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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Dr. Josef Ostermayer is Chancellery Minister, in Chancellor Faymann’s office, since December 16, 2013, but also Federal Minister for Arts and Culture, Constitution, and Media and thus the face of Austria on many issues – he perhaps is now the third most important person in government.

From 2008 to 2013 Josef Ostermayer had been active as State Secretary for Media and Coordination at the Federal Chancellery. Prior to taking over his new position, he was Head of Office at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT).

Now he speaks for the government on such touchy topics like the upcoming Islamic Law – the Austrian Law that will not allow outside funding of Islamic cultural activities in Austria. The law will close at the end of this school year a Saudi funded school in Vienna that was found using school-books defaming Jews and generally advocating disorder. Ostermayer announced today that the spokesman for the Islamic Community of Austria (the IGGiOE) will not have the Veto right on these issues that Sunni Muslim Mr. Fuat Senac seems to claim for himself. Besides, he is not backed by Austria’s Shiite Muslims as well.

We had the honor of attending this week two events where Minister Ostermayer announced the year-end government funding forward- looking cultural programs.

Oh well, there will always be those that will criticize expenditures without having the vision of the important positive aspects of there expenditures.

The two events weres

A. Monday December 22, 2014 at the Federal Chancellery at Ballhausplatz 2, 1010 Wien, in the Kongressaal (the Congress Hall),
an announcement about “THE NEW VIENNA CONGRESS.”

B. Tuesday December 23, 2014 at the Museum of Natural History, at Maria-Teresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, in the new Mammuth Hall,
“Plans for the Museum of Natural History for the years 2015-2020.”

I will start from the latter.

The Museum is in one of two Symmetric old buildings situated on the sides of Empress Maria-Theresa Monument with the modern Art Culture Complex on one side, and the old Imperial Palace on the other side. The symmetric building is the Museum of Art History.

The collection was started 1750 by the husband of Maria-Theresa – Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine and the Natural Museum founded in 1889 is today one of the richest in exhibits in the World with 30 million objects and 750,000 visitors per year, but the Mammuth Hall exhibit, recently established with Russian help, to be shown until March 2, 2015, includes Copies of Siberian findings, is too new to be mentioned in the floor plan – but figures on this year’s Christmas Card of the Museum. In the list of future events I found of interest the lecture to be given January 14, 6:30 PM by Ursula B. Goerlich on “Mammuth, Man, and Permafrost.”

The Minister explained the programs the museum plans for 2015 and then announced that considering the 125th anniversary since the museum was established, there will be a new digital planetarium and there is going to be funding of research and cooperation with other institutions on Planetary-, Bio-, and Human-, Science. Further, Directors from the Museum told us that further finances will come from the Mellon Foundation of the US, and the fact that halls of the second floor will be turned into further research areas for the use of local and foreign young people, with equipment to be acquired for these activities under a five year plan. The Vienna University will be involved in this as well – “and we are proud of it.”

I chose to start with this activity first because it shows elements similar to what we consider a much deeper project regarding a Model for a “Vienna Congress II.” The common elements are in our opinion:

– involvement of the Chancellor and his office;
– Minister Ostermayer’s hands-on involvement;
– end of year budget outlays;
– cooperation with Russia;
– a role for the University of Vienna;
– accent on youth;
– an offer to work with other EU States.

VIENNA AT THE CENTER OF A EUROPEAN POLITICAL TENT:

Looking at – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congress_of… (map there) – The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries, but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other off and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use for republicanism or revolution. France lost all its recent conquests, while Prussia, Austria and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in the west and 40% of the Kingdom of Saxony; Austria gained Venice and much of northern Italy. Russia gained parts of Poland. The new kingdom of the Netherlands had been created just months before, and included formerly Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.

The Congress of Vienna, 1 November 1814- 8 June 1815
The system established in 1815 in Vienna lasted amazingly until 1814 – a neat 100 years.

By 1914 we saw the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires fall apart, a new Nationalism appeared and the new Colonial Empires started evolving economic power. Seemingly there was a need for a new rearrangement of power and like 100 years earlier it seemed that war was the way to achieve this. Just note – this is the half-time of the 200 years since The Vienna Congress.

This year – 2014 – we kept commemorating the 100 years since the eruption of WWI. In this scheme of things WWII was just a continuation of WWI as that war was not settled fully and an unhappy Germany with its Austrian sister having been left out of Colonial riches, wanted to see a global reset – and got it in 1945 though not according to their original intent.

Now, 2014, we have again a situation where some show unhappiness with their lot. Putin’s Russia, now a small economy, brings up memories of past physical greatness, Egypt – the natural hegemon of the Arab Muslim World is in trouble and what some thought mistakenly that it was going to be an Arab Spring, turned rather into a throw back to the dark ages of religious wars.
Then the US seems to want to wash its hands from the old allies and to reset for new ones – starting with those in East Asia and perhaps eventually Turkey and Iran. In this scenario it seems that the Russian-Ukrainian clash might lead to unexpected consequences and Austria that had heavily invested in Russia, would like to bring Russia back to the fold, and wishes to find a way to revive the spirit of the Vienna Congress of exactly 200 years ago.

Here comes the great idea that rather then calling for governments to send emissaries to Vienna for a renewed Congress, in this year of many other forward looking global events – like the Global Climate meetings and the effort on Sustainability aiming at the Global Environment and a Global Sustainable Economy based on a concept of Sustainable Energy for All that has its headquarters in Vienna, why not create a think-tank enclave of young people from Civil Society just for the European Space and ask them to figure out how their generation would like to live in harmony. The hope being that having this as an ongoing operation – an enclave of bright young people producing ideas and concepts with doable propositions – that will then be made public – and hopefully generate a movement that might then push governments to positive action.

So, on December 22, 2014, I found myself sitting in the hall where the 1814-1815 first enclave took place – the one that we call THE VIENNA CONGRESS. Minister Ostermayer, supported by Secretary of State in the Economy Ministry with oversight on Science, Technology, and Research Dr. Harald Mahrer  harald.mahrer at bmwfw.gv.at who is also President of the Julius Raab Foundation established to promote ideas that help maintain old values; Actor Harald Krassnitzer who is actively involved with Civil Society and was picked as a leader of this budding idea  www.moritzauer at aol.com he shuttles between Wuppertal (Germany) and Tirol (Mieming; and FASResearch Activist whose target is to reinvent media Dr. Harald Katzmair also picked for his involvement with civil Society  www.Harald.Katzmair at FAS.at .

Rather then summarizing what was said – I will try to present the event as it unfolded.

MINISTER OSTERMEYER: Chancellor Faymann and him discussed a year ago what to do about the anniversary of the Vienna Congress.
It was decided not to have just a commemoration but rather a look to the future. The challenge is how to bring young people from all over Europe committed to stay 30 days and discuss how they want to see their future evolve. They will have to come up with doable propositions. The event will happen in July 2015. Katzmair and Mahrer will present details. The concept was agreed also as part of the coalition negotiations – so it is bi-partisan or non-partisan so far as the government is concerned.

Mr. KRASSNITZER: The 1815 Congress was just an event but came up with 125 points that led to a revision of Europe under internationalism. It led to an order that exploded in 1914. So where is Europe now? Where does our travel go now? It is no more just National and European – it has become Global. This new century needs a new dialogue – we will have 150-160 young people plus from Russia and others. The outcomes will be presented to the European Parliament. A RELOADING – A RENAISSANCE – Culturally based.

Mr. KATZMAIR: We all have the feeling that Europe is stuck – and we must discuss the direction we want to develop.
It will be a rediscovery of what Europe was intended to be – not really just springing new ideas. This is how he sees it – but acknowledges that some might see this differently. The intent of this Congress will be – What tools exist for next generations to move on?
How do we get these 150 young people that will be able to discuss this – and in a short time come up with proposals for actions that are arrived at by consensus?

Mr. KRASSNITZER: There are other living platforms – like the Peace Platform for Europe, and we believe that the 21st Century will lead Europe to Free Life – like no need of Passports. The Peace Project needs to have present conflicts removed – those because of cultural differences that we forgot to deal with when dealing with the Economic Project.

Mr. KATZMAIR: We did not discuss the alternatives of how Europe should evolve. Alternatives are Democratization or re-Nationalism. He is President of a Communities Foundation (Gemeinde Stiftung) that is not a one-time thing – but a base for future follow-ups. He addresses the Minister that he hopes the Government will back this. So, what I heard here is that Mr. Katzmair is approaching the government to make clear that this exercise will have follow-ups.

MINISTER OF STATE MAHRER: This is what the Government wants – the establishing of a European model. That is why we invite people from the other Europe as well.

Why is Austria a base for such discussion? Good neighboring has to be our future.
The Government made available 300,000 Euro and an additional 300,000 Euro will come from the Private Sector.

Now for the Q & A time:

Q: How will you find the youth and what will be their age? Russia and others – very interesting. What about 40 year olds?
With 7 million unemployed – how do you bring this into your politics?

A. from Minister Ostermayer: There is a Youth Forum. On the Agenda of the youth is youth unemployment. There is a Peace Project, there is the issue of Travel Freedom – we really have no recipe book.

THE ACTION ITSELF WHEN TRIED IS ALREADY A CONTRIBUTION TO THE FUTURE OF EUROPE
– he said.
The 150 people will meet for 30 days here. We will then make sure they continue the story in their own countries.

Among the organizers of this election process will be:
– The Network of The European Youth Council,
– The Network of The Forum Alpbach,
– The help of Franz Vranitzky and the Yoyh-Karlprize Aachen social network
all these will be involved. We want most participants to be from Civil Society not to get a selection of Socialists and Christian Democrat networks. We prefer unaffiliated thinkers that were not yet indoctrinated by old ideas.

Where are we? What do we think? Three weeks of day and night of this is a first. Up to now such mind storms lasted only 3-4 days with maximum a 5th day thrown in.

The University of Vienna has its own Jubilee next year. With all this coming to Vienna next year – it is all very attractive.
We hope for a positive dialogue between the political and social platforms.

Q FROM A RUSSIAN JOURNALIST – It brought the following answer:

The age group – 18 to 28 and Russia is a very important part of this dialogue. WE ARE CONVINCED THAT EUROPE WITHOUT RUSSIA IS UNTHINKABLE. The extent of the Europe we envision includes eastwards Kazakhstan. So we have many cultures and there must be solutions to new conflicts.

The Location – A Schloss near Vienna was mentioned but I did not note it correctly and did not get yet to check on it.
the time is June-July 2015.

Q FROM AN AUSTRIAN JOURNALIST (I think from the Falter): What about the young people that were not born in Europe?
The strong influence from the Arab Space. Will such be invited as observers, but will those born in Europe be part of the discussion? It is not about language – it is about living together.

A. The people elected to be participants will include representatives of immigration.
Mr. Katzmair: The renaissance involved the Islamic Culture with the Greco-Roman Europe.
Minister Mahrer: There are hundreds of thousands young people social entrepreneurs in Europe.

Q. On the Islamic Law in Austria.

A. The Vienna Congress did forbid slavery and it talked of Human Rights. Yet now, 70 years since the end of WWII and the official end of Nazism, 60 years after the Austria State Treaty and we encounter negative attitudes. So, this is part of our trying to learn from history and see how the young look to the future. The young who not exactly remember the past.

There are four aspects to the Islamic Law Issue. These include the demand their communities to be run according to their own law and want the Islamic organization to be recognized as in charge of carrying them out. They want the creation of an Islamic religious faculty and want to be funded by interested outsiders.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Our original posting of February 20, 2013 is right here, but now we have also the moderator’s evaluation of the meeting he chaired.

David Ignatius is aware of all sort of misgivings regarding the organizers of the meeting and we can add that there was no interest in having media that you cannot control present at the event – so in effect the David Ignatius comments are the first material we got now to digest.

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

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Iran last week to show flexibility at this month’s talks between Tehran and six world powers aimed at defusing tensions over the Iranian nuclear program.

The five permanent U.N. Security Council members – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – and Germany will meet with Iran in Kazakhstan on February 26 for the latest round of talks in a 7-year-old attempt by the six powers to end the decade-long nuclear standoff with Tehran.

“We hope that Iran will come to this negotiation with flexibility and that we can make substantial progress,” Ashton told the 15-nation Security Council during a meeting on the United Nations’ cooperation with regional organizations.

“We’re engaging in intensive diplomatic efforts to seek a negotiated solution that meets the international community’s concern about the Iranian nuclear program,” she said.

Ashton has been taking part in and coordinating the so-called P5-plus-one group’s fitful negotiations with Iran.

The Islamic Republic has faced four rounds of U.N. sanctions and more draconian EU and U.S. sanctions due to its refusal to halt its enrichment program as demanded by the Security Council. Ashton said the EU was committed to continuing a dual-track strategy of combining pressure with dialogue.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is serious about those talks and expects the other side to be serious and forthcoming so that the next round of negotiations … in Kazakhstan would lead to positive and fruitful results,” an Iranian statement replied.

In his annual State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama said world powers were united in their desire to use diplomacy to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons, though he left a door open to non-diplomatic avenues like force.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said Iran was “counting on there being positive and constructive steps made to resolve this problem at the upcoming meeting.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that the six powers were ready to respond if Iran came to the talks prepared to discuss “real substance.”

The presumably future Head of the Pentagon, Chuck Hagel, is also known as ready to pursue an attempt at a  negotiation process with Iran.

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

Discussion
20 February 2013 – 5:00pm
Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Mohammad Khazaee joins former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering for a discussion moderated by award-winning journalist and author David Ignatius.

Since diplomatic relations were severed in 1980, the U.S.–Iran relationship has faced a towering legacy of mistrust, conflict, and missteps.

Hopes of breaking the decades-long impasse were raised four years ago when President Barack Obama offered Iran America’s hand of friendship if Tehran “unclenched its fist.”

In the interim, the United States has led the international community in putting in place the most comprehensive sanctions against Iran, while Iran has accelerated its nuclear program, bringing the long embattled relationship to the brink of conflict.

As the current confrontational course becomes increasingly dangerous, are the two nations on the road to war? Or is a political solution possible?


Iran’s highest-ranking official in the United States, Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee, joins former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering for a candid discussion on the future of U.S.-Iran relations, moderated by award-winning journalist and author David Ignatius.

SPEAKERS:

Mohammad Khazaee Mohammad Khazaee is Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations. From 2002 to 2007, he was Vice Minister for International Affairs and President of the Organization for Economic and Technical Assistance in Iran’s Ministry of Economic Affairs. Concurrently, he served as Governor of the OPEC Fund, Alternate Governor of the Islamic Development Bank, and a board member of the Iran-Misr (Iran-Egypt) Development Bank. Previously, he represented Iran at the World Bank (1988 to 2002) and served as a Member of Parliament (1981 to 1988).

Thomas R. Pickering In a diplomatic career with service in each of the major continents, Thomas R. Pickering reached the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service, retiring as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in 2000. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Jordan. He also was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in New York. Most recently, he was appointed by Secretary of State Clinton to lead the Accountability Review Board probing the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

David Ignatius David Ignatius (moderator) is an associate editor and award-winning columnist for The Washington Post. He is also creator and co-moderator of “PostGlobal,” an online conversation about international affairs at washingtonpost.com. He has written eight novels, including Body of Lies, which director Ridley Scott adapted into a film. He has received numerous honors, including the Legion of Honor from the French Republic, the Urbino World Press Award from the Italian Republic, and a lifetime achievement award from the International Committee for Foreign Journalism.

EVENT DETAILS:

4:30-5:00 pm: Registration
5:00-6:30 pm: Discussion

This program is part of Asia: Beyond the Headlines, a series of conversations with leading policy makers and thought leaders about the critical issues facing the United States and Asia.

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

Iran at the New York Asia Society – points from the pen of the Moderator David Ignatius.

On Iran, a deal only in principle

Posted by David Ignatius on February 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, took questions this week at an unusual forum hosted by the Asia Society. Critics argued that the forum was simply an opportunity for Iranian propaganda, but as moderator of the discussion, I thought it made an important, if somewhat discouraging, point: There isn’t yet sufficient trust on either side for a broad agreement.

The discussion took place a week before the next negotiating session between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations, scheduled for Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan. Khazaee’s stance might be described as forthrightly ambiguous. That is, he suggested a deal can be imagined in principle but cautioned that the environment isn’t conducive for making it happen in practice.

For example, when I asked whether Iran was ready to endorse a framework for resolving the nuclear issue that might involve caps on Iranian enrichment and export of existing stockpiles of enriched material, Khazaee answered “yes and no,” and then explained what he meant.

The “yes” part was that Iran was prepared to be flexible on such details as the level at which it enriched uranium and the size of the stockpile it maintained, so long as its basic right to enrichment was recognized. But the “no” involved the atmosphere in which such an agreement might be reached. “The point is … the mistrust that exists between the two countries. As soon as one side says something … [the other side] says there is a hidden agenda.”

Khazaee elaborated on a statement last week by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, that he won’t negotiate under pressure. The Iranian ambassador clarified that removal of sanctions wasn’t a precondition for negotiations and that there was no “red line” against diplomacy with the United States and the other P5+1 countries. But he insisted: “More pressure can only beget more distrust, leading Iran, in turn, to lose hope in a negotiated settlement.”

Thomas Pickering, a former senior U.S. diplomat who took part in the discussion, saw in Khazaee’s comments a positive sign that the supreme leader was still open to talks and prepared to be “reasonable,” as Khazaee quoted him saying. But Pickering argued that because of the deep suspicions on both sides, any U.S.-Iranian discussions should begin with “small steps” rather than a grand bargain.

It’s always useful when officials answer questions in a public forum, and I suspect that many in the audience came away encouraged that progress can be made in the negotiations. But Khazaee is a diplomat, and as his boss, the supreme leader, said bluntly in his statement last week: “I’m not a diplomat, I’m a revolutionary.”

The problem is that it’s hard to negotiate agreements with revolutionaries. That may be especially true if they feel there is a gun pointed at their head. A diplomat might compromise, but a revolutionary could well say: Go ahead, pull the trigger.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 31st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

UN Agencies, Russian Federation Hold Civic Forum for Sustainable Development.

The first Civic Forum for Sustainable Development addressed sustainable development issues in the Russian Federation and Central Asia, conserving natural resources for future generations while meeting the needs of the current generation, and the roles of business, civil society and government in sustainable development. The meeting was organized as a contribution to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) process.

The Forum, which took place on 25 May 2012, in Moscow, Russian Federation, was convened by the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), among other UN agencies. It brought together over 100 participants from civil society, business and government from seven countries.

Three reports were presented at the Forum: the Institute for Sustainable Development’s report “Towards a Green Economy in Russia;” the UN interagency report “From Transition to Transformation: Sustainable and Inclusive Development in Europe and Central Asia;” and UNEP’s Green Economy report. The two UN reports were formally launched in Russian at the Forum.

“Towards a Green Economy in Russia,” presented by Vladimir Zakharov, Institute for Sustainable Development, addresses sustainable development issues in Russia.

“From Transition to Transformation” examines challenges in former Soviet republics to integrate policy processes to achieve social equity, environmental protection and economic growth. It calls for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, investing in green jobs and health, and establishing social protection floors. [Publication: From Transition to Transformation: Sustainable and Inclusive Development in Europe and Central Asia] [Publication: Green Economy] [UNEP Press Release] [UNICEF Press Release]

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 8th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

With Turkey so much in the news – mainly in its attempt at becoming more Arab then the Arabs and reseting itself as the leader of the Middle East by picking up the cause of the Palestinians and doing everything possible in order to annoy the Israelis, here comes a very different set of news – Turkey has become the ultimate test case for Austria – sort of who is better suited to play in the European Soccer games championship. Austria needed a win in order to have a chance to survive – in effect a win by two goals – to be accurate. This in a group of States, in the Qualifying games – that included also Germany and Belgium, but also Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – call it a situation where three members of the EU had been accidentally paired with three Muslim countries on the outskirts of Europe.

The game was scheduled for September 6, 2011, 20:30 or 8:30 PM, at the largest stadium in Austria -that seats 53.000 people. The old, but rather newish looking Ernst Happel Stadium was built between 1929 and 1931 for the second Workers’ Olympiad to the design of German architect Otto Ernst Schweizer. It was called the Prater Stadion until 1992, sometimes also called Wiener Stadion. It is located in Leopoldstadt, the 2nd district of Vienna. The stadium was renamed in honor of Ernst Happel following his death in 1992. Ernst Franz Hermann Happel (29 November 1925 – 14 November 1992) was Austrian –  football-player and coach.

Ernst Happel is regarded as one of the most successful football team-managers ever, winning both league and domestic cup titles in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria as well as winning the European Cup twice, the first in 1970 and the second in1983, and a runners-up medal at the 1978 FIFA World Cup. He is the first of three managers to have won the European Cup with 2 different clubs, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Jose Mourinho being the other two. Austria is now desperately looking for a manager that could get close to Happel. These days Austria suffers from manager-collapse and it showed in the games.

I sensed that this will not be just a football game – it really had political implications – so I decided to attend in order to get a sniff at the atmosphere these days – how it is to be a Turkish guest-team in an Austria where there is a large Turkish minority that roots naturally for their country of origin, while pushing for their own position of new Austrians and for Turkey’s acceptance into the EU, while it is known that there is probably a majority in Austria that neither would like to see Turkey in the EU nor like the increase in immigration from Turkey to the EU – this latter being a basic cause for the slow progress in the steps the EU handles this Turkey problem.

I made my move too late – the Stadium was sold out but two well placed gentlemen that I happened to meet – Mr. Walter Weise, Manager of the Sport-facilities of the city of Vienna – that includes the management of the Stadium – and Mr. Peter Klinglmueller, the Head of all the Press and Public Relations of the Austrian Football Association (OEFB), to whom I was introduced by the first gentleman, extended a courtesy ticket to me when I managed to convince them that the evening has real value to me, though I am no professional football reporter.

I came to the Stadium about 6:30 PM and the U-train was all in red – that is people wrapped in the Turkish flag – some with funny hats – all red&white – some with noise making trumpets. When I got off – I saw one flag with a man drawn on it that looked like a Kazakh. I asked – and was told that was Kemal Ataturk.  Interesting as he is no more the real favorite of the present government of Turkey. He was a secular dictator while the present government is moving more and more to the Islamic religion.

When I sat in my seat in Section B, At 7:00 PM, the Turkish team came out to show itself to the crowd that in my corner – a very Turkish corner, was received by the youth with call “Giul” which I assume meant “Goal.” The same Turkish_Austrians in the stands did actually boo when the Austrian team showed up. When it came to playing the National anthems – the Turkish first, the older kids had to tell the younger brothers or cousins to continue to stand up and clap hands at the end. The pro-Turkish partisanship seemed to have taken hold of the younger and less experienced kids. Think for a moment – while the Turkish side showed a team with all on it having Turkish names, the Austrians had also one Turk on their team – EKREM DAG – who used to play for Besiktas, Istambul. The Austrians also had on their team an Austrian player who plays now for Munich – but was the best player on the field at this game – David Olatukunbo Alaba – born in Austria but clearly of West African parentage. I mention this as clear indication that Austria has overcome some of the personal background problems that are capable to create disunity.

I watched the advertisements along the Stadium. They were basically from the companies you would expect: Hyundai, Generali, Raiffeisen Bank (only one bank is my bank), Burgenland for tourism, the arches of McDonald without the name and saying “I’m loving it,” the Kronen Zeitung, Toto, Puma, The City of Vienna etc., but also one single new company – GAZI – which is a Turkish-German company that makes the best Yogurt and cheese. I love it indeed – only that there is not enough chains that carry their products. I bought their yogurt t at Penny’s.

On the negative side of the experience, I must mention just that some people managed to smuggle in firecrackers they used to make noise in an attempt to encourage the Turkish team.

Still during the first half – it became obvious that both teams were not at their best – so the 0-0 final score was no surprise – but it had the effect that the Turkish team loved. This indecision actually was a decision – it hopelessly eliminated Austria from contention to get the second place and the chance to move on to the UEFA EURO games. It left two contenders for that spot – Turkey and Belgium, but looking up the remaining games, it seems to us that Turkey will be the eventual #2 See please the following:
Both Turkey-Belgium games have been played already – and ended in  a Turkish win 3-2  on September 7, 2010, and a draw 1-1 on June 2, 2011. Each team still has two games to play. One of these games is with the tough German team. Both have finished their games with Austria. The other game left for each of them is with the weaker teams Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan.

The tough upcoming games Turkey still has to play is with Germany on October 7, 2011 and Belgium still has to play Germany on October 11, 2011.

These calculations leave in our opinion Turkey with the advantage to qualify for the second spot in group A for the UEFA EURO 2012 games. So this is the way for Turkey to show they are a power in Europe – at least so far as soccer goes.

AHEAD OF THESE LAST TWO GAMES – THE STANDS ARE AS FOLLOWS AND WE BELIEVE THAT THE FINAL ORDER WILL BE THE SAME AS TODAY:

	Germany		   21   7  0  0  22  3
    -------------------------------------------------------------
	Turkey		   14   4  2  2  11  8
    -------------------------------------------------------------
	Belgium		   11   3  3  2  16 11
	Austria  	    8   2  2  3  10 10
	Azerbaijan	    7   2  1  5   9 21
	Kazakhstan	    3   1  0  7   5 20
Coming 2012 - Turkey will thus play in the European tournament - Belgium and Austria will stay out. 
On the other hand, Turkey will play in the Middle East political stakes, and it is highly possible 
that most of Europe will be out there.
So why did we say that this was a political game? Turkey got in soccer what it might not get in
geopolitics - or perhaps the soccer will also show the way for how Europe might decide to link to
Turkey in their arena where they play in the Islamic World. We wait to see which will be it.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Summer days in Vienna and life is fun – so former Vice Chancellor from the OEVP and Women’s Minister, Member of the Parliament, Ms. Maria Rauch-Kallat decided that time has come to change the National Anthem which in one of its lines says “Homeland of Great Sons” – what about daughters, she asked? Surely she was not the first to asks this, but always with so much else one has to worry about – nobody did stake out a position on this.

Ms. Rauch-Kallat persisted and her party managed to get the Parliament vote and these days an honored singer Ms. Ildiko Raimondi has sung three variations on this theme: “Homeland Great Daughters, Sons” or “Homeland Great Daughters and Sons” or “Great Daughters, Great Sons.” The verdict is that when Ms. Raimondi sings it is all great  no matter what she says – so now the debate will continue after the people will listen to the U-tube presentations.

Why do we write about this?

Because this sort of public discussion makes people not notice that Austria has extended a friendly hand to some not so nice regimes – just so that there is some benefit for Austria in oil terms while some other European Nations or the US may shun doing so at this time – and that is one of our main interests as our readers know.

So what am I talking about?

First there was the issue of Mr. Rakhat Aliyev former Ambassador of Kazakhstan and former son in law of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nasarbajew. The accusation is that he was involved in the abduction, extortion,  and the killing of two bank directors from Kazakhstan. This happened in 2008 but the bodies were found only May 2011. The families of those killed have an Austrian lawyer – Gabriel Lansky – and he asks how is it that Aliyev lived peacefully in Austria after his former father in law fired him. What are the personal problems between the two? Whom were the Austrians owing a favor In the meantime Aliyev moved out of reach to Malta – he says it is all fabricated against him.

Then exploded the Lithuanian problem that pits now all three former Soviet Baltic Republic against Austria. It all started with a KGB murderer – Michail Golovatov – against whom was an international hold order, passing through the Vienna airport. He was correctly arrested but the Austrians did not wait to get the details of the order against him translated into German from the original – presumably Lithuanian – and let him continue to Russia. Lithuania, fellow members in the EU, withdrew their Ambassador from Vienna – the other two Baltic EU members – Latvia and Estonia are following same protest – but Austria’s Foreign Minister who is also Minister for Inter-European Affairs insists that the border people dealt correctly by not waiting to see the documents. Was this so that Austria avoids a confrontation with Russia, like it avoided confrontation with Kazakhstan in the previous case.

Now comes a third case – a tour of two Sudanese Ministers – Ali Ahmed Karti, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Sudan and Yahia Hussain, State Minister for International Cooperation of the Republic of Sudan, that came to campaign for better relations with Austria after the split-of with South Sudan. The word oil was all over, and it is about the exports via Port Sudan. The problem that this was the wrong Sudan – it was the remaining North Sudan that has just lost to independence of South Sudan which has 60% of the oil and is much better advised to figure out its own pipeline to places like Djibouti, Mombasa, or some better located terminal in between. After all – South Sudan’s new allies will be to the East and West rather then to the North. Austria’s OEMV oil company will be in the running, like it is in relations with the States that were part of the former Soviet Union. Will Austria now run after the oil in complete disregard of who the partners are and what sort of behavior one can expect from them? Does Austria attribute importance to the concept of “Responsibility to Protect” – the all important R2P that asks States to act responsibly towards their own citizens?

To top all of this, an opposition leader Heinz-Christian Strache, a follower of Joerg Haider in the Austrian Freedom Party (FPOE) sends another party official, David Lasar, to meet right now with a son of Gaddafi – with whom and with Gaddafi’s oil-money, that party has long standing relationships. The argument was that they try to bring about peace – we ask for whom?

So, this is a little comment about weighty issues we see and do not like.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)




The two days Vienna Europe to the Caucasus and Central Asia World Economic Forum, that opened officially Wednesday June 8th, discussed Energy and the Arab Spring.

Chancellor Faymann (SPÖ) of Austria, the host of the Forum,  stressed especially the importance of the Nabucco gas pipeline that goes through Turkey for gas originating in Central Asia.

Austrian  Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger (ÖVP), who is in the middle of a spat with Turkey because of their rejection of an Austrian candidate for the post of Secretary General of the OSCE –  former Foreign Minister, and member of the same party, Ms. Ursula Plassnik, –  said that Europe and the Eurasian space would have much to offer each other.

The Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, whose sister I was told is married to the Austrian Ambassador to China, said her country was a model for the “Arab Spring.” Roza Otunbayeva was one of the leaders of the “Tulip Revolution” of March 2005 that is credited with the start of democratization in her country. President Otunbayeva spoke already on Tuesday evening at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International events. Her topic was – KYRGYZSTAN ON ITS WAY  TO FREEDOM OF DEMOCRACY.

(Just watch here please that it goes in stages and it is not a smooth transition – do not expect miracles in the short term – this is our own comment – in the meantime the world will rather be interested in the region’s oil.)

 www.davienna.ac.at/jart/prj3/dipl…

Chancellor Faymann stressed the need for “stable and secure energy supply” and praised the growing cooperation between Europe and the States in the Caucasus and Central Asia. He stressed the importance of the Austrian oil company –  the OMV – for responsible planning the Nabucco gas pipeline to “stabilize the European gas supply, and relations between Europe and Central Asia and the Black Sea region, strengthened thereoff”.

He was seconded on energy import by On Ukraine President Mykola Azarov who criticized the Russian energy policy. The energy dependence of Ukraine on Russia was “not good”, as the oil and gas prices, the Russian government-related utilities are not “what we consider to be optimal. Therefore Kiev cooperation projects with Azerbaijan and other countries have been addressed.”

Austrian Federal President Hans Fischer spoke of the need for social impact of economic transformations in post-Soviet  States. Spindelegger said that the Central Asian region will continue with its wealth of resources to a new focus of the global economy – Austria can offer to these countries innovative products, he said. “If we find ways to increase cooperation, the conference will have been successful.”

Otunbayeva, who on her trip to Vienna also stopped in Budapest, expressed the hope that Central Asia in the future will get more attention in the West. She passed out in her speech, the political foundations for economic development. The downfall of the autocrat Kurmanbek Bakiyev in early 2010 had mapped out the current revolutions in the Arab world. “We could no longer afford the corrupt regime,” she said.

CEOs and Muslim economists called on Europe to support the current upheavals in the region, but sounded caution. The Dubai economist Tarik Yousef L. lamented that Europe in recent years rehabilitated the Libyan regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi. He spoke of European “guilt” because of the slow reaction to the upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia that should help these countries now. From the Central Bank of Tunisia Mustapha Kamel Nabli – the governor –  demanded above all, a closer cooperation with Europe in migration. Europe must assume a share of the costs incurred by the flow of refugees, he said. The Bahraini banker Khalid Abdullah-Janahi, said about Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood will continue to take the central role. They would get from the upcoming legislative choice between 40 and 50 percent of the vote, he said.

The Kazakh Vice Premier Yerbol Orynbayev and Turkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov stressed the need for economic development “to solve their common problems” – such as in the fight against drug crime and poverty. “Poverty is a problem that not all states in the region are equally capable of solving” said Orynbayev. The Turkmenistan speaker Japarov spoke of his country’s economic aid for the unstable neighbors like Afghanistan. Turkmenistan Oil prices were discounted to them. “This contributes to the development of the country and thus to peace in the region,” said Japarov.

Chancellor Faymann met on the margins of the WEF yesterday with six heads of state and government for bilateral talks.

Emphasis during the discussions with the Heads of State of Hungary (Viktor Orban), Armenia (Tigran Sarkisian), Montenegro (Igor Luksic), Ukraine (Azarov) and Georgia (Nikoloz Gilauri) and with Otumbajewa, was the energy policy and EU issues. Faymann confirmed its rejection of the nuclear power policy and referred to his meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister. “Premier Azarov has invited me to the Ukraine to show me the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster from today’s perspective may have been his words -” This has to be seen with my own eyes. “

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For the full article please see: www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/d…

in summary it says:  In the midst of chaotic upheavals in neighboring countries like Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, and local conflicts of smaller or greater degree in Russia, what Lukashenka offered his people was an oasis of financial and political stability with guaranteed wages and pensions: what he termed the “social contract.”  In short, they could live life as in the past without resorting to such evils as shock therapy or military alliances with either NATO or the CIS.

Today that oasis has been transformed into the most arid part of the desert, from which Belarus lacks the resources to extricate itself.  Lukashenka’s position might make sense if the Communist Party controlled Russia, but Moscow’s rulers are committed capitalists. All he can do henceforth, unless he concedes completely to Russia’s economic barons, is postpone the inevitable through more loans and short-term crisis measures, and specifically from the IMF, one organization that has not infrequently emphasized financial stringency and economic pragmatism rather than a free or democratic society.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

87 states join forces to fight antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

21 July 2010
The cooperation agreement between the ITF and the ODIHR gives an enormous boost to Holocaust remembrance and the fight against antisemitism.


www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/MFA+Spokesman/2010/Cooperation_agreement_signed_Holocaust_remembrancae_fight_against_antisemitism_21-Jul-2010.htm

This morning (21 July 2010), a cooperation agreement between the ITF (Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research) and the ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) was signed at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, in the presence of Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon.

The ODIHR – Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – is an operative branch of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).

This year, Israel was chosen for the first time to head the ITF. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an agreement was signed today that boosts the strength of the forces in the global arena fighting against antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

The agreement will bring about cooperation among 87 countries.

ITF Chairman Dan Tichon – an Israeli – and ODIHR Director Janez Lenarcic – a Slovenian – signed the memorandum of understanding. DFM Ayalon welcomed the signing of the agreement and said that it gives an enormous boost to the fight against the delegitimization of Israel and antisemitism in the world, bringing 87 states for the first time into cooperation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has acted, and will continue to act, against these manifestations of hate and will promote any initiative whose purpose is to eliminate them. Ayalon added that there are elements that deny the Holocaust and are preparing the next one. We must preserve the memory of the Holocaust so that similar horrors and hatred will never be repeated and the world will become a safer place.

The ITF was founded about ten years ago at the initiative of the Swedish government. Israel is heading the task force this year, with Mr. Dan Tichon, past Speaker of the Knesset, serving as the chairman and Ambassador Yakov Rozen as the political coordinator. The ITF, which has as its purpose the preservation of Holocaust remembrance through education, research and memorial sites, currently has 27 members, mostly European, and sees the cooperation agreement as very important.

The ODIHR, which has 57 members, deals with educational programs and follows up on instances of xenophobic, primarily antisemitic, hatred. For this reason, the cooperation agreement is likely to help promote Holocaust remembrance, including the uniqueness of the Holocaust, and the fight against antisemitism.

Ambassador Janez Lenarcic is a senior diplomat who in the past was advisor to the prime minister of Slovenia.

The ODIHR joins six other organizations belonging to the Task Force whose representatives serve as observers: the UN, DPI, UNESCO, the EU, FRA, and the European Council.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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BIDR Homepage | Albert Katz International School of Desert Studies | Drylands, Deserts and Desertification 2010
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Drylands, Deserts and Desertification:The Route to Restoration.


The Third International Conference on
Drylands, Deserts and Desertification:
The Route to Restoration
November 8-11, 2010
Sede Boqer Campus, Israel


www.desertification.bgu.ac.il



Drylands, Deserts and Desertification: The Route to Restoration

The Third International Conference on
Drylands, Deserts and Desertification:
The Route to Restoration.
———————-
DDD  2010 Poster
November 8-11, 2010
Sede Boqer Campus, Israel
Please note that we offer some great pre & post conference tours!
5-7 Nov – pre conference tours
11-14 Nov – post conference tours

Please note that: Registration, Abstract Submission and Grant Application are all conducted Online.

NEW!! Abstract Submission (for lectures) extended to July 20

“Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.” (Leviticus 25:19)

Overview:

The International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (DDD) has emerged as an important global gathering of scientists, field workers, industry, government, NGO and international aid agency officials from over 50 countries. The conference brings together experts, officials and lay people concerned about land degradation and development. The presentations consider practical solutions for sustainable and prosperous livelihoods in the drylands. The rich variety of perspectives creates a stimulating, interdisciplinary and compelling meeting.

The program combines plenary lectures and panels, parallel sessions, workshops, field trips and social events. The four day conference provides an opportunity for a diverse group of experts, policy makers and land managers to consider a range of theoretical and practical issues associated with combating desertification and living sustainably in the drylands.

The thematic focus of the 3rd conference will consider the restoration of degraded drylands. This “positive” orientation embraces the notion that trend need not be destiny, and that most desertified lands, ecosystems and economies can at least rehabilitated. Local case studies will be highlighted along side of success stories from around the world with an emphasis on quantitative indicators of progress. In addition additional sessions will be held considering a broad range of topics associated with sustainable living in the drylands and desertification.

Please check the www.desertification.bgu.ac.il website periodically.
Up-to-date information on deadlines and procedures will be posted as it becomes available.
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Contact Information

Ms. Dorit Korine, Conference Coordinator
Drylands, Deserts & Desertification Conference
The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Sede Boqer Campus
84990 Midreshet Ben Gurion, ISRAEL

Tel: +972 (8) 659 6781
Fax: +972 (8) 659 6772
Email: desertification@bgu.ac.il

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Finally a second shoe comes of at the UN Department of Public Information that services the Ban Ki-moon UN Administration. After the replacement of the officer in charge of Media Accreditation, now also a new Spokesperson.

November 30, 2009 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is getting a new Spokesperson – a real professional – Martin Nesirky – that will hail from Vienna where he was not just spokesman for over three years at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) but was also Head of Press and Public Information.

Nesirky will replace Michele Montas of Haiti who served since the beginning of the term of Mr. Ban Ki-moon, January 1, 2007, till now, November 30, 2009, thus leaving one month ahead of the end of a three years contract. Ms. Montas is retiring from the UN.

Mr. Nesirky came to OSCE from Reuters where he served over two decades as an international correspondent and editor. He covered issues the like of  the fall of the  Berlin Wall, events in the Balkans, and nuclear non-proliferation issues. Further, he had a stint as the Moscow Bureau Chief of Reuters with responsibility for coverage of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and as senior editor in London handling political stories, including the Middle East and Africa. He has been posted in Berlin, The Hague, and Seoul, though it is not known if he also speaks Korean, the language of the current UN Secretary- General – the subject of a question from one of the correspondents that remained unanswered.

More recently Mr. Nesirky in his Spokesman capacity at OSCE was instrumental in navigating the Russia backed OSCE Chairmanship for Kazakhstan for 2010. At the UN he may find his personal talents helpful in creating a new persona for the UN Secretary-General whose popularity with parts of the UN have hit a low, at a time that his reelection for a second term will be put on the table.

Ms. Montas whom he replaces had none of such credentials. Prior to her appointment, Montas headed the French unit of UN Radio. From 2003 to 2004, she served as the Spokesperson for UN General Assembly President Julian Robert Hunte, of Saint Lucia, soon after she fled to New York from Haiti. In Haiti, she and her husband were also radio journalists and activists. Her husband was killed in Haiti, and she escaped to New York. We can vouch that in her first several months in the job Mr. Ban Ki-moon set her up, she had no understanding or patience for subjects of climate change – not even when the subject was raised in connection to killings going on in Africa, or the dangers to Small Island Member States of the UN. Not even in matters of the Middle East – she seemed as a fish out of water and effectively harming  positions that the SG might have been more forthcoming. In press conferences of the SG she allowed only questions that she thought he would be interested in while guarding him from such questions as climate change.

The real question is now if Mr. Martin Nesirky will find it acceptable to fit in her shoes and submit to further layers of UN functionaries in a UN Department of Public Information where the Director of News and Media Division is Mr. Ahmad Fawzi who acts as a factotum on Press Accreditation and also whenever there is the need to talk to the press upon fighting in the Middle East. We feel that Mr. Nesirky may be inclined to become his own man in those areas while serving the needs of the Secretary-General.

The announcement about the new Spokesperson was made by Mr. Farhan Haq, of Pakistan, an Associated Spokesperson, third in the ranking below Mr. Nesirky (The second ranking Spokesperson is the Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe of Japan). Farhan started the announcement by saying: “And finally, a message that you’ve been waiting for some time. The Secretary-General today has named Martin Nesirky of the United Kingdom as the new Spokesperson for the Secretary-General,” but when asked by a correspondent if there will be in parallel an appointment for a position called Strategic Communications, he also gave no answer and showed impatience by mentioning that “our guests are here.”

Another correspondent asked nevertheless about the Small Pacific Developing Island States that called upon the Security Council to take up the issue of climate change “as a matter of security, because they say that their islands, their countries, could potentially disappear together for the first time in history, and they’re looking for the Council to develop enforceable emission targets. What does the SG think of this call to the SC to take up the Climate Change issue?”

The anemic answer was: “As you know, the SG has been encouraging all of the relevant bodies to deal with climate change and its effects across a variety of fields.At this stage, however, what the SG is concerned with is making sure that Member states and leaders at the highest level will come to Copenhagen to deal precisely with all of the challenges of climate change and seal a deal that can help resolve all the various problems that member States face.” That was quite a lame answer from the source of “Hopenhagen” and a clear show why finally the UN deserves a professional Spokesperson it was denied during the first three years of the Ban Ki-moon Administration of the UN.

The Correspondent continued with his insistence for an answer:
“There is nothing about the council taking up this matter?”

Final answer from the Associate Spokesperson: “It’s always up to the Security Council which matters it chooses to take up under rubric of peace and security issues.”

From our point of view, will Mr. Martin Nersirky accompany Mr. Ban Ki-moon to Copenhagen, or will it be Marie Okabe?

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N.B. – to be fair to Michele Montas –
Montas was one of the producers of Jonathan Demme’s documentary, The Agronomist, which depicted the life and death of her husband Jean Dominique and his career at Radio Haiti-Inter, the radio station that he founded. She was also involved with MINUTASH – the UN mission to Haiti. Montas worked  as a journalist at that Radio-station and has been  a human rights activist in Haiti and later a consistent international lecturer on Haiti – but the subject matter of the UN extends beyond Haiti and the Aristide government interests.
We do not imply that Montas was a negative person as such, only that she was not the right person for her job which allowed Mr. Ahmad Fawzi of Egypt to take over some of the responsibilitires that were hers, and the Under Secretary-General for the UN DPI, Mr. Kyotaka Akasaka, another strange appointment in the Ban Ki-moon cabinet, could really not care less.

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P.S. – On November 23, 2009 Martin Nesirky met the media correspondents to the UN and said:

A couple of things I just wanted to mention.  First of all, I’m really looking forward to working with all of you; getting to know you.  This is a huge challenge, of course, and I’m very keen to try to get to know you so I can help you the best that I can.  That’s the first thing.

The second thing is that, needless to say, I do read what’s being written.  And I think there are a couple of things I’d like to make absolutely clear and very straight at the beginning.  My language skills: I speak German, I speak Russian, I speak English after a fashion, I speak a little bit of Korean and an even smaller amount of French.  I realize that it’s very, very important to be able to speak French. I’m going to be doing as the Secretary-General has done, which is to take extra French classes to improve on that. And that’s really all I wanted to say on that matter.

The other is that I really believe that coming from outside the UN has advantages and disadvantages.  You will have to bear with me as I get to know the system that you, many of you, know far better than I probably will ever do.  But I am very keen to work with you so that you can help me to help you to have the stories that you need to write.

Also, it seems that the UN expects Mr. Nesirky to start his work at the UN on only December 7th, which is coincidentally the day the Copenhagen Conference opens officially, does it mean that he will be there, or it means that Marie Okabe will be there and he will be in New York? We shall see!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world – equal in size to all of Western Europe, four times the size of Texas, five times the size of France, and has 16.5 million people. Its present GNP per capita is $6,140. It passed  a Sovereignty Declaration October 25, 1990 and became an Independent State December 16, 1991 claiming to be a fledgling secular democracy – true enough when one judges by it having become a hub where various religions can meet freely – that is like having at the same table leading Jews from Israel, Shiia from Iran, Sunni from Saudi Arabia, and every Christian Denomination, with further participants from the various religions of East and South Asia.

Kazakhstan attracted our attention early and our website has had several articles regarding Kazakhstan.

Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev is elected President of Kazakhstan since independence, and after the Constitution reform of 1995, his first constitutional term started in 1999 and was then reelected for further 7 years term December 4, 2007.

Kazakhstan exports Oil. gas, uranium, ferrous and nonferrous metals, coal, chemicals, wool, meat and grain.

From our website’s angle, we are thinking of the terrible environmental problems that Kazakhstan inherited from the Soviet rulers, the awareness of its people of this environmental damage, and a high potential for the introduction of renewable energy to the country, while at the same time aiming at becoming a hub of peace in its region. Kazakhstan is an important US ally in that part of the world. A Kazakh woman is the head of the Asian Environmental Journalists group.

When we learned about the November 23-24, 2009 New York City, Harvard Club, Conference, we made it a point of interest that we wanted to participate. For those interested in further information beyond what we will be able to bring forward – please look up www.kazakhhembus.com and www.newsdeskmedia.com – organization headed by Alan Spence, that put together this conference – and www.kazakhinvest.com

————–

This was a pure economic encounter with many companies that already do business in Kazakhstan, in attendance, i.e. IBM, GE, CONOCO Phillips (the President and COO), and Federal Express, and with quite a few officials of Kazakhstan present – Galymzhan Primatov the Vice-President, Bolat Zhamishev, the Minister of Finance, Daniyar Akishev, Deputy Chairman of the National Bank, Nurbek Rayev, Vice-minister of Industry and Trade, Asset Magauov the Vice-minster of Energy and Mineral Resources, Erlan S. Kozhasbay the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kairat Umarov, the Deputy Foreign Minister, Erlan Idrissov, the Ambassador to Washington and Richard Hoagland the US Ambassador to Kazakhstan. Also, Mr. Daniel Poneman, the US Deputy Secretary of Energy and Edward Chow, Senior Fellow, Energy and National Security Program at CSIS in Washington DC.

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In these days when everyone thinks about the economic crises first let us see what that meant to Kazakhstan:

“Kazakhstan has stepped into the global economic crisis together with the Western countries and taken steps to come out at the same time with the Western Countries” – told me one of the Kazakh officials.

Today, even in the most prosperous nations, the largest financial and industrial giants are distressed, hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs, and many businesses are closed. Kazakhstan didn’t stay apart from the adverse effect of the crisis, however, it adequately has been coping with its impact.

Similar to the actions of Obama Administration, and earlier Bush Administration, leadership of Kazakhstan is fully aware of global vital risk affecting every single country without exception.
Since crisis is systemic, it is fought on a system basis, requiring program and target approaches.  The key factor is the effectiveness of anti-crisis policy successfully being implemented by the State. The impact of the crisis considerably reduced the possibility of Kazakhstani banks to attract external financial resources, thus, affecting the level of lending in the domestic economy. In addition, sharp jump in world prices of food significantly increased inflationary pressure on the economy.

In fact, in January 2009, immediately responding to the warning signals of global markets, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has developed and adopted  an anti-crisis program. Further, government has actively pursued its implementation.  The anti-crisis program is focused on five main directions:

– Stabilizing the financial sector;
– Solving problems in real estate;
– Support for small and medium business;
– Development of  the agro-industrial complex;
– Implementation of innovative, industrial and infrastructure projects.

Since the beginning of 2009 the Government of Kazakhstan has spent $15 billion for these purposes.  This amount equals 14% of GDP in Kazakhstan. Globally, the figure amounts 15% of GDP in many countries. So, Kazakhstan is implementing its anti-crisis measures at the level of the developed countries. It is important to draw attention to Kazakhstan’s “know-how” entitled Roadmap Program, which is already bearing fruits. The program contains around 5,000 projects addressing issues of unemployment –  creating new jobs, improving education, supporting youth, food security, etc.

2,203 projects have been implemented to date, and 70% of funds pledged to the anti-crisis measures have been absorbed. As the result of the project 256,000 jobs were created and 231,000 people were employed. Compared with last year the volume of social benefits has significantly increased. Government has signed 8,000 memorandums with private companies, saving jobs to a million people.

Agriculture is one of the priority sectors of the economy. Since the beginning of the year farmers have implemented development projects in amount of $420 million.  The area under cultivation has increased by 1.7 million hectares. The government has secured the country from  food crisis. 40,000 tons of grain are stored in the state granaries. These actions were directed to support macroeconomic stability, business activity in the economy, and the financial system of the country. Decrease in GDP because of worsening inflation, and unemployment, has been stopped.  It is fair to say that Kazakhstan has managed to avoid the worst-case economic scenario, and create the preconditions for post-crisis development.

International experts and analysts have agreed with the anti-crisis measures undertaken by the Government of Kazakhstan.  Rating agency Standard & Poor’s raised the outlook of the Republic of Kazakhstan from “negative” to “stable” followed by the ensuing public policy of banking system stabilization.  According to the analysts of the agency, outlook revision reflects the new strategy of the government to restrict the amount of potential contingent liabilities arising from problems in the banking sector, and providing adequate resources to maintain the confidence of customers, and to enable the banking system to function, supporting the economy, despite any difficulties that may arise in the nearest future.

Director of the Strategic Analysis at the Russian Consulting Company FBK, Igor Nikolayev, believes that timeliness played an important role in the effectiveness of the Anti-crisis Program in Kazakhstan.  “The fact that the program was adopted on 13 January, and not 19 June, as in Russia, already has a great significance as six months delay is fraught with many consequences,” – said the economist. Some of the positive directions of the Kazakh program are saving government investment in infrastructure, support of consumer demand, as well as establishment of a special fund which deals with the purchase of “bad” assets from lending institutions, noted Nikolaev.

Work of the Government of Kazakhstan to support the banking system of the republic has been frequently commended by the international expert community – Kazakhstani Anti-crisis Program is a milestone in the development of the economy. Thus, the current economic situation in Kazakhstan can be characterized by the process of overcoming the most acute phase of crisis, and the need to define a new range of problems – the transition from the rapid action to implementation of the activities in the long term.

It seems that Kazakhstan has stepped into the crisis together with the western economies, and will together come out of it. The current situation proves that the country, having tried for principles based on  values of  democracy, which can be attributed to the Kazakhstan experience, has proven itself.  Decisions of the Kazakhstani leaders in terms of ensuring stable growth of the country’s economy, as a factor in the global economy, were well-timed, helping to establish a positive image of Kazakhstan as a responsible developing country.

——

Chris Robbins, a travel writer who likes to write as literature, authored “Apples from Kazakhstan” and pointed out the importance of the Silk Roads, and when these were replaced by ships it lead to 450 years that Kazakhstan vanished from the West’s eye. Yes, apples came from Kazakhstan, but then nothing happened until the 19th century British push into the region – followed by Russia and eventually the Soviet 90 nuclear tests that chewed up the country. The Scythian gold, Genghis Khan and the Mongols originated from these steps. Now they had 50 synagogues in this basically Muslim country.

On the panel moderated by the Kazakhstan ambassador to Washington was Evan Feigenbaum of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, who pointed out the two main topics for the Kazakh development (a) Developing the Energy Resources and bringing them to the market, and Economic Diversification in such areas as urban transit and highways.

We learned that President Nazarbayev will come to meet President Obama in February 2010, and then again for a major meeting on nuclear issues in April 2010.

But we also learned that the US has moved the five Central Asian States away from the Russian desk at the Department of State, first to their own desk, but now to South Asia. This is significant as we see the attempt to create for these States a joint policy rather with India – and not Russia or China.

This panel was about The Obama’s Administration’s Policy Towards Central Asia. Other members of the panel were the US Ambassador to Astana and the Deputy Foreign Minister – the Kazakh Ambassador’s boss – so above ideas – as well as questions about the SCO, Eurasia, Turkey threw light on the high interest the US has in the region – which was then amplified in the following panel that had its title: “Kazakhstan-US Energy Partnership: From Oil to Renewables.”

On that panel was the President of CONOCOPhillips, John Craig, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Jonathan Elkind, and others mainly involved in oil. I was shocked, when despite the mention of renewables in the topic, and others having spoken on DIVERSIFICATION, this panel had no word for anything but oil. I heard – “oil and gas is “center of our interest.” Fair enough – the US must diversify its dependence on oil from the Gulf area, but why not mention something also about the potential of renewable energy in Kazakhstan – and potential there is indeed?

So I had to raise the question to the panel – “As we heard of concrete examples of US proposals to Kazakhstan in oil & gas, what are the concrete proposals the US took to Kazakhstan in renewables?” The answer made it clear that this panel was not prepared to answer such a question at a time the US has on its own to answer also this sort of “alternate questions” in other locations i.e. Copenhagen, and we know that Washington is working hard on making right this sort of proposals.

GE is developing locomotives in Astana, they work on energy efficiency and electricity. Kazakhstan is destined to develop a rail bridge between Europe and Asia – probably over the Black Sea.

Another energy area is the development of Uranium mines in Kazakhstan – hopefully this time less polluting then in the Soviet days. The Kazakh Vice-minister of Energy and Mineral Resources did say that he found here interest in developing wind energy in Kazakhstan – “someone connected to the UN told him so.” In the South of the country there is up to 3,000 hours solar/year. They have selected sites and work with Ambassadors back home. They also have potential for small hydro in the mountains, he said.

That sounded fine, but why was there no emphasis on this by the US side of the panel? We heard rather about the structure of the oil market the various ways one gets out the oil from Kazakhstan to markets, and about a future that will need also the country’s Uranium. The moderator, Tim Gitzel, Senior VP and COO, Cameco Corporation – a publicly traded nuclear company with 11 operating sites in 3 countries is obviously interested in Uranium.

Then one of the Kazakh delegates asked the President of Conoco about the Caspian Sea being a lake, and the oil project is not insured – what if there is a spill? Good question – not much of an answer!

So, rather then having a well rounded meeting, the US side had its tunnel vision directed to Kazakhstan Oil and Uranium, like it did in the past in countries of the Gulf region, and all we can is to point out to Kazakhstan – beware and diversify according to what you seemed to want to say. The nice volume the Embassy made available has a chapter about the “Curse of Oil” and the effort to avoid it. Yes – this must be part of the furniture at any negotiation table.

Kenneth Mack, the President of America Chamber of Commerce in Kazakhstan, spoke about how the energy of Kazakhstan will turn it into a global powerhouse, but he also spoke of major infrastructure programs to be executed with the help of the World Bank and the US Export-Import Bank. He spoke of efforts at diversification and the creation of a trans-corridor from Western China to Western Europe.

He also mentioned high octane fuel but did not say the word ethanol – something I hope the Kazakhs will   carefully study some more. The Export-Import Bank of the US must by law allocate funds to small businesses also (20%) so, here, there is a way to do some good perhaps?

Doris Bradbury of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kazakhstan told me that only a single one of the 255 members is interested in Renewable Energy  he looks into solar panels.

Lancaster Holding presented a series of industrial parks that are being developed, and FedEx is establishing its hub close to Almaty for the lines Shanghai – Frankfurt and Guangjou – Paris.

GE plans for Kazakhstan are amplified by an Azerbaijan firm planning for a Caspian – Black Sea transshipment Corridor.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Svetlana Dylevskaya, an experienced Central Asian senior environment journalist and Network Editor of the Green Women Environmental Media Agency, Kazakhstan and Central Asian Network for Ecological Journalists(CANEJ) has taken up the role of chair of the Asia Pacific forum of Environmental Journalists(APFEJ).She is also the first women president of APFEJ as well as the first person to become APFEJ president from Central Asia.
The APFEJ new secretariat based in Colombo- Sri Lanka  opens on November 19, 2009.

Following on from its 18th APFEJ World Congress of Environmental Journalists- Colombo,  Sri Lanka, October 19- 22, 2009, APFEJ, announced the newly elected 19-member Administrative Council who will serve for the term 3 year term(2009 October to 2012 October). APFEJ can be rightly proud of the active participation of the attendees, more than 103 Environmental Journalists, opinion makers from 34 countries.

A new APFEJ administrative Council is in place and ready to forward the APFEJ ‘s directives. At the meeting, a new structure for APFEJ  was proposed this includes appointing 45 country coordinators from Asia Pacific countries. As per the constitution of  APFEJ, the administrative Council is elected through its full, associate and individual membership categories. Of the 19 APFEJ administrative Council members there are 8 women representatives.

The Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists(APFEJ) is a network and regional association founded in 1988, dedicated to promoting education understanding and awareness of the environment through the honest and accurate reporting of local, regional and international environmental and development issues. It acted as the head of national environmental journalist forums or media organizations of 42 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The APFEJ ad hoc committee was formed in 1985 at a regional conference on media and environment in Delhi organized by UN-ESCAP in collaboration with the UNEP.Today, APFEJ,is the oldest and largest organization of professional environmental journalists, contacts over 12,000 members around the world. The mission of APFEJ to build into a strong,independent and committed to promote excellence in environmental journalism worldwide by supporting environmental journalists specially Asia pacific through Professionalism, Freedom of expression, Social responsibility, environmental justice, Networking and training.

The roles of APFEJ administrative Council members has been streamlined and the administrative Council  itself consists only of an administrative body, which co-opts or appoints other members as needed.This is quite a different formation of the APFEJ administrative Council and means that members can feel free to come aboard the Council for
short project specific periods.

The General assembly approved some amendments in the APFEJ constitution.

Secretary General of Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists -NEFEJ, which is a APFEJ founding member Tika Ram Rai says he is very pleased with the appointment of such an experienced and competent Central Asia media practitioner as
Svetlana and the sentiments are followed by APFEJ former chair and APFEJ founding member Dharman Wickremaratne. The new APFEJ administrative Council also sees the return of former APFEJ chair Dharman, who says that he is looking forward to getting involved again.

The new committee is formed by the core administrative group:
Chair: Green Women Environmental Media Agency, Kazakhstan
Vice Chair: Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists, Nepal
Secretary /Chief Executive- Sri Lanka Environmental Journalists Forum,Sri Lanka

Members of the APFEJ administrative Council are follows;
01).President – Ms.Svetlana Dylevskaya, Kazakhstan
(Network Editor of the  Green Women Environmental Media Agency*
and Central Asian Network for Ecological Journalists – CANEJ)

02).Deputy President – Mr.Tika Ram Rai, Nepal
(Convener of the Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists -NEFEJ)*

Regional Directors(5)
03).Central Asia  Director- Ms.Jamila Sujud, Tajikistan
(Coordinator of the Central Asian Journalistic Network on Environment
and Health)**

04).North East Asia Director – Mr.Yasuyoshi Tanaka, Japan
(President of the Japanese Forum of Environmental Journalists -JFEJ)*

05).South Asian Director – Mr.Aftab Zahoor, Pakistan
(Head of the Pakistan Forum for Environmental Journalists -PFEJ)*

06).South East Asia Director: Mr.Quoc Dzung, Vietnam
(Executive Vice President of the Vietnam Forum of Environmental
Journalists- VFEJ)*

07).South Pacific Director – Ms.Nina Ratulele, Fiji
(News correspondent of the Islands Business Magazine and Media consultant) ***

08).Secretary /Chief Executive – Mr.Dharman Wickremaratne, Sri Lanka
(Editor of the Sri Lanka Environmental  Journalists Forum-SLEJF) *

09).Deputy secretary General – Mr. Yang Ming-sen,  China
(Secretary General of the China Forum of Environmental Journalists -CFEJ) *

Executive Members (8)

10)Ms.Souparno Banerjee, India
(Coordinator of the Media Resource Centre, – Centre for Science and
Environment -CSE, Mumbai – India)*

11)Mr.Matai Akauol, Fiji
(Manager & Training Coordinator of the Pacific Island News Association -PINA)*

12)Mr.Owais Aslam Ali, Pakistan
(Secretary General of the Pakistan Press Foundation -PPF)*

13)Ms.Elizabeth Roxas, Philippines
(Executive Director of the Environmental Broadcast Circle, EBC)*

14)Mr. lya Gridneff, Australia***
(Papua New Guinea Correspondent of Australian Associated Press- APP)

15)Mr.Joseph Joh, South Korea***
(Managing Editor – The Seoul Times, South Korea)

16)Mr.Eurico Pereira, East Timor ***
(Senior  producer of Radio Rakambia- East Timor)

17)Ms.Ellaha Sadat, Afghanistan**
(Media Monitor/ Environmental Analyst of IFES/ ASA)

Auditors (2)
18)Mr.EK Visarakhun, Cambodia
(President of the Cambodia Media Forum on Environment, (CMFE)*

19)Ms.Silafaga Lalua, Tuvalu
(Publication Coordinator of the Tuvalu Media Department)**

* Full Member organisation Representatives – 12 (Minimum 10)
** Associate member organisation Representatives -03 (Maximum 05)
*** Individual member Representatives – 04 (Maximum 04)

****APFEJ Past President’s – Year 1985 to 2009
01).Forum of Environmental Journalists of India – FEJI
(February 1985 to January 1988)
Representative: Chanchal Sakar, India – South Asia
Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee

02). Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists -NEFEJ
(January 1988 to October 1990)
Representative: Aditya Man Shrestha, Nepal – South Asia

03).Philippines Environmental Journalists Inc – PEJI
(October 1990 to August 08, 1991)
Representative: Adlai J Amor, Philippines – South East Asia

04) Malaysian forum of Environmental Journalists(MFEJ)- South East Asia
Chairman of the Steering Group
Representative: Philip Mathews, Malaysia
(August 09, 1991 to April, 1992)

05).Malaysian forum of Environmental Journalists – MFEJ
(April 1992 to November 1993)
Representative: Philip Mathews, Malaysia – South East Asia

06).Philippines Environmental Journalists Inc – PEJI
(November 1993 to November 1995)
Representative: Manuel Satorre Jr, Philippines – South East Asia

07).Singapore forum of Environmental Journalists – ECO
Representative: Ivan Lim Sin Chin, Singapore – South East Asia
(November 1995 to February 1998)

08)China Forum of Environmental Journalists -CFEJ, North East Asia
Chairman of the Steering Group
Representative: Yang Mao, China
(February 06, 1998 to October 17, 1998)

09).Sri Lanka Environmental Journalists Forum – SLEJF
(October 18, 1998 to October 26, 2002)
Representative: Dharman Wickremaratne, Sri Lanka – South Asia

10).Bangladesh Forum of Environmental Journalists (FEJB)
(October 27, 2002  to May 05, 2009)
Representative: Quamrul Islam Chowdhury, Bangladesh – South Asia

11)Sri Lanka Environmental Journalists Forum(SLEJF) – South Asia
Chairman of the Steering Group
Representative: Dharman Wickremaratne, Sri Lanka.
(May 06, 2009 to October 18, 2009)

12).Green Women Environmental Media Agency, Kazakhstan
Representative: Svetlana Dylevskaya, Kazakhstan – Central Asia
(October 19, 2009 to present)

For further information please visit:
 www.environmentaljournalists.org
or  contact,
Dharman Wickremaratne
Secretary /Chief Executive
Asia Pacific forum of Environmental Journalists(APFEJ) Secretariat
PO Box 26
434/3 Sri Jayawardenapura
Sri Lanka.
Skype: ejournalists
E-mail: <ejournalists@sltnet.lk>,<ejournalists@gmail.com>
 www.environmentaljournalists.org
 www.flickr.com/photos/ejournalist…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 19th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Instead of having a signed “deal” at Copenhagen, now it seems that the leaders will be happy with a compilation of National promises. By coincidence, the UN Think Tank of UNU hosted today a panel – “PUBLIC POLICY: FROM NATIONAL TO GLOBAL” – it could not have been at a better time – and trust me – it was excellent. For fun, an NGO called Sustainability had Shell Oil Company over to the UN for lunch.

Not all is useless at the UN – just see what thinking people can come up with.

The 150 minutes event, in the basement of the UN building, at the United Nation University – the New York Office – was the second session of a Global Public Policy Working Group that aims to explore how to make public policy become more of a reality at the global level. This second session tried to find philosophical answers to what it means to have public policy at a global level – what are the conceptual, methodological, intellectual, and political challenges to this concept in an institution that caters to sovereign Nations. How do these challenges play out in various areas, such as security, development, and environment? That is really fascinating – specially in these days when we see before our eyes how difficult it is to many National governments to see beyond the length of their noses when trying to tackle the climate change issue. I saw some UN officials, some members of country representations, many NGOs, many young students, and just one other journalist in the room.

The panel was chaired by Dr. Jean-Marc Coicaud, the Director of UNU – Office in New York, and included Professor Andrew Hurrell of the Oxford University, Professor Thomas Pogge of the Yale University, and Dr. Yomo Kwame Sundaram from Malaysia, who was on many faculties in the US and UK and is now UN Assistant SG for Economic Development at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and member of several panels that look at reforms. At the end there were quite a few questions from the floor.

Policy is what governments do – directly or through agents – this in order to benefit their own citizens. When talking at the global level we have to look at the word – agents – in order to find a way to go around the Sovereignty problem. The Public aspect must involve information, fairness and equality.
The domestic examples are the Public Goods – clean water, electricity, telephone service, education, basic medical care.

Dr. Sundaram reminded us that the San Francisco Conference in 1944, when it started, there was no international organization and Churchill would have preferred a set of bi-lateral agreements. It was Roosevelt who wanted something new and better then the League of Nations. In 1945 with the outcome, the league of Nation was declared dead and multilateralism was born. Then the Marshall plan and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development made allowance for the learning experience why the post WWI experience led to an immediate new resort to war. So – I guess – if you do not want troubles to hit your own citizens, you are wise to help the other side solve its problems also.

From here Dr. Sundaram moved to climate change and mentioned that there were two propositions – one that there be a market for carbon emissions but the Financial Times and the Economist saw immediately that it will not work, and the other – a Global Taxation – but that comes with a huge problem – the increase of the cost of energy. Both suggestions did not as such extend the solution to the need for development. His suggestion is “front loading” – that is pushing now for huge investments – expenditures. If poor countries cannot afford this it is also not good. What he sees is the creation of a Renewable Energy Infrastructure to be created by this Global Development effort.

He sees the current crisis as the chance to kill three birds in one. The current crisis was fueled with cheap credit and we have a tremendous overcapacity and thus no interest in private investment. This is the economic crisis. To get out of this through public spending, do it in one move by developing renewable energy and tackling thus all three problems in one move – the climate change issue – the development issue and the current economic problem.

When the Q&A time came I said that this panel was at the most opportune time as right these days, when the leaders of the UN recognized defeat of their attempt to bring to Copenhagen a Global agreement for all Nations to “seal,” now the talk is to save the event by creating simply a compilation of promises from the individual nations. Dr. Sundaram said that having such compilations is actually a positive element because this compilation can then be used to come up later with a clear agreement, but in this case he is not happy with the outcome – this because it will set a lower bar  to what we already had before. He elaborated about the 450 ppm and the 2 degree warming we had accepted  earlier, and that we know now that those figures are too high – we should go to 350 and 1.5 degrees instead – but we will not find these figures in the compilation and at best the older figures will be kept in the statements. Further, we have now positive changes in the governments of the US, Japan, and Australia, and it seemed possible to go for more then just this compilation. In fact, climate change in the US fell behind the attempt to have a health care program and will be delayed further because of the reorganization of financial regulation that will also get preference.

To another question – “who is the global public?” Prof. Hurrell said that there was the idea of G2 but it creates structural problems. He does not believe in top-down. he rather believes in changing elites among Nations and inside the Nations – with India, China, and Brazil, and their elites will be taken on board. If there is political redistribution it will be in the direction of the emerging powers and their elites. This might open up some normative goals in areas of change. First change will be in Western dominance. The political pressure will be of who speaks to the south? Intellectually, Institutionally, Economically – this is indeed a moment of change.

Asked about Human Rights, Prof. Pogge pointed at the fact that now the poor countries that gain from development polarize internally and this is not a solution for the population at large. The present crisis was for the rich – so there is a chance to create a more unified set of rules. The needs are a policy range of 25 years rather then the 2-3 years that politicians take now as the range of their personal goals.

He also said that Carbon Tax is more solid then the Tobin Tax. People will drive less and save energy – you can then put the money in climate change projects or help on imports. If it causes the poor to have to pay more for energy – let them pay the higher prices and return to them the money in a different way.

————

As my reporting conveys, I was enthusiastic about above UNU event, but my daily amount of good feeling ended of sorts when I discovered in that UN basement that an event in the UN basement that was billed, by an entity that calls itself NGO Sustainability, as a meeting with the Ambassador from Kazakhstan, turned out to be actually an event with old Shell Oil Co.

The speaker was Elizabeth “Libby” Cheney, Vice President – Corporate Support of Shell Exploration & Production – to those that might be inclined to ask – she said that she is not related to that other Vice President Cheney.
The star was Ambassador Mrs. Byrganym Altimova who said a few good words about her country – focusing mainly on its natural resources – and left then in her seat another gentleman from her mission. Pity that the Ambassador, a woman, did not mention that, coincidentally, the same day, another Kazakhstan woman became chair for 3 years of the Asia-Pacific Environmental Journaists’ Association hedquartered in Colombo, Sri Lanka (see our posting).

The Shell Oil presentation was well garnished with flowers – oil, gas, LNG, H2 and other renewables. The list included Natural Gas and this was explained as the bridge fuel that emits less CO2. Nothing wrong with that we also contended years ago that NG should be allowed as a bridge fuel – but we said bridge from petroleum to renewable biogas. Those days Shell Oil like all other oil companies wanted no part of this – now they do – but I still did not hear the word biogas.

Further, I heard windmills – though we learned that after they connected 450,000 homes to Wind Mill Power, they stopped increasing the business and are rethinking the project – that is because they look for newer technology. Someone from the audience suggested that the subsidies ended and the effort was because of the harvesting of the subsidies. H2 is actually under study, but luckily nuclear is not. For reasons unclear neither geothermal nor wave power or any other ocean technology is under consideration – several people gasped and asked why does a company that is specialist in drilling holes under water not look into what would come natural to them?

We were shown that the company developed a 3A – AAA – triangle that stands for: AVAILABLE, ACCESSIBLE, ACCEPTABLE – this for its building-reserves system. The other stuff is for the development of an “alternative business.”

Biofuels – read ethanol – came in as a natural she said. But my memory tells me that just 25 years ago they did not want part of ethanol in their tank – this at the time that people were saying that ethanol was the best octane enhancer to unleaded gasoline. So, thanks to the public opinion in the UK,  the mother company did actually change religion and the US daughter company was clever at grabbing the local subsidies for US corn ethanol.
Today Shell Oil has relationships with universities and the IOGEN company, to study cellulose ethanol. That subject is under study for 30 years to my knowledge but nothing serious is yet on the market – just many PhDs were obtained working on this. We sure believe that it will be done someday – but we know it will be done by an IPO working on it in high secret – then sold to the Chinese for development.

The company has also some contacts of making oil from sea algae that grow very fast – they also know with catalysis to make gasoline-like liquids directly from cellulose.

The old rigs – that is also a treasure to be used environmentally – they are now the base for rebuilding coral reefs in areas destroyed by many causes – not just oil drilling.

To who cannot guess – actually we think that Shell and BP (the other oil company with strong US presence and that is UK headquartered) are our favorites among the oil companies – so we appreciate the fact that Roma Y. Stibravy saw to it that they get a UN hearing. In fact, it was a past CEO of Royal Dutch – Shell Oil Co. that was instrumental in organizing the UN Global Compact, that under UNSG Kofi Annan was formed to bring big corporations into social and environmental  workings of the UN. Our website did follow their activities with positive interest – we even found some genuine feelings on part of the Shell group even though the effort was clearly promoted by plain Public Relations goals.

After some softballs, came also good questions from the three journalists present. Matthew Russell Lee from Inner City Press had to know what Shell did in Nigeria and drove the lady to say that she did not do it. Others wanted to know about “Peak Oil” as she was all roses about production at least to the end of the century. I felt I had to remind her that King Hubbert was the science head of Shell Oil and he was the one to invent the Peak Oil concept. He was fired, and I wanted to know if today someone would say something different from what she presented – he would be fired also? The third journalist present was from the ABC network. Present was also a group of graduate students in International Affairs from Columbia Universlty – clad in black – like future US diplomats. They also asked questions.

OK, Shell has now “Sustainability Integrators” to learn from the Niger Delta experience. Aha! people in Niger are criminals & terrorists – People in Nigeria are family to us – those are the employees of Shell. We had to shut down production. Matthew wanted to know about local opposition and was told that if it is not Shell it is the government.

Next Question – What is Shell going to do in the Polar bears area of Alaska?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From:  haertl at oiip.at

Role and Potential of the
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Regional Affairs

by Bolat Kabdylkhamitovich NURGALIEV (Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation)

Welcome: Gerhard REIWEGER (Deputy Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna)

Moderation: Markus KORNPROBST (Chair of International Relations, Diplomatic Academy of Vienna)

After the Lecture the Embassy of Kazakhstan kindly invites to a reception.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009
7.00 p.m.
Festsaal of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna
Favoritenstraße 15a, 1040 Wien

Programme

Registration : Please fax (no: 01/504 22 65) or send an e-mail to info@da-vienna.ac.at

In cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Austria, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna and the Academic Forum for Foreign Affairs.

www.oiip.at

——————-

We recommend this event as a chance to ask about Kazachstan trying to be part of an economic grouping with Russia and Belarus, while also trying to be seen as a European and Asian state at the same time. Is this a planned pivotal position or will they be seen as a Russian satelite?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 6th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Heard the one about the rabbi, the imam, and the Buddhist monk?

kazakhstan_ansta_206803d.jpg
Reuters

Religious leaders met for discussions at the Palace of Peace and Accord.

Kazakhstan was the unlikely host of a conference uniting the world’s faiths. Jerome Taylor reports from Astana.

The Independent, Monday, 6 July 2009

As a man who was born and raised within the secularism of the Soviet Union and has ruled his nation with a velvet-gloved iron fist for the past two decades, Nursultan Nazarbayev is an unlikely pin-up for religious tolerance.

Like so many other Central Asian dictators, Kazakhstan’s President was perfectly positioned to take over the running of his new country after the implosion of the Soviet Union precisely because he was an apparatchik of the avowedly secular Communist Party.

Decades of Soviet domination deliberately stifled overt displays of religious expression in Central Asia – particularly for the region’s majority Muslim population – and many of Mr Nazarbayev’s neighbours have continued in the same vein, treating religion as a potential political threat which needs to be closely monitored.

But the 68-year-old grey-haired President, who rose from being a humble metalworker in a factory to become the leader of Central Asia’s largest and most stable country, is increasingly styling himself as a former Communist with whom the faithful can nevertheless do business.

For two days last week he ensconced himself in an astonishing-looking, purpose-built steel pyramid – designed by the British architect Norman Foster – in his pharaonic capital Astana. He was there to host what was quite possibly the largest gathering of the world’s religious leaders in recent times. A list of those seated in front of the giant round table at the grandly titled Palace of Peace and Accord reads like a Who’s Who of the world’s religions. Robed Buddhist monks chatted to bearded imams who exchanged pleasantries with rabbis and priests. Top delegates to the snappily titled “Third Congress for Leaders of the World and Traditional Religions” included the Israeli President Shimon Peres, two chief rabbis, and the leader of the highly influential Al Azhar university in Cairo, generally regarded as the world’s most authoritative Islamic institution.

Yet despite the unmistakably Soviet-sounding name of the conference – and a somewhat embarrassing hiccup when an Iranian delegation walked out during Mr Peres’ speech – the discussions were centred around the delightfully un-Communist notion of using religion to win world peace.

Whether such deliberations will hail a new era of harmony is a moot point, according to Nicholas Baines, the Anglican Bishop of Croydon who travels regularly to Kazakhstan.

He has watched Mr Nazarbayev transform himself from an open atheist into pro-religion leader who has even made the Haj pilgrimage.

“I admit at times these conferences feel a bit Soviet, but there is lots of good work being done,” Bishop Baines says.

“The unique contribution here is that the Kazakhs have been able to bring together some phenomenally responsible people from world religions under one roof and they have to sit and listen to each other as well as talk … Where else would you have two chief rabbis of Israel sitting in the same room as top Muslims, and they’re having to listen to each other and not just walk out or argue?”

Supporters of Mr Nazarbayev say their leader’s new-found enthusiasm for promoting religious tolerance is governed by the remarkably mixed ethnic background of his country. The more cynical believe it is simply shrewd pragmatism, aimed at avoiding the inter-ethnic fallouts that have disrupted neighbours such as Tajikistan.

Either way, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Kazakhstan is becoming an increasingly religious place under his rule. Tomash Peta, the Catholic Archbishop of Astana, says the government’s favourable stance towards religion means that the atheist attitudes of the Soviet era are fast disappearing. Church attendance is also rocketing. In Kazakhstan nowadays there are very few people who actively reject religion,” he says. “People are suddenly rediscovering their connection to God.”

Newly-built churches and mosques have sprung up all over the country. When Kazakhstan gained its independence there were just 68 mosques to administer to the nine million Muslims who make up 57 percent of Kazakhstan’s population. Currently there are 2,300 mosques and 10 madrasas, most built in the past five years on the back of the enormous wealth generated by Kazakhstan’s oil exports.

Whilst Kazakhs are keen to shed their Soviet atheism, they are simultaneously happy to keep the social advantages that came with Russian domination – especially in the cities. At Friday prayers in the main mosque in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s former capital which remains its financial and artistic hub, it is not unusual to see women in miniskirts temporarily hiring a robe for prayers before hitting the city’s notoriously raucous bars or clubs.

But whilst Kazakhstan may like to portray itself as an island of ethnic and religious harmony, there are some denominations or sects which have fallen foul of the regime. Baptists, Evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Ahmadi Muslims and even Hare Krishna devotees have all created growing communities in the country. This is much to the annoyance of both Mr Nazarbayev and mainstream religious leaders who fear such “foreign sects” are damaging Kazakhstan’s historical identity. Minority religious groups frequently complain they are targeted by hostile officials.

Bennett Graham, an expert on Kazakhstan at the Beckett Fund, an American human rights group which monitors religious tolerance, says the Kazakh government’s insistence that freedom of worship is absolute should always be taken with a pinch of salt. “I wouldn’t want to be overly critical, as I want to encourage steps in the right direction,” he says.

“But I have yet to see President Nazarbayev exemplify robust religious tolerance in his own country towards minority religious groups, and until then, will maintain scepticism about the sincerity of the Kazakh efforts to promote religious tolerance and respect around the world.”

Noticeably absent from this week’s inter-faith conference were any of those religious groups that the Kazakh state has been accused of suppressing. But Bishop Baines believes that ultimately Kazakhstan is light years ahead of some of its neighbours.

“Every prediction was that of all the republics formed when the Soviet Union collapsed, Kazakhstan was the one that would fall apart because of its ethnic and religious constituency and it history,” he says. “Yet that break-up hasn’t happened. That is a remarkable legacy. They are a young country and they’re heading in the right direction.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 3rd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Kazakh parliament approves Kyoto Protocol

captphoto_1235661817107-1-0.jpg
AFP/File  â€“  Close up of a melting glacier. The Kazakh parliament Thursday approved the Kyoto Protocol on fighting  â€¦

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AFP) – The Kazakh parliament Thursday approved the Kyoto Protocol on fighting global warming, making it the last signatory to the UN-led treaty to ratify the measures other than the United States.

Kazakhstan, whose economic growth over the past decade had been the strongest in Central Asia, had resisted ratifying the landmark climate change conventions.

“This is an important step for Kazakhstan. For ten years we couldn’t reach a decision, because for the past ten years the government had more important things to consider, like the financial code,” Environment Minister Nurlan Iskakov said.

“But these ten years didn’t pass in vain. Now the document will be sent to the president for him to sign, and if he passes it into law it will attract more investment to the country.”

Kazakhstan signed the treaty in 1998, but had not signed it into effect until Thursday.

The US administration of then president Bill Clinton signed the Protocol but never ratified it and his successor George W. Bush in 2001 withdrew the United States from the Protocol, saying it would cripple the US economy.

The Turkish parliament had on February 5 overwhelmingly approved the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol requires signatory countries to reduce or stabilise their emissions of six “greenhouse” gases blamed for heating up the planet, the principal of which is carbon dioxide.

The protocol expires in 2012. On average it requires nations to reduce their emissions 5.2 percent below their 1990 level between 2008 and 2012. This would represent a 29 percent cut in overall emissions compared to levels expected by 2010.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 10th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Japan Times online, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009.

Central Asia’s giant is waking up.

By MARCEL DE HAAS
THE HAGUE — The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) brings together almost half the world’s population, several members own nuclear weapons, many are big energy suppliers, and it includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Yet few outside Central Asia have heard much about it.

The SCO emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union in 1996. Today, its members are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, while Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India are observers. Russia and China remain the lead actors. Since its launch, the SCO’s military exercises have become increasingly ambitious, growing from largely bilateral to inclusion of all members. The SCO is also beginning to work together in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime.

Until recently, the SCO’s members addressed energy issues only bilaterally. But, in order to coordinate energy strategies and strengthen energy security, last year the organization launched a club that unites energy-producing and energy-consuming states, transit countries, and private companies. The SCO promotes free trade, too, and aims to build essential infrastructure such as roads and railways to link its members and boost commerce between them while also harmonizing customs systems and tariffs.

Yet cooperation within the SCO remains focused on national rather than collective objectives, because its members’ interests vary so much.

China, for example, seeks markets for its products and further energy resources, while Russia aims to use the SCO to promote its anti-Western agenda. The group’s other members — led by China and Kazakhstan — want to strengthen their already robust levels of economic cooperation with the West. Thus, for example, at the SCO summit in August, Russia did not get the support of other members regarding the Georgia conflict.

These diverging objectives make it hard to believe that the SCO will ever evolve into an eastern version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. True, its members have held joint military exercises and have expressed a desire to build the SCO into a more mature security organization. But the SCO still lacks many essential elements of a full-grown NATO-style security organization.

The SCO has no integrated military-political structure, and no permanent operational headquarters. It has no rapid-reaction force and does not engage in regular political deliberations. NATO’s focus is on external security risks, while the SCO’s members target security issues within their own territories.

It makes sense for the West, particularly the European Union, to seek cooperation with the SCO, as this would also help counter Russia’s attempts to use it as a tool for its anti-Western policies. It would also prevent the SCO from turning into a militarized entity.

These may look like negative reasons for the EU to engage with the SCO, but there are also ample positive reasons for encouraging cooperation. Europe needs energy supplies from Central Asia, and Central Asia needs European investment.

Another sphere of mutual interest is Afghanistan. At present, the EU offers financial support to the Afghan government and helps to train its police and judiciary. The SCO has established a contact group with Afghanistan. Both sides want to do more, and they might be able to make a greater impact by working together rather than separately. The EU has money and the SCO organization, most of whose members border Afghanistan, has trained personnel and direct experience in the region.

Cooperation with NATO looks strategically wise. Given China’s importance in military and economic matters, growing energy and trade ties between Central Asia and the West, and the reasonable assumption that Central Asia’s security will continue to have great significance for Western security, cooperation between the SCO, the EU, and NATO looks inevitable. This is all the more true in view of common security threats faced by NATO and the SCO in Central Asia, such as al-Qaida and Taliban- sponsored terrorism and drug trafficking.

But both NATO and the SCO have so far hesitated to engage in closer contact. It is hard to discern whether NATO has any opinion at all about the SCO. At best, NATO seems to regard it as being neither a problem nor an opportunity.

Reaching out to the SCO would certainly seem to support NATO’s stated objectives. After 9/11, the alliance came to the conclusion that threats may need to be dealt with on a worldwide basis, which explains NATO’s presence in Afghanistan. As a part of this global strategy, NATO strengthened its relations with partners elsewhere, including in Southeast Asia which is the SCO’s chief area of responsibility.

Perhaps inevitably, the SCO — with Russia and China as its leading members — regards NATO’s increased presence in the region with some mistrust. As long as NATO remains reluctant to enter into a dialogue with the SCO, such a cautious attitude looks set to linger, and may even intensify. Consideration also needs to be given, therefore, to the establishment of a NATO-China Council, along the lines of the NATO-Russia Council, and to the creation of arrangements that would facilitate greater cooperation with the SCO as a whole.

Such cooperation would not bridge the main differences between SCO members and the West over issues like democratization and human rights. Cooperation would also need to comprise much more than mere joint policy development, and should involve the practical pursuit of mutually beneficial, smaller-scale ad hoc projects. NATO and the SCO could work together on neutralizing antipersonnel mines in Afghanistan, as well as other possible types of confidence-building measures, such as joint police training and counter-narcotics operations.

If security cooperation is to be a success, politically sensitive issues should be avoided, with the emphasis squarely on practical measures. This approach would serve the interests of the EU, NATO, SCO members and, not least, Afghanistan.

Marcel de Haas is a senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification – 2008 Conference. December 14-17, 2008, Sede Boqer Campus, The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Israel.

www.desertification.co.il

THE PROGRAM As Available on November 18, 2008. There might be still Changes and Additions, as well –   further Poster Sessions.

Download this schedule: detailed_program_sessions_1611_publish.doc

Drylands, Deserts and Desertification – 2008
December 14-17, 2008

Please note that the list of presentations is still not final. Furthermore, the breakdown into sessions may change. Abstracts for the Poster Sessions will be listed separately during the conference

Pre Registration will begin on the evening of December 13, 2008
Day 1, December 14, 2008: LIFE AND SOIL DEGRADATION IN THE DRYLANDS
8:00-9:00 Registration
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome
9:30 – 10:15 Plenary Address: Cutting through the Confusion: An Old Problem (Desertification) Viewed through the Lens of a New Framework (the DDP, Drylands Development Paradigm) – James Reynolds, Duke University (U.S.A)
10:15 – 10:30 Respondents: Thomas Schaaf,, Chief, Ecological Sciences & Biodiversity Section, UNESCO, Ingrid Hartman, Amoud University, Borama, Somaliland, Godfrey Olukoye Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University, Israel
Moderator: Alon Tal
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break
11:00-12:30 Parallel Sessions I
1. Soil Degradation and the Drylands
Chair: Professor Yonah Chen, Hebrew University Agricultural Faculty, HYPERLINK “mailto:yonachen@agri.huji.ac.ilyonachen@agri.huji.ac.il
Causes and Consequences of Soil Damages in Bosnia and Herzegovinia: Some Experiences in Soil Conservation, Markovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Soil Decomposition in a Tropical Semi-arid Region in Central Mexico, Maria Hernandez Cerda, Enrique Romero, Gonzalo Madero, (Mexico)
Soil Communities in the Arava Valley Desert System, Stanislav Pen-Mouratov, Tamir Mayblat, and Yosef Steinberger (Israel)

Effect of plant patchiness on soil microbial community structure

Ali Nejidat, Eric A. Ben-David, Yonatan Sher, Regina Golden, Eli Zaady (Israel)
2. Desert Ecology (A)
Chair: Professor Tamar Dayan, Tel Aviv University, HYPERLINK “mailto:DayanT@tauex.tau.ac.ilDayanT@tauex.tau.ac.il,
Water and Carbon Balances of Tamarix Desert Vegetation Under Variation in Precipitation and Groundwater Table,Hao Xu, Yan Li, (China)
Periodic and Scale-free Patterns: Reconciling the Dichotomy of Dryland Vegetation, Jost von Hardenberg, Assaf Kletter, Hezi Yizhaq, Ehud Meron (Israel)
Water Balance in Desert Mammals and in Flying Birds: Different Evolutionary Paths with Similar Physiological Outcomes, Berry Pinshow (Israel)
Desertification In the Grasslands Of Central Australia: Effects Of Fire And Climate Change, C. R. Dickman, G. M. Wardle, A. C. Greenville and B. Tamayo (Australia)
3. Benchmarks and Indicators of Desertification
Chair: Professor Moshe Shachak, Ben Gurion University, shachak@bgu.ac.il
Spatial Vegetation Patterns Indicating Imminent Desertification Max Rietkerk (Netherlands)
Do Vegetation Indices Reliably Assess Vegetation Degradation? A Case Study in the Mongolian Pastures, Arnon Karnieli Y. Bayarjargal, M. Bayasgalan, B. Mandakh, J. Burgheimer, S. Khudulmur, and P.D. Gunin (Israel)
Results On Changes Of Vegetation Structure And Composition In Semi-Desert Steppe,B.Mandakh Ph.D, Ganchimeg Wingard, (Mongolia)
Restoration of Pasture Vegetation and Assessment of Desertification in Kazakhstan Mirzadinov R.А., Baisartova А.Y., Bayazitova Z.Е., Torgaev А.А., Makhamedzhanov N.Т., Usen К., Karnieli A., Mirzadinov (Kazakhstan)
4. Pastoralism and the Drylands (A)
Chair: Dr. Eli Zaady, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute
Complex Interactions Between Climate and Pastoralists in Desert Grasslands, Curtin, charles (U.S.A)
Sustainable Grazing Strategies for Semi-arid Rangelands of Central Argentina, Roberto Distel (Argentina)

Trophic interactions and the ecology of habitat degradation in grasslands, Yoram Ayal(Israel)

12:30 – 14:30Short Field Trips and Lunch Break
14:30-16:00 Parallel Sessions II
5. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (A)
Chair: Professor Danny Blumberg, Ben Gurion University, blumberg@bgu.ac.il
Progress in mapping global desertification, S. D. Prince (U.S.A)
Desertification Risk Assessment in Northeastern Nigeria Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques, Taiwo Qudus, S.O. Mohammed, (Nigeria)
Integrating Remotely-sensed Vegetation Phenology and Rainfall Metrics to Characterize Changes in Dryland Vegetation Cover: Example from Burkina Faso Stefanie Herrmann, Thomas Hopson, (U.S.A)
On the Definition of Desertification through the Case Study of the Egyptian-Israeli Borderline, Arnon Karnieli, Christine Hanisch, Zehava Siegal and Haim Tsoar (Israel)

Evaluation of optimal time-of-day for detecting water stress in olive trees by thermal remote sensing, Nurit Agam, Alon Ben-Gal, Yafit Cohen, Victor Alchanatis, Uri Yermiyahu, and Arnon Dag, (Israel)

6. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (A)
Chair: Dr. Gozal Ben Hayyim, The Volcani Institute HYPERLINK “mailto:vhgozal@agri.gov.ilvhgozal@agri.gov.il
Potentials for Utilizing the Mulberry (Morus Alba) and the Neem (Azadirachta Indica) For Desertification Control In Northern Ghana: the Experience of the Sericulture Promotion And Development Association, Ghana. Paul Kwasi Ntaanu (Ghana)
Phenology, Floral and Reproductive Biolgy Studies of Genus Zizipus in Negev Desert Conditions, Manoj Kulkarni, Bert Schneider and Noemi Tel-Zur (Israel)
Dissecting the Molecular control of Stomatal Movement in CAM plant: A Potential Source for Genes Conferring Drought Tolerance in C3 Plants, Yaron Sitrit (Israel)
Comparison of Germination Strategies of Four Artemisia Species (Asteraceae) in Horqin Sandy Land, China, Li Xuehua, Liu Zhimin and Jiang Demning (China)
Role of Hydrophilins in Water-stressed and Salt-stressed Environments, Dudy Bar-Zvi, (Israel)
7. Water Management Strategies in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alfred Abed- Rabbo, Bethlehem University, abedrabo@gmail.com
Water Management in a Semi-arid Region: An Integrated Water Resources Allocation Modeling for Tanzania, Shija Kazumba (Tanzania/Israel)
Towards Sustainable Management of Wadis in Semi-Arid Environments- IWRM Approach, Walid Saleh, Amjad Aliewi, Anan Jayyousi (Dubai)
Is Desalination Right for Sydney? Phoenix Lawhon Isler(Australia)
16:00-16:15 Coffee Break
16:15-17:15 Parallel Sessions III
8. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (B)
Chair: HYPERLINK “home.geoenv.biu.ac.il/lecturer_html.php?id=33” Prof. Hanoch Lavee, Bar Ilan University , HYPERLINK “mailto:laveeh@mail.biu.ac.illaveeh@mail.biu.ac.il
Assessing Land Cover Change and Degradation in the Central Asian Deserts Using Satellite Image Processing and Geostatistical Methods, Arnon Karnieli, Tal Svoray, Uri Gilad, (Israel)
A Dynamic Model of Dryland Hydrology Using Remote Sensing, Elene Tarvansky, (United Kingdom)
The Effect of Wildfires on Vegetation Cover and Dune Activity in Australia’s Desert Dunes: A Multi-Sensor Analysis, Noam Levin, Simcha Levental, Hagar Morag (Israel)
9. Desert Ecology (B)
Chair: Dr. Yehoshua Shkedy, Chief Scientist, Israel Nature and Parks Authorit, HYPERLINK “mailto:y.shkedy@npa.org.ily.shkedy@npa.org.il
Is Grass Scarcity in the Chihuahuan Desert A Result of Shrub-Grass Competition or Soil Moisture Limitation? Giora Kidron and Vincent Gutschick (Israel/U.S.A)
Short-term responses of small vertebrates to vegetation removal as a management tool in Nizzanim dunes, Boaz Shacham and Amos Bouskila (Israel)

Microbial diversity of Mediterranean and Arid soil ecosystem. Ami Bachar, Ashraf Ashhab, Roey Angel, M. Ines M. Soares and Osnat Gillor, (Israel)

Effects of woody vegetation and anthropogenic disturbances on herbaceous vegetation in the northern Negev, Moran Segoli, Eugene David Ungar, Moshe Shahack (Israel)
10. Land Restoration Strategies
Chair: Dr. Avi Gafni, Director of Research, Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael, Avig@kkl.org.il
Role of Wetlands in Sustainable Drylands D. Mutekanga (Uganda)
Restoration of Abandoned Lands, Gabrielyan Bardukh, (Armenia)

Desertification in the Sahel: causes, prevention and reclamation Dov Pasternak (Israel)

11. Strategies for Living in the Drylands
Chair: Prof. Avigad Vonshak, Director Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, avigad@bgu.ac.il

Micro-Climatic Effect of a Manmade Oasis During Different Season in an Extremly Hot, Dry Climate, Oded Potchter (Israel)

Ecological sanitation (ECOSAN) as an alternative approach for sustainable dry-land development, Amit Gross (Israel)
Has dependence on runoff agriculture on the dryland environment of the central Negev mountains changed significantly in the last few thousand years? Testing the contribution of the geological substrate, Wieler Nimrod. Avni Y. Benjamini C. (Israel)
12. Pastoralism and the Drylands (B)
Chair: Mr. Shmulik Friedman Head of Israel Grazing Authority HYPERLINK “mailto:shmulikf@moag.gov.ilshmulikf@moag.gov.il
Normative Carrying Capacity of an Isralei Forest for Domesticated Grazers. David Evlagon, Samuel Komisarchik, Yehuda Nissan, No’am Seligman (Israel)
Herd No More: Livestock Husbandry Policies and the Environment in Israel: from 1900 Until Today, Liz Wachs, Alon Tal (U.S.A)
17:15-19:00 Poster Session (including contest) and Cocktail
19:00-20:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activities (optional)
Moonlit Hike in Nahal Haverim (Please come w/ walking shoes and warm clothes)
OR Films from the Desert Nights Film Festival (sponsored by the Italian Embassy, Tel Aviv)

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DAY 2,December 14, 2008: VEGETATION’S ROLE IN SUSTAINABLE DRYLAND LIVING
8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses
Professor Pinhas Alpert, Director, Porter School of the Environment, Tel Aviv University,
“Climate Change’s Impact on Desertification in the Mediterranean Region”
Rattan Lal,Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University. “Carbon Sequestration in the Drylands: Where we Are? Where we might go?”
Dan Yakir, Head, Department of Environmental Sciences & Energy Research, Weitzman Institute, “Israel Forestry, Carbon and the Drylands: Recent Findings from Israel”
Moderator: Mark Windslow, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Germany
9:45-10:00 Coffee Break
10:00-11:30 Parallel Sessions IV
13. The Role Vegetation in Combating Desertification (A)
Chair: Dr. Elli Groner, Arava Institute for desert studies/BIDR, elli.groner@arava.org
Use of Indicator Species in Enhancing the Conservation of Drylands of Kenya J. Aucha, V. Palapala, and J. Shiundu (Kenya)
Green Spots as a Tool to Combat Desertification in the Aral Sea Region, Lilya Dimeyeva, (Kazakhstan)
Vegetation Change in Response to Grazing and Water Level Decline in the Enot Zukim Nature Reserve (en Fescha) Israel, Linda Whittaker, Margareta Walczak, Amos Sabach and Eli Dror (Israel)
Improving sustainability and productivity of rainfed field crops in the Negev regions
David J. Bonfil (Israel)
14. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (B)
Chair: Professor Micha Guy, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, HYPERLINK “mailto:michagu@bgu.ac.ilmichagu@bgu.ac.il
The chemical induction of Polyploidy Mutan in Zizphus Mauritiana, Noemi Tel Zur and Mohmmad A.Taher (Israel / Jordan)
Using the Model Plant Arabidopsis Thaliana and Extremophile Arabidopsis Relatives to Identify Genes that Can Confer Plant Tolerance to Arid Conditions, Simon Barak (Israel)
Recently Domesticated Native Desert Herbs for Sustainable Planting in Arid and Saline Areas, Elaine Solowey (Israel)
Pattern Formation, State Changes and Catastrophic Shifts in Poa bulbosa Production as Responses to Simulated Grazing, Hadeel Majeed, Yaakov Garb, Moshe Shachak (Israel)
Germination and seedling survival in NaCl solutions after desiccation of some halophytes-used in pasture and fodder production in the solonchak salinities of the Kyzylkum desert, in Uzbekistan, Tanya Gendler, Japakova Ulbosun, Nicolai Orlovsky and Yitzchak Gutterman (Israel)
15. Afforestation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Gabriel Shiller, The Volcani Institute, HYPERLINK “mailto:vcgabi@volcani.agri.gov.ilvcgabi@volcani.agri.gov.il
Dryland Afforestation, Bill Hollingworth, (Australia)
Soil and Water Management along with Afforestation for Rehabilitation of Desertified Areas of the Israeli Negev, Yitzak Moshe (Israel)
Land Restoration in the Mediterranean, V. Ramon Vallejo, (Spain)
The Impact of Tree Shelters on Forest Survival of Eight Native Broadleaf Species in Forest Plantations in Israel, Omri Boneh (Israel)
16. Irrigation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alon Ben-Gal, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute, bengal@volcani.agri.gov.il
Combating Land Degradation in Irrigated Agriculture Through Systematic Characterization of Saline-Sodic Soils for Improved Irrigation Efficiency in Kenya – E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
Adaption of Drip Irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Towards a Strategy for Technology Transfer, Lonia Friedlander (U.S.A)
Managing salt, nutrient and soil structure in reclaimed water irrigated vineyards of South Australia, Biswas and McCarthy (AU)
Future strategies for drainage problems in the desert area (IGNP) of Western Rajasthan in India, Kiran Soni Gupta (India)
Root zone salinity management strategy for the Australian drought, Schrale (AU)
17. Climate Change in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Yeshayahu Bar-Or, Chief Scientist, Ministry of Environmntal Protection, HYPERLINK “mailto:Ybo@sviva.gov.ilYbo@sviva.gov.il
Climate Change Trends in an Extreme Arid Zone, Southern Arava (Israel and Jordan) Hanan Ginat, Yanai Shlomi, Danny Blumberg (Israel)

Climate change and its effect on Mediterranean Basin ecosystems, Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)

Climatic Change and Desertification Predictive Modeling In The Northeastern Nigeria.
Dr. Ojonigu Ati And Taiwo Qudus (Nigeria)
11:30-13:30 Open Campus Lunch Break
13:30-15:00 Parallel Sessions V
18. The Role of Vegetation in Combating Desertification (B)
Chair: Mr. Tauber Israel, KKL, HYPERLINK “javascript:addSender(%22IsraelT@kkl.org.il%22)” IsraelT@kkl.org.il
Desertification not at all costs – a matter of temporal and spatial scales and policies
Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)
Cropping systems in the Indian arid zone and long-term effects of continuous cropping
N.L. Joshi (India)
Establishing the Relationships between Soils, Vegetation and Ecosystem Dynamics: A Strategy for Land Degradation Control in Nurunit Marsabit District, Kenya, E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
19. Indigenous Knowledge in the Combating of Desertification
Chair: Prof. Aref Abu Rabia, Ben Gurion University, HYPERLINK “mailto:aref@bgu.ac.ilaref@bgu.ac.il
Ethnobotanical Approach to the Conservation of Dryland Vegetation James Aucha (Kenya)
Environmental and Economic Potential of Bedouin Dryland Agriculture, Khalil Abu Rabia, Elaine Solowey and Stefan Leu (Israel)
Traditional Knowledge and Technologies: Administration of Common Goods from the Perspective of Goat Producers in the Lavalle Desert, Laura Maria Torres (Argentina)

 

20. Managing Drought in the Drylands

Chair, Mr. Yaakov Lomas, Israel Metereological Institute, HYPERLINK “mailto:lomasjakob@yahoo.comlomasjakob@yahoo.com

Drought Risk Reduction in Rajasthan, India Madhukar Gupta (India)
Merits and Limitations in Assessing Droughts by Remote Sensing, Arnon Karnieli and Nurit Agam (Israel)
The Impact of Long Term Drought Periods in Northern Israel, Moshe Inbar (Israel)
Hydric Characterization of the Sinaloa State (Mexico), Through the Aridity and Aridity Régime Indices, Israel Velasco, (Mexico)
Economic Sustainable rainfed wheat production under Semi-Arid climatic conditions – Agrometeorological criteria for planning purposes, Lomas (Israel)
21. Carbon Sequestration
Chair: Dr. Noam Gressel, Assif Strategies, HYPERLINK “mailto:noam@assifstrategies.comnoam@assifstrategies.com
Semi-arid Afforestation and its Effect on Land-atmosphere Interactions,
Eyal Rotenberg et. al., (Israel)
Capacity of the forest ecosystems to sequester carbon (Case of the watershed basin of Rheraya- area of Marrakech) ) Rachid Ilmen (Morocco)
Halting Land Degradation and Desertification: A Win-Win Mitigation Strategy Neglected by the Climate Establishment, Stefan Leu (Israel)
Special Round Table discussion: Mid-east Regional Cooperation to Research Desertification with Arab and Israeli Desertification Experts
Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli experts meeting and discussing common concerns and solutions to address desertification in the Middle East region.
Moderator: Prof. Avigad Vonshak
Jeffrey Cook Workshop in Desert Architecture and Planning
Architecture and Urban Planning in the Drylands
Dryland Urban Expansion: Environmental Problems and Urban Planning, the Case of Urmuqi China S. Liu (UK)
Towards a Comprehensive Methodology for Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE): A Hot Dry Climate Case Study, Isaac Meir, Eduoardo Kruger, Lusi Morhayim, Shiri Fundaminsky, Liat Frenkel, (Israel)
Sick Building Syndrome in a University Building – an Educational Survey, Lusi Morhayim, Issac Meir (Israel)
Urban Sustainability in Desert and Dryland Areas – a First Exploration, Yodan Rofe and Gabriela Feierstein (Israel/Argentina)
Microclimatic Issues in the Planning of a Modern City in a Desert Environment, Evyatar Erell (Israel)
Sustainable Architecture in the Outback/Desert Regions of Australia: The Paradigm in Theory and Practice, Terence Williamson (Australia)
Arch. Suhasini Ayer-Guigan (India)
Arch. Mary Hancock (UK)
Arch. Laureano Pietro (Italy)
15:30 Bus Ride to Mitzpe-Ramon
16:00-17:00 Sunset Overlooking the Ramon Crater, Visit to Ramon Visitor’s Center
17:30 PLENARY LECTURE: Professor Uri Shani, Director, Israel Water Authority,
“Addressing Scarcity in the Drylands: Israel’s New Water Management Strategy”,
Moderator, Ms. Hila Ackerman, Director of Environmental Department, Ramat Negev Regional Council
19:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activity: Music & Dancing OR Astronomy Lecture
—————————————–
DAY 3, December 16, 2008: FIELD TRIPS

A detailed plan will be provided separately

—————————————

DAY 4, December 17, 2008: THE HUMAN DIMENSIONS- POLICIES AND PARTNERSHIPS TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION
8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses/ PanelReconsidering the Axiom of “Bottom Up” Desertification Programs: Lessons Learned about Partnerships and International Assistance
Chris Braeuel UNCCD Focal Point, Canada,
Christian Mersmann, Director, The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, Rome
Alon Tal, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
DelphineOuedraogo, Ministry of Environment, Focal Point to UNCCD, Burkina Faso

Moderator: TBA

10:00-10:15 Coffee Break
10:15-11:50 Parallel Sessions VI

 

22. The Contradictions of “Gender Equality” in Development Discourses in Desert Regions (Panel A)

Chair: Prof. Rivka Carmi, President Ben Gurion University, president@bgu.ac.il

Rethinking modern education among indigenous Negev Bedouin, Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder (Israel)

Looking Ahead: Bedouin Women, Higher Education, Identity and Belonging,Ronnie Halevi (Israel/U.S.A.)

The nation and its natures: Depictions of women Environmental Educators in the Israeli Negev Desert, Miri Lavi-Neeman, (Israel/USA)

“My Life? What is there to tell?” : Interpreting the life stories of multiply marginalized women in an Israeli ‘Development Town” Sigal Ron (Israel)
23. Public Policy, Economics and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Moshe Schwartz, Ben Gurion University, moshesc@bgu.ac.il
Economic Instruments for Mitigation of Desertification Problems in Armenia Gevorgyan Suren, (Armenia)
Land Degradation, Subsidies Dependency and Market Vulnerability of Stock –breeding Households in Central Crete Hugues Lorent, et. al., (Belgium)
The Value of Israel’s Forests and Desertification, Tzipi Eshet, Dafna Disegni and Mordehcai Shechter (Israel)
Current Status and Issues for Combating Desertification In Western Rajasthan, Kiran Soni Gupta, (India)
How To Put Desertification and Water Management in The Political Agenda: The South Italy Development Policies, Carlo Donolo (Italy)
24. Food Security in the Drylands
Chair: TBA
Livelihood Strategies: Indigenous Practices and Knowledge Systems in the Attainment of Food Security in Botswana, Maitseo Bolaane (Botswana)
Drought and food insecurity: a rationale for national grain reserves, Hendrik Bruins (Israel)
Drought Management Planning in Water Supply System, Enrique Cabrera (Spain)
The Impact of Drought on Agriculture in Jordan, Sawsan Batarseh and Hendrik J. Bruins (Jordan)
25. Case Studies – Projects that Combat Desertification
Chair: Beth-Eden Kite, Deputy Director, Mashav, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, beth-eden.kite@mfa.gov.il
Combating Desertification: An Attempt at Wasteland Development in Rajasthan, India, Kusum Bhawani Shanker, (India)
Valuing the Successes of combating desertification – Experience of Burkina Faso in the rehabilitation of the productive capacity of the village territories, Ouedraogo Delphine (Burkina Faso)
Development of Drylands of Kenya Using the Jatropha Curcas Value Chain J.A. Aucha, V. Palapla, and J. Shinundu, (Kenya)
Production Diversification for Expanding the Economic Foundations of Argentinean Monte Desert Communities, Elena Maria Abraham, Giuseppe Enne (Argentina)
11:50-12:00 Coffee Break
12:00-13:00 Parallel Sessions VI
26. Bottom Up: Community Participation in Programs to Combat Desertification
Chair: Dr. Haim Divon, Deputy Director, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Man, Desert and Environment, Hanan Ginat, Noa Avriel-Avni (Israel)
People and institutional participation in forest management for sustainable development: options for drylands based on experiences from Sudan. Edinam K. Glover (Finland)
Dryland Gardening: A Sustainable Solution to Desertification? Southern Africa as a Case Study, Adam Abramson (U.S.A)

27. Culturing Desertification: Gender and the Politics of Development (Panel B)

Chair: Dr. Pnina Motzafi-Haller, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, pninamh@gmail.com
Development and the Role of Women in Pakistan, Masooda Bano, (UK)

Domestic Water Provision and Gender Roles in Drylands, Anne Coles (UK)

Women’s Work: Gender and the Politics of Trash Labor in Dakar,Rosalind Fredericks, (USA)

28. The Negev Desert – Development and Conservation
Chair: Dr. Yodan Rofeh, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, yrofe@bgu.ac.il
The Israeli Negev Desert: From Frontier to Periphery, Yehuda Gradus (Israel)
The National-Strategic Plan for Developing the Negev – Negev 2015: An Old Prospect or a New Future, Na’ama Theshner (Israel)
The potential of TOD for development of the Northern Negev, Prof. Dani Gat (Israel)
Sense of place and naming in Hura as an example of the changing spatial consciousness of Beduoin in the Negev, Arnon Ben Israel and Avinoam Meir (Israel)
29. The Political Ecology of Deserts and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Yaakov Garb, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, ygarb@bgu.ac.il
Rebuilding the Land: Political Ecology of Land Degradation in Somaliland Ingrid Hartman (Germany)
Desertification Narratives (and Their Uses) in the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Davis (U.S.A)
Desertification or Greening in the Sahel? Case study of Inadvertent Greening in the Oued Kowb, Mauritania, Stefanie Herrmann, Mamadou Baro, Aminata Niang (U.S.A)
Political Ecology: Wind Erosion on the U.S. Southern High Plains
R. E Zartman and A.C. Correa (U.S.A)
30. Assessing International Efforts to Combat Desertification
Chair: Professor Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University, uriel36@gmail.com
Follow the Money: Navigating the International Aid Maze for Dryland Development Pamela Chasek (U.S.A)
The Global Mechanism – Lessons Learned C. Mersmann, (Italy)
Research Priorities of the UNESCO Chair on Eremology Gabriels (Belgium)
An Analytic Review for International Collaborations for Drylands Research and Sustainable Development, J. Scott Hauger (U.S.A)
A Conference to Improve the Flow of Science into the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Mark Winslow (Germany)
13:00-14:30 Lunch and Concluding Session

e-mail:  desertification at bgu.ac.il
tel:   972-8-659-6997
fax: 972-8-659-6772

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See also:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2008

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 31st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 asia001.jpg


Asia-EU Summit to Address ‘Financial Tsunami.’

Analysis by Antoaneta Bezlova, IPS, October 23, 2008

BEIJING, Oct 22 (IPS) – Cast in the role of global saviour in the unfolding financial turmoil, China is playing host to a meeting of Asian and European leaders in Beijing this week that is expected to castigate the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism and press for a reshaped global economic order.

“Can Asia be global economy’s best hope,” asked an editorial in the Economic Observer last week. Noting that Asia hardly played any role during the global economic recovery after the Great Depression of 1929, the paper suggested that the continent’s established and emerging economies constituted the world’s best chance for recovery after the “financial tsunami”.

“And even if the Wall Street demise does not instantly signify the triumph of Mahathir’s Asian model, it is the beginning of a much-needed readjustment of economic power in the world,” it concluded.

More than 40 leaders will converge in the Chinese capital for the 7th Asian European Meeting (ASEM) summit from Oct. 24 to 25 to discuss the global financial crisis and a plan for joint action.

Aside from the 27 EU countries, 10 ASEAN countries, the European Commission, China, Japan and South Korea, the summit will be attended by three other Asian countries — India, Pakistan and Mongolia. The talks will be co-chaired by France, which holds the European Union’s presidency, and China.

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“China maintains that the international community should strengthen cooperation and jointly handle the current financial crisis on the basis of equal consultation,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing on Tuesday. But he warned that “developing countries’ interests and concerns should be fully respected and safeguarded.”

China — a major emerging economy which sits on 1.8 trillion US dollars worth of foreign exchange reserves — has been looked upon as an important player to lead the way out of the global financial meltdown.

U.S. Treasury Department officials and politicians have all called on Beijing to show a pro-active attitude and join efforts with the Western world to fight the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Qin Gang said Beijing had adopted a “responsible and constructive attitude” in dealing with the crisis. But few details have emerged over the role China is expected to play. Latest economic figures show that the country’s economy is also vulnerable to the effects of the global economic slowdown.

The National Statistics Bureau said on Monday the economy expanded by just nine percent in the third quarter, the slowest rate in five years. By comparison, the economy grew 10.6 percent in the first quarter and 10.1 in the second quarter of 2008. The slowdown was blamed on plummeting demand for Chinese goods as consumers in the U.S. and Europe cut back on spending.

In recent weeks Beijing has grown more critical over the lack of financial surveillance in developed economies, which it blames for the spiralling crisis. The deputy governor of China’s central bank, Yi Gang, who took part in the emergency G20 meeting in Washington earlier this month, chastised the International Monetary Fund for allowing too much leverage in the system and failing to exert control of big Western financial institutions.

He told the media that “weak financial-policy discipline resulted in excess global liquidity and disorderly capital flows”. The line has been echoed in a numerous articles and columns in the Chinese media attempting to dissect the reasons for the downfall of Wall Street powerhouses. Some have sung an “eulogy to U.S. capitalism” while others have proclaimed the end of the “era of Washington consensus”.

But there has been less certainty about what would replace the current order of international capitalism. “The demise of Wall Street Anglo-Saxon model doesn’t signify the victory of China’s financial modus operandi,” said a commentary in the 21st Century Economic Herald.

“Even as we criticise Wall Street’s excesses, we should be aware that China’s model of financial operation is not necessarily the answer,” it said. “True, Chinese banks are stable and they don’t pursue excessive profits blindly. But they are far from free from red tape and administrative interference.”

According to Qin Gang the ASEM summit offers the “perfect platform” for leaders to discuss ways of dealing with the crisis.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has proposed a global system of financial supervision that would empower international bodies including the International Monetary fund to monitor global markets and act as early warning systems. French President Nicolas Sarkozy — one of the summit’s coordinators — has pledged to use the meeting as a platform to persuade Asian nations to take part in a plan for the rebuilding of international capitalism.

“What has happened is an act of treason against the values of capitalism; it is not a result of the market economy,” said Sarkozy during a speech Tuesday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“The most simple solution” for the global summits would be to bring the G8 (group of eight) largest industrialised nations together with the five biggest emerging economies, led by China and India, he told European politicians.

Chinese analysts anticipate that the summit may produce an agreement for the establishment of a joint trust fund between Asia and Europe, similar to the one launched during the second ASEM summit in London in 1998, to combat the Asian financial crisis.

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The update comes October 31, 2008 to the original posting of October 25, 2008 and it deals specifically with the place of Mongolia in all of the above. This because of a breakfast meeting at the Asia Society in New York today, October 31, 2008 – the traditional Halloween day, and I will mention after a few further lines why I say this.

The meeting today had the title – Mongolia Rising: The Incredible and Continuing Story of Mongolia’s Emergence as a Free Market Democracy.

At the breakfast meeting spoke the US Ambassador to Mongolia, Mr. Mark C. Minton, and in the audience sat also Ambassador Ms. Enkhtsetseg Ochir, the Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN. Jamie F. Metzl, the Exec. VP of Asia Society chaired.

Strangely, when I looked up the website of the Asia Society, I found that on October 31, 2005   The Asia Society   Washington DC Center had a meeting on Mongolia. Here the strange coincidence of the Halloween date repeating itself exactly three years later and my possibility to compare the progress of relations between the US and Mongolia in the last three years – to the date.

The information from 2005 – www.asiasociety.org/speeches/us-m…

Strangely, already at that first meeting there was a reference to Halloween, but that was a very serious meeting – “US-Mongolia Relations: History and Future Prospects.” That meeting, according to the pdf had a large cast of Ambassadors participating, including Tony Lake, and it was arranged before President Bush trip to Mongolia – the first Summit of a US President with a Mongolian President. Since then there was a return visit – a Summit of the presidents in the Washington DC White House in 2007.

Mr. Mark Minton, a career member of the US Foreign Service got to UlaanBataar in December 2006 after having served in Korea and Japan, so he was in Mongolia for the last two years of the US- Mongolia rapprochement.

So why Mongolia? It is a country, the size of Alaska, of 3 million people, and 45% live now in the capital area urban environment. Culturally they are close to Tibet and are of the same religious belief as the Tibetan Buddhism, thus I would assume also close culturally to Bhutan, but they were a nomadic people.

In the 20th century that brushed with Soviets, Chinese and Japanese occupation and are fiercely intent on preserving their freedom. Being geographically wedged in between China and Russia, they want that “third neighbor” that geography did not give them. So thy go the long distance and want the US as their third neighbor. To reach the US they developed their democracy so they can interact with countries beyond their two immediate neighbors. They reorganized their army as a peace making army and they participate in UN peace missions like Sierra Leone, and with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. in exchange the US established an AID program involved in preventive health care and in construction workers education as the transformation from the nomadic lifestyle created needs for new skills in the housing sector; further the US Peace Corps are active in Mongolia – it is actually the largest per capita Peace Corps location. But obviously the US does not have Mongolia to itself, the Japanese foreign aid is the largest in Mongolia and the EU, Australia, and Canada are also active.

Democratization made large progress – there is transparency, a judiciary, there are elections and they have a market economy and the leaders are involved in diplomacy. They are visited often by the Dalai Lama and the university is in exchange with the University of Alaska.

Obviously, the US is interested in Mongolia’s mineral resources – so is China. Peabody Coal and Rio Tinto International are active in Mongolia. Hilton International opened this year. Mongolia is becoming a middle income country. It is landlocked but is starting to take advantage from its location by becoming a country of transit between China and Russia.

In the democracy department there was a blemish recently when after the summer elections there were riots. The Ambassador explained those as inexperience because they have an army but not good police service. The fact was that the army, that was trained for peace work, did not know how to act when called in after the opposition protests about the elections. The authorities panicked and the army was inefficient.

An adviser to Nature Conservancy criticised the ambassador as he said nothing about the environmental problems and the mining industry. Further there are issues resulting from foreigners buying up grazing land for meet production and farming.

The nuclear issue came up as Mongolia wants to be part of the six Party talks on North Korea programs. Further, what was not mentioned is that Mongolia declared its nuclear-weapon-free status. In effect I have in front of me UN General Assembly document A/c.1/63/L.28 where Kazakhstan, Morocco, and Mongolia brought up together Mongolia’s rejection of nuclear weapons. Also, in recognition of their specific situation, Japan let Mongolia host one of the six-Party talks commissions.

Japan is also looking into the problem with desert dust from Mongolia reaching Japan.

From all this material, what is China doing when insisting in bringing in Mongolia to the meeting they hosted between the 27 EU countries and the four major Asian economies, when besides Japan, India and Korea, they also invited Pakistan and Mongolia? We understood Pakistan as sort of balance to India, but now we also figure that bringing in Mongolia has more to do with trying to redirect this country towards Europe and weakening a runaway relationship with the US directly, or via Japan.

The bottom line is that because of size and economic potential, Mongolia is a country with much higher importance then it might be assumed from the mere 3 million people. China night then want to keep it in its own orbit and to guard it from   “third neighbors'” exaggerated footholds.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 21st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THEN ESCAP URGES the SPECA CENTRAL ASIA TO STRENGTHEN TIES WITH REST OF CONTINENT FOR GREATER SECURITY. The above has clearly political implications by bundling non-Arab Islamic States.

Greater cooperation between Central Asia and the rest of Asia is essential to achieve sustainable development for the whole continent, given the current climate of global financial instability and food and energy insecurity, a senior United Nations official, ESCAP’s Executive Director   stressed today of all places – right in Moscow.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) stands ready to facilitate technical and regional cooperation and provide a neutral forum for engaging in policy dialogue, Executive-Secretary of ESCAP Noeleen Heyzer told a gathering of senior Central Asian policymakers in Moscow.

“We are gathering here against the backdrop of a gloomy economic environment with pressing challenges in food and energy security, as well as the need for greater financial stability,” Under-Secretary-General Heyzer warned participants at the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) meeting.

“By adopting the South-South cooperation modality, SPECA can provide home-grown solutions and policy options to achieve inclusive and sustainable development,” she told officials from the seven SPECA member states – Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

SPECA aims to strengthen sub-regional cooperation, mainly in the areas of energy and water, transport, trade, technology, gender and the economy, in Central Asia, as well as its integration into the world economy with support from the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).

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