation of our people.”  In 1960, the International Olympic Committee officially recognized the Maccabi World Union as an “Organization of Olympic Standing.” Today its headquarters are in the Maccabiah Village, Ramath Gan, Israel.

Maccabi was thus created as a sports movement of an Israeli secular Nation in the process of rebuilding themselves – in the process they were also for rights in the countries they were living in, and proposed to show that Jews are  capable of success in physical things – not just spiritual, science,  business, and the arts. After the creation of the State of Israel, the Maccabi World Union became another network of the worl’s Jewry – linking between the countries of their residence and the State of Israel.

The First Maccabiah, or Jewish Olympics, took place already in 1932 in Tel Aviv – then there was a hiatus until after the war and the creation of the State; only 30 years later, in 1952,  a system, like in the Olympics, was established so that since then there is held in Tel Aviv a Maccabiah every four years. This allowed European Jewry to claim, since 1959, a spot for themselves in the middle second year. Eventually six confederations were created: Maccabi Israel, the European Maccabi confederation, the confederation Maccabi North America, the confederation Maccabi Latin America, Maccabi South Africa and Maccabi Australia.  This year,  December 26, 20111 – January 2, 2012, there will be also a Maccabi competition in Sao Paulo for the Western Hemisphere Maccabi Confederations – The Pan American Maccabi Games. Other 2011 Maccabi games will be held in Israel (July 24 – August 5), Philadelphia, PA, USA (August 14 – 19), and Springfield MA, USA (also August 14-16).

We had in Vienna the 13th European Maccabi Games – Where does all this put Austria?

As we said Austria had its Hakoah clubs – first class sports clubs.

Two Austrian Zionists, influenced by Max Nordau‘s doctrine of “Muscular Judaism” founded the club in 1909 – they named the club “Hakoah” meaning “the strength.” In its first year, the club’s athletes competed in fencing, football, field hockey, track & field, wrestling and swimming.

Hakoah Vienna was one of the first football teams to market themselves globally by traveling frequently where they would attract thousands of Jewish fans to their matches against local teams in cities such as London and New York. Support for Hakoah spread around Europe rapidly as Jews as far as Russia and the United States avidly supported Hakoah Vienna who took advantage of such support by setting up very successful tours and friendlies.

Hakoah soccer finished second in the Austrian league in 1922. On the team’s trip to London in 1923, they managed to defeat West Ham United Hakoah became the first continental club to defeat an English team in England.

In a dramatic game of the 1924–25 season, Hakoah’s Hungarian-born goalkeeper Alexander Fabian broke his arm. The rules at the time did not allow substitutions so Fabian put his arm in a sling and switched positions with a forward. Seven minutes later Fabian scored the winning goal, clinching Hakoah’s league championship.

In 1926, the team conducted a highly successful tour of the United States. Their game at New York City’s Polo Groundsattracted 46,000 spectators, a record at the time. Many of the team’s players, impressed by the relative lack of anti-Semitsm they found, decided to stay in the United States, accepting offers to play for American clubs. Several of these players formed a club called New York Hakoah which won the U.S. Open Cup in 1929. A few players emigrated to Palestine and founded Hakoah Tel Aviv football club there. The loss of so many talented players effectively put an end to the Austrian football team’s competitiveness.

Please remember here that Austria famous Jewish football star – one of the most famous Austrian stars ever – Matthias Sindelar – who plaid for Austria Wien and was the legendary captain of the National team – was found on January 29, 1939 murdered on the Annagasse in Vienna.

After the Anschluss of 1938, the German Football Association  banned HAKOAH and nullified their games. Their stadium was appropriated and given to the Nazi Party. Here another example how Nazi Austria shot at itself – not just at its Jews. In 1945 the club was founded again and exists today as a shadow of its old glory. Just a few years ago, Austria returned the Hakoah Stadium to the Jewish Community – I understand that they had to pay for it.  A football team was created and it plays in Austria’s minor leagues (2nd or 3rd class) under the name SC Maccabi Wien. The club opened its new home on 11 March 2008.

The Hakoah success extended beyond  football. Hakoah had highly successful sections in wrestling, fencing, water polo, and swimming among other sports. At its pre-war peak, the club had over 5000 members.

Why is all this so important? This because 1938 – 2011 was rather a Maccabi-less time for Austria. After the war the Jewish community started to rebuild and would have wanted to show off by hosting the European Maccabi games. But this did not succeed until now – lots of people were not ready yet to attempt a closing of the books on the years of unforgivable misery imposed on the Jews by Austria’s Nazis.

That is why we say these games were so important to the Austria of 2011 – even if there was not enough interest in the results in the actual games.

But was there real interest in the political side? No doubt that the highest officials of the State of Austria showed high personal interest in Austria hosting this event, but why was it not possible to get out from their offices texts of their welcome words, neither were there press releases. The event just did not get the full circulation it deserved – it was a coming out party for a new Austria – not really for its Jews. With some 4000 participants in town, this Maccabiah was also a business event even if the sports were not pushed by the community leaders and not covered by the sports press.

The competitors in these games came from 37 countries – from all continents and included also one delegation from Africa – from Guinea Bissau. The US team included two 80-year-old men who escaped Vienna as children in 1938 and came to the games to compete as swimmers. They had learned to swim at Hakoah Vienna. They were not the oldest competitors – that honor went to the 88 year young Bernard Teltscher from the UK, who with his wife Kitty got to fifth place in the Bridge game competition.

The sport disciplines of these games were: Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Bridge, Chess (star Yehudith  Polgar from Hungary was here), Fencing, Field Hockey, Football (Soccer), Futsal (Indoor Mini Football – I met a team from the Russian Republic of Birobidjan), Golf, Judo, Karate, Squash, Swimming, T.P. Bowling (I met a delegation from Long Island, New York), Table Tennis, Target Shooting, Tennis and Volleyball.

The event ended Tuesday July 12th at night with a party at the  Pyramid in Vösendorf, where  everybody – athletes, friends, families and fans – were invited for a last farewell.  Entertainment was from Israel.

The opening ceremony speakers honored the victims of the Shoah, and the ending ceremony expressed the feeling that the holding of the games in the Vienna that was home to Hitler was testimony to Jewish survival.

The main papers of Vienna, Wednesday July 13, 2011, had the following to say:

Just one more comment that shows Holocaust education is still not deep enough in Austria – there is a need to point out more the positive side of the Jews as contributors in the history of Austria – not just the inhumanity of the Nazi era. This was pointed out to me by Ms. Hannah Lessing, She has been responsible for the administrative and organizational management of the official National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism since 1995 and of the General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism since May 2001.
She is a permanent member of the “Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research” (ITF).  She competed for Austria in lady’s golf and was written up in a pre-Maccabi-games article. The journalist wrote she was wearing a “Jew’s Star” – the derogatory term the Nazis used for the patch they made Jews to put on. But Ms. Lessing wore on her neckless chain a “Star of David”, which though having also six points, it nevertheless points at a totally different direction – to the Jewish glorious past – like the star used by the Maccabi organization itself. If you wish – Jews wear it around their neck like proud Christians wear the cross. Now – that is the deep difference in perception that still has to be overcome today even by some Austrian intellectuals.


Posted on on November 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

We’ve been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened

The so-called summit in Japan won’t stop anyone trashing the planet. Only economic risks seem to make governments act.

by George Monbiot
, Monday 1 November 2010

    ‘Countries join forces to save life on Earth”, the front page of the Independent told us. “Historic”, “a landmark”, a “much-needed morale booster”, the other papers chorused. The declaration agreed last week at the summit in Japan to protect the world’s wild species and places was proclaimed by almost everyone a great success. There is one problem: none of the journalists who made these claims has seen it.

    I checked with as many of them as I could reach by phone: all they had read was a press release which, though three pages long, is almost content-free. The reporters can’t be blamed for this – it was approved on Friday but the declaration has still not been published. I’ve pursued people on three continents to try to obtain it, without success. Having secured the headlines it wanted, the entire senior staff of the convention on biological diversity has gone to ground, and my calls and emails remain unanswered. The British government, which lavishly praised the declaration, tells me it has no printed copies. I’ve never seen this situation before. Every other international agreement I’ve followed was published as soon as it was approved.

    The evidence suggests that we’ve been conned. The draft agreement, published a month ago, contained no binding obligations. Nothing I’ve heard from Japan suggests that this has changed. The draft saw the targets for 2020 that governments were asked to adopt as nothing more than “aspirations for achievement at the global level” and a “flexible framework”, within which countries can do as they wish. No government, if the draft has been approved, is obliged to change its policies.

    In 2002 the signatories to the convention agreed something similar, a splendid-sounding declaration that imposed no legal commitments. They announced they would “achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss”. Mission accomplished, the press proclaimed, and everyone went home to congratulate themselves. Earlier this year the UN admitted the 2002 agreement was fruitless: “The pressures on biodiversity remain constant or increase in intensity.”

    Even the cheery press release suggests all was not well. The meeting in Japan was supposed to be a summit, bringing together heads of government or state. ————-.  It mustered five: the release boasts of corralling the president of Gabon, the president of Guinea-Bissau, the prime minister of Yemen and Prince Albert of Monaco. (It fails to identify the fifth country – Liechtenstein? Pimlico?) A third of the countries represented couldn’t even be bothered to send a minister. This is how much they value the world’s living systems.

    It strikes me that governments are determined to protect not the marvels of our world but the world-eating system to which they are being sacrificed; not life, but the ephemeral junk with which it is being replaced. They fight viciously and at the highest level for the right to turn rainforests into pulp, or marine ecosystems into fishmeal. Then they send a middle-ranking civil servant to approve a meaningless and so far unwritten promise to protect the natural world.

    Japan was praised for its slick management of the meeting, but still insists on completing its mission to turn the last bluefin tuna into fancy fast food. Russia signed a new agreement in September to protect its tigers (the world’s largest remaining population), but an unrepealed law in effect renders poachers immune from prosecution, even when they’re caught with a gun and a dead tiger. The US, despite proclaiming a new commitment to multilateralism, refuses to ratify the convention on biological diversity.

    It suits governments to let us trash the planet. It’s not just that big business gains more than it loses from converting natural wealth into money. A continued expansion into the biosphere permits states to avoid addressing issues of distribution and social justice: the promise of perpetual growth dulls our anger about widening inequality. By trampling over nature we avoid treading on the toes of the powerful.

    A massive accounting exercise, whose results were presented at the meeting in Japan, has sought to change this calculation. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) attempts to price the ecosystems we are destroying. It shows that the economic benefit of protecting habitats and species often greatly outweighs the money to be made by trashing them. A study in Thailand, for instance, suggests that turning a hectare of mangrove forest into shrimp farms makes $1,220 a year but inflicts $12,400 of damage every year on local livelihoods, fisheries and coastal protection. The catchment protected by one nature reserve in New Zealand saves local people NZ$136m a year in water bills. Three quarters of the US haddock catch now comes from within 5km of a marine reserve off the New England coast: by protecting the ecosystem, the reserve has boosted the value of the fishery.

    I understand why this approach is felt to be necessary. I understand that if something can’t be measured, governments and businesses don’t value it. I accept TEEB’s reasoning that the rural poor, many of whom survive exclusively on what the ecosystem has to offer, are treated harshly by an economic system which doesn’t recognise its value. Even so, this exercise disturbs me.

    As soon as something is measurable it becomes negotiable. Subject the natural world to cost-benefit analysis and accountants and statisticians will decide which parts of it we can do without. All that now needs to be done to demonstrate that an ecosystem can be junked is to show that the money to be made from trashing it exceeds the money to be made from preserving it. That, in the weird world of environmental economics, isn’t hard: ask the right statistician and he’ll give you any number you want.

    This approach reduces the biosphere to a subsidiary of the economy. In reality it’s the other way round. The economy, like all other human affairs, hangs from the world’s living systems. You can see this diminution in the language TEEB reports use: they talk of “natural capital stock”, of “underperforming natural assets” and “ecosystem services”. Nature is turned into a business plan, and we are reduced to its customers. The market now owns the world.

    But I also recognise this: that if governments had met in Japan to try to save the banks, or the airline companies, they would have sent more senior representatives, their task would have seemed more urgent, and every dot and comma of their agreement would have been checked by hungry journalists.

    When they meet to consider the gradual collapse of the natural world they send their office cleaners and defer the hard choices for another 10 years, while the media doesn’t even notice they have failed to produce a written agreement. So, much as I’m revolted by the way in which nature is being squeezed into a column of figures in an accountant’s ledger, I am forced to agree that it may be necessary. What else will induce the blinkered, frightened people who hold power today to take the issue seriously?

    • A fully referenced version of this article is available on

    also –


Posted on on October 19th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

OCTOBER 19, 2007, A report by the International Action Network on Small Arms, Saferworld, and Oxfam International, states that Armed Conflict Costs Africa $18 Billion Each Year.
Between 1990 and 2005, 23 African nations have been involved in armed conflict. The list includes Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda.
During the past 15 years, almost $300 billion has been squandered on armed conflict in Africa, capital that could have been used to lift the continent out of extreme poverty and to prevent continued disease epidemics, a new study revealed.

The estimated $18 billion per year “is a massive waste of resources—roughly equivalent to total international aid to Africa from major donors during the same period. It is also roughly equivalent to the additional funds estimated to be necessary to address the problems of HIV and AIDS in Africa, or to address Africa’s needs in education, clean water and sanitation,” the report stated.

In effect, 38% of the world’s armed confrontations take place on African soil.

In addition, the report highlighted that “the average annual loss of 15 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) represents an enormous economic burden—this is one and a half times average African spending on health and education combined.” “This is money Africa can ill afford to lose,” Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf stated in the introduction of the report.

“The sums are appalling; the price that Africa is paying could cover the cost of solving the HIV and AIDS crisis in Africa, or provide education, water and prevention and treatment for TB and malaria. Literally thousands of hospitals, schools, and roads could have been built, positively affecting millions of people. Not only do the people of Africa suffer the physical horrors of violence, armed conflict undermines their efforts to escape poverty.”

President Johnson-Sirleaf understands the huge loss it represents for the continent, including her own country. Since 1991, Liberia has been one of the African nations that has been the target of armed combat and widespread civil strife. Although conditions for peace in the country were established in 2003 after President Charles Taylor left office, Liberia continues to experience political and economic perils, including the challenge of accommodating thousands of Liberian refugees who have returned to their homeland since the war ended.

However, it is not only robbed human lives and financial resources stolen in conflict that continue to cause the most damage to the continent, but the intangible daily mental and physical effects felt by the people themselves—and in some cases, other nations around them not directly involved in the conflict itself.

According to the report, African countries involved in conflict have, on average, “50 per cent more infant deaths, 15 percent more undernourished people, life expectancy reduced by five years, 20 percent more adult illiteracy, 2.5 times fewer doctors per patient, and 12.4 per cent less food per person.”

In the report, experts conclude that the majority of the problem lies in poor regulation of arms movement across borders—approximately “95 per cent of Africa’s most commonly used conflict weapons come from outside the continent.” These include the Kalashnikov assault rifle, more commonly known as the AK-47.

Also of primary concern is the tendency for regionalized conflicts to be magnified into international ones. According to the report, the situation in Darfur has already “drawn in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic,” and other clashes in the area have caused similar situations.

Additionally, the economies of countries in armed skirmishes become intertwined. “In 2002, when fighting in Cote d’Ivoire made access to the key Ivorian seaport of Abidjan virtually impossible, foreign trade was disrupted in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger,” the report stated. And in Somaliland and Mozambique, “informal economies that provided a basic means of survival in wartime have been partly responsible for the collapse of formal rural market networks and have been an obstacle to post-conflict resolution,” the report said.


Source: MCT